Bitless bridles - where to start?

equestriansports

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Hi all! I'm looking to start riding bitless with my horse. The main reason is my dentist can't come out to do said horse for another six weeks (broken ribs) and he's started to be fussy when being ridden. He's always had a habit of opening his mouth, tilting his neck and crossing his jaw but when I popped him in a Neue Schule turtle top a year ago it almost stopped. Since coming back into work, he's started doing it again but I think this is through his teeth not being done (I am currently searching for someone to come out but need someone patient) so tonight I rode him in a headcollar. He gave me one of the best rides I've ever had on him. There was no head shaking, he was stretching, he didn't stop every five minutes to itch his head on his leg, it was lovely.
I'm going to be doing some dressage with him so will need to use a bit at some point but won't be competing until next year so it shouldn't matter for the meantime. He was fine in the headcollar though steering was a little iffy but he stops from the seat anyway so breaks are never really an issue. I've tried a micklem but couldn't get it to fit his face even though I had no issues with my pony. He isn't a huge fan of poll pressure so trying to steer away from that. I've looked at the Little S Hackamores but never had any experience with them. Does anyone have any recommendations for bridles to try? I'm obviously going to talk to my instructor about it and only stay in the arena to start with. Thanks!
 

catembi

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I started riding bitless when my ex-racer was coming back into work following KS surgery, cos I was bored & just fancied trying something new. I had a good old root about in my tackroom, and found an English hackamore. It fits on a normal bridle. Mine has always been a bit funny in the mouth, and he took to the hackamore very well & we're still in it. Very steady contact, no evasions, mouth stays shut. I am hoping that one day bitless competing is allowed.

T x
 

equestriansports

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I started riding bitless when my ex-racer was coming back into work following KS surgery, cos I was bored & just fancied trying something new. I had a good old root about in my tackroom, and found an English hackamore. It fits on a normal bridle. Mine has always been a bit funny in the mouth, and he took to the hackamore very well & we're still in it. Very steady contact, no evasions, mouth stays shut. I am hoping that one day bitless competing is allowed.

T x

Where does it apply pressure? I've heard these can be quite severe if incorrectly fitted but not too sure how true that is. Just had a google and it came up that they're quite gentle and soft on the horses face? So confusing!
 

catembi

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I'm sure there is a website with all the different types...ah, I think this is the one: https://happyhorsesbitless.com/types-of-bitless-bridle/

I would guess that an English hackamore puts pressure on the nose & the back of the jaw... It kind of looks like there ought to be poll pressure like e.g. pelham, but without a bit I'm not sure you'd get the same 'squeeze' between the mouth & the poll...? As perhaps the whole thing would rise up a bit? And it probably depends how tight you have it, & what material is on the nose pad? I use mine on the loose side of medium.

My selection wasn't scientific - we'd already gone barefoot, so I was curious about bitless, & just used what was to hand. I've jumped in it & also hacked once with no issues.

T x
 

MrsNorris

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If he went well in a head collar I would try a simple side-pull. There's loads on the market to choose from. I've tried a Dr Cook, horse hated it, and now have a micklem in the side-pull configuration which he goes well in.
 

dollyanna

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I third the sidepull as a starting point - you can make one to try by putting the reins over the noseband to start with. Be careful with any bitless bridle - they aren't necessarily better/less uncomfortable than a bit, and many of them will still be sore against the cheeks if there are sharp edges inside, so watch out for this. Some of them can use an enormous amount of pressure with poor release, often described as "head hugging" - you are still squeezing the sensitive head. I like the look of the light rider (currently have an orbitless but can't get it to fit quite right so not happy with it) but waiting to see one in person to see if it is sensitive enough for me.
 

charterline

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There is someone on eBay, think she's called rope nose bands, or similar, they do simple rope Noseband to attach a normal bridle for about £15.
 

Sugar_and_Spice

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I started riding bitless when my ex-racer was coming back into work following KS surgery, cos I was bored & just fancied trying something new. I had a good old root about in my tackroom, and found an English hackamore. It fits on a normal bridle. Mine has always been a bit funny in the mouth, and he took to the hackamore very well & we're still in it. Very steady contact, no evasions, mouth stays shut. I am hoping that one day bitless competing is allowed.

T x

bitless competing is already allowed in most disciplines (not dressage or showing).
 

Sarah04

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I third the sidepull as a starting point - you can make one to try by putting the reins over the noseband to start with. Be careful with any bitless bridle - they aren't necessarily better/less uncomfortable than a bit, and many of them will still be sore against the cheeks if there are sharp edges inside, so watch out for this. Some of them can use an enormous amount of pressure with poor release, often described as "head hugging" - you are still squeezing the sensitive head. I like the look of the light rider (currently have an orbitless but can't get it to fit quite right so not happy with it) but waiting to see one in person to see if it is sensitive enough for me.

I also have an orbitless deluxe but cant get it to fit right. First time I tried it it pinged undone while I was at the top of a field and it literally fell off his face so I've given up with it as I don't think its safe unless I am doing something wrong!
 
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