Dr Cooks/crossunder bridle.

Meowy Catkin

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I've been pondering about trying one of these on my gelding. He's currently in a little S hackamore, but I wondered if a crossunder would give better steering?

Does anyone use one and do they (and their horse) like it?
Which are the best suppliers?
Any other bitless suggestions?
 

jinglejoys

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Don't forget its not about the bit or lack of it,its about the training and groundwork...prior and proper preparation......
Lots use them and find them great some say their equines don't like the poll pressure.I use a rope hackamore

 

budley95

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I got a cheap cross under one a couple of years ago that's very similar to a Dr Cook after my muppet of a horse bit through his tongue... Had no trouble steering in it or stopping. He reared on the ground when I used a rope halter on him (I don't know why either) and he doesn't seem to get on with a hackamore.
I liked it (they're about £30 with shipping on ebay) and my horse got on with it. However he has gone back to his bit as we dabble in the odd local show for dressage, showing and show jumping and the local venue wasn't happy with us competing in it and I'm not a massive fan of chopping and changing. He's been in the same bit for the last 6 years...
However it is a piece of tack I liked a lot and will keep incase it comes in useful ever again! They're Indian Leather, and are pretty good quality (for what it is) but the reins that come with it are stupidly long! But for £30 I don't think you can complain! Infact it looks as though they're a bit cheaper at the moment so if you want something to try first without having to hire a Dr Cook may be worth looking at this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/new-leath...ipment&var=&hash=item258e65b5b9#ht_406wt_1348 The shipping was pretty quick too so not a lot of harm in trying it!
 

Meowy Catkin

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Thanks for the info.

It's for an unbacked horse who's taken great offense to the idea of having a bit in his mouth (teeth have been checked). He seems happy when I lead him out down the lanes in his hackamore, but I just wondered if there was something better or that he might like more. A rope halter caused him to really flick his head and I felt that I had no control as it was flick, flick, flick all the time and no attention on me. I don't understand why he didn't like it, maybe the knots - he's pretty thin skinned?
 

TarrSteps

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I find cross unders are very courses for horses. Generally, they wouldn't be my first choice - that would be a sidepull with a wrapped nose - but, that said, I prefer the Nutural bridle, despite the god awful name.

Why not just a well fitted headcollar, possibly with a nose rope if you need extra?
 

Polar Bear9

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I didn't think mine would like the constriction round the head of the Dr cook as shes a bit funny about that kind of thing so I got her an Orbitless instead. I love it and she goes great in in. Also has the added advantage of having lots of settings so I can school on a sidepull setting and then pop it up a bit stronger for jumping/ xc.
 

NZJenny

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I have ridden in the Dr Cook for endurance and hacking. Not all horses like the head hug action, but my boy didn't seem to mind and as he leaned on the hackamore it was a good solution for him. However, they don't release very well so I didn't find it particularly good for schooling, or jumping. I have switched over to a Light Rider and that works just fine.

I'm not a fan of riding in head collars or halters, I find them a bit sloppy. Hacakamores are fine for things like endurance and hacking, but I find if I'm going out in "conventional" company, a well fitted leather bitless bridle dosn't freak out the locals and most people don't even notice. Which when you are constantly bending the rules is just what you need.
 

saffytessa

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I backed my youngster bitless. I use rope halters on a daily basis instead of headcollars so tried that but wasn't happy with the lack of precision. I borrowed a friends dr cooks but she didn't like the head squeeze (friends mare has been ridden in one for many years). I decided an English hackamore was too severe for her and not so good for steering.

I marmelised a happy mouth bubble bit with three rings like this -> oOo Cut the mouth piece off and used the rest as cheeks for my own version of a hackamore. Cheek pieces into the top small ring, side pull rein off the large ring and curb style rein off the bottom small ring. Works wonders still 2 years later.
 

TarrSteps

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Aren't we talking about leading out in hand though? Although perhaps there is some rule about needing to use a bridle on the road now I think about it. I would not ride in a halter, or a dually as the feel is so muddy. Not a fan of the Micklem either.

Re the Orbitless, I.quite like them but.the last horse I tried one on went totally hysterical, although he was fine in a sidepull. It was really quite scary! Shows you how subjective the whole thing is
 

Meowy Catkin

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Yes, at the moment he's just working in-hand.

He does go well in an arab halter with a chain round the back of his chin, but I feel it's a bit harsh even though I don't need to use much pressure with it. I do want to find something that he likes and is suitable for ridden work before he's backed.

ST - that sounds like a good idea - I might have a go at making one.

Thanks for all of the other suggestions, I'll look into them too.
 

night_mare

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A number of people at the yard where I keep my horses ride in Dr Cook's Bitless bridles on their horses - they also ride them in normal bitted bridles as well - and the horses seem to be ok in either bridle. They also team chase in their Dr Cook Bitless Bridles - see http://www.msjump.co.uk/team-chasing.html

If you don't want to spend too much money on something you aren't sure your horse will take to then the Norton bitless bridle is a similar cross under design but cheaper (£44.99) than a Dr Cook's - see http://www.countrybase.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=Norton-Bitless-Bridle
 

gwniver

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Side pull or one of these

http://www.equusuniversalis.com/world/index.php/webshop[/url]
 

Meowy Catkin

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I think he'd ignore a side pull. I certainly wouldn't take him on the road in his headcollar anyway.

*warning bad car analogy coming up*

He's like a car that's got its accelerator stuck on all the time. The most difficult part of his training has been to persuade him that a, he can walk steadily rather than march b, he wont explode if he stands still for a few seconds and c, cantering or jogging at my walking speed is not correct, I want WALK.

Maybe, through sheer chance, the first bitless i tried (hackamore) will be the best?
I do like the look of the Nutural. They're pretty expensive with the postage to the UK added on. I haven't found a UK supplier yet.

I love the Team Chasing photo. :) Not sure that pink would suit my little chap though - he's chestnut! ;)

I might look and see if I can find the Norton one, or similar in a smaller size as full size would swamp him (he's an arab with a dinky head).
 

TarrSteps

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Do not - I repeat, do not - get into the habit of going to the bridle to contain his natural inclination to move when you don't want him to. 'Impulsion/forward thinking/off the leg/etc' is nothing to do with a car you have to drive with the handbrake on. If he won't respect a properly fitted sidepull now, before you are even on him, there is work to be done. You've already moved up to a bridle with a leverage component, which is your choice, obviously, but it's a pretty familiar slippery slope.

Obviously he's your horse and you can train him as you wish but your car analogy is apt - get the accelerator unstuck!!
 

Gloi

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Mine is an easy ride in a bit but I thought I'd try him in a Dr Cooks a couple of years ago. It was all okay at first although the steering felt very heavy as compared to riding him in a bit and he found it easy to take a few liberties snacking on bushes when I was opening the many gates we have on the rides. The real problem happened when we went out in company and had a canter together. He is normally a bit keen but easily controllable but when I tried to hold him in the dr cooks his head went down between his knees and I had no brakes or steering at all and nothing in front of me which was a bit disconcerting. The bit went back on after that.
 

Meowy Catkin

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TS - I understand exactly what you are saying. It's one of the reasons that he's not being backed this year - the response to vocal commands is not perfect yet.

I want to train him correctly and I certainly don't want to squash his enthusiasm for working. I had thought that a Dr Cooks would be a step down from the hackamore?
 

GeorgeyGal

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I used to ride a sensitive arab in a dr cooks but you didn't have to use your hands even with a bit. I'm hiring the orbitless to try on my young cob which I like as obviously not long shanks like your hackamore. However I've ridden him in a headcollar with reins attached to ensure I've fine tuned the aids.

There is the matrix bridle which is a multi bitless so you can try side pull, cross over, scawbrig to see which suits.
 

Meowy Catkin

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I think that I make him seem worse in my posts than he is in reality. I'm not having tug of war problems with him all the time or having to keep pressure on the leadrein just to contain him at all times.
 

Sprig

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My TB got on well with a Dr Cook but as has been said before the pressure release is a bit slow. You also need to keep an eye out for shap bits on the outside of the teeth as these can cause sore bits on the inside of the cheek where the face is squeezed.
 

Brightbay

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If he leads well with the Arab halter, try a LightRider bridle attachment. It comes with a neat halter coupling, so you can actually have reins *and* a lead rope. I agree with TarrSteps though - lots of work on leading without needing to have any tension in the rope at all - you need to keep the horse responsive to very subtle rein cues for riding, if you're using the bridle for control while leading out, you're almost throwing away a lot of the fine tuning you will need when riding bitless.
 

Meowy Catkin

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Yes, when cows have come cantering over, or we've met a hedge trimmer I have had to take up a contact on the leadrope to keep him in walk, so yes, I do use the bridle for control. I agree that his training is not complete by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that my car analogy has made it sound like I struggle to hold him all the time (not so) and that he is more unruly than he is. My main horse is very backwards thinking, so him being forward thinking and wanting to keep marching on past scary things, is quite a contrast to her. He doesn't nap and want to turn for home, he's much more 'keep going forwards whatever's happening'.

Really I started this thread because I feel that he would be fine in something gentler (if that's the right word) than the hackamore. I still have my doubts with a sidepull if something exciting was going on though (maybe misfounded?).
 

Meowy Catkin

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I like the look of the lightrider and I think (as far as I can predict) that he would like it too.

I have been plunged rather unexpectedly into the world of bitless because of this horse and I am trying to learn and do everything right for him. I'll keep lightness of aids in mind when training him - I always have done anyway as my back's not up to being tugged about - but I'll ensure that it's number 1 priority.
 

GeorgeyGal

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You could try a bitless and bit at the same time where possible with fittings, so if you feel you need the familiarity of the bit you can pick it up. I haven't tried it but heard good things about the micklem multi bridle which you can do this with I believe.
 

TarrSteps

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I didn't take it that the horse is dragging you or that you don't want to use a light aid.

My only point was that a sidepull is equivalent to a basic snaffle on the control scale. I wouldn't start a horse in a leverage bit. I don't know many hackamore specialist trainers but it's quite common to start western horses bitless and I've never seen anyone use anything more than a sidepull or a bosal, or possibly a rope halter. The exception would be the.Nutural.guy so I presume there must be people who start in other cross under bridles. So, to go back to the original question, that seems a reasonable enough choice. It might be an idea to find someone who does it and ask if there is anything you need to know particularly
 

gwniver

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Here is a link to a free online mag that has an interesting article on the power of a side pull .http://horsesforlife.com/thepoweroftheside-pull

Have you taken a look at the Antoine De pluvinel caveson ? I know they are expensive( and the website whos link I gave to you is out of stock right now but if you look , they are around ) It has been used for centuries for ground work with young horses , correctly building them up for work though gymnasium in hand .

It is very intimidating , is it not ? =) All these reviews and opinions , and not one of the people giving them actually know you or your horse ( or very few )
But it is like what tarrstep said , a side pull is the bitless snaffle .
Taking your horse to a safe place and teaching him to copy your steps will save your back a lot ;)

But I am sure your horse will tell you whats best ..... because after all what do we , the silly humans know =P , the horse is the one who is actually wearing it .
 

Meowy Catkin

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I could try a side pull - I shouldn't let my own preconceptions stop me from trying it. I could be wrong, but I'd always equated a sidepull as being like putting reins on the side rings of a headcollar.
 

wench

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I recently purchased a Lightrider noseband for my horse, and it's a fantastic bit of kit. I am very happy with the results it has given me, and in turn has helped bitted ridden work no end.

I however did do an awful lot of groundwork in in first to ensure that horse was used to the action of it, and understood what I wanted from her.

Just purchasing the noseband is a cheap way to try it out, and the leather is not cheap and nasty, its reasonable quality stuff. The lady that runs the company is also very helpful about any questions you have, and there are numerous training videos on Youtube to watch before you start using it.
 

gwniver

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If you do decide to try a side pull , be sure to get one with a cheek strap , NOT a throat latch . Ones with a cheek strap are harder to come by , but the ones with a throat latch might as well be chucked in the bin .
Make sure the noseband is very padded and is stable .
A good side pull , should basically be a Antoine de pluvinel caveson without the extra rings in the nose band , and one correctly fitted is completely different to a halter .

PM me if you want some pictures
 

Meowy Catkin

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My googling skills seem to have abandoned me - I can't find an image for the Antoine De pluvinel caveson or a link with them for sale.

G you're right, every type of bitless I've looked at has many good reviews and then some bad ones too and I just don't know enough about it myself. I'll certainly be looking for an experienced bitless person in my area. There is a Parelli trainer locally, but I don't think that approach would suit him. Maybe she'd just advise about bitless, I could ask.

I'll look into bosals too.

He really does know what he likes and what he doesn't like, his objections aren't subtle either. I wonder why he likes the hackamore? I know that I have missed some steps by going straight to it and I will backtrack and try him with other, milder bitless bridles. Hopefully there'll be one that he likes.

TS thanks for your help, I want to do the right thing for the horse.
 

Meowy Catkin

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W - thanks for the review.

G - OK that's helpful information. Does the cheek strap stabilize the bridle?
 
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