What is a Bitless Bridle?
A bitless bridle is a bridle where no bit can be attached; the horse does not have a bit in its mouth. Instead, the reins by a bitless bridle are attached to rings or shanks from the bridle. A snaffle bridle puts pressure on the horse's head and in the horse's mouth. A bit acts on the sensitive part in the horse's mouth where no teeth are and puts pressure behind the poll; The horse gets released from the pressure by putting his head downwards.
A bitless bridle has different systems. Each system puts a different pressure on the horse's head.
The different systems of a bitless bridle are:
There are several reasons why riders go bitless. First, some horses are so sensitive in the mouth that they do not accept a bit because they have had a bad experience with a bit. If your horse has been to the dentist, it is usually not allowed to ride with a bit for a few days; a bitless bridle is then a solution to ride.
You can also go bitless for a change or because you don't like the idea of using a bit in your horse's mouth.
How to start Bitless
Every horse is different; some are more sensitive than others. So which bitless system is most suitable for your horse? You will only really find out by trying out. If you want to start bitless, it's best to start with a Cavesson or Side Pull. We recommend a cavesson for young horses or horses that tend to tilt. With a cavesson, the rings are more at the front of the nose, the horse will tilt less with the head, and the correct bending in the body can be requested.
That is possible and allowed in The Netherlands. The KNHS has excluded several bitless bridles, but many bitless bridles are approved for official competitions.
You can read which bitless bridles are allowed on the KNHS website.
Since 2010 you are officially allowed to drive competitions with a bitless bridle. Then that was allowed up to and including the L2 class. From 2016 you can also start bitless in the M2 class and from April 2021, you can start bitless up to and including the ZZL class.
In 2010 there were separate bitless classes for bitless competitions with different protocols. This made the KNHS, next to South Africa, the second national federation to allow bitless riding. The choice to have this move in separate sections was to be able to monitor the development.
In 2014, the KNHS included bitless riding in the regular classes, because the number of starts in the separate categories was low. In addition, the KNHS wanted to make it possible to start bitless up to and include the L2 class in the competition.
In 2016, the KNHS allowed bitless riding up to and including the M2. class
in 2021 the KNHS allowed bitless driving up to the ZZL class.
Need advice on a Bitless Bridle?
Through years of experience with different horses and different bitless systems, we can advise you when making a choice. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us via email or WhatsApp. Tell your wishes, what you run into, and your horse's training level. You will receive personal advice as soon as possible.