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Bitless Bridles: The Humane Way To Control Horses
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Bitless Bridles: The Humane Way To Control Horses

A bitless bridle is a generic term used to describe a wide range of headgear for horses, which enable the rider to control and communicate with them without placing a bit in the mouth. These include the hackamore, bosal and sidepull, to give some examples. This type of bridle is a  far more humane method of control, as metal bits cause pain and sometimes mouth damage and bleeding to horses. The traditional bit is actually a painful and invasive method of communication with the horse, as opposed to the bitless bridle, which is painless and non-invasive (the bit is invasive inasmuch as it involves inserting a foreign body into a body cavity) This is, of course, why they were invented, as they act on one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and so the horse will respond to the rider to avoid the pain.

I am concerned about the inhumane aspects of using a bit, so I am all in favour of the bitless bridles. A  bit (any bit) causes a horse pain, whether or not the rider is aware of the fact. Here are listed all the disadvantages of the bit:

1. Pain, besides being cruel to the horse, causes behavioural problems that are more serious than previously realised.

2. Manifestations of pain increase the likelihood of accidents to both horse and rider.

3. The bit is a common cause of asphyxia (‘thickness of wind,’ ‘roaring,’ and ‘choking-up’).

4. The bit is a common cause of several diseases for which the cause has previously been listed as unknown (e.g. the headshaking syndrome and dorsal displacement of the soft palate, and others).

5. The bit is a common cause of poor action, stumbling, and shortened stride and, because it reduces the supply of oxygen, results in premature fatigue, breakdowns, falls and limb bone fractures.

 6. Removal of the bit benefits not only those horses that riders recognize as ‘hating the bit’ but also those in which the rider has never recognized any such aversion.

7. Removal of the bit makes riding safer, simpler and more satisfying for the rider.

8. Removal of the bit enhances performance, reduces accidents and promotes the welfare of the horse.

With a bitless bridle the control is maintained by means of a noseband or cavesson. It appears that the noseband was one of the earliest tools invented to control the horse, the bit came later. There is a correlation between the sensitivity of the noseband and the amount of tension in the reins needed to get a response from the horse. Nosebands may add some pressure to the nose, when the reins are applied, depending on certain factors. 

Here are two excellent websites, below, which give  more details about these bitless bridles, where to get them and how to use them:

www.inspirationalhorsemanship.co.uk

www.nuturalhorse.com

I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it informative. Your votes and comments are much appreciated.

Picture courtesy of www.nurturalhorse.com

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  1. naturegirl
    Hey, is this Maggie?
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    1. Chestnut Mare
      Chestnut Mare
      It is indeed! You know me then? Are you from the Flaming Vegan?
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      1. Chestnut Mare
        Chestnut Mare
        Btw, I have just voted and commented on your blog about the White Horse of Ufffington! I loved it, as I know it well, from childhood! I notice one of your posts says you are a vegan, like me, so are you also on the Flaming Vegan? Please identify yourself! (I don't suppose you are from England as well, are you?!)
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        1. naturegirl
          It's me, Annie! Please come vote on my new article! Glad to see you here!
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          1. Chestnut Mare
            Chestnut Mare
            I thought it was! I have voted on a couple of yours here, I will have a look at your new one shortly. Have you voted for this post of mine though? Only I was on 3 before, and I am still on 3, expected to be on 4 if you voted! Maybe it didn't register, it does that sometimes. Would you mind trying again, seeing if it sticks the second time? PS I just got my two missing payments from TFV, wooohooo!
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            1. naturegirl
              I finally got mine from TFV, too. Thank God. I was starting to wonder if we were getting jipped. Your number four shows up for me, so it should be OK for you too!
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              1. naturegirl
                It may be because Kristo admitted to always gertting paid.
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                1. Chestnut Mare
                  Chestnut Mare
                  Thanks a lot Annie. Yes, I am on 4 now. I was wondering if they were cheating us too! Really glad to have my payment, now I can carry on blogging for TFV, I always have so many ideas for that site. Hope to see you back there soon!
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                  1. naturegirl
                    Now my problem is Rolling Without Limits, though. I didn't get paid for that one and I don't want them to stop when they're on a roll... this is weird.
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                    1. Chestnut Mare
                      Chestnut Mare
                      It is....I am wondering if it is some kind of admin problem, relating to the fact that they are now running several sites. Maybe they are getting confused with them all, a lot more work to do, which is why some of the payments are going astray! After all, the payments for TFV only started becoming erratic about a month ago, and wasn't that not long after RWL went live? Too many irons in the fire, maybe that's what it is! They have just launched another site as well, according to Akanksha, so if they have all these new sites, I presume it means they are not running out of money! I expect you just have to be patient with the payments, you will get them eventually.
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                      1. naturegirl
                        I still smell a rat. It doesn't seem normal to me.... I mean, why would they have lost so many writers and readers for TFV if they were really honest with everyone all the time, and doing things the right way? Anyhow, I'm actually surprised you didn't get a negative comment from another writer here about your post. You're not the only one to say that bitless bridles are the way to go, and one person, out of frustration, wrote another one saying that it is very judgmental to say that the only humane way to treat a horse is by not using a bit. She went on to say that it depends on the horse. I agree with you, but I don't know if she is going to say something...
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                        1. Chestnut Mare
                          Chestnut Mare
                          She hasn't done so far, and I am most surprised as well! I expected to get quite a lot of criticism for this post, but I am glad I haven't so far (if you get it though, you just have to take it on the chin, don't you?) I know that blog you mean: I actually read it and commented on it, inviting the writer to look at this blog of mine, but she doesn't appear to have! If she has, she hasn't commented anyway. I am trying to keep an open mind about the late payments for TFV and RWL. They say it has been a PayPal problem, but that has happened twice now, so you would think, if it is a genuine technical problem, they would have sorted it out by now. If it happens again, I think we can safely assume there is something fishy going on! I notice you made TPs btw with your most recent blog on TFV - have you been paid for that yet? If you haven't, maybe it is cause for concern.
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  2. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Good blog with a lot of information in it, I'll check out the sites when I have more time. Just my opinion, it's much easier to start a horse out young with a bit less bridle, however once their older it's harder to get them to change over. It depends on a lot of factors not just the horse, but the person as well as to how well they do in a bit-less bridle. I've seen a number of "good riders" break noses with hackamores & bozells. Both horse & rider/trainer need to be trained on how to use either bit or bit-less & unfortunately that's not something most folks take into consideration. Voted :)
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    1. Chestnut Mare
      Chestnut Mare
      Thanks a lot for your vote and comment Rene. Yes, you could well be right about that; it is better to start them off really young with a bitless bridle. So you have known horses have their noses broken with hackamores,etc? Poor things! Clearly there are pros and cons to both types of headgear, different factors, as you say. You may be interested in my latest blog for this site, The Horror of Horse-Racing, so please check it out and vote if you like it. :-)
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      1. Rene Wright
        Rene Wright
        Yes, :( It was very sad occasions at 2 different rodeos. Both barrel racers.
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