The Bitless Bridle™ UK

User's Comments

Feedback is listed with the most recent comment at the top, so you can easily see the latest when you return. The Bitless Bridle™ has been available in UK since October 2004 - there are lots more rider's comments, dating back to 2001 and covering all disciplines on USA

If you would like to comment on The Bitless Bridle™ please email your comments (& photos) and we'll add them to this page.

Or if you would like to post your own comments about any of our products, go to the product you purchased in the shop, select 'reviews' (bottom left of each product page) and enter your comments.

To share your bitless experiences with others, go to our Facebook Page

More photos in The Bitless Bridle Gallery

To find comments regarding something specific, say Headshaking or Dressage, use Ctrl + F and type the word into the box provided.

Note: These comments are all "from the horse(owner)'s mouth" and not edited in any way (apart from an occasional typo).

NB: The moneyback guarantee referred to in some of the feedback below is no longer available, however your statutory rights are not affected.

Read what famous author Joe Camp (Benji books, Soul of a Horse...) says about going bitless


Just wanted to write and say thank you so much for my bitless bridle, my horse Spencer took to it like a fish to water on our first attempt and I can honestly say I will never ride with a bit again.
Spencer in his Dr Cook Bitless Bridle
Spencer is a rescue horse with a variety of problems which everyone told me were simply behavioural, but I felt that he was acting out of pain and the anticipation of pain. The most difficult ridden problem was that he would lean heavily on the bit, drag the reins practically out to the buckle and canter round and round the ring completely out of control with his head almost touching the floor. Trainers told me to hold him more firmly, even to jab him in the mouth with the bit when he tried to lean – but I refused to do this and eventually decided to stop riding him altogether until the leaning problem could be solved in-hand.

We had some success working in just a headcollar with reins clipped on the sides – he was no longer taking off but he still leant very heavily on my hands. I was able to get him to collect for a few strides in response to me tightening my abdominals and straightening my spine but after a few strides he would then start leaning again.

I decided to buy a bitless bridle on a whim just to see if it would help us break through this plateau, and to my amazement from the moment I put it on him he was able to collect in response to my abdominals and maintain the collection all the way around the ring with only a featherweight feeling in my hands!

Finally I feel like there's light at the end of the tunnel for my lovely horse, and maybe soon I'll be able to start safely riding him again. In addition, now that he longer feels or fears pain, all of his other "behavioural" issues like aggressiveness in the stall have mysteriously vanished. Thank you so much for giving us this priceless gift!

Hannah, Essex

Emily & Monty cantering in Dr Cook Bitless Bridle

Hiya,me and my horse monty would like to say a huge thanks for the bridle we bought, I love it!! and as far as I can tell,so does he!

He is more responsive in it than a gag (what he was in) and all the head shaking and grumpy face has stopped!

I've attached a picture of us cantering across a close by field,in the bridle with baggy reins and a happy horse!

Thankyou once again, Emily and monty, Southend

I would like to thank you for my bridle received 10 days ago. More importantly my wonderful horse Tom would like to thank you.

Tom has always been a great chap since he came to me as a newly broken 3 1/2 year old, big, strapping, very enthusiastic young cob in 2009. He was gently broken and is a real gent and has always done his best for me despite a lot of discomfort with a bit in his mouth due to his huge tongue and low palate.

Since 2009 Tom and I have had countless issues relating to his discomfort most recently with getting his tongue over the bit. I tried lots of bits renowned for being "kind" but always came back to the fact that Tom was desperately uncomfortable.

There was no amazing transformation when putting on his new Beta bridle. Just a big thank you from Tom. He continues to be one of the good guys but with a hugely happier heart. No more crazy head rubbing while untacking and a renewed enthusiasm to being tacked up. We have progressed over 10 days from schooling to hacking out and fast work across open fields and jumped bitless for the first time last night.

I did make a minor adjustment to my initial fitting as I hadn't fitted the noseband low enough but that was my fault and not Tom's.

I am relieved and happy that I have been able to give Tom the comfort and thanks he deserves for being a genuine, lovely horse. I wish I had found you sooner and would recommend Dr Cooks to anyone. I can't wait to compete this year flying the flag for Dr Cook.

Thank you

I wanted to let you know I've now tried it for the 1st time on George, my 18 year old Dutch Warmblood.  First impressions are very good!  I had no problems, he seemed to 'get it' straight away, I tested the brakes, steering & the response was excellent.  What was also interesting was his readiness to collect a bit, which was my main concern beforehand.  As I'd read on your other emailed comments, the most noticeable thing was how relaxed George was.  I know it's only one experience and it as just a brief hack of an hour or so - but so far, so good!

I'm really impressed & pleased with the BB.  The key thing seems to be about relaxation - I really feel like I'm developing a new relationship with my horse & its notable that the contact through the rein is softer & more responsive.  Communication is much more subtle - gentle & agreeable all round.  On a 1st hack out with a friend, we set up the conditions to try for a measured/controlled canter - they had sometimes tended to race & get a bit out of hand prior to BB.  Anyhow, George (my horse) went into a lovely rolling & soft canter, quite easily gathered/collected & he set a fantastic pace & style for a good half-mile or so canter.I was sceptical about the degree to which I'd be able to ask for collection - especially when out hacking.  In fact, this has been (so far) so much easier than with a bit.  George seems now not to rush, to find a balance & posture more easily, there's no leaning on the bridle etc etc etc.  I haven't yet had him in an arena or lesson with others - but I'm no longer sceptical.  I've had the predictable ridicule from others but it's been great to see others that have seen George in the BB, telling the sceptics how good it's been/he's been.  

I've learned that the noseband needs to be fitted really quite snug.  One hole too slack & I find the difference is enormous...

Gary, February

I feel compelled to write to you following riding my mare for the first time today in a Dr Cook bridle.

Ellie came into my life 5 years ago after she was imported from Germany as a 4 year old.  The man that imported her soon found out that the highly bred and highly strung liver chestnut Oldenburg mare was not going to be easy.  So much so, that he left me have her for a pittance after he attempted to break her..... badly!

I took a lot of criticism from friends at the time and I was often told to sell her on as I wouldn't be able to invest the time in her having got two small children as well.  I was not going to give up on her.  The mare was both mentally and physically stuck and I spent hours making positive but slow progress with her in hand and on the ground.

I have never been "normal" when it comes to horses.  Always on the search for a kinder and gentler way to work with them and I had a passion for the classical principles of dressage. We achieved what most thought was impossible, a strong bond and despite what we went through, we both grew from it.  Despite having very gentle hands, Ellie can be extremely spooky and sharp and can do a 180 degree spin that a western horse would be proud of.  It was at these times, I was aware that I could hurt her mouth as we span around and took of at speed.

Having made the decision that I neither wanted to compete her or even try to fit in with the dressage divas out there, I took the decision to try bitless.  I have spent weeks researching the different bridles on the market and came to the conclusion that the Dr Cook was for us.  I called an old friend of mine to talk about my decision and she said I could have her Dr Cook as she no longer rode.

Well it was "D" day today, my instructor, who was also very excited arrived and here we were about to embark on something that others had told me was particularly stupid and dangerous to do.  The ground is wet and  due to Christmas and school holidays I had not ridden her for 3 weeks.   I do not have an arena, but Ellie is barefoot and well balanced so off we went into the 5 acre field.  

My friend had also come to watch and we were all amazed.  She felt fantastic.  She was through, in a beautiful natural self carriage and felt so powerful.  She shook her head a couple of times but soon settled down to give me the best ride I have ever had. Both my instructor and friend both commented that she was more through and engaged than any horse that they had seen at local BD competitions.  I felt incredibly proud!

However, and there is a BUT...... I can now understand why people write so negatively about the bitless bridle which may put some people off from trying them.  I discovered today the importance of the riders core and seat.  That the reason why people are so negative about them is obviously because they have a weak core and poor seat.  Everything comes from the seat, the bridle is there for refinement.  Each turn, halt, half halt, shoulder in, leg yield comes from deep within the riders core and not the bridle. My hands are light and still and yet this hot headed mare worked in a way most dressage divas would die for.  Yes, we had a 180 degree spin at a mole hill that appeared overnight yet I knew that I wasn't going to accidentally hurt her mouth and she soon resumed her beautiful trot. 

Today has changed my life and just seeing the content and happy look in her eye afterwards just said it all.  My friend decided afterwards that she was going to buy a Dr Cook.  I can't change the world, but I can help a few people find the kindest way.  Such a pity that I didn't do it years ago!

Alison, January

Sent to Horse & Rider magazine in October 2011 and published in their February 2012 issue

I have just read the article ‘Which Bit is Best’ in H&R November issue.  I was surprised to read that in the writer’s opinion a bitless bridle probably won’t provide sufficient control.  I beg to differ.  I took delivery of a Dr Cook’s bitless bridle 4 weeks ago following incessant nagging by a friend that I should try my horse in one. She is 16.2hh, fit, very sensitive and I use her for pleasure riding, local riding club competitions, and occasional affiliated showjumping.  This particular bitless bridle was developed after years of research into the negative effects that bitting horses can have on them.  The bridle has been designed with cross over straps underneath the head and allows the rider to communicate in a humane way with their horse.  In the past four weeks I have ridden my horse in a variety of situations, schooling, hacking, x-country and jumping courses at up to 1m height.  At no time have I felt that it does not offer sufficient control, and actually I would say it has improved my riding.  It certainly lets you know in no short order where as a rider you have been relying too much on your hands!  My trainer (who also uses a bitless bridle for one of her young horses) mentioned how much better my horse was going in a recent jumping lesson.  A number of riders at our Lancashire-based yard have now got their horses in these bridles, and we are all big fans.  Just for avoidance of doubt, I have no link with Dr Cook – I am simply a paying customer who thinks this product could benefit innumerable horses and riders.  Perhaps you would be able to provide a feature on it (and other bitless options) to educate the readership about going bitless?

Jenny, October 2011


Just thought that I would drop you a line to say a huge thank you from myself and “Tully” for such an amazing product!

Tully is a 17.1hh 6 year old Irish Sports Horse who I have had since she was 5 years old.  Tully has a lovely temperament but had always had an issue with constantly playing around with her mouth when she had a bit in, and having her tongue hanging out of the right of her mouth when ridden.  We tried a few different bits such as a Myler, and a Pee Wee, but in the end put her back in a happy mouth rubber snaffle which she seemed more comfortable in.  I was still not happy that she was properly comfortable as when you went to put a bridle on she went and hid in the corner of her stable.  So, although only still a novice myself, I went against all the “traditional” advice I was getting such as “just put her in a flash to stop the mouthing etc” and decided to try a Dr Cooks.  A friend of mine who is a dressage judge and ex dressage rider came by to try Tully in a bit to see how she was going and said that Tully felt incredibly tense when ridden in the bit.  I explained that my Dr Cooks had arrived the morning before and she was over the moon, as it turned out she used to ride one of her horses in one due to a mouth injury.  She put the Dr Cooks on Tully and rode her – what a difference, Tully relaxed immediately and performed in a freer motion with a much better shape.  I now ride her all the time in it, including out hacking, and even at my stage of riding can feel the difference.  She even lets you put the bridle on over the stable door, and actively pushes her nose into it!

Thankyou so much!

Andy and Tully, Devon - August 2011

I ordered this bridle last week, we are now on our 2nd day of using it, and all I can say is wow!! We have a different horse underneath us. It has already solved several problems, Jessey has already stopped napping, spooking, pulling us forward because he leans on the bit, he is better balanced and the transitions have improved and goes straight into canter when asked (before he was literally running into the canter), improved steering because he no longer resists us, stopped stargazing as well as dropping his head down to the ground, stopped bucking, and more importantly, Jessey seems very happy with the bitless bridle as he is much calmer, but still more forward going. Definitely more control but with a lot less pressure compared to the bit as we only need to apply very light pressure to the reins to ask him to stop etc.

I will never go back to a bit!!

Thanks for a wonderful product, I will recommend this product to anyone regardless of whether the horse has problems or not.

Karen - July 2011

I had tried a number of different bits on my cob who seemed to hate them all.  He was never strong and always kind but spent the entire time messing with his bit - either chewing it or chucking it around in his mouth or shoving it to one side and holding it there.  Did all the usual mouth, teeth, back stuff and nothing made a difference.  Tried every bit know to man and a few that aren't.  In desperation I ordered 
one of your bridles on trial and have never looked back.   The  transition wasn't straight forward as my cob isn't the sharpest knife in the draw and it took him a while to understand the different aids and he spent a lot of time with his head in the air until I covered  the noseband in sheepskin after which he stopped doing that.  

Some of  that was my fault because I was nervous and was probably hanging on too hard.  But after about a week we both got ourselves sorted out and there is no way I would want to go back to a bit.  One of the joys is that because there is so much less feeling of a contact I never really know if he is taking a hold or not and as long as he stops when I ask him, who cares?  And he does stop - always and willingly.  We are working on our dressage and getting better all the time.  He is a much happier horse and is working in a long low outline instead of with his head on his chest evading the bit.  He used to turn away from the bridle when I tried to put it on and now he actually sticks his head into it.  I am thrilled and can't thank you enough for such a wonderful kind design of bitless bridle.

Revd Viv - June 2011

pablo bitless novice dressage testJust thought I would send you a picture of my horse Pablo doing a novice dressage test recently in my bitless bridle had to go HC but scored 71% and would have been placed had I been allowed to compete properly.

The bridle has made such a difference to the way Pablo works he is now a much happier horse.

Thank you.

Dee - May 2011

I have particularly decided to write my feed back for the horse owners that think a bitless bridle would not be of any use for " their particular horse " I own a 17.1 irish hunter, ive had him 3 years. He has never been an easy horse from day 1 . He is as temperamental as they come, he can nap and spook for England, hes very sharp and is the strongest horse ever known in an open space. Hes extremely quirky and nervy and grumpy, he can go from relatively calm to explosive in a nano second and will then remain that way for the rest of the ride. He knows every evasion of the bit ever invented. Might i add this horse is extremely well school, professionaly so.
After a 5 month injury rest, i decided to research the BB as we have never really been able to find a bit that works,and as far i was concerned he just was not happy. I must say i was intrigued at reading the users comments and it got me interested, i decided against every ones better judgement that i was going to give it a try, i had serious concern from friends due to his temperament, that they thought i had "finally took leave of my senses, and that i was on some sort of death wish" I am now 8 weeks into riding bitless, and i have to say that it was one of the best decisions i have ever made. He is a much calmer horse all round, yes he still naps and spooks but he gets over it instantly, the incidents have reduced by 70%. The antics in wide open spaces have also reduced, i knew this area was going to take time for him to realise that all his tricks were not going to work any more,( and boy he has tried them all ) and finally with patience and consistancy hes getting there !! This week he has walked... yes walked accross open fields, been lighter in hand, cantered so beautifully accross the clover, i just can not believe its the same horse. I would urge any one to try the BB and particularly so on this type of horse, dont expect a miracle on day 1 , but give your horse the time he deserves to settle into this new concept. I can not thank Sheila from BB enough for her time in talking to me and her advice given. Also Dr Cook for a brilliant bridle. I never thought i would see the day i rode this horse bitless and no martingale. If any one would like to talk to me i would be more than happy to do so. What are you waiting for.. open your mind and give it a try. Never will my horse be bitted again.

Sue, Shropshire - May 2011

I received my bitless last week as promised and just wanted to say it’s like magic, my friend brought hers for me to try and I was so impressed that I ordered one straight away, it has transformed my TB mare into a totally different horse, so much more relaxed and a much more comfortable ride. No more fighting the bit, no more stumbling, no overreaching, in fact it does everything you say it does. I was so impressed that I suggested that my daughter try it on her WBxTB  it had the same magical result a much happier horse, so I have ordered her one today so we are converted and we don’t want to go back so much more kinder to them and us as we don’t have to worry about their mouths. THANKYOU VERY MUCH!!!! From a very satisfied customer.

Barbara - May 2011

Just to let you know that our B.B. arrived bang on time in order to take our Daughter to her riding lesson this afternoon . It was incredibly east to fit , only took about 5 minutes to fit and adjust . We lead him around the field for a short time in order to get him used to the feel of it before boxing him and taking him to the riding school . Our horse , Magic is a family horse , a 14.2 hh welsh section D Cob rising seven . When we arrived at the school Dad volunteered to ride him first . He just walked him around in a figure of eight for a while before trotting him around the arena . He seemed totally relaxed in his new B.B. bridle . He wasn’t showing any signs of being uncomfortable with the bit as he had been doing for some time, tossing his head , mouthing the bit and putting his tongue out of the side of his mouth . He turned and stopped well . It was such a relief not having to wrestle with him in order to get a bit into his mouth which stressed him and us before riding him out . Mum rode him around the arena next , walking , turning , halting and finally trotting him. Our instructor was pleased with the way that he reacted to his new B.B. and urged us to get him into canter which we did . There was no problem with control . Having put him through his paces on his new B.B. bridle our Daughter Kathryn took over and started her lesson , first walking , turning , halting, trotting in the same way that Mum and Dad had done. Again the instructor was happy with the way that he was reacting in his new B.B. and urged her to trot him over a couple of jumps which she did very well .

Early days yet but we are sure that Magic (Carless Magic Moon ) will go from strength to strength , uninhibited and happy in his B.B. We will keep you informed of his progress .Thank you so much for the opportunity to purchase our B.B. which we have to say is of the highest quality.
Kind regards

Sonia , Philip & Kathryn Malme . Cromer Norfolk - April 2011

I finally had the time to ride Clover last night, with her new bitless bridle... and it was just amazing! (The size is perfect). Again, she did the most beautiful collected slow canters, off her shoulders, light in the hands, breathing deeply and relaxed. Clover had never been able to canter in such a way before and I always blamed her sadles for it, which I changed 3 times...and I was going to go treeless soon.

Her canter was so soft and calm and she was so light in the hands that I could at last relax in my seat, and I felt no tension in my back at all. I could also sit properly without having to think about it. I just can't wait to do more like this as since I had last ridden in France, the classical way, I had never felt like this on horse back again. I have started to think that there is a fundamental problem with the way riding is taught in the UK.

Her saddle is still getting checked early May, and by then I will know if the bitless bridle has solved our problem entirely or if she still also needs to go treeless. She went barefoot in January and is doing very very well with this too.

I think bitless bridles are not allowed for dressage competitions...what can I do about this? Would a very light rubber bit be an option to allow us to enter classes without compromising her comfort too much?

Would you be able to advise me on that one?

Many thanks.

Best regards.

Fabienne - April 2011

longlining bitless Just to say thankyou for the bridle, Harry is enjoying going out now and just needs to get the hours under his belt before he can go out in the cart. 

Sheila - March 2011

Bought the bit less bridle from you just over a month's great, I love it and so does polo I think! She had become somewhat restless when I tried to bridle her up over the last few months and has always wanted to do her own thing out on a hack, especially when she came to grass! Also, had a tendency to rear!! Now, things are considerably aversion when the bridle comes near her, my arms stay in their sockets when cantering and at the moment she has not reared! (touch wood)! She is altogether so much more enjoyable to ride and my confidence is getting back to where it was a few years ago. I even rode her across Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs on a very windy day and she was as calm as anything, and the short canter I did do was in control and when I wanted to go! I would normally have to walk on the chalk track instead of the grass in the hope she would not start getting silly and stroppy, but she was not at all like  that....what a lovely change that made! I have been singing the praises of the bridle to folks I work with who keep horses so whether they take the plunge remains to be seen!

Joanne - November 2010

kalinin bitted in schoolI will firstly send you some pictures showing Kalinin over-salivating on the bit in the school (pic right), and then chewing, making faces and opening his mouth in the field; finally (in a separate email) some pictures OF HIS FIRST DAY in the Bitless bridle (below left)

Here is some history of my horse:

I rescued him from a field in Devon where he had been languishing for over a year serving a variety of unhandled mares.  I understood he had been shown successfully, including under saddle.  However, from the minute we put a bit in his mouth, he over-salivated on it.  I tried numerous bits, including rubber and happy mouth, nothing made a difference, and finally I settled on an ergonomic Sprenger which was much better than the others..  He still over-salivated (white saliva) and tended to “back off” the bit.  Nevertheless, he did not refuse the bridle, and given that neither I or the other rider has a “death grip” on the mouth, we persevered.  Of course, I had him seen by two dentists and a vet, but apart from one loose tooth which should not have caused a problem for bitting, there was no other problem found.  After seeing the pictures of him being ridden in the field, however, I finally did take the step of ordering a Bitless bridle..  I had had this in mind for some time, but it was seeing how uncomfortable he looked that finally persuaded me to take the plunge.

kalinin bitlessAs you can see from the pictures of Phil schooling Kalinin (which were taken just after fitting the Bitless bridle for the first time), the improvement was immediate, and I now have a horse who is MUCH more responsive (presumably because he isn’t always worried about his mouth?) to the leg and seat aids.

I do hope you can use a couple of these pictures to demonstrate the difference….

Many thanks for a fantastic product!

Best wishes, Julia - November 2010

Julie with her Comtois in Bitless Bridle

I purchased a bitless bridle 2 months ago for me three yr old comtois (french heavy breed similar to the suffolk punch). I was in the process of backing him but he was so bothered by having a bit in his mouth that every other stride he was tripping over himself. He was concentrating so much on the bit that he wasnt looking where he was going!. Saw the dr cooks bitless on here, which i have to say i had never heard of in my 30 yrs with horses! And as i use a be-nice halter wih pretty much the same control, decided to try it. He has a lot of respect for his halter. Well with in ten minutes he accepted the bridles fitting, steering and brakes and i have never looked back. He is a pleasure to ride in it and always eagerly places his head in it to be ridden. He does not fight it. I have as much, if not more control then a bitted bridle and i will  use a bitless bridle all the time now,Even when i break him to harness next year. I ALSO HAVE TO SAY THAT I GOT LOOKED AT WITH HORROR BY MUCH OF THE PEOPLE AT THE YARD TOO AS I WAS BREAKING IN THE LARGEST HORSE IN THE YARD WITH NO BIT!! But now im trying to convert others so watch this space!!

Julie - November 2010

It arrived thursday just after I had spoken to you. I have used it twice, its fab, im really happy with it. Very good quality Crystal is very comfortable with it !!!

Thanks, Ayla - October 2010

I just quickly wanted to let you know that the bridle arrived last Friday (22nd October). This was exceptionally fast! Thanks again for your help with regard to my order.

It has been proven to be a total success with Oscar! He took to the bridle like a duck to the water. He is happy in his new bridle and he doesn't pull any more! He is so light in the hands now and even his turns are a lot better. It's just amazing! People don't even realise it is a bitless bridle as the beta bridle looks just like an ordinary bridle. Thank you so much!

Silke - October 2010

My welsh section D has never been riden in anything but the Dr cook, he has never been shod and i ride him in a bareback pad.
I am his first human companion after he was rounded up of the welsh mountains and gelded in 2004 at which time he was 4 1/2yrs old.
it has at times felt like a soul destroying experience trying to join up with such an independant, free thinking, strong willed, free spirted, extremley intelligent equine. especially in the face of adversity with "old school type" horse people, however, 6 yrs later and i have one amazing, loyal friend whom i enjoy riding regularly (most days, hacking) and what makes it extra special is that whatever i ask of him, he does it because he wants to, because he respects me as a leader not through force, humilation or a broken soul.

He responds well to the Dr cook, and although he is a very forward going horse, typical of his breed, i have found he does listen and respond well to all my signals whilst still able to feel a sense of freedom due to having no-bit. this dear horse has taught me so much about horses, for example; they respond better to push rather that pull, natural to their own enviroment and how they communicate with each other. i often find it difficult to be surrounded by small minded people riding very trust worthy horses, in such an old fashioned, restricted manner, essentially, the rider can ony experience 50% of their horses potential, (there was a reason why the native american indians always out run the cavalry) a good example of this is the british police force out on parade in my area recently, i nearly cried at the stress one particular horse was under on a very hot day with no doubt a very hot piece of metal in its mouth, side reins, martingales, whips, spurs etc the horse was un-aware of anything but pain which was clearly seen in its eyes, other evidence of discomfort could be recognised by the way it was constantly pre-occupied with the bit and the amount of foam coming from its mouth, such a shame to see such a beautiful, willing animal treated in this way due to ignorance, but what hope is there when professionals such as the police force continue to use these out-dated methods of control???

Thankyou Robert Cook for having the intelligence to design a bridle that keeps the rider safe whilst still in tune with the horses own language and way of communicating, after all humans are supposed to have the more superior brain, although i know of many horses if vocal chords would allow, would disagree, however, their objections are unfortunatly often misunderstood as bad-tempered or bad-mannered, how laughable, i guess thats what happens when people try to humanize horses.... sorry for ranting on and thanks again x

Dawn - August 2010

I just wanted to write in and say how amazing the Dr Cooks bridle has been for me. My horse is extremely strong and also highly sensitive with his mouth. He just hates bits, for whatever reason he just does not want them put in his mouth. I also couldn't control him with one in, I tried all kinds, even a gag and grackle couldn't hold him properly, so I tried bitless - and what a transformation! He's still very strong and when he wants to go, he will, but I have just so much more control! Instead of fighting the bit and knowing there was always a way he COULD avoid it, he's settled, happy and comes back to me much faster than he ever did in a bit. I went into this very open minded and I've been nothing but impressed. I even rebacked him in it, he's just so much happier now and instead of taking 40 mins to tack him up and fighting for ages to try and get a bit in, he now lowers his head when he sees his bridle - which for him is a massive improvement. He no longer fears a bridle!

I do still use a running martingale, but that's purely for his excitement issues, the dr cooks has no problem with this and in fact I believe I use it less now I don't have a bit

The only thing that would make this even better is if competitions allowed it, especially dressage as my horse has shown me himself that he can go 'on the bit' smoothly in this bridle. Also the amount of people constantly telling me that I "ought to put a bit in that horses mouth" is starting to lower as I prove to them how much more control I have in it! I think it's a seeing is believing thing! For anyone who thinks these are just for relaxed and well mannered horses - honestly they're not, I went for this because I couldn't control my horse in a bitted bridle - and I've not regretted it for a second. Try it, you never know! 

Thank you for creating such a wonderful option for horse owners

Madz and Joey, Cornwall - June 2010

Thank you for your note, as we already have one bridle, we are OK to wait until the new stock comes in.

Just a bit of feedback for you, the bridle has been such a success that it was used on four different horses/ponies over the weekend and I can see that this summer my partner and I will be arguing over who gets to use it (and to be fair it is his....) hence the order.   We would never
have looked at bitless bridles if one of the horses had not had a tooth problem last year, but I'm really glad we did, it was as if we got a new horse.  Flatwork and jumping improved no end, infact, he stopped bolting into fences and slowed down.  Great for trail riding when we are out all day as the horse is comfortable and can eat along the way.  I've been using it to ride my cob and lunge and break my two four year old ponies as well.  Brilliant!

Ffion, April 2010

I have ridden ex-chasers, hunters, eventers and now this very eager horse, all in my wonderful Dr Cook bridle.  I ride in Cannock Chase, 40,000 acres of woodland and heathland and have been applauded and congratulated on my fine, relaxed horse.  This is a complete change of temperament, as he was a bolshie, head shy, hurricane when I got him (emergency adoption as the hunt retrieved the old hunter I had borrowed and I needed a companion for my Irish draft horse).  If ever someone wants a recommendation, put them on to me. [email address provided on application

In my 55 years of riding, I have never seen such wonderful transformations in horses as that provided by your wonderful Dr Cook bridle.  (I did buy a copy once – total waste of money).

Barbara, Stafford - March 2010

I received my Bitless bridle within 24 hours of ordering – fantastic!  On my first trial of it my 16:2hh heavyweight Irish Draught mare decided to be one of the 1% that get ‘boisterous’ when they feel the freedom from the bit and thankfully I did decide to test it in my all weather arena before going out on the roads.  We had a bit of confusion initially and then she squealed and bucked and was certainly very forward going. 

The next time I rode her in the bridle I took her up to our local country park where there is 36 miles of off road riding & a cross country course.  I was riding with my friend who was riding in a bit.  The bridle’s first real ‘test’ was when another rider came up behind us very quickly causing our two horses to bolt (they are only youngsters).  I managed to pull my horse up in less than 10 strides and my friend went considerably further before being able to pull up her horse.  In a bit, I would have been much further down the track before being able to stop her. 

Later that same ride, the other horse spooked again as a group of walkers popped out from behind a hedgerow, turned at high speed, bumping into the mare and then bolted again depositing my friend in a flat out gallop as he disappeared into the distance.  The mare began to follow but this time I stopped her in four strides.  I am delighted with the performance of this bridle.  It gives both the horse and me real confidence.  I have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who wants to go bit free for whatever reason. 

My mare had a mouth injury as a yearling and has always been unhappy with a bit.  Now I have a happy, confident horse that does not spend all of the ride fighting and fidgeting with the bit.  She is much more responsive and relaxed and we are both enjoying our riding much more now.  I’ve already recommended the bridle to several friends.  Many thanks for an excellent service.

Janet, York - March 2010

Thanks for getting the bridle to me so quickly. I used in for my Saturday morning lesson (thinking that was a safe place to start) and all I can say is WOW!

Instead of having to use strong aids to get through to him because he was preoccupied with mouthing the bit I got instant responses with a lot less effort on my part. At one point he was running on in trot so I slowed my seat and he instantly dropped back to walk (after that I lighted my seat aids by about half!)

I wasn't asking lots because of it being new to both of us but I can say that my circles were actually round (for once) and our halts were square!!! I'm astonished!

He did try to evade by leaning his head sideways against the pressure but very quickly worked out for himself that it was a waste of his effort and I failed miserably to get canter on the first attempt (me not him!) but he was fine after that.

I was expecting the rein contact to be heavier but that only lasted for 10 minutes and then lightened right up. By the end of the lesson I was riding on a very light rein and a very light seat using only minimal aids and we were walking, trotting, cantering and halting in a very passable fashion. I'm looking forward to continuing our training bitless convinced that it can only get better (I'm sure our lateral work will improve hugely).

Jill, Shifnal - September 09

brown webbing bbbrown webbing bb

My mare was diagnosed as dislocating her soft palate and as far as the vet was concerned he had done his bit! So that left me very depressed and not knowing where to turn until I discovered the Bitless Bridle. It has been absolutely fantastic! We have been using it for two weeks now and gradually increased cantering with NO noise at all! Thank you for giving me my horse back!!!
Kim Bristow and Dee

Kim Bristow, Marlborough - September 09

bitless at the seasidebitless in the sea

I am so excited about the change in my horses I wanted to share it with you. I bought first bridle about a year ago for my fidgety Arab who was never happy with any bit I tried in her mouth. She now even lowers her head so I can put the Bitless bridle on!!

I decided to try it on my Warmblood showjumper and I am very excited about the change in her; she doesn’t spook as much when hacked out and her jumping has improved dramatically. Friend and I have just returned from our horsey holiday and we rode both horses in Bitless bridles and had no problems whatsoever. My horses just looked happy all the time.

Alena, Cambridge - August 09

Many thanks for your time in April and re-sending larger headpiece. I was incredibly impressed by your service and the time you took on the phone with me.

Please find attached pics of my now happy horse who no longer 'head-shakes' (the minute I put the bridle on) I know how busy you are, but would be very interested and grateful to know if the fitting looks correct to you referring to the attached pictures. I'm more than happy for them to go on the website, if you deem them suitable.

I still have concerns about the fitting and finding of the premaxillary notch and wondered if there's any customers you have on your database in Suffolk area I could talk to or possibly meet who are more knowledgable than myself in this area.

Celeste, Saxmundham - May 2009

bitless SaeedSaeed is going so well in his Dr Cooks Bitless , Its made me a braver rider, and a better rider, i have total control ,[ with a bit i would have never cantered in open spaces ] im sending you 2 pictures of us doing a 12 mile pleasure ride , just look how happy we both are. I cant thank you enough

Carole, New Milton - May 2009

beautiful bitless Clydesdale mighty blue clydesdaleI own a ridden 17.2hh clydesdale, who has only used a Dr Cooks Bitless Bridle for over a year now.

At the 150th North Somerset show, for the first time in its history, it had a Ridden Heavy Horse class. As it is a new class, there were no tack requirements!

So, Mighty Blue and I took part Bitless! (we are also treeless and shoeless!).

Now, I am not saying that the judge loved it, but we took part, he behaved impeccably as per usual, and we came second (albeit out of two!) We did look very different in the world of brown double bridles, but we look different anyway, being a ridden heavy horse!!

Lots of people took our photographs, and I dont think most of them even noticed the lack of bit!

Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know that we snuck in to county level showing bitless, as I am aware of the restrictions in the competitive horse world. And we will compete again, until someone stops us!!!

Cath, Bristol - May 2009

A friend gave me a Clydesdale size Dr Cook bridle and tried it on my 4 year old today. He was delighted with it. I wish I had known about Dr Cook bridles years since. I don't have an enclosed space where I could test it but I know my horse very well and I knew he wouldn't play up... too much effort!

He was much more forward going. No reluctance (you couldn't say he used to nap, he is too honest for that) He was also much more confident, I think this was because I was much more confident and positive because I wasn't worrying about hurting his erupting teeth or his soft mouth. It is hard to put it in to words, but after he had finished his hack and I was un-tacking him he was wickering and trying to groom me. I can only take this as a good sign, like he feels bonded with me.

My horse is barefoot, treeless and now bitless and very happy. This wasn't a choice, or doing the fasionable Natural Horse thing, it has just ended up that way because it is best for my horse.... I couldn't get a saddle to fit apart from Barefoot & Dartmoor... None of the local farriers were interested in trimming a heavy, so Abi Hogg does him. He was very mouthy and dificult to bit. Teething was the last straw, so now he is bitless. A relief after spending over £500 on special order 7" bits in the vein hope that I would hit on 'the key' (as they say) to his mouth. Now I know that the old wisdom, that 'there is a key to every horses mouth' is rubbish. To continue the analogy of the locked door... why bother searching for an elusive key when if you were only to ask politely.... the door would be opend!

Thank you, Lizzie Harrington - May 2009


Just wanted to let you know that i have been using the bitless for a few weeks now and it has transformed our hacking. Schooling is another matter at the mo as she leans terrible on it and is very on the forehand but we are working on it. but absolutely love it!!!! She is less spooky, quick to respond. she blew her nose a lot at first however i have put the noseband up a hole and it seems to have ceased.

With regards to insurance i contacted my broker who was very supportive and contacted my insurance company AIMS who were more than happy to add it to my insurance. Sent me a new policy with the bitless added in writing within a few days.

Many thanks

Georgina, Redruth - March 09

Emailing you from Co Clare, Southern Ireland. I bought a couple of Bitless bridles from Trish in Co Louth and just wanted to let you know that I’ve just started competing my jumping mare again this season to hugely improved results and best of all I’m getting a huge amount of interest in the bitless bridle – people who saw her last year can’t believe it’s the same horse. Even the judges last Sunday stopped me and asked all about it – they really got it!

I am a TTEAM practitioner and an Equine Touch practitioner and attend Peggy Cummings – Connected Riding Clinics – in Scotland twice a year with my own horses as well as competing on the amateur irish jumping circuit (getting harder now as I’m no spring chicken)!!!

What I loved was people noticed the mare was also really enjoying herself as well as being so balanced and calm. I’m thrilled with the changes and am working with 2 other horses as well – just starting them with the bitless now.

Gina, Ireland - March 2009

hayley doing dressage in the bitlessI have taken a few more pictures. They are attached. I hope they can be used to show that you really don't need a bit to do dressage. I know that he isn't working completely from behind but he is only 5 so we have a long way to go. We are also barefoot and treeless!

Hayley, Aberystwyth - March 2009

I just wanna say I have a really happy horse!!! 16hh of treeless, bitless pleasure. Ryan took to the bridle like a fish to water, its as though he's always smiling when we school and ride out, he's more forward going and he seems to have come out of his shell. So thanx...really,

The other thing i would like to mention is that, because the Dr Cooks Bitless Bridle is kind, I play more with Ryan in the school. So it's given us both more confidence.

Mia, Harwich, Essex - November 2008

hello, thank you. bridle recieved yesterday in good order, i have used it 3 times so far and the initial results have lived up to the web site 'blurb' ,
my pony had been badly abused, and was refusing the bit out of fear and the memory of pain. she is still very nervous in general, but quickly took to the bridle. it has very good steering, and we are working on a good signal for stand - as she swings sideways then gets frightened when asked to stand , but this is her and not the bridle - . she is learning that it will not hurt her, and will even let me put it on with out fuss - a bitted bridle she would rear and run back when i tried to put it on her - . an encouraging start, thanks - it was worth the wait!

Raychell, Farnborough - July 08

On the leather bridle i fitted the item as per instructions and rode my 12 year old thoroubred eventer in our arena for first time. he found it a strange experience and was heavy in hand and did not steer so well, after around 4 sessions of 30 mins he was really getting the hang of it !! and now 6 hours further on he is great on the steering and much more forward going and confident in his x/c jumping where before due to his soft mouth was very tempramental about jumping whereas now he is very keen to do it, a remarkable change in a horse ive owned for 15 months and had almost given up on as having no future in sport but would be pensioned off as an allround hacker . so from this brief story of my experience you can see im as happy with it as my horse is !!

Derek,Dunfermline - July 2008

Just had to send you this link to our ID - completed his second hunter trials yesterday both barefoot and bitless and yes, my 5’2” daughter could hold him in it, but them you already know that, it’s the others we have to convince.

Hunter Trials, Barefoot & Bitless!

Cheryl, Turriff, Aberdeenshire - May 2008

crackers in his Dr Cook Bitless BridleI bought a 15.3 cob called crackers last april and when i got him he was in a double bit and a martingale, and was thoroughly miserable. I was a novice rider but still decided to get rid of the martingale and put him in a regular snaffle.

Crackers would shy at anything and canter off in all directions. I had three bad falls and many scares. Whenever i asked him to trot/ canter he would swish his tail in anger and i usually had to tap him with a whip to get him going.

My wife, who also rides found your site and with the money back guarantee offered, i decided i had nothing to lose.

From the first time i put him in his new leather bitless bridle Crackers was a different horse. He trots and canters with the slightest touch of the leg and is so much more forward going. The shying has completely stopped and so has the tail swishing. I do not need to carry a whip any more and i would never put him back in a bit. Ever!

Thanks for a very informative website that talked us into giving the bridle a try. If anyone else is deciding whether to buy this bridle i would unconditionally recommend it and with the money back guarantee they can buy in total confidence. They won't be returning it though!

Mark Gowing, Romford - May 08

Polly & her Poney LandaisDue to a nasty riding accident I lost all my confidence on my two horses, a Fjord and a Poney Landais. Part of the problem was on-going head shaking and resistance which freaked me out when I started to ride again. All that has beeen fixed by the BBs.

I have had two BBs for coming up to a year now and both my horses love them and I can steer and stop far better than in a bit.

In order to help me further on better behaved horses (my two have different issues nothing to do with bits) I have started going to a local riding school. I live in South West France. Of course all the horses have bitted bridles which I now detest. My latest horse resists having the bridle on and has a martingale to stop him tossing his head up. I was told that you couldn't touch his ears. I decided to go and do ground work sessions with him and within 5 minutes desensitised him to having his ears touched. In fact he started to fall asleep! I then desensitised him to my BB and again in 5 mins I had it on him. On the second session I went up to his box, and put the BB on with no fuss. I then long reined him in it for 45 mins. He was superb! My instructor arrived for our lesson and asked me "You're going to ride him in that?!!" "Yes" I said and did so. He was fantastic. No chomping at the bit as he had done the lesson before, no trying to bring his head up, no martingale, just great steering and stopping.

She was well impressed! She tells me that he does the head rearing mainly in canter. As we are far away from that yet, I shall just see how it goes and get someone more experienced to ride him in the BB to test the canter. My confidence is growing by the day on lots of different horses provided I'm allowed to use the BB.

What is really sad is that the rest of the week he will have to put up with that bit he hates and children and beginners tugging at his mouth. Surely all riding schools should consider this as first choice, especially for novices.

Thanks for the best piece of tack in the world. I'm afraid I've become a BB zealot (not many of us where I live)

Polly-Anne, St.Clair, France - May 08

working in the school I have been using the Dr Cook Bitless Bridle on my horse now since early March 08. We've schooled, hacked, SJ and XC in the BB.
cross country in the bitless bridle
I'm very pleased with it and haven't used a bit since! My horse goes better in it, she wasn't a difficult horse in a bit in that she didn't buck, bolt or anything like that, she was just "tricky" in the school (which is the polite word my instructor used to describe her!).

She is happier in her mouth and works consistently in an outline now without me having to do anything particularly which wasn't the case previously. She was reluctant to work into the bit and had to be cajoled carefully into working.

In my first lesson with the BB 10 days after I had it, my instructor's comment was "well that's the front end sorted then!". At the end of the lesson he said he thought it would help in her walk and trot but wasn't so sure about her canter and canter/trot transitions. After our second lesson he now has seen that she has improved in all paces in the BB and commented on the improvements!
(He now only has doubts on how it will work with lateral work - however, I intend to surprise him in our next lesson!).

I have had an indoor jumping lesson in the BB, and the comments at the end were that there were doubts as to whether the BB would work well enough to turn her and check her etc quickly enough - since then I have competed her in SJ and we were placed - so the BB can't be doing too bad!

I have also had a XC lesson where other particpants commented on the ease with which I was able to turn and stop my horse.

It hasn't been a miracle cure and as time goes by more and more improvements have become apparent. A couple of years ago she injured herself quite badly in one hock and just as that recovered on the inside of the other hind leg. After those injuries she had problems on the right rein for a long time which eventually appeared to resolve themselves. When I first rode her in the BB, she was very unconfident on the right rein and it took a few rides before she was happy on the right rein. Also, she then started to fall out of the right shoulder badly particularly in canter. The BB showed up where she and I had been relying on the bit to cover up her problems on the right rein.

I am glad to say that in trot we don't have any difficulties on the right rein now and canter is improving every time!

It's just so nice to be able to ride her like a "normal" horse and not like walking on eggshells to avoid her hollowing or becoming upset. We can now do usual things like a succession of quick canter and trot transitions while remaining round and without her becoming agitated and upset.

I would definitely recommend the Dr Cook BB to anyone - what do you have to lose when you have a 30 day period within which to return if you are not happy with it!

Andrea (Bowen Therapist), Cardiff - May 08

We can't thank you enough for the bitless bridle. Our small, thoroughbred mare did not like the bit much and you had to be very light with your hands, but even then you got the head held up high and sideways most times!! Knowing that she hates being restricted, we decided less was more for her and bought the bitless bridle from you. What a difference, she listens now and no more problems with her head. She is so responsive and calm it is really unbelievable. I have had a hand operation and my novice husband has even been able to ride her in the sand-school for me and she has behaved perfectly.

Many, Many thanks

Jo, Aberdeenshire - April 08

Lissy with grey teamchaser Lissy on her bay team-chaser I started riding both my teamchasers (one intermediate, one open level) in bitless bridles mid February.

They both have benefited enormously from the switch, the grey used to make a noise at hard work, especially canter work uphill, his breathing is much improved and he is a lot less resistant when I ask him to stay behind the horse in front, particulary in front of a fence.

The brown open horse head shakes so minimally it's hardly noticeable, I'm hoping that in time the trigeminus will settle down altogether. I've also got steering and brakes, whether he's in front or behind and although he needs a sheepskin cover on the noseband to stop it rubbing, that's just the sort of horse he is, allergic to lots of things, highly sensitive to everything else.

I find that being a regular competitor I get a lot of interest from other people in my bitless riding (also they're both shoeless, which adds to the interest).

Lissy, Marlborough - April 08 [LIssy is a vet who is also qualified in chiropractic and acupuncture]

Was just looking at your website and reading some of the comments. I wrote to you when I got my BB over a year ago to say how pleased I was with my BB. A year later and I still feel the same. Lily is still going well and responding well.

I have been busy singing the praises of the BB in my new yard and trying to get as many converts as possible; the bridle has been borrowed and used. My daughter also rides her mare in the BB and has done for the past year. She would never change back to a bit either.

Judith, Bonnybridge - March 08

Wow!!!!! Am I pleased I tried this. I now throughly enjoy riding my horse, she is so relaxed and happy. My arms have returned to their normal length, my back doesnt ache all the time the horse has stopped spooking at everything, we are both happy!!

Natalie, Manningtree - March 08

Thought I would let you know how my Highland got on trying the Dr Cook for the first word FANTASTIC!

I have a much happier boy, he walks out much faster, carries his head better, he flexes his neck, doesn't buck going into canter, better transitions.........BEST OF ALL.........he is no longer one sided (which means I'm not having to readjust my seat all the time), nor does he lean (oh my arms are in heaven).

When we finished schooling he didn't (for the first time ever) rub his head/muzzle against me or anything else - he was just feeling really comfortable which was wonderful.

I am taking him for a hack in it Wednesday so I will let you know how we got in an open space!

I have been putting off buying one for ages, I have emailed you in the past on several occasions with questions - now I am really happy I finally took the plunge.

My youngest Highland will now be backed this year in a bitless. Do you have any tips in using the bridle for backing or does it simply make things easier? [Makes things easier since the horse's concentration is not disturbed by the discomfort of a bit]

Emma, Marlborough, Wilts - February 08

On behalf of Harry, our 11 year old 16.2 hh ID gelding I would like to thank you for transforming his once very sad existence.

I bought Harry in July 2007 from a kindly lady who had, in turn, rescued him from the hands of a less than responsible owner. Thankfully she took pity on him but couldn't afford to keep him herself, and thank heavens my daughters and I were online at the right time, spotted the ad and found he was only 5 minutes from our house! To cut a very long story short, upon examination by our vet, it was concluded that Harry had more than likely been punished for not wanting to wear his bit in the past, and had either been twitched each time, or even hit over the head. He came to us with a hackamore as another bit wasn't even a remote option, but he always looked uneasy, stiff and actually rather sad.

Having spent many hours pondering our options with Harry, we decided we only wanted the best for him. He is the most trusting horse with the kindest eye you will ever see, and my two daughters and I took it upon ourselves to spoil him rotten! I found the BB website, and even though I think I'd heard of Dr. Cooks in the past, the bridles really didn't register with me. But on that occasion, knowing Harry needed TLC, it was a no-brainer, especially after reading all the glowing testimonials. I ordered one the very next day (black leather, padded of course!). OK so I ordered the wrong size to begin with, underestimating the size of my big guy's head (XL for Harry please!!), but entirely my fault, and I received a replacement in good time and in good humour!

That was about 2 months ago, and I can confidently say that Harry has never been happier. Gone are his uptight, worried moods. He'll walk along stretching his neck out luxuriously, his bottom lip flaps and he even lowers his head to have the bridle put on.

I only tried a "proper" canter for the first time today as we have been gradually working on his fitness and taking things slowly. What a test - in a wide open space with two fairly wayward horses cantering/galloping alongside! He was so excited - but I had total control, both in terms of brakes and steering! I didn't want it to end, and I had a stupid grin on my face for a long time after! I could tell my two companions were impressed as they hauled their horses up in their bits, complaining of sore arms - my aim is to convert them to bitless, and I think today's ride helped tremendously!

Harry's life has changed dramatically these past few months, culminating in his wonderful Bitless Bridle. Ours, in turn, have changed simply having Harry in our lives, and the icing on the cake is knowing he's comfortable and happy. He is one contented boy - thank you so much!

Jill - Bristol
January 2008

I don't need to tell you that my horse took to his new bridle like a duck to water - all my expectations were exceeded. What I do need to tell you is that I am the ONLY person I know in my area that rides bitless. In fact, unbelievably, I am yet to encounter one person that rides bitless. What I find amazing is that not one of my equestrian suppliers stock them (ok, you can get them on the internet but go to a shop and you are unlikely to find one.)

I get riders passing me, staring at my boys empty mouth like we have dropped in from another planet. I get the usual negative comment about their horse being too highly strung and explosive to wear one, trying to give the impression that this makes them so much more competent than me ... somehow! (at this point I try to stifle a yawn I have heard this so often) - as if an unsettled, fizzy, fidgety horse is exactly what they have intended to make and I think 'pants'! Some riders love a horse that shows off, gets wound up and that they can reasonably 'control'. Power freaks. And there's no reasoning with them.

I personally get my buzz from being totally in tune with my horse, trying to do what's best for him and him being chilled out, happy and enjoying life - knowing I have done everything possible to make him happy and content. He's a big boy, 16,2hh IDXCob and I have not doubt whatsoever that if he wants to exert his strength over me I would not stand a chance.

He was a newly broken 4 year old when I got him, ridden in a Happy Mouth snaffle. He showed traits which could be contributed to his age and inexperience, napping, shaking his head, headshaking, trying to buck when asked to canter ... I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong but my intuition told me that he wasn't in a happy place. Having had him checked for the usual - teeth, saddle, etc, I did some research to try to find an answer (some people said to change his bit so I researched my options and read about going bitless). It would have been so easy to gone for another bit but ...

I gave him, as all other bitless bridle users have done, the benefit of the doubt and tried one If more people did what we have done the history of bitting would be just that ... history. I am at times lost for words that more people do not research and then try this wonderful concept.

I was told in no uncertain terms by someone who has lived and breathed horses all his long life that I was an absolute idiot to ride a horse without a bit. That this was the only way to control a horse. Not sure about you, but I'm not into controlling, just finding that happy place where me and my horse are at one. And we seem to have found it.

I have no doubt things could have worked out so very differently. As an experiment, some months ago I put his old bridle on. He immediately stiffened, head up stiff through his neck and back and was uptight and edgy. He napped before getting out of the yard. When I asked for canter, he swished his tail and tried to buck. He was very unhappy. I dismounted (I was about half an hour from home) took his bit off his bridle, adapted the reins and rode home without restraint. This had an immediate response. He chilled out, relaxed and once again became my steady, calm, reliable bombproof boy I know.

My boy, who is now rising 6 is fabulous. He is so relaxed that at times his bottom lips droops and makes a flapping sound ... if I didn't keep him going I swear he would fall asleep mid-ride. He is known on our yard for being the steady, calm, reliable, bombproof horse. Contrary to popular belief, he has got some go in him and could give plenty of other horses a run for their money.

For anyone out there who is researching this concept, please give it a go. You will be presently surprised, and on behalf of your horse, I thank you sincerely.

Alison - Ditcham, Nr Petersfield, Hampshire - January 2008

horse in BBJust wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I must admit that I purchased my bb several months ago and after giving my mare a really good trial before I gave you my comments, this is now the time to tell you that I have a completely different horse. Before in canter she would throw her head around and up and down (not exactly comforting when you are travelling at speed, which at 17.3 she has a long stride and can eat up the ground). She would spook at the slightest thing and do the most amazing spins. I have always been concerned about her bitting, she has a large fleshy mouth and needed a 61/2 to 7 inch and even then it did not look comfortable. I knew there was a problem as putting on the bridle was a battle of wills, she would throw her head in the air and pull back, this was one very unhappy lady. Over time I was losing more and more confidence about riding, even making the most pathetic excuses not to go out. Luckily I have a brilliant sharer who rode 3 to 4 times a week so my girlie was getting exercised.

I saw your web page and thought what the hell, its money back, give it a go. Since then we have never looked back, my girl accepts the bridle and our hacks are a wonder. She is attentive, does not throw her head about, if she does spook, which is rarely now, she is immediately back to normal instead of the half an hour huffing and puffing with extended nostrils and jogging. She actually listens to me instead of doing her own thing. The main thing is that I am more relaxed now, which of course filters through to her as well. My confidence is back to normal, We are again a happy pair of bunnies.

We had a dressage day at the yard, no one could go out because of the foot and mouth and we actually took part. She was so excited but completely controllable. Had a wonderful time and scored 56.4 which is not bad as we had done absolutely no practice as the weather had been terrible for at least two weeks before and I had never done dressage before, just committed the test to memory and went for it. We made a brill team, she had a wonderful time, you could actually see that she was standing taller and prouder. Its just a shame that I would not be able to take her out to the local riding club as its bits only. She will never ever have a piece of metal in her mouth again. I have always been against bits anyway and this has now proved the point that they do little but give people confidence that they can yank and perhaps get their horse to stop.

There are so many people out there who think that a bit is the most essential part of their tack, they do not even want to listen when I extol the virtues of my bb, 'oh my horse would never go in one of those things', 'you are riding for a fall if you continue to use that bridle' are just some of the things that get thrown at me, I know that my girlie is happy, and if she is happy then so am I. I enclose a picture of us just having come out of the school after the dressage, she is happy and relaxed and so am I. The only problem is that my sharer will not try the bb, she says she is not confident enough, this is the person who will ride through a military operation, we have a lot of these on our local commons, but who is too afraid to use the bb. Me the biggest wimp on the planet uses it with all the confidence in the world. I keep working on her and hope to eventually wear her down.

Keep up the good work.

Rosie, Surrey - December 2007

Dear Sheila

I've done it! I've now hacked out William, my adopted 25 year old Welsh Cob gelding TWICE in the bitless bridle, and the second time I used my bareback pad as well, which was actually scarier as he is very bouncy and has a bony back into the bargain. We didn't go very fast, but he COULD HAVE DONE as I took him onto grass and asked for some action. Being an ex-driving Section D, the action was all up and down rather than flat out. He probably will take off with me sometime in the future as he has done before and bucked as well out of sheer high jinks, but that was with a bit, so if he's gonna go, he's gonna go. A piece of metal in his mouth is not going to make a difference. He only runs for fun and that's allowed!

Dee, Stirling - November 2007

Just to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Lally was a proper madam in a 'normal' bridle, she would nap, spin, buck, bite and generally just be a right mare. The day my bitless arrived we went out on a hack - I know it could of all gone horribly wrong - but she was like a dream. Ok she still has her moments but don't we all? She is now a total pleasure to ride and trusts me totally. Whereas before she needed more than a little encouragement to do anything - now she is forward going, inquistive and a pleasure to be with. It has helped our relationship 100% and we are now a team - rather than just a horse and rider. She even puts her head forward to go into the bridle when I am tacking her up - something she would never do with the old one! It makes me feel so proud of her I could cry.....

A friend of mine said I was brave to use a bitless - I just think she is stupid not to!

I will send a photo of her later when she is all done up - so to speak!

Lucy, Shrewsbury - November 2007

cross country using Dr Cook Bitless BridleThought I would send you some pictures of Joe (NineteenNinetyNine) a 10 year old ex-race horse who is sired by Warning a famous Miler.

I have been riding him since December last year (2006). He was almost uncontrollable over jumps, jumping fast and flat (National Hunt style). The bit in his mouth did not help as he used to pull or lean on it, as he had been trained to in his racing career.

In June this year, we decided to have ago with a bitless bridle, just the plain black leather Dr.Cooks. This seemed to improve things massively. We carried on the jump training and got him popping over the jumps nicely, no rushing or pulling.

In July we did a few show jumping competitions (90cm), where we got placed.

The fun really started in August, when we did our first British Eventing Intro competition. I used the bitless for both the Show Jumping and the Cross Country. We got round steady and clear.

Since then we have done three more BE Intro competitions, where we came 7th, 3rd and 5th.

we have also done well in two hunter trials (XC only), where we have come 4th and 1st.

We can't wait till next season, where the fun can start again in march.

If it wasn't for the help of the bitless then I really believe we could not have achieved any of this.

I have two new bitless bridles now one black and one brown (both the padded variety). Looking to try them on my other horses also.

I hope you can show some of these on your web site.

Olly, Leicestershire - November 2007

Arnie in his crossunder bitless bridleHi, I bought a bitless bridle two months ago [for my 15yr old Welsh Cob Arnie] and we have not looked back. Neither myself or a level 3 BHS trained instructor could stop Arnie in the sand school in a pelham last year. I have done alot of ground work with him over the winter and tried many many bits including mylers and came to the conclusion that I could put barbed wire in his mouth and he would run through it if he so desired. The first few times I put on the bitless bridle he opened his mouth and would then look at me as if to say whats missing. The first time I rode him in it he kept sighing and now pushes his head into the bridle so hard that I have trouble keeping hold of it! He is a very enthusiastic energetic welsh cob who over the years has developed a hard mouth although I think its not the horses mouth but their learned habits with the bit that count. He has a very fleshy mouth and responds very badly to both single jointed bits and straight bits I think they all pinch his mouth and lips. For the first time I have brakes and a less stressed horse who does no longer jog all the way home sideways!!!

Ann, Poole - November 2007

I would like to thank you for the best piece of tack I have ever bought. I now have three bitless bridles for my very fizzy Chestnut TB mare called Lucy. I thought that I had the worst behaved horse at our yard. Everyone thought I had out horsed myself and many times I went to bed crying, knowing that I couldn't control my horse. She broke two bridles and three head collors and would take off with me in fields. I had all the right things checked, Teeth, back etc and still she flung her head into the air and fought me all the way.

I stumbled on your website by accident and along with the support of Parelli, bought a bridle on 30 day trial. I promise you I was shaking with nerves the first time I tried it out on Lucy and she actually turn her head to look at me as we walked up the track to the fields. Almost as if to say " You so have forgotten something here"! I took her to a gallop up hill and let her go. She galloped to the end of the field and I asked her to trot and then walk and she did!

We walked home on a long rein and she looked so happy and relaxed and I now have a changed horse. She listens to me and actually respects my voice commands. She will follow me everywhere without being tied and stop when I stop, walk when I walk. I can now ride her without any bridle, halter in the menage and she will stop when she feels me stop. Thank you. I have the horse of my dreams

Alexandra, Bath - October 2007

Nocky in his leather Bitless BridleJust thought I’d drop you a line to say how impressed I have been so far with my new Bitless Bridle, purchased about 4 weeks ago, and to let you know that I do not wish to take advantage of your 30 day money back guarantee.

I had been having trouble with my 16.3hh Irish Draught x Thoroughbred, Nocky, fighting with the bit (pulling at the reins, poking his nose out and getting generally cross!) and after 7 years of ownership decided to look for something different. A few people at my yard had suggested trying their hackamores but I decided to do a bit of research myself and thank goodness I did else I would not have stumbled across the Dr Cook’s Bitless Bridle

Although I have yet to take him to where he enjoys going full steam ahead so far I have had no trouble steering or stopping, and thank goodness no tugging my arms out of their sockets! We still have some manners to learn (eg standing still while waiting to cross the road) but that’s another problem. Also, at the moment we are being driven demented by flies so I’m hoping once they have gone we’ll calm down a bit.

Anyway, thanks again. I have attached a picture for you to see. Your comments with regard to fitting would be appreciated. (It has rubbed the hair off slightly where the crossover straps pass through the rings on the noseband but he is prone to anything new rubbing him and it hasn’t broken the skin.) Let’s hope I can say bye-bye to his bit forever! [Recommended Cashel Foam Pad to lift the O rings off the face and stop the rubbing]

Janet, Sandhurst - September 2007

Brooksby one day event, bitlessHi Sheila - just thought you might like to know about my horse Joey. My partner Oliver has been riding Joey for almost a year because I am busy with another youngster getting him up to scratch for competition. I got Joey a BB a couple of years ago and Oliver has very recently started jumping Joey in the BB and doing really well because he hasn't got a bit to lean on! He did his first ever British Eventing One Day Event last month and did really well so he decided to take him in another one yesterday and guess what he came 7th! Obviously he had to do the dressage in a snaffle, but he did the showjumping and cross country in the BB and went clear in both, had good control and no time penalties. Bearing in mind this is a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse who can be a bit full of himself (to say the least!) we are absolutely thrilled! We got some good photos of him (clearly showing he is in a BB) so I will forward them on to you later and I think you will like them!

Oliver said he is really pleased with the BB and would hate to ride him in the showjumping and cross country with a bit!

[Photo taken at British Eventing one day event on Wednesday 19th September 2007 at Brooksby near Melton Mowbray]

Tracy Lander, Markfield - September 2007

Dear Horselovers,

I would like to offer a great big thank you to all who are spreading the word that bits are a thing of the past. I have been riding over 50 years and have always thought that bits were barbaric.

Having used the Dr Cook’s bitless bridle on my ex-chaser for about a year, I am now using one on my ex-hunter and feel obliged to tell you how impressed my horse and myself are with your bridles.

Today we have hacked out for a couple of hours, jumped a few logs etc, encountered an extremely dangerous - according to Beagle - buzzard on the track and I had no problems at all controlling him when he spooked. The wonderful thing about your bridle is that the horse settles back into the normal gait without fighting the bit or becoming ‘fizzy’. I assume this is because no damage to his mouth has occurred so he soon forgets the incident. On behalf of my horses and myself I would like to offer our grateful thanks to you all. (This is a great compliment from someone whose hometown is Walsall, the home of the master saddler).

Just off to put my bits and bridles on ebay!

With gratitude from an elderly horselover

Barbara Smith, Walsall - August 2007

Thank you for exchanging the bridle so quickly. We've tried it a couple of times from my other horse on this horse and she responded well. The bridle arrived today, we put it on her tonight, took her showjumping and she came 2nd! She went around so quietly and controlled and did the jump-off neatly and well. My daughter is totally convinced and says it's now the bitless forever! The only problem is that she can't compete in the dressage with it. Thanks for everything.

Bryony, Axbridge - August 2007

...the BB is the most effective and kindest bridle I have ever used.

Jane, Bacup - June 2007

Have just about come to the end of my 30 day "trial" of my bitless bridle, and have to report that my TB is going very well in it. Many people on the livery yard where I keep him thought I would have no brakes or steering, and I had accepted this view until the day his bit came apart in his mouth when we were out hacking and I had to improvise a bitless bridle arrangement! Having used my Dr Cook's for a few weeks now I'm not sure I would ever go back to having a bit - I've found I certainly have as much control without one, and a happier horse. My only problem now is that it makes his nose and poll sweat in hot weather or when he's been working really hard - any suggestions?

Susan, Penrith - June 2007

Sheila replied: "Regarding the sweating - some people feel that leather causes less sweating than synthetic, but personally I haven't found this to be so (having used both beta & leather BBs on my horses). I think the fact of the matter is, that horses will sweat under anything that is close fitting - ie saddle, girth, and of course the noseband on the BB. I don't think you need to worry unduly about this."

Isha jumping in the bitless bridle Well its been nearly 2 years since I bought my first bb for my fizzy thoroughbred mare Kizzy (fayley, Cornwall, Aug 05 in your feedback).

Fayley with Isha in her dr cook bbJust thought I’d update you on my other mare, Isha, a dutch warmblood rising 5. I bought her just before her 4th birthday and she’d just been conventionally broken. I had to try her out in her owners tack and she went as well as could be expected for a newly broken youngster; very babyish, lots of mouthing of the bit, a bit of bucking, some head shaking and the usual ‘rubbery’ feel when responding to the reins.

As soon as I got her home I tried her in the bb and after only 10 minutes she’d grasped exactly what it was all about. The lovely thing about the bb is it seems to result in an immediate acceptance - she lost that ‘baby rubberyness’ – she settled into the bridle, was very happy for contact to be taken up and responded wonderfully to turning and stopping.

She’s now coming up to her 5th birthday and we’ve started competing at local shows, we had two wonderful clear rounds at our first outing with complete trust and control despite the many exciting distractions of a first show.

Bron in her bbI’m still amazed and disappointed at the responses I get from other riders, all of whom show a curious interest in the bb but say ‘oh my horse would never go in that!’ or ‘my horse is so strong, I’ve tried every bit there is and he’s still uncontrollable, he’s be lethal in that!’. It’s very hard to try to explain that my mare is just a normal horse, I’m only an average rider, we’re not a once in a lifetime miracle!

I also get some curiously sympathetic comments like ‘oh what a shame, does she not go in a bit then?’ My response to that is, ‘Not her, I don’t!’

In summary she’s a wonderfully happy young girl, yes she has her moments of spooking, bucking in excitement and gets strong around other horses… and is 100% willing to please in her bb.

All of my horses now go bb (and barefoot). I had a wonderful time at a car boot this spring where I go rid of all my old bridles and bits – I’ll never go back.

My other convert is Bron, a mare rescued from a Belgian meat sale, previously only ever been used as a working draft horse – again she took to the bb immediately (the only initial confusion was being able to see behind herself for the first time, she’d only ever been out in blinkers before!), my little cousin can stop her in the blink of an eye with the slightest touch to the reins.

Fayley, Cornwall - May 07

I bought a bitless bridle a few months ago from you and today competed my ex-racehorse for the first time in a dressage test with it, although we had to compete HC as my riding club only allows snaffles. We got the highest mark by eleven points! The same judge who said that the horse was tense, agitated and not going forwards last year said that he was relaxed, forward going and with three good paces yesterday, so it has definitely made a massive improvement!

Everyone who knows him commented on how well my horse was going and there was interest from other people in the bridle.

Katie Booth, Cumbria - May 07

ula jumping well in the bitless ula standing relaxed in the BBHere are some pics of my daughter riding our Welsh section D pony - Ula - on one of her first outings in her new Dr Cook bitless bridle. She is a very strong and willful pony, always fidgeting and snatching the reins, a real madam - she has earned the nickname 'ooh-la-la' at our yard. We have tried many different bits in the year we have had her, mainly 'nice' ones but had been advised by well meaning instructors to either put her in a stronger bit or a grackle noseband to stop her crossing her jaw and evading the bit. Having ridden her out myself in a flash noseband I found she was listening more to me but I felt she was suffering, and when I saw the awful rubs on the sides of her mouth I was convinced we were doing the wrong thing.

I had been toying with the idea of a bitless bridle [and a treeless saddle] but my daughter who is Ula's main rider was totally against both. However I bought the bridle as we had nothing to lose [the 30 day guarantee is marvelous] and we haven't looked back - it is fantastic. Ula, always a fantastic jumper, is jumping bigger and bolder than ever. She is relaxed and can now actually stand still in company, no more snatching at the reins and circling. She is so relaxed in fact that she is almost asleep, bottom lip dropping. My one big regret is that the BSJA does not allow bitless bridles in the junior classes, shame, Ula and Lamorna would wipe the board! I have emailed the BSJA asking if they plan to change the rules but have had no reply yet.

The best thing is that the aforementioned instructors have both been amazed and conceded that the bridle does indeed work. One said that she actually thought we were mad, she thought that Ula's problems were just her being awkward and that we would have no control whatsoever in a bitless bridle. She now realises that most of Ula's problems were due to the bit and the discomfort in her mouth, they really can't believe how well she is working in it. Two more sceptics converted! We will definitely be sticking with the Dr Cook from now on, even if she can't compete in it at least she will be comfortable for 6 days out of 7.

Thank you so much for your help and advice in choosing the correct size.

Sue, Penzance - May 07

Thankyou so much, I have a lovely cob who was fine in the bit, she just got very strong and I don't like hauling on her mouth!

Now I have tried her in the bitless I don't think I will ever put any horse in a bit again! She gives me a collected canter on hacks and is completely fab in the school! Thankyou, Alice

Alice, West Sussex - April 07

trotting in Dr Cook bitless bridleclose up of leather crossunder bitless bridleI just thought I would drop you a quick note to let you know how pleased I am with my Dr Cook bridle. I've had it since Christmas and I love it. My horse Ginger adapted really well to it and we haven't looked back. He is very responsive to seat and voice which I think helped with the transition from bitted to bitless.

Although we never had real problems with a bit, he can be quite strong-willed and the Dr Cook definitely avoids the jaw crossing and many of the "discussions" we used to have. We hack, school and jump in it and Ginger seems very happy and relaxed. He can sometimes be spooky and inattentive out hacking and I found it hard to get his focus back on me if something did spook him. Now though, I feel we have a different level of communication and we have much fewer sticky moments and more connected ones!

He is very much a different horse to ride without his bit. One of my friends at the yard has also now bought her horse one after having a few goes with Ginger's....!

The idea is spreading!

Gill, Leeds - April 07

maisie in her bitless bridleJust wanted to email you to tell you of yet another success with the bitless bridle! My girl thought it was great having no bit in her mouth and was relaxed and more alert throughout our whole ride.

I didn't have an enclosed place to ride her first in it and although she tried to walk away by herself the first time she has soon got used to the different pressure from the bridle and responds to it better than her old RUBBER PELHAM!!!! Everyone doubted how I could go from such an extreme bit to none at all but we did and I have a happier horse, so thank you!

In the photo you can see she is alert and bright, normally with a bit in her mouth she would be tense, jog the whole ride and have her head up in the see for yourself!

Charlotte, Chulmleigh, Devon - March 2007

St Patrick's Day parade, bitlessDear Sheila,

I am so happy writing to you this afternoon!

We had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day here, we took part in the parade in a local town (more pictures to follow) and I am beyond thrilled to tell you that Toddy was absolutely wonderful in his bitless despite pipe and marching bands, streamers, balloons, umbrellas (very scary things) and even a couple of donkeys! He continues to get happier and happier as every day goes by. We all thought he looked very spiffy in his new leather BB - although he may never be that clean ever again! My friend Fiona is saving up to go straight to leather for her mare by the way, pictured with us here.

It was fascinating when people noticed he had no bit. Some were worried I might not be able to control him if I needed to, but then they talked about how calm he was in the crowd. Oh, if only they knew!! It is truly hard to believe this is the same horse who scared me to death in January bolting; doing the awful, head down, bat-out-of-hell gallop he used to do – which by the way, I have not seen ONCE since we got rid of the bit; jumping, hacking – perfect. Some of our friends who knew Toddy before were quite ‘iffy’ about him keeping his head in the melée around the parade, but somehow I knew that the new, happy and more trusting Toddy would be just fine – and he was. I was so proud of him.

We’re having great fun jumping, which he loves, he gets very excited; and saying that, I have found that for brakes with Toddy it is much more effective if I rein alternately side to side rather than pulling back brute force, he responds much better when I ask him that way, no head shaking, no arguing, he just pulls up. We’re thrilled (pardon the pun) to bits! - and look forward to even more success stories in the future.

P.S. Molly got a 1st. last Friday night with a double clear on Ralph: the first red rosette this year in the yard and it was a bitless ride!

Trish, Castle Horses, Dunleer, Co Louth - March 07

Judith's mare LilyI got my BB last week and have been using it each day. I have a 16.2hh Standardbred mare. I have tried several combinations of bits and nosebands on her and have never felt that she was really happy and comfortable, no matter what I tried. She was a head shaker and was always ready to rub her face on her leg as soon as she got back to the stables. I used to release the noseband and remove her bridle as soon as possible. She has always been good to ride and would never run off but used to fuss with the bit when we were out hacking.
I have used the BB both hacking out and also in the school. I have always felt completely in control and Lily walks calmly without head shaking or fussing, as she has nothing to fuss with!
My daughter rode her today and jumped her, and could not believe how good Lily was. She is going to order a BB for her mare.
To purchase the BB was certainly the best decision I made and I feel so glad that Lily now has no horrible metal bit in her mouth. It is really funny when I tack her up, she still opens her mouth for the bit and looks puzzled when nothing goes into her mouth!

Judith Delissen, Bonnybridge, Scotland - February 2007

received the bridle last week, tried a short ride to start with to get my horse used to it, followed later in the week by a decent hack. Well what can I say. My horse has been virtually unrideable due to head shaking for the last twelve months. He has cut two tush teeth lately so has not been ridden for 4-5 months. A friend who uses the bitless bridle suggested I give it a go, nothing to lose with the money back gaurantee. Well you are not having it back. My horse has never moved so freely or happily. I have the horse I bought two years ago now. I am so pleased, I was resigned to him being a companion, at 6 years old. Also even my husband, not very horsey, noted how relaxed and happy he seemed. His carriage was superb, ears forward and alert, forward going, for a big cob- not seen that often on him. Long may it continue, can't wait to do some long distance rides on him this summer.

Jo, North Yorkshire - February 2007

Dear Sheila and all at Bitless Bridle,

My horse has been barefoot for a few months now, and rather than try just ONE MORE SADDLE I decided to use a Christ sheepskin premium bareback pad which is amazing, although it took a little effort to find a girth short enough as well as small leathers as the D rings for stirrups are lower than on a saddle. Also, today was my first day trying my bitless bridle ----- and it was BLISS, utter BLISS!!!!!

I have a piebald cob with a mind of his own which usually involves napping in the school, and he did nap, as it is to him like breathing, ESSENTIAL but we got on soooooooo much better in the bitless bridle, and I felt I could correct him with his napping without hurting him and then him wanting to buck due to pressure of the bit. He went so much better than usual. Two weeks ago I was in the school alone and he was bucking me and swishing his tail and generally intimidating me as I am a novice rider, and here we were going well just two weeks after I was afraid to ride him!!!!

I would recommend bitless to ANYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sanda normally tries to avoid the bit when tacking up by raising his head, but does not put up too much of a fight, but immagine how happy he was when the bitless bridle was on and there was NO BIT!!!!!!!!!!! He was definitely more comfortable and I was definitely more confident. Thank you for your excellent customer service and fantastic product!!!!

Melanie, Shepperton - February 2007

This is a quick note to let you know how i am getting on with the bridle i purchased from yourselves a few months ago. Absolutely brilliant, i have a 16.3 thouroghbred cross who up until now could be a bit of a handful, i always felt she was never quite happy and still had so much more to give. Your bridle has made so much diffrence to my horse its amazing, its just as you describe i have MORE control than ever, not that i acually need it now because the fight is over my horse is comfortable and a lot softer.

I cannot recommend this bridle enough i love the fact that it is completely painless to my horse and i would not dream of riding without it. please feel free to print my letter if you want to you can also pass on my telephone number for those who still feel insecure about riding without a bit. Thank you so much. [Anyone who would like to talk to Mandy, please contact us for her telephone number]

Mandy Clifford, Norwich - January 2007

Hallo and Happy Bitless New Year!!!!

After much deliberation I purchased one of the leather bitless bridles just before Christmas. My doubt at that time was whether it was possible to coax my wayward point-to-pointer, with 'attitude', to behave in an acceptable manner by giving him the freedom he demands on a regular, head-banging basis.

Well .... I am delighted and amazed to say that I am still alive and I am now an extremely happy owner/trainer of a reformed horse!!

The difference in his behaviour was immediate and the improvement has increased on a daily basis over the last 2 weeks in the most unbelievable way! He has stopped trying to evade contact and his head is now where it should be and not level with my eyes. As a result he no longer expends all his energy fighting for control and could probably get a four mile trip quite easily, let alone the 3 miles we need.

Thank you, thank you .... I am now living in the hope that the 'powers that be' will ultimately offer the option of running point to pointers in bitless bridles. In my horse's case it is a safer alternative to running him with a bit!!

I'll let you know how he gets on this season!!

Jane Wood (Devon) - January 2007

To be perfectly honest I just can't believe the difference in my very strong (and very strong willed!!) 17.2 warmblood who I hack out every day. I have had him in a dutch gag but he was becoming increasingly unhappy and agitated when out - with lots of head shaking and fighting against the bit. He's a very big horse with a mind of his own so I was a little nervous on the first day and just prayed that I was doing the right thing! He responded to it brilliantly, he listened to my commands, was less spooky and at last I felt I had brakes! I have ridden 5 or 6 times since and he is just perfect - so calm and contented both out and in the field. I'm convinced he would say 'thanks mum' if he could!

I will never use a bit on him again and am busy trying to convert all my already very impressed friends! - What was once normal now seems really cruel. So thanks for a fantastic product and I look forward to receiving my leather one when they are in stock.

Sherry, Norwich - January 2007

Babette completes 2000km with The Bitless Bridle

Babette's book about their first journey is now available - click on the book cover to find out more and to purchase...

Having completed a second pilgrimage on horseback [see details of first], this time along the Via Francigena from France to Rome, we are still absolutely convinced that the bitless bridle is the best solution for our horses.

Riding the Milky Way Babette Gallard book coverEx-race horses often come with a number of behavioural problems, and our two French Trotters were no exception. Lubie, the mare with most racing experience, either avoided the bit entirely or leant on it with arm-wrenching force. Gwen, who had been rejected as being unrideable at the age of three, had no experience of the bit at all and I saw no point increasing her tension by introducing it.

Since then we have covered over 3000 kilometres, sometimes in the most extreme conditions, and always with the bitless bridles, which provide gentle control and minimal stress for both horse and rider. True, we have had to adapt our riding styles, both in terms of long distance riding and the greater emphasis on weight and leg-control, which we find is needed with the bitless bridle, but this can only be an improvement.

In short, we find the design of bitless bridle to be absolutely fit for purpose and expect to continue using it with our current horses and in the future.

See & for more information.

Babette Gallard, France - December 06

I was emailed an article about Dr Cook a couple of years ago and was fascinated but only bought one recently for my newly backed Exmoor. She went very well in it and seemed to instantly respond despite it being different to her usual full cheeked french link. She is extremely strong but I had control even on her first pleasure ride when she ended up charging after other horses.

The real delight has been getting one for my Dales pony who is 16 and ridden in a happy mouth pelham with two reins. He is very high spirited and bouncy ( complete Thug actually! ) and he always tended to chuck his head about but I put his new bridle on and just took him straight out on a hack.. no problems, good brakes and no snatching. fantastic.

I have never liked to have strong rein contact anyway so the feel of the bitless is wonderful, so light and easy and it makes me aware of all the other signals I use in communicating with my horses. I have just hunted him in it for the first time today along with a friend who was also using one for the first time and it was brilliant. Both of us were delighted. A few alternate pulls brought him back to me straight away... and they could have a nibble of grass without any trouble!!! and both of them were so relaxed on the way pulling or the usual jogging. I now look at horses with bits in their mouths and it seems all wrong. 3 people have bought your bridle on my recommendation and all have had great results on what have been very difficult horses. They will be writing to you too! I will keep encouraging people to log on to your site and learn. There seems to be a huge amount of resistance to new ideas in the 'established' horses world but I hope that the more people use the bitless bridle the more we can demonstrate that you dont necessarily need to put metal in horses mouths to control them.

Many thanks to Dr Cook!!!

Jessica, Merlin and Meg, Suffolk - November 07

We are both amazed by how much more control we have now. I only tried the bitless because my horse has a small mouth and a large tongue although he went fine in his mullen mouth pelham I wasn't happy that he was as comfortable as he could be, I had tried a scawbrig on him but had no brakes, no steering and as he is 17hh it was a little bit scary. My sister has only just got her pony and has trouble finding a bit he would go happily in, she tried snaffles, pelhams and kimblewicks, so evetually we decided to take advantage of the 30day money back offer and give bitless a go.
We have nowhere to school this time of year so we went straight out for a hack. Neither of us had any trouble at all. I had more brakes with less effort and was also safe inthe knowledge that I wasn't hurting my horse!! My sister can now steer!! She had loads of trouble her pony had learnt so well how to avoid the bit and now he has to turn when he is told!! He isn't very happy about it but he is only a youngster, but at least we know that his mouth isn't being hurt now.

Hopefully if the weather is better next weekend we intend to try them out on Dartmoor and have a good gallop, I'm hoping the bridle is going to help my horse with his breathing, we think he may have been hobdayed and when he is galloping makes some really horrible noises, he didn't sound as bad as normal when we had a canter on Sunday. I must admit I have no worries about stopping though!!

Thanks for all your help.

Jody, Devon - November 06

Your move has finally prompted me to write ...I have been meaning to do so for a year now ! I bought a bridle from you this time last year and have ridden in nothing else since. My horse is comfortable, responsive, lighter and it makes me think about using my body more effectively so all in all a great success. In fact it makes me twitch now to think about putting anything in his mouth other than a carrrot !
So thanks for that and good luck with the move.

Kelly, Esse, France - November 06

Got my bitless bridle yesterday and tried it for the first time.

My boy, Iolo, went barefoot on Tuesday last and took to it with no problems whatsoever (2 days resting, 2 days in hand and then was hacking out and schooling as usual!). He's 1/4 Shire x thoroughbred and is quite tough!

So... grasping the nettle in both hands I decided to go for it and be iron free.

Iolo has never really had a problem with a bit but has also never seemed really happy. I've tried him with a Sprenger KK ultra and a happy mouth but he always seemed a bit fussy and always seemed to fight the bit before going collected.

However... yesterday was amazing! Not only did he not fuss at all with the BB, he settled down immediately and went rounded without being asked! All of the head shaking and pulling on the reins disappeared immediately and he just settled straight into the schooling. Steering and braking were fantastic. In fact, Iolo took to the BB as tho' he'd been using one all his life.

No stress, no trauma, just business as usual but just the good bits!

Given him the day off today to rest his feet but will be riding him out tomorrow and I can honestly say the thought of hacking out in the BB doesn't worry me in the least

He can't jump for a few weeks yet (until his feet are hardened off) but I'm really looking forward to it and I'm sure he'll love the new found freedom.

Thanks for everything - wish I'd done it sooner!

PS Another of our horses, Autumn, went barefoot several months ago. She had been diagnosed with arthritis and DJD of the coffin joint. The prognosis was that she would only ever hack in straight lines on soft ground and would be on daily bute.

Since going barefoot (thanks to our trimmer, Helen Thompson) she's only had 1 bout of lameness (which was cured with 3 days stable rest) and hacks and schools beter than she ever did! She lives out 24/7 and doesn't have daily bute (but we do give her a 'buteless bute' supplement). She's happy over grass, uneven ground, school surfaces and large gravel and we're starting to condition her on (pretty uneven) tarmac. Everyone is amazed at how well she looks and we've had lots of comments on well she moves now. However... unlike Iolo, Autumn's transition was a lot more traumatic and took months rather than days but was well worth it in the end. It wasn't easy and there were times when we wondered if we had done the right thing, but seeing the results now and how healthy Autumn is, it was definitely the right way to go.

Looks like she'll be getting a BB pretty soon and joining the iron free gang as well!

Thanks again

Next day...

I rode Iolo out last night (in the semi dark). He was set off by a couple of poines galloping past, did 3 strides of canter and stopped immediately I asked. Not only great brakes, but he immediately relaxed and continued walking with a low head position.

Really, really impressed with the BB and won't go back to using a bit.

Thanks for all your help

Bern, Homer Green, Bucks - October 06

I recently purchased a bitless bridle and have used it 4 times and I will NEVER go back to using a bit again, it's great and I am sure my horse appreciates it although she does think ah - no bit means it's grazing time.

I am a mature novice rider who bought my first horse a couple of months ago, so I was very anxious about not being in control minus the bit !

I decided to go for it and use it when hacking without any schooling, we both took to it like a duck to water - Mona is a well behaved horse and ex riding school but did tend to spook at things and swivel round, she appears more confident now and she responds really well without the bit.

I would be more than happy to endorse the bitless bridle and sing its praises to one and all.
Converted Val

Val, Aberystwyth - Sept 06

Update from Caroline

caroline and bronwen, bitless cross-countryI contacted you a couple of months ago to say how pleased I was with my new bridle and you asked me if I had a photo of Bronwen wearing it. Apologies for the delay but I attach a photo of us enjoying ourselves at a local xc competition (I have asked permission to use the photo).

I am completely sold on this bridle, we have competed in it all summer and have been placed at xc, sj and working hunter classes, where the bridle arouses a lot of interest. Bronwen is really happy in it, and although she still has her nose net on practically all symptoms of her headshaking have disappeared.

Now I just want a leather version for the show ring. Top of my Christmas list!

Thank you - this bridle really has made a big difference to me and B.

Caroline, Bath - September 06

I thought you might like to hear about how well the bitless performs under stress. I bought a bitless bridle from you in April when I took delivery of my new horse, a 16.1 Trakehner mare who turned 4 last month. She was backed last year and ridden on in a bit before I bought her. I have been bringing her on slowly, hacking her out every day in the bitless without any problems and she has always been very well behaved, apart from the usual young horse playfulness, so the bitless bridle has never really been tested, until now….

I took her out earlier this week, on a very windy day, across the top of the South Downs. Our slow canter turned into a full-on bolt when my jacket started making flapping noises in the wind (I have never worn a jacket on her before). She went into a total panicked fight or flight response, going flat out with her head in the air, rolling her eyes back to try and find the flappy thing that was obviously in pursuit. We have never previously gone out of a slow canter so this was rather unsettling on many counts, to say the least! I found that pulling on both reins at the same time made not a jot of difference, so I let her head go completely for a few strides then started to pull alternately at the left and right rein whilst talking to her. She did start to listen to me and I was able to get her back to a walk after a fairly short stretch. She is quite fit and would have gone a long way before she would have been tired out (or tripped over something); she definitely stopped
because I asked her to.

I think that the fact that I was able to pull her up without inflicting any pain contributed to her apparent unconcern once we had stopped. She was not sweating or hotted up at all and I walked her for 100 metres or so then went into trot across the rest of the field without further incident. I have been riding for 40 years and had many horses take off with me but never before with a horse showing that degree of genuine fear. I was very impressed with how well the bitless worked and will continue to use it without any concern about its ability to get me out of any future ‘incidents’.

Melissa, Steyning - August 06

Emma & Harmony jumping bitless at Woolley ShowHi, my name is Emma and I would like to tell you of my experiences of the bitless bridle. My horse ia a 15.2hh thoroughbred cross, and is extremely flighty and highly strung. Very few people would get on her with a gag in her mouth, so you can imagine their surprise when I turned up bitless!

Initally, Harmony threw her head about and I was unsure whether this was the right thing for her. However I persevered and she is better than ever in the jumping ring. She is still very fast, however she can now turn on a sixpence and her jumping technique is improving. We are affiliated and were having problems previous to using the Dr. Cooks.

Now she even jumps with her ears forwards, something she never did before, and doesn't snatch her head on landing.
I only have one minor problem with it - cross country. Put her in an open field and she is still a maniac! However I am happy to xc her in a bit as we don't do it very often, and do everything else in the bitless.

I meet a lot opposition to my bitless bridle which is quite dissappointing. I find that many people in the horsey world don't like change or things that are different, and would rather be negative about it than just come and aske me about it!

We actually won a jumping class the other day, which I put down to her being happy in the bitless. I have included a picture of us jumping at Woolley show in the British Novice - with her ears forwards!


Emma, from Barnsley - August 06

When we first got our horse she bolted all the time and bucked for no reason. We knew she was locking her jaw against us but we only knew of the hackamore and because we did not know how to use one we would just cause pain.

We changed to a milder bit in case she thought it was too strong for her. It got slightly better but she still bolted and bucked. We then went to an equestran shop where we asked for advice about which bit to use and he told us about your bitless bridle.

My mum and I both thought it was a great idea because we had always hated the notion of putting a cold piece of metal in our horse's mouth and then pulling. We then got our new bridle and she has not bolted since and doesn't buck half as often. Thank you so much for making this bridle!! My mum and I were desperate and now our uncooperative horse is a complete angel.

Anon, SW England - August 06

i just wanted to write a short note to thank u for your patience with my order and let u know it was really worth the waiting: the bridle works great. i'm riding my mare with parelli training and i definitely feel this bridle is the appropiate solution both when u want a little more accuracy in arena figures (and your horse still isnt to the 3rd or 4th parelli level) and when u need a little more definite control in outdoor situations (rowdy groups, outdoor galloping in groups...). my mare is definitely happier without a bit in her mouth and her motion is much fluider. thank u so much for promoting such a great invention.

Gabriella, Italy - August 06

I have had a 15.2 TB gelding for the last three months. He was as good as gold when we tried him out and so calm. He arrived at our field a few days later and was introduced to the other geldings and we gave him a week to settle in before we started riding him.

We tacked him up and mounted him, he went beserk, jumping, pulling, trying to take off, unridable really. This happened on the few occasions we tried with him. Then he broke head collars lead ropes when he saw the bit (happy mouth) just impossible to tack up let alone ride.

I called the vet to get his teeth and back checked (he went beserk) he was sedated so heavily to be rasped but still she could not finish the job at the back. His teeth were in a right mess amd the back was all ulcerated. He went on bute for a week.

We then thought he would be fine but no, once again head collars and lead ropes snapped and it was getting dangerous, he just went into a mad panick.

He was terrified of the bit his breathing would start, veins standing out i was at my whits end.

My beautiful horse easy to catch, a pleasure to handle, gentle with chaildren and dogs but un-ridable or so i thought.

Enter the Dr Cooks bitless Bridle - UNBELIEVABLE - went beserk the first time he saw it, and the second but the third attempt calm and cool so we used it as a head collar to get him used to it during feeding.

To cut a long story short Bobby is like a different horse, when he feels weight on him he doesnt want to run away he just stands there relaxed and chilled. He walks to command (walk and trot) and will stop with a gentle pull and a voice command (wow).

I still have a lot of schooling to do with him and he is unfit but his life is so much better now he is actually enjoying it and so am I. I am sure the other girls girls in the field thought I was mad getting such a device for him, but the feedback is so important for other people with problems like i had, it was reading them that made me decide to purchase one and the 30 day money back offer. Well im not sending it back and everyone i have met cannot believe the change in him and im actually riding him without any fight in him whatsoever.

Thank you for giving me Bobby back.

Paula, Northampton - 22 August 06

hi sheila just a note to let you know how marnie went on in her first competition since we nealy lost her to pleuro-pneumonia in January.

Pat and Athene with their bitless horseswe took her to a dressage competition held by Chapel and District Riding Club. what a lovely friendly group they are, and wonderful grounds. she was entered for the prelim 14 and novice 24, in for a penny in for a pound!!

Athene only got the test sheets the day before so was unable to practice the tests. Anyway Marnie was a star on the day, Athene didnt ask a lot of her, as she has only been back to ridden schooling exercises for a short time, (it took a while to slowly bring her back into work, she was so poor after her illness).

She got two 5th places, with a score of 61.7% in the prelim, and 65.9% in the novice.

The judge of the novice wrote:-

"a very obedient horse who works well with you in a team. some stiffness in bends caused her to fall in and lower some marks, but well done with no bit!!"

the comments about the stiffness are quite correct, and we are still working on this, but gently. however, i think we need to explain to more people how easy horses are to ride in the Dr. Cooks, but athene says, " hey, if she thinks i did well, thats ok!!"

Soll and Ben couldnt go as soll had a touch of colic, and they didnt want to travel ben alone, but they are booked in for the next one - both bitless.

Margarets horse turbo is a different horse altogether in the BB, he no longer jogs all the way home, he walks with a better stride than he has ever had, and he doesn't mind being behind others when we go for a gallop, unheard of in his bitted past!!!

Pat, Glossop, Derbyshire - August 06 (Pat was appointed as a BBI in 2007- more about BBIs)

Pat also wrote the following, in answer to Carol "Do you have any dressage instructors in your list of converts ?"

In answer to Carol from Hereford, I am an instructor and teach people and equines who participate in all kinds of activities. Many have now gone bitless, and are finding their horsey partners are much happier, both in general and in performance. They have no problems in working 'through, in an outline', however, this should not depend on the bit / bridle but on the horses ability, conformation, and fitness to perform. (Some of the 'Naturally trained' horses are ridden in high school movements, without bridle or saddle, beautifully.) Unfortunately this is one of the many areas where their is confusion over the use of the bit, often due, I think to the terms used, such as ' working on, or to, the bit'.

It is still necessary to obtain the permission of the show/competition organiser, to enter in a bitless, silly I know, but I don't know of anyone who has been turned away yet, and if they do say no, ask to enter non-competitively [HC], this will show the bridle off, gain interest, and show how well the horse works with it. It is often difficult to persuade people of the advantages of the BB, esp. if they compete, and some instructors are so very closed minded about anything that is not 'traditional', that you feel like screaming, but if we can all show others by example, like Carol has done, then things can only get better.


Pat may be contacted via Sheila at Bitless Bridle UK and is available for bitless instruction in the Glossop area, Derbyshire / Cheshire borders.

Not sure when I last wrote to you but every time I go for a hack on dear little Sifwa I thank you for my bitless bridle! He is getting braver but today he was quite spooky however if he decides to spin I can stop him right away. I hack out by myself now (I think I told you I wouldn't even get on last year) the bitless bridle seems to suit him well because when he gets jumpy or suddenly thinks he can't cope and turns to flee I can stop him calmly and quickly, then he just stands still, gets his confidence and off we go. It is not relaxing but I know I can do all the "scarey" object training I like at home, it is being alone in an unfamiliar place that my horse finds so hard, I know I just need to ride him more. I tell everyone how wonderful your bridle is and that I feel so much safer with him in the Dr Cook bridle than with a bit but they are unconvinced, it is such a shame because I am sure horses prefer it.

This message sounds like my horse is a nut case, he is actually pretty good in company now but still lacks confidence when we are alone. I know it will come with practice and it is so good for me, our problems in the past were because we were both scared. Now I can take control and Sifwa is actually very calm and sensible if I just understand his fears, give him time to get brave and let him walk forward by himself. I know every time we go out on rides he is learning independence, I just wish I could do more rides. I also ride 2 Arab mares in the bridle but not as often as I should.

If you remember you suggested I contact charlie Girdlestone, she has been trimming the horses since October and my mare with problem feet is much improved, thanks.

Liz, Horsham - August 06 (bridle purchased October 04)

Thank you. As promised, the bitless bridle arrived this morning. I was pleasantly surprised at how well made, soft and beautiful it is. If I may, I would like to give you some back ground on us so you have a better understanding of why I have ordered it.

I bought my pride and joy Arab, Athalon 18 months ago as an unruly 2 year old colt. I worked at the farm where he was bred and fell in love with him the day he was born. I only dreamed one day he could be mine, and after 20 odd years of loan horses and riding other peoples troubled horses (that no-one else wanted to ride), I put in a bid and actually became the proud owner. He had run free with 8-9 other colts up to this point and was quite a handful, but I persevered and after he was castrated, he began to settle a little.

Unfortunately some 6 months after buying him, I hit very hard times and had to relocate from Devon to Suffolk. There was no way I was giving up my boy and so he came with me. I struggled on with him without the support of my riding friends and family who we had left behind in Devon. Needless to say, trying to break a 3 year old single handed, with no schooling facilities or company of other horses (he lived alone) was very difficult for both of us and my confidence began to fade. Athalon tried really hard for me, but the more my confidence went, the worse the combination of a green horse and confidentless rider became. I sent him away for a month to a recommended horse trainer, which cost me a small fortune and got us no further forward. I then turned him away for 6 months whilst I considered my options.

Selling him on has always appeared the most sensible thing to do, but we have a bond and I felt (and still do feel) a sense of obligation to him now. I could not be 100% sure of where he might end up and how he could be treated, so selling is not a real option. So earlier this year, I went to look at a different training yard that was closer to home so I could be very much involved in his training. I went to assist the work with him 3 - 4 days a week under the careful eye of the great trainers who have encouraged us and helped us get over this hurdle. After 6 weeks, and the money running out, I brought him home. We go out riding and he is much better and more confident than last year, but something doesn't feel right. We go for lessons once a week, but I can feel that he is not happy, so progressing onto the next level of schooling, which for us now is cantering is feeling more and more daunting.

He constantly chews on his bit and throws his head up with the slightest contact on his bit. I have been told I am too heavy handed with him, but his reaction is very severe and very unnerving and I am not a complete novice and can feel how much pressure I am applying and would not expect quite such a reaction. I am convinced it is his bit that is holding him back. I looked through books on bitting and alternatives and was horrified at some of the suggestions. I felt, that if my heavy handedness was part of the problem, then I should consider giving up riding him altogether rather than keep putting Athalon through this torture and torment every time I ride him. I was again googling for solutions when I came across the Dr Cook website. After reading all the information and other peoples experiences, I knew I had to try this bridle.

My youngster hasn't been ridden since Sunday, when my visiting instructor friend insisted (to my disapproval) of putting the flash band on him to ensure he closed his mouth and listened to instruction. as he was constantly fighting him and throwing his head around. I have to say, Athalon absolutely paid attention and schooled in a near perfect circle and was very obedient, but looked totally unhappy, under duress and totally unnatural. As I said, I would rather not ride him at all than ride him under those conditions. I had already pre-booked a lesson tonight and have forewarned my instructor, that I am coming with a new bitless bridle. He sounded quite skeptical, but is open minded enough to agree to have a look and give me a lesson in it. I can't tell you how excited I am to try it out. I have printed off lots of literature about it to give my instructor so he has the same information that I do.

I will let you know tomorrow how it all went.

Next Day

The 2 instructors were ready and waiting to see what I had found. Initially, as I tacked him up, there was of course the comments about the pressure behind the poll with bit less bridles, and the pressure of the action of bit less nose bands etc, but as I started to explain how it works and we pulled and pushed (with Athalon standing quietly) various parts to see how it all worked, the doubts were becoming fewer and fewer. They too liked how it looked, and could see how gentle it is.

My instructor was doubtful about the brakes, but was the first to try Athalon out in it. After riding in it, the instructor felt that the brakes were as good if not better, and could feel the turning coming, but understandably, said Athalon would need a little time to adjust to the new command language for turning. Then it was my turn. The real driving force for me, was to be able to ride my horse without guilt or fear that I was hurting him. I felt so much more confident using the BB and had a much more enjoyable lesson, and could really feel the difference in Athalon. Interestingly, he threw his head a little to begin with (when the instructor was riding him) and I believe he was looking for the bit to resist against, but once he realised there was nothing there to hurt him, he went on nicely.

He still dropped his head down to his knees when I began to work him a little harder, but hopefully this will improve as his muscles get stronger (he is only 4). The biggest thing I noticed was after we had finished, and the instructor and I stood in the middle of the school debating this bridle for quite some time, instead of him trying to rub against something (usually me) and lunging his head forward to get his reins, and fidgeting like a toddler who is bored, he stood so quietly like he didn't have a care in the world. Another habit he had was after every time I asked him to halt, he would want to scratch his nose on his knees, which he didn't do once last night! Usually, when I take the saddle off him, there are a couple of sweat patches, (he is quite fit) but yesterday, he showed no signs of any work out at all, which again leads me to believe that a lot of his energy was spent fighting and figuring out the big lump of metal in his mouth. The bridle got the thumbs up from the instructors, and at their request, I left them with all the literature I had printed off about it. Unfortunately, I didn't get the attachment you kindly sent until this morning. But I did take the fitting instructions with me.

One question I have, is that when I fitted the bridle in accordance with the booklet, the instructor felt it should go up 1/2 inch as he felt it would interfere with the horses breathing where I had it should I do fast work? He mentioned that I should be mindful that there is an extra nasal flap in Arabs which is why they are able to flare their nostrils so much. I had it sat just below the premaxillary notch which I could clearly feel under my finger. They raised it to sit just above this. I have to say that I had the benefit of reading the literature before hand (which they did not), but being the the wimp that I am, I didn't insist it stayed where I had put it, may be you could just clarify this for me. [The attachment sent to Ruth was THE ‘WHY,’ ‘WHAT’ AND ‘HOW’ OF FITTING THE CROSSOVER BITLESS BRIDLE in which Dr Cook explains clearly the anatomy of the horse's face and why the noseband, when positioned as recommended, cannot possibly interfere with the horse's breathing - you may download the article here in pdf format]

I am going out on a hack with a friend tonight and have no fears of using his new bridle. I hope and am sure that we will go from strength to strength with my new found confidence.

Ruth, Ipswich - August 06

I am very pleased with the bridle. The change in attitude is very big. I bought the bridle for my Welch Cob but I am riding my pinto mare now with the bridle. She was always very difficult with pinned ears and always saying NO !

Now she is very willing. I never had problems with a bit but I did not realize how much it must have hurt her! Even with the Parelli halter I didn't see such a big change and I didn't trust her with only the halter.

I will never ride with a bit again!

Linda, Antwerp, Belgium - July 06

Many thanks for sending my draft horse size bitless bridle so quickly.

What a change it has made to Henry!! He was always ridden previously in an English Hackamore, but he is a much happier horse and far more relaxed since he has been using his new bitless bridle.

It is a truly fantastic product. Henry is gaining in confidence every day, is much lighter on the forehand and developing a nice outline.

Many thanks again

Sarah Watson & Henry, Somerset - July 06

Jackie & Rose in her leather bitless bridleI've had my Dr Cook bridle for nearly a month now and I certainly won't be returning it! Rose my Arab mare is so much more relaxed and happier in it.

She was never happy with any contact on her mouth. Going into canter I had to drop the reins or she would get silly, tossing her head. Even standing at, for instance a road junction, her head would be poked in the air,mouth open and fidgeting about generally.

She had a French link snaffle which was the best bit I'd tried on her but I knew she wasn't comfortable or quite happy. When I used to put her bridle on she'd open her mouth and draw her tongue back and pull faces! Now she stands half asleep while I tack up and I'm sure she's smiling! We can now canter calmly round the stubble fields no stress and trotting much more relaxed.

We did a pleasure ride last week a good test, she went so well. I only wish I'd found this bridle sooner as her whole attitude has changed for the better. At first she wasn't keen on the snug noseband, she didn't wear one before, so I have it a bit looser than it maybe should be but she never gets strong so it's fine like that. I've put sheepskin round noseband too, but now the leather is softer I'll take it off. I've always had a super little horse but now she's even better, even whinnies when I bring her tack,she just loves to go out!

Thank you so much for an amazing bridle.

Jackie, Thirsk, N Yorks - July 06

i have recently gone bitless with the dr cook bitless bridle and just wanted to come on and say that this is the best single peice of equipment i have ever purchased for my horse and thank you to the developers and suppliers of this nifty piece of kit.

i have always had serious problems with my horse and the bit, he has always been very evasive when being tacked up and indeed used to run to the back of the stable with his head held high in the air and would start panicking just at the sight of the bridle coming. if i could finally get the bridle on him and get on his back he was a nightmare. always panick stricken and tense and would grind his teeth constantly until i got off him. riding him was a nightmare as he was extremely tense and highly strung. hacks were tortuous as all he wanted to do was gallop home.

i attempted allsorts of different bits including going down the vulcanite and happy mouth roads which helped a little but not much.

at the start of the year i started to consider going bitless and was looking into hackamores which ive always looked upon as torture instruments, but this was my final option, either that or ride in a headcollar for the rest of his life! then a friend came to me and suggested i have a look at this new type of bridle that was only on the internet. i had a look and was impressed, it was just what i was looking for so i placed my order and impressivly it arrived 2 days later. i went straight to the yard and introduced my horse to it, he had a sniff and done the usual back of the stable, head up routine. i went in and got it on him took him out and had probably one of the most exciting rides ever! he bucked, reared, jumped around like a lunatic and after a few minutes settled down to a lovely pace at trot. i couldnt believe it there wasn't even any teeth grinding! the next day i came up and went to put it on him, there were no struggles, no running to the back of the stable and no head up in the air, he just stood there until i got it on, total success!

that was in february and i have since had no trouble with it or him, we regularly school and hack and often do a bit of jumping now as well.

my experience with this bridle has led me to state that so long as a horse is free from pain or injury i will be happy to get on any animal with this bridle to show its true potential. i have since had about 15 other owners aproach me and borrow the bridle to try their horses in it, about a dozen of these i rode myself first. with the exception of 2 all said that their horse went better in it. some substantially so and some less so, but they all saw an improvement. the 2 that didnt see an improvement had smaller horses and meant the bridle didnt fit properly and both said they'd like to try with a properly fitting bridle.

Donny, Cumbernauld - July 06

[Donny can be contacted via the Nagtrader Forum]

I've tried the bitless bridle on my 15.2hh Arab cross and his walk to trot transition was much improved - previously he used to buck every time no matter who was riding him. Admittedly he did buck as usual the first time as I think he was expecting the discomfort but the more transitions I did the more relaxed he got, and no more bucking. He has also stopped trying to turn and bite my feet and head-shaking so the bitless bridle has definitely made him a happier horse (and me a happier rider!). I have been suffering with a back problem recently so haven't been riding much and have been a bit tense in the saddle but the BB gave me more confidence as he wasn't so tetchy and was less likely to buck.

I've also long-reined the Shetland using a small noseband and she behaved brilliantly once she realised she could move as it was also the first time she'd had her full harness on!

I've definitely been converted and will recommend it to friends.

Alison, Bourne, Lincs - July 06

I recently bought the western bitless bridle from you and I have to say I am delighted! I have three horses at the moment, one a friend's I am looking after who is 20yrs old and has always been a 'pulling' jigger and quite a tiring ride. This improved when we started using my treeless saddle last year and now in the bitless bridle she is fantastic, relaxed and easy going.

It also fits my very green cob who has never been happy with a bit and is now forward going and confident and I have introduced it to my youngster who has taken to it really well. As she has all her teeth coming through it has to be better than putting a piece of metal in as well!!

Lynette, Abermule, Montgomery - July 06

Susan with Megan bitlessBitless Bridle - one year on

I purchased one of your bridles almost a year ago and noticed an immediate improvement in my mare's attitude and performance. One year on and we're now doing things I could only have dreamed of prior to going bitless. Previously her behavioural problems were so bad we rarely made it off the yard as I simply refused to take her anywhere.

Here we are after a 9-mile charity pleasure ride we did a fortnight ago (Megan is actually smiling for the camera!). We got some very funny looks from the other participants as almost everyone else had deliberately put stronger bits on their horses for the event. Control was never an issue for us and Megan really enjoyed herself and was completely relaxed the whole time. We raised £175 for the Brooke Hospital for Animals.

Last weekend I took her to her very first show and we came 2nd in our Dressage class. These particular show organisers promote natural horsemanship and actually banned the use of whips and spurs at their show, therefore riding bitless was no problem and was positively encouraged.

I'd just like to confirm that we gallop whenever possible (because it's fun) and brakes have never been an issue with this bridle. I only need to think stop and shift my body weight to get the desired response.

I no longer jump (due to a previous injury), but a friend of mine jumps Megan for me on a semi-regular basis. She uses herself much more confidently over jumps than when she was bitted, hence her jump has become increasingly bigger and bolder. In addition to show-jumping, my friend has done XC with her bitless. My friend has never ridden bitless before and thinks it's great.

Susan Deans, Aberdeen - July 06

bitless riding in poppy fieldGoing Bitless

I recommend it to anyone still hesitating. My horse stands perfectly still to have the Bitless Bridle slipped over his ears. Out riding he listens to my body and hands and communication is much improved. Riding past the 'dreaded pigs' last week it was clear that he is concentrating more and that he seems to find it easier to overcome his nervousness without the irritation of a bit in his mouth. My rein contact is also more consistent.

'Bitless' appealed to me for some time but I talked myself out of it with 'if it isn't broke don't fix it', as Pallo was never a problem to tack up or ride, but now his whole behaviour is saying: " Thanks, that feels much better"

Marianne Tims
Congham, Kings Lynn - June 2006

A while a go I emailed you asking for advice on whether a Dr Cooks would be suitable for my mare and I just thought you might like to know how we've got on with it. I've had my beta bridle for about two weeks now and I am really pleased with how she's responded to it. She is now completely happy with the contact, working in an outline happily in walk and trot (instead of the usual tense neck and poking nose), our canter work is even getting better too (always our worst pace). Her headshaking seems vastly improved too although I am still riding in her nose net at the moment.

I had hoped for an improvement in the two points above but the difference that I wasn't expecting and that I'm most amazed by is the change in her attitude. She was always a really spooky and nervous mare, hacking out was always a trial as she was always so tense - expecting a monster around every corner. Now her attitude couldn't be more different, I took her out yesterday and she seemed genuinely happy to be out - really striding out (away from home rather than just towards it as in the past) and hardly spooked at anything, only having a bit of a close look at a couple of things and not doing any of the vertical leaps she used to do at every piece of string in the hedge. My saddler came up yesterday and was very interested in the bridle, commenting on how well she worked in it and on how she seemed a lot more friendly than last time he saw her.

I just wondered if anyone else has commented on this? I have to say that so far this bridle really has surpassed my expectations, and then some!

Caroline, Bath - June 2006

i bought my bitless about 2 weeks ago,rebel throws his head around and i have difficulty stopping him using a bit so tried in an english hackamore,he didnt even know i was trying to stop him in it,so a german hackamore was tried and it did stop him out hacking,my friend and i decided to do some long distance rides which we all love doing but rebel gets very forward going on them,its hard keeping him to the pace id like him to go at,and once he reared with me,on another ride he pulled that much the shanks rubbed his cheeks.

i love reb and decided to look for an alternative so after trawling the net for a few weeks i found the dr cooks bitless bridle,i must say looking at it on reb everyone in the livery yard thought i was mental taking him out hacking in it (so did i) but wowee he actually responds better in it, he seems more relaxd in it to the point even his trots not at racing pace, although if he gets exited it does speed up but only twice did i feel id lost control but using the give pull he came back under control although gave a coupla bucks to show he didnt like the idea,ive also jumped him over small fences in it and he turns great in it.

yesterday i did a pleasure ride in it,was very tempted to swap to the hackamore for it but stuck to the bitless,i was worried about doing a 14 miler in it as he really is a nightmare to ride with strange horses but although he wasnt an angel he settled quite quick and didnt freak out at strange horses passing,we parked up right near the paintball bit so all we heard was the popping of guns,so i used it to tie him up and after 5 minutes hed settled enough to eat which suprised me as he never eats from leaving yard to arriving back,he was a pleasure to ride and he was obviously so much more relaxed.

im so glad i bought your bridle and put my horses welfare and mine in your hands.big thanks to dr cook from rebel and i.

Mandy, Castleford, W Yorkshire - June 2006

Lucy going over tarpaulinJust wanted to drop you a line to let you know how disapointed my daughter is in the bitless bridle I recently bought. Her superfast (beat the speed cameras in trot) pony has turned into a steady Eddie overnight, needless to say I am delighted (an so is she really!). Lucy is a 13.2 cob who is about 20 and who was rather abused in her last home by teenagers over jumping and over galloping her. As a result Lucy thought that everyone wanted her to go as fast as she possibly could at all paces. She had absolutely no bend making corners extremely precarious, and would jump a trotting pole on the ground at top wing level.

I only got the bitless for Lucy as the noseband size I needed for my other pony was out of stock but I didnt want to wait so thought I would give Lucy a go (thinking that her current troubles were from her past experiences). Our first thoughts on Lucy and the bridle were -'well she's no harder to stop and she does look happier'. Since then (4 days and about 5 riding hours) Lucy has made massive improvements in all areas. Her trot has slowed to within acceptable limits and for the first time she is beginning to understand the principle of a half halt, she is developing a bend and is cantering in a straight line( as opposed to sideways). She is also happy to trot over a trotting pole even if its on the first hole. My daughter even rode with another horse last night and managed to keep Lucy quite steady (a definate no-no before).

Getting Lucy to go steady across a piece of tarpaulin would have been impossible bitted but after a bit of 'should I shouldn't I' she just plodded across as you can see from the photograph.

I wouldn't send this bridle back even if you paid me and my only regret is taking a couple of months to decide whether or not I should get one. Oh I almost forgot Lucy has stopped sticking her head in the air to be bridled - she still opens her mouth when I take it off but I guess some habbits die hard.

I cant wait for my noseband for the little pony - his problems are a bit more serious as he refuses to go forward and will rear if pushed but I now have every faith in the bitless and will let you know how I get on.
Many thanks from me, my daughter and most of all Lucy.

Tracy, Cumbria - June 06

I am getting on really well with both bridle and saddle thanks! The saddle is very comfortable and i have done a three day trek on it with no problems. The bridle gives me as much control as with a bit, plus the added bonus that Guapo can stuff his face with grass everytime we stop! I have introduced him to jumping in the bitless bridle - open field, cross country course, 16hh four year old! He bucked around a bit but i never felt out of control.

Emily, Shropshire - June 06

Well you've definitely got another convert !

I tacked up in 5 minutes last night - unheard of. Beau did not put his head in the air once, even when I put the reins over his head to begin with - that used to tense him up and then the head would go up and he'd clamp his mouth tight shut, but not a sign of it.

We had a short lesson with a friend whose an AI and very into dressage, and it was interesting for her because she's never seen bitless, so it's a bit of a learning curve as regards giving a little tweek to ask to come on the bit !!!! However, he did seem to understand and taking up a contact did not cause an issue either. He was relaxed the whole time and I was dead chuffed.

Do you have any dressage instructors in your list of converts ? I imagine it's as controversial as driving bitless - how do you communicate with the horse if you've got no bit to communicate with ? I'm really looking forward to this summer and finding out - and I think Beau is going to enjoy it as well.

Carol, Hereford - May 06

Jack in western bitless bridle & soft rope reinsJust thought I'd drop you a line with some feedback. We bought a western style bridle with soft [rope] reins from you almost 2 weeks ago, for my rising 4 arab gelding.

It arrived early the next day, and I was amazed at how lovely it looks - the internet doesn't do it justice!

We took him out on the saturday, and my mum was honoured with the first try. She's only ridden him once before, so it was a test for both of them and the bridle, but they had no problems at all. Jack took to it like a duck to water, and they had steering and brakes immediately. Much more subtle and responsive steering than the natural hackamore we were using.

And it looks rather snazzy too, attached are some pics of a very relaxed and happy boy. I think the noseband is too high in the pics, I've dropped it a hole, and need to tighten it, but we like it!

The only minor complaints I have are that the reins don't look very smart, compared with the beautiful bridle - they are very comfy and so are staying, but if you were bothered about 'matching', they don't work very well. [matching split western reins are available] And the other thing is, when the straps come through the rings on the noseband, then 'turn back' to attach to the reins, the leather doesn't match the rest, as it's the underside you can see. Not sure what you could do about this, except maybe use rolled leather for that section? It might help to reduce any friction so releasing pressure sooner as well....just a thought!

Overall, we are very happy, and will definitely recommend it to anyone who'll listen. My mum is almost a bitless bridle convert now!

Thank you for all your help.

Kelly, Bradford - April 06

Bitless Bridle UK's reply to Kelly:

Regarding the reins - most people feel that the rope reins look good with the Western style bridles, but obviously it's a matter of personal taste. We do have the matching split leather reins, but unless you are an accomplished Western rider, you sometimes end up with a lot of spaghetti!

Regarding the underside of the leather showing on the crossovers after they have passed through the O rings - this is the same with all the leather bridles and people just accept that that is how it is! Once the leather is worn in a bit, the difference between the topside and the underside is not so marked, but I know what you mean. We have in the past considered rolled leather for the crossovers, but it is not so strong as flat leather especially for such an important part of the bridle. The friction where the leather passes through the O rings would probably cause the stitching of rolled leather to wear quite quickly too.

On the question of release: it may seem that the BB is slow to release perhaps because you see little or no movement in the crossover straps at the level of the 'O' ring on the noseband. But a lack of movement (there is little in the first place... the "O" ring does not function like a pulley system) does not mean that there is no release of pressure. This is very easy to test. Simply stand by your horse's head and place the fingers of your left hand under the crossover strap as it passes up the side of the cheek on the left side of your horse. Now, with your right hand, apply tension and release to the reins. You will find that the bridle produces a convincing squeeze and release. The same 'release' can be detected at the poll, across the nose, and under the chin. In fact, though release is imperative with the bitted bridle, because pain has been caused in the first instance, there is not the same need to be concerned about release with the Bitless Bridle as no pain is caused. Nevertheless, be assured that 'release' does occur.

Just had to write to tell you that we have ridden both horses three times in their new bridles, and already I have noticed a considerable difference in my own horse. I was actually able to tack him up outside his stable today as he no longer runs away from me and he was so calm. His dressage work is more active as he is no longer afraid of his bit and will use his full power to produce the correct outline. He has not sweated up at all on either of the times he has been schooled and usually he looks as though he's been round Badminton after half an hour. He no longer hesitates, continually needing to go for a poo, in fact he hasn't been during schooling at all and today I knew I had a really happy horse to ride. I am able to untack him outside as well with no panicking about the bit dropping from his mouth. He is not as nappy either, and is so much more willing for everything. He is quite content to canter around the field without breaking into trot, or even feeling as though he is going to. I can't believe the difference and I am so sorry for him that I took so long to give him what he wanted.

My daughter trusted her bridle enough after one ride to school her pony bareback yesterday and he went beautifully, really working from behind and bringing his hind legs under him. We tested her brakes on Friday as she assumed he would be harder to stop. I trotted across a large field towards home and she waited until we were nearly across and then put her own pony into canter. She did say she'd never gone so fast, but crucially admitted that she could stop him! I hope I have managed to sell her on it, but the crunch will come next weekend as we have a hunter trials. Wish me luck and thank you a million times. I will send some pics soon.

Cheryl, Turriff Aberdeenshire - April 06

I love bitless bridles! I am 11 and my pony used to be really GRUMPY in her bit but when we got the bitless it was like she was a different pony.
from Megan

Megan, Yorkshire - March 06

Bridle arrived yesterday, many thanks. Couldn't resist urge to run out and try straight away. I'M COMLETELY SOLD ON IT!

My first try left me confident enough after only 10 mins in the school (testing for braking and steering,) to head out for a long hack. As I say, more to follow but I have never felt my horse's back move like that, or seen her in true self-carriage with all the CORRECT muscles evidently being utilised with nothing more than the true use of my seat and leg aids. I can't claim to read my horse's mind, but I certainly felt that I was riding a horse that was sighing with relief (she actually kept on sighing while we hacked!), and was happy to be ridden. Blah, Could go on for hours!

I will write further about all the things I felt / discovered with her in the bitless bridle.

Elizabeth, Fintry, Stirlingshire - March 06

Just a line to say how pleased I am with my mares bridle.

The difference was almost instant! although I considered myself a sensitive rider it seems now all I have to do is "think" and she responds.

I am about to start a new endurance season (my mare is advanced level) and am looking forwards to a freer moving horse, will let you know how she does.

Linda, Wrecsam, North Wales - February 06

I felt I just had to write to let you know how I got on since riding my mare in a bitless bridle. It’s only been a week, yet the difference in Rose is totally amazing and there is no way I’ll be sending this bridle back! We haven’t yet solved one of our problems, but numerous others have totally disappeared. I had hoped for some improvements, but I never dreamt the result would be as good as they are, particularly in such a short space of time.

Since last summer Rose had been doing frequent dead stops from trot and canter with no obvious cause. Each time she slammed the brakes on she would either tuck her nose into her chest, or more commonly, raise her head, tilt it on one side whilst frantically moving her tongue about. Rose’s tongue would be bunched up behind the bit, saliva would hang out of her mouth and she was tense and unhappy.

Thorough checks by the vet and physio couldn’t shed any light on the problem and they gave her a clean bill of health. Her teeth and tack were fine, she looked in great condition and at rest she exhibited no symptoms. It was so frustrating that no-one could find the cause of the problem or suggest anything that could help.

Rose does have a pollen allergy and riding her in a face mask and nose net did help a bit, but even once the winter set in, we were still having problems.

The stops from trot and canter weren’t as frequent so I was able to do more with her, but Rose still wasn’t happy. She yawned when I went to put the bridle on; she kept putting her head on the side, frantically moving her tongue about, she was very difficult to turn as she’d put her head on the side and resist, and her tongue had been constantly protruding for a couple of months.

She’d always gone so well in the French link snaffle, but something had changed and the bit was distressing her.

I read up on the Dr Cook bridle and it sounded like just what we needed. The moneyback guarantee was also enticing as it meant I wouldn’t waste a lot of money if it didn’t help.

One lady at the yard thought I was mad for hacking out with no bit, and I’m sure she had visions of me being dumped and Rose bolting back to the yard. But I was confident I would have no control problems, after reading about other people’s experiences.

We duly set off out on a familiar hacking route, and I was soon grinning from ear to ear! Rose felt so incredibly balanced and light as she was no longer on the forehand and for the first time in months she was totally relaxed and happy. There was no tongue protruding, no raised head or frantically moving her tongue about. Stopping was no problem and turning was amazing as Rose turned with only the lightest of pressure and there was no head tilting or resistance. Canter was a problem for a couple of days, as Rose stopped if I asked her to go on, but now she is much more willing and the feel she gives is amazing. We seem to float along and we cover the same routes quicker than usual, thanks to Rose’s new relaxed flowing stride.

I can’t believe what a massive improvement there has been, and our only remaining problem is still the dead stops from canter. These still happen very frequently, but at least Rose doesn’t tuck her head in or throw it on the side frantically moving her tongue about. In fact I’m now beginning to wonder if it’s a habit she’s got into, and that once she realises she can now swallow happily etc, she won’t feel the need to stop. [Suggested Julie tries stopping Rose before she stops of her own accord, to try and break the habit.]

Apart from this problem, Rose is now going so beautifully and it is thrilling to have her feeling so relaxed, happy and keen to hack out. I never would have thought a bit could cause so many problems, but I only have to look at my happy little horse to see how much good going bitless has done for her. Even people we meet out on our hacks have noticed that there is no longer a tongue sticking out of her mouth!

I’m now looking forward to the weeks and months ahead, and I would thoroughly recommend this bridle to anyone having problems with their horse. It has certainly done wonders for us.

Julie, King’s Lynn, Norfolk – Jan 06

Sophie in her beta Bitless BridleI bought my Beta Dr Cooks in August last year and I love it. I use it on three horses and they all go well in it and have good brakes!

My little mare was a terrible headshaker and this has virtually stopped since using the Dr Cooks. Another great benefit of beta is it always looks good and is so easy to maintain! This is Sophie wearing hers.

Amanda, North Yorkshire - Jan 06

relaxed in the Bitless BridleHere is an update of how we’re getting on with the Bitless Bridle (bb) now that we’ve had it for quite a while and bought a second for our other horse who is a REAL handful, young, stubborn & very very strong.

My horse has really taken to it and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to using bits again, there just doesn’t seem to be much point! He does every thing with this bb just as well or even better as when he’s in a bitted bridle.

Our other horse Cannon (by name & nature) is also beginning to learn to be a calmer horse whilst being ridden in it. We know that there will never be a piece of tack that will be the miracle all horse owners hope to find but it is allowing us to tackle his attitude without making it any worse by continually jabbing him in the mouth with a bit, we have DEFINITELY got as much control using the bb as we did using a bitted bridle. We rode him out for 3 ½ hours today and my girlfriend was totally gob smacked at how well he was behaving (relatively speaking), we think this bridle has given us a real tool to work with, infact it has so impressed us we’ve decided to go barefoot & treeless to see if that will also help with his wilfulness and we’re convinced it will.

This piece of tack is a real help & if it helps Cannon it will help most horses. To reiterate what I said in my first feedback note, it really gives you a massive feel good factor knowing that your schooling your horse without hurting him.

Terry, Walsall, West Midlands - Jan 06

I have recently bought a cob, rising 3, broken in very young and possibly a bit heavy-handedly. Although I won't be riding him much for the next few months I still need to take him about in hand and maybe have very short rides so he doesn't forget everything.

I bought him with the tack he was wearing when I tried him - an eggbutt snaffle (with rubber bit protectors for some reason) and a running martingale. This last I especially couldn't understand as he went with his head down. I never used it. But it was obvious that he hated the bit - fiddling and fussing all the time, and raising his head when I bridled him. You notice these things far more on your own horse than on a riding school horse.

I've bought a Dr. Cook's. After the first time, when he realised he wasn't going to have anything in his mouth, he stopped raising his head when being bridled. The only time I've ridden him so far we were following a younger, excitable horse and my risk assessment was that we weren't safe, so I asked my horse to stop so we could go home. He stopped whenever I asked him, even though he wanted to follow the others, and turned for home with no objections. This demonstrated that not having a bit does not mean not having control; if I have a problem with steering or stopping it will be from some other cause (like my own riding). I'm so glad to have this opportunity to start him off pain- and fear-free right from the beginning. Incidentally he also arrived with shoes, which I immediately had removed, and he goes much better without those, too.

Jill, Wrexham - December 05

Buffy is my homebred, 4 year old part bred appaloossa. I've been riding her in the Dr Cook's for a few months now.

I suppose what I like about the Dr Cook's is that it allows me to get through Buffy's attitude with will alone, not pain. She has attitude to spare (her antics include foot stamping and biting my leg when asked to do something she doesn't want to do) but she is also very capable and with patience will make me a lovely horse. Using the Dr Cook's bridle I can be in control and in charge without causing her any pain.Sally testing the brakes on Buffy

Buffy goes with a much steadier head in the Dr Cook's compared to how she used to go with a bit, I have also found it easier to control her speed within gaits and achieved our first slow canter the first time I used the bridle (in the gathering dusk on an open moor- I like excitement!). She jumps small fences and is beginning to learn lateral work. Depending on what discipline I choose to do with her I may unfortunately have to revert to using a bit but at least then she will have been educated and will understand the aids I give her.

I have used the Dr Cook's bitless bridle on Buffy's dam too. She is a 18 yr old wannabee endurance horse, I found she went with a much longer stride bitless than with a bit.

So far, so good. Anyone want to buy a double bridle?

PS: I have taken my [bitless] bridle to the tap twice in order to wash the bit! Old habits die hard!

Sally, Cumbria - November 05

Update from Emily, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (bb purchased Dec 2004)

I took Izzy to the beach and we galloped (my choice) and we stopped – eventually – again my choice! I have now had my bridle almost a year and will NEVER go back to a bit. The feeling of ‘yeah I know you want to stop, and I will, in a minute’ feeds down the reins, instead of a sort of silent, panicked screaming that I used to feel from her, with no idea of when or if she would slow down, its amazing and very confidence giving. Before I got my bridle, I nearly had given up going faster than a trot now I can go anywhere and enjoy our rides again.

November 05

We bought 2 of your bitless bridles and are very pleased with them ( Dr Cook's).

We have a thoroughbred, (13yrs old) who got into a habit of snatching the bit and bolting off, he scared the life out of me on 3 occasions, so I refused to get on him, we saw the bitless bridles at the sanctuary place in Herefordshire [EMW], where John Jones was, and decided to try them out, I must admit I thought it was a stupid idea of hubby's to get the TB one, but low and behold I tried him out again on it, nerves rattling away on my behalf, and hey presto WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT HAS MADE, SO MUCH CONTROL, and no more bolting off, I feel I have control not him.

I also bought a mare from the sales a cob, 10yrs old, well we tried allsorts of bits for her over the months, and spoke to John about her, she kept throwing her head up/down when ridden, and if she as much as saw the bridle and bit, her head went so high I couldn't reach her, and she was clever, she kept it up there the opposite way, I went that side, she turned the other, it was really annoying, so I put her in the bitless bridle, and again no more of this, and the great thing is both horses are happy in them and drop their heads into the bridles, so much easier for us to.

We have taken them on fun rides to, with alot of other horses, and again go well in them, and people have asked us about them, I also gave your address to a tack shop who was interested, and photocopied your leaflets for customers to read.

Great to see you now have the WESTERN STYLE BITLESS BRIDLES, well 1 guess I know who will be ordering 2 again, and would like to see on the site the reins that match them please, we both like the dark brown ones, when are the reins coming out?

Sandy & Jerry, Loughborough - November 05

Bitless Driving

Bitless driving - Henry & the saddlechariotGot my Dr. Cook's today Saturday 8.30 am, only ordered Thursday evening, and taken Henry out for a quick long rein. Love it to bits. He tends to be a slug away from home and at least look alive on the way back. In the bitless, perky both ways. Reinback like I've never had before off the gentlest contact and Henry reckons it's great for his canter to graze transitions.

Going out for my first attempt at bitless Saddlecharioting and see if he stops on his normal bolting ground. The only way to get a flat out gallop out of Henry is to persuade him you want a slow walk while faced with a large expanse of grass or beach. When he cuts loose it is mindblowing.


Bitless is definitely the business. Took Henry through Appleby town centre on market day.Checked up on a bit of engineering work for the Saddlechariot paddock roller, bit of bending through the trees by the river, stopped to gossip, did a bit of fooling around on some steep banks and back home.

Funnily enough he doesn't fight the bit in the Dr. Cook. Can't think why. Just total brilliant effortless control when I needed it. Most of the time the reins are totally slack.

I am already getting far better stopping off a softer rein with the Dr. Cook and rein backs in the Saddlechariot no sweat. I think it helps that I was already driving on a frighteningly loose rein which seems to suit Myler bits. I believe that the same may well be true of the Dr. Cook but I have a lot more learning to do and this afternoon we put Molly in to see how she takes to it.
Sheila, great product great service, many thanks.

Now I drive barefoot, bitless, blinkerless, whipless and I haven't even got a member of the lower classes next to me. Whatever next. We'll have people enjoying driving if this carries on.

Simon,, Cumbria - November 05 (

I said I'd let you know how I got on with the bitless bridle. Firstly I have to say just how friendly Sheila was, it was a real pleasure to talk with her and the delivery speed was fantastic, 11.15 the next day. After following the very easy to understand instructions on how to fit the bridle I took the bull by the horns and took Quest straight into his field and perhaps I was expecting to much to quickly because I didn't think he was responding very well at all to begin with and he seemed more boisterous than he usually is but decided that as the booklet said, "some horses do get a bit of the I'm Free Syndrome" to begin with and stuck with it for an hour and then gave him a break.

After his break my riding instructor arrived and agreed to do the lesson with this new bridle on and after a few minutes with Jon instructing me he commented on how nicely he jogged (western schooling) in it compared to when he has his bit in, further into the lesson and suddenly Quest got the idea and I barely had to touch the reins to turn him or back him up. Jon decided to try him with a half sidepass something neither he or I have ever tried before and he was really confused about it all and started to have a paddy but I was always fully in control which surprised me because there's no bit ! within 15mins he was doing a halfpass to the left but couldn't get the other direction and we decided that was good enough for one day.

One bad thing though was that when I asked for a canter around the field he started doing a few bucks as we started off, something he hasn't done for quite a while now but once again I really believe that this is a bit of excitement on his behalf and only took a loud shout from me to bring him to his senses, he did stop when I asked him too but I'll have to get back to you on how the breaks work when we're out on an endurance ride (tomorrow) with the buzz of the event and plenty of other horses about to get him really fired up, then we'll really know if the breaks work as well or better than the bitted bridle. My first impressions on this piece of tack is that it is well made, easy to use, easily as good as any bitted bridle I've used and gives a huge sense of feel good factor because you know your not hurting your horse, its a thumbs up from me at the moment. As I said this is only my first impression because I've only used it for one day but I'll add more comments in a few weeks when we've tried it out on the roads etc...

Terry, Walsall - October 2005

I thought I should let you know how well things are going with the Arabs, the BB is playing a big part in my new found confidence!

I started the trail of natural horsemanship back in 1999, when I first saw Pat Parelli because I had a homebred Arab gelding I found very difficult to control and, although he had been "started" by Monty Roberts trained people I was too scared to ride him. I had him started by a parelli instructor who found him very "reactive" and that is what has always worried me about him - his lightening quick reactions. I used to ride him in a rope halter or natural hackamore but only in a small area. I was able to persuade my husband I really did need a nice safe arena and that has helped.

After I fell off my gelding a couple to times my husband said I must sell him, so I sent him away to be schooled "normally" and sold. He was ridden in a snaffle with other people and seemed to go OK with it but I no longer like riding with a bit.

Fortunately I could not sell my horse (he was too green for a 9 year old) instead I loaned him for a few months to a teenager who adored him, he is lively but in her eyes he could do no wrong, she also had the confidence I lacked. He is now back home and I have had another girl ride him thought the summer, in a snaffle, but now I am finally hacking him out around our village, past buses and lorries. He is 10 and it has taken me a long, long time but I am finally there, thank you!

What has changed? My tack!

While the gelding was away on loan I rode my Arab mares in your Dr Cook bridle and bought a Dartmoor treefree western saddle, which fits all the mares. I felt safe and secure and wondered if I would be able to ride the gelding in this tack. When he came home this summer I tried it and felt, for the first time, safe and in control. He does get scared when we ride out, he is still very "green" but I now know he will not run off with me, if he spooks, I can sit his quick moves and I can stop him quickly. Now that I have more confidence I can give him more confidence and at last I think we are learning to trust each other . I am very glad to have bred this lovely horse, he has made me explore natural horsemanship and I understand so much more about horses. We do live near busy roads so I have to ride with a bridle but I do not like normal bridles, the Dr Cook seems the perfect answer and all the horses go well in it, as you know I now have 2 so anyone who rides with me can use one.

The Dr Cook seems to tell the horse "no" if he get scared and wants to run, without upsetting him, he recovers his composure quickly and I do not have to hang on to him.

While this horse was on loan I started riding his sister. Last week I rode her on the roads for the first time ever (she is 13!), we rode her and her mum (25) in the Dr Cook bridles and she was so good. Typically we met 2 buses and had to pass a bonfire but she was great. She did get worried by the second bus and turned to run but I could stop her quickly and she just stood while the bus passed. This was her first ride out (apart from in some local woods), I was so pleased with her. I felt that she wanted to rush home but she didn't, I could easily control her. I have never ridden her in a bit, there does not seem any point!

Thanks Sheila, I have been on a long learning journey with my horses and though there is still "much to learn" the bridle is definitely making me feel safer riding out.

Charlie came to see my horses feet and I hope she will be trimming one of them, the farrier is interested in barefoot too!

Liz, Sussex - October 05

Paddy wearing beta bitless bridleMy name is Michelle and I own a New Forest Cross Gelding named Paddy. I have only had him 4 months and when I got him he was being ridden in a pelham and martingale. I was told he was strong and lifted his head up a lot. Altho he was a litle strong I never found him too much but I could tell he didn't like the bit because he'd fight me a lot if I pulled. I've tried him in a snaffle but he chomped and grinded his teeth. I wanted another way to stop making him uncomfortable in his mouth.

I recently bought one of your beta bitless bridles after reading the comments from other users and thougt maybe it would be the answer. I couldn't be more happy with it! I have ridden out 4 times now and each time he just gets better and better. He doesn't fight me anymore and is calm and collected in his paces. He pulls up much easier with the slightest touch and seems to generally respond to my voice more. As for the raising of the head, not a problem. His neck is much more relaxed and he is constantly alert. He seems to enjoy the ride much more.

I will admit I was a bit nervous using the bridle the first time because usually he is so strapped down but I reminded myself that perhaps its the bit he was fighting, not me. I've had a few comments from other people who have seen me riding in it and after some encouragement they seem to accept that maybe it is a good idea. I only hope we can all come around to this way of thinking and take a more gentle approach towards the way we ride our horses. and that one day it will be accepted in the world of showing. I will never use a bit again!

Thank you so much for this wonderful bridle.

Michelle & Paddy, Hampshire - Oct 05

Just to let you know.
Used bridles on both our horses - great.
The headshaking one not brilliant - but it did say in information that it takes some headshakers a while to adjust - so not too worried. Other than that - went like a dream.

Denise, Leeds - October 05

I ordered a Beta BB on Thursday and was very impressed with the rapid delivery- it arrived before I went to the yard the following day!
I was quite nervous when tacking up-as I have quite a flighty Arab cross I was worried I may not be able to slow/stop him. We recently moved to a new yard and I rode him in a large field, different from usual. I didn't think I would be able to take him very far across the field as he will not ride out alone, and in company he sometimes spooks at those "scary monsters" in the hedges.

Initially I walked, halted and turned a few times and was suprised at how quickly he stopped with only gentle pressure on the reins. I took him across the far end of the field without any attempt to nap or spook, then did the same in trot. It was a windy day and he had a good look at the rustling trees alongside the field but never even tensed up-he felt so happy and relaxed! I could feel he wanted to go faster so cantered the long side of the field, totally in control, then he slowed to walk immediately when asked. I asked for canter again and as I was thinking of slowing him to trot he turned up the field so with a touch of my legs to tell him he could keep on he strode forward and I could feel how relaxed and free he was as we cantered round the entire field-I can't describe how perfect it felt!
He was slightly heavy on the hand but as it was the first ride in the bb I wasn't too worried about collecting him. It does make you more aware of how your legs control the horse and so ensures you use them correctly.
Also, a main reason for trying the BB came after reading about Saffy lifting her head in the air and rushing forwards when attempting a down transition, and Harvey does the same when bitted. In the BB however, he did not do this once!

I ended the ride grinning from ear to ear, and I'm sure Harvey was doing the same!
I have a lesson booked on Monday and will be riding lots next week so will report back soon and put in some photos.

and 3 days later...

Had a lesson with him yesterday and my instructor was saying he looked more balanced, happy and confident than she'd ever seen, had the lesson in a different field from before so gave him a few mins to settle as he was having a good look around, then he was lovely to work with and again no spooking! As I've been away lots over summer we worked more on getting him balanced and forward (I took him on a few months ago and he had not been schooled much before) but within the hour he was much lighter in my hands again and beginning to round.
I shall take some photos over the next few weeks and update you on progress as promised but already he seems a lot happier in himself which in turn makes me happy too!

Holly, Leeds - October 05

Babette & her partner, two horses, one pony - 1500km in 75 days

The route followed the St James Way, starting from one of 4 starting points in France Le Puy en Velay and ending in Santiago de Compostela. Distance: 1500km, over 75 days, average distance per day 25/30km, with a minimum of one rest day per week, though often more. (Map of route)

St James's Way, PyreneesWe started out with two horses and a pony for the packs. The pony was rising 4 and had not been backed or broken, one of the horses was a French Trotter but had never been raced and barely ridden because the previous owner had pronounced her unrideable. When we bought her she had been left in a field for two years and unhandled. The third horse was also a Trotter, but she had been raced. She only understood Stop or Go, her mouth was completely insensitive and she simply leant on the bit if she wanted to ignore us. All the horses, for their various reasons, benefited from the gentle commands exercised by the bridle and breaking-in was a very simple process. Now that we have finished the trip we do intend to do some more intensive schooling which we did not have time to do before, but we will continue to use the bridles because they serve our purposes very well.

We chose the bitless bridle and have no regrets. Our horses have enjoyed the experience of receiving painless commands and the freedom of being able to eat without the restriction of a bit in their mouths. We have benefited from the ability it gives us to exercise control without conflict and reduce the amount of equipment we need to carry, because it can become a headcollar too.

Riding the Milky Way Babette Gallard book coverWhen preparing for a trip like ours every item of equipment has to be considered and tested with great care. Our decision on what type of bridle to use was influenced by our horses and the type of riding we do. Two of the horses were unbroken and one had been a race horse with a typically bad habit of leaning on the bit. Taking into account these factors, our weight restrictions and the importance of them being able to forage as much as possible, the bitless bridle seemed the ideal choice. We chose it in preference to any of other potentially more severe forms of bitless bridle/hackamore, because its unusual design provides a mild and calming means of delivering the hand aids.

Babette, Pays de Loire, France - September 05

Babette's book about this journey is now available - click on the book cover for more info or to order

A brilliant piece of tack that every horse owner should try. I own a heavyweight gypsy cob (Jacko) who has never had a particular problem with his bit but could be a bit strong and quite spooky (especially with the hedge monster that was going to eat him up alongside the school and jumping paddock!). I've just deshod him after reading various websites/books and his feet are looking great, still a little sore on hard and rocky surfaces but we're getting there. Whilst doing my research I came across the bitless bridle and found the info and testamonials fascinating. With the money back guarentee I thought I had nothing to lose so ordered one.

It arrived the next day and I tried it in the school - Jacko took to it instantly and turned like he's never done before, as someone else said, it's like having power steering! Anyway I've now used it for about 3 weeks, hacking, schooling and jumping and I can honestly say he hasn't spooked once - amazing. His general control is much much better especially jumping and although the brakes haven't been fully tested yet he feels as if he will stop. He's just generally much more relaxed and happy.

So all I would say to anyone reading this that has a horse, even if they don't have any particular problems, give the BB a go because you may find a miracle for a problem you have or like me you may just have a happier, relaxed horse who seems to have forgotten about scarey monsters!

Thanks again Sheila.

Kate, Bristol - September 05

Just to let you know that the Beta bridle I recieved fits very well and I have noticed an attitude change straight away in my 2 year old American Paint Colt I am just starting to train. I initially started him on his groundwork in a snaffle bit, but found he was not concentrating on what i was asking him to do, because he was 'annoyed' and 'confused' at this lump of metal, not edible, placed where normally a carrot would go ;-). I am following the natural horsemanship method , after training many horses in the traditional way, and after reading the web-site, the theory of the cook bitless bridle seemed logical, sensible.

After only two sessions with the bridle, doing groundwork, getting my colt to 'submit' to pressure, I have a more concentrated horse, listening, moving backwards at the slightest pressure, going forward freely, and turning on the longreins, again with only slight pressure. He did get excitable at one point on the first day, and reared up - because I knew I could'nt hurt him I gave a short sharp yank on the leadrein, which suprised him and got an immediate reaction - one very attentive horse - this had happened once before with a bit in, and him being naughty, followed by me unintentionally causing pain to him in the mouth as he pulled back and up as I tried to get back control, led to a worried, panicky horse and no lessons were learnt. 'Buddy' seems more relaxed in his training sessions and more trusting - he knows I have control, but I need to use it less, and this positive affirmation that I am in charge is just what I'm looking for as we eventually progress to ridden work.

So.........I would like to upgrade to a leather one, taking advantage of the 30 day offer - could tell me how to go about taking advantage of this offer - I will measure Buddy again and will get back to you with what type of bridle I want - I do not want to be without my bridle for a few days while we swop over though. I will contact you by phone when I re-measure him.

Clare, Darlington -September 05

Just thought I'd update you on how things are going with the BB. Having transformed our Carmargue, His Nibs, from a nappy, headshaking, rein-snatching little terror into a relaxed, happy, willing, pleasure to ride, the BB is now working wonders on my Arab mare Holly.

Since the day she was sent away to be 'broken', 14 years ago, Holly has been a 'difficult' ride. She naps, spooks, rears, and bolts - at one point taking us both through several barbed wire fences - and it had come to the stage where we had completely lost confidence in each other so I put her in foal in the hope it would 'calm her down'. Two years on, she was still a nightmare and, having tried everything in my power (and spending a fortune in the process), I had given up hope. Until I read about the BB.

Having 'tested' the bridle on our Carmargue and been convinced, I was ready to try it on Holly. From the minute I put it on, I sensed a difference in her. For a start, she didn't attack me with her teeth when I girthed her up! She then stood perfectly still when I mounted - another first. We completed 10 minutes trouble free riding in the paddock and I could feel her relaxing more and more with every minute. When I dismounted, she heaved a huge sigh and nuzzled me affectionately. Exalted and excited, I tried again, the following day. Bingo!!! This time, she was even better and we quietly walked and trotted around the paddock for 20 minutes without incident - despite it being windy! One week on, it just keeps getting better.

Words cannot express my delight and the new hope I feel that Holly and I may become a real partnership at long last. I know it's very early days, but I am confident we may have found the answer to our problems. My only regret is that she has suffered for so long and that we have wasted so many years. Needless to say, Holly's daughter, Phoenix, now two, will never suffer the same 'fate'. No bit will ever find its way into her mouth. I am schooling her from the ground and leading her out along the lanes in the BB and she is a delight.

Sorry to ramble on, but I am so thrilled with the results I've had so far. I am busy 'spreading the word' to all my friends here in France and back in England and have persuaded several of them to order a bridle from you already. The sooner everyone throws away their bits, the better for the horses. Talking of which, can anyone think of a good use for old 'conventional' bridles?

Thank you so much for all your help.

Nicky, Saint-Simeon, France - September 05

I'm absolutely delighted with the performance of both my horses in the bridle. Will phone you later to order another one. I don't want bits in their mouths ever again !! I don't suppose they do, either !

Di, Truro, Cornwall - September 05

...just an update on our progress with the bitless bridle, Marnie and Athene went to our local show on the Bank Holiday weekend, and with the kind permission of Gloria, the show organiser, was permitted to show in the bitless bridle. Marnie went in the Show Hunter, and Workers, she gained a 2nd and 3rd place, and behaved beautifully. This was the first time Athene had jumped her in the bitless, she was very impressed, Marnie can sometimes get a bit excited, and hollow going into a jump, this did'nt happen at all, and the judge commented on her forward free action.

Rufus is continuing happily in his bitless, and between the two are impressing on people just how happy and well behaved horses are when free of the bit.

Several people are in line to try our bridle on their horses, so may be more happy equines and riders to come.

Thanks again,

Pat, Glossop Derbyshire - September 05

Zodiac in Bitless BridleThis is 3 year old warmblood cross, Zodiac.

Third time with a rider on his back and second time wearing his BB (first time with rider having the 'controls'). He responded instantly to the idea of turning and stopping.

He has been backed entirely in the field with no means of restraint; has worn a saddle with no problems, but we do not want to mentally overload him so, for now, he is bareback. This is as far as we will go this year, he can wander around at a walk and learn to turn and stop.. but that's all until next year.

Zodi is ours for life and will never have a bit in his mouth.

Sue, Ashford, Kent - September 2005


In general:
Saffy (aka Saffron Rose) felt more comfortable in it straightaway. She has a small mouth and a large tongue so she has always been difficult to bit. She had been throwing her head up every few minutes of the first twenty minutes of every Saffy in her beta bitless bridleschooling session for several months but as soon as I had got the BB correctly adjusted this behaviour stopped. I have to say that when I took her for a gallop I had no more control than in a bit but then I had no less either. I did, however, find that I could maintain a steady canter round the farm ride whereas before it was walk, trot or bolt! I’ve also found Saff is less spooky in her BB. At first she did some quite big spooks but came back to me very quickly when I squeezed on the reins, the spooks have since got a lot smaller which I put down to the fact that instead of getting a sore mouth for spooking she gets gentle pressure on her head which is reassuring rather than painful.

In a bit Saff tends to go above the bit and is unwilling to round, in the BB I don’t have this problem, she can lean on it a bit but this is generally just her way of saying “I’m tired” and for most of the time she is soft and relaxed and working into the bridle. I find that she comes back from medium trot much better where she used to lift her head to try and avoid the bit and run off and I’ve noticed the same benefit in canter-walk transitions also. I also find that Saff is far happier to collect in the BB and also far more on my seat as she is not too busy fighting the bit. If I need to bring her back now all I need to do is apply light pressure on the reins and then I have her attention enough to let my seat aids take over.

I had started to have problems with Saff throwing her head up and running at jumps. In the BB she remains rounded and calm and she will happily jump from trot or canter now whereas before she would fight if asked to trot and end up taking off. She is also more willing to jump, I took her round the farm ride the other day and when I pointed her towards a jump her ears went forward and she was listening to me and ready to go which felt wonderful as she normally spooks and tries to wiggle round the jump! Saff was also quite happy to jump quite a large jump from just a couple of controlled canter strides whereas before she would probably have rushed at the jump, got her striding wrong and refused as she lacks confidence when jumping and sometimes needs help finding her stride.

Saffy bitlessTHE MATERIAL
I bought a Beta BB as I’m vegetarian and avoid using leather where at all possible. I was concerned about whether the Beta would be as soft and flexible as leather but I needn’t have worried. My bitted bridle was leather and got cleaned and conditioned every 1-2 weeks so it was very supple and soft but still couldn’t come close to the softness of the Beta. I ordered a piece of the Cashel closed-cell foam since Saff’s tack, although well fitted, has always rubbed somewhere and I have spent a long time trying to find a bridle set-up that doesn’t rub. So far I have only had to use the Cashel to protect a bruise on the front of Saff’s nose that was caused by the hackamore I was using before I got my BB (now healing nicely). I think the fact that the BB has not rubbed is partly down to the decreased resistance I’ve found but even on days where Saffy has been very strong there have been no problems, I would recommend the Beta to anyone.

I have also been very pleased with the aftercare I have received. I have had to swap my BB for a smaller size and have sent many emails asking about fitting etc as I kept thinking of more questions, all of which have been answered promptly, in a friendly manner and with as much information as possible. I couldn’t have asked for better customer service.

Emma, Stoke on Trent - September 05

More from Sue, Ashford, Kent - September 05

Thank you for the unbelievably fast and efficient service!

We have now had Leo in a BB for several weeks, there was NO WAY it was ever going to be exchanged! He is a different horse.

So, when it came to bitting our three year old, I just could not make myself do it! I can see no good reason to put a lump of metal, rubber, nylon or anything else in his mouth. We will work him in a BB from day one, and, frankly, if the sceptics want to frown at this then it is their loss.

I have worked with and owned horses for over thirty years now, and for a long time I have had arguments with those who look for a more severe bit to overcome their horses issues. It does not work.. however, if you take away what the horse is fighting against (ie the bit) then the difference is both astounding and permanent. And it isn't only for those who have obvious bitting problems, the difference shows all over the horse; his outline improves, his movement frees, his stride lengthens, his head and neck relax and his back rounds...

I cannot praise this bridle more highly.

Update from Fiona August 2005

hello...just to let you know that my andalucian gelding Rio D oro WON HIS CLASS [British Association for the Pure Bred Spanish Horse National Breed Show, Hartpury], in hand, with his BB used as an in hand bridle...photographer was taking lots of pics so hope to get one soon, but the best thing was i " WENT FOR IT" and rode him in the BB in his 4yo class [snaffle bridles only] and he went absolutely daughter watching in the gallery was amazed how round and supple he went ..just like "on the bit". He wasn't placed but that was no poblem....i am just so pleased how well he went in it [this was his first show and there were nine others riding around the ring together] needless to say he attracted a lot of attention not only because of his colour but also his BB!!!!

just thought I would let you know how well Marnie likes the bitless. As I told you, my daughters horse had some issues with napping and rearing, through no fault of her own; she has improved a great deal since she came to us, but still has the tendancy to want the last say over direction and pace on occasion, performing some very impressive movements often seen in the Spanish High School!!!! - poor Athene - she sits it very well.

However, Athene has found she has much better control with the bitless bridle, Marnie can no longer set against the bit, she seems much moor relaxed now, even when she tries to spin and jump up, Athene can bring her back round without the hollowing and throwing up of the head which would then lead to the rearing, and I do mean straight up.

The incidents are getting fewer and fewer, and we hope now that there may actually be a time in the future when the behaviour will stop altogether.
we have also used Pat Parelli's techniques with both our horses, which are fantastic, and fun.

My pony has been ridden in a bitless bridle for some time now, he goes really well in it, I have excellent control.
I am helping to bring on two youngsters at the moment, both 3 yr. old, I am encouraging the owners to go bitless, arming them with all the information I can find, and letting them ride my pony in his bitless, another lady I teach has a bitless for her 5 yr old 16:2 arab, who goes like a dream, and another friend has just ordered one from you for her two horses, so a few more happy horses around ......thanks for the promt delivery,

Pat, Glossop Derbyshire - August 05

You might have wondered why you heard no more from me after several long conversations and exchanges of parts of bridles many months ago. The reason for my silence is, in two words, traditionalist resistance. I have had a lot of trouble at the stables where I keep my two horses at working livery (too long to go into) which meant I had to tread very carefully for months in order to remain on civil terms with the owner. I have been using my bitless bridles on both the TB and the Arab as often as possible but have been refused lessons in them which has slowed my progress with the horses.

However, patience has paid off and I am now using the BBs when not being coached (although unfortunately the other riders - who are proficient - have had to use bits) and am seeing how differently both horses behave. Both are resisting less and less as they become used to them; the Arab lunges particularly quietly in hers, and I school her in it when I can; the TB is hacking out with his (alone and as escort) and is much easier to "bring back" when home beckons than with a bit. He even jogs less because I can leave the reins longer. He was used to riding in the centre of country lanes and difficult to keep to the left with a bit, but now keeps to the side well with both reins in one hand across the neck (neck reining I suppose).

So, my conclusions so far (horseriding being a continuous learning curve) are that the BB is capable of sending very refined signals to the horse providing the rider is able to give them! I am learning and experimenting but feel far more confident with the BB because I have no anxiety of perhaps hurting the horse's mouth following a sudden movement from either of us.

I shall keep you posted as to progress, but am so pleased to have at last managed to use the bridle I want most of the time - I only wish their other riders could do so as well. We shall see.

Georgina, Devon - August 05

We only got round to using the bridle a couple of times before the summer break, but it was OK from day one. Day two I jumped a few fences.

After coming back from the summer break, I’ve ridden Fjodor (15 yr Norwegian Fiord Horse) a few times in his BB. The first two times he was a bit heavy, as though he was leaning on the rein to find a bit that wasn’t there. Today, however, that feeling disappeared. I concentrated on getting his weight more on his hind legs and not letting him rely on my hand too much and he became very nicely collected, soft and bendy. I get a distinct feeling that he is happier. He’s always been a kind-hearted, unproblematic horse, but he tends to “switch off” mentally and also to get behind the bit – probably as a survival strategy since he is ridden by kids and unskilled riders. But his head carriage is much better and he is more forward in the BB. So we’re both happy.

Gabriella, Stockholm Sweden - August 2005

I thought you’d like some feedback as to how we’re getting on with the Bitless Bridle, after using it over three days. After only two days I’ve given the ‘borrowed’ hackamore back.

I should begin by explaining a bit of background about Bobby. Bobby has a history of being ridden by lots of different people; of varying abilities. One of his previous owners had a reputation for being hard with his horses; very aggressive and ‘old school’. Consequently, when I first got Bobby two and a half years ago, he was very head shy, and had a reputation for being head-strong. I was actually warned never to give him any rein, as he would ‘take off’ on me.

The first thing I did was get rid of Bobby’s martingale as I quickly learned that Bobby is indeed a very spirited, forward going horse, but that rather than ‘taking off’ when you give him some rein, he’s more likely to fight back when you fight him. Subtle request work much better with him than aggressive ‘demands’ – he knows he’s strong! Our perceptions were reinforced when the dentist noticed how worn his back teeth were; he was simply grabbing hold of the bit and ‘going for it’ when people pulled back. Two years on and I ride with a very loose rein, using neck reining to steer, and I’d recently replaced his bit with a hackamore. He’s become a great all-round horse – well behaved in traffic, and great to hack out on. His only remaining problems had been a tendency to get a bit hyper when jumping or galloping; after a few jumps he could become increasingly difficult to control. Which, of course, brought back the old problem of a horse that pulls against you; and of course in this situation a hackamore isn’t really any gentler than a bit.

The first day we spent some time in the arena with the new bitless bridle, and it went well. Understandably, Bobby tried snatching the reins a couple of times and threw his head as he tried to work out what was going on but he settled quickly. On day two, he responded to the bridle so well that we tried some practise jumps in the arena. This went so well that I took him out into the fields where we have a series of jumps set up. I’d e he was much better than usual and I rewarded him with a half mile gallop; he came back to walk at the end of it well. I couldn’t believe we were doing this so soon; I’d expected a couple of weeks of gentle schooling, getting him used to the feel of the new bridle.

But yesterday was even better – he jumped four rounds brilliantly – each more controlled than the previous one and settled back afterwards like a dream.

As you can probably tell, I’m so far absolutely delighted with the bridle. Steering is excellent: As I hoped the new bridle can be used to subtly reinforce the neck reining when required. The really surprising thing is that I seem to have better brakes at speed than I’ve ever had before, and it works without winding him up!

We’re planning on getting a second horse soon for my partner – hopefully that too can become a bitless horse.

Rod, Cumbria - August 05

Andalusian in newmarket Bitless Bridle

Herewith photo of my andalusian Rio d'oro in his newmarket colour bb, very happy with it.

This horse [a 4yo] just can not cope with a bit..i tried EVERYTHING to stop him getting his tongue over the bit. soon as i used the BB he was headshaking, tongue lolling, or twisting his head.

I am at present also breaking him to harness and hope to order the driving one when he is established

Fiona, Shepton Mallet - August 2005


Having read the amazing (and so numerous!) good reports about the BB, I thought I'd add my own.

We have had Daniel for 7 years - during that time, his headshaking in the summer months has got progressively worse, to the point where he was unrideable from May through to September. Oh we would try ... but every time we went past overhanging trees or particularly bushy areas, he would start - the lips would wobble, he would start snorting, rubbing his face and throwing his head around in a violent manner. Eventually, so upset by it, he would stop, look at me upside down and refuse to go. I would have to dismount and walk him home, with him raking his front teeth up and down my arm for some relief.

Having spent goodness knows how much on herbs, aromatherapy, homeopathy, face nets, nose nets - if it's on the market, we've tried it! - we tried searching the internet. Having typed in 'headshaking', it provided us with your site. "Might as well try one" we thought, "we can always send it back for a full refund".

Going out for the first ride on the 17.2hh beastie 'with no brakes' was not a pleasant thought. We had use of a 20-acre fenced field, so decided to try that, for damage limitation. The feeling of freedom the minute he went in was obvious. We tried the 'brakes' at walk and trot - they worked. Then canter - still worked. Then we went out with his best friend - for some competing! Galloped up the hill - brakes still working. Cantered on the flat - yep, he stopped when asked.

Then we went out on a warm, sunny, hayfevery type of day ... and the lips and headshaking started, as anticipated. BUT ... once we were away from the source of the problem and back on the road, he settled down again. No refusing to go on, no dismounting, no getting beaten up by him on the walk home. SUCCESS! And yes, it still continues to work. I fully believe that the bit in his mouth used to aggravate the sensation of itchiness/soreness, whatever was upsetting him, to the point where he just felt he couldn't go on. Now without one, he can cope with the symptoms.

Like others who have written in, I feel guilty at causing him discomfort - I try to imagine myself, a hayfever sufferer, putting up with the sneezing and coughing with a bit in MY mouth - not a nice thought. I am going to continue with the BB in the winter (should be fun!!) - and have hung up his bitted bridle for good.

Thank you from both of us - and especially from Daniel! We have recommended you to a friend whose horse had had a mouth injury, and she is having similar success with her BB too.

Miriam, Hertfordshire - August 05

My horse (an extremely sensitive mare) has gone well in the BB since day one. She will now happily work into a contact which she never willingly did before. The riding experience is now far more pleasureable for us both. After 2 1/2 years struggling with various bits, I can now see us making progress. Unfortunately it is not legal for dressage which is my preferred discipline, however my instructor who is also a dressage judge advises me to compete Hors Concours, I will still get my test sheet with remarks and a percentage, I just won't get placed. To my mind, dressage is about competing against yourself anyway and participating is more important than winning. I would rather have a happy horse than a room full of trophies.

I have heard that the reason why bitless bridles are not acceptable for dressage is that you have to demonstrate that the horse is relaxed working into a contact (sorry I can't remember the exact quote but I think they mean the horse's jaw). Using the BB, my mare now goes in a contact, with beautiful bend and flexion and her bottom lip flapping in the wind!!! If that's not relaxed I don't know what is and I don't see why you need a bit to demonstrate this.

Initially I had a few sceptical looks round our livery yard as they know what a little firecracker my mare can be if she's not happy. However those that have watched as I ride can't believe the difference in her. The persistent headshaking has completely stopped and she's no longer tense, hollow and generally stroppy. Also she's been as quiet as a lamb whilst hacking in heavy traffic and through built up areas. Because she's so much happier there has been no bad behaviour so control has not really been an issue and because she is no longer constantly fighting me I have been able to refine my aids which can only be better for both of us.

For a long time I blamed myself for my horse's problems. I felt I lacked the ability to ride my horse properly. Last year (while still using a bit) I had a lesson with a Finnish Instructor who competes at Grand Prix St Georges level. She behaved so badly that he got on. My horse demonstrated the same behaviour patterns with him (admittedly she was also fizzed up on lush spring grass). It took him 45 minutes to get her to work properly and even when he did the look on her face was clearly "I'm doing this under protest". He thought she was unbelievably difficult, but had potential. On one hand it made me feel better that a rider of his level had the same problems, i.e. it wasn't my riding, but on the other hand I thought "If he's having problems, what chance do I have?"

I can't wait for the next time he comes over from Finland to show him the progress we've made. I know he may initially pooh-pooh a bitless bridle, but he will see for himself the difference it makes.

Susan, Aberdeen - August 05

Just another one to add to your list of successes. My 7 year old TB / Arab has always been difficult with a bit, and I've tried various snaffles but never felt that he was happy. I tried a hackamore, and he was definitely happier, but I was worried about the amount of pressure I was putting on if he took off - and when out in overexcited company he can take off!

I found your website, and thought it looked interesting and I'd nothing to lose. I ordered a beta bridle for Red, and am really pleased with the results. The napping has stopped completely, and he is much more settled. He is also so much more responsive, both in terms of bending and braking.

Now if you can just come up with something to stop him spooking at all the fire breathing dragons in the ditches then we'll have everything sorted! Or maybe just a matching neckstrap?

I'm just bringing my other horse back into work after an extended rest period due to a damaged ligament, and once we start riding her I will be ordering a BB for her too. We've never had any problems with bits with her, but I'm now a convert!

Many thanks for an excellent product.

Ruth, Leicestershire - August 05

Helen with ApricotI have had my BB for almost 2 months now - what a difference it has made to Apricot. I have had her for 3 years and have tried various bits - all of which she resisted and was very strong in. I ended up with a pelham or kimblewick most of the time - both of which i had to prise her mouth open to get in!
now we tack up with no resistance and enjoy our riding so much more. she is happy and light in my hands, steering and stopping is fine.
so i would have to say that people think i am mad and it did seem like a bit of a leap of faith riding a strong horse in something that looks like a headcollar! but it is brilliant.
the answer to a horse hating a bit is NOT to clamp its mouth shut with a flash noseband (hate to say - i tried that) just take the bit away.

Helen, Weston-super-Mare - August 05 [update]

Kizzy heading for home in her new leather bitless bridleWhat an amazing service from start to finish! I ordered a havana leather bridle and was emailed the next day to be told the bridle was out of stock for 7 - 10 days although was available in black, but would I like a synthetic on loan to use until the leather one could be sent to me - I was so surprised at this level of care and service! Big hugs Sheila! I decided to have the black one instead and it arrived on my door the next day :)

I took my girl out in it this afternoon for the first time and am so utterly thrilled. I knew she would take to it in preference to the bit as she has always fought against the metal in her mouth (head tossing, rushing transitions up and falling out of transitions down with her nose high in the air, snatching etc) and I have spent the last year trying to lighten her mouth and neck rein as much as possible, but I was amazed at how immediate the change was in the bb. At 22 I thought it might take a while to adjust, but she settled right into it. Fayley & Kizzy cantering in her bitless bridleTook her out hacking after a brief turn around the field and it had a good test - we met a pile of breeze blocks in the lane laying ambush to eat passing horses - had our usual dizzy mare spooking session and at no point did I feel out of control. More than that she calmed immediately instead of the usual jogging and fizzing she usually does in a bitted bridal. Had a good long canter and again - so relaxed I could hardly beleive I was on the same mare. Smooth transition down into trot and then straight into walk - unheard of for us until now.

We will never look back, the bb is here to stay, and I can chuck out all my bits along with the guilt I have been carrying for years at having used them. I am just sad that I didn't know about the bb sooner and Kizzy's new found pleasure has come so late in her life. I am now on a mission to convert everyone I know - I am going to be the bore yammering on to all my friends until they try one ;)

Fayley, Cornwall - August 05

this to say so far so good with the bridle that arrived last Friday - many thanks.

results so far are quite good (I can actually get on without a fight! she'll catch, much better).

I decided to start a blog - about how I get on, and I'll put photos up as well... thanks again; I think I'm going to find it's been money very well spent.

Claire, West Rainton - July 05

Spencer in his padded leather bitless bridleJust thought as my 30 day trial is now up that I should confirm I will most definitely not be returning the bridle - Spencer would never forgive me. Since our initial teething problems mentioned in my first e.mail [see below] we are now riding completely bitless (with his old snaffle bridle cleaned and put into storage, probably never to see the light of day again - unless it goes on ebay!)

Never before has this horse been so completely content and relaxed when ridden, even if he has a little spook at something he calms straight back down again instead of getting upset and worrying for ages.

Also since my last e.mail we have had some new liveries at the yard and one turns out to be Gill with Dillan - Yay, now we both get strange looks, but can work as a team to convince more people of the benefits of bitless (think we may be convincing a few of them!)

Have attached a few pics of Spencer looking very handsome in his new bridle. [padded leather]

Gemma, Wakefield - July 05

I have been TOTALLY GOBSMACKED by the difference it has made to my IDxTB gelding. I have spent a fortune on "specialists" including back people, saddle fitter, dentist, vet, holistic healer and on supplements, herbal mixtures, devils claw, cortaflex etc etc. I was told there isn't anything wrong with him. But he was just awful to ride. STIFF (remember Spotty dog off the wooden tops - showing my age now!) well he looked like that when in trot, VERY one sided, continually looking round to the right when hacking out, nervous, spooky, FLAT FLAT trot and canter and always on the forehand. I have ridden twice in the BB and WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
No spooking, no one sidedness, B E N D!!!! and bounce, not to mention the most fantastic head carriage. All I can think is that he has had awful mouth pain even though I have a very highly qualified equine dentist and I ve been using a KK snaffle with a lozenge, and a "comfort bridle" with no flash noseband. I don't know, and now I'd rather not remember. I did initially think I was totally mad embarking on a ride through a busy village with a head collar on!!! PEOPLE PLEASE LISTEN TO ME - A HEAD COLLAR THIS IS NOT, DON'T CRITISISE UNTIL YOU HAVE TRIED. I was selling this horse a couple of weeks ago as I had given up hope of getting off him having enjoyed myself

anyway you can see now why I don't really want to be without for many days as there is NO WAY I'm putting a bit back in his mouth. so please hurry and let me know what to send and where [regarding exchanging the noseband for a different size]

Debbie, Bridlington - July 05

This afternoon I tried riding my horse in an open meadow with the bitless bridle anyway, just to see how he would react. The first 10 minutes were a bit terrifying, he bucked a lot (quite unusual) and I fell...then I noticed that the cheek straps bowed out a lot when I used the reins. So I buckled the chinstrap a bit tighter, and it went much better. He was still very excited for the feeling of freedom, but I never had the feeling that he wasn't under control. We walked, trotted, cantered and I asked him a halt in the middle of the canter and he did it pretty promptly. I managed to collect the trott even if he wanted to go quite fast. I think that, even if he felt really free for not having a bit in his mouth, he was realizing that I was still leading...actually I felt that, despite the excitment, turning and breaking were not at all worst than with a bit. In particular, he uses to be quite stiff when turning on the right, but today he didn't show that problem.

However, I would like to get a bigger headstall, just to have the possibility to try some different fitting.

Do you think that it is normal for a horse to take some time to settle to the bitless bridle? By reading the users' comments, it seems that most horses accept it straight-away. My Cochise seemed very confused at first, then puzzled, then very energetic but ok (when I managed to fit it better) and I think that it will take another few attempts before he will be totally relaxed about it.

Dani, Piemonte, Italy - July 05 arrived Saturday morning and the first trial was encouraging. Harry, (the horse), thought it was great, and he's never seen one before. He's a young horse of 5 and has only been broken for 6 months but he was better to ride bitless. I didn't have the usual futile battles with him and I think that when he's used to the idea of riding without a bit he'll be fine in it. I hope the next trials work out as well and then I'll be fully convinced.

Harry in his leather Bitless BridleUpdate the next day:

As for today's workout, he was a bit piggish to begin with, had no sense of direction and fought a little. Then I saw that I hadn't tightened the noseband enough and the crossover straps were riding up his cheeks. That tightened and he was fine again. It appears to be really important how tight the noseband is. I have found with Harry that his bridle has to be exactly adjusted, this is true for either bitted or bitless, if they are not set right he plays up.
He is most definitely easier to work with in the Cook as opposed to a bit. He does steer better and stop better. He is 'quieter'. As yet I am limiting his use of the Cook bridle to the manege only, until he is fully at home with the idea, which I think will take about a week. He is now working in it for half hour a day and I am finding myself actually enjoying riding him without the fight, although I cannot be sure which elements of the bitted bridle he disliked the most, ie, whether it was the fit of the bridle or the bit itself.
Would it be advisable to fit a sheepskin to the noseband to prevent the slight indentation he's developing from the band? [We sell the Cashel closed-cell foam pad for sensitive-skinned horses]

I'm beginning to get convinced that this bitless bridle is doing something that Harry likes, when I have ridden him out on the roads in a week or so, I'll be better placed to say how convinced I am, but Harry continues to improve in it.

One week later:

Hello again,
just more ramblings from the stable.
Harry continues to improve in his bridle and last Saturday I had him jumping cross poles in it. He is very much a jumper type horse anyway and the bridle was fine for this work. Overall I'm quite happy with it, and Harry likes it too, although it does take some getting used to. He wears a sheepskin noseband cover with it now to prevent the slight chafe across the nose from the stiff leather, although I guess this will soften with age. I've attached a picture of Harry in his bridle, don't be fooled by the sleepy appearance, it's just a ruse. Also I've discussed the bridle with other owners at the yard and they are willing to try it out to see if it suits them and their horses too, so there may be a few more orders coming soon. I will continue to try different things with Harry and see if the bridle is as good with them all.

Tim, West Midlands - July 05

I just thought I’d let you know how we’re getting on with the BB. Finally Mary Lou is back in work after her various hormonal and azoturia problems and so far (touch wood) everything is going fine. No relapses! Because I am limited to short walks it’s a perfect time to train her to the BB and after 5 days of using it I have to tell you I’m very impressed so far. When I originally schooled her 2 years ago I used a Parelli rope halter which took quite a while to “explain” to her. And because she has a very strong stubborn gene, if she decided she didn’t want to go in whichever direction I asked she would set her head against it. (Incidentally the only reason I got a conventional bridle was after I became ill I tried to find a sharer to ride her. Everyone I spoke to refused to ride a 17hh youngster without a bit, so in frustration I realised I had to train her to a bit.)

Anyway, less than a week into our BB work she has picked it up and is walking nice straight lines and turning effortlessly. I’ve found that gentle wiggling of my finger is enough to coax her not to set her head. The other thing I’m learning is if I am very consistent in riding through my entire body, she understands the hand aids even better. So it’s as much a learning experience for me as it is for her. The other really nice thing is this; in the past whenever I tried to put a bridle on she would raise her head into the sky because she knew I couldn’t reach. She has now learned that this new bridle isn’t going to hurt her and offers her head to me. Its such a pleasure not to have a battle before I even get on her! We have no more snatching of the reins, no more head-shaking and she is really happy to be back at work again. In fact, you just need to open the gate in the mornings and she walks in of her own accord, so that’s good enough for me.

There is one thing we’re still working on; preventing her sticking her head up and snatching a mouthful of ash leaves as we walk past!!

Thanks again for all your help over the last few months. We haven’t yet ridden outside the arena but I’m confident we’ll do really well in the BB. I cant wait until she’s well enough to go up on the hills to that I can really try it out.

[Update from Marie:]
Yesterday was a milestone for us. We went out for an hour long walk along the roads. Due to her exercise regime following the azoturia I still cant take her off-road which is a shame. All the roads were busy (nightmare!) and we met the occasional lunatic 18 year old speeding around but ML was perfect. Needless to say she enjoyed the change of scenery as she’s now getting bored of the arena. I didn’t have a single problem with her steering. I really am delighted with how well she has taken to the BB. Now I know why your advertising states that the signals from a BB make sense to the horse – she consistently offers the correct response in this bridle and very seldom tries to “argue” with me. Its been a bit of a revelation for both of us!

Marie, Weston-Super-Mare – June/July 05

Our 4 year old HW cob Rocky has never been bitted. We got him as a 14month old wreckling (magnificent boy now) who was scared and neglected. I couldn't bring myself to add to his past troubles by shoving metal in his mouth. We bought a DrCook and we have had a great deal of success. He is fab. We don't have a school, just a small rough field and 15 acres on a river bank. Rocky has never run away or pulled. I am beginning to be able to round his outline and ask for a little collection in walk and trot and I am delighted with his progress which has been made much easier by his BB. As far as I am concerned he will never need to have a bit. I wish more people would just go for it and buy a BB go on be brave your horse will thank you.

Karen. North Yorkshire - July 05

Just to let you know that I'm getting on famously with the bridle and am now busy converting all horse owners in the area. Expect more orders from Northern France soon! (Even my French farrier, who is a total sceptic, has asked to borrow mine to try it out.)

Nicky, Saint-Simeon, France - July 05

Please know that I am telling as many people as possible about the bitless. I have worked my 3 year old rather yobbish cob in it doing long-reining and it's absolutely fine. My daughter rides her welsh pony in it an I can promise you that if I didn't think she could stop him in it I would not use it. Fabulous bridle which I hope catches on

Martha, Berkshire - July 05

You may not remember me as you get so many enquiries but I bought a bridle from you back in May (I think). After a few emails and a delighted response from me (and Mouse!), you suggested that I may want to consider going barefoot.

Well, I contacted the barefoot racing yard you mentioned and Mouse is now barefoot! I use the same farrier as that yard. Mouse is making the transition amazingly well and far better than both myself and the farrier imagined she would. I can't do any hacking for a very long time but it's all going to be worth it in the end. I'm shocked at the amount of damage shoeing has done to her feet!

I just wanted to say thanks for encouraging me down that path!

Jo, Brighton - July 05

Firstly I would like to thank you for the amazingly prompt delivery of my Bitless Bridle, I have had it just over a week now and thought I should let you know how I'm getting on.

I first heard of this bridle on an internet discussion group and after a lot of deliberation decided to try this bridle with my 5 year old ID gelding, Spencer. There were no major problems with riding Spencer in a bitted bridle although recently he was becoming difficult to ride in the school (bucking even when asked to walk). His back, teeth, saddle etc were all checked and were fine.

He would also come behind the bit a lot even with hardly any contact with his mouth, stick his chin on his chest and jiggle the bit around in his mouth. Tried changing from a single jointed snaffle to a french link but this made the situation worse. He also sweated profusely even on a short, walking only hack in relatively mild weather.

I think I rushed my first try with the bitless bridle a bit as after a short walk around in hand I decided to get on and although steering was good, he didn't like/understand the brakes and threw his head around. I got off and decided to long rein and although better he was still resisting the halt aids!

Anyway after this we took him for a hack with his snaffle bridle over the top but were able to use only the bitless reins all the way round.

We have continued with this method and yesterday rode him in the school and halfway through the session took the bitted bridle off - he was great, only walked though! I think the fact he is very voice reactive has helped a lot with getting him to realise what I want of him! Today I hacked with no bit at all, he was brilliant. Other people at the yard (who looked at me like I was mad when first showed them the bridle) are already commenting on how he looks a lot more relaxed and happy!

I would also like to mention that on the occasions we have hacked out with both bridles (never needing to take up contact on the bit) he has come back hardly sweaty, even on very hot days, he is again more relaxed and not snatching at the reins when tired, or coming behind the contact going down hill (he always did this before!).

I have recorded when my 30 day trial is up just in case, but I really don't think I will need to return the bridle if Spencer continues as he has started. I cant believe what a difference I can see already when I didn't actually think we had much of a problem to start with!

Gemma, Wakefield - July 05

It's here now and I tried it yesterday on my little Camargue. After his initial suprise at not having a bit in his mouth, he settled very quickly and was more responsive and relaxed than he's ever been since we 'rescued' him. Once I am totally confident with the bridle, I shall try it on my chestnut arab mare, who is a real challenge! It's early days, I know, but I suspect I shall soon be a total convert to bitless riding. Anything that makes life more pleasant for my horses is a winner as far as I'm concerned and I shall no doubt be 'evangalising' all over the place. I have already told my French blacksmith about it and he is coming over to see the bridle in action. Do feel free to post my comments on the website if you wish. Once I've had more experience with it, I shall let you know how it's going. I'll also get on the website and do the questionnaire. Thank you for all your help.

Nicola, St Simeon France - July 05

Thanks for the swift dispatch of bridle, arrived Tuesday morning. Chris had the remains of the wolf tooth out Wed.morning and a thorough rasp of teeth as well. Bridled him up Thursday morning and noticed a difference straight away, he stood like a rock at the mounting block and stayed there till after I had tightened girth and checked all o.k.before moving off. Its normally 2-3 times try before he stands still and then he fiddles around. He was very calm out on the hack (didn't go in school first as not one available at stables), had the odd shake of head but nothing like before.

Lunged him on Sat. morning and the difference on the right rein was amazing. Lovely walk and trot (not pulling away at all - its usually a fight!)

Every one of my horsey mates are being told of the benefits of the bridle, I've also go to let my equine dentist know how he goes in it.

Ann, Ipswich - June 05

A big thank you for the prompt, efficient and friendly service. Our BB proved to have a faulty crossover piece and Sheila was helpful above and beyond the call of duty.

Our Sec D, Leo, is a big strong lad at over 16hh. A gentle giant, he is also more than capable of exerting his ideas! He has always been barefoot and initially we schooled him with a French link after quickly discovering that his palate was too low for a normal jointed snaffle. He went fairly well in this for a while but then began to lean hard on my daughter. Sarah has hypermobility in her spine and a lot of pain, further damage will cause arthritis so we had to find a solution. The most obvious was that if Leo didn't have a bit then he could not lean on it; so that allied to the fact that I have never been able to reconcile myself to sticking a lump of metal in a horse's mouth meant that we bought him a hackamore. This was an improvement for a long time but I was still not happy at the chain under his face and the potential for damage to that area, so when the hackamore died we decided to do some damage to Mums credit card and buy a Dr Cook.

WOW! What a transformation! After about three minutes confusion at the different action, Leo began to work in an outline as he has never done before. It was a joy to watch this big, slightly lazy horse with his hocks right under him in a collected trot. His carriage is soooo different, his back rounded, his neck higher and his head in a better position. No leaning. A little try to see how far he could go in this new bridle then an 'OK Mum, you got me!' and yet at the same time he is so much more comfortable, his shoulder is freer and his stride lengthened. We are 100% impressed and if anyone is in any doubt about purchasing this bridle then please feel free to email me and I will tell you honestly how we are getting on with it.

Sue, Ashford - June 05

Sarah riding with Bitless BridlePhoto - day three on this horse using the Bitless bridle.

Having used these bridles now on a number of horses for the last 3-4 months, it feels so much nicer not to have something in their mouths.

However well one tries to ride and not catch their mouths when you're riding cross country, hunting etc it's quite difficult to achieve. With this bridle it takes all that out of the equation. They seem so much more settled in themselves. I would find it hard to go back to using a bit now, the benefits are ongoing I do not begin to think I have achieved all I can do with these, but it has taken away so many of the questions and debates. One just has to feel it to experience the benefits!

Sarah, Sutton Waldron - June 05

just to say thanks. Dillon thinks his new bridle is great and we have none of his usual objections to being tacked up ie hiding in corner with nose to wall to make job impossible!

Also when out riding (we mostly hack) he is much lighter as there is no bit to hang on and there is no fussing and throwing head around. I have a lesson once a week and my instructor is a little sceptical as he wasn't as sharp as with a bit but I said it is early days yet he'd only worn it twice. I however am very happy knowing I no longer inflicit any pain on Dillons mouth. My friend has an ex-racehorse and I am trying to persude her to try one as he puts his tongue over the bit a lot when schooling. Anyway thanks once again Gill and Dillon

Gill, Wakefield - June 05

just wanted to let you know that the bridle is working like a dream, my horse is soooo happy and just can't wait to be ridden now, hacks out happily and never wants to turn back home, just wants to keep going!!! thank-you very much.

(he has a slight defomity of the lower jaw and was uncomfortable and producing so much saliva that he was almost choking with a bit in his mouth)

Keryl, Ontario (bridle purchased in UK) - June 05

Thank you Sheila for your prompt service - 2 full size BBs arrived today. I've already tried one on my horse Darcy and he went VERY well in it. Direction is far better, I don't have to haul on his mouth to bring his head around, and stopping seems easier too. He was going so well I took him out along the local lanes into the forestry and he behaved impeccably, collecting really well and responding at the slightest touch. Coming back he passed a tractor beautifully, which previously has always caused him to back up. I will provide more feedback when I've had a few more rides out but I'm very pleased initially.

Janet, Shropshire - June 05

Sheila, we have just had our bridle for a few days and what a result, Our horse has been a bit of a pain to get the bit in since a dentist got a bit rough prior to us owning her??
But day one there was a bit of uncertainty as to what the new piece of equipment was for, day two on her back get the controls working and day three different horse who is 100% at ease with her new bitless bridle and excellent control but most of all she is so much happier with every thing and so relaxed.
We will now be ordering a full leather one at the end of this week ( unfortunately the nylon one will also be staying as a spare, but thanks for the offer of refunding the difference if that was returned but we will keep the nylon as well).

Andrea, Newport - June 05

Update from Layla

Just thought i would send you an update on conner's progress now we have had some good schooling time in the BB.

He has now settled well and prefers to wear this bridle over anythinig else, he is schooling well and is a responsive ride, i still hack out in it and have a lot better brakes than anyone else.

The initial problems i thought i was having was not due to the bridle, but due to our instructor asking me to ask too much of the horse. We have now started Western riding and this bridle is excellent for this discipline as well.

Layla, Cheshire - June 05

hope you can help me..... not entirely convinced about the bridle i have tried to lunge in it and my mare did quite a lot of bucking - i usually lunge in a b nice halter and she is fine. I think the problem is that the cross over point formed by the cheek pieces seems to be very low and causes a tightness above the back of the nose band. is there a way i can make the cross form higher up ? how high above the nose band should the cross point be? I am going to experiment later and see if i can adjust it..... just hope you can give me some advice.

Helen, Weston-Super-Mare 31st May 05

I replied to Helen:

As long as you fit the noseband in the correct place according to the fitting diagram (I have attached one, in case it wasn't included in your Manual), then the crossovers will be in the correct place.

When lunging where on the BB did you attach the lunge line to? Did you have reins attached? As you know, the be-nice is very similar, although the noseband fits higher up than on the Dr Cook - your mare may just be bucking due to the unfamilarity of the noseband position. It might be worth trying long-reining in it (which I appreciate you can't do with the be-nice), to get her used to it. Some horses do buck a little when first using the BB, generally it is a sort of exuberance since they are free of the bit, however if you don't normally lunge in a bit, then that is not the case.

Let me know how you get on - I'm sure this is just a reaction to something unfamiliar.

Update from Helen:

Just wanted to quickly let you know that Apricot (my mare) is Very very happy indeed that i have bought a bitless bridle - as i said to you in my last email I was not convinced immediately but all that has changed now - We love it. I cant believe how different she is to ride in it.

I have lent it to a friend to try today - she thinks she may be buying one (via me)

I will get on to your website as soon as i can and leave some feedback for you and i would love to get a photo to you too - she looks fantastic in it. I was riding with a friend yesterday and it took her an hour to notice that we had no bit!

Helen, Weston-Super-Mare, 8th June 05

I have recently completed the long-reining process with the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle - I just could not face putting a bit in my youngsters mouth - he is a 3 year old, so is spitting out milk teeth regularly. Shamen is now being ridden with the bitless - both myself and Shamen have had no misunderstandings, tantrums, pain or injuries during the whole process, as a result I am now the proud owner of a very happy, trusting and willing young horse.

Lisa, Bridgend - May 2005

Before & after photos. note: the bitless photo was taken after only 8 days using the BB. Jo says
"although she's not working in an outline (we're still working on that and it's improving daily with ease!),
I'm sure you'll agree she looks far more comfortable and happy!"
behaviour when bitted behaviour in the bitless bridle

Well, I can't quite beleive how amazingly well Mouse took to the new bridle. I was expecting fireworks (bearing in mind she is a TB mare - ex-racer - who's only just turned 6!) but she took to it like a duck to water and I kept forgetting that she didn't have a bit in!

Maybe now would be the appropriate time to mention that, before today, Mouse hadn't been ridden for 10 days due to a lost shoe. She's out 24/7 on the lush spring grass and this would usually mean her acting like a lunatic!

Anyway, I put the bridle on and left her to wander round the stable, just to get used to the tighter then normal noseband - she didn't bat an eyelid. I then mounted and off we went! I was in the school for about 5 mins and thought I'd just go for it!! I went up on the South Downs for 2 hours, walking, trotting, cantering, & galloping. We were doing difficult gates (as there are many up on the Downs) and passing loads of people and horses and paragliders. She was completely relaxed throughout the whole ride and I was sitting there grinning to myself everytime she turned and I saw that she didn't have a bit in her mouth and the usual saliva everywhere!

When galloping I felt in full control and she came back to my hand very very easily and then straight back to walk with no usual yanking through of the reins or shaking of the head. I was so pleased. Mouse is usually easy to stop anyway but it was the behaviour afterwards that surprised me as she would normally want to get rid of any contact immediately.

Not once did I feel as though I didn't have the control I felt when I had a bit. Like I say, I kept forgetting that there wasn't one there. I got a few funny looks from passing riders but I looked on smugly (as awful as that may sound) knowing that I was having a pretty much guilt free ride.

When I first bought Mouse she napped horrendously, refused to walk down hills and was completely stressy the whole time. I couldn't leave her for longer than a day without being ridden as it would result in even more 'fresh' behaviour. It got to the point where I was losing my nerve - she was so nappy that she smashed a car window, knocked a brick wall down, kicked cars, smashed me into a lamp post - the list goes on but I think you get the idea! I realised it was time to make some changes. Now she's in a treeless saddle and a bitless bridle, on a pure fibre diet, and is transformed!!! I do believe the many TBs (who are reknowned for being a bit sensitive!) act in that 'typical TB manner' because they are uncomfortable and stressed in some way. Mouse's behaviour always appeared to be related to her tack and then subsequent fear and pain. Everyone I know says that she is the most laid back TB they've ever met and now the bitless bridle just goes to help that along even more!

I can't even begin to contemplate putting a bit back in her mouth now and that's after just one ride!!! I also can't believe that I waited this long to make the change - I feel so awful that she may (and probably was) in pain all the time we used to hack out.

Thanks so much for your help. I think I have finally listened to my horse to the extent where I now feel as though I've answered her and made her happy and more 'free'.

I'd love for you to be able to add this email to your site as I want to say: To anyone out there who is considering changing to the bitless bridle (and I don't mean hackamores etc) DO IT!!! I was very anxious of what might happen when I first used it but the moment it was on Mouse and I was riding it didn't even cross my mind that I wouldn't have control. It offers all the control you could possibly need so don't be afraid!!! Your horse will thank you for it, I promise! I think it's time we started giving our horses something back for all the pain they've put up with in the past. Let's start changing these entrenched beliefs that simply rely on pain for the horse.

Jo, Brighton - May 05

Just to let you know I can hardly believe the difference in my Arab mare after just 2 rides in the bitless bridle. She is more responsive, confident and relaxed. I always had to ride her on a loose rein as she tensed up otherwise (maybe she felt my apprehension - she is quite claustrophobic). With the bitless bridle I can keep the contact but she doesn't worry about it. She is 15 years old and I've had her since she was 4. I wish I had known about the bridle sooner,we could probably have had a much more enjoyable relationship.

Ruth, Egham - May 05


I would just like you to know how thrilled I am with my bridle (leather). I had just been kicked in the shins (not by one of mine I hasten to add) when my bridle arrived and so I was only able to ride, and therefore try the bridle out on her, for the first time this Saturday just gone. "Her" being a 24 year old TB x ID ex-hunter mare - with many evasion techniques and a ton of baggage - I love her to bits but if I'm totally honest as far as riding her was concerned this bridle was pretty much her and my last chance. She's had all the back, the hooves, the herbs, the saddle, the in-hand, the T-touch, the teeth, the aromatherapy I can think of - but I was almost certain that her issues lay around the mouth, the bit, her breathing and the back pain caused by her banana posture caused by trying to evade the bit.

Anyway, Saturday went remarkably well. Only in walk in the school, steering was great, tracking up like never before, whole body posture better, no head tossing, no ripping the reins out of my hands, and really no bad behaviour at all. Perhaps most importantly for me was to see was how relaxed she became as we walked and how much freer she felt through the shoulder. The next night I felt so encouraged that I took her in again and this time took her up to trot and canter. Right lead first time every time!!!!! No snatching, listening better and transitions sharper than I have ever known with her. I sensed she was more comfortable and I experienced a willingness to do what was asked - I have never felt from her before.

Tonight, I could hardly contain myself as she stood quietly by the gate of the school waiting to go in. Waited quietly for me to get on rather than the find your stirrups in trot half way up the school. And after a very nice warm up, I took her over some trotting poles and then ( a miracle) a 6 inch jump. .....4 times.......each rein!!!!! I'm just beaming from ear to ear. This is the horse that was over-jumped and retired from hunting for flatly refusing to jump anything. At her next home (The equine awareness Centre), they couldn't even entice her over a 6 inch jump in hand - not even by jumping it themselves first. I have never tried. Never even wanted to, until tonight. Every thing else is the same - IT CAN ONLY BE THANKS TO THE BRIDLE.

Ellen, Swindon - April 05


Liberty jumping in bitless bridleWell I haven't wanted to tempt fate and tell people how fantastic the bitless bridle is until I had given it a good trial run. My 16.1 hh dutch warmblood is rather a handful and the more riding I was doing with her the more I could feel myself slowly loosing my nerve!

'Liberty' has been mistreated in the past, she has scarring under her girth area to prove it. I had tried several bits (from very mild to heavier bit work), whenever I felt the need to slow down Liberty would have what I could only describe as a panic attack! She would barge her way round a showjumping course, putting fear on everyone's faces and thought nothing of bolting with me through fields and down bridle paths.

Since using the bitless bridle she has become much more relaxed and I find myself having that can't wait to ride feeling. She still has moments of feeling strong but I seem to be able to communicate more with her and get on to her level, which enables me to reason with her. I would not have believed I would adjust to the bitless bridle, Liberty understood my commands almost immediately. I have jumped, schooled and taken part in cross-country aswell as pleasure rides and have not returned to my traditional bridle, I have even removed my running martingale.

I am so pleased I was brave enough to put my faith in the bitless bridle because it would have been a great shame to miss out on the good times I have again with Liberty and look forward to having many more.

May I also say how amazed I was at the speedy delivery of the bridle and how helpful the lady on the phone was.

Kate, Torquay - April 05

I bought a bitless bridle a couple of months ago for my girlfriend to see if it would control the occasional runaway habits of her Exmoor pony. Sure enough it has worked wonders, her pony is much more responsive now and as a result much safer on the roads.

Kevin, Telford - April 05

Thank you thank you thank you. I can't believe how quickly my bridle came through - thank you again. I was so excited to use it that I couldn't wait to get down the stables and see Polly.

I was a bit nervous to tell the truth, as much as I believe that it works there is always a little doubt. Well, that doubt was completely unnecessary, Polly didn't even realise I was putting on her bridle as she was too busy eating some hay. I decided to go for the bitless mainly for the humane side of things as Polly doesn't really have any obvious bit related problems.

I decided to first take her in the school, just in case she got a bit confused with the messages being sent and so that she wouldn't tank off with me as she is a spirited little 14hh welsh cob. When I first hopped up on her she seemed a little bit confused but by the time I had walked to the school gate she was going fine.

Me and my friend Tara done a few laps but it was very wet so we decided to take them out on the little back road that goes towards our yard. Now bearing in mind this is the first time I have ever taken her on a road I was a bit nervous but she went like a dream. She was so relaxed and content - I was chuffed to bits.

I will send you updates and a little picture of us both shortly but I wanted to leave feedback as soon as possible as I am still buzzing from the experience I had yesterday.

Thank you for showing me a kinder way to bridle my horse.

Jo, Canvey Island - April 05

Canasta took to her new bridle from the start. To be on the safe side, we long-reined here for a few days, but then we tried her with a rider on a short outing, and she looked entirely relaxed and comfortable throughout the ride. As I wrote before, she comes from a riding school where she was deemed hopeless because she ran around with her head in the air and a hollow back and the bit firmly between her clenched teeth. She had worn down her teeth to the gum. Now she is totally relaxed, alert and co-operative. She has also been for a short drive, which she seemed to enjoy, judging by how much effort she put into it. Now we just have to get some muscles on her. Which is possible, now that we can get her to work correctly.

We’ve decided to order yet another bridle, this time for our Norwegian Fiord Horse. We just want the snow to melt away from our paddock first, so we have a safe place in which to try it out. He’s rather a strong ride, so we want to be absolutely sure we can stop him. I’ll be in touch with his measurements soon.

Annika, our farm manager, has recently been to a course in horse dentistry (we only have one real horse dentist here in Sweden) and the teacher recommended that all horses who are ridden with a bit should alternate between three different bits and a bitless bridle of some kind. In effect, he was saying that any bit injures the horse, and by alternating between them the horse doesn’t get hurt in exactly the same spot all the time and has time to heal in between. Terrible when you think about it.

Gabriella, Sweden - April 05

Thank you & Dr Cook so much for the bitless bridle. My life and that of my horse has been transformed! Prior to getting the BB, I always knew that I would have to have a battle with Dicatator to get his bridle on, and to be honest, it had got to the stage where I just didn't want to ride him because of the really stressful 30 minutes plus that I would have before I got on. He is a Clydesdale so it really was a battle and obviously, he always won! However, it could not be easier now - I just pop the BB on and away we go - no fuss, no stress just fun together.

I will give you a little back ground info.

Two weeks after buying Dictator, he started to be difficult about bridling. We went through the usual tricks to get the bridle on - tie him up, leave the head collar on underneath etc, and while these worked for a time or two, he quickly worked out how to evade them. Naturally, I had his teeth checked to make sure he was not sore and everything was ok, but he still did not want to put his bit in ( he was not head shy as there was no problem putting on a head collar). I tried everything I could think of (and everything anyone else could think of too) but nothing seemed to work - treacle on the bit, blindfolding him, a soft rubber bit. We battled for over a year like this - I had been given a German hackamore but I was really not keen to use it as I thought it was very severe. Finally after over an hour and a half of trying to get his bridle on, I rode him out just in his head collar with the reins attached to the sides of the noseband and thought, I am getting a hackamore for you, enough is enough ( but I still felt uneasy about it). While searching on the internet for details of how to fit one correctly, I came across a link to the Bitless Bridle website and was delighted to read about its kind action (as opposed to a hackamore) and here we are, a very happy horse and an even happier rider :-) ! I would highly recommend a Bitless Bridle to anyone, whether or not you are having difficulty bridling up your horse.

Jane, St Andrews - April 05

I thought Oscar and I might have to play in long reins before we rode but he was so confident with the bitless bridle that we just went straight out!

He walked for the first 20 minutes because his sight is affected by the injury (his left eye still wobbles in its socket!) but he was very disappointed when we turned for home. By the time we reached the halfway point he was confident enough to ask for a trot and we had a quick blast in the the homeward straight! He is one very happy chappy!

Sue, Llanfyrnach - April 05

The bridle arrived today thank you. I took my horse out for a hack wearing it and was very impressed. He's quite a responsive horse who I normally ride out in a french link snaffle and running martingale without control problems but he is prone to a sore mouth if we have a strong ride or are out with a boisterous group. I'm hoping to avoid this using your bridle and on first impression steering and brakes seem fine - no noticeable difference in head carriage either.

Yvonne, Wirral - March 05

I'm extremely impressed with my bitless bridle!!! I had complete control (although it felt strange at times)!
It was very easy to keep him "on the bit" so to speak!!

Linda, Norwich - March 05

Maddie out hunting in her bitless bridle

Hi, I've had my bridle a few months now and I am delighted with the difference it has made to my horse. She is a 16.3hh chestnut Tb ex racer mare, who was always really stressy with a bit, I decided to change to bitless after she broke free while I was trying to tack her up and broke her bridle.

She is a lot happier now, and we have even been hunting, bitless and treeless! I dont think anyone even noticed!
Thanks again for supplying me with one of these fantastic bridles.

PS: I have attached some pictures of us out hunting

Tasha, Telford - March 05

Blade is about 19 and I've had her since '96. She is very good at evading doing too much work and has always had an unlevelness which vets can't diagnose. She has been schooled in a number of bits and a few gadgets which start off promising then she learns a new technique to get round it. Her worst habits are working with open mouth and hollowness. She was longreining well in draw reins but ridden work still needed a fight and about an hours lesson to produce good work! Kaff, my instructor then tried her in the bitless bridle she got from you in November.

Blade was VERY foward almost to the point of not stopping, head thrown up at every transition and steering was a nightmare! We persevered over the winter months though as schooling had always been a terrible fight. Instead of Blade getting worse however she has improved dramatically. I bought my own bitless last month as I was not getting any practice except during weekly lessons. I found I have to think really hard about my position and use the reins lightly as steering goes out the window if you pull one rein.

Blade's walk and trot have really improved but canter is hard. I think she has always used the bit for support and backs off too much in the BB. Her unlevelness is still there and may be more obvious now she is working through her back more.

The most exciting thing is that she performed really well at the dressage competition we entered two weeks ago. I was using it as a test as we have never been placed with a bit and her 'hop' marks us down anyway. We obviously had to enter HC but our scores would have placed us 3rd (18 entries) and 5th (16 entries). As you can imagine I was delighted with the result. We had probably only used the BB a dozen times before the show.

Last week she did a drill ride and again performed exceptionally well. She was very tired afterwards as she had put herself into an outline most of the hour. Strange but happy horse!

I have yet to try jumping again as our 1st attempt was scary she reacted like she had hit a wall and she rarely refuses in a bit. I suspect it was my lack of practice and maybe her usual reliance on grabbing the bit caused the same sort of difficulty as she experiences in canter.

Helen, Reading - March 05


Calico wearing leather bitless bridle

Hi Sheila thank you for the bridles - they came yesterday and I have ridden in them already.

Storm the biggest lad was fine although he was not impressed with the nose band - he had a good scratch when it came off. He has never worn one so will have to get used to it. He was very good as I had thought he would take the P... as he used to pull my arms out to get at grass sometimes, but he was very respectful of the bridle.

My young mare Calico was funny at first but soon settled down - she goes well without a bit anyway as it was she that made my mind up to go bitless. She was funny going into canter cause she just arched her neck and rolled into it. I had no fear of not being in control of either of them, and even when Storm took off at a shredder which was making a lot of noise I was not worried that I had no brakes. I will send a picture of him later - forgot to take one yesterday. Calico's nose band is on the last hole at the minute but expect as you say the leather will soften and stretch. I have oiled them already so they will soon soften. thanks again

Ps I have put the nose band down a hole since the photo

Pam, Abingdon - March 05

I received my BB yesterday and hacked out in it today. I had ocasion to experience the degree of control when Cuilrane took fright and started to shoot forward. Very impressive, he got absolutely nowhere, and as I ride bareback on a loose pad, most welcome. I did get some head upping when I applied little squeezes, but he is a sensitive horse and I normally ride without a contact so that was understandable. From the little I did, I feel that I could keep him in an outline if I chose to. (My aim at the moment is to use the breathing entirely to get self carriage, which is wonderful when it happens!).

Also I love the beta. It feels and looks nice and being vegan, its composition is especially pleasing to me. Cuilrane is still hairy and he did get rather a sweaty face under the straps, but rubbing him off with a towel is small price to pay for all the advantages.

I'm looking forward to getting to know it better.

Clare of - March 05

April's cob in leather bitless bridle

Thanks for the prompt dispatch of the bridle ( you really went out of your way to get it to me on time, much appreciated).

We love the bridle and I now use it every time we hack out, my 5 year old LW cob is so relaxed and happy in it and I've found it to be perfect for jumping, I'm very impressed - its like having power steering.

April, London - March 05

[photo shows April's lightweight cob in his leather Bitless Bridle]

bridle is on its way back to you

oringinally I thought i'd try the bridle to see if I could improve my mare's comfort or way of going (although we had no problems and were quite happy with our bitted bridle)but felt If I had the opportunity to try something beneficial then I would,

The first time I used the bridle I thought it was ok not brilliant but ok no improvement to my usual bridle but I thought ok at least she hasn't got a bit in her mouth,next few times the same except starting to feel a little less control,checked my fitting and tried at various postitions,made no difference,(all at just walk and trot during hacking),I wanted to see how we'd get on with it during a some basic schooling,in our field,didn't go well at all,it was the first time i've had any disagreement with her (we've been together since she was 3 and she's 9 now I started her myself and we've had a go at most things together with success)I had no control,she didn't want to listen and was virtually shouting at me to get this bloody thing off me !!!! so I did went back to my usual bridle and harmony restored and had a good session,so hence i've listened to my girl and returned the bridle,(my girl is a pure bred arab and is quite strong,she's raced,dressage egb pleasure rides,showjumped and we hope to show this year)

I'm glad we've had the chance to try it though,and I suppose it just goes to show you can't please all of the horses all of the time,and backs up the fact that we are communicating and that she's been happy in her bit (she's in a hanging cheeck french link snaffle,stainless steel )

Debbie, Pembrokeshire - March 05

Emily & Drummer in his BBSheila invited me to send her some feedback of how Drummer and I are getting on with our Bitless Bridle. I am finding this hard as there are so many small changes in him thats it is hard to list them all!

I have a had the bridle nearly 2 months now and my first impressions were "wow!" Drummer was immediately more forward going and relaxed.

There was a honeymoon period though and after the novelty wore off we had some steering and napping issues. At only 6 Drummer is still very green and tries it on with everything! Naughty pony! Sheila and others really helped me through this and now Drummer is working better than ever! We just needed time to get used to the bridle. I am sooo glad I persevered and I will never go back to a bit now!

These are just a few of the bigger differences I have noticed and I could go on all day listing tiny changes in Drummers behaviour. I am just sooo pleased with my bridle and even other people have noticed the difference. We are treeless, barefoot and bitless now!!

Emily, Stratford-upon-Avon - March 2005

Hacked F out last night in BB for first time. No problems, but then F was in his usual chilled-but-willing mode and control is never normally an issue. Had several fast canters and a bit of jogging which was easily checked in the normal way. In short, I wouldn’t have known he didn’t have a bit – but I’m sure he did, especially when he realised that sneaky grazing was now a definite option (ah well, at least when I haul his head off the ground I’m not pulling on his mouth J!)

Still need to check that we can stop when F is a ‘yee-ha’ mood and disinclined to notice that he has a rider, but I’m hopeful…!

Clare, Bracknell - March 2005

Bridle arrived yesterday so I schooled F in it last night. Very promising start, I thought… After some initial reluctance to move (he is used to a very loose bridle and was backing right off!) the penny dropped and he realized that only an increase of pressure meant stop.

Some headshaking at first – this was a worry because he is a classic headshaker unless he wears a nosenet. I put his nosenet back on but the headshaking persisted, especially in trot, so I tried a bit of sitting trot which keeps my (less-than-perfect) hands more still and he quickly settled.

After that he went really well – nice and soft and bendy, almost as collected as usual (which isn’t THAT collected, but we try!) and no gobbiness. He has always chewed his bit, even at rest, and when schooled he opens and crosses his jaw and tilts his head. As he starts to work more properly he has tends to overbend and drop behind the contact.

Well – closed quiet mouth throughout, no head tilting and no overbending. Seemed quite pleased with himself afterwards as well!

I’ll take him out tonight and try the galloping brakes.

Clare, Bracknell - March 2005

I just wanted to leave some feedback on the bitless bridle i purchased from yourselves.

Thankyou so much, it is fantastic. The pony i have on loan is really going nicely. This fantastic bridle almost aliminates her hollowing her back, as she did almost every time you asked for active trot. As shes approx 18yrs old, I did wonder how shed get on with changing over to bitless, but she appears to approve, and benefitted from not having a cold hard piece of metal in her mouth. I can't say i blame her!

Lisa, Hampshire - Feb 05

[Update on Kiwi]

We are still making progress with her and she is for the moment shoeless as well. She has continued to make progress in dressage and jumping but I noticed that she seemed a little stiff at the back. No problem, she has been a regular visitor to the osteopath and was due for another check-up. Normally he has to manipulate her back from head to tail and all the bits in-between. Well, I waited for the outcome, she needed her pelvic area doing as normal, but then he asked me what I had done to her since her last check-up, (pre Bitless). She has no problems in her neck, or shoulders now. I don’t know if this has been caused by the new regime or if it’s something that would have happened with time and manipulations, but the osteopath seemed genuinely surprised, its only about three months since he last saw her.

Christine, Alsace - February 05

I bought 2 bitless bridles from you a few months ago; I am an instructor and wanted to see if my clients’ horses would go better without a bit.

Well so far at the yard/club where I teach, 2 of the owners have bought bitless bridles from you and several others are very close to parting with their money! I am using both my bridles continuously and am really pleased with the results.

As I said, most of them are borrowing my bridles at the moment but I hope that eventually every horse owner at our club invests in one!!

Kath, Reading - Feb 05

Brad Clydesdale in his draft Bitless BridleJust wanted to let you know that we had recieved the bridle on friday last week. Having had an opportunity to use it we are very pleased. He is now happy to have his bridle on where as before he would lift his head up when we came to put the bit in, he is a large horse [Clydesdale] and when he did this we could not reach any more. As with riding he does not sweat anymore, and we have never known him be so eager to canter. Above all we can tell that we are not hurting him anymore, and he seems to enjoy going out.

Thanks very much.

Andy, Stoke on Trent - Feb 2005

[Photo shows Brad in his draft beta Bitless Bridle]

Conner in his beta bitless bridleJust to let you know i have tried the bitless bridle on my 3yr old shire x cob Conner, It was fantastic, admitedly he is a straightforward ride but the few problems which i was concerned about have dissappeared! I had far more steering control with him, he didnt lean, pull his head between his knees or move at the mounting block as normal, brakes were just as effective if not better.

All in all this bridle gets a big thumbs up from me and i wont be going back to the bit method anytime soon, both Conner and myself thank you (but especially Conner).

I will send an update when my menage is finished and i can tell you how conner schools in it, as he is just backed it would be interesting to see how he takes to the bridle from scratch, i have to say he is so much lighter in hand and his head carriage is much better and he really uses his back end well even on on a leisurely hack!

Layla, Cheshire - Feb 2005

Results so far: I have tried the bridle firstly on a Cleveland/TB cross mare who has been badly bitted and badly ridden previously and is undergoing schooling (not by me) since she has never had any. In the bitless she goes much more smoothly with less argument (but still some!). Unfortunately I have only had two sessions with her but believe she went better.

I have also ridden an arab/pony cross out on a fast hack and found he behaved very well considering it was only his second time with the bitless. He seemed to slow down more easily, with less resistance than usual and we are talking short, fast gallops behind a faster horse here! Quite demanding for mine to slow down when trying to keep up with his companion.

Yesterday I rode a very sharp TB who went very well once he had understood my aids with the BB. I was interested to note that he lathered at the mouth as usual - I had always understood that was because of the bit - obviously not so! [Ed: this should decrease over time, but may never stop completely]

In conclusion (until I have more experience with the bitless, when I shall report again) I think it is not so much the horse who has to become used to the bridle, but the rider (nothing new there!). It is taking me time (as I don't ride very often) to learn what I should no longer be doing - in other words I feel that the "controls" should be extremely light unless there is an emergency - difficult when one has been trained with a bit for so long.

Of course when I get my own horse I shall be able to ride in the bitless without any criticism from the other riders and spend more time learning.

Georgina, Exeter - Feb 2005

Well, I need to order another one please!!

It arrived at 1pm and at 2pm my 4 year old Irish Cob went out alone in it for a hack :)

Basically, we tried it on him and he looked so happy (just in the bridle and my friend on bareback - don't have a heart attack!!lol) that we decided to leave it on him. He went for a lovely hack (first time out alone!) and he loved it! He was so much more relaxed in it - even just standing being tacked up.

So then I rode Josh out in it and he loves it too - so I need another! Josh was much better in it - he was thinking about what I was asking of him and he looked a bit confused when he didn't need to open his mouth when it went on. We had a canter in it too.

So, we dived in the deep end, but I am very lucky with my horses in that they are very relaxed and laid back and none of them ever play up or we just went for it!

Carla, Stafford - Feb 05

Please find enclosed the cob size Bitless Bridle, unfortunately it is slightly too small, please could you exchange for a full size with cob noseband; much appreciated.

Please be advised my fizzy, 13 year old TB mare was very happy in it, I hacked her out in it and she seemed much more relaxed in herself and didn't throw her head about (she is normally ridden in a French link and running martingale and I have had lots of problems with her, including head throwing, tantrums when being schooled, running off with me, rushing fences, refusing fences and bucking. I am feeling very hopeful with the results I had with the "Bitless Bridle" and look forward to receiving the next size up.

Athene, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - Feb 05

Our problem was "Candy" would accept the bit when being tacked up, but for some reason did not like opening her mouth to take the bridle off at the end of a ride, her head would jerk up just at the point where she should have opened her mouth, so the bit always knocked against her front teeth. It was becoming a difficult problem to solve.

So thank you very much for the "Bitless Bridle", I now have one very happy Cob mare and one even happier me. Because I know that I've done verything in my power to make Candy's mouth pain free, I've already changed her to a "Tree Less Saddle" and gone "Bare Foot" as well, so she is as natural as possible for a horse used for riding. Thank you for bringing the "Bitless Bridle" to the UK and making it so easy to obtain; trying to convince my equine friends it's the way forward. Even horses with no problems should be given the chance to try this Bridle.

Marcia, Totnes - Feb 05

Latest from Jacqueline: (30 Jan 05)

I rode him today in the school and whereas before he would not move at all only to maybe buck or do a little rear in protest, he was as good as gold and even rode in the lead (there were two of us down there) for a while. I definitely feel he is an althogether happier pony. Thank you.

Rio modelling Dr Cook Bitless Bridle

Put the bridle to the ultimate test this weekend (some fast and furious hacking) and I'm pleased to say it performed very well indeed, and was considerably more effective the odd times I needed it to be than the nobit ever was. In fact I think it took my horse a little by surprise once or twice.

Yann, Sheffield - January 05


The bridle arrived yesterday, and as I was desperate to try it on my horse Nell (rising 7, 15.2hh Welsh Sec D mare who is very sensitive, even nervous sometimes and can be sharp; previously ridden in a Happymouth eggbutt snaffle) I braved the rain and took her to an enclosed paddock as soon as I had read the fitting instructions etc. that came along with it. I think she was a bit confused to start with, as she was on her toes and quite tense & tossing her head a lot, but she did settle gradually. Head tossing continued throughout the 1/2 hour or so that I was riding her around though (walk and trot only as it was too slippery/muddy in the paddock to canter), I think this could have been due to her not being used to the tight noseband (she's only ever worn a cavesson noseband fitted fairly loosely). I found her a bit heavy on the forehand, but I believe this is fairly common when first switching to bitless, until the horse learns to carry itself properly? I also found her a bit resistant to turn to the right, especially in the very beginning, which has not been a problem previously although she's always been stiffer on the right rein. Hope this will also pass. I was extremely impressed, however, on how well the "brakes" worked, and found Nell's downward transitions smoother than with the bit.

This morning, I double-checked that I'm fitting the bridle correctly and took Nell for a 1 1/2 hour hack along tracks and quiet roads, including a crossing of a busy road. I certainly found her striding out in walk much better than she had lately (this was one of the reasons why I decided to try bitless), and she didn't feel as heavy on the forehand as yesterday. Steering wasn't a problem as such, although I still found her reluctant to bend to the right. Will keep working on it. Continued to be impressed with the effectiveness of the brakes - we came across couple of big tractor and lorry "monsters", which Nell is a bit nervous about - she only started her riding career last summer so she's not yet very experienced with traffic, and can take a fright if big things approach fast or come very close. However, when confronted with these things, I felt I had at least as much, if not better, control compared with the bit. There was only very little head tossing today, immediately after the noseband was tightened, but none during the ride.

On the design side: I felt the holes for fitting the buckle in the noseband are a bit far apart, restricting the accurary of fitting.

Overall, I do feel positive about the bitless so far and already feel 100% confident that I can control my horse at least as well as with a bit, in any situation. I'm eager to continue using it, in all different situations, and I will keep you posted on how things progress.

Johanna, Inverurie - January 05

My sister becky got a bitless bridle for christmas for her pony Izzy after seeing them on the internet. Izzy went really well in her new bridle and has been a lot happier.

After this big improvement in Izzy my sister suggested trying a bitless bridle on my pony Jack. I was a bit unsure about this at first as Jack isnt the best behaved pony and tends to run off in canter as well as he isnt very balanced but i thought id give it a go. I tried it yesterday for the first time and Jack took to the bridle almost straight away, I was really suprised at how well behaved he was in it. He was a lot more relaxed in his neck and had a really nice outline after being in it for a while.

His trot has been a lot steadier but the biggest improvement has been in his canter. He usually leans on the bit in canter as he is so unbalanced but now he is like a different pony and has a lovely steady and a lot more balanced canter. I had a lesson in my new bitless bridle today and my instructor was really impressed at how well Jack went in his new bridle. She said Jack looked really nice and had improved loads. Im really glad i tried the bridle out it was deffinately worth it, i dont think i will need to use my bit again.

Jack really likes his new bridle and it has made riding him a lot more enjoyable too. Thanks a lot

Charlotte and Jack, Warwick - January 05

Casper in brown beta Bitless BridleThought you might like to know how I am getting on with bridle.

Firstly he is so comfortable with it, he took to it really quickly although he did have a pseudo bit for a while and kept opening his mouth when I put bridle on (it was quite funny really) then he realised that he did not have one.

He has stopped shaking his head, to start with a slight pull on the rein and he would go to shake then realise it wasn't going to hurt, in fact when I saw my nephew ride him yesterday he looked in quite a nice outline. He seemed to move forward much more freely. He doesn't pull the reins out of your hands any more either and there is no rubbing of his head on his forelegs or me!

He still behaves a bit wierd when I want to ride him in the school but we think that it is the fact he wants to go at his own pace for the first ten minutes then he is okay. He has always done it so it could just be habit now.

He did bolt (well if you can call it bolting) with my sharers daughter. He just cantered faster up the long side but stopping is no problem he always was good at halting (its the pace he likes best LOL!) but this is like having had new brakes fitted he does just pull up but again there is no pulling the reins out of your hands.

Onto jumping, he is not landing as heavily on his forelegs, he seemed to land quite heavily with the bitted bridle but he seems a bit more graceful now, he is a fantastic jumper and loves it, but I feel that he is not dropping his head as much once he lands he seems to be able to propel from the back more. All in all I am happy with it I am keeping it and we are aware it will take time to help him lose the bad habits he has acquired over time, plus he was ridden extremely hard by his previous owner and is enjoying his easy life with me and my sharer (a bit pampered really).

Oh, before I forget he has not tripped or stumbled in canter or over trotting poles yet, like he used to. Sorry this is so long but thought you might like to know.

Jacqueline, Bexhill-on-Sea - January 2005

Izzy in her leather Dr Cook Bitless BridleMy boyfriend bought me a bitless bridle as a Christmas present after I saw the bridle on the internet.

I just thougt I would drop you a quick email to say that it is fantastic and my pony (izzy) has never gone better in it. It took her a couple of days to get the feel of it but now she loves it.

Before Christmas I was having a few problems with izzy leaning on the bit and pulling my arms, she is a cob and is very strong, so this was also causing my riding position to be two far forward and for me to have a bad back.

We have been using the bridle about three weeks now and I finally have my arms back! Also I'm slowly getting my balance back and my riding position is a lot better.

Izzy seems a lot happier in herself and now enjoys being tacked up instead of running around the stable pulling horrible faces. Her canter is a lot better and her jumping has really improved.

Izzy took to the bridle almost immediately and you can't tell that your riding in bridle without a bit, in fact with Izzy I seem to have a lot more control and she listens to me a lot more.

Thanks for this wonderful bridle as I was almost at despair. I will send some photos of Izzy in the bridle and doing her dressage/jumping so you can see for yourselves how fab she looks.

Thanks again.

Becky, Warwick - January 05

I have been riding a fair bit over the holidays and am very happy with the bridle, I have MORE control not less, she is calm and responsive to stop whereas before she was always fighting me. The problem with trying to explain this to others is 'Oh I could never stop my horse with no bit' I keep saying to friends to just try it in the school and see before just dismissing it straight away. I find it's always the same with new ideas, it's very difficult to get some people to try new things, even when its so obvious how well my horse is going in it. Still I will keep trying!

Emily, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - January 05

I attended a 2 day seminar with Ben Hart from Company of Horses, extremely valuable, it taught me how to think from the horse's point of view, and also how they think and learn, I then went on to research information about barefoot horses and later the bitless bridle, I believe that you should go with your gut instinct with what you believe to be right. After losing my previous very precious horse Tego to Laminitis due to Cushings disease aged only 20 after also battling with Navicular Syndrome for 2 years, I felt uneasy about some of the reccommended treatments/shoeing methods prescribed. I take an active part in the care of Izzy and believe if I hadn't gone down the 'no shoes' route, with the help of my forward thinking farrier, she would also not be here today.

Thank you for helping me to help my horse have a more comfortable and happier life.

Emily, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - December 04

Rakni galloping in the fog!
Rakni galloping in the fog


The [leather] bridle arrived this morning - thanks loads.


We took the boys out this morning and had some amazing results with Rakni. Cherise had him doing fast tölt (up to canter speed) which is the first time ever. He is moving completely differently now, his bottom is coming right underneath him and is really using his back end. We are just waiting for him to change shape now as this is bound to follow!

It amazes me to see the changes in him when he didn't have a problem to start with!


Ginette, Hampshire (talking about one of her Icelandic Horses) - December 04

I jumped 1m and odd with Kiwi Bitless LOVE HER! But even better:

Let me tell you a story…

A horse, which HATES jumping and has NEVER, jumped more than a metre, once had a girl that LOVES him MORE then ANYTHING on his back, with a normal bridle. She had him for a competition, just a little club one, and beat a few of the REALLY good horses by finishing 4th and 6th. She loved him MORE. She had him for a 3-day ride. He was perfect and that same girl loved him MORE. One day that girl decided she wanted to try jumping with him again, and because she had her Bitless Bridle she rode him without a bit. It had been a while she had not had him, and her instructor, Katia, decided they would jump higher and higher until there was one rider left. So, the same girl, that had only jumped 80cm with him before, decided she would jump until she was disqualified (they only had 2 chances each). 80cm one bar, the second time she did it. 1metre, good, she could NOT believe it! 1m 15, she didn’t think she would pass and she DID! (The horse never went to jump BUT this time she didn’t have to ask for gallop, he did it on his own, UNBELIEVABLE!!!) 1m 20 she did it and Katia said “PERFECT”! 1m 30, she was one of the three left, the two other horses were born jumpers, so she thought she was dreaming, AND SHE JUMPED 1M 30 AND SHE WOULD DIE FOR THAT HORSE!!!

Guess who the girl was…


Becky, Alsace - December 04

I have used the bridle only 3 times so far, so will let you know if I have any problems later on but so far so good.

I own a Standarbred mare aged 11 who has not been wearing shoes either for nearly a year after a diagnosis of Navicular and DJD. She is now sound going barefoot after using BOA Boots (another great product) for 6 months, but I had been experiencing problems with her from the day I bought her with tacking up and riding - snapping at me when leading her out to ride unwilling to bridle/saddle and resistant to turn left and accept any contact on the left side. She also bolted with me two years ago (before the lameness problem started).

After putting on the bitless bridle, there was no snapping at me, she was extremely responsive in the school to turn on either rein, stopped with the lightest touch and riding out, cantering across a stubble field - normally a somewhat terrifying experience, I felt in more control than with a bit. On the way home there was no jogging, snatching at the reins (pulling me out of the saddle whilst doing this.) She seems altogether calmer and happier in herself, if horses could smile, she would.

I am very pleased with it and will keep you posted as I do hope never to put a bit in her mouth again. I strongly feel that she was trying to tell me that the bit was hurting her and the only way she could tell me was to be unpleasant towards me ( in all other ways, she is a real pleasure to deal with, calm, intelligent and well mannered)

Why do so many people ignore what their horses are trying to tell them? Horses do not do things 'just to wind us up.' I am telling all my friends to try it as there is no negative sides that I can see to it.

Emily, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - December 04

Ivor shows off his Bitless BridleI recently purchased one of your bridles for my 13 year old throughbred ex race horse.

He is, for a throughbred, fairly calm and fairly brave with the occasional moment of madness!! When he would either spook and be totally terrified. Typically unpredictable, and typically thoroughbred, but I always felt his heart was in the right place and he responded well to my sypathetic riding and gentle hands.

I saw an article about the bitless bridle when I was browsing the internet, I hardly needed to use my reins as he would ask me for minimal and preferably no contact with his regular snaffle, so I decided to give it a try!!

I have been using my new bitless bridle for about 3 weeks and the results are amazing!! I have a happy and relaxed horse. I feel that our relationship has grown and changed for the better, it is now based solely on trust. I trust him 100%, and I equally feel he has a new found trust and respect for me. We now tackle spooky situations with ease.... no flight or fright involved! He looks to me for the confidence he needs in these situations, and I am able give it freely without causing him the pain, anxiety or stress that he previously felt with a piece of metal pinching his tongue, and jabbing his mouth.

I shall endeavour to take some pics of us using the Dr Cooks bridle, we've even been out jumping in it!!

Jo, Worthing - December 04

More progress with Kiwi...

Kiwi in her Bitless BridleMy name is Becky, Christine’s daughter. I am just writing to say thank you for the bridle!

Today I had a jumping lesson with Kiwi.

The riding instructor laid out 3 bars on the ground. The first one was just a normal bar, then there was a second (she put it a bit off the ground), then the third one and straight after there was a corner. We did it at trot, every thing was fine! Then she told us to do it at canter… I thought IMMEDIATELY o no… Kiwi is going to gallop through the bars, make them fall over AND cut the corner, as usual. BUT instead: She was “dancing” over the bars AND went STRAIGHT into the corner! I was THRILLED! Ben said I will be at the next jumping Olympics at this rate! Only joking! But, after tonight, I think that dream HAS come true… Well for me anyway!

Becky, Alsace - December 04

Just tried the bridle for the first time today. Wow! Brilliant! My 3/4 TB mare went exremely well in it, so much so that after schooling (nice and round) I took her for a long hack and came back down the road. My instructor can't wait to see it.


My horse has continued to go very well in this bridle both for schooling and hacking. It is lovely to ride her without her clanking and biting the bit and various other 'bit-related' behaviour which always gave me concern. She also seems happier to come out of her stable to work (she was sometimes reluctant before) and happier having this bridle put on even though it's not the easiest to get over the ears despite pulling the reins through a little first.

Hilary, Middx - November/December 04

"We are making more and more progress with Kiwi. I experienced a few sessions of her “trying her luck”. She has spent so long being able to dictate when she works and what she does (if I don’t like it I’ll grit my teeth and PULL) that she wasn’t too keen on the idea of lack of choice. I ask for transitions and she has to respond, she tried to take off as normal and there followed a little session of “foot stamping, tantrums” She soon settled down and I was delighted with the feeling of control I have. The last few sessions have been amazing, we have tried some more advanced dressage and she is a joy to ride. We are taking things slowly as she needs to gain some flexibility – all these years as a walking plank haven’t helped. It will be interesting to see what my osteopath says when he next visits the stables.

"Becky had a jumping lesson on her on Saturday – I just wish you could have seen her face, it was a picture!! The normal routine is, point Kiwi at a jump – Kiwi either charges at full speed, takes the corner leaning like a motorbike and then takes a tour of the ménage to slow down or plods up, over and after. I know it’s not Becky’s riding technique as she’s great on other horses, even the most difficult ones. Well, Kiwi enters, full of life as usual this last week or two, warm up was completed and off they go. Ben asked Becky to approach at trot (hah) and ask for a reception at canter on the right foot – no problems! Becky asked me as she passed, what’s HAPPENED to this horse. The next few tries were done at canter or trot as Becky wanted. I was so happy for them I felt like jumping up and down. When we got back in the car Becky said “that’s the best lesson I have ever had”. I am so pleased for her. She has tried so hard with Kiwi, and has even sometimes doubted her own ability.

"Yesterday was the next test; they went off for a hack with another friend. One thing that everyone has commented on is Kiwi’s new zest for life, so I told Becky to be a bit cautious as Kiwi seemed a little lively. When they got back Becky did say that she was far more alert and interested, and was making “big eyes” at things that didn’t normally bother her, but that she didn’t once feel as though she had less control than with the normal bitted bridle – in fact the opposite. I just think that after years of shutting down, Kiwi has rediscovered what a great place the world can be. She’s like a young horse, keen to see everything, to learn and to try new things. So thank you once again, you’ve given us a new horse for Christmas.

Another update from Christine, Alsace, France - November 04

"We have had great success so far! Rakni has shown excellent slow tölt (which is a new experience for his rider who has been riding him for 12 months) and is totally controllable at fast speeds in an open field. The two girls went out, one in the bitless and one in a bit. One horse took off and the other followed - guess which one stopped first - yes, it was the one in the bitless. His rider was not totally convinced to start with but is now very impressed."

Ginette, Hampshire (talking about Icelandics) - November 04

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I received my bridle this morning, rushed down to the stables to try it and can only say wow!!!

"Kiwi, “the supersonic plank” has been transformed. I have been riding her all week without a bit, reins attached to the noseband, and she was already happier, but this morning was excellent. My instructor couldn’t wait to try it either so I let her have first go. She just had to call her assistant to see. Kiwi is collected, flexes in both directions and steps out like never before. I know that some people thought I was a little crazy – no-one here has heard of the bitless bridle – so I can’t wait for them to watch my daughter ride her in her lesson tomorrow. Kiwi was limiting her progress as she was as stiff as a plank, nose in the air, and taking the bit between her teeth so she didn’t have to listen. I can’t wait to see Becky’s face when she rides her tomorrow. She’ll now be able to use her for her next exams, instead of having to borrow a riding school horse. AND the most important of all, we’ve got a happy horse who probably wonders what took us so long.

"Many thanks again, keep up the good work and we’ll try to spread the message here in Alsace."

and 2 days later...

"Well, we tried Kiwi in a lesson, Becky riding, and it was great. Lots of people came to watch as Marie (our instructor) had spread the word. Ben, our other instructor, took the lesson and decided to try them out with a Carousel. Last time we tried this was a near disaster, trying to keep Kiwi to the same rhythm was nearly impossible. Yesterday she was a different horse. Firstly she walked into the ménage with her tail held high, ears swivelling, looking keen to work. The lesson started and Ben suggested that Becky tried a few transitions, Kiwi’s least favourite activity. They were very impressive, Kiwi was in hand (hope that’s the English for it), collected and SO responsive. Her halts were all square (unheard of) and more and more people came to watch.

"What was really noticeable was that normally, for the last five or ten minutes, Kiwi was unstoppable,. She would walk or trot around the ménage at full speed, ignoring all attempts to make her cool down slowly. It was either stop or full on. Well yesterday, they finished the carousel, and started the cool down. She trotted SLOWLY with long reins, then walked SLOWLY with no signs of the old stressed Kiwi. Lots of people have been asking me where I found this miracle bridle, so there may be orders to follow. I think Marie’s comment was the best “this horse has undergone a metamorphosis

"I will keep you in touch with our progress – jumping next!!!!"

Christine, Alsace (France) - November 04

Taz relaxed and (asleep?) in her new beta Bitless Bridle
Welsh Cob Taz in her new beta bitless bridle

"I have one of the original Dr Cooks bridles that Taz and I have used since 2000 (see gallery) and in it she has done showjumping, funclub dressage, handy pony, endurance, happy hacking and driving in harness. Taz has been ridden by beginners and experienced riders alike and the majority make comment as to how responsive she is - contrary to their expectations with regard to a bitless bridle - yet if a beginner takes up sudden contact I know it will not hurt Taz.

"Today we have just road-tested the new updated beta version and are soooo pleased with it .... it is a more substantial bridle than the old biothane so I doubt it will show the only weakness (????) I found in the old one (holes in the noseband stretching after four years). I like the more adjustable browband too, able to give ears plenty of swivel room LOL. ... and the beta is so soft yet strong.

"As someone who drives as well as rides I think it is an excellent feature that, if I choose to, I could interchange the usual cheekpieces with the blinker ones. Taz does not have blinkers but the option is there ... and great for those ride and drive horses who do have blinkers - no need to have two separate bridles !"

Laura, Hereford - November 04

"I was hacking today (sunday) for the first time with only the bitless bridle on and Asti was really good. She seemed to be more relaxed and was striding out better. Hope to let you know more later."

Lesley, Aberdeen - November 04

"Paddy loves his new bridle, after a little moment of confusion and a bit of nose rubbing (he's not used to having a noseband done up fairly tightly - we normally left his cavesson V loose) he settled and was so much happier. We have BETTER steering and brakes aren't a problem. Only I've ridden him so far but I think my little niece will be fine in it. He is much quieter in his head and he has a tendency to be a bit 'nippy' which we're working on which seems to have become less frequent.

"I'm converted - almost tempted to try one on my mad TB!"

Samantha, Gloucestershire - November 04

"I tried the bridle today and had really good results. I went in the school first and Jerry did everything I asked him to, and seemed really happy and excited, but controlled. He went on the correct lead canter on the right rein which is something we always have problems with, and I got him to go collected with no problems.

"Then we went out for a hack and he came back to me a lot quicker than normal when we had a canter - normally when we canter on the stubble fields he gets very excited and it takes me quite a while to pull him up. I also asked him to stay in trot for half the field which he did without any problem, although he broke into canter twice he came back to me when I asked him to - again, normally he'd want to be off in canter.

"So, excellent initial results, I'm very pleased!"

Ruth, Leeds - November 04

"My Bridle arrived early Saturday morning and being impatient, have hacked out in it all ready (today's Sunday). I know this isn't advisable so quickly but, the area my horse is in it didn't pose a risk! Shamrock felt so much happier and really seemed to be enjoying the freedom. I didn't feel I had any loss of "control", in fact she was much more responsive! Thanks so much, I won't be using a bit again!!"

And 2 days later...

"Of course you can put my comments on the website. Still really enjoying ourselves with it. As you may have notiiced I've ordered another one for my friend. After seeing the big positive change just in the first use on Shamrock, everyone wants one!! I've always hated the idea of a bit but, didn't like hackamores etc. I'm indebted to Dr Cook and his fantastic bridle. I'll send you some pictures of my hairy monster as soon as I get some!!"

Lucy, Welwyn Garden City - November 04

"I have recently purchased a bitless bridle, after reading an article in the Horse magazine. I'm glad I did, it was constantly a battle of wills with me and my mare, there was no harmony and I was having my arms pulled out of their sockets on a regular basis, my mare would always put her tongue over the bit, so it was useless riding in a snaffle, so I thought why not, what do I have to lose!

"I tried her in my newly purchased bridle, the first time it was complete and utter confusion on her part. She was so used to battling me with her mouth, and with the bitless bridle there was no opportunity for her to do this. Over the course of a few days of using the bridle she is transformed, we no longer battle each other during a schooling session, and my arms have thanked me for it! Only trouble now though is I've been so used to holding our riding together with a bit that now it shows, back to the riding school for some lessons I think!

"I recently took her out for a hack, and all she did was buck when we tried to canter, and I believe that she felt utterly liberated!

"Although her typical mareish behaviour is still the same in her stable, ears back etc! She has become a dream to ride once again, and I'm looking forward to Showjumping her in it in January, and hopefully showing at local level with the bit.

"Even one of the other owners down our yard wanted to know what it was all about and she is totally surprised at how well it works!

"Thanks for being such a life saver."

Carla, West Molesey - November 04

Home | Instructors | ORDER | Articles | SEARCH | FAQ | Events | Bitless Benefits | Comparisons | Fear of the Bit | Problems solved | Sizes & Measuring | Price List | Contact Us | Feedback | Questionnaire | Gallery | Links | Terms & Conditions

Website designed, maintained and hosted by Flashgranny

Welfare - Performance - Safety - Pleasure

Bitless Bridle UK