So you’ve decided to go bitless or maybe change bitless bridle? That’s awesome! Bitless riding is a rewarding way to build a connection with your horse. In this blog post, we will walk you through the different types of bitless bridles available to get you started.
A Foreword on Going Bitless
The decision to go bitless is personal to you and your horse. Let me be clear: not every horse or rider can go bitless. As you embark on your bitless journey, give yourself and your horse grace. Remember that it will be a learning experience for both of you, and arm yourself with patience. This will be the key to your success.
You may have heard your coach and other horse people say there are several types of bits in the world, and it can take some trial-and-error to find the right bit. The same can be said about bitless bridles.
The list below is not exhaustive. It is a guide to help you in your choice; however, ultimately, you and your horse have the final say on whether it works or not.
One last note on bitless: Bitless bridles are not necessarily kinder. Some can be just as harsh and painful as a bit. Awareness as a rider of how your horse interprets your cues is the key to keeping communication open between you.
Bitless bridle types
Side pulls act like direct reins on a plain snaffle bit, and they are intended to make the horse move towards the tension. The most straightforward kind resembles a rope halter with rings to attach the reins. This is the best option for riders with unstable hands or for starting a horse in bitless riding.
Its intended position is just under the facial bones.
Cross-under bitless bridles
The cross-under bitless bridles put pressure all around the head and apply even pressure without pain. A tug on the reins tightens the bridle around the poll and jaw. It is also another great alternative for starting a horse bitless or just starting a new horse.
This bitless bridle type is designed so that the noseband sits above the nose’s delicate cartilage.
Photo credit of Circle-X Bitless Bridles
The mechanical hackamore operates on the principle of the horse seeking comfort by moving away from pressure. It has excellent stopping power as it squeezes the horse’s jaw. It can be too intense for the horse in the wrong hands. It has varying severity based on the lever’s length: The shorter leverage arms, the less severe the action. Because of the hackamore’s design, directional aids come from the seat and legs and neck reining. This bitless option is not ideal for young horses as there is no lateral action.
Furthermore, you typically do not ride with contact, so a good seat is required.
This bitless option has the noseband sit above the nose’s cartilage.
A traditional bosal is a rigid oval loop usually made of rawhide. The newer versions include a wire core which may produce rubs and unnecessary pressure. Check your bosals carefully!
The bosal works on the same general principle as the hackamore of expecting the horse to seek comfort by moving away from pressure.
Because of the rigidness of the bosal, a perfect fit is necessary. Otherwise, the “neutral” position for the horse still has action from the bosal and leads to a grumpy horse.
The bosal must also be correctly weighted to allow the heel knot to swing or drop under the horse’s chin when rein pressure is released.
The bosal is usually used by experienced riders with gentle hands and precise cues.
This bitless option must have the noseband sit above the nose’s delicate cartilage.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
This is a summary of the different bitless options. Although there are more and more bitless options on the market, this brief list gives you a good overview and highlights the different options.
Regardless of which type of bitless bridle you choose, fit is critical to ensure a happy horse and rider. And, of course, there is no substitute for learning to ride with the correct aids. Make sure to ride with an independent seat and kind hands while ensuring you have all the cues in place. This remains whether you ride your horse in a bit or not!
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Bitless bridles are the perfect option for riders who want to ride their horse in a more natural way. They’re also great options for horses that have been abused or mistreated with bits and need some time to adjust before using one again. Our side-pulls, hackamores, and other bitless options come in different styles so you can find something that fits your needs. We even offer free shipping on all orders over $100!
You can shop our full range of bitless bridles in Canada online today! Whether you’re an English rider or Western rider, we have something for everyone. Plus, don’t forget about our free shipping offer – just spend $100 or more and get it shipped right to your door! What are you waiting for? Shop now!