Monday, January 5, 2009

Why Bitless and Barefoot? Part 2

One afternoon, I was spending my daughter’s naptime surfing the web (so easy to waste time in google-land!) for trail-safe, husband-safe, beginner-safe horses for sale, just out of curiousity. I ran across one gelding named Revere, and the ad specified that he was being ridden in a Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle, and that he was Certified Barefoot Trimmed.

I had never heard of either of these things before, and was intrigued the person writing the sale ad would have taken the time to specify hoof care and type of bridle (I could have understood listing the type of bit!), and began searching for information.

Go to for more information specific to the Dr. Cook’s bridle. After reading the site, I was convinced I had to try it and ordered a black beta headstall.

At the time I went ahead and rode a couple of times while waiting for the Dr. Cook’s to arrive. Arabee had been ridden in an eggbutt snaffle, and has always been very sensitive to any kind of pressure, whether through the halter on the ground or in the saddle. Most of the time I look in the direction I want to go and she goes, no need for rein pressure hardly at all. But, she always mouthed the bit big time right after bridling, and always tried to “root” by reaching her head down at a walk under saddle. I always tried to ride with very quiet hands, to keep her fussing down and be kind to her mouth.

When the Dr. Cook’s bridle arrived, I fitted it to Arabee’s head and tried it out first by ground driving. No big deal. I got on and Arabee was very relaxed and did not try any rooting. She didn’t spook. It was a very calm and relaxing ride. Maybe not because of the new bridle, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

As time has gone by, I have come to love riding bitless. Arabee is much more relaxed than when I rode with a bit. If I need to get a firm hold on the reins, I can do so without worrying about hurting her mouth. I believe that when I used to ride with a bit, my horse merely tolerated being ridden, now that we are bitless, I can just tell she enjoys my company up in the saddle. Now that is priceless!

**I promise someday I will post updated photos - this mare is fuzzy as can be this January, this is another photo from October when she was still slick summer coated.


OurCrazyFarm said...

I was tickled pink to see you included me in your blog list! I look forward to following your adventures with Arabee. What a beautiful horse! I have been riding with a hackamore for over 15 years, and do agree, it is much more pleasurable for the horse. I usually ride bare back, too. Good for you to learn how to trim your own horses feet! There's still too much snow and cold to ride in Wisconsin, so I will have to just enviously read about all yours! Terri

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

OK - you have inspired me to pull out the couple of bitless bridles I have in the tack room and try them out. LOL. I finally found a bit that my Arab LOVES so I haven't gotten around to it, but all my friends in endurance swear that there is such a difference with eating and drinking when they switch.

I have a rasp and I "clean up" my horses feet every 1-2 weeks and then have the farrier come out and trim ~12 weeks. Saves me money, but also have the reassurance of someone else looking at the feet. I really like my farrier, he does an excellent job, so this works pretty well. I do ride in shoes now because no hoof boot on the market seems to fit my horses very wide feet. :( However, both horses do well in shoes so it's not a big deal for now.