I wanted to do a post here, even though I know y'all know most of my reasons, just to clear things up. I do not hate bits at all, but as I've researched, used different things, been on different horses, I've come to the conclusion that they aren't as necessary as people seem to think. For instance, I was talking to a follower of my instagram account that I've ended up being fairly good friends with, she has a horse that gets uncontrollable in the saddle and asked me what we did for Spirit. The answer was, circles, don't take the horse out for runs until you have them settled down, stay calm in the saddle, when you mount, don't just "GO!" but sit and walk and wait so the horse doesn't think saddle time=running time. We switched Spirit from a typical barrel racing bit (I have no idea what it was called or even looked like, mom dealt with that, but from what I understand, it was a pretty strong bit) and put him on a snaffle because he's sensitive on his face and can't handle a hack. After time, my mom barely has to touch her reins and use the bit, it's just kind of there. She on the other hand turned to severe bits, crops, spurs and etc. In my opinion (and you can all debate with me on this, haha) a severe bit and other forms of metal is never the answer. I actually directed her to Mare's post on bits and told her to read the comments because a lot of them were amazing and they put the facts into better words than I could've. The girl doesn't show, so she doesn't HAVE to use a bit (more on that later....) so I sent her a link to some bitless bridle sites and showed her the comments and articles. Yes, bitless bridles work on hard to handle horses. In fact, they tend to make those horses even better. With the bitless, you control the head and with a bit, you control less. So if we look at it that way, we shouldn't be shoving painful bits in their mouths but the opposite.
The other day, I watched a video on the effects of the bit and I wanted to post it before I continue. Even though I'm NOT 100% against bits and I don't expect you all to jump on my bandwagon, it's a very interesting video (even if you hate bitless, lol) and it teaches us a lot.
And that's just part one, but I don't feel like part two is necessary.
Whether we notice it or not, bits, a lot of the time, cause pain. If we were to put a metal bit in our mouths and have someone pull on it in our sensitive mouths, having to do what the horse does, jump, go through trails, walk/trot/canter, we probably wouldn't enjoy it as much.
The only reason I started riding bitless is because Red came with a hackamore. I didn't necessarily think about bits at all. Foolishly, I put a bit in Red's mouth, a simple snaffle bit and he told me that I wasn't listening enough. He freaked out and I went back to the hack. When I got my English tack, I put my spare hack on the bridle, just a rubber hack, and he was obviously in pain because of it. I hopped off in the barn and put my finger where his cheeks were and the rubber hack started pinching my fingers when I tugged the reins, this would hurt me a lot if someone was constantly pulling on the reins like I had just been. So I went back to my leather hack that had been fitted to him and noticed it was better, but not painless. And it got me thinking...if I don't like bits as much as I say I do, why do I like hackamores? They have the ability to cause pain, just like a bit, if not more than a bit. The pain is just in a less sensitive place. A lot of my fellow natural horsemanship lovers claim that hacks are natural, more natural than bits, but in all honesty, when you dig down deep, they aren't at all. If we believe bits don't have a place in natural horsemanship, the hackamore shouldn't either.
Winning this giveaway has made me research a lot more, not only on what goes in my horse's mouth, but what goes on his head. I think most people just say, "people have been doing it for years, so it's fine!" or "horse's are strong, they can deal with it." but they don't seem to grasp that while people have been doing it for years, we've developed different methods that may not work as well with a bit..and maybe those horse's in history were in pain? While the horse's are one of the strongest animals out there, they can still feel pain.
Now, onto the whole "well bitless bridles are banned in shows so we can't do it." thing, honestly, this is my main reason that I don't show. If I did, I'd have to put a bit in Red's mouth that I know he hates and make him do something he dislikes. But really..why are they banned? Why can't I go to a show in a bitless bridle? You helmet wearers get mad when helmets aren't a must at shows because you think of the rider's safety, which is awesome, but I don't understand why we aren't mad about the bit thing? A bitless horse can do anything a bitted horse can.
|They can jump. (From Dr. Cook's site)|
|They can barrel race. (From Dr. Cook's website)|
|They can drive. (From Dr. Cook's facebook page)|
|They can event. (From Dr. Cook's facebook page)|
|They can do dressage. (From Dr. Cook's facebook page)|
Red has been able to successfully dabble in dressage, trails, western pleasure and etc at the farm...all bitless. I'd love to know why we don't have the ability to ride bitless in shows because there is no possible good reason that we can't.
In pictures, you see the horse's mouth opened to relieve itself of the bit more often than not, but with the bitless bridle...I have yet to see an uncomfortable horse. There are almost always new cases of injuries from a hack or bit, but there is never an injury from a bitless bridle because, unless it's the riders fault and we just jerk their head around, the bridle isn't capable of hurting them. (we could also fit it too tightly, obviously. But once again..rider fault.)
No matter how gentle your hands are, it's easy to cause your horse pain with a hack or a bit. I'm not saying this because I believe you bit users are evil and should stop your cruel ways, I know so many people who use bits that care for their horse and love them to death, but when there is something on the horse's head, there is a chance for pain and our eyes should all be opened whether we like it or not. And I'll continue trying to get bitless bridles okay'd by shows in my area. ;)