This is my take on bitless riding. . . . . . . .
I have had a lot to do with bitless bridles of all styles over the years, from crossunders to sidepulls, sliding chinstraps and hackamores through to rope halters etc...., all made in a wide variety of styles and materials.
It has been the positive approach received by so many horses which is why I have become such a big fan of bitless riding, plus the fact that most work from an important horsemanship concept called PRESSURE & RELEASE, which is easily understood by all horses if trained correctly to this prior to use :)
In fact Bitless Riding works so well that all of our rescue horses are re-started with Bitless Bridles, which has resolved many horses issues and also proved immensely successful at eliminating problem behaviours too. Through these positive experiences I have encountered with Bitless Riding, it seemed only natural for me to share these findings with others, which lead me to then go on to teach about Bitless Riding including giving demonstrations and seminars on how to
transition properly to being bitless, as well as design and manufacture bitless bridles of our own NATURAL RIDER RANGE-which are currently available on our shopping links as can be found below for anyone who is interested. Despite claims I've heard by a few riders, that their horse can't go bitless , I have NEVER failed to transition a horse
to bitless riding (over 2000 horses so far) as I have discovered that 100% of Equines are far happier for
being bitless if you re-train your horse to the new device..........but only in the right way with gentle and small movements of the reins.
So which bitless bridle is best is a question I get asked a lot....
And to be very honest it really doesn't matter-and that part really is more about the human than the horse as if the horse understands PRESSURE AND RELEASE and the rider gives the all important, and correctly timed RELEASE of reins and aids-the horse WILL work well from any, and every style and design of bitless bridle without fail.
The blunt truth is anyone who is having issues with going bitless is simply doing it wrong-often using far too much pressure and giving no release, or reward to encourage the horse to comply.....by the way as nice as it seems to tell your horse good boy its hardly enough for it to motivate him into compliance-and this is where giving a clear and precise RELEASE comes in.
The following steps are the keys to asking your horse to communication with a bitless bridle or halter etc:
1-eyes-focus where you’re going which your horse will read from the feel of your
2-bellybutton-aim to subtly steer your body to where you are headed for in order to offer additional "feel" to your horse.
to gently push your horse in the right direction-never kick your horse please-it's rude and unnecessary.
4-Your seat to add weight or remove weight as required for
direction, again subtly felt by the horse.
5-Gentle pressure and small movement of the reins-as the last aid to be used and ONLY after using all others aids first.
A very famous horseman said "the more you use your reins the less our horses use their brains" and "Practice does not make perfect ONLY
PERFECT practice makes perfect" and I have found that never a truer word
has ever been spoken when it comes to the change to bitless riding. Thankfully horses are very smart and pick things up quickly and if done correctly, it normally only takes between a few minutes and around an hour to successfully convert a horse and rider to bitless riding-and it then goes on to being better and better with every
ride as you and your horse both hone your new skills to higher levels and establish more trust.
I'm sorry to say this and I hope I don't offend as it's certainly not my intention, but any
holes in the relationship between you and your horse will also show up with
bitless riding as it's all about trust with a bitless bridle, rather than the threat of pain as with a bitted bridle, and then there is the relationship with the horse, and what it is like
leading up to the bitless transition.
So how would you score your relationship out
of 10 with your horse today? It's not just about love either-are you the lead mare of
your herd in a fair way without violence or intimidation-does your horse feel safe with you or is he trying to run away from you when you're on his back? Does he look to you for help and reassurance when he gets scared or does he flee with the every man for his self attitude, as all this will affect the partnership. On another point that will affect training is that your horse needs to also be a in the correct learning frame of mind to
successfully learn a new skill and this can also be achieved through
intellectual stimulation for him-this definitely does NOT include lunging as this is so boring and does nothing for emotional fitness for your horse-we have discovered that forcing the horse to walk, trot to run in repetitive circles has no place in building the partnership to go bitless with our equine friends.
your ability to read your horse and make sure he is not in a right brained frame of mind (scared or worried) as no learning takes place when he/she is like this as the horses only function when he's scared is survival so he just can't think properly-it's like trying to talk to a drunk-a total waste of time. He
needs to be in a left brained (calm and responsive) frame of mind for any new
ideas to be absorbed.
So as you can see it going Bitless is a lot more complex than maybe some of you originally
thought or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can just jump on and
go-though there is no such thing as luck really-you have just done the right
things with your horse probably without realising it.
I'm always happy to help
anyone with any bitless issues via email as it's always about the horse and their quality of
life for me-so feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions :)
May all your horse days be happy Xxx
Tracy @ Natural Horse
If you would like to tell us about your bitless experiences please fill in our BITLESS SURVEY set on
the last page of this website.