|On the forehand was an understatement with this big boy. He also had a habit of bolting. He is modeling my Zebra Buckaroo Bitless Bridle and doing quite nicely.|
This week, I wanted to talk about Bitless Bridles for Bitted horses. As someone who competes and trains, I do have to train horses to ride in a bit because some shows do not allow Bitless Bridles as legal tack. Also, some of my clients prefer to use bits and that is their choice so I work to educate their horses to the bitted bridle while schooling in my Bitless Bridle. I will start a young horse in the Bitless Bridle and allow them to carry the bit with no reins attached while learning to take direction from my body language and position on the ground or mounted.
I have had a good bit of success taking even the most heavy and un-supple horses back to light and soft in a Bitless Bridle. What happens then when they go back to the bit? They are much more responsive and soft in it.
Now this is also just plain good horsemanship as I frequently remind my students. How the horse rides in the bridle (Bitted or Bitless), is how he is riding in his body and mind. What is on my horses head has little or no relevance to me unless the equipment is very wrong for the horse or the horse has injuries or mouth problems out of the ordinary. This is why I find using the Liberty rein so easy. Because I have learned to focus on my communication and my horses mind and body more then his head control.
It is purely psychological that we think control comes from the bit and a lot of bit manufacturers would like you to keep thinking that way. It is a huge area of consumption in the horse market. On many forums I see over and over “what magic bit can I buy to fix my horse?”
Training takes time, good Connection and solid FUNdamentals. Most if not all horses can go Bitless with time and patience. Some will be easier then others but if it’s a young horse starting out it’s very easy because they have no experience with anything except what you introduce. They are naturally soft and have no reference to a bit yet.
I now train most of my horses Bitless as allowed regardless of what they will ride in at competition or under other circumstances. It helps me focus on communicating and riding better and not thinking about what’s in their mouth. More oats for thought.