Bitless Bridles - Advice

ShadowHunter

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11 July 2012
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Recently I've been pondering over trying a bitless bridle for two of my horses but really confused over which type to try. My cob mare, built like a tank, is a serial leaner and bit chewer; working better once contact is completely dropped, obviously though, it isn't safe to ride like this on the roads. She can get pretty strong in faster paces and in open spaces. That said, I don't want to stick her in anything harsh.
My other horse, works absolutely fine in a bit, although, he has multiple diastema's all over his mouth. I did wonder if riding bitless would be more comfortable for him when his teeth are getting bad again.
Any ideas on which type to try thats not too harsh but has some stopping power?
 

CMcC

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30 May 2016
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I am searching for the perfect bitless bridle, no luck so far. But my experience for what it is worth. Going back to bit not an option as have been given veterinary advice that due to poll and jaw issues and conformation a bit is probably never going to be possible.
1. Tried bitless option on Micklem bridle, found the “pull” did not release smoothly or quickly through rings, so not able to release pressure easily.
2. Rope hackamore - basically rope halter with rope reins and lead rein attached under the chin. Good for hacking, went well (brakes on this pony not a big issue) but not very refined on steering.
3. Cross under - found this put an awful lot of pressure on the nose, which for this pony was not too big an issue as going bitless is to do with him not tolerating poll pressure which is due to long term pain around poll (now addressed). But I felt uncomfortable putting that amount of pressure on. But probably good for stopping.

Have just ordered a rope halter with side pull action, which I hope will build on success of rope hackamore but take away heavy reins etc under chin and improve steering.
 

catembi

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My ex-racer goes in a hackamore which can have a harsh action, but that's the bridle he likes. He is a tricky customer, but goes better in that than anything else. My QH hated the hackamore & didn't really 'get' the Nurtural crossunder. We now have a double Transcend which we get on fine with. The only difficulty is if he is rude and puts his head down to graze...v hard to yank him back up in the Transcend!
 

soloequestrian

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I like a hackamore. I've ridden several horses in one and they've all responded well. I've also tried a Transcend sidepull and a scrawbrig with my youngster when I was starting her. She hated the scrawbrig and ignored the sidepull hence ending up in a hackamore. She seemed to find the hackamore comfortable and clear from the start.
 

Fluffypiglet

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I’ve got an orbitless. No poll pressure on the option I use which is very important for him and attach on the medium setting so I have some brakes. Not perfect but he’s learning to respond better and in fairness I did just chuck him in it and start riding!
 

Red-1

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Currently living a second childhood!
I have used the old fashioned English Hackamore on a few horses. It is sharp enough but once they understand it you never really need to put the pressure on as they feel the tension being picked up as the long side arms move, so yield before there is any tension (ie before the nose part tightens).

I have only had one who did not go kindly in it. I used it for BS jumping to Discovery as well as hacking.
 

BBP

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17 July 2008
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I use an enduro, which is a variation on a rope bitless but doesn’t seem to be made anymore. I use a thick gel pad under the rolled rope nose as otherwise it’s too severe for my horse I’d ridden with any sort of contact. It has no poll action whatsoever. However my horse is extremely sensitive and light in the rein, neck reins and is never strong so it suits him perfectly. Now whilst I sort out some dental issues I’m doing more bridleless work instead. My sisters horse is stronger and more prone to lean onto the forehand and doesn’t seem to respond as well to my bridle. So far the orbitless seems to suit him best but he can still get a bit yobbish with it vs a bit.

It’s definitely trial and error with some!
 

Petalpoos

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30 December 2005
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West Sussex
I used a Dr Cooks for a year, only because I did not like the idea of using a bit. It was no problem stopping my 16.3 warmblood, but she made it plain that she did not like it and shook her head and made faces when I went to put it on. Totally refused to go into any kind of outline in it. Went back to a bit and she was much happier. Horse for courses I guess.
 

Gloi

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8 May 2012
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Lancashire
I tried a Dr Cooks and riding alone it was fine though he did feel heavy and slow to respond. However when I went out in company and he was a bit keen he just tucked his head between his knees and I had zero control, in the bit his head would have come up rather than down but I would have still had brakes.
 

cblover

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1 October 2009
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I have a transcend bitless bridle, the double version. Sue Thomas designed this bridle and is very supportive and helpful. She’s on Facebook and has a website. The quality is lush and I’m finding the bridle excellent for my 4 year old clydesdale.
 

paddy555

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23 December 2010
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I have used the old fashioned English Hackamore on a few horses. It is sharp enough but once they understand it you never really need to put the pressure on as they feel the tension being picked up as the long side arms move, so yield before there is any tension (ie before the nose part tightens).

I have only had one who did not go kindly in it. I used it for BS jumping to Discovery as well as hacking.
I used an English Hack on my first horse 50 years ago and am now using one on my youngster who will be my last horse plus many in between and find the horses like it. I don't have a steering issue, they all neck rein anyway and they all work to voice commands so I never need much pressure on it. I haven't had any problems with it. I can't see the other types have much advantage over it.
 
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