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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.

Beginners Riding Horses Bit-Free

A young girl riding a pony in a bitless bridle
Young Beginner Riding Bit-Free

For novice equestrians, the journey into the world of horseback riding can be both exhilarating and daunting. One aspect that often sparks debates among riders is the choice of bridle – specifically, whether to opt for a traditional bit or embrace a bitless bridle. In recent years, the latter has gained popularity, especially among beginners. This article delves into the benefits of using bitless bridles for those taking their first steps in the equestrian world.

Before exploring the advantages, it's essential to understand what a bitless bridle is. Unlike traditional bridles, which include a bit in the horse's mouth, bitless bridles operate without this metal piece. Instead, they use pressure points around the horse's head, nose, and jaw to communicate with them. 

1. Enhanced Comfort for the Horse:   Bitless bridles are designed with the comfort of the horse in mind. Traditional bits can cause discomfort or pain, especially for beginners who may not have mastered the art of maintaining a gentle feel. In my years in the horse world, I have seen numerous beginners riding horses with bits, and their inexperienced hands tugging on the reins, trying to get a horse to do as they ask. This is no fault of theirs, they have neither the experience, skill, nor feel for how to use the reins as a communication tool. They may also lose their cool because things aren’t working and jerk on the rein in frustration. Again, this is not a judgement, it can take years to find that calm steadiness required to work with horses, especially when things are not going well. 

2. Reduced Risk of Mouth Injuries:   Novice riders are in the learning phase, figuring out how to communicate effectively with their horse. In this process, unintentional harsh tugs or pulls on the reins can occur. Bitless bridles minimize the risk of mouth injuries that can result from such actions, fostering a safer environment for both horse and rider. 

3. Improved Safety:   If a beginner jerks on a rein with a bit at the end, pain is caused in the horse’s mouth, causing a fear response in the horse. A horse’s potential response to pain and fear include a desire to run away, bucking, rearing, pigrooting etc. I have seen quiet horses exhibit potentially dangerous behaviours in response to rough jerks on the bit. To sit on a 500kg flight animal and cause pain does not promote safety. For a horse to be safe they need to be in a calm relaxed headspace. When horses are in a stressed state their cortisol levels are raised triggering the flight response. With beginners’ safety must be the priority. This goes for everyone, but it’s crucial with inexperienced people who don’t yet understand what horse riding involves. 

4. Effective responses: Horses trained to a bitless bridle give the same responses to the same rein aids as a horse trained to a bit. No horse is born responding to a bit, the stop and turn responses are trained. The same training results in a horse that responds to a bitless bridle. No higher skill level is required to ride a bitless horse, as the horses’ responses are the same. 

5. Improved Communication:   Bitless bridles encourage riders to develop a deeper understanding of their horse's body language and subtle cues. Without relying on the direct pressure on the mouth, beginners learn to communicate through other means, such as shifts in body weight. This fosters a stronger bond between rider and horse based on trust and understanding. 

6. Encourages Softness and Responsiveness:   Riding with a bitless bridle encourages horses to respond to lighter cues. Beginners often struggle with achieving softness in their horse's movements, but bitless bridles provide a valuable tool in developing this desirable trait. Horses learn to respond to subtle signals, leading to a more harmonious and responsive partnership. 

As novice riders embark on their equestrian journey, the choice of equipment plays a crucial role in shaping their experience. Bitless bridles provide a gentler and more empathetic approach to communication between rider and horse. Beginners riding horses bit-free has many advantages. The enhanced comfort, reduced risk of injuries, improved safety, effective responses, improved communication and encouragement of softness and responsiveness makes bitless bridles a compelling choice for beginners seeking a harmonious and enjoyable connection with their equine companions.


Suzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.Dip.Couns.

Happy Horses Bitless

Considerate Horsemanship


Ph: 0401 249 263



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