Scared Bitless [ 2013] Written by Epona.tv staff – Is it possible to ride a dressage horse without a bit? Is it safe and helpful to even give it a try? Those are the questions currently waiting to be answered by leading officials of the British Equestrian Federation, British Dressage, British Eventing, British Horse Society and the US Equestrian Federation. These governing bodies have been asked to consider allowing competitors to choose whether to ride with or without a bit when competing at dressage. Click here to read the Article in PDF Format
A Method For Measuring Bit – Induced Pain In The Ridden Horse  By the 19th and 20th centuries, when racing jurisdictions and the FEI first drew up competition rules for many disciplines, the horse’s bit had been in daily use since the Bronze Age. As a result, the bit was ‘grandfathered-in’ and no questions were asked. In racing, dressage, and some other disciplines, the bit was made mandatory as it was taken for granted that this common device was also effective. But the fact is that the bit’s time-hallowed status had never been tested. In July 2013 this changed when Dr. Robert Cook presented the results of the first numerical evaluation of the bit. Data from riders who completed a questionnaire and recorded the improved behavior and performance of 56 horses when switched from bit to bitless seriously questions the validity of the bit. The number of unwanted behaviors in each horse when bitted ranged from 5 to 60 with a median of 32. The number when bitless ranged from zero to 16 with a median of 2. Not less than 94% of unwanted behaviors were caused by the bit. To read the abstract, text and discussion of Cook’s paper “A Method for Measuring Bit-induced Pain and Distress in the Ridden Horse”, presented at the 2013 conference of the International Society of Equitation Science. Click here to read in PDF Format
Horsemanship, Sportsmanship And State Of The Science  Dr. Cook demonstrates through photographic documentation, what can be and what is, being accomplished using The Bitless Bridle.Click here to read in PDF Format
Bitless Success for 4-H Club in New England
While attending the Equine Affaire in Springfield this last November, we were involved in a discussion with a client concerning the problems they were having getting their local 4-H club to allow The Bitless Bridle in competition. Pamela LeBlanc happened to be passing by at the moment and stopped to share her success story, and followed up later by sending us an article she had written on the subject. Both her article and her supporting chart are excellent resources for any parents or trainers trying to gain acceptance for the Bitless Bridle from local 4-H organizations…
At Hidden Brook Farm, we’ve been riding bitless for quite a while and are very committed to it. So much so that although we have been working on receiving permission to show bitless in the Appaloosa breed shows and 4-H shows, we stopped showing until we could show bitless. Unfortunately, the Appaloosa circuit has not agreed to allow us to show bitless yet, but we are negotiating a separate class for the Spring Show through the Atlantic Appaloosa club even though it will not be nationally pointed.
I’m sorry, I can’t remember the gentleman’s name I spoke with, but he was chatting with a woman who was struggling with getting 4-H to allow people to show bitless with no success, and I mentioned our situation. The gentleman asked for a copy of my essay and information to include on the Bitless Bridle Website.
I’ve attached said article. As well as a chart we put together to present to our 4-H council. And although we faced TREMENDOUS opposition and emotion from people who were against our showing bitless LAST September, the New Brunswick 4-H Show committee added a special “bitless” class so that members could show bitless at our Provincial Show and also at their club achievement days. Bitless riders were not able to participate in any of the additional classes – but it was a good start. Last year, 5 members from 2 different 4-H clubs (all were my riding students) showed in the first every NB Provincial Show Bitless riding class. It went very well. And I hear that several more clubs have members who wish to compete bitless next year. Who knows, eventually it may be the largest class. Or perhaps they will allow us to show along with the regular classes. Here’s hoping! Several spectators commented that the horses in our class were much better behaved and in better control than those in the regular classes! So it’s a start.