Prefer To Use A Bit?
I realize many disciplines still require the use of bits, and you may have strong reservations about throwing yours away. If your horse is running through the bit, you may be thinking, “How in the heck would I control him without anything in his mouth?” Well the answer is simple. The very thing that you have been relying on to “control” your horse is the very thing that causes your horse to become uncontrollable in an emergency situation. The very time when you really need it!
In high stress situations, the hands on the reins that are attached to the bit are not as sensitive or forgiving as when everything is going well. When OUR life is in jeopardy just as is the case of our animals, our survival instinct kicks in. Most of us just want to escape the pain and we will run to do so.
I know bees equal pain, you should see me run to escape a little ole bee sting- survival instinct. If you try to hold me with force I will still try to run till I feel safe.
While mounted OUR knee jerk reaction to survive is to snatch the reins in an effort to stay on, thus applying a huge amount of force to the sensitive bars of the horse’s mouth. In normal situations the psi (pressure per square inch) that the bit applies to the bars is perhaps just a minor agitation to your horse, not severe enough to cause your horse to check out, possibly bolting, bucking, or rearing until he liberates himself of his rider, thus easing the pain to his mouth.
In an emergency, many times this extreme pressure is what PREVENTS him from being able to LISTEN to our aids. I know this to be true from personal experience as I routinely get on horses I have never met, upon our first introduction. I am self- employed as traveling trainer that specializes in rehabilitating problem horses. Upon our first meeting I assess the relationship between the owner and rider. I always see problems with leading and lunging, and once the owner mounts up I see issues with communication via the bit.
Most start with mounting up. Refusal to stand, then continue with evading the bit by throwing the head up, raising the head when asked to backup, refusing to back up, plowing through the bit. Not giving to the bit when asked to get soft in the bridle.
The bit only works if a horse actually responds to it in a manner you expect him too. No bracing, no misunderstanding of rein or leg cues, just soft and willing. No confusion, just harmony between horse and rider.
If I saw this harmony, I would not have been called in the first place to fix a issue under saddle. I always remove the bit replacing it with a Double Diamond rope halter with reins attached or Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle and immediately change the undesirable behaviors. I am able to get the horses’s attention on my request, correct bad behaviors, and get the pair back on the right track.
Once we have made changes in the horse's behavior, allow him to see he will get corrected, but not overcorrected, he will behave much better. You can still show using your bitted bridle, schooling bitless at home, perfectly able to go back and forth, assuming your horse does not have a serious issue going on inside his mouth that prevents him from ever being comfortable while bitted.
I have a Oldenburg that can go happily back and forth between bittled or bitless, I've had several dressage riders ride him bitless noticing no difference in his way of going.
If a owner can demonstrate that they can walk and trot - no canter necessary using their bitted bridle. I'll ride their horse better without a bit.
I also put the first rides on colts, without a bit. I have started over 200 young horses, with and without bits. I've never had a first ride buck.
The bit does not control the horse, the training, or re-training does.
It does not matter how long your horse has been ridden in his bit, He'll love going bitless, and if you need to you can put his bit back in once we've fine tuned him again, and he will behave better that he ever has!
Read what a a talented dressage rider had to say about our sessions with her two horses...
Dear Cathie, I'm taking this snow bound opportunity to share my gratitude for your training help with my two dressage horses. Truth be told, when I called this fall, I was so angry and frustrated I did not think there was anything that would help me. Desperation is a powerful motivator for change and learning, and that was the mood when you stepped on the scene. My oldenburg has shown PSG, but his periodic spooks made me so angry with him it got in the way of all our training. My naturally gifted lusitano and I managed to score well at 3rd level, but his hysterical reaction to cues was undermining our training, too. Logically, the common factor was me, and I was FURIOUS that for all my study, practice and care, my horses were telling me I wasn't good enough.
Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters) Colt starting, problem horse professional, gun toting (in case I needed to be put out of my misery), spook proofing Cathie Hatrick Anderson. Because my problem was not performing FEI dressage movements; my problem was that my horses stopped listening to my cues. I won't bore anyone with the details of unraveling this tangle of emotion or the exercises to get 100% of the horse's mind on the job.
What I would like to share with the readers of your testimonial page: Keep it simple, get observable results and always do your homework. Cathie is uniquely effective because every training session will include all of these components. She expects to help her students over the roughest patches by teaching them to handle the bad times exactly as she would: Safely, confidently and with compassion for horses and their people. Many Thanks, Lee Metzger 2/15/15
Please go look at my you tube videos here is a young horse her fourth ride under saddle, she will go on to a bitted bridle.
Her first ride...
Last updated 2/17/2015