Are Bitless Bridles Less Severe?
Bitless bridles can be just as severe and distribute punishment just as easily as a bit. Most people employ a bitless bridle to circumvent any problems such as head tossing, hard mouth, running, pulling, tongue over the bit. People mistakenly think it is the bit which is the cause of the evasion, when in fact it is mostly caused by rider error.
Good hands are a function of a balanced independent seat. If you have an independent seat, you will be in balance and your hands will become educated and supple. What most people lack is educated, independent seat and therefore an educated hand.
Riders, sometimes, are pure naturals and have a soft educated feel. More often, however, riders need coaching on riding and using their hands. What is missing are the seasoned professionals to show ‘up and comers’ how to ride and use their hands. Unfortunately most equestrians never get this and will not get this instruction during their riding lessons because their own teachers lack the depth and knowledge of how to teach it so they cannot pass it on.
I think, at the heart of this is, riders are replacing their lack of skill with a piece of equipment designed to relieve them of ever having to go through the process of developing a seat and thus independent aids and eventually having educated hands that no longer cause all of these “bit issues”.It is for this reason I don’t recommend moving to a bitless bridle but rather continue to pursue a balanced educated, independent seat and become in balance with the horse. This means exercises without stirrups, lunge line lessons and repetition of fundamental basics which develop a secure supple base of support from which a rider can use the reins correctly. All too often we see riders slapped on lesson horses and told to aimlessly wander around the arena without any knowledge of the basics of communication. This leads to riders which pull on the reins for balance and then blame the horse for its stupidity on not understanding.
What kind of hand are your reins attached to? Are you willing to spend the time to educate your body and develop a soft feel and independent seat, or are you going to prevent the head tossing and resistance with the quick easy route – a bitless bridle?