Bitted or Bitless

Discussion in 'Horse Tack and Equipment' started by SharpDiss, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. SharpDiss

    SharpDiss PetForums Newbie

    Mar 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Not looking for any advice.
    What are your opinions on bitless and bitted bridles? Do you think either of them cause pain? Or think they are perfectly fine depending on the hands using them?

    Once again not looking for any advice, just wondering what your thoughts and opinions are.
  2. Wiz201

    Wiz201 PetForums VIP

    Jun 13, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Bits are fine if used properly, different horses suit different mouth pieces. Some bitless bridles like the hackamore can actually feel stronger because of the levers on the side of the head. I've ridden a horse with a simple bitless bridle that just had reins from the side of the noseband and that's gentler to use. I didn't feel any difference from riding a horse with a bit in their mouth.
    SharpDiss likes this.
  3. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums Senior

    Nov 2, 2017
    Likes Received:
    I think it depends a lot on the rider. A lot of people ride their horse in bitless as they think it's gentler, some are, but some (as pointed out above) can be quite severe if used harshly. Some horses can also react to bitless if they're not used to the pressure in a different area.

    Same with bitted, some are more severe than others and in the wrong hands can cause a lot of damage (some very old school ones that you might see used in other countries I wouldn't touch).

    I think the most important thing is to listen to your horse and try and find what it's most comfortable in :) Obviously if you want to compete then your horse will need to be trained in a bit at some point, but that doesn't mean you can't also go bitless.
  4. RachJeremy

    RachJeremy PetForums Senior

    Sep 14, 2012
    Likes Received:
    I'm always one to say it's all about "Intelligent Horsemanship" as opposed to "Natural" or being as kind as you can... I can rant away for hours on end about this... As people like RaleighLink14 heavily posts about how bits are abusive... However she has been riding around for years in an ill-fitting hackamore on her horse which she backed badly at 2 years of age... A lot of younger people seem to follow her like she's Jesus of the horse world. And quite frankly it's sickening.

    My reasons...? I've had/been around horses since i was around 3-4 years of age. I'm now 26. I'm no professional, but i would never want to inflict harm or pain to any animal i have. But i do believe there has to be a compromise and something there for horse and rider to communicate without means of abuse or pain.
    Do i disagree with bitless? No. Yet i have been bashed by Raleigh's 'minions' saying i'm an abuser for riding in a bit & had people attack me for voicing my opinion, which i'm completely entitled to.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but i find that in many cases people in the equine world are very closed minded and very "my way or the high way" sort of attitude towards things. Which is really not the way to go... Every animal is an individual and needs to be treated as such. Some horses do not cope with a bit. Some do not cope with a hackamore/bitless. It's just the way it is.

    My 18yr old Clydesdale X i have on share is ridden in an eggbutt snaffle. It's a nice thick jointed snaffle. I have known this horse for years. Know him well enough to know how he reacts when he is in pain, uncomfortable and/or scared about something. I ride with soft hands and often find myself able to control with my voice and seat and not my hands. Mainly use my hands to keep hold or to flex him about. Now he's semi-retired, he rarely goes out. We do not have facilities to ride on at the yard he is at, so hacking is the only option. If i was to take him on the roads i would personally not feel safe taking him out in a bitless, as i know he can spook and be a twit sometimes. And from experience of riding him about the property in a headcollar, he isn't very responsive in it and i find myself having to make my hands harsher to control him and stop him putting his head down or even tanking off. That being said, i know if he takes the mick at home he won't go far... Out and about on the roads. Safety is more important and i'd need to know i have enough control to stop him from being too much of a twit.
    Could i ride him bitless? Probably. But he himself is more comfortable in a bit.

    As for my two youngsters i am bringing on, i plan to have them both bitted. Purely because i feel more comfortable with one. But if for any reason they are better bitless i will ride them bitless.

    Not every horse is the same. And not every rider is the same. But i feel strongly it's the hands at play too. I have also watched people ride my 18yr old boy, and watch them be heavy handed with him and he does react quite badly to it, becomes hollow and tossing his head about more. All of which he never does with me. But i'd rather they be riding him in a bit, as i know he'd take the mick out of them if he was in his headcollar or a bitless... It's about knowing the horse well and knowing how they cope and their individual needs.

    A good person on youtube to watch about the bit debates going on right now is Shelby Denis, Milestone equestrain. And there are a few others about, like Dauphin:

    These guys have got enough evidence and studies to back things up. And i would rather give my time to someone who can provide factual evidence of bits and bitless. And also have a bit of experience in both and how to train horses to a successful enough level to decide which is best or not for the horse in question.
    As in some cases a hackamore can cause just as many problems as a bit. And in the wrong hands ANY bit and ANY bitless/hackamore CAN be abusive!

    It's unfortunately a very touchy subject. And no doubt i'll probably get moaned at for this too. But it's really all of these things:
    ~ Personal choice
    ~ What works for the horse
    ~ What works for the rider (more important to be working for the horse though!)
    ~ Not be causing pain/discomfort
    ~ Any one riding in a bit or hackamore/bitless should be educated in the pros & cons of the type of bit or bitless/hack they are using
    ~ And that being said not favouring bitless just because it's meant to be better for the horse - When ALL horses are different.