Lv 5
Beth asked in PetsHorses · 6 years ago

Bitless Bridle Usage?

My horse isn't even green broke yet. She has a very soft mouth and responds well to the eggbutt snaffle I have her in. I have also rode her with just a halter before, although (obviously) wasn't her best in it.

My brother bought me a bitless bridle for my birthday. I fitted it but haven't used it yet, since I know nothing about them. When I do use it we will be in a round pen.

My Questions:

1. Is there anything unique I should know about these bridles?

2. Is there a trick to them, or is it pretty plain "what you see is what you get"?

3. The bridle looks gentle. Is it? For this horse, I'd say gentle is good.

4. Is there a best time I should start her with it?

Any comments, tips or experiences are MORE than welcome.

TRAINING: Her training will be predominately western in nature, although her main purpose will be as my mountain/trail mount. She is very sensitive, and incredibly sharp. She picks up on cues quick.


@Crow: The bridle is in the barn at the moment, but it is a cross-under. Whether it is a Dr Cook is not known to me at the moment. However, by viewing the pictures, it is exactly like a Dr Cook (and probably is). Thank-you for answering even though my question was stupidly under-developed.

@Grace: She's had her ground work, sacked out, and does follow without being physically led/comes to calling. Stops and stays when the rope is dropped. She also stops on voice command (before bit assist), backs ups/crosses over with pressure (on the ground and when mounted), and we are working on her stopping with my body and backing while mounted without pressure on the bit. We are also working on mounted turning on the front/back end. However, she is still in the early stages of learning.

Since she is still young and untrained I like to have some leverage over my mount. The halter was fine for the first couple of days, but I find it is ineffective when trying to have her do something practic

3 Answers

  • Finley
    Lv 7
    6 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    WHAT KIND of bitless did you get?

    A hackamore? (bosal with reins)

    Dr Cook cross under?

    Indian Bosal?


    1. can't answer this without knowing what you have

    2. see answer in #1

    3. can't know without knowing what you have

    4. any of the bitless bridles mentioned above can be the very first thing you horse ever feels on her face. there is no time when it's best or won't be a good idea.


    If it's a Dr Cook Cross Under Bitless, I suggest you go to their website ( and research what you have. It's a simple and very effective bridle AND is truly gentle. This is what I use, so I'm very familiar with it. To see how it works, go to the site. It'll tell you everything.

    Even a beginner to bitless bridles can use one safely and effectively.

    This can't be harsh, but can be annoying to your horse if used improperly.

    A bosal with reins?

    This can be harsh in the wrong hands.

    A "mechanical hackamore" is a piece of steel that has shanks, maybe covered in rubber or leather (nose band) and this is the worst thing you can use. It's basically a new invention for lazy riders who use pain to control the horse.

    The Indian bridle is like a cross under but it may be just the chin/jaw where the pressure is. I don't know enough to say about these.

    The Side pull is basically a halter with reins attached to the sides. It's not effective. It's just something to use when you want to ride around and not really ask your horse for anything other than basic steering. This should only be used on well broke horses since it doesn't help in training.



    A Dr Cook Cross Under (even if it's not officially a Dr Cook, it's all the same):

    can be used at any time.

    you can ride a totally unbroke horse with it, or an older horse that's been ridden for years.

    what's important is that you introduce the bridle to the horse in the proper manner (on the ground, then under saddle within an enclosed area so the horse gets the feel of it before you go trail riding or ride out in an open field)

    The cross under is a great bridle.

    It DOES give a release of pressure (despite what you might hear).

    Once the horse understands it (can take a couple of rides) your horse will like it

    One thing... you can't take out the slack and pull and hold and basically always pull on your horse.

    You will make the horse heavy on the front end (will make the horse pull against you)

    The reason is: there is no pain to tell the horse "don't lean on this bridle!"

    Which is not a bad thing... you just have to use it by opening and closing your fingers (think "nudge")

    It's a VERY clear tool vs a bit which is just in the mouth.

    It's a combination between a snaffle (side to side, on the side of the face) and a curb bit (pressure on the jaw and poll) and a hackamore (nose pressure)

    It's 3 in 1 BUT it has zero pain, no matter if you use it wrong (with too much pressure, or if you yank on it)

    You can do all you do in a this bridle.

    It's actually legal in jumping now, and in other's legal in lower level dressage!

    You also have an emergency brake with this that you don't have with a bit.

    If you pull back hard with a bit, the horse can rear up and you might flip him over on top of you.

    If you pull back hard with the cross-under, (use 1 hand only, pull to your chest not lower).... your horse will be forced to "nod" his head and the pressure will close down on the poll and the nose and will "jam on the brakes"

    And the horse will not feel pain and will have no reason to rear up vs a bit that can cause pain if two reins are pulled back during a bolt.

    Also... it does NOT work on "nerve points" like a hackamore does.

    It is a pressure that SPREADS out.

    So, it is NOT harsh.

    I know, I use it on all kinds of horses: from ones with terrible former handling (bolting, etc) to unbroke horses)

    Source(s): Me. I use a Cross Under bridle and it works great :-)
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  • Beau
    Lv 5
    6 years ago

    1. The Dr Cooks or cross over has a 'hugging' action on the head. Unlike bridles like the bosal or hackamore which put pressure on certain areas, it distributes pressure all around the face and can therefore be seen as milder than those type of bitless bridles. It's not good for a horse that can feel 'trapped' or is particularly head shy and should be used with a light hands or else the pressure system is pointless, and can cause a horse to headshake sure to try and evade the pressure.

    2. I've not used one yet (stuck with hackamores and headcollars myself) but people have said it's no different to ride in than a normal bridle. I'm not fully educated about the way it works but looking at the bridle, pulling one rein causing pressure on the oppisite side of the face; this should make the horse move away from pressure. However it does look confusing and my concern is that some horses would get mixed up.

    3. Because of the distributed pressure, I would say it is fairly gentle. Obviously it depends on your hands and being heavy handed will cause too much 'hug' on the horse's face.

    4. You know your horse better than we do. Try to ride in the best weather she works in and possibly lunge her beforehand. When you tack her up, gentle pull each rein to introduce her to the pressure and see how she reacts. If she moves her head the correct way, you're on the right track.

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  • 6 years ago


    First, aunt Grace tends to take a rather dim view of new "gadgets" for horses.

    But your bit-less bridle operates more or less like a snaffle in that you have a 1:1 ratio on a direct rein.

    The bit-less bridle, according to their own advertising, works on nerve points on the horses head. Well these nerve points are not exactly new science now are they?. Oh, did I give you Aunt Grace's definition of "Advertising"? It is fancy and expensive media hype designed to separate you from your money.

    These nerve points are the same as the ones that your knotted rope halter works on. Hm, Aunt Grace begs to ask why you need two pieces of tack that do the same thing? Oh, never mind that.

    The so called secret to the bit-less bridle is the release. Oh, wait, that is the secret to the knotted halter or the snaffle bit! oh my! : )

    If the pressure is applied appropriately (that is, as little as possible but as much as necessary) and then held firmly until the horse responds (the slightest try) and released completely and immediately at that exact second. And if this pattern is repeated a few times it becomes a conditioned response. Over time it becomes trained.

    Beth, your mare should be doing it all perfectly in a halter *before* being bridled. This will avoid anxiety in the horse which should be avoided if at all possible.

    Aunt Grace is so happy to hear that you have access to a round pen in which to work. This is the safe place to learn the one rein stop and the emergency dismount. These lessons should be at the top of your chart right now.

    Do not forget to teach leading manners. The horse you lead is indeed the horse you ride. You should be able to lead her (including backing up) on a very slack line from either side before you even consider riding.

    You never know, one day you might need to tuck the lead just barely into your belt loop so you can carry the saddle to the hitch rail to groom and saddle her! Won't you look like the smart trainer when she follows perfectly!

    When this is done you will be able to ride her in a jaw thong and it will not matter one bit! (pardon the little pun)

    Happy trails dear

    Source(s): handling, riding, training horses since 1966.
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