After several thousand years of domestication it’s inevitable that a certain degree of anthropomorphism has crept in to the relationship that we have with our domesticated animals. And perhaps, like familiarity, anthropomorphism breeds contempt. Or, if not contempt, then at least a certain degree of complacency. After all, when we only ever view animals with our anthropocentric glasses on they seem like lesser versions of ourselves. They can’t talk, they can’t drive cars, they can’t update their Facebook status. But what an anthropocentric perspective fails to acknowledge is that if the boot was on the other foot (or paw) it would be us who were lesser versions of them. How slowly we run. How blind and deaf we are. How badly we fly.
We really like our bitless bridles and use them for many reasons. They can help improve calmness, jumping technique and self carriage. They are great for riders that can’t stop fiddling with the reins and they teach us a great deal about how each individual horse likes to carry his head in order to have the best vision. But mostly we use our bitless bridles because they provide a training task that is different to everyday and because it’s great fun to ride bitless. Read part one of our going bitless articles here.
We use our own design of bitless bridle because they are simple, there is no time delay between the release of the aid and the release of the pressure, and it’s very compatible with the aids that we train during groundwork. Basically, our bridle is a cavesson noseband with reins attached to the side. We have always found it to be simple and the transition from bit to bitless is really quite straightforward. You can purchase a Sustainable Equitation Bitless Bridle here.
Lots of people like the idea of riding bitless but are not completely sure where to begin or if it’s worth the time and effort required – not to mention the extra expense of another piece of gear. However, the transition to bitless riding is not only relatively straight forward it is also a great way to enhance your horse’s training and can help develop calmness, improve self carriage and also fine tune jumping technique.
We use a bitless bridle on all of our own horses – not all of the time, but usually at least once per week. Any training they can do in a traditional bridle; they can also do in a bitless one. So, they will jump, cross country school, do working equitation obstacles, dressage and general fitness work in their bitless bridles.
Dr Portland Jones and Sophie Warren
Sophie and Portland live and work together in the Swan Valley. They are both focused on implementing evidence-based training methods in order to improve the welfare of horses and the safety of riders. Sophie and Portland train horses, coach, lecture, write and run a team of competition horses as well as managing a family of children, dogs and two rodent eradicating cats.