Author Topic: Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?  (Read 3478 times)

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Offline SuzieP

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Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?
« on: January 10, 2011, 01:35:57 PM »
I'd like to try riding Bea bitless and see how we get on.  I don't want to spend loads of money on a bridle if it's not going to be right for us.  Would welcome suggestions.

Offline Peaches

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Re: Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 04:37:50 PM »
Firstly, nearby friends who've been there and done that are immensely helpful if you have any local  :laugh:

If thats no use, a headcollar and a few leadropes can produce a vague guide on the action of many bitless designs and as such what horse may or may not like, however bare in mind that materials the bridles are make of affect the action of a bitless bridle so obviously a headcollar and leadrope is not going to be the same as, just a rough guide.

Another option is hire options. This place http://www.bitlesshorse.co.uk/hire.html and bitless bridle (dr cooks suppliers) http://www.bitlessbridle.co.uk/ offer hire of different bridles (you may have to pay full price, but have the right to return the bridle within x number of days for full refund due to trial agreement).

You can be guided on different bitless brdiles by what you know about your horse already. Certain bit actions you know they do or don't respond well for can help - ie a horse not liking bits with poll action aren't likely to like bitless with reliance on poll action and so on. A horse that you struggle steering with (okay so maybe needs more schooling too but as a work in progress say...) is unlikely to be ideally suited to a very simple sidepull unless it is the bit action alone causing it respond badly to 'steering' aids...

That's a vague guide as in a hurry (horses need turning out  :D) but happy to give more on my experience if i can be any use. There's plenty others who have gone down this route too who I'm sure will have guidance... :)

Offline SaraU

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Re: Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2011, 11:22:59 PM »
Hi - I ride both my 17hh warmbloods bitless.  My youngster (heavy set Dutch warmblood) was backed in a parelli halter, ridden initially in a parelli halter in the school, then I had a sidepull bitless bridle made for him by the saddler who now makes the elevator bridles.  He has never had a bit in his mouth, he has good steering and fantastic brakes!  My mare, on the otherhand, came to me in a bit, I tried numerous bits on her and finally took the decision to ride her bitless (in a converted elevator bridle made into a sidepull).  Her steering is great but her brakes are poor and she tries to lean on my hand, so from the experiences with my guys, i've learned the following:
* don't just take the horse out of its bit and expect it to be able to cope in a bitless bridle (which ever make you go for).  The aids will be different in a bitless bridle so you need to teach the horse accordingly
* start by long lining the horse in the bitless bridle/halter to teach them the feel you'll be offering them and what it means to them
* only when they are soft, responsive and understand on the ground should you ride them in the bitless bridle/halter

I looked at a number of makes of bitless bridle before I settled on a sidepull.  I dismissed the Dr Cooks because personally I feel they are too strong and don't release quickly enough.  The write-ups describe them as 'hugging' the horses head when you take a hold of your reins.  Just try putting your forearm into the bridle and asking a friend to take a hold of the reins and see if your arm really feels hugged - I personally found it very uncomfortable and not something I wanted for my horses.  I chose the sidepull because it is very soft, looks like a normal bridle at a glance and my youngster never braces against it.  However key to having success with any bitless bridle is to make sure your horse understands and is fully comfortable with the feel and aids before you ever get on!  Good luck!

Offline intouch

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Re: Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 11:46:37 PM »
http://www.thesaddleryshop.co.uk/P/Light_Rider_Bitless_Noseband_Bitless_Bridle-(1618).aspx
This is a useful piece of kit, not too expensive, fits to a regular bridle.  I've tried most types and other than a regular rope halter, this is what I ride in most, it seems to suit most horses, and you don't need extensive reschooling, they seem to take to it straight away.

Offline thegaffer

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Re: Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 09:42:48 AM »
I second the bitless bridle company, suppliers of Dr Cooks.  I ride my 18HH Cleveland in mine, hacking, cantering, galloping etc.  He took to it straight away.  With regard to the action of the Dr Cook, I have never had to take a pull with it. 

I'm sure anything will give an "ouch" response if you have to pull on it hard.  I have really become much better with my hands since going bitless, I'm not sure why this has worked, but it has.  I also use my seat a lot more as I am not trying to prop up the front end with a bit and a BIG horse leaning on it.

Works for us.  It's one of those "suck it and see" things though I'm afraid, what others love, others will hate.  Just make sure what ever you do try that you trial it for long enough.  I think we are all guilty of swapping things too soon as we don't get the reaction we are looking for as quickly as we would like.

Good luck

Heather

Offline SaraU

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Re: Would like to try bitless, but where do I start?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 08:19:04 PM »
You rightly highlight the point about 'taking a hold' of the rein.  To confirm, my reference to taking a hold of the rein is simply the act of going from an open hand, to closing all my fingers onto the rein to create a very soft 'drag' which the horse understands and responds to immediately (which normally does require some practice before the horse fully understands and can offer the desired response).  Unfortunately I found that with some bitless bridles, as soon as I released that feeling by quickly opening my hand, the bridle did not release the horse's head for some time, which was not what I wanted.  A number of friends have found that with a bridle that crosses under the throat, their horses have developed a head tilt as the pressure occurs on the opposite side of the hand that's asking for the turn, hence another reason I looked more closely at sidepulls.    
« Last Edit: February 09, 2011, 08:22:04 PM by SaraU »