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cross-under bitless bridle

Cross-Under Bitless Bridle


It can be confusing when first deciding to try bitless riding. The amount of different styles of bitless bridles on the market now is astonishing. This is great as it indicates a growing interest in the horse world, but it can also make it difficult. I will try and shed some light on the different styles, how they work and for which situations they are most likely to be appropriate. 



lightrider rope bitless bridle

Side-Pull Bitless Bridle

Basically all bitless bridles are a variation of either cross-under or side-pull. Cross-under bitless bridles have two straps that cross behind the jaw (hence the name) and apply pressure around the whole head while side-pulls have the reins attached to the sides of the bridle and apply pressure to the nose.


Cross-Under Bitless Bridle

The cross-under bitless bridle distributes pressure all around the head in a ‘head-hug’, so when the rider applies pressure only a small amount is felt by the horse in each place. The same amount of rein pressure is used as with any other gear, but it's distributed. The horse feels the pressure behind the jaw, at the sides of the head, on the poll and the nose. This makes the bridle very humane as it’s virtually impossible to hurt a horse with this style, making it brilliant for novice and experienced riders alike. The other thing this does is make the bridle very effective. The horses’ whole head is in your hands as you ride, rather than just the nose or mouth. This distributed pressure also ensures the horse does not get a sore spot on the nose. The origional cross-under Bitless Bridle was developed by Dr Cook after many years of research and is still the best on the market. 


Side-Pull Bitless Bridle

The side-pull feesl the same as a halter to the horse, as the pressure is on the nose. If you have a well trained horse that can be ridden in a halter then this is a good choice. There are lots of different styles of side-pull on the market. There are straight side-pulls, where the reins attach to the bridle such that the pressure is all on the nose, plus some with a sliding chin-strap. These have approximately 90% of the pressure on the nose, and 10% behind the jaw. These can also be turned into straight side-pulls by clipping the reins onto both rings at the sides. There are also side-pulls that have mechanisms to increase the leverage on the nose (Hackamores and Bosals are both leverage bridles). 

I tried one horse in a side-pull, resulting in no response to the rein aids, but when I tried the cross-under he was super happy and fully responsive to all aids. With another I tried a cross-under and he was head tossing, so I tried a side-pull and he was happy and responsive to the aids. Ultimately your horse will tell you what they want, every one is different.

Whichever style of Bitless Bridle you choose, it will be a step up for the horse. At the end of the day, any style of bitless bridle will be better for your horse than a bit.


If you have any further questions relating to types of bitless bridles I am more than happy to help, please feel free to contact me.  Ph. 0401 249 263

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