Recently my husband related a story to me of an experience he’d had that day. He was talking with someone when the topic of horses came up and he was explaining what it is I do with them. He started talking about the bits in the mouth and the other person didn’t understand. Eventually it became clear that he thought those pretty metal rings at the side of the horses head were just that, pretty metal rings, for decoration. He had no idea they were holding a metal rod inside the horses’ mouth, which was manipulated by the rider. When he finally understood he was shocked and horrified. He really had no idea of what was happening.
This got me to thinking. How many other non-horse people also don’t know about this? Is it a big secret? And if so what would people think if they knew? Many people put a bet on racehorses, or watch them at a show, but never get up close enough to see what is happening. Once the bit is put in the mouth it closes and the bit can no longer be seen. Out of sight, out of mind? What if the true goal here wasn’t to help people see that horses can be ridden safely in a bitless bridle? What if the true goal was to let as many people know as possible exactly how horses are currently controlled with a metal rod in the mouth?
So the result is this article. I’m sorry for the ugly photo but I think sometimes it may be necessary to use strong images that really show what is happening.
The bit was invented by humans over 5000 years ago. At that time the general attitude of humans to animals was not as considerate as it is becoming now. The placing of a metal rod inside the mouth created sufficient pain to enable the people of that time to control the horse and thus use it for transport, farming and war. Up until that time the horse was mainly for meat. A long time has passed, 5000 years, and humans have evolved. We no longer see animals as objects and are beginning to realise that each animal is sentient, with its own thoughts and feelings and most importantly that it can feel pain. We have numerous animal welfare organisations and activists fighting for animal rights. Yet every day, everywhere, around the world, metal rods are placed inside horses’ mouths and manipulated and it seems few people notice, or are aware, of what that means.
I do not believe that if all humans knew of this that they would all condone it. Sure there will always be some who lack empathy for the suffering of others, but the majority of people do not desire for others to suffer. So if you’re reading this and it’s made you aware of the plight of horses, please pass it on to someone else. Ripples are powerful things, if people start talking about things, change happens. It is time for us to live our ideals. It is not good enough to say ‘it’s always been done that way’. Everything needs to evolve and change. This situation has persisted way too long. If you doubt the importance of what I’m saying put a metal rod inside your mouth and ask someone else to apply pressure and manipulate it. The inside of the mouth is very sensitive and moist. The membranes over the bones are very thin and contain many nerve endings. This is not a little thing I am talking about.
Perhaps somewhere in the future the idea of putting a metal rod inside a horses’ mouth will seem like an archaic idea. I live in hope for that day. In the meantime I help people transition their horses from bits to bitless riding and promote the use of bitless bridles wherever possible. For more information on the possible alternatives to bits with horses visit www.happyhorsesbitles.com
Suzy Maloney B.Eq.Sc.
Happy Horses Bitless
Lismore, NSW, Australia
Ph: 0401 249 263
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