Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard of the term bitless. It’s been everywhere, bitless groups, bitless workshops, bitless equality. It’s literally all-over social media and usually the answer when someone posts a bit problem on a chat group.
So why are people posting about going bitless and is it just the latest fad? It very much depends on who you talk to. It’s still thought of as a taboo subject in some circles, and a few old school cowboys like to promote their bits over a bosal. But when it comes down to it, I post about bitless and I train bitless because I believe that from the point of science and horsemanship, it’s the best answer. More than that, it’s a secret weapon.
The truth is that many riders who have turned to bitless are so in awe of the changes that they just want to tell everyone. It’s an expanding community who feel like they found a pot of gold and they are bursting to share it. I certainly feel that way about the difference it has made for me in both everyday horsemanship and competition.
You see 3 years ago, I was at the end of my tether. My horse wouldn’t go forwards at all, he wouldn’t listen to the rein signals. Every step felt like a constant battle, even getting on at the mounting block was like a chasing game.
However, today I can just walk to the mounting block and my horse will come with me, we can get out for hacks down the country lanes or gallop down the beach, we even began to compete and won our first TREC Ireland National Championship. And it didn’t start with some magical new horsemanship, it started with taking away the problem and making riding enjoyable for my horse.
So, for these past few years I’ve tried many techniques, I’ve worked with a lot of trainers and studied both equine behaviour and anatomy. I’m on a journey to find out what works for the horse, how can we remove the problems so we can communicate better with our horses.
The problem with bitless is that there hasn’t been a clear pathway of information. Few trainers possess the knowledge of bitless or know how to teach with it. It’s as if without the bit they have lost their communication tool. But what I learned, is that communication doesn’t come from the bit.
This past year I have been training with 2* event rider Niamh O’Carroll. Together we have created a masterclass on training. Following a successful UK teaching tour last year, I have filmed a course explaining the different types of bitless bridles, how they work and how to fit them. In my years of training and research, I discovered that different bridles didn’t work as well for different horses, so I developed a simple assessment process and scoring sheet that would instantly help the rider to select the bridle that most suited their horse(s). This DVD will show you how to select and fit the right bridle for your horse and transition to bitless with tried and tested techniques to use in and out of an arena.
Through self-learning and training, I hope to see less problems with bitless and more confident riders making progress with positive equine partnerships.