Considering Breaking Bitless.

Tabula Rasa

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Hello H&H folk!

I am the proud owner and of course mummy to a filly.

Belle (who's show name is Tabula Rasa - Latin for blank slate) is a rising 2 year old rescue filly.

She was very malnourished while in her mother and for the first year of her life. Because of this despite her sire being 15h and her dam 14h I believe she will only make about 13.2/3h.

So here's my enquiry. What do people think about breaking bitless?
Of course I won't be doing this for at least 18 months - 2 years from now. I just wanted to to know people's experience on breaking bitlesss & opinions.

She is incredibly responsive to voice commands. I simply click and she trots, I say 'keep up' if she starts to slow and she keeps going, 'waaaalking' to go back to walk. And so on you get the drift.
We are currently working on moving away from pressure which she is extremely good at picking up so far.

Anyhow I don't want to go to far into it all lol :)
Just wondered what people thought.

:D thanks!


Tabula Rasa x
 

Jnhuk

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I am just curious is there a particular reason why you want to start her bitless?

I have two year old who I took to a few quiet in-hand show for the experience last summer and for it, he was introduced to an in-hand bridle (with rubber bit). He accepted very quickly.

This picture shows him with the second time he has the bridle on

 

maccachic

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I always back mine in a halter then gradually introduce the bit - in transition I have both and gradually use bit more than halter.

I do long rein etc with a bridle before backing but for the first few rides I like to keep things basic.

I like riding bitless but there is a need for a bit in some things I do so I do both.
 

Enfys

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There is no reason why you shouldn't do it, but, there is every reason why you should also get her going with a bit.

Unless there is a physical reason for it, being bitted is a life lesson that all horses should learn.

You may intend to keep her forever, but circumstances can change and she may have to be rehomed and future owners may prefer to ride with a bit, it is in her best interest to be accustomed to one, you don't ever have to use one.

Personally, I wouldn't leave it until she is a 4 year old to bit her, getting her used to wearing one now will not harm her in anyway.

All my colts are bitted by the time they are a year old, just so they are used to having something in their mouths. They may not have one in again for years but when they do they know it isn't going to kill them.
 

ameeyal

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I have started a couple of my youngsters off bitless, they go lovely in them, i havent felt the need to put a bit in their mouths, they arent youngsters anymore, but still havent had a bit in their mouths.
 

Tammytoo

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I see no reason why you shouldn't go bitless. Unless you are considering selling her it is only really convention that says you must have a bit. there is a wonderful clip on Youtube (can't remember the title) of an american girl who trained her horse to go without a bit, bridle or reins. He was galloping flat out, doing sliding stops and all the fancy western stuff purely from body aids. There a loads of other clips showing dressage, showjumping etc all without bridles.

I'd go for it!
 

claribella

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I think you should. Why bother with a bit if you don't need one. I'm sorry but to say a horse should learn the lesson of being bitted is just silly and a way people are conditioned into thinking. A bit doesn't control the horse nd if you have a great relationship with this filly like you have xplained then save her from the pain and stress of having a bit. She will thank you for it.
 

daisydoo

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Absolutely! That's what I'm going to do with the help of an IH associate. Will introduce a bit eventually once she's already going well. I will probably start in a rope halter, check out the matrix bitless bridle.
 

Tabula Rasa

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Thanks for the opinions for and against everyone :)

I have had a few 'horsey' friends tell me I will have no control is she bombs off on a hack.
However if that happenes anyway I'm not one to hang and pull on their mouth. It's more seat for me.

To be honest I rarely use my hands, leg and seat all the way really lol!

Thanks! :D

Tabula Rasa x
 

daisydoo

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With the initial starting bitless you are hardly going to be going off on a fast hack anyway are you. Enclosed areas to start off with obviously, building up. Bits have their place, worst thing someone can do is pull on a tanking off horse, more like to try and run from the pressure. Micklem interests me also as there's the option of a bit if needed. I've been checking out riding from the mind, my IH instructor teaches it, can't wait all that to come!
 

wench

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Something like a hackamore, if fitted incorrectly, can be far more severe/painful than a bit.

So saying that putting a bit in a horses mouth is stupid and pointless, is quite frankly stupid and pointless.
 

lachlanandmarcus

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Some bitless bridles are milder than bitted bridles, some are a lot more severe and really only for very experienced riders. My neighbour uses a severe one on his nutty arab who does high level endurance. He is an appropriate ride to use it, and it saves constantly pulling on the horses mouth.

However I do think whether you choose to ride bitless (which is completely your choice) is a TOTALLY different decision than whether you introduce the horse to and get it happy wearing a bit as part of the backing.

I very strongly believe that you should. You simply cannot know what the future holds, and disasters can and do befall people who never expect it. As a result I believe anyone backing a youngster has a responsibility to equip the horse with a wide range of skills and experiences, not that they will all be needed in your ownership, but in case you are ever forced to sell. Since 90%+ of potential owners ride with a bit, I think it would be doing the horse a disservice by not just getting them happy and used to a bit, even if you decide you arent actually going to ride using it yourself.
 

Enfys

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I think you should. Why bother with a bit if you don't need one. I'm sorry but to say a horse should learn the lesson of being bitted is just silly and a way people are conditioned into thinking. A bit doesn't control the horse nd if you have a great relationship with this filly like you have xplained then save her from the pain and stress of having a bit. She will thank you for it.
No, not silly really. I disagree. I am actually remarkably open minded, not silly, or conditioned to any one way of thinking.

Things happen, circumstances can change in a second, horses change hands without knowledge of their past being available, or to people who are conventional. You have to look to the future and give a horse the tools to cope with whatever comes their way.

I expect that you can do a lot of things that you have never done since you learned them at school or whatever, it does not mean that the ability to do it is a wasted effort. :):)

ooops, LLM said exactly the same thing, I missed that post :(
 
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Morgan123

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I think you are free to do whatever you choose and think is best for your horse or preferable to you :). However it sounds like you are thinking of bitless becuase you think it's kinder. It's not, it's just different. One of my horses hates a bitless bridle, though the three others i've trained in them are fine either bitted or without. It's all just a training issue really.
 

Cortez

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There is nothing intrinsically wrong with bits, nor with the various systems of bitless communication, it's all about how you train and use the tools provided. However, should you or a future owner ever wish to do something conventional with your horse you will need to be able to ride with a bit. Why not train for both?
 

maccachic

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Thanks for the opinions for and against everyone :)

I have had a few 'horsey' friends tell me I will have no control is she bombs off on a hack.
However if that happenes anyway I'm not one to hang and pull on their mouth. It's more seat for me.

To be honest I rarely use my hands, leg and seat all the way really lol!

Thanks! :D

Tabula Rasa x
Some people are odd!

A horse reacts to how it is trained it is not stopping because you pull on its mouth, it is stopping because it has been trained to stop by which ever method bit / bitless. Too many people try brute force over correct training and thats when accidents happen. A horse will always win in a battle of strenght.
 

Tabula Rasa

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maccachic -

I agree completely!
I took my filly for a walk today and trotted in hand with her for about a minute. Then with the lead rope with slack, no pressure on her head collar at all! Plus I was still jogging next to her as soon as I said 'woooo waaaaalking' she walked :)
So very proud of her today, she is getting more and more responsive by the day :)

Tabula Rasa x
 

texel

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Tabula

I also agree with maccachic - I have started an 11hh pony bitless and I am in the process of starting an 8 year old ex polo pony in a bitless bridle (cross under type). It is so easy and they soon learn how to respond and become very light.

No saliva dribbling everywhere - or chomping or grinding of teeth.

I have been using this type of bridle for 12 years now and have never had problems controlling my steed.

There are many folk now who choose to ride bitless, hunting, jumping, dressage etc. Should the need arise to sell a horse onwards then as long as the prospective buyer is advised of the current means of control there is nothing to stop a new owner switching to the bit is required.

So go for it Tabula and lets hear how you get on.
 
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mandwhy

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I would do both personally, as said above its not necessarily kinder, but you will probably get people interfering whatever you do!

I also agree that a horse should be set up for the basics of what is 'normal' even if you never do them again just in case of unexpected changes in future. E.g. I have a very small pony on loan as a companion and I will make sure she is backed at 4 or possibly help owner find a home where she will become a riding pony, as if I or the owner could not keep her in future I would want to know she has the best chance in life.
 

Jazzy B

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It may well be that you end up keeping your filly for the rest of her life and making the decision never to put a bit in will suit you just fine however, life does change and sometimes throws unforeseen circumstances in the way and if you ever had to sell your filly would you not want her set up as well as possible and be the best allround you could get to find her the best home you could if you had too? By not breaking her in to accept a bit your probably eliminating an awful lot of good homes.
 
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