In one of the Ask Monty questions he stated "I am a strong proponent of certain bitless equipment.", however he didn't elaborate. I would like to know what equipment he was referring to. I have used bits for years, however I am now interested in bitless and I greatly respect Monty's opinions and knowledge. So with that said, what style (brand) of bitless bridle would he recommend?
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I'm not sure which ones he uses. If you don't get a response here, you could probably send the question to the Ask Monty email address.
He does say you can use the Dually Halter, but I am not sure specifically what bitless equipment he recommends. I like Bosals and the Dually Halter.
Thank you. I have never used a bosal and have heard that without the proper training to use one, a person can cause severe damage to the horse. I have the Dually Halter and it really is a "magical tool"; I love it!
I'm not sure but doesn't Monty also use the snaffle bits that he also sells?
Sorry i couldn't be of more help..
Yes, Monty Roberts does use snaffle bits and I have also seen shank type western bits on his horses. I believe he doesn't oppose the use of a bit, but I would imagine that he would recommend that light hands are essential.
Yes I am pretty sure you are right in that you can do some damage with a nodal if you don't use it properly. I Think that would be true of nearly all items of horse training equipment in use - it can be used for good or harm.
I have ridden in both a Dually and a Dr Cook bitless bridle. I also use the Dually for my husband who is a learner rider, as that way he cannot accidentally pull the horses mouth and hurt him. I found my younger gelding goes well in the Dr Cook, which works using straps that cross under the head (sometimes it is also called a crossunder bitless) - it creates a kind of head hugging action. He is hyper sensitive and seems more relaxed than in a bitted bridle, even though I have soft hands.
I think Monty said in one of his books that he often rode in a bitless bridle as a youngster (I forget which type, I think it had a spanish name?) and that he has no objection to either bitless or bitted bridles, it is the riders hands that are most important. He also wrote that in the higher levels of competition a bit may allow a slghtly more subtle communication with the horse. Some bitless bridles can be quite severe in the wrong hands as they can put a lot of pressure on the horses nose and inhibit breathing.
It is a really interesting subject, and I guess every horse is different in their preferences.
I just found the info I was after - if you read the Q&A Feb 2.11 Monty you will find some more details there from Monty regarding bitless bridles.
I haven't used it often, but I have ridden in my dually but I find my horse tends to get quite heavy and on the forehand with it. He seems much more comfortable in the his French Snaffle. On the long lines I usually have the side reins in the bit, and my longlines on the rings of the dually.
I use a Dr Cook's Bitless Bridle often with my 15 year old Morgan mare. She will go in a bit (we ride both English and Western) but is happier and more responsive in the bitless. We only use bits for getting ready for showing, and showing itself. Now that I also have a coming two year old (she will be 2 on May 24) and am starting the training process with her, she is being started in the Bitless and will most likely not be worked a lot in a bit until she is 3.
I've ridden my older Clyde cross gelding bitless for over 10 years...does everything in it...even dressage. Have jumped in the bridle too. My younger Percheron cross goes bitless now as well. He can go in a bit but doesn't like it. He is super sensitive and loves the Dr. Cooks bridle. I have tried others and this one seems to work the best. Hackamores and side pulls are OK but do not have the same finesse you can get with the Dr. Cooks.
I would also highly recommend the Dr Cook Bitless Bridle. My old horse (who is sadly no longer with us), had a huge tongue & I tried dozens of different types of bit but he was never happy in any of them due to the lack of space in his mouth. They all put too much pressure on his sensitive tongue. This resulted in him clenching his mouth shut, throwing his head up & going very hollow thru his back. The 1st time I tried The Dr Cook Bridle was a light bulb moment. He was so comfortable & relaxed it was like riding a different horse. He softened thru the poll instantly & relaxed into a gorgeous outline with no effort at all. He had a lovely soft frothy mouth every time I rode & was licking & chewing constantly.
My new youngster was backed & started just before I got him & so I started his ridden work in a nice simple snaffle. I very quickly learnt that he didn`t much like having a cold lump of metal in his mouth. He would lean on the bit & become very strong & difficult to get off the forehand. So I decided to try him in my Dr Cook - again from the 1st occassion he was like riding a different horse. Much more relaxed in his neck & does not lean or get strong.
Alot of my horsey friends are of the opinion that if your horse gets 'strong' you need to put them in a 'stronger' bit. They think I`m mad for riding a 'Strong' horse with nothing in his mouth & think that I must have no breaks!! I couldn`t disagree more - If the lump of metal in his mouth is causing the problem - why not eliminate the problem?? Simple!!
It is my opinion that if it's what my horse likes best then it's what I like best.
I have really enjoyed reading these posts. I have a lovely mare and I have tried every recommended bit possible and she still would drive her head into the bit, throw her head and dance repeatedly through our rides. I tried to have the softest hands and kept the reins slack, but to no avail. I asked the previous owner if he had noticed this and he confirmed that she had always behaved this way. He is a cowboy and his suggestion was just to spur her and get on with it. I decided to try a bitless, the Nurtural, and could not believe the difference. She was relaxed, she didn't fuss about being taken away from the herd and she stopped getting upset when I saddled her. I have found that she actually stops bett in the bitless. The first time I applied a whoa, she stopped so precisely I almost fell off, as I was use to her taking many steps before her actual stop when in a bit!
I did a lot of research on the Bitless bridle and just bought a Dr. Cook. Have any of you compared the Nurtural and the Dr. Cook? I would love to read your insights on the two.
As an aside, I just read Monty's response to someone who had trouble with their horse biting toes, and saddle...I found it interesting that Monty said that was related to spurs...as my mare does this and the cowboy had suggested I spur her...I don't wear spurs, but now I know why she still bites my boots sometimes! Lol
I have heard of the Nurtural but haven't tried it. The Dr Cook bridle is so mild can be used by novice riders on highly trained horses as they cannot accidentally pull the horse in the mouth and make them sore, they are very humane and suitable for a lot of horses. The Nurtural looks like a variation of the same type of bridle. My gelding is very forward moving but really easy to stop in his Dr Cook - and a lot more settled than with a bit in his mouth. I think perhaps some horses just do not take to the bit and these bridles are a godsend. Just a thought though - have you had your mare's teeth checked? Could be why she was unhappy before, even a small amount of discomfort in the mouth will make a sensitive horse react badly. Either way, if she goes well in the bitless and you are comfortable using one then I would stick with it, good for you for giving it a go - I wish more people would try finding out the cause of the problem rather than using harsh methods like spurs or whips to force the horse.
Thanks for your comment. Yes I did have her teeth checked, that was my first step. But they are fine. I suspect she has a shallow pallet which is making the bit unbearable for her. Since using the bitless she rarely bites my toes anymore other than to let me know when she's tired and had enough after an extended ride! Lol. It has fixed her cinchy problems too, as I think she associated the pain in her mouth with riding and the saddle. But since the bitless she has stopped nipping when tightening her cinch.
Sounds like you have found the answer, it's always a great feeling when something clicks. People are often surprised that I ride bitless, they think I have no brakes - but it couldn't be further from the truth. I think my gelding just hates the metal in his mouth and horses are more likely to pull or try and run away from something that is uncomfortable. It was funny the first time I put it on him - he threw his head up and you could see him physically bracing himself ready for the bit to go in his mouth - he seemed a bit suprised when nothing happened. I find he concentrates better as with the bit he always seemed a bit distracted and tense. A good lesson in taking a step backwards and softening up rather than going the other way and using stronger and stronger bits in order to make the horse comply. Just wish I had tried this years ago with a strong mare I had, I used to ride in a dutch gag with two reins. In hindsight, she had quite a thick tongue and a bitless might have worked with her too.
I agree about stopping. Today I tried the Dr. Cook bitless on my second mare. This is the first time she has ever been bitless. I could not believe how well she stopped..on a dime! For the first 10 minutes she acted like she was looking for the bit and was unsure of how I was communicating with her. But suddenly 10 minutes in she relaxed and steered and stopped perfectly! I think I will switch to bitless permantly. I am surprised Monty has not discussed this more, as it seems to work on the same principles that he discuses. It applies pressure and then releases as soon as the horse complies. With my first mare, she tried to turn the opposite direction when pulled by the left. But as soon as she turned left the pressure was off, and after that she didn't work against it any more. I would love to hear a conversation between Dr. Cook and Monty Roberts. They both seem like they are working for the same purpose.
Yes, that would an interesting conversation, I agree, the principles are very similar.
Hi its really great to hear im not alone using Dr Cooks bridle. I bought a mare 5 years ago that had been abused.And
would rear even when i tried to put the bit in. I did manage in the end but she was never very happy so i gave the bitless a try.But so many trainers, comment saying its harsh,you have no control ect, so to hear all thease comments really is very reassuring.I did try her in a bit again after more peer pressure, and the softness was gone.So i will be hanging up my bit for now .
I am also so glad of this conversation. My horses control better with the bitless bridle, but when you read reviews, you hear mixed messages! To extend our conversation, has anyone had a horse who "learned to push through the pressure" and not stop? I read online at horse forum, some people suggesting that this would happen and render the bitless bridle useless. I think it has more to do with how you handle your horse all around....meaning continuing your relationship with your animal on the ground as well as in the saddle. I saw a video, of a horse upset with the bit rear and fall over backwards onto her rider, so my opinion is the people who offer critism of the bitless seem to forget that just as serious accidents can happen with a bit! Having said that, every horse is different, just as people, so I guess it is a matter of finding what works best for each individual horse.
I have now officially tried the Dr. Cook and the Nurtural Bitless. I have discovered that they both seem to work well on my horses. I feel that the Dr. Cook one seems to feel like it stretches more where the reins meet the bridle. However, this could be because it is a synthetic leather and the Nurtural is nylon. The circle x under the horses jaw in the Nurtural holds the cross of straps under the horses jaw...I am not really clear on whether or not it makes any difference to the horse. Also, Nurtural bridles do not get the "hugging" feeling the same way, as the area around the pole is stationary and doesn't move. If anyone else out there has tried the two let me know if you can feel any difference in the control of your horse between these two bridles. I suggest it is minimal, but one side observation, it seems to be easy for particularly fuzzy jawed horses, to get little hairs stuck in the circle x design of the Nurtural. This may cause discomfort to the horse if their hair under their chin is pulled everytime you whoa or turn.
People who say the Dr Cook's is harsh probably don't understand how it works. It is true that SOME bitless bridles can be harsh, particularly ones like the English hackamore which puts leverage on the horses nose if used unsympatherically. But the Dr Cook's bridle is so mild it can be used by a complete beginner on a highly trained dressage horse and they can't hurt the horse in the mouth. There is a lot of confusion around bitless bridles as they are often all lumped together and called hackamores, even though they all work on different principles.
Lisa - your comment about people talking about the horse pushing through pressure and rendering the bridle is interesting. If the horse is correctly trained, and using Monty type methods I would not have thought this would be a problem. Unlike with a bit, there isn't much to push against. By the same token a horse with a bit that is either uncomfortable or with a heavy handed rider will continue pushing harder until the rider replaces the bit with a stronger one, and yet a stronger one again. Horses will run away from pain and discomfort, and a painful bit, rather than acting as a brake will just make the horse want to run away even more! As you say though, all horses are individuals and it's up to us to take the time find out what suits them.
I agree! I think people who judge the bitless bridles have not properly researched them. Also, I think some people put them on and don't give the horse any adjustment time. They try too much too soon ...ie within the first 1/2 hour and then when the horse doesn't react perfectly, they decide the bridle is useless. I found Dr. Cook's experiment on his website fascinating. They are a series of videos showing a horse riding bitted and then immediately after, with the bitless. A trained judge who judges competions, graded the movements each time. It was quite interesting to see the range of improvements right off. You can watch these on bitless bridle.com or on you tube.
I am so grateful 6 months ago I discovered Dr. Cook's bitless bridle. My 9-yr old mare loves it. We have made great progress in a short time. We enjoy our rides much more, she feels more relaxed, better balanced, just happier in every way. The bridle works great in both flat work and jumping. I certainly do recommend it. If it feels good, it must be good. Every horse is different, try what feels best for your horse.
So, today I took my mare out for her first trail ride in the bitless! I could not believe how much control I had. I am use to her being very silly and prancing sideways, which always made me want to slow her more. Today, she took the lead, occasional spook but recovered quickly and no spiraling behavior issues! She stopped perfectly and was much more relaxed and speed controlled! I am so glad to have had such a positive experience!
I looked on YouTube and there are so many videos of people doing amazing things with bitless bridles - dressage, jumping, western riding. It's very encouraging and inspirational. They may not be the solution for every single horse, but they definitely have their place - you can see that many of the horses wearing them look happy and comfortable.
Apparently in I think it is the Netherlands they are allowed to race them professionally in the bitless!
Having asked a friend of mine to purchase a Dually Halter for me in the USA he has come back with a dr. Cook's bitless bridle.
Not doubt about the usage as a bridle but i was guessing if I could use it also as a schooling halter, in case should i tie the lounging rope to one of the side rings as on the dually halter?
Emilio - check the Dr Cooks website, there is a user manual which explains how you can use the bridle to lunge either with or without reins.
I am using the Nurtural bitless and absolutely love it.
There is also the Micklem Multibridle from Irish Horseware. :)
I know of a riding school that had gone totally bitless, so none of the kids can hurt the horses mouths.