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Bitless bridles and treeless saddles..

21 replies

seeker · 31/08/2010 22:29


OP posts:
Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 31/08/2010 23:04

Love them! I used to have a barefoot Cheyenne? Saddle in red. It was really comfy and did wonders for my position as it naturally holds your leg bag in a dressagey position. I now own a cashel foam saddle and it is amazing. It weighs next to nothing but is really durable, and sooo warm to sit on in winter. The only thing I'll say is that on a smaller pony you don't get the lower leg contact, but for hacking either are fab. I've had both on a thirteen hander no probs and a bigger horse just as well. Bitless bridles are great as well, we have had backslide, scawbrig and dr cooks on assorted ponies and horses, they are particularly good on real smallies whose mouths are too small to comfortably hold a bit. (Shetland/welsh a).

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 31/08/2010 23:05

Hackamore, not backslide!

Callisto · 01/09/2010 08:00

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seeker · 01/09/2010 08:29

Interesting. Ds's pony needs new tack and she is very keen to have a bitless bridle. i think we'll give it a try - they aren't mega bucks so if it goes wrong it's not a disaster. The treeless saddles, which look perfect ffor her slightly odd shape (the pony, not dd!) might have to wait - eyewateringly expensive!

OP posts:
SkiHorseWonAWean · 01/09/2010 08:46

I'm a fan of both - with caveats employed:

i) personally I'm too heavy for a treeless saddle for any significant period of time.

ii) bitless bridles can be horrible devices of torture if not properly fitted and in the "wrong hands". :(

Callisto · 01/09/2010 08:48

Yes, bitless bridles need to be fitted just right and you do need soft hands imo. Is there anyone who can give your DD a demo on how to fit/use one correctly?

SkiHorseWonAWean · 01/09/2010 08:51

seeker - was it you who was asking for advice on your daughter getting the pony working in topline a few weeks ago? Tbh, if she's not achieving this I'd be wary about giving her a bitless bridle - unless - it's one of these Derby House pink nylon things which look more like a headcollar (my mother has been known to use them Hmm) - nice and loose I doubt she'd cause any damage, however i) would she have brakes? and ii) your dreams of her getting the pony working well would go out of the window...

seeker · 01/09/2010 08:52

I did wonder that about the bitless bridles - the instrument of torture thing, but all the websites talk about how good they are for inexperienced riders and how much "gentler" they aare. Dd has very light hands, so I think she's be fine. But Pony is used a few hours a week in a riding school for people who can ride a bit and need to move on - not absoulte novices. Do you think we shoud stick to a normal bridle when she's "at work"?

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Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 01/09/2010 10:25

With the exception of a Possibly a hackamore, I don't see the instrument of torture part at all. Dr cooks and scawbrig bridles are very comfortable and have no sharp edges or chains to cause injury. I'd say rather bitless than a mouth full of ironwork, especially with the fairly common overbitting and incorrect use I see regularly! We have a's and shetlands who had bits jammed into tiny mouths, who go beautifully in bitless, and strong Pelham wearers who do just as well for not having a bit to lean on. We used to have a lovely delicate show pony who had been ridden in a Dutch gag using one set of reins on the bottom ring!! She had been over bitted, become scared of the bit and evasive, so had been given a bigger bit to stop her in a vicious circle which lead to this horrid wrongly used torture device. She never wore a bit again!

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 01/09/2010 10:29

And, as for being to heavy for a treeless saddle, surely it's better to have your weight distributed evenly across the horses back in a flat treeless than putting undue pressure on the back through a saddle which does not fit absolutely perfectly?

SkiHorseWonAWean · 01/09/2010 11:33

I can barely see a place for a Dutch gag on a big burly "grown-up's" horse never mind a show pony. Angry:(

Most treeless saddle companies have a weight limit for their saddles...

seeker · 01/09/2010 12:05

Dd's little Arab was in a Dutch gag when we got her. We swapped it for a snaffle as soon as she was ours, and her head shaking stopped. Not surprising really!

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Callisto · 01/09/2010 12:17

All gag style bits are hideous and shouldn't have a place in anyones yard imo. But then I also can't see the point in most of the bits on the market these days. IMO, with a decent rider the vast majority of horses would be fine in a snaffle, though I know I'm in a minority on this these days. All the TBs and hunters I ride go in snaffles.

Saggy - DD's got a little section A cross. He is currently in a French link snaffle which came with him and I'm considering a softer bit. Not sure how strong in the mouth he is as all we do is lead rein atm. Any recommendations? I would consider bitless also but I only have experience of a hackamore many moons ago.

seeker · 01/09/2010 12:41

I think it was Pony going soooooo much better when we changed her gag for a snaffle that has got dd thinking about a bitless. They are for sale on ebay for 25 quid, so I think I might buy one. Now dithering about pony or cob. Pony, I think, she's fine boned even if the is just big enough to be called a horse.

OP posts:
Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 01/09/2010 12:53

Callisto, is there much that is softer than a French link snaffle? You could use a little rubber straight bar, just be careful it's not too thick for his mouth. All our smallies are bitless, if you cant borrow one to try out first you can improvise a cross under or dr cooks one with a drop noseband and thin leather reins, just do a little research into design and fitting to get the idea then if it works buy a proper one. Scawbrigs are even simpler made. We also use them on our bigger cobby types, if you try in an enclosed area first, what harm can trying do? Libby's sell great bitless bridles at reasonable prices if you want to buy.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 01/09/2010 13:07

Although, having been laying in the sun thinking about it, I have to add, our giant Shetland with the cob sized bridle, flatly refuses in the strongest manner, (big Bucky hissy fits) to be ridden in anything other than her straight bar Pelham! (It's a showing type with loose ring in the middle for a slip head and extra reins for a double bridle effect with only one bit) we only use it with reins in the loose rings, and she can be controlled with the lightest of hands, she just likes her own bit! We have tried her bitless but she just protests!!!!

Callisto · 01/09/2010 13:12

That's what I thought. Just a straight bar rubber. Happy mouths are nice and soft so maybe one of those. Though I suppose that if I'm doing that I may as well try him in a bitless.

I shall do some research...

SkiHorseWonAWean · 01/09/2010 14:34

I'm not a fan of rubber bits - it's said that the metal causes salivation, so it's nice and wet in their mouths - rubber bits can be very dry.

I don't understand why people "over bit" their horses - it's got to be a fashion thing - like the fact it can be hard to buy a plain cavesson bridle - they've all got bloody flash attachments - or worse still, grackle nosebands. :(

Has anyone tried these neue schule [sic] bits?

I ride mostly in a snaffle - once in a while (frosty winter morning Hmm) in a Pelham but I always use double reins and wouldn't let a novice ride her with roundings. I'm probably in the minority.

Callisto · 01/09/2010 16:08

Good point about the rubber bits. I shall stick with what he's wearing for now until I can get an older jockey and see how he is off the lead rein. I would never use a pelham with roundings. What would the point be?

I think that people overbit their horses because they don't know any better. There is an awful lot of ignorance these days. When I started riding there wern't many 'pleasure' horses around. Horses did a job, they hunted or showed or show jumped or something. Now the world and his wife have a horse or pony for hacking out and the levels of general ignorance are scary. Horses now have to be a pretty colour (what's wrong with bay fgs?), sod the conformation, temperament or suitability. That's a whole other rant though.

seeker · 01/09/2010 18:11

Well, I've bought a bitless bridle. It'll be here for the weekend. Watch this space - or watch the next county for dd.......!

OP posts:
Myleetlepony · 13/09/2010 23:18

Most treeless saddles have an upper weight limit of about 14st. They don't always distribute weight well, in some cases pressure points appear under seat bones or stirrup bars. The ones with solid blocks at pommel and cantle need to fit both horse and rider correctly, or they can cause horrible pressure areas.
Having said that, I have 3 treeless saddles in my tackroom, all of which are fitted correctly and are great.

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