View Full Version : Bitless bridles

May. 14, 2011, 11:54 PM
Any good bitless bridles or hackamore that aren't expensive. I was looking to get the Dr. Cook Beta but there must be something cheaper I could get right now. Does anyone use a basic sidepull or hackamore for trails instead of a bitless bridle?

May. 15, 2011, 12:16 AM
We've used bosals and sidepulls on youngsters during training and adult horses with some sort of mouth pathology or bitting issue.

I won't have a hackemore on the place as I consider all I've ever seen to be from the workshop of Tomas de Torquemada.

A properly fitted headstall and bit will give a better and more reliable response than any "bitless" system I've ever seen or heard of.

I would not cross the street to pee on Dr. Cook if he was on fire. IMO his website and his justification for his equine torture device is a morass of mis- and dis-information.

Use what you think best, but bits were invented for a very good reason.


May. 15, 2011, 04:29 AM
I do use a bit 99 percent of the time. I was considering using a sidepull for my horse as she does very well in one. I've never used a fancy dr.cook bitless so I didn't know if I should consider it.

May. 15, 2011, 04:33 AM
I use S hackamores or english hackamores and both types work well. Sidepulls, I'll use for training, but I don't like them as much on the trail as an S or english. Don't care for the 'bitless' bridles such as cooks, seems to me a bit of re-inventing the wheel but not as well - when better types of bitless options have existed for years. but.. thats just my opinion on them.

May. 15, 2011, 11:28 AM
We use Colombian Bosals on several of our Paso's. Also had an App mare that went well in them. No leverage. You can put the reins on the side for lateral or below the chin for vertical finesse.

Bits can be every bit (pun intended) as harsh as a hackamore, depending on the horses training and the riders hands

May. 15, 2011, 11:37 AM
I use an english hackamore on my mare. I can neck rein or direct rein her without a problem. She seems to be happy in it.

May. 15, 2011, 08:01 PM
I just ride in a rope halter, with a rolled nose band. If your horse goes well in one, it's convenient and inexpensive. We trail ride, and it's nice not to be messing with bridle off/halter on or requiring a horse to wear a bridle and halter all the time. Our horses are as responsive in a halter as they are in a bridle/bit, with the exception of my mare, Jet. She's much softer/nicer in a halter.

May. 16, 2011, 10:14 AM
Just my experience:
I use the Dr Cooks bitless and even my stubborn QH works well in it (had to use a one rein stop only once). But like bits or anything else, the horse needs to be trained with lightness so you aren't putting more 'force' into it than it should have applied. The beta stretches a little with any emergency stops... really the biggest thing I don't like about it.

Before trying the Dr Cook, I had a super-cheap 'indian bosal' basically a yacht rope cross under that only applied pressure to the nose. I kind of like it (esp since it was $25 and you jsut add it to a headstall) but it needs sheepskin padding since the yacht rope (even braided) will rub the nose. I'm still on the fence with the pressure on any of the bitless options and I have found that with one of my 'trouble' horses, he will stop if he wants to listen whether i use a sidepull, a crossunder, a snaffle, or a curb! So I just ride him in a snaffle or the indian bosal and keep him working since he's happier than jsut standing in the pasture :) I"d rather they all worked in both.

So it's just time spent training and de-spooking, it seems. I think i'm going to work the summer with the cross unders and a french snaffle, then work them into a soft side-pull and see how that goes. But cheaper bitless options narrow it to the indian bosal attachment (add your own padding!!) or a sidepull I think. All the best with your choices!!

Lady Counselor
May. 16, 2011, 10:58 AM
I picked up the bitless bridle/rope halter combo from www.sunsethalters.com recently. Pretty nice, and about $50.
They also have sidepull models.

May. 16, 2011, 11:30 AM
I love love love my rope Indian bosal from Crazy Ropes. http://inthenightfarm.blogspot.com/2008/08/i-love-my-mail-carrier.html That post is a couple years old -- I've been using that same Indian bosal for almost every ride since.

May. 16, 2011, 04:32 PM
A friend of mine has this http://www.mossrockendurance.com/view_product.asp?category_ID=1&prod_ID=18, and I tried it a few times last fall on my 8-year old OTTB, in the plain old sidepull configuration. He actually went really well in it in the arena-- as good as, if not better, than in a bit. (We usually go in a French link.)

So I ordered one, and it should be here in a week or so... Horse tends to be a bit "up" in spring and fall, but I'm beginning to get my Summer Horse back for the season :) , so I'm hoping to use the bitless for trail rides this summer.

May. 17, 2011, 01:33 AM
I ride my Tb mare in an english hackamore. This has been her main "bit" for 7+ years. http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/2965810727/ (we're on the right in this pic)

May. 17, 2011, 07:52 AM
simbalism-I do not believe that is an "english hackamore"

I understand and english hackamore to be more like a rolled noseband.

What you have on looks like a mechanical hackamore. ;)

May. 17, 2011, 11:46 AM
mechanical hackamore /english hackamore are used to describe the same hackamore style regardless of rolled noseband or not:

which is why this type of hackamore has a specific name compared to other models - since it isn't a 'true' hackamore in that it uses shanks & leverage.

May. 17, 2011, 01:37 PM
Ack! Sorry-I was thinking of a jumping hackamore when I read English hackamore.

My mistake!

May. 17, 2011, 02:45 PM
Every horse is different.

My mule goes beautifully in a bosal, and did fine in a mechanical hackamore too (on a loose rein with a feather touch, so not harsh in that setting). He DESPISED the Dr. Cook's bridle on him . . . the pressure incited a small degree of panic even with very gentle rein aids. He also goes fine in a pelham or a mullen mouth snaffle but gets very worried in a loose ring french link.

On the other hand, I've ridden horses who go nicely in a Dr. Cook's bridle, though I do think it can inspire them to get a bit heavy.

Use what makes your horse comfortable, and don't be afraid to try a cheaper approach first! (Rope halter?)

May. 17, 2011, 03:06 PM
I used a Dr. Cooks for a while on my stiff mare with a metal pin in her jaw. Eventually she started head shaking and pulling horribly so I sold it. I went to a HS Dynamic D...she goes SO much better in that. We had a pony that was a monster with any bit....switched to a side-pull and he's an angel :). I think all horses are different and it's nuts to think a bitless is the answer for all horses even though that is the slant they use to sell their product. It's an option but not always the answer.

May. 17, 2011, 07:38 PM
Running Bear's "SMART" Cavesson mimics the Dr. Cook's action fairly well, IMO, and will end up costing less (I think.)

Unless you really, specifically want that cross-under action, I'm not sure there's a huge advantage to any of the bitless arrangements over a halter that fits, and I think if you DO want the leverage, a regular Hack is a more horse-intuitive mechanism. I don't have any problem with any of the arrangements at all, and have seen them all work on different horses with a variety of riders.

The cross-under seems more intuitive to me on a really snakey-necked horse. Where you're looking for the ability to constrain the neck/head laterally. This could be because that's what they use on camels (cross-under, except that the ends often attach to a bolt through the nose...not a cavesson)

May. 23, 2011, 07:53 PM

I would not cross the street to pee on Dr. Cook if he was on fire. IMO his website and his justification for his equine torture device is a morass of mis- and dis-information.

Wow, I guess you have some strong opinions on this. :)

While I am sure a bit less bridle is not ideal for all horses in all situations, calling the Dr Cook a torture device seems a bit harsh.

Could you elaborate on this? I am not an expert on bits/bridles by any stretch of the imagination and would like to know what could be so terribly wrong with this device (my horse seems to love it and is very responsive to it.)