Hackamore : By comparison with either bits or other bitless bridles hackamores….

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How can I steer with a crossover bitless bridle? Brief pressure on one rein pushes painlessly but persuasively on the opposite half of the head.

Horses respond better to being pushed painlessly (nudged) with the Bitless Bridle (over a large surface area) than being pulled painfully by a bit (with highly focused pressure on the sensitive tissues of the mouth).

Where the head goes the horse follows.

Unlike the effect of a bit, that tends to twist a horse’s head, the head stays upright and the turn is more natural and physiologically correct.

By comparison with either bits or other bitless bridles (hackamores, bosals and sidepulls), more effective steering is one of the first benefits that riders notice.

The Bitless Bridle works with both direct and neck reining Festina Lente Foundation – 2007 Crossover Bitless Bridle Research Project The question of control – How can I slow and /or stop? One of the first questions that people asked and indeed continue to ask is ‘how do you control the horse with not bit’.

Brief pressure on both reins or alternate pressure on each rein applies a gentle squeeze to the whole of the head and triggers a ‘submit’ response.

Braking is probably attributable to a combination of the calming effect of a whole-head-hug; to initiation of a balancing reflex at the poll; to the stimulation of areas of special sensitivity behind the ears; and to painless pressure across the bridge of the nose.

The “brakes” are more reliable than those provided by the bit.

First, bit-induced pain causes many a horse to bolt rather than brake.

Secondly, at no time can the horse deprive the rider of all means of communication by gripping the bit between its teeth or under its tongue.

Unlike the mechanics of the bit, hackamore, bosal or sidepull, braking is not dependent on pain across the bridge of the nose, poll flexion and obstruction of the airway. What happened when we introduced the crossover bitless bridles ? The first horse ‘Henry’ was renowned for spraying his riders with saliva during the lessons.

Whilst salivating excessively, he also had a very bad habit of vertical headshaking – again excessively.

Although not an excessive problem, he did not particularly like being bridled.

So when we introduced the crossover bitless bridle, we noticed that this headshaking and salivating virtually stopped – overnight.

In fact the observed behaviours wearing a bitted bridle reduced from 25 behaviours to 3 The second pony ‘Rajah’ had a worrying habit of seeing a jump and literally bolting and running out.

When we introduced the crossover bitless bridle – and having done some retraining so as he did not associate the jump with pain – this became far less of a problem.

Although this has not entirely disappeared, it has reduced significantly.

We decided that based on the positive results of Henry and Rajah, that we would continue with two more horses.

And so this continued until we had replaced all the bitted bridles.

The important thing for us was to continuously review the process and this is why the project took up to 7 months.

Each week at our coaches meetings we would review the behaviours, improvements, the fitting, the benefits, etc.

We were very aware that safety of the riders had to be the priority and only until we saw that steering and stopping was not an issue could we proceed with the project. Festina Lente Foundation – 2007 Crossover Bitless Bridle Research Project How were the behaviours measured ? Two people measured each horse/pony’s behaviour using the Behavioral Profile Questionnaire wearing a bitted bridle and then again wearing a crossover bitless bridle.

In addition, up to 6 horses/ponies were filmed pre and post and digital photos were also taken.

The results of some of these are set out below.

The charts show the reduction in behaviours and the last two photos show the difference in a ponies mouth pre and post Management problems in the stable and prior to riding that interfere with ? Have Problems there been any issuesespecially or difficulties a horse’s stride 35 100 None that cannot be expected when changing a practice that has been in place for a long long 30 time! The main things included: 25 60 50 60 40 20 100

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