Some of the Problems solved by The Bitless Bridle™

You have a Better Horse than you think!

The five 'F's

A bit frightens a horse. It causes pain or the fear of pain. Fear is manifested by one or more of the five Fs; fright, flight, fight, freeze or facial neuralgia (the headshaking syndrome).

Problems caused by Fright

  1. difficult to catch in the paddock
  2. unfriendly in the stable
  3. difficult to put the bridle on or take it off
  4. difficult to mount
  5. At exercise, anxious, unpredictable, ‘hot,’ nervous, fearful, shy, spooky, panicky, tense, stressed, sweats excessively, unfocused, a restless eye, shows white of eye, slow to learn

Problems associated with Flight

  1. difficult to slow or stop
  2. bolting
  3. running through the bit
  4. puts the bit between its teeth
  5. jigging
  6. prancing
  7. rushing
  8. fidgeting
  9. hair-trigger response to the hand aids
  10. runs wild on the lunge rein

Problems to do with Fight

  1. bucking
  2. rearing
  3. spinning
  4. aggressive
  5. argumentative
  6. confrontational
  7. resistant
  8. bossy
  9. cranky
  10. surly
  11. resentful
  12. adversarial
  13. angry
  14. hard-mouthed
  15. pulling
  16. heavy on the forehand
  17. difficult to steer in one or both directions
  18. refusal to rein back
  19. pig rooting
  20. yawing
  21. crossing the jaws
  22. reluctance to maintain canter
  23. stiff-necked
  24. refusal to lead on the correct leg

Freeze responses

These are responses to pain or fear that, for evolutionary reasons, are particularly likely to occur in donkeys and mules, but they also occur in horses. For example,

  1. refusal to leave the herd
  2. refusal to go forward (napping)
  3. backing-up
  4. muscle cramps
  5. lack of courage and confidence
  6. refusing at jumps
  7. lack of hind-end impulsion

Facial Neuralgia (the headshaking syndrome)

At exercise:

  1. an open mouth
  2. head tossing
  3. flipping the nose
  4. above the bit
  5. star-gazing
  6. behind the bit
  7. overbent
  8. rubbing muzzle on face on foreleg
  9. striking at muzzle with foreleg
  10. rapid and noisy blinking
  11. sensitive to bright light, wind or rain
  12. sneezing and snorting
  13. grazing on the fly
  14. attempts to bite horses alongside or grab the shank of the bit or the rider’s boots
  15. watery eyes
  16. nasal discharge
  17. grinds teeth
  18. tilts head
  19. twitching of the cheek muscles

At rest may exhibit head shyness and be difficult to clip or hose around the head

General unhappiness:

  1. lack of finesse in control
  2. 'lazy’
  3. dull
  4. subdued
  5. ‘ring sour’
  6. tires prematurely
  7. ears pinned at exercise
  8. heads for the stable at every opportunity
  9. tail swishing

Breathing difficulties (asphyxia and suffocation):

  1. excessive poll flexion
  2. elevation or dorsal displacement of the soft palate
  3. thick-winded
  4. roaring
  5. gurgling
  6. choking-up
  7. tongue over the bit
  8. tongue behind the bit (swallowing the tongue)
  9. epiglottal entrapment
  10. deformity of the windpipe (scabbard trachea),
  11. asphyxia-induced pulmonary œdema (‘bleeding’ or exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage)
  12. coughing at exercise
  13. small airway disease

Interference with stride, gait, and motion:

  1. tense neck
  2. stiff or choppy stride
  3. short stride
  4. inco-ordination
  5. stumbling
  6. heavy on the forehand
  7. interfering with hind hoof
  8. inverted frame (high head carriage, hollow back)
  9. toe scuffing
  10. refusal to maintain canter
  11. false collection
  12. lack of self-carriage
  13. shortage of oxygen (asphyxia) initiates a cascade of events that is particularly likely to occur in racehorses but is not limited to this sport. One event leads to another as follows: premature fatigue; false steps; breakdowns; chip fractures; damaged joints; falls, long bone fractures and euthanasia.

Mouth and dental problems:

  1. Fractured jaws (from falls or other accidents)
  2. star fractures of the bars of the mouth leading to the shedding of dead bone (rare)
  3. bone spur formation on the bars of the mouth (common)
  4. sore mouth
  5. cut lips
  6. lacerated or amputated tongue
  7. lip sarcoids
  8. erosion of first cheek tooth
  9. sharp enamel edges leading to cheek ulcers
  10. loss of appetite
  11. reluctance to drink on trail rides leading to dehydration

Effect on the rider

Use of a bit or bits makes riding unnecessarily difficult, disappointing and dangerous. Because riders are unaware of the cause of these problems and, therefore, do not know how to treat them, they become discouraged in a number of different ways. They may, for example, become convinced that they simply do not have the skills to become good riders. Instead of blaming their tools (the bits), which they should, they develop:

  • A sense of frustration with their apparent inability to master the art of equitation, or
  • A burgeoning annoyance bordering on anger with the horse, or
  • An increasing reluctance to exercise the horse on a regular basis and the generation of displacement activities (excuses), or
  • They despair of ever achieving that harmony between horse and rider that is the pinnacle of equitation, or
  • They cease to get pleasure from riding, or
  • They lose confidence, become afraid of riding, and consider giving it up altogether, or
  • They decide to sell a horse that appears to have incurable problems and buy another, or
  • They experience economic embarrassment from doomed attempts to overcome problems by means other than removal of the cause (the only logical approach to treatment), or
  • They suffer personal injury (anything from a fractured collar bone to sudden death)
  • So much for the negative aspects of the bit!

    The Positive Aspects of The Bitless Bridle™ enable you to avoid the above and permit you to:

  • be kinder to your horse
  • improve your horse's welfare and its mental and physical balance
  • avoid confusing your horse by expecting it to eat and exercise simultaneously (the effect of using a bit)
  • have better "brakes"
  • enjoy smoother transitions
  • lengthen your horse's stride (and, therefore, increase its speed)
  • have less fidgeting, a more relaxed horse and one that listens better to the aids
  • reduce the stress of exercise for you and your horse
  • dispense with tongue-ties and dropped nosebands
  • enable your horse to get more oxygen and generate more spirit, vigor and stamina
  • obtain better performance
  • improve your own safety and that of your horse
  • communicate more effectively (gain more control)
  • avoid so much lathering-up, foaming at the mouth and slobbering
  • allow your horse to develop a more graceful action, with a more rounded outline and better engagement
  • reduce the likelihood of foreleg lameness and breakdowns (from hypoxia, fatigue and heaviness on the forehand)
  • reduce the likelihood of bleeding from the lungs and sudden death at exercise (caused by upper airway obstruction)
  • put a novice on a fully-trained horse without fearing that its mouth may be damaged, and so enable a trained horse to teach an untrained rider
  • establish a better partnership
  • obtain more co-operation and have a happier horse
  • Supporting evidence for all the above can be found on Dr Cook's web site using the links below:

    Articles - which present evidence about the benefits of the Bitless Bridle and the health risks of the bit

    User's Comments - from year 2000 to the present day

    A different one-line user's comment is shown on the left-hand side of each page of this web site, just below the navigation.

    See the main User's Comments page for the full list

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