He has also had problems with stiffness, an unwillingness to move forward, inability to bend at all (especially to the right), and a high head and hollow back alternating with resistance to the bit in the form of leaning on it.
Our rides would generally start out with thirty minutes of him being very resistant, stiff, and unhappy, and finish, once he was warmed up and more limber, with him leaning heavily on the reins and freight-training me around the ring on his forehand at a super-fast trot, ignoring any attempt at a half-halt.
I have to confess with much shame that out of sheer frustration, I ended up being far too harsh with my hands.
All this had become frustrating to the point of despair.
I was faced with the fact that my horse might in fact be too much for me, and that I might have to consider selling him.
This of course made me very unhappy.
Then, an unfortunate accident led us to try your bridle.
While leading George to the ring one Sunday, he happened to toss his head at a fly.
The reins were pulled out of my hands and George stepped on them and then panicked.
The resulting damage from the bit was a bleeding gash that required stitches on the bars of his mouth, extensive bruising of his tongue and gums, and a fractured tooth.
Obviously, I could not consider putting a bit back in his mouth for quite some time.
In order to keep up his training, after a few days I decided to borrow a Bitless Bridle that belonged to one of the other riders at my barn.
With this bridle, it’s like riding a whole different horse.
He warms up in ten minutes, rather than thirty, is much more willing to move forward from my leg, and is able to bend softly in both directions.
He stays much straighter, and, wonder of wonders, he responds to my seat-and-leg half-halts with hardly any rein pressure.
It’s as though not having the bit in his mouth to distract him allows him to listen to my seat and leg aids.
We can now even halt squarely from a canter.
Despite these benefits, I have to admit that I was worried about the potential for lack of control.
If George bolted, would I be able to stop him? The ultimate test came after a week or so when we were working in the outdoor arena.
Just as I asked for a right lead canter from the walk (a new learning experience for him, and one that he found to be difficult and stressful) a sudden noise from behind him caused him to buck and bolt.
When I jerked on the reins accidentally as a result of my loss of balance, I was comforted by the knowledge that I hadn’t added to his panic by a sudden jolt of pain in his mouth.
I was able to regain my composure fairly quickly and bring my horse to a halt in about the same amount of time it would have taken with a bit.
After four weeks, with his mouth finally healed, my trainer suggested that we go back to working with a bit so that we could gain more flexion.
In her opinion, without a bit George was able to “stick his nose out and run.” I disagreed and was hesitant, but took her advice and went back to a bit.
The stiff, lopsided, unbalanced freight train was back.
Today I ordered my own Bitless Bridle from your website.
I’m happy to sacrifice a bit of poll flexion for the increased forwardness, straightness, calmness, obedience, and lightness provided by the Bitless Bridle.
Thank you! ———————————————-Candace, 10/3/04: I have been using the Bitless Bridle on my horses for the past year and absolutely love it.
I use it primarily on my endurance horse ROUGIE.
At first I was worried that he would be too hot for me to handle at the beginning of a ride without a bit, so carried a bit with me just in case.
Well, I never had to use it and stopped carrying it after two rides. ———————————————-Leslie, 10/11/04: We train foxtrotters professionally and also ride lipizzans.
Quite a combination, huh!!!!! We should have good info and comments from our vast experience forthcoming.
I did move my noseband down to 1″ for the lipizzan.
He was not too responsive on the first ride.
The change seemed to really work for him and I had a nicely responsive ride on the 2nd half of the second ride.
But, I will also move it up to 1 1/2″ later to see if it was just a matter of becoming acclimated to the new bridle.
Do you have any suggestions or comment about what I just tried?? Also, I rode two foxtrotters in it and had immediate results that were more than satisfactory.
I went on a rapid 4 hour trail ride on one and the bridle served as well and better than a bitted headstall.
I have been using Myler bits and been satisfied with them more than other bits.
So, the Bitless Bridle replaced a Myler.
What was really impressive is that I put novice riders on one foxtrotter and they got along very well with the Bitless Bridle.
The horse also got along with them because of it, and there was no lack of control, if control had been necessary.
I will be starting one foxtrotter filly and on lipizzan colt this week.
I will see how it works for groundwork, and first ride, etc.
I will keep experimenting and observing.
It is a great idea!!! ———————————————-Ginny, Wichita, KS, 10/12/04: I had to send you a note about how much I love my Bitless Bridle.
I purchased it 2-3 yrs ago & had put it in the tack room & then forgot I had it.
I found it about a month ago & decided to try it on my current barrel horse who is an ex-race horse & “fidgeted” around with his mouth even with a simple snaffle in his mouth & me being very lighthanded with him.
I was a little concerned about having enough “control” as he is a big strapping horse with a 103 speed index.
If you don’t know how fast that means he is—it means he is very, very fast.
He was our state’s Champion Running Stallion as a 3 yr old.
He is now a gelding & is very, very strong.
He was trained by quiet, gentle methods & was soft mouthed & pretty easy to control……..BUT, when I tried the Bitless Bridle on him, it was like night & day as far as control was concerned! I barely have to touch the reins to ask him to flex his head, neck & spine as we enter the “pocket” of the barrel.
As we leave the barrel, I never have to worry about being “on his head” or “in his mouth” too much causing him to pause his forward momentum or have his head too high to effectively leave the barrel quickly.
My only real concern (& the concern of my friends) was—-will he STOP well at the end of the arena after we cross the timer line.
Many timer lines are close to the end of the arena & to win you must not slow your speed AT ALL until you cross that line, meaning you are headed into the fence with a tremendous amount of speed; & I seem to recall some law of physics that says: a certain amount of mass going a certain speed requires a certain length of space to stop in! Not only does he stop—-he stops very well, hindquarters up under him-self, head broke at the poll, & very willing.
Most (if not all ) of barrel racing at the higher levels is done by direct rein.
It is so true that the horse responds to the “push” of the opposite cheek to turn, rather than the “pull”.
That makes perfect sense, as horses interact with one another by “pushing” each other with looks, stares, physical pushes, etc.
They do not “pull” one another.
This bridle uses a language a horse understands by nature—it does not have to be “taught”—-I believe that is why it works so well…..
So, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the BITLESS BRIDLE! And, my horse surely thanks you! ———————————————-Barb in southern Illinois, 10/18/04: Subject: Letter from thrilled user In August of 2003, I was given a Third Level Danish Warmblood, ATIKUS.
He had been abused (flipped by a trainer to assert dominance!), and had obvious spinal issues.
He hadn’t been ridden regularly in about two years.
He also had grotesque ringbone and sidebone on his right front foot, which completely distorted the hoof capsule.
The outside of the coronet band was probably 1.5″ higher than the inside.
He wasn’t sound at the walk, trot or canter.
Poor Atikus was only 11 at the time.
A good chiropractor; 24/7 turnout; herd lifestyle; an expert equine dentist (who found scar tissue from harsh bits); and the Strasser method of trimming started him down the path to recovery.
I must confess that the first time I rode him my heart was in my throat, since he’s 17 hh and 1400 pounds.
I had no idea how he would feel about being “put back to work” again.
Fortunately he’s a very kind and sweet horse that didn’t seem to mind.
We’ve eased him back into having a job.
My trainer said it was obvious that he’d been driven into the bit, then held back.
His movement is extremely large and powerful, and we felt that he’d been “dumbed down” to accommodate his riders.
He was “crammed and jammed.” At the time I was riding him in a French link snaffle.
I truly try to use seat and leg aids before using my hands.
He seemed fine with his bit until January.
Then he started tossing his head when I approached him with the bridle, and refusing to open his mouth.
I had the vet come out to do a complete check, and all he found was excessive flesh inside his mouth.
He’s got Mick Jagger lips! HA! He had no idea why Atikus would suddenly resist the bit.
Because I am 100% convinced that the barefoot/Strasser method is THE way to go, I found a link to your website.
I ordered the Bitless Bridle in January.
Our first ride was in our paddock, and Atikus gave me a bit of grief when I put it on him.
I do believe he thought I’d shove a bit in his mouth again.
When I mounted him I could tell he was REALLY concentrating on what this new piece of equipment was.
We did a right turn; a left turn; and then a soft halt.
The second he stopped I leaned forward and gave him a treat to let him know that what he just did was PERFECT.
The look on his face was just incredulous.
A light came on in his eyes, and I saw joy and happiness spread over his face.
My husband was also watching closely, and unsolicited, said the same thing. “He is really focused on you and what you are asking, but he’s so relaxed and happy,” was his comment.
I did two more paddock rides before taking him out in the open.
Our first ride was down to my neighbors, and my friend rode TULSA, my QH.
Even though we had wind gusts up to 45 mph, Atikus was steady as a rock (same for Tulsa).
He did exactly what I asked, and was calm, sane, and eager to go.
The fourth ride just brought tears to my eyes.
I put on his saddle, and when I approached him with the Bitless Bridle, he actually TURNED HIS HEAD TOWARDS ME AND DROPPED IT!!!!! He knew what was coming, and made it quite clear that it was acceptable. For now we are trail riding and doing hunter paces.
I’ve never felt out of control with him, and I’ve even started throwing some dressage into our rides.
We did a beautiful half-pass in the parking lot at the county park the other day! Many people have asked me how I “trained” him to have that beautiful headset, especially at a trot.
LOL! When I tell them that I restored his feet to their natural, God-given state; allowed him to move his body with relaxation and freedom; took all the artificial junk off his face; and encouraged him to gain his pride and self-esteem back, they think I’m nuts.
We just go our merry way, and with each step I feel Atikus’s confidence, trust and spirit grow and thrive.
I can’t tell you how blessed I feel that I was privileged to witness that rebirth.
BTW, I’m ordering a medium for my QH, Tulsa.
I’ll need one for my Belgian draft, too.
Is the “large” the biggest that you make? I think I have the large for Atikus, and I know it won’t fit Mac, my Belgian.
Thanks so much! Feel free to put my email in my testimony if someone wants to contact me (RT66KIX@aol.com) [Customer Service responds: We make a draft size, too.] ———————————————-Doreen, Dallas Center, Iowa, 10/24/04: I decided to purchase the Bitless Bridle after buying a new horse who is extremely orally fixated.
She constantly was chewing, biting, and playing with the bit on rides no matter where we rode; round pen, pasture, trails or on the road.
I found this to be extremely annoying to me to the extent that I was no longer really enjoying this horse, and we had begun to fight about her playing/chewing on the bit, which made the rides even worse.
She would also toss her head quite a lot, which on occasion interfered with control.
I decided to purchase the bridle before things became too far gone to fix.
I had had this mare for approximately 8 weeks.
This past Friday the bridle came in and I tried it immediately on Saturday and Sunday.
The results have been wonderful.
Although my mare is stilling playing with her tongue and chewing, because there is no bit, there has been an immediate relaxation on my part and I had two fantastic rides! On Saturday, it was cool, crisp and very windy–a good day for spooks, jumps and general feisty behavior.
I decided to lounge her before starting and clipped the line to the O ring on the noseband.
She did very well although was startled the first time she felt the pressure of the headstall when she tried to run on the longe line.
We proceeded straight from the lounge work to a ride on roads and harvested fields.
There was basically no adjustment in style for either myself or my mare.
Hand aids all remained the same, and I found, as others have, that it took less of a hand aid for a greater correction than with the bit.
My mare seemed more relaxed by the second ride.
Her head carriage was lower, and horizontal rather than vertical.
Since she no longer had a bit to chomp and chew, and me to argue with about it, she was paying a lot more attention to her surroundings and therefore less spooking.
She did spook twice, just enough for me to say, as others have as well, that it was easier to regain/maintain control at the time of a spook.
There was a quicker settle time as well.
I also had a much easier time getting a flat footed walk from this youngster at the beginning of our rides!! I found the directions concise and easy to follow.
Adjusting the bridle to my mare was easy, although I might suggest a few more holes for adjustment on the nosebands.
My Arabian mare does not have a classic head with a tiny muzzle and yet was on the last holes for the noseband and second to last holes for the crossover straps.
A smaller head might have a problem fitting into the bridle.
Knowing there was a guarantee helped me feel comfortable with the purchase, but I know after this weekend I will not be using it!! Thanks for bringing the enjoyment back to my rides!! ———————————————-Christine, 11/1/2004: Just wanted to let you know that the medium bridle on our Thoroughbred works amazingly well! He’s trotting and cantering and doing lead changes – no stumbling or tripping due to being heavy on the forehand – AND as silly as this sounds – he just looks happier! What an amazing product.
Once my quarter horse overcomes his “issues” – I’ll be purchasing a BB for him as well.
Thanks again for a wonderful product. ———————————————-Tiffin, 11/02/04: I ordered the Bitless Bridle as a last resort.
My Paso Fino, CHICO was used as a Barrel horse before I bought him and he ran through all the bits I used on him.
A mechanical hackamore fared no better.
I read up on the Bitless Bridle, thinking it wouldn’t work.
But since there was a money back guarantee if it didn’t work, what did I have to lose?! When it arrived, I rushed to the barn to try it out.
After adjusting the bridle to fit Chico, I tried him out in it, and, low and behold, he responded positively to it! I even let a friend of mine ride him without my being terrified of her ending up in the local hospital.
One day, she was riding him, and I was on my other Paso Fino, and Chico was not responding well to the Bitless Bridle at all.
He was running through it, pulling my friend all the way back to the barn.
I thought it wasn’t going to work and took the bridle off.
As I was taking it off, I realized the strap under his chin was too loose, and that’s why it didn’t work.
It has to be tightened so that only one flat finger fits underneath it.
After explaining to my friend what happened, she understood, and we haven’t had a problem since then! I definitely recommend the Bitless Bridle, even if it’s not as a last resort! ———————————————-Darlene and Prime Times Mister Ed. 11/9/04: I received my new beta bridle and love it.
Not only is it soft, its so easy to clean up….not that I have to, as there is no slimy bit to wipe off after each ride.
I got my bridle several weeks ago and had to wait till the weather cleared to ride in it.
I have a Tennessee Walker that loves to rack.
I was having trouble with him tossing his head and/or dropping his head soooo low to avoid the bit.
I do know how to ride and do not have heavy hands.
I wanted my horse to enjoy his outings however, no matter what bit I tried, and I have bought enough to open a store of my own, nothing made him happy.
The vet checked his mouth and had dental work done and still we had head tossing.
Even when I raised/lowered or loosened his bridle, nothing worked.
So I was riding him with a halter, it was okay, but couldnít get him to gait.
So, as a last resort, I saw your ad and called.
The girl was so informative and we had a lot in common, we both owned walkers, as you can see her horse sporting his bitless in the ad.
She said I could return it in 30 days if I needed to. Well, it will not be going back.
My horse LOVES IT!! The first day out, I rode him bareback, my fav way to ride.
He didnít toss his head at all, even my hubby noticed it while we were out and about.
It actually helped him accept his bit when I must show him.
He is a lot lighter in the mouth and will give to the slightest pressure on the rein.
He is so much more supple and I am using it between his training sessions with a bit.
I really like the freedom I feel without the bit and I know he is happy.
The first time I rode in it, he was a bit heavy in the front end and I had to use a little pressure, but after about 20 minutes, he was one happy horse! Now its great to just hop on and go.
Oh yeah, he gaits up a storm and his head is not in the clouds or shoveling up the dirt…I can almost see him smile.
Thanks for such a wonderful product and I will be telling my friends about it. ———————————————-Kathy, 11/9/2004: Thank you, I am very impressed with the product.
I used it on a stallion I just purchased.
We went for our first ride in the woods yesterday and it was marvelous.
The horse is a 2003 world champion pinto saddlebred and had only been ridden in bits and double reins.
He took right off with it …
I’m sold! ———————————————-Carole, 11/14/04: I went on a nice long trial ride today.
I was with my friend, Carole and her horse, MAGIC.
Someone shot a gun off very close to the trail as we were passing.
Both of our horses spooked badly and started to bolt.
We got them under control within a few strides with our wonderful Bitless Bridles! ———————————————-Angela, 7/6/04: My bridle arrived one Friday morning and I decided to try it that night.
It was FABULOUS!! It made the biggest difference in my mare, so much that I decided to show in it the next day.
I had already signed-up for a First Level Test IV class.
I tried the bridle out in warm-up before actually committing to riding in it …
I sure didn’t want to give the bridle a bad name.
My mare has been hesitant about leg yields, but in warm-up even my trainer was astounded about the difference! So, I rode HC (my test didn’t count) but I was still scored and my score was recorded on the score board with everyone else’s score.
My mare received a 71% with an 8 and 7 on my leg yields.
The only reason my score was that low was because of rider errors (I can’t seem to remember where those 15 meter circles go).
The judge had only wonderful things to say!! Everyone came up afterwards to ask why I rode HC (my score would have won the class).
Of course, they didn’t even notice the difference in bridles (even the judge didn’t notice until I told her).
I got so many comments about how nice my ride looked and “what a shame that you didn’t ride in a bit”.
I proudly told them that my mare wouldn’t have rode that nice if I was in a bit!! The weekend before this weekend, we rode a qualifying ride with a 64%.
What a difference in my mare!! I don’t care that my scores are not counting.
I just love showing everyone that a horse can compete NATURALLY and still come out on top, so I will continue competing HC.
We are trying to rig the bridle with a bit so I may LEGALLY show in it at the Regionals, as I have now fully qualified.
Now on to my problem.
The bridle is shifting somewhat when I’m riding.
It is shifting enough to create a wear on the side of my mare’s chin.
I BELIEVE that I have the strap tight enough.
If I tighten it any further her face swells a bit above the straps.
My mare has also been breathing louder.
This bothers my trainer very much, so she says we DEFINITELY should not tighten the strap any further.
My mare ACTS happier in the bridle, but the wear spot concerns me as it was bleeding some yesterday.
I don’t THINK that I am hanging on her.
Granted I have to half-halt more on that side, but I don’t think the bridle should be moving this much.
Do you have any suggestions? [Carole responds: What wonderful news! I’m so glad that you are competing in The Bitless Bridle! I’ve forwarded your email to Dr.
Would you like to (perhaps you already have) add your name to our petition to get these rules changed? If so, send your name to firstname.lastname@example.org In regard to the slippage problem.
I’ve never had anyone tell me of this problem before (as long as the noseband is snug enough).
I have had a couple of people tell me the buckle on the chin strap hit the bone under that jaw, so I did some web surfing to see if there was something out there to solve this problem.
I found a great little product by Cashel called a ìcavesson/crown channel.î It’s a thick piece of foam with a channel that your chin strap fits into.
I ordered a bunch and have them here at the office.
I paid $7.95 ea.
For them, but they’re long enough to be cut in half to make two.
If you’re interested, I can mail you one for $5.00 (includes shipping).
I believe you are hearing your horse’s breathing more because she is able to breath more freely now.
As long as the breaths are loud during the time your mare is breathing out (expiring), and not when breathing in (inspiring), it’s probably a good thing.
You may want to contact Dr.
Cook about this as well, he is more knowledgeable about these things than I. – Carole] Angela, 11/3/04: This was the letter I originally sent to Jerri at USEF.
Jerri told me that the change was on the floor.
Until reading the proposal last night, I got the impression that the proposal was FOR the bridle not against it! Today, I have faxed a rule change submittal form with this letter.
I have asked that this change be an “extraordinary” change as I realize that I am outside the normal time frame.
My reason was that there was already a proposal on the floor to EXCLUDE the bridle from competition.
I have proposed a change in the opposite directionFOR the bridle.
I sure hope this helps.
Angela Floyd, Member #4066863: I am proposing a rule change to Chapter XIX, Article 1921 titled “Saddlery & Equipment”.
I would like for you to consider adding the Bitless Bridle, as shown at www.bitlessbridle.com, as a choice of bridling options.
Your board has been just in adding bits that are less painful to the horse in the past including the Mylar bit.
Now I would like for you to go just one step further and think in terms of no bit.
Though I know this is not the correct way of going about getting a proposal on the floor, I would like to tell you exactly why I would like to see this change made.
My mare, Isabella, has never been an “easy” horse to ride.
She has always shown some resistance to the bit even after countless numbers of dentists have looked in her mouth and determined that her mouth is not the reason for such resistance.
I can attest to the fact that I may hang when I get nervous at the shows, but this is not the only reason for her resistance.
She is a Hanoverian/Paint cross, so while she has nice movement, she is built with a somewhat short thick neck.
This did not keep us from winning the Training Level Regional Championships in 2002.
In fact, we easily won out over much fancier horses.
I attribute it to her overall willing attitude to do what I ask.
It is because of this willingness that I began to search for a happier situation with her.
My mare has been monthly massaged for over three years; she regularly sees the chiropractor, dentist (as already mentioned), vets, etc.
Yet still something was causing resistance even with much better trainers than myself.
This began my quest into researching tack and its effects on the horse’s willingness to move and their overall health.
My researching led me to exploring saddling options and I finally settled on the wonderful saddle, the Ansur.
My mare instantly moved better, but still seemed hesitant in going forward.
After reading the Ansur group pages found on Yahoo, I noticed many people mentioning Dr.
Cook’s Bitless Bridle.
I heard about this bridle from a friend as well who had used it on her horses and was promoting its use.
I decided to try it out myself.
I was scheduled to show at two different shows in the month of April when I ordered the bridle.
At the first show, I received 64% with comments like “tense”, “resistant to bridle”, “not forward” etc.
My bridle arrive the following Thursday after the first show, two days before my next show.
I decided to try it out.
I rode in it Thursday and Friday and had such immediate results that I decided to ride H/C at the schooling show on Saturday.
For the first time ever, I received two 8s on leg yields and received an overall 72% after making TWO errors (and getting marked down for them).
My mare was loose, supple, bendable and HAPPY.
She did not mind the work when it was not interfering with her way of moving.
The judge could not believe it was the same horse from the weekend before.
My lengthenings were only 7s with the comment that they were more like mediums.
I have found the reasons why my mare goes so much better in the Bitless Bridle on Dr.
Cook’s website, www.bitlessbridle.com.
He discusses the bit and the way that a bit causes the opposite reaction in horses than what the rider is wishing.
He discusses the problems associated with bits.
I for one am a believer after noticing my mare has much more endurance with her Bitless Bridle.
I would never think about going on a trail or jumping her in anything but this bridle.
I would like to be able to say the same for my passion …
I love the thrill of showing, but feel guilty because I know my mare likes the Bitless Bridle.
This is why I am asking for the change.
I would like you to consider that I am not asking for a harsher bit to offer more control.
Instead, I am asking for a kinder solution to communicate with my mareone in which we both can be happy.
I for one, think if USEF would pass this bridle, lesson horses would fare better.
Fewer riders may be bucked off because of nervous hands getting in horses’ mouths at shows.
And there is no less control with this bridle; instead, horses react in a kinder way with kinder pressure/communication.
I propose that the words, “…or Dr.
Cook’s Bitless Bridle…” be added to the bridle attire.
Please consider this change for the good of the horse.
I know one horse that would personally thank you.
Angela, 11/9/04: I am a believer in your bridle and have bought three of them for my horses.
I ride/show dressage and began jumping my mare two months ago as well.
I tried jumping her a while back and she was not happy when I “accidentally” bumped her with the bit.
She has a STUNNING jump now.
She doesn’t mind teaching me with the Bitless Bridle. I did have to exchange my leather bridle for a beta bridle as it would slide a bit when wet and wore a spot on the side of her face.
Claudia Garner said she has had conversations with you about this.
I personally love the ease of care of the beta and I am almost happy that the leather didn’t work out!! Thank you for making such a wonderful bridle that makes my horses happy!! Now if we can just convince the rest of the world to allow us to make our own choices about tack…
Angela, 11/15/04: I went to a Chiron clinic with Peter Speckmaier at Horrell Hill Dressage Center this past weekend and saw such HUGE differences in three of the horses there.
Peter finally talked these guys into trying the Bitless Bridles on their “unstoppable” horses.
Claudia Garner (a BB Associate Clinician) will be selling these people Bitless Bridles.
Actually one of them went home with my extra bridle until she gets another ordered.
It was immediately apparent to us all the change in the horses.
One wouldn’t jump and had a canter that wasn’t going anywhere until the bit was removed.
This little horse was jumping 2’3″ BEAUTIFULLY after the bit was removed.
We need your bridles for horses like this one! It gives the horse a chance to show what it can really do for a frustrated owner having some trouble controlling her hands.
After seeing all the horses this weekend in the Bitless Bridles, I’d be willing to give up showing all together if USEF changes the rules to read no Bitless Bridles allowed.
My horse’s comfort has to be put first. ———————————————-Carol, Iron Ridge, WI, 11/16/04: I have used the beta Bitless Bridle on my green-broke 7-year-old Tennessee Walker mare for two weeks now and I can definitely see an improvement in her attitude.
I have been having trouble moving beyond the green-broke stage with BELLE because of my lack of experience and her spooky, high strung, head strong nature.
I’ve been ground training and riding her using natural horsemanship.
She had thirty days of traditional Walking Horse training when I bought her but I never used a Walking Horse bit on her.
I was using a pinchless snaffle but it seemed that we were always in a tug of war.
She never seemed to go where I wanted to go.
I had a better response in a sidepull and I was getting more lightness from her than with a bit.
But the sidepull is a rather unattractive looking device.
I saw an ad for the Bitless Bridle and looked at the website and read most of the users’ comments.
It didn’t seem that I had anything to lose in ordering one and I am very glad I did.
I was beginning to despair that I would never be able to use Belle for what I wanted: trail riding and living history events.
She is so spooky and hard to control outside of her comfort zone and I was losing confidence.
I’ve had a couple of falls off of her outside of the pasture when she has spun away and bolted from something that scared her.
After two weeks of using the Bitless Bridle I feel that she has more confidence and so do I.
She had always held a lot of tension in her mouth and I can tell she is more relaxed there.
She backs better and although she has a lot of energy, she seems to be less nervous or anxious.
I feel that I have control and she is gaiting beautifully.
She has not spooked, not even shied, in over a week and I have deliberately ridden her on windy days and in other spook-causing conditions.
I feel she is getting better with every ride.
I am enthusiastically promoting the Bitless Bridle to all of my horse-owning friends.
Thank You. ———————————————-Linda, 11/21/04: I just wanted to let you know how very pleased I am with the Bitless Bridle I purchased from you.
I am an animal trainer, specializing in temperament rehabilitation, with over 25 years of experience.
Having said that, I will admit that I am now training my very first horse, a 3-yearold Missouri Fox Trotter, gelding.
I spent a great deal of time teaching Joshua ground work and building a very trusting relationship based on positive reinforcement.
I believe very strongly that teaching, communication, should always work to empower the student and strengthen the relationship.
It is not just what you teach, but HOW you teach that renders the end results.
Trust is paramount! Well you can imagine my concern when it came to teaching JOSHUA how to except and respond to tack …
Especially on his head.
He has such trust in me and loves to learn.
I was having anxiety attacks about having to put a bit in his mouth, and resisted for quite some time.
Instead I used a rope halter and lead rope.
After viewing your web site I decided to give the Bitless Bridle a go.
Joshua is a very trusting and easy-going guy.
So He had no problem with me putting it on his head and making the adjustments.
I spent some time on the ground teaching him how to give to the pressure.
I am not sure if it was all the previous work that I had done reinforcing Joshua for being sensitive to the lightest pressure, or if the bridle is just that easy to use.
But Joshua got it in moments.
I was thrilled to see how well he responded to it as I mounted and rode him.
This afternoon as I came back into the barn after a training session, I came upon another horse woman who had just spent an hour trying to get her horse to take the bit.
She was in dismay at how much her horse hates the bit and avoids it.
As I was just about to put Joshua out to graze I offered her the opportunity to try my Bitless Bridle.
She was amazed how easily her horse accepted and learned to respond to it.
I know that she will be contacting you.
I am so pleased with this product.
To have a tool available that supports my positive and empowering attitude towards teaching is just wonderful.
I will recommend this product to anyone who will listen.
Just thought that you would like to hear some happy feed back.
Any thoughts on (English) general purpose or endurance saddles that are lightweight and comfortable for the horse? (: Linda, 12/6/04: I am sold on this bridle and have let several people try it.
I received quite a bit of positive feed back today, from a girl who tried it on her Arabian/Walker X.
She couldn’t believe the difference in her horse’s attitude.
Thank you for such an excellent and positive product.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate having this available in my training. ———————————————-Jennifer, Ontario, Canada, 11/24/04: Subject: High praise for Bitless Bridle Our coach recommended that a friend, S., and I try out Bitless Bridles to address some issues with our horses.
We test-drove the Bitless Bridles once in a lesson, and right away what impressed me was that the bridles seemed to level out contact problems from one horse to the next: RIJAL, who has always avoided steady contact, suddenly was there at the other end of the reins, while CRECY, who typically hung on the reins waiting for the rider to put her in a frame, suddenly lightened and found her own, more natural and sustainable carriage.
And I liked the initial results enough to purchase Bitless Bridles right away.
For the next ride, we planned to take the horses on a hack; this would be a true test of the Bitless Bridle for me.
All his life (long before I came along), Ri has been terrified of hacking.
He is tense, hugeeyed, the tips of his ears almost touch, his neck jams into his shoulders and is vertical, and he is absolutely certain that a monster is about to pounce on him from behind a nearby bush or tree.
He usually spooks at least once on the hack.
If there is the slightest breeze, he may rear at the blowing leaves.
Hacking on a windy day, trotting/cantering, and going without a companion are all out of the question.
He is convinced that he needs all of his brainpower to concentrate on the monsters, so if I try to take a contact on the bit and get him thinking about something else, like laterals, he may rear or buck in order to tell me to back off.
Even after we return to the barn and he is untacked, he is usually still tense.
In short, he would far rather spend all his days schooling dressage in the indoor arena.
In addition, for the past few months, he had been fussy with his (very mild) bit and had been having TMJ-related problems, possibly due to a problem stemming from dental surgery.
So, before the Bitless Bridle came along, I had already given up the bridle and bit in favor of an ordinary halter for schooling, although for security I still felt that I needed the bit for hacking.
So this was the scenario that would be the test for the Bitless Bridle: On a hack, would Ri be better, worse, or the same? For this hack, S on Crecy and I on Ri start out in our Bitless Bridles.
Cres starts thinking about the bridle immediately, but Ri launches into his OMIGODOMIGOD mode.
We go around the two lower fields (Ri half-attempts a spook once), then up the superhighway (a track up a steep, high hill).
Once past the monsterful corner at the top, Ri suddenly changes.
His neck grows three feet into a lovely stretch and the muscles on the side of his neck engage.
His back comes up a foot.
His mouth becomes loose, floppy, and foamy.
He actually starts to breathe properly and snorts out the stuckedness .
He maintains this elegant frame and pace all the way around the upper fields -with nary a concerned thought from him, despite a good breeze – and back down to the barn.
On the way back, his walk becomes HUGE, but not the usual stiff “I’ve-gotta-get-home” fast walk, but a flowing, flexible power stride that I’ve never felt before.
When we stop outside the barn, I reach forward to scratch his neck and realize that the topline of his neck is completely wibbly.
So long as I’ve known him, Ri has never relaxed his neck, even in schooling, enough for it to be even slightly wibbly! And when I get off to untack him, he’s so relaxed that he is hanging loose.
I am really sold now.
Mette Tranter, Scotland 11/24/04: I have one of your bridles for a Dales pony of mine who found it very difficult to tolerate a bit in his mouth.
He goes very well in it and the bridle provides very good lateral control as well as being able to stop 🙂 ———————————————-Sarah, UK, 11/24/04: I purchased one of your bridles for my TB mare at the beginning of the year and have to say that she loves it! I am doing endurance riding with her and, being an ex race mare, she was never really comfortable in a bit.
But I have found the Bitless Bridle invaluable and now have a very happy mare! ———————————————-Kate, Hong Kong, 11/29/04: I’ve got the bridle yesterday and gave it a try this morning.
The bridle fits perfect and it’s just wonderful! My horse took to it instantly and it’s as if it’s meant to be.
I’m probably the first and only one to use the Bitless Bridle here in Hong Kong and when my friends asked, I could only say “fantastic!” One of them was skeptical, saying you have no control but basically, if the horse just takes off, no matter what there’s nothing you can do really.
He responded to the bridle like he did with the bit and so far I am very pleased with this bridle.
I’ll use it for the lesson and I’m going to use it on hacking as well.
Can’t wait to ride again tomorrow.
My horse deserves it and so do other horses, I think.
Your bridle made my day. ———————————————-Lynn, 12/1/04: Thanks for all the help with my question.
Not only do you sell a wonderful product but I’ve never seen better customer support!!!! ———————————————-Remona, 12/2/04: Man, you’ve got something here but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this.
I bought one of your bridles simply because I have this theory that if God intended for horses to have metal in their mouth, they would have been born with it.
Anyway, I have seen a tremendous difference in my JAKE.
I admit I was “trying” to use a snaffle with him and he would throw his head up when he was stopping and backing was not something he was eager to do.
However, with the Bitless Bridle, he stops on a dime and he backs up without hesitation and he’s much happier when he’s working.
Great job Doc!! I hope I see a whole lot more people coming to their senses on the well-being and happiness of their horses.
I will vouch for this bridle 100%!! ———————————————-Tricia, Naples FL , 12/7/04: We purchased this bridle and I have been working with my 2-year old.
He is a very sensitive Walkaloosa.
He just turned 2-years of age.
He is doing wonderful with this bridle.
After two weeks, three times a week, he is getting the idea, and is even stopping on both commands, that being reins and voice!!! I did find out that he HATES a saddle.
So his weekend while working with him.
I took his cue and removed the saddle, jumped on his back and took him for a test ride down the dirt road we live on.
He did GREAT, the only thing that happened was he saw a rattlesnake in the road and I did not.
He stopped and we waited for the rattler to pass.
I have recommended this item to all of my friends.
Thanks…for understanding the sensitive horse.
I am so proud of my boy and his progress.
Now what about a kinder gentler saddle? LOL Though I prefer bareback myself.
I feel more in touch with my horse’s body. ———————————————-Sarina, 12/8/04: I have an Appaloosa that doesn’t like to have his face touched.
I tried using the bitless on him.
He doesn’t seem to like it, because of all the pressures around his head.
It seems to annoy him.
So I decided to put him back in a bit, which he doesn’t like either.
He’s very mouthy with it and was drooling a lot.
I really would rather ride him in the bitless, but I’m not sure what to do, since he is touchy about his face.
I thought I would ask you about it.
He also tends to look for the bit.
I had him in the bit yesterday with the trainer, and he’s always running to get it so he can catch it and run through it.
We worked him yesterday on a loose rein, and he was starting to get it.
I thought maybe that was another reason he’s annoyed with the bitless, there’s no bit to look for? My TB LOVES his bitless.
If I show him a bitted bridle, he will turn and run.
I told him he won’t have to wear one ever again.
He goes so much better in the bitless, he doesn’t have to worry about his mouth, and it’s made a big difference in him.
Anyway, I had such luck with the TB, please help me get this Appy in the bitless.
Any advice you have about the situation would be greatly appreciated, and if you need more information, please let me know. [Dr.
Cook responds: Occasionally, a horse with a sensitive face from previous use of the bit (ie facial neuralgia) will continue to show discomfort with the Bitless Bridle when the noseband is placed at the recommended low position.
If this occurs, first try using less rein pressure.
Secondly, try moving the noseband up a little.
The strength of the signal wanes as the noseband is raised but this may be just what the horse needs.
I don’t think your horse is disappointed at not finding a bit.
The problem is that the previous use of the bit has left him with a hypersensitivity in his face (facial pain).
In time, most horses recover from this but you may have to be patient with him for several weeks until the pain regresses.
If you cared to complete the attached questionnaire on your Appaloosa, I may be able to make some further suggestions.] ———————————————-Chloe, New Zealand 12/14/04: Well I rode in my new bridle yesterday, he went really well.
When I use a bitted bridle he cannot stop chewing on the bit, throwing his head around, pulling, it is like he is trying to get it out of his mouth.
He just becomes more and more frustrated.
With the Bitless Bridle he was much more relaxed, he did not pull or throw his head around.
He carried himself much better.
We still have a bit of a problem on the left rein but I think he is kind of one sided maybe, he carries his head and neck to the outside.
I think that will just take some extra work on the left rein.
If you have any ideas on what may fix this problem I would appreciate that very much.
My horse is a show jumper so next I will try jumping in the bridle.
Is it ok to use a shadow roll or something similar on the noseband for some extra padding? Thank you!!=o) [Carole responds: Thanks for the update! I’m glad to hear that you and your horse are developing a much better relationship 🙂 You hit the nail on the head with your comment regarding your horse trying to get the bit out of his mouth.
I believe this is exactly what he was trying to do.
Was your horse ‘one sided’ with the bitted bridle? If so, he may just need some time to get out of this habit.
Yes, it would be fine to add a shadow roll or some other type of padding to the noseband. – Carole Iverson] — appreciate my mounts, and to try to tune in on what would make riding as enjoyable for them as for me. “The girls” are always ready and happy to go for a ride, and I swear now that they’d put their Bridles on themselves if they could.
TBBridle is remarkable, and I’ll never put iron in my horses’ mouths again…
It’s simply unnecessary.
Best regards and continued product success! ———————————————-Adam, Olive Branch, MS, 10/3/01: We tried our beta bridle on our two Paso Fino mares this weekend.
Despite the horses being very different in size, the medium size bridle fit both very well.
The range of adjustment is great.
Once I had it adjusted for my mare, I could slip in on and off without unbuckling anything.
A big plus and a time saver.
Riding impressions Before mounting my mare, I tested each rein to make sure she would give her head.
Pressure on both reins caused her to tuck her nose in.
Satisfied that the mechanics were there, I mounted.
I rode for about 45 minutes at all gaits – walk, corto and largo.
My mare ends to be heavy on the hands and somewhat headstrong.
When I ride with a bit or with the jaquima alone, I use 2 reins.
With the bitless bridle the amount of pressure I needed with a single rein to maintain communication was comfortable – somewhere between the heavy pressure I need with the jaquima alone and the medium-light pressure when I use a bit with a second rein on the nose piece.
The nice thing was that she responded to the rein very well – much better than with the jaquima.
If she started to get heavy or increase her speed, a firm squeeze and release usually brought her back.
Sometimes I needed 2 or 3 squeezes.
But even then, I knew I was not causing any pain to the horse, just a diffused pressure across the poll, cheeks and nose.
Two problems I typically have with my mare I did not experience at all on her first outing with the bitless bridle.
First, she did not run-away as she tends to do when ridden bitless on the jaquima alone.
This is very uncomfortable as she mixes her gaits and pushes hard against the reins.
Second, she did not shake or throw her head as she sometimes does with the bit.
I changed her to a Myler bit earlier this year, which reduced a lot of the bit problems and lightened her up on the front end, but the bitless bridle gives her no reason to throw her head.
The second trial was with my wife’s Paso mare.
This mare has not been ridden much this year and is out of shape.
She has always been a very light touch with or without a bit.
The bitless bridle again was instantly accepted and responded to.
As my wife’s ride progressed, I noticed that the mare was starting to flex at the poll – something she had not done since she was last in show trim.
This was evidently a response to the poll pressure of the bitless bridle.
I also noted that the mare was better engaged along her back as evidenced by her slightly elevated tail position.
Normally, she keeps her tail flat.
Another small test of the bridle happened when my wife rode the mare towards the barn then turned away to come back to the riding area.
Normally, this is when the mare resists and can become quite a handful.
This time, after one moment of resistance where my wife applied both reins firmly to check the mare’s jumpiness, the mare relented and calmly walked back down the hill.
Typically, the mare wins that contest.
Overall, our first rides with the bitless bridle were successful.
I was quite pleased with the way the horses accepted it instantly and rode quite happily.
I am looking forward to many more rides.
The only problem is that we bought only one bridle. ———————————————-Sue, Gorham, Maine, 10/8/01 : I just wanted to let you know that I was pleased with your bitless bridle, even if it was only for a short time.
I used it on my 27- year -old paint gelding.
He was quite the strong-willed guy, who generally preferred doing things his way.
If he wanted to do something, no amount of pressure on the bit would dissuade him.
I was leery of using the bitless bridle, as he had only used a bit his entire life-which included reining, team penning, barrel racing and dressage.
At this point, all I wanted him for was for the trail.
I used the bitless bridle successfully on the trail, from May until August, when unfortunately my horse and I became separated in the woods.
We got him back two hours later, but he was minus his saddle, blanket and bridle.
No amount of searching has turned up the bridle, although I did get his saddle and blanket back (minus one fender and stirrup.) The paint and I have parted ways and I now have an older, more sedate gelding.
I can’t afford to replace the bridle for a while, but wanted to let you know that the bridle works just as well on older, experienced horses.
In fact, it is likely that my paint could have injured his mouth crashing through the woods with a traditional bit in his mouth.
I am grateful for that. ———————————————-Roberta, Dallas, Texas, 10/17/01: I love my new bitless bridle! I received one of your nylon varieties in the hope that I would finally be able to bridle my LARGE quarter horse within a time frame that didn’t get me “out of the mood for riding.” He’s a 7 year-old gelding and it would take me so many tricks in so much time just to get a curb bit in his mouth.
This is my first horse of two that I’ve owned for just 6 months.
The other, older, smaller one bridles just fine, but the larger one was getting progressively stubborn.
I ordered your bridle in a last ditch effort because I refused to use a hackamore after all the bad things I had read about them.
My only hesitation was that people told me that once you’d “spoiled” a horse out of a bit, no one else would want to ride or buy him.
Since I’m not planning on selling him, I didn’t care.
The results have been fabulous! He controls beautifully and tacks up in just a few minutes.
He now appears to look forward to riding, instead of “digging in” prior to tacking.
Thanks! ———————————————-Colleen, 11/2/01: I got my new bitless bridle today and wanted to thank you.
No, I won’t be sending it back, and in fact will be buying another next month for my other horse.
My Peruvian Paso hates bits and it’s been a constant fight to get him to open his mouth to take one (who can blame him) and then tosses his head and yawns and carries on once it’s in his mouth.
I’ve always hated putting a bit in any horse’s mouth, but there’ve never been any other decent alternatives.
And my poor Paso Fino has been crazy in a bit since I’ve had her.
She’s very sweet tempered, beautifully mannered, very kind hearted, but I’ve always known that the bit makes her feel trapped and uncomfortable and bullied, no matter how light the hand and she overreacts to any contact, always has.
I can’t abide the thought that I’ve had these damned bits in her mouth for the past 5 years.
Poor baby girl.
And so I bought the bitless bridle hoping, hoping, hoping, that this would be the answer, and oh yes! It is. In our first session with the bridle, SMOKEY didn’t once toss his head or mouth or pull or yawn, and his collection was better than ever.
And SOLANDA, oh what a happy girl she was without the bit.
They both took to it immediately and knew exactly what was expected.
And even though it was a windy day and I was a little nervous because windy days also make Solanda crazy, and even though we didn’t warm up, Solanda was just calmer in a way can’t really explain.
She was paying more attention to *me* rather than to the bit.
That hyper-nervous-jitteriness was gone, she’d stopped flapping her lower lip, and she seemed a whole lot more flexible, and she’s always been super flexible.
When something spooked her, she didn’t overreact in the way I’m used to, just startled slightly and then got right back on task.
And *all* of my cues were met with far less trigger response.
I think the bit really has contributed to her goosey, nervous behavior all around.
I’m so happy to have this and I’m so glad I don’t have to torture my poor horses’ mouths anymore.
Thank you Dr.
Cook! What a beautiful thing.
Colleen, 11/6/01: Dear Dr.
Cook, Bless you! I’m not given to using exclamation points, but your bridle has made me feel particularly exclamatory.
I’d be more than happy for you to use my comments on your website.
I’ve been emailing my closest friends with horses about your bridle outlining my experience (together with a link to your site) and so far have been met with much return interest.
I feel like a born-again tack person.
And I want to relay what happened next: The next day, even better with SMOKEY (my Peruvian).
I decided to ride both horses bareback.
The fear of riding SOLANDA (my Paso Fino) without a bit was completely gone, and I was ready to try her bareback without a bit, something I’d never have considered without this bridle.
So we did it.
Even better, SOLANDA started to drop her head instead of bracing up into that stiff-necked thing she’s always done with a bit (the forced, false collection prompted by her early training with her first trainer), she backed more readily and easily, and then lo and behold rounded her back underneath me and gaited more easily and more happily than I can remember.
SMOKEY and I cantered *bareback* all over the place and he was very wonderful.
They both seem delighted to be moving without a bit in their mouths.
I’m buying one for SOLANDA next month and I’m never going to put a bit in their mouths again.
And this surprised me more than anything, with a bit in their mouths I wouldn’t feel nearly as safe.
The next day, SOLANDA did in fact become a bit friskier than usual as you note in your literature might happen with the sense of liberation from the bit, but I didn’t mind.
I still felt as if she was finally focused in a way she has never been focused before, as if she could finally focus on her movement and on my aids and on me rather than focusing on this thing in her mouth, which has been the bane of her riding experience from the time she was a baby.
A side note: the same day I listened to Sabine Kells on Rick Lamb’s Horse Show discussing Dr.
Strasser’s approach to barefooting, and I feel as if for the first time, with your bridle and with the possibilities of natural horse hoof care, that I’m finally approaching what’s best for my horses and for our relationship together.
I’m truly grateful to you for your work and your generosity of spirit in your approach to our relationship to our horses.
I’ve told my horse friends that you deserve a special place in heaven for this, and I mean it.
Thank you. ———————————————-Lauren, 11/11/01: I have a Welsh/Thoroughbred pony and she is a very strong jumper.
I bought the Bitless Bridle at the Equine Affaire on Saturday.
I rode that same day with one of my friends.
My pony, PIPPI, 4 months ago wouldn’t even trot because she was ring sour.
I started riding in a halter and she got better but I couldn’t stop her, so jumping was out of the question!!!!!!!!!! When I hopped on her (using the Bitless Bridle) she was (at first) confused because she (found she) had to stop! We started to jump bareback and she was so happy she tried to buck! Your halter is a miracle because I rode for 2 1/2 hours without a fuss out of her! I’m only 12 so It is hard to get to the barn I board at but I strongly recommend this bridle to horse lovers everywhere especially if you ride bareback like I do!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ———————————————-Nancy and Mark, Simsbury, CT, 11/13/01: I live in Connecticut and was at your seminar on Friday.
I had already bought a bridle from your booth as I am a believer in leaving all our domesticated animals as close to how they were made as possible, and was looking for a way to not have to bit my horse.
She is a 16H Appaloosa mare named BREEZY, 11 years old, calm and kind.
I want to give her the respect she shows me.
She dreads the bit so much that when I took her bridle off and hooked it around her neck in preparation for putting on her bridle, she would put her head up on my shoulder and relaxes while I pet and scratch her head.
Saturday I tried the bridle.
Everyone at the family barn where I board came out to see how it worked, of course hoping for catastrophe.
It was fantastic.
Instead of putting her head up and opening her mouth when I pulled on the reins (she was used to a “mild” D-ring snaffle) she quietly turned her head in the appropriate direction.
She stopped more quickly and neatly with your bridle.
I am sure that the effort to develop this bridle, and more importantly the effort to get the word out has been exhausting.
I wanted to thank you for that effort and let you know the difference it has made for BREEZY.
If you have a mailing list please add me to it.
I will be sure to let my friends in the horse world know of this great product.
The best to you and your family. ———————————————-Paula, Newbern, TN 11/13/01: I want to let you know that I have received and used the bitless bridle on my mule.
He does great with the bridle.
It is wonderful to use, especially trail riding.
It allows him to eat/drink freely and he seems much happier and content.
I have also noticed that he his bending, flexing and giving his head more willingly with this bridle than with any other bits, that I have used.
I am very satisfied with the beta, it has a very soft touch and lays against his head wonderfully (also easily cleaned, almost maintenance free).
Your customer service was so very friendly and helpful, which I appreciated very much.
You have a wonderful product that every equine owner needs to know about and I will definitely be spreading the word.
Thanks again !!!!! Paula, 11/15/01: I told my husband again Tuesday night after another ride, how well he (my mule) responds and gives his head more willingly.
It is quite amazing and almost too good to be true!!! Thanks so much again for your Bitless Bridle ———————————————-Karen, 11/19/01 : I saw your demo and bought a bitless bridle in Mass.
Since then have bought two more; one for my young gelding to use now with long lines, and then to ride in, no need for a bit.
The other for my Paint who I have had for 2 years.
My trainer was so impressed after riding my Paint she wanted one as well.
I have never felt so good riding this horse as I do now in the Bitless bridle.
He responds so well, which he didn’t in the bit.
He would always fight it and I was not enjoying riding.
I have to say it has been such a joy, a real eye opener, to have this horse responding to being ridden in the bitless.
It is so wonderful, I thought for sure he would take off with me and act up without the bit.
Quite the contrary.
With the least amount of pressure he will turn right, left, and back up (which may I add he fought tooth and nail before).
We can trot around the ring loose rein.
Tonight I even rode him back to the stable loose rein, and if he speeded up I just circled him, which he did with ease, not fighting me like before when I would do this with a bit.
And he didn’t speed up but twice.
Once I let him have a loose rein again he just walked back nice.
My girl friend who has her horse here at my place is going to get one for her horse as well.
I am so glad you were in Mass.
Thanks from me and my horses for developing such a wonderful thing.
My trainer today said, `wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone was using this.’ With my greatest regards. ———————————————-Nancy, Simsbury, Connecticut, 11/19/01: I attended your seminar at the Equine Affaire in Springfield, Massachusetts.
I purchased one of your bitless bridles and am eager to report what great success I have had using it.
My 16H, 11 year-old Appaloosa hates her full cheek snaffle so much that when I remove her halter to put on her bridle she rests her head on my shoulder for as long as I can hold it, knowing that when I stop petting her it will be time for the bit in her mouth.
Last Saturday I tried the bitless bridle.
Everyone at the family barn where I board came out to see how it worked, of course hoping for the excitement of a runaway horse or the drama of a thrown rider.
With the few simple directions it was easy to fit the bridle to her head and when I rode her the results were fantastic.
Instead of putting her head up and opening her mouth when I applied pressure to a rein (she was used to a “mild” full cheek snaffle) she quietly turned her head in the appropriate direction.
She stopped more quickly and neatly withyour bridle.
Since then I have noticed even on trails that she is more relaxed and able to pay more attention to what I am asking of her.
Just taking it off without that rattle of metal on teeth is such a relief to us both.
I look forward to a winter where I don’t have to try to warm a piece of freezing metal before putting it into the mouth of my beloved mare.
Thank you so much for your efforts to develop this bridle.
It has allowed me to give my horse the same level of respect that she has always shown me.” ———————————————-Isabella, Italy, 11/19/01: I tried your bitless bridle and it worked wonderfully.
HAIRI (a seven year old mare) shows now an even improved balance than with my hackamore and to ask her for collection is very easy.
She responds very well to all my requests and it’s fine in jumping too.
I hope in the future other people will adopt your bridle, their horses will certainly thank them for this. Isabella, Italy, 1/3/02: I bought your bitless bridle last November and tried it on my seven years old mare, HAIRI.
She responded very well, as I already told you.
The problem Hairi had with being ridden in a snaffle bit was, as my trainer explained to me, the conformation and heaviness of her head.
She has the neck and the head of a stallion, with a large jawbone, which makes it very difficult for her to flex at the poll.
The heaviness of her head causes her to lie on the bit too much and consequently to fall on her forehand.
This is no longer possible with the bitless bridle.
Having no bit to lay on, she had to learn again to keep her balance independently and now she is much more self balanced than before.
As I told you in my previous e-mail I used to ride her (after the snaffle bit) with an English hackamore.
But before she could regain her self-balance we had a bad accident, fortunately without consequences.
While jumping a series of cross poles she literally fell out of balance ending with her head on the ground and making me fall as well.
This I then realized was because she was so used to searching for her balance on the bit that without it she could not keep it.
The work with the bitless bridle made me realize how important a correct use of posture, legs and hands is in order to have a horse collected.
It took me two months to obtain a first degree of collection from HAIRI but I was so proud to have achieved this without any constraint.
HAIRI is still a very green horse and I’m an inexperienced rider so every step we make is a success.
At the beginning she tried to avoid collection by raising her head but this has progressively disappeared when I learnt to use better my posture.
I have still the same problem with canter.
She is not used to a collected canter and she still raises her head frequently (she does it much less with my trainer).
In my riding centre there are many people performing dressage at a high level (we have Daniel Pinto one of the best dressage riders in the world).
And they keep telling me that with my bitless bridle no collection is possible.
Now, I would like to have a technical explanation for this.
According to my trainer my horse is collected (not of course to the highest level, she is still at the beginning) and I can feel her hindlegs behind her pushing and I do not see any difference from horses ridden with bits.
Could you give me the name of somebody performing dressage who have used your bitless bridle with success? I would like to be able to answer these people appropriately.
Some of them also state that applying pressure on a horse’s nose is dangerous and very painful for them.
Is there any article on the subject I could suggest them to read? I’m very disappointed how people react towards anything that is new and how much ignorance is spread also amongst professional riders and trainers.
I would so like to demonstrate to them that you can perform dressage and jumping at a good level without a bit or any other restraint aid and I’d like to share my experience with other people.
Can you help me with this? I thank you very much in advance for your attention and send you my best wishes for the New Year. [Dr.
Cook responds: I am pleased to hear that the Bitless Bridle has restored `self-carriage’ to your mare.
However, I would have to question your trainer’s explanation as to why she was leaning on the bit in the first instance.
No horse is born that, when at liberty, cannot hold its head up.
It is the bit that causes a horse to lean, not its conformation.
A bitted horse may well be leaning on the bit in order to avoid the pain caused by the bit pressing on the roof of its mouth.
By extending its head and pressing the bit into its tongue it can keep the bit away from its hard palate.
I don’t believe that a horse actually leans on the bit, as this would have the opposite effect and press the bit into the hard palate; something that a horse would be more likely to avoid as being more painful than the alternative, even though the tongue is very sensitive.
It is quite possible to obtain, with the bitless bridle, all the collection that is necessary for good dressage movements.
What the bridle will not do is to produce the exaggerated poll flexion that results in the horse being overbent.
I will attach to this letter a recently updated file of comments from dressage riders that will shortly be installed on the website.
Perhaps you can contact one or more of these contributors.
Yes, a hackamore can put so much pressure on the bridge of the nose that the bone can even be broken.
Some people even suggest that the hackamore should be fitted in such a way that it deliberately obstructs respiration.
I strongly disagree with both objectives.
But the bitless bridle does neither.
The amount of pressure it exerts is gentle to the point of being almost trivial, yet the horse responds well because there is no pain and no respiratory obstruction.
A new idea is one of the most painful things to man.
There is a natural tendency amongst all of us to reject new ideas out of hand, rather than to examine them with an open mind and to give them a fair trial.
This applies particularly to equitation that has depended for so long on tradition and mythology.
Our website is about to undergo a major update and if you keep a watch on this site you will find an increasing amount of information that will be of help to you in answering people’s skepticism.] ———————————————-Dawn, Glasgow, KY, 11/25/01: I met you at Equitana 2000 and bought a black nylon bridle.
I loved it.
Since then I have bought two more nylons for myself, plus a leather and a biothane for a friend.
My horses are Arabians, gaited horses, and an appaloosa.
All do fantastic with your bridle.
I wouldn’t use anything else. ———————————————-Pat, 12/3/01: I just ordered another bitless bridle from you.
I love my leather padded headstall and decided to get the Beta headstall so I don’t have to worry about ruining my good one now that winter has arrived.
I tried your bridle because my horse had TMJ and is now getting his jaw back into alignment.
He was such a good sport about accepting the bit and doing his best to oblige my requests that I was unaware there was a jaw problem until one day it was obvious when I looked at him straight on.
He was very touchy around the head and acted as though he was in great pain.
Now that the dentist put his jaw back in place and filed his teeth to allow for the new placement of his jaw I decided to try your bitless bridle.
I was told by a friend in another state that she rides in nothing but your bridle and highly recommended it.
I was confident that this was the way to go that I jumped in and got your top of the line headstall.
I couldn’t be happier and neither could my horse.
He made the transition with absolutely no problem.
I didn’t know what to expect because this horse (half TB and half Appaloosa) is relatively new to me and only 5 years old.
He is marvelous on the trail and in the ring.
Together we’ll be learning the basics of some dressage and then jumping. The horse I really want to tell you about is the barn owner’s horse.
This horse is 6 YO and has had nothing but bit problems.
The owner had numerous vets, dentists, chiropractors and acupuncturists in to try and figure out this horse’s problem with bits (any kind of bit!) and her nervousness when one is in her mouth.
Her bottom lip slaps up and down constantly.
I suggested the owner try my bitless headstall on her horse and voila! the horse moved out with calm and poise.
It was incredible to watch.
The owner was having such a good time that she said that maybe she has a diamond in the rough there in that horse.
She is looking forward to spending more time in the saddle now that she knows how quiet and cooperative the horse can be.
I am a school counselor who looks forward to my therapy sessions on and around my horse.
The least I can do is make sure he gets half the rewards and pleasures I do.
Therefore I don’t plan on going back to a bit.
Also, I must say that I am truly looking forward to not having to warm a bit for winter riding. >g< Thank you for a very fine product.
The padded leather headstall is beautifully made and of a quality that matches the finer pieces of tack I own.
It is definitely show ring quality.
Maybe I’ll get there one day. 🙂 ———————————————-Nancy, 12/7/01: I recently began jumping BREEZY and the folks at the barn suggested that I use a bridle with a bit. `Obviously you can’t jump a horse with no bit’.
But once again the bridle proved itself.
She flies over three foot jumps in your bridle.
I am grateful because as I study books on jumping I find that one of the worst mistakes is to catch your horse’s mouth with the bit as it lands.
I am cautious to give her all the rein she needs and relieved that if I make such a mistake she will not have metal in her mouth jerking her head back up. ———————————————-Susan, Standish, MI 12/10/01: Just a note to let you know that this bitless bridle is a wonder.
I have tried it (not a lot so far) on my three horses and find it to be a wonder.
I sort of laugh at how the horses react and then how I reacted.
I used it on my 4 yr old mare who has not had any training to speak of, from off of the ground and she reacted almost instantly to turning and yes even backing! Well, that result sold my friend and now she has one.
It also seems that several more have/will get one of these bridles.
I am really anxious to try on my Arab gelding a former racer training, who is going to be competitive riding this year.
This last year using the snaffle and at times he thought he was back racing, not a real good situation, but I do not want to put anything severe on him he has such a good mouth.
I have been telling others about this bridle and I believe in what I am saying. Bitless Bridle User Comments, 2000 Kimbra, (Director of a Therapeutic Riding Program), Poulsbo, CA. 1/4/2000: As we have had a lot of rain, I have only been able to use the (bitless) bridle one time (yet) with BLACKJACK.
This is a Quarter horse with a bulldog jaw that cannot be ridden at all with a bit in his mouth, as he suffers excruciating pain. …
BLACKJACK took readily to the bridle.
He automatically held his head in proper position and was more collected.
I felt that I had equal control as I would have with a bit.
If anything I was more comfortable, because I had no fear he would rear or buck because of pain caused by the bit.
He did some head shaking when I was turning him in small circles but once I loosened up on the reins that behavior diminished. ———————————————-Trish, 1/12/00: I bought a nylon bridle and then later a leather one.
I like the leather one much better, although I do use the nylon one on my young horse.
I don’t like switching them back and forth (if so I would use the leather one only) because I have them sized to fit and I don’t want to have to adjust each time I switch horses.
Although the horses are the same height, one has a large head and the other has a small head.
The only problem I have with the nylon one is that the crossover strap isn’t stationary (connected to the headstall) as is the leather one.
I find when riding with the nylon one, that one side of the reins sometimes ends up being significantly longer than the other side.
Like 6 inches on one side and 2 on the other.
You then have to lean over and straighten it at the poll.
In my barrel racing training, we do a lot of circles and I’ve got a young horse that is bursting with energy.
I don’t have a problem controlling her and don’t feel unsafe, it’s just that there is nothing to hold the cross-under pieces (what I’m referring to as the throatlatch) in one place, like there is with the leather one.
On the leather one the throatlatch cross-under things are joined to the headstall piece and I don’t have this problem.
Other than the above I love these bridles.
I am the only person that races in these and people are beginning to ask me about them.
My seasoned horse loves it and does very well in it.
The true test was the young horse that just came back from 2 months of barrel training.
When she came back she was definitely trained well, but she also has scars at the corners of her mouth from the bit cutting.
I just instinctively would like to keep bits out of my horse’s mouths.
I feel I have good control in these bridles.
The leather one also looks classier than the nylon. [Dr.
Cook replies: Two users have previously reported this problem with the nylon headstalls.
It may be a question of how much force is being applied to the reins (and with barrel racing I suppose you may be neck reining or direct reining or both).
If a great deal of force is being applied to the reins some rotation might be expected.
The ideal solution is to ride with less pressure.
Alternatively, it may be a question of how loose the wire loop is that constricts the extension of the crossover strap as it passes up over the poll.
If it is too loose there will be a tendency for the loop to rotate over the poll and for one rein to get longer than the other.
This can be prevented in a number of different ways.
First, as a temporary measure and as an experiment, you could try jamming a wedge of material under the wire loops in order to prevent the rotation.
If this works, a more permanent solution would be to take a pair of pliers and pinch the wire loop in the middle, so that it takes a firmer grip.
Another solution would be to lace the two straps together at the midline.
Punch holes through the nylon with a red-hot nail and lace the straps together over a distance of about two inches.
You could produce the same effect by sewing a small square of thin but strong canvas-like material in the same place..] ———————————————– Kevin, (Eventer) MD 1/15/00: I have a horse that won’t accept the bit.
The bitless bridle is wonderful; I love it. ———————————————-Corinne, Plantation, FL 1/25/00: The horse that I purchased a Bitless Bridle for earlier this month has been doing so much better.
He (a 7 year old Thoroughbred) no longer tosses his head and the bridle seems to have helped him to concentrate.
It has worked brilliantly.
The horse has won a blue ribbon and was Grand Champion recently.
I have a professional rider and she is very pleased with the control that the bridle provides.
I am talking it up all round the Florida show circuit.
Please send a second bridle. ———————————————-Steffanie, Little R Stables, Caseyville, Illinois 2/1/00: Dr.
Cook, We just wanted to let you know that we are currently using your bridle on two racehorses in training at Fairmount Park racetrack.
We really are pleased with the results, but would like to try the bridle with the martingale.” Steffanie, Little R.
Stables, Caseyville Illinois 2/2/2000: We really are having fun with the bitless bridle.
The two horses that we use it on are doing well.
One is a parrot-mouthed filly that had continually fought the bit and lugged in badly down the stretch.
She is now much calmer and concentrates on galloping, instead of fighting the bit.
The second horse is the main reason we tried your bridle.
He is a proven racehorse and is 17.2 hands tall.
He is a severe bleeder and is a nervous, bad shipper.
We feel this is because of the extreme stress of bleeding, and the knowledge he is going to bleed.
He is presently on an endurance-training program, galloping and jogging a total of 2.5 to 3.0 miles a day.
We are trying to teach him to relax and gallop at a controlled pace, versus galloping quickly each day.
It will be with him that we use the martingale.
The filly has never started and the gelding is returning off of a small layoff (to let his lungs heal after a particularly bad bleed).
We haven’t talked with the stewards yet, and have yet to see another bitless bridle used here (Fairmont Park, Illinois).
We’ve had a lot of inquiries and stares, though!! If you’d like some follow up reports, please let us know.
We are trying to help promote your product, and the riders (me, my husband, and one other gallop boy), so far, have had no problems with it. ———————————————-James, Northfield, Minnesota, 2/17/00: I am really pleased with these bridles – they give me total control of my two horses.
James, Northfield, Minnesota, 3/8/00: I have used the bridle on two horses so far.
The first one is normally a very fractious horse; a bucking kicking thing.
He calmed down amazingly well in the Bitless Bridle, both in the arena and when walking around the track, something which has been very difficult to achieve with a bit in his mouth.
It was like night and day; I was elated. The second horse is a big colt and one that is well behaved with a bit.
He went through a little rodeo session at first.
He thought he was free.
Then, as he realized he wasn’t, he first became a little resentful, but then settled down wonderfully well.
I am amazed at the lightness of touch that is needed with the bridle.
I have always preferred to ride with little finger control but with these reins I can use an even lighter touch. ———————————————-Robert, Newark, Delaware 3/15/00 : My daughter has a horse that we are training for Show Hunter classes that used to be an inveterate head shaker.
He also used to lean heavily on the bit.
Since using the Bitless Bridle he has abandoned both habits and can be ridden on a loose rein, almost on the buckle.
For show classes that require the use of a bit, we hang a snaffle in his mouth like a pacifier and he plays with it happily without returning to his old ways. ———————————————-Nancy, Matamoras, PA, 3/19/00: I received your bridle about a week ago and ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! I have used it on several of the spirited Morgans on our farm who are known to be a handful at times.
Both turned into a totally different horse.
Then I used it on my young colt, in long lining….it worked like a charm.
I WILL NEVER PUT A BIT IN A HORSE’S MOUTH AGAIN!!! I can’t wait for our trainer to see it.
She’s been away helping out a friend for several weeks.
One of my friends told her about my new bridle and she INSISTED she would NEVER ride a horse without a bit!!!! I can’t wait to SHOW her what can be accomplished with your bitless bridle.
The best way I can express it is, ‘Horse and rider now work together as partners’.
Why should we DOMINATE and CONTROL when we can work together as one?’ I showed the bridle to our farrier, who told the harness racing track a mile down the road about it.
Within 5 minutes the owner of Big Z Stables was at our farm wanting to check out this “strange bridle” he had heard about.
He was skeptic, yet curious, and said he’s definitely going to order one.
So if you hear from Big Z Stables in Montague, NJ…it’s because of my salesmanship.
If you need a distributor in the NJ/PA/NY area, let me know and we can work something out.
I would love to see every horse in the WORLD in a bitless bridle.
I’d be your best salesperson.
I could set up displays at shows, etc.
I do have one question.
I was going to order a leather bridle to match my saddle, but I feel the leather would not “slide as easily” in and out of the rings as the nylon or biothane does…
Am I right? Thank you again for this MARVELOUS BRIDLE. [Dr.
Cook responds: Actually, there is very little sliding with any of the materials.
Pressure is transmitted but the amount of actual sliding is negligible.
Leather seems to transmit the pressure change just as well as the synthetic materials.
There is really nothing to choose between any of the materials with regard to function.] ———————————————-Elizabeth, (Dressage instructor) Sykesville, MD 3/25/00: You are onto something wonderful.
My 7-year-old Thoroughbred mare was always rather ‘mouthy’ but then, in June 1998, she developed EPM.
Most of the symptoms disappeared after six weeks of treatment but she was left with a facial neuralgia.
Subsequently, when a bit was put in her mouth, she would constantly move her jaw back and forth and tip her poll in the opposite direction.
The result was a side-to-side wagging of her head.
At the same time, she would squint with both eyes (flutter her eyelids, noisily).
The head wagging would be triggered as soon as the slightest pressure was placed on the mouth by anything one did with the reins.
She could not walk in a straight line with a bit in her mouth.
With the lightest contact she would get panicky, duck from the bridle, and focus entirely on her head.
During these moments, she would walk into a wall.
I have had to ride her without a bit, in a cavesson set high on her head, with a dropped noseband, and with reins attached to the “O’ rings of the cavesson.
Even so she was miserable and if she got tough and needed rein pressure, her head wagging would commence.
I was desperate.
A horse dentist told me that he didn’t see how I could ever do dressage with this horse.
But now she is as happy as a clam in the Bitless Bridle and I am really delighted.
It was like slipping a switch.
She is still sensitive around her poll and, at rest, and I can still elicit the head wagging response by placing my hands on her poll, her cheek or around her TMJ.
But at work in the Bitless Bridle she is as happy as can be.
I have videotape film of her before and after the Bitless Bridle, and will get these copied for you. ———————————————-Sue, Glen Rock, PA, 3/29/00: This ‘thing’ is really great.
It has made a world of difference to my horse.
I use it for dressage and for polocross.
For the pony club game, I hold the reins in one hand and twist my thumb either up or down to turn to one side or the other.
This is enough to give direct rein signals and it works fine.
Neck reining doesn’t work. [Dr.
Cook comments: I was pleased to hear how Sue could direct rein with one hand.
Neck reining obviously did not work for polocross …
Perhaps there was not a sufficiently rapid response.
However, in fairness to the bridle, it is worth adding that in general usage for other disciplines most users find that they can neck rein with The Bitless Bridle perfectly well.
Training might be an issue.] ———————————————-Nora, Chestertown MD, 4/10/00: The bridle is wonderful! I have an old mare, an ex-racehorse, and with a bit in her mouth she gets all nervous and worked-up.
She obviously thinks, ‘here comes Saratoga all over again’.
Because of this I have generally ridden her in a halter but this is so hard on her nose.
With the bitless Bridle, however, I have all the control of a bit without the anxiety on her part and without the nose pressure.
She stays relaxed and calm and we both enjoy the ride better. ———————————————-Cheryl, East Greenwich, RI, 4/11/00: I just ordered a bitless bridle.
I tried a friend’s and loved it.
We never jumped better.
I do cross country jumping with an 18 year-old horse who knows his job.
But at the beginning of the season, particularly, I am a little nervous and tend to pull back on the bit in front of a jump.
The result is, of course, that the horse stalls.
But with the Bitless Bridle, if I pull back it doesn’t throw the horse off balance.
I feel much better and am excited to get my bridle.” ———————————————-Nancy, Wadsworth, Ohio, 4/12/00:
Read more about Pinto : The horse is a 2003 world champion pinto saddlebred and….: