June 04, 2009

Bitless bridles

Fame and me regaining breath after a training session...

As it seems like I have to be riding without a bit for a while, I have been searching on internet to check out options.
What I am looking for is an alternative which I can do dressage riding with, and something that (hopefully) won't give me any disadvantages compared to riding on a snaffle.
So I am looking for a solution that will:
- give a good "feel" i.e. functions well with small signals, and also has a good release
- lateral signals must also work well
- the horse must be able to take a contact, and in that position it must be comfortable to the horse.

What I have tried out:
- mechanical hackamore. I don't believe this is a good option as the lateral signals doesn't work well, and it is not easy to ride with a contact. The horse comes easy behind the vertical.
- Bitless bridle type Dr. Cook, or crossover. It is a better alternative, but the release does not work well and Fame got chafed under her chin from the crossing straps.

One option that might be an alternative is a sidepull, but I have never tried it and I don't know anyone who has.
I am a bit worried about how it will work. Will the horse take contact on it? And if so, what kind of contact will I get? Will it be like with the hackamore that if the horse takes contact it is uncomfortable, and thereby invites the horse to work behind the vertical? Hm.

Then I found another option: the LG-bridle.
The comments I have found on Internet have been positive.
What I like (looking at the pictures) is that it seems to be lying in a stable position, doesn't seem to be a severe bit, and it seems as if your lateral signals might function well as well as a release. And you have a possibility to adjust the function of it depending on where you attach your reins.
All in all it looks like I might have most of the functions I am looking for.

Now I am very curious - is there anyone out there that has any experience with it?
Or has any comments/suggestions in general when it comes to bitless solutions?
I am very grateful for any input!


RuckusButt said...

That LG looks interesting. I have no input for you but look forward to learning from your experiences.

About you last post - must be something in the air with the bucks! My luck ran out last night and I did some damage to my wrist. I am typing with one hand and will have to write my post about it later, takes SO long to type :(

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I don't have any experience with bitless bridles, but I know two bloggers who do:

Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch
She had the Dr. Cook's. A handful of people with Dr. Cook's have mentioned a problem where the bridle crosses under the chin.

Sydney at Science vs. Tradition
She represents Nurtural bitless program.

stillearning said...

When my horse had teething issues I used the Dr Cook's bitless bridle. I didn't have any trouble with the chafing and it was an acceptable solution for my youngster. When I tried it on my older horse I found that it tended to let him be heavier on the forehand, but not enough that it was an issue. I still use it occasionally, just to keep things interesting.

The LG looks interesting. Good luck!

Anonymous said...


Hi, sorry to be anon, but I don't have an account.

I have used a Dr. cook type bitless and had a bit of rubbing from the chin straps. I solved the problem by making a pair of sleeves for the straps from some soft felt-like wool fabric.


~ C said...

I've ridden with a regular "sidepull" (the type that buckles onto a stanard bridle with a rope noseband and leather chin strap) but I prefer to ride in a rope halter with rings knotted into where the nose piece and cheekpiece intersect. I prefer both of these over a mechanical hackamore, as my horse can take contact by gently pushing against the noseband and there are no cheekpieces to interfere with my leverage. To me, riding in a side pull is very, very close to riding with a snaffle. I'm breaking out a new Arab colt right now and all of his riding, including his first two trail rides, have been in his rope halter with the rings. I love the simplicity and feeling with these. I can tell exactly how much pressure I'm applying and I can give an immediate release just by giving on the reins. Highly recommend them.

~ C

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks all for your helful comments!

RuckusButt - Auch! Doesn't sound good. Looking forward to hear what happened, but take care of your wrist. Hope you will get better soon!

NuzzMuzz - I will check with Sydney to see what difference the Nurtural makes compared to Dr. Cooks. Do you know if Lisa experienced the same kind of problems that I did?

Stillearning - thanks for your info. It might be that a leather bridle is better than the one I have, but I am still worried about the release as I need to ride with a contact. Do you ride western or English?

Anon - that was a good idea, thanks. I still have the release-problem though, but this will help until I find somthing that works better.

~C. That was useful info. I can get hold of a sidepull, or see if I can find a rope halter with side rings to try out. Thanks a lot!

Helen said...

I too am looking at bitless bridles for my mare who had a lot of problems with her teeth when she was teething. I find she goes really well in just about anything to start with, including just a headcollar, but slowly gets heavier and more on the forehand.

I'm now trying her in a Sprenger KK Ultra with a roller on the link (the WH I think it's called) and so far she seems to like it, but I will be very interested to read of your experiences.

Thank you for your comment on my old blog. I have now begun a new one and am full of hope for the future. I love your poetic style of writing (I have a thing about words and language) and have continued to follow your blog even when I was incapable of much else, so thank you!

HorseOfCourse said...

Oh Helen, I am so happy to hear from you! I will follow you on your new blog.
Fame as well as my daughter's pony MacGyver have KK-bits. I ride Fame with the 2-type, where the ends get wider when attaching the ring. MacGyver has the WH soft, and works very well in that one. I sometimes change bit on Fame, but it's the KK she works best with.