I am not an extremely athletic person, and am in my early 50s.
I didn’t start riding again until about five years ago after a 25-year break and have had the privilege of having some excellent instructors.
I consider riding to be a lifetime learning experience.
One of the problems I have been trying to correct for a long time now, is holding my horse back or at times using the reins as a balance while working on an independent seat and legs.
This bridle just took the fear away of what I might have done to my horse’s mouth if he suddenly went sideways or spooked at a `horse-eating monster.’ Both of these things happened today and both times I had immediate control and a horse that went right back to work.
The bridle is everything you said! We did not use a martingale, and feel no need to do so.
He stops immediately, is much looser and exhibited one of the best head shaking flat walks I’ve ever seen him do. (“Flash” is a lite shod THW) Only one question so far.
Yesterday and today, for the first 15-20 minutes, he exhibited a lot of tail wringing.
There were two different riders during those sessions.
Me the first day for about 15 minutes and my instructor today for around the same time.
After that he settled down, but we were both wondering if this is a normal reaction to the new signals he is receiving? Another person who will be ordering from you is Janet – who probably already did this evening.
Her husband has a TWH that has scars in his mouth from a previous owner.
Her horse, Allan, is a “puller” who always wants to be in the lead.
She was very excited to hear about the lesson today and the entire concept.
I have asked my husband to try the bridle out on his horse this weekend.
His horse has demonstrated several of the typical problems you have written about.
Guess we will be ordering another! Thanks again for such a wonderful humane product. ———————————————-Jeanne, Eau Claire, WI 10/5/00: I just wanted to write and tell you that I received the bitless bridle that I ordered and we just love it.
We’ve had a quarter horse for 2 years and haven’t been able to ride her until now.
This is great! She tosses her head a bit when we first start out, but settles down nicely.
In time I think she’ll quit completely.
I’ve also been using it on my Standardbred.
He’s a wonderful horse to ride in any bit, but seems so much happier using the bitless bridle – he responds instantly.
So I want to thank you for your product and wanted to let you know how much we’re enjoying it.
Jeanne, Eau Claire, WI 10/6/00: Postscript: As to why our QH mare was unrideable – well, I guess I shouldn’t say unrideable.
We could ride her with a hackamore, but it was very dangerous because she severely threw her head, almost hitting the rider.
She hates a hackamore.
We were afraid to ride with a tiedown because of her tendency to panic – thought she might go right over backwards.
So we just never rode her.
It was always a battle, and a dangerous one.
It’s extremely difficult to get a bit in her mouth, and again, once we did, the head throwing was violent.
She had been abused by a previous owner -hit in the head and a chain used in her mouth.
The very sound of the bit would send her into a panic, and it’s been very difficult to even just touch her around her mouth area.
She isn’t head shy – you can pet her and touch her ears and such.
It’s just her mouth.
And she isn’t being nasty – she’s scared.
Very tense and very reactive. As I mentioned in my last message, when we first put the bitless bridle on her, we did have a bit of head tossing and carrying on, but to a much less degree.
After getting on her to ride, she quit in just a few minutes.
You could see her visibly relax.
It was actually a pleasure to ride her.
So, again I thank you.
For us, this is like a miracle.
And for CHESKA, she can now be ridden without fear and actually begin to enjoy herself. ———————————————-Kath, 10/7/00: I did my first competitive ride of the season today.
I used the other reins that buckle on.
The crossover straps still twisted, and this time higher up, right underneath the browband.
This doesn’t seem to interfere with its function though.
My horse is still adjusting I think.
He still froths profusely and he is a head tosser (he does it when he is excited, even at liberty), and you can guess – the foam goes flying everywhere.
So he still “mouths” even without a bit.
But I noticed at the end of the ride today that his mouth was dry, finally! So he is adjusting, and fighting me, (more so I think because there is no longer any pain in controlling his head).
Although he was very good today, and came back when I asked him.
His walk has gotten even faster – can you believe it? There is much curiosity about the bridle amongst club members, though many of them ride bitless anyway.
Wait until I get my treeless saddle! There is also heaps of interest in my horse float (trailer), because my horse faces backward in it.
Walks on the front and off the back.
Facing backward in a float is unusual here, and I wish it weren’t, it’s so much better for them. ———————————————-Dawn, Pakoma Park, MD 10/10/00: Have been using my bitless bridle over the summer and fall.
Gave it a real test this weekend, taking my stallion to a whole new trail, on a cool, windy day.
Worked like a charm.
My best friend is now pumping her family for one for Hannukah! My one mare who was trained with a hackamore, and never really cared for bits, is doing much better in this bridle.
Of course, she sometimes still ignores my 7-year-old daughter, but such is the nature of horses.
Thanks again for a lovely product, you’ll be hearing from me again next year for another. ———————————————-Jean, (Trail Rider) Brookfield, Vermont, 10/12/00: I have used your bitless bridle now several times on my 8 year old quarter horse gelding and want to report that I think it is absolutely marvelous! You may recall my telling you that over the summer my horse had developed the condition of “gurgling.” I tried most everything I could think of and was at a loss to know what to do next.
Well, you were right: the bitless bridle has solved the problem and the “gurgling” has disappeared.
Not only that, GEM is much lighter in my hands and willing to move forward at all paces without ‘leaning on the bit!’ There are several people in my trail riding circles who are very interested in the concept, and you may find yourself acquiring a few more converts from northern Vermont.
In any case, please accept GEM’s and my deepest gratitude.
We’re ever so much happier.
Like many others, I doubt I’ll ever put a bit in a horse’s mouth again.” [Dr.
Cook comments: The history of this horse led me to assume that the `gurgling’ was caused by a displacement of the soft palate, and I recommended the bitless bridle as a likely cure for the problem.] ———————————————-Rob, Powys, Wales, 10/13/00: Received your bridle some weeks ago, and my daughter has now had a chance to try it out – she has done road work, a little cross country, and some jumping, as well as daily 1 mile rides bareback to the field and back.
Jenni, after initial characteristic nervousness, which immediately transmitted itself to the pony – is now absolutely delighted with the result, and states that she will “never ever” use a bit on the pony again.
From observation I would say that the pony’s response to aids is much improved, even over the high level that it was originally.
You will remember that we ordered the bridle not because of his unmanageability in a bit, but his refusal on occasions to accept it – which caused many “late starts”, much stress, and strained tempers all round.
Not using the martingale – it is far too large for a 13hh pony – but this does not seem to make any difference – indeed he is throwing and lifting his head far less than he used to anyway.
Many thanks for lowering the stress levels in our household!” Jenni, Pows, Wales, 10/20/00: Hi, this is Jenni- yes my pony is a Welsh Section C Pony, aged 12 (like me) brown gelding.
Rob said to put- “I love him to bits but he used to be a little s#d!!!” Thanks for solving my MAJOR problem.
ECHO (the pony) will probably send you threatening emails because you ruined his excuse for not doing any work!!!! ———————————————-Karen, Fort Bragg, CA, 10/16/00: I’m sending the photos you requested of my Welsh pony JELLY wearing the leather bitless bridle.
She’s 13 years old and hasn’t been trained, I believe, because of the scar on her tongue.
The vet discovered it while floating her teeth.
JELLY used to toss her head constantly while being ridden, making it impossible to teach her anything, due to her being so unbalanced.
With the Bitless Bridle she has improved 75%.
Now when she tosses her head, I feel it is in anticipation of what used to be painful for her.
Slowly but surely she’s improving.
Thank you so much for your wonderful bridle. ———————————————-Dr Jessica Jahiel, certified instructor in dressage and combined training with the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP), author of the HORSE-SENSE Newsletter (www.prairienet.org) Summerwood Farm, Illinois, December 2000: At the Horse Gathering, this year, The Bitless Bridle was the center of attention wherever it went.
I had it on (if I remember correctly) twelve horses.
You’re welcome to add my comments to those already on your website.
I’m quite happy to endorse the bridle.
I would very much like to see this bridle worn by every school horse ridden by beginners – the horses would be much happier and more comfortable.
I’d like to see the bridles in therapeutic riding programs, as well.
Riding is such wonderful therapy, but I’ve talked to quite a few riders in such programs, and heard their worries about causing the horses pain by inflicting random pulls and tugs on the reins.
And if people are determined to start their three-year-old horses under saddle (I prefer to back horses at 4 or later), this bridle would make life more pleasant for everyone concerned. Three-year-old horses (not to mention the many two-year-olds that are saddled, bridled, and ridden, although they are far too young) are all actively teething, and it’s really the worst possible time to introduce them to the bit.
I love the idea of trail riders leaving the bits in the tack room.
I’ll also take your Bitless Bridle with me when I teach in the Pacific Northwest in October.
Half of the people I’ll be working with there are endurance riders, and this is something that they all need to see and learn about.
The rest of the riders are likely to be dressage riders …the nice clean lines of the conservative leather version will convince them to try it, and then they’ll forget that they don’t have a bit.
My own “bitless bridle” (something I use to show riders how much they can accomplish without using a bit) is simply an old dropped noseband with a ring on each side.
It is adjusted loosely, in the position of a conventional cavesson, and with reins attached, it makes a very useful teaching tool.
If it’s a cold winter, I can generally convince even hesitant riders to try this, because it saves them warming the bit and adjusting lots of small fiddly buckles.
However, the aesthetics fail to impress. 😉 My students hear this so often that I’m sure they repeat it in their sleep: “The bit doesn’t stop the horse.
The bit lets the horse know that you would like it to stop.” Of course, when I get to start them from the very beginning, they’re on the longe line with no reins in any case! Once a rider has begun by understanding that the “stop” comes from the rider’s back and seat and posture and breathing, NOT from the hand and certainly not from the bit, it’s possible to make real progress.
I was interested in your response to some people’s doubts as to whether your bridle provided a quick enough `release’.
You wrote … `Since the time of Xenophon and before, it has been a fundamental of good horsemanship that the rider should give and take (or rather, take and give), pull and release, punish and reward.
This is certainly to be desired when using a rod of metal in the mouth to `whisper’ ones wishes.
But when this instrument of potential torture is replaced with no more than a benevolent embrace of the whole of the head (as it is with The Bitless Bridle) the principle of punishment and reward is no longer either relevant or required.
As the initial whisper of communication is no more than a gentle squeeze, the need for immediate release is no longer paramount.
The horse has not been punished and does not look for flattery and coaxing by way of reward.
The partnership and trust between horse and rider has never been breached.’ This was nicely put, and I am glad to read these words, because they were almost exactly the ones I used in explaining why “release” wasn’t the horse’s desire or the rider’s goal when this bridle was being used.
In any case, rider’s doubts over whether your bridle provided the correct ‘pull and release’ response is not a genuine cause for concern, as there should be no “pull” in riding, and the hands should “hold and yield”, not “pull and release.” If “release” means the release of the pressure put on the horse by the rider, then that is the job of the rider’s whole body, not just the rider’s hands.
If “release” means that the rider stops pulling, then something is sadly wrong a good rider will never pull, and thus will never be in a position to need to stop pulling.
Riders need to spend much more time acquiring hands that can hold gently and yield without throwing the horse away.
No discipline is exempt I see far too many English riders putting far too much tension on the reins, and far too many Western riders alternating between pulling the horse’s mouth and abandoning it by dropping the reins.
The result is the same in both cases.
Horses begin to fear the bit, and then get behind it and remain there, with tight jaws and polls, and tense necks and backs.
I’ve also found that many riders have their horse’s bits adjusted so high that no genuine release is possible anyway, as the rein pressure is secondary to the constant pressure created by the cheekpieces.
One comment that I heard over and over at the Horse Gathering was, “There’s no learning curve; the horses just understand this bridle right away.” I think that The Bitless Bridle fits perfectly with the Natural Horsemanship methods and goals. ———————————————-Teresa, owner of a Paso Fino, Hawthorne, FL 10/23/00: I received my Biothane bridle today, expecting positive results, as my horse of 2 months is cooperative and can be ridden safely with a halter.
I’ve been reluctant to bit him, due to my inexperience in dealing with gaited horses.
This Paso Fino is 7 years old, is charming, but green in many ways.
Although we ride daily, he was nearly impossible to collect or gait using a noseband with curb chain.
The effect was tooth-jarring and exhausting for us both.
Progress was very slow.
He didn’t seem to notice any difference with the bitless bridle, but I DID.
He was gaiting smoothly, as if we hadn’t had a problem.
When he did break into a canter, it was also smooth and collected.
All this immediately, I was floored! (One selling point for me was the comment section of the website.
It was amazing what some folks had endured and still cared so much about their horses.) I have two questions: Have you considered taking on saddle design? And when is your autobiography going to print? I read the biographical information and want you to hurry up with more.” – Teresa Turner, Hawthorne, FL, 7/12/00 Teresa, 10/23/00: We used the bridle for the 2nd time on our morning ride with the same excellent results.
It’s nice to take a firm feel to show him something and not worry about him thinking it’s a punishment.
The horse rides about a hand taller than yesterday morning! I also should mention: this bridle is very complimentary to a pretty face, very light and simple.
I’ll get the word out here.
There are a lot of people and horses that need a second chance at success.
Thanks so much.
Razzmatazz de Dorado and I will keep in touch.” Teresa Turner, Hawthorne, FL 7/12/00 Teresa, Hawthorne, FL 10/25/00: Day Three was another ground breaker.
Razz was gaiting nicely on our morning ride, when he switched to a trot.
I wondered if the gait would return with slightly more collection.
Accordingly, I closed on the reins while applying a little leg and raising the reins about three inches vertically.
The entire forehand of the horse floated off the ground! We continued to move forward, but with almost no weight on the front.
The sound of the front hoof beats diminished to a whisper.
We were both in a trance for several minutes until he spotted a garbage can lurking beside the road.
Of course, he does what is already in him.
But I can guarantee you it was NOT in me.
Moving a horse’s center of gravity around has never been my gift.
We are definitely on to something! (Although this seems all too easy.).” – Teresa Turner, Hawthorne, FL, 7/13/00 And on day 3 Observations stemming from my experience with the bitless bridle in five days of use: My areas of frustration were 1) Unable to attain gait from horse, 2) Horse stumbling, 3) Collection vs.
Contortion. (He also tires after about an hour under saddle, but it is very hot weather right now.) Results: (1) Horse gaiting on cue by day 4 and staying in gait. (2) Stumbling only at dead (sloppy) walk or grazing (3) Collection now possible. I have noticed a couple other things and can only speculate how they relate to the whole picture.
He is walking faster generally, has more energy (did not want to return home yesterday or today), and just seems happier.
You could say the same about me.
There has been no problem adjusting to the equipment and no backsliding on any of the gains.
Obviously, what we had was a “communication problem”.
Anyone who is considering use of The Bitless Bridle is welcome to my email address, if I can be of help. – Teresa Turner, Hawthorne, FL 7/15/00 …
And another three months later I keep trying to convince folks it’s the way to go.
Most are fascinated, but seem to think there is a hidden part to it or the horse and I are in some conspiracy. “Stone walls do not a prison make…” (Lovelace) My little Paso came home after 2 months with a superb professional trainer when diagnosed EPM. (Falling with the rider means flunking the class on a liability true/false question.) The traditional jaquima was mandatory there and we both had to get used to it. (I was told the bitless bridle would confuse him and give him reverse cues.) Back home, he spotted the bridle and reached out and picked it up.
That was enough for me.
We’re doing it his way while taking our medicine.
He’s going better now than ever and not “confused” in the least.
I hope sales are through the roof and the stampede is on.” Teresa, 11/29/00: I listened to your radio interview with Rick Lamb [Ed: www.thehorseshow.com] and enjoyed it tremendously.
Here’s hoping you and family are doing great this holiday season.
This morning I ordered a second bridle.
I have another horse, a 10-year-old Paso Fino mare that was ridden (very infrequently) with a sidepull device.
I didn’t want the sidepull.
I did try her first with a Puerto Rican jaquima and she was stiff and not very responsive.
When I put the Bitless Bridle on her, I turned her a couple times and she had the idea.
I have not had a moment’s set back since then.
This is a hot little mare and I was told she was difficult to stop and was barn sour.
People assume that my gelding, RAZZ, is some kind of saint and therefore the bitless bridle is a success.
But he is the same kind of saint as their horses and will get away with whatever he can.
If the door to evasiveness doesn’t open and there is nothing to hurt him or make him mad, he appears beatific.
I wish more people would just try this equipment.
It is such a great way to establish positive communication with our partners.
Your Florida Fans,” Teresa, 6/9/01: I just ordered a bridle for horse number three.
It’s been a long time since I corresponded with you and have wondered how you are doing.
Is the campaign going as wished? My Paso, RAZZ, successfully completed EPM treatment and realized his ambition to become an au paire since I spoke with you last.
He has raised a weanling filly to yearling and taught my 9 year old niece to ride at the same time.
He still loves his bridle.
Recently, he was anxious to go ride and shoved his head into the mare’s bridle as she was being tacked up.
He was already wearing his headgear, so looked like Medusa under the coils. RAZZ has used the Bitless Bridle for a year and my mare has been in one seven months.
I cannot think of a reason to use any other headgear.
My mare was opinionated and a puller and still puts me to the test regularly.
She is bold and confident (pigheaded) by nature.
I don’t expect to change her, but with your bridle, defeat is not without honor and she does not now become hot or resentful.
Sometimes I do ride other horses with their owners’ headgear.
The mouthing, chewing, tossing, and evading contact with the reins are very distracting, if not disheartening.
I am grateful to have found a better way.” ———————————————-Laura, Lyons, NY 10/25/00: I am really excited about the bitless bridle and my husband is sold on it as well.
I know I am more relaxed while riding, and it seems the horses are too(?!) I will soon be ordering another so both horses will have one, and we can put away our bits.
Thanks for the help, ———————————————-Myra, Lexington, KY 10/26/00: I entered my Rocky Mountain Horse for three shows, using the Bitless Bridle, and came in 2nd, 5th (I fell off, but the horse stayed with me!) and 1st.
The judge never said a word about the bridle and there were no complaints.
I was ready to do battle if there were …
I was quite disappointed! Then to Vermont for a trail ride, with both of my horses in The Bitless Bridle.
I had to pull back a little more than I might have done with a bit on my horse but it was OK.
Neither of our horses sweated.
I need three more bitless bridles! ———————————————-Dr.
Rebecca Gimenez, Clempson, SC, 10/28/00: This is Dr.
Rebecca Gimenez, the wife of Dr.
Tomas Gimenez, whose comments are on your website.
I started using his bridles when we met and I am very impressed by them.
I use them on our young horses in training and older horses in group rides and on singular ones.
I often recommend it to others.
Who are AMAZED to see me trail riding and jumping with it on my 17 hand Walking Horse (who can be quite full of himself sometimes).
Now I own a magazine (www.EquineBovine.com) and would like to do a product feature on the bitless bridle. ———————————————-Charlene, Woodinville, WA , 11/6/00: I have received my “loaner” bridle (waiting for my leather version) and finally had a day of decent weather to ride in it! I own an 11 yr old Paso Fino gelding.
In this breed, they use a piece of equipment called a jaquima, which is a Columbian version of the hackamore, only it would be more closely related to your bitless bridle.
The nose and chin pieces are interchangeable depending on what form of collection you need with your horse, ie head more upright or nose more vertical.
Some of these pieces contain metal, or ball bearings and can be quite soring.
A lot of them are braided nylon or leather.
Suffice to say, they are only pinpointing specific areas, and horses can get quite mad at times. My gelding has had professional training in this type of tack, along with the traditional Columbian bits and ported spoon bits w/ copper rollers and shanks, which move independently of each other.
He has never been accepting of a bit.
It took me a long time to get him to take the bit.
He also roots w/ his nose, and “smiles”, showing his teeth.
He foams a lot on a bit.
He also foams at the mouth without a bit, using the jaquima.
I was very anxious to try your bridle.
He can also be literally “head strong”…
Very heavy in the bridle.
He has built up muscles on the sides of his neck doing this.
My first ride was pretty good with the bitless bridle.
I could control him.
However our stops are a bit sloppy, as yet.
He did NOT foam at all at the mouth! I was always told that that was “good” sign, and the fact that he foams without a bit was “wonderful”.
But with this bridle, no foam.
He did flap his bottom lip a few times, which was different.
I did not see him “grin” once.
He did however root out when I asked him for a bit more collection so he would go into gait smoother.
Can you achieve the same level of collection with your bridle, as with a bit?? In order for a Paso Fino to gait correctly, he needs his head up, and be off the forehand.
I know I need a few more rides, but I think I may really like this bridle.
Thanks! Charlene, 11/19/00: I was wondering how much trouble I would cause if I canceled my order for the leather version of the bitless bridle, and just kept this beta one? I really like it! It’s soft and lightweight and cleans like a dream.
I just wasn’t sure I would like it, so I ordered the leather.
To be honest, this one suits trail riding just fine.
EVERY ride is getting better and better.
I have loaned the bridle to a friend, she may be ordering one soon.
Charlene, 11/23/00: That is interesting about the lower lip.
I have seen other Paso Finos doing this, some with bits, mostly without.
It appeared to be a common “thing” with this breed.
However, as I told you, before MY Paso Fino only “grinned” and this doesn’t exactly look like relaxation to me! (nor to some judges).
Last weekend I rode using the bitless bridle, in company with 2 other horses with whom my horse can get quite competitive (also Paso Finos).
I was able to keep his speed rated, enough so to encourage him to go into a nice slow canter, from a walk no less – no breaking away and “running to the finish line” as he tries to do with a bit in his mouth.
I was really amazed.
Then I would ask him to come back down into a nice even corto, which had so much cadence it made me smile! Every ride is getting better.
I do feel I am “checking” him a lot more, but hope in time these checks will lessen as he gets comfortable with “new” cues.
He still wants to start out the ride with a bit of attitude …
Throwing his nose into the air when I ask him to slow down.
It only seems to be at the beginning of the ride though. ———————————————-Kat, Milton, VT 11/18/00: Just wanted to let you know that the bitless bridle I bought for my Percheron-cross youngster does fit.
I started lunging him in it. (I haven’t backed him yet).
He responds much better than he did to the sidepull that I have been using for lunging and long lining.
I’m really excited about using it with him. ———————————————-Gloria, Chatsworth, CA, 11/21/00: Thank you for your Bitless Bridle.
Some of our horses work really well in it and we are finding it very useful.” ———————————————-Cathy, Pittstown, ME 11/22/00: Happy Thanksgiving: Love the bridle.
We have a head bobber that my 8 year old rides …
She put the bridle on and had a great time.
I asked her how it worked and she gave me a strange look saying, `Mom, it works like a bridle should work!’ and reported that JILL (the horse) only bobbed her head once! ! ! Thank you very much! Signed, Happy Customer ———————————————-Karen, Santa Barbara, CA, 11/28/00: I ordered your bitless bridle in August or Sept, 2000 to help continue the training 3rd level horse of my very promising 6 year old Dutch Warmblood Dressage horse.
This had a bizarre wound at the corner of his lip right where the bit goes. 9 weeks forecast for healing and so I had a while to go before he could take a bit.
I started working on alternatives to keep him in shape until he could take a bit.
A sidepull hackamore worked for trail riding but left a bit to be desired (literally) for lateral work and collection.
He is a very forward horse with a swan neck that has been very soft into the bit.
The sidepull makes him curl up more and he gets heavy into the nose.
A Bulletin board suggested your bitless bridle, so I ordered one.
It came quickly and looks so much like a show bridle that an International rated Judge thought it was a bit and that my horse was going wonderfully. (They unfortunately are not allowed in the show ring,) 3 months later and his lip wound is healed and the swelling is almost gone.
It’s been 6 months since he’s seen a bit, because he is still in Dr Cook’s bitless bridle and doing great.
We are back to working half pass, shoulder in, and simple changes with no problem.
Working on quarter pirouettes and attempting flying changes.
Sometimes I feel I don’t have that last bit of finesse when trying to bring him into 2nd 3rd level connection with a higher neck and head, but I sense that this is because we haven’t developed his training rather than because he lacks of the bit.
The bridle works very well in that it tests much more honestly whether you’re forward into both hands, and you can’t use it to lever the horse like you can with a bit (I know we all claim we don’t do this, but I was embarrassed with how many times I found myself attempting to use my hands when I should have used my legs or seat.
Much more obvious with the bitless bridle.) I train with an Olympic Bronze medallist and when I brought my horse over for a lesson, she was quite impressed with how well he went and how much it looked like a regular bridle.
That’s a good vote of confidence.
Hope to get him into a bit starting this week so I can start showing again, but I’m in no hurry as the bitless bridle works so well.
I think we all could benefit (horse and rider) by doing a stint with this bridle. ———————————————-Mary, Southern Pines, NC 11/28/00: Thank you so much for the beautiful bridle which you sent to us–it arrived safely just before the holiday.
Lisa Marie (our barn manager) is using it on her 3-year old newly backed Arab gelding.
I did a video of her first ride with it and will send it to you after we do a “progress report” when they have had even more time to work with the bridle.
We were amazed at how well the first session went.
This little guy is quiet by nature but still a three year old and it was a very windy and cold day. (I had hoped Lisa would wait for better weather but she was so anxious to try it) Anyway, he started in the dressage ring and just went right to work doing his lesson so well along with halts, backing.
Doing turns, etc.
As if he had his bit.
Since then she has had him on several longer hacks in the woods both alone and with other horses and he just seems to be so happy with the bridle.
We will film the next ring lesson because I expect there will be even more of an improvement in his way of going.
She also did not canter in the first session, as it was so cold, etc.
But he has been cantering on his hacks on a regular basis and has been very responsive to her aids.
We are very excited about it and will get out to show it to some of our other neighbors soon.
Hope you had a very nice Thanksgiving.
We will keep in touch.
If you are ever in the Southern Pines area, our farm is always open as a place to demonstrate the bridle! Thanks again so much.” ———————————————-Lisa Marie, Southern Pines, NC. 11/28/00: My name is Lisa Marie and I was the recent recipient of a complimentary bridle, which you gave to my employer, Mary Rice of Tallwood Farm in Southern Pines, NC.
We were at the respiratory seminar held in Chapel Hill and had made a video of the demonstration of the bitless bridle.
I put the bridle on my 3 1/2 year old Arab gelding, he had only been under saddle for about 3 months and we were using a full-cheek rubber snaffle on him.
He was doing fine with the bit, but I am very open-minded and the concept of going bitless appeals to me! From the very first day with the bitless bridle he was responding beautifully! I have been using it for approximately 3 weeks, hacking out here at home and on trails.
He is a super star with this bridle.
The contact and aids I use are very light and I have complete control.
We made a tape of the first ride with the bridle and will add onto that so you may see his progress.
The first day I rode with it he even did some excellent backing up for me and my boss was so impressed with his performance.
I am trying to tell everyone I can about the bridle.
As you well know, most long-time horsemen and women are not very open to the idea of not needing a bit to control their horses! I hope to show his progress tomorrow to the young woman that started him for me; she is an international event rider.
If I can get her interested at all she may be able to help get some more folks interested.
We hope that one day in the future perhaps you could come here and give a demonstration/clinic of your own.
We will let you know how we progress! Thanks for your support of the idea and reality that horses do not need bits!! ———————————————-Jennifer, Newville, PA 11/30/00: I bought a bitless bridle at Fair Hill International 3-Day event and have used it on several horses so far.
Results have ranged from ‘Goes just as well as using a bit’ to ‘Huge improvement immediately, compared to using a bit’.
And it looks and feels (ie, using standard English reins) like a regular bridle. ———————————————-Elizabeth, East Lansing, MI, 12/3/00: I have tried everything else.
I own a whole collection of bits.
But I still needed to have a death grip on the reins.
But your Bitless Bridle is fabulous and I love it.
I now I want a leather one.
It is two years since I finished a show jumping circuit with a smile on my face but today I was the only one smiling.
My horse was a little hesitant at first, and then became more confident and more relaxed.
He jumped one foot higher.
Its really incredible! ———————————————-Suzie, (Master Saddler) Longmont, CO, 12/6/00: My horse is very happy in his new bridle and is becoming more forward and responsive every time I ride him.
His previous owner says she has never in 15 years seen him move so well.
I am very happy. ———————————————-Vanessa, 12/10/00: It has been awhile since I have spoken to you but I have loved my Bitless Bridle.
I purchased one on 4/9/00.
I have the nylon, as the leather was not available at the time needed.
But I just ordered the leather one online and hope to get it as soon as possible.
This has helped with the horse I spoke with you about; the tongue lolling and resistance are not a factor when we use your bridle.
I hope things are going well for you as you have a wonderful product. ———————————————-Suzanne, Madisonville, LA, 12/10/00 : Brown Beta arrived today…worked great on the appy He liked it and so do I.
Not one time did he pull on it or do that *rooting* that I hate so much. ———————————————-Zoe, Montclair, NJ 12/16/00: I have only one thing to say to you people: I will NEVER use a bit on my horse AGAIN.
Have to run and do Christmas cleaning.
Details to follow! Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!! As promised above:Zoe, 12/16/00: The full details of our first experience with the bitless bridle.
My Connemara mare Molly was acting like a lunatic in her paddock this morning.
All the other horses were in high spirits, galloping up and down their fields, and she was going nuts in her small paddock separated from her buddies, careening up to the gate and slipping in the mud, screaming out for company when everyone else got out of sight.
So I knew I wasn’t in for the calmest ride of my life! When I went and got her out, she behaved well enough.
I took her in and tacked her up and she only tried to thumb her nose at me a few times and stood patiently while I read the instructions for the bitless bridle and adjusted it on her ad infinitum.
She was loopy the last time I rode her in the indoor ring, claustrophobic and hyper, so even though the footing in the outdoor ring was frozen and hard as a rock, I took her out there, intending just to walk anyway as we got the feel of the bridle.
I got on her and spent a few minutes doing turns.
She was confused at first and wanted to go right when I gave the left rein aid, responding to the pressure on her right cheek.
But she cottoned on pretty quickly and soon our turns were nice and smooth.
Then, five minutes into our ride, the three geldings in the upper field, led by my daughter’s horse of course, came galloping down at full speed towards the ring, bucking and cavorting.
At the same time the two warhorses in the near paddock set to jumping and spinning.
I felt Molly go electric under me.
She started snorting and piaffing.
I took back on the reins.
She backed up into a jump, overturning the standard and the rails went clattering down.
I could feel her starting to explode.
This is her normal response to excitement and the only part of owning her that I hate–it happens rarely enough but it’s a real issue for us.
I took again, released and asked her to go forward a step.
She obeyed, but she felt like a volcano ready to explode.
I thought I’d better get off, seeing as I had no idea how much control I had with no bit, but I wanted to get away from the fallen jump so I asked her to go forward a bit more.
She actually put her head down and moved out.
So I decided to stay on for the time being.
Then the other horses started their act again.
Molly lit up underneath me, started to go into a spin, but this time when I took with the reins, told her to stand, and then go forward, she did so more quickly, with less of an explosive feeling.
This cycle repeated itself a few more times, and as it did I felt a very unusual calmness come over her.
I also felt, from the very beginning, an entirely different kind of connection with her.
Molly deplores a tightly held bit.
She tries to evade strong pressure every which way, tossing her head, opening her mouth, going “rubber” in your hands.
As a result I always try to keep an extremely light contact, which can translate into nothing very easily.
I’m always uneasy when she starts “acting up,” because a “death grip” on the reins is the worst response I can have and giving her her head leaves me with no control whatsoever.
But with the bitless bridle, I felt as if I had a strong, but comforting connection to her, and she responded in kind.
Your description of a “benevolent headlock” is EXACTLY how it feels.
Within ten minutes she was working away with a more relaxed attention than I have ever felt from her.
She stopped effortlessly, backed easily, stretched down willingly, and the fight was completely gone.
Her anxiety changed to calm alertness.
It was amazing.
I tried a trot, and she worked beautifully.
I decided to go into the indoor after all, as by now I really wanted to try cantering her.
We’ve always had trouble keeping our balance together at the canter, especially in circles.
She tends to break into the trot, and I end up bouncing all over the place.
She’ll also toss her head on the canter departs, especially to the left.
Well, not in the bitless bridle.
She moved into the canter smoothly, and within about ten minutes of working, I had her going in circles evenly and without breaking, I was able to gently use my leg on her to keep her going, and worked practically with a loose rein! She remained calm and connected to me to an unprecedented degree.
I didn’t want to get off her!!! Working Molly on her “up” days has always been fraught with a certain degree of anxiety for me, and I often end up somewhat frustrated and a little frightened.
I never want to do anything to traumatize her, both out of concern for her but also because a firm hand on my part can so easily deteriorate into a fight.
But today we moved into a solid partnership where I felt I could do just about anything with her.
So I decided to take her for a short hack down the road.
We rarely go out alone, as I am nervous about her reaction to cars, goats, miniature ponies etc.
I worry my own nervousness will translate to her, and it does.
But today I felt like the mother of a mildly nervous but very compliant child.
The competent mother! Off we went a quarter of a mile or so down the road.
She did everything I asked.
I could feel her trust for me like a palpable object.
It was remarkable.
I drove home singing in the car.
I will never put a bit in her mouth again.
I feel as though we’ve been transported into another dimension.
I cannot thank you enough, Dr.
Cook & Paul.
It’s hard to believe that after three years of ownership, my relationship with Molly could change so radically in a single afternoon.
I’m curious now about the success that the lady I read about on your website has had trying to change the USDF regulations re.
Showing in dressage without a bit.
We are eventers, so I am sure I will encounter the same regulations in the dressage component of our shows.
I haven’t begun to show yet–am intending to do so next summer–but I will NOT put a bit back in this horse’s mouth–not even a dummy.
You should have seen the happy expression on her face and the relaxed line of her lips when I was working her today (actually, it was hilarious to see the confused wrinkling of her lips when we started off today doing some groundwork as she clued in to the new pressure on her nose and poll).
I feel that any return to a bit at this point would be a huge step backwards.
Well, enough rambling.
Please accept my deepest gratitude for the best Christmas present (next to Molly herself of course) I have ever had!”
Read more about (I was told the bitless bridle would confuse him and give him reverse cues: