I have looked at going bitless with Ben before now. I have tried a Dr Cook’s bridle, quite a while ago at home, which produced such a dramatic reaction that I dismounted sooner than I thought I would. I have tried a lightrider bridle in-hand and concluded from Ben’s reaction on release that his issue is with any restraint around his head rather than a bit as such.
So I have continued with my Myler comfort snaffle.
However, Ben has continued to produce large yawns prior to bridling and before a recent ride I paused, suddenly reluctant to put that bit into his mouth. We have had such nice rides recently. I have felt complimented by his coming up to me each time he sees me arriving at Sandra’s, even though it is always with a headcollar in hand. Sandra, of course, had bitless options for me and produced a simple sidepull, no more than a well-padded leather headcollar with rings at the side of the noseband.
We went straight out for our hack. During the ride I let Sandra and Cassie ride away from us and asked Ben to stay back. He required no more restraint than he would with a bit, and the bridle made me more conscious of how I used my body as I rode. My verdict at the end? It really felt no different to riding Ben with bit and it must have been nice for him to be able to eat some grass without being impeded by a bit.
The next day, I tried the lightrider bridle again. I had bought the rope version, as the English leather version was too expensive and the supplier was out of the beta model.
I don’t like it. It is fiddly to put on, requiring some fussing around the ears which Ben does not like. And in my hands it feels duller than the simple sidepull for some reason. When we stopped to talk to someone on the road, keeping Ben’s head up from the grass felt like a tug of war which I did not like. Also, the sliding piece under the jaw does not seem to slide very easily. (He possibly needs a bigger size – he is in the cob size here.) And visually, of no interest to Ben I know, I do not like the rope version on him.
After these two rides, my daughter came out to ride Ben. I put the sidepull on and she walked, trotted, cantered and popped a small jump and said that she forgot he had no bit.
(I have just returned to this post having been lured once again by the many choices of bitless bridle available on the internet – and, even worse, the many differing opinions.)
I am tempted to revisit Dr Cook’s bridle again. Since I tried it, Ben has had two craniosacral treatments which have definitely helped his sensitivity around his poll area and our relationship has continued to grow in mutual trust, so we may both relax more now with this bridle. I have been reading all the articles on Dr Cook’s website and they are very convincing.