Rarely have I seen as discussed a topic as bit vs. bitless. Therefore I have now decided to make my statement on the subject and share it with you…
Why do I ride without a bit?
I have been asked this question so many times and yet the best answer I have been able to give is that I have found no reason to use one. I often see that people who use bits are looking down on people who don’t and the other way around. Honestly I don’t understand why it has to be that way. Personally I have no problem with people who use a bit. I only have an issue with people who misuse a bit. There is a huge difference between the two and in my opinion it is no different from people who USE a bitless bridle and people who MISUSE a bitless bridle. No matter what kind of equipment it should be used properly and if it is, then you can use whatever you want from my point of view. As long as it works for the horse as well I see no reason to feel otherwise.
I have considered a few times to try out a bit on Alvaro. Not because I could not control him. Not because he would not listen. Not because I needed more power to make him comply. I considered it because what if he happened to like it better? What if he felt good when I did not have to use a noseband which you usually do with a bitless bridle? To me THESE are the right reasons to consider or choose a bit.
“When you do not need it, then you can use it”
Do you use or do you depend?
What makes the huge difference in my world is whether you use the equipment you have or if you depend on it. It applies to the use of bits as well as bitless options. If you use the equipment you have it means that you do not take advantage of the power and control it can provide you. It means that you will be able to work your horse both with or without it. Maybe not exactly the same, but he will still understand the cues and comply nicely if you ask him for something. It means that you use it to give light help to guide your horse in whatever you do. If you depend on your equipment on the other hand it means that you need the power and control it provides you. It means that you depend on the equipment to train your horse because he otherwise will run away, become dangerous or stop listening. It means that you make your horse do things because you can instead of inviting him and waiting for him to be ready for it.
Maybe some of you have seen videos from western shows where they ride around with curb bits and long shanks and then suddenly take the bridle off and performs the exact same thing without any equipment? That is an example of using the equipment, but not depend on it.
So do you use or do you depend?
Patience, accept and understanding…
Riding a horse is not necessarily an easy job and no one have ever said it should be. Yet it seems like some people think that if the horse does not obey at their first wink they need to take more control to MAKE IT obey. Usually this ‘taking control’ is done by getting a bit or a sharper bit that will be able to cause more pain if you allow it. Once again this is a case of depending on the equipment rather than using it for light communication where nobody is forced, but asked and guided. Respectful communication can happen with a bit, a bitless bridle or with no equipment at all. I don’t matter tools as long as you know how to use them instead of becoming dependent on them. You should always seek to find the solution that fits best for your horse first of all. What is the use if you find the solution that fits you better, but it doesn’t match your horse?
Riding a horse takes patience, accept and understanding if you wish for a healthy partnership. You might need to make compromises, wait patiently for your horse to follow your guidance or understand that some things are more difficult for him than others. That is how partnership works – you support and accept each other!
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