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Bitless Bridle Recommendations

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  • Bitless Bridle Recommendations

    Hi Everyone!

    I'm thinking about switching my senior trail horse to a bitless bridle. He is in his mid-20s and his teeth are in fair shape, but given his good disposition (besides being a bit spooky or nervous at times) I think a bitless bridle might be a nice change for him. I'm looking for recommendations on the best bitless bridle, pros and cons, etc. I'm not a fan of harsh mechanical hackamores with long shanks so I'm leaning toward a bosal, but I've never used one before.

    Love to hear your thoughts. I ride in either a Western or Aussie saddle if that matters at all.

  • #2
    I'm a huge fan of Moss Rock. Their bitless options are neat because you have a lot of different configurations you can try. You can use it with a bit, as a plain old halter, traditional side pull, or cross under bitless. Switching between configs is easy so I can start in a bit while my horse is fresh, and move to sidepull once he relaxes into the ride.

    They custom size for free.

    Moss Rock Bitless: http://www.mossrockendurance.com/vie...ID=1&prod_ID=5

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks! I'll check it out

      Comment


      • #4
        Here’s another possibility. I haven’t used it but some endurance riders have. http://www.potatorichardson.com/product/squeeze-bosal/

        Comment


        • #5
          I understand the bosal to be a somewhat specialist item, and a decent one is expensive and needs proper fitting.

          Can you ride him in a rope halter or plain sidepull which is just a noseband?

          A mechanical hackamore is not a harsh bit if you never use it full strength. On the other hand there is no direct rein option when riding in a hackamore. You need a horse that neck reins.

          A bosal is also a leverage bit and I imagine could be harsh in the wrong hands.

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't know enough about bosals to be comfortable using one, and I hate cross-under styles. They have poor release and I think there are much better options. If I ever go bitless I would probably try an S hack, English hack, or maybe a sidepull. I have a Junior Cowhorse bit that I plan on converting to a hack. Eventually.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
              I understand the bosal to be a somewhat specialist item, and a decent one is expensive and needs proper fitting.

              Can you ride him in a rope halter or plain sidepull which is just a noseband?

              A mechanical hackamore is not a harsh bit if you never use it full strength. On the other hand there is no direct rein option when riding in a hackamore. You need a horse that neck reins.

              A bosal is also a leverage bit and I imagine could be harsh in the wrong hands.
              My post was a little confusing. I didn't mean all mechanical hackamores are harsh, I was referring specifically to the harsh versions - I have seen ones with a metal chin clamp thing and long shanks that put no pressure on the horse unless it's BIG pressure. There was no real give or light touch available.

              My horse does neck rein, but he can also get going and be a little hot and prancy at times so I need something where I'm able to hold him in place with a light touch rather than clamp down on him. I don't think a halter will give me the touch I'm looking for. Sounds like I need to do more research into the bosal and how it works. I have very light hands with my horse and have had no problems with my bit - was just thinking about switching it up.

              Thanks for the input

              Comment


              • #8
                The bosal experts are in the vaquero or "straight up bridle horse" stream of things. They are big on technique because they use the bosal to train a very light, handy reining horse that will eventually go in a curb. Its got a lot of the precision and thoughtfulness of dressage. A genuine bosal is handmade pure rawhide and needs to be shaped to the face.

                I've always been fascinated since I was a teen by that tradition but never been up close to anyone doing it IRL.

                That said, if you didn't want to train your horse to high levels of balance perhaps you could use a bosal any old way and it would be just fine.

                I'm currently using a mechanical hackamore I bought in 1975 . It has long aluminum shanks, a flat leather nose band, and I've always used a leather chin strap, never a chain. The long shanks mean you can start signalling with the rein still draped like with a Western curb. But it really has no direct rein or pulley rein/ emergency rein function.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                  The bosal experts are in the vaquero or "straight up bridle horse" stream of things. They are big on technique because they use the bosal to train a very light, handy reining horse that will eventually go in a curb. Its got a lot of the precision and thoughtfulness of dressage. A genuine bosal is handmade pure rawhide and needs to be shaped to the face.

                  I've always been fascinated since I was a teen by that tradition but never been up close to anyone doing it IRL.

                  That said, if you didn't want to train your horse to high levels of balance perhaps you could use a bosal any old way and it would be just fine.

                  I'm currently using a mechanical hackamore I bought in 1975 . It has long aluminum shanks, a flat leather nose band, and I've always used a leather chin strap, never a chain. The long shanks mean you can start signalling with the rein still draped like with a Western curb. But it really has no direct rein or pulley rein/ emergency rein function.
                  That style hackamore sounds like it could be a good fit! I'm with you on the bosal - it piqued my interest, but I don't really know anything about it. I just wanted to learn. My horse is honestly happy with the bit I've used for years, but as he gets older I thought the hackamore could be nice for him. I'll look into the style you mentioned! Thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I personally like a Little S Hackamore.
                    It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My horse behaves very well in a Dr Cook's.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have always liked the wheel hackamores -- LG Bridle, Orbitless bridle, Flower Hackamore -- my horses always work better with a direct aid (the cross under designs work differently) and none of them have liked the poll pressure of a Dr. Cook's bridle. Here are a few options for this type of bitless bridle. The Micklem is a straight side pull; the others have a very slight leverage.

                        https://equineink.com/2017/08/15/4-r...iding-bitless/
                        https://equineink.com/2013/01/07/lg-...to-the-rescue/
                        https://equineink.com/2008/05/20/mic...configuration/
                        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Another vote for S Hackamores!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have a Micklem. My gelding loves it! I'll jump him or just trail ride him in it. There's a lot of times now, after using it a while, I'll just hop up on him and ride him with nothing.
                            If at first you don't succeed, get back on the horse and try it again!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I rode and drove two horses in the cross-under style bitless for about 12 years. One horse was "long and low" with his neck set on much lower than the other horse. He had a jaw anomaly and worked just great in the cross-under. The other horse, not so much. She did okay, but the jaw straps had a tendency to make her pull her nose inward and twist her head a bit at the poll rather than bending and turning. I agree there is not crisp release, and a simple signal to turn becomes a sensation at the poll, along the side of the face, under the jaw, thence out through the rein. With the sensitive, upheaded mare, there was really too much background sensation. I drove her in a short shank (English) hack for awhile and that was reasonably good - until it wasn't. I have ended up riding her in a side pull, particularly because lateral softness is important to me and the side pull is as straightforward as you can get about that. I can even "lift" the mare up into a gaiting posture with the side pull. Another option is to snap a snaffle onto it and ride with two reins, in which case the bridle becomes a "half breed", and is a means of transitioning from bit to bitless and vice versa. For driving, I just put this mare back into a bit she can tolerate. But bitless is nice, especially when the rider is not "virtue signalling" by switching, but truly has a foundational reason for doing so. There's no truth to the belief that bitless is inherently kinder. They can be ruthless in the wrong hands There may be some re-training to be done when transitioning to bitless.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by beau159 View Post
                                I personally like a Little S Hackamore.
                                Another fan here. You may need to swap out nosepieces for varying degrees of comfort and control... My mare ended up in a beta/biothane nosepiece. She is pretty sensitive and anything that would put pressure under her chin would drive her nuts... NO Dr. Cooks for us!

                                ETA: this is the version without what Myler calls "hooks" or slots you attach the cheek pieces through. So it's pretty mild compared to some.

                                The Little S curb chain will sit further back than a curb chain used on a bridle. Some people and horses don't like this; mine loves it as she's so sensitive just behind her chin.

                                I had to buy pony size cheek pieces to get a good fit because the Little S curve sits pretty far back. But she has a short face....
                                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have always wondered about the little S hack. I have seen a couple of horses in them and they seem to be so tight that the horse"s nose will be crunched if any pressure is put on it. I have my horses in a flower and english hack right now.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by sonata View Post
                                    I have always wondered about the little S hack. I have seen a couple of horses in them and they seem to be so tight that the horse"s nose will be crunched if any pressure is put on it. I have my horses in a flower and english hack right now.
                                    I can assure you that my mare's is not tight. It's a little different fit than a traditional headstall, but not tight.
                                    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Thanks for replying. The ones I saw had no finger room at all between the hack and the horses nose

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Rope halter works for us...... Ive never officially competed in a Enduro though, so, Im in no way an expert....

                                        Comment

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