A horse bridle is a piece of horse riding equipment used to direct and guide the horse. A bridle is generally made up of the headstall, which holds a bit that goes in the mouth of the horse, with reins that attach. Generally all bridles use a noseband that is designed to put pressure on the sensitive areas of the horses face to provide direction and control from the rider.
At Mustad Saddleworld we have many different types of horse bit and horse bridles, including bitless bridles, that you can choose from. Each bridle design is chosen to suit the size of the horse or the purpose for the horses bridle.
Which Bridle is Right for You?
A standard ‘bitted’ bridle includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit.
Bitless bridles differ in that they do not include a ‘bit’ and instead apply pressure to parts of the horse's face and head, but not to the mouth.
So what’s the difference and which one should I choose?
A bitless bridle, sometimes known as a ‘hackamore’ (technically a hackamore is a traditional style of bitless bridle), is often used to train a young or inexperienced horse, or one that is otherwise unable or unwilling to take a bit due to injury or other reasons. Most trainers will transition to a standard ‘bitted’ bridle after about a year.
Bitless bridles are often used in endurance and trail riding but are rarely seen competitively in other disciplines. Bitless bridles are limited in the level of direction control and disciplines such as dressage require constant fine-tuned control of the horse’s movement, making bitless bridles unusable. For example side-to-side movement of the horse's head is achieved through large hand or arm movements, known as "plow reining" – which is highly undesirable in this discipline.
Some people however swear by the bitless bridle, asserting that a bitless bridle should always be used, and claiming that a bit can cause physical and mental issues in the horse. On the other hand, some say that like any piece of horse gear, a bitless bridle can also inflict pain in the wrong hands.
Click the following links to learn more about bitted horse bridles and bitless bridles.