I recently received a phone call from a woman who rides in a bitless bridle. She had a new riding instructor, who uses bits. The instructor told her she was open to bitless bridles, so my client felt she would be ok, but then the new instructor announced that all the horses’ problems were due to not having a bit. This is an extremely hard situation for any rider because obviously we go to someone far more experienced than ourselves for lessons. The instructor will always hold the balance of power because of this, and we can easily doubt ourselves or even do things we are uncomfortable with because the instructor tells us to. The thing is, if the instructor had ridden the horse with a bit in his mouth, she would not have attributed all his problems to the bit. The moment a bitless rider has a problem with their horse, the first thing you will hear is it’s because they have a bitless bridle. I have yet to hear anyone say that a horse’s problems are due to having a bit in their mouth so it should be removed immediately. But the topic of bridle style is first up with a bitless rider. Other potential reasons for a problem – body pain, lack of training, incorrect riding, environmental issues, poor communication, wrong horse breed or any other reason, seem to disappear. Some people have their horses at agistment centres where they are the only bitless rider. Other people can be judgemental about a bitless rider, and just like the instructor, blame any imperfections on the bitless bridle. The newness of bitless bridles can be confronting for people who are uncomfortable with change. But change is inevitable, and desirable. Bits have been around for over 5000 years. The modern-day design is almost identical to that from 5000 years ago. We have advanced so far in many other areas but the method we use to ride horses has stagnated. It is time for an upgrade. Bitless bridles are here to stay. All around the world people are discovering how amazing they are and throwing their bits in the bin. If you are surrounded by bitted riders, hold your head up high and proud, knowing that you are thinking of your horse’s welfare and taking a huge step toward improving this by removing the bit. If you have an instructor who is pretending to support bitless bridles while undermining your confidence in them, but you want to continue bitless, you will need to explain that you are not going to ride with a bit for any reason and ask them if they are happy to continue knowing this. If they are not, then it is not the right instructor for you. I know it can be hard to state your wishes with some people, but again, if the person is not open to your wishes do you really want them in your life anyway? There are other people in the same situation. It’s a great idea to join bitless Facebook groups or sign up for my newsletter (link at bottom of every page on the website). There are so many bitless riders now, reach out and feel the support of a likeminded community. Together we can help make the world a better place for horses and grow strong in ourselves as we do it. If you want to ring or email me about anything in this article or just to chat and share your own story, please feel free to do so, contacts below.
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