The first time the word bitless was mentioned to me I must admit I laughed, I mean surely having no bit would mean no brakes, right? Wrong, this is a common misconception by most in relation to bitless. Before going further, this is not an I hate bits post but about how bitless can have its uses.
Now, what bitless won’t do though is replace bad training and in order to go bitless, the right amount of groundwork and training is still required. For me I tried it after a recommendation from my daughter who rides her 16.1hh mare in a bitless bridle and my then 3-year-old cob wasn’t going well in a bit but rode fine in a halter.
So I made the change and rode for about a year in an English hackamore, now I know you might be thinking that this is a harsh bitless bridle but like a bit, all types can be harsh in the wrong hands. Previously I tried a Waterford bit which again people say are harsh but due to him chewing, the links in it discouraged this behaviour and I have light hands. Being bitless enabled me to teach him how to ride off my seat rather than my hands and now the lightest of touch and a change in weight is enough to change our direction.
There are many different types of bitless bridles around and for a short time, we also tried a Cross under style (see above). However, this just confused him despite groundwork and we quickly returned to his hackamore. For my horse being bitless enabled him to relax and learn without chewing the bit which distracted him from listening to me and concentrating on his surroundings, he was able to grow and mature whilst learning still.
Types of Bitless bridles:
Transcend double bridle