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A Bit Less: a deeper dive into bitless options

by Samantha Matsuda November 06, 2019

A Bit Less: a deeper dive into bitless options


Some horses prefer to go bitless, due to mouth injuries, teething, or bit anxiety. Bitless is another option for lesson horses as students learn about the importance of their hand. It is also a great way to start young horses, as they can focus on their new rider’s weight than the added stress of the new pressure from the bit.

One of the original bitless options is the Bosal, which Spanish Vaqueros use when creating a spade bit horse. A true spade bit horse takes years to develop, starting in a snaffle, moving to a bosal, then slowly transitioning to carrying a spade bit. Sound interesting, find out more here.

When fitting a bitless bridle, they are all intended to be sitting on the facial bones and not the delicate nasal cartilage. Each bitless option works off different pressure points on the horse’s head. They can range from simple side to side pressure to poll pressure.


Weaver Deluxe Latigo Sidepull Waldhausen Star Bitless Bridle

​Sidepulls in both Western and English Styles. Featuring the Weaver Deluxe Latigo Sidepull and the WH Star Bitless Bridle. 


The side pull is a very simple bitless option as they just pull the horse's head side to side. Similar to a snaffle, they can be ridden with direct pressure, as they give no leverage. It doesn’t provide precision, but simple lateral aid. They are very stable and simple, making them an excellent option for easy going horses or young beginner riders. You can find side pulls in English and Western designs. For English check out the Brighton English Hackamore or WH Star Bitless





Dressage Naturally Rope Halter Riding

​A rope halter works well for some horses. 


Even though this isn’t technically a bridle, it is still an option that some choose to ride in. The rope halter works having the knots placed on specific pressure points that teach the horse to move off pressure. It is not a very refined style but is excellent for teaching the basics on young horses. When riding in a rope halter, make sure it is tied correctly and not hanging to low on the nose. Our favorite brand of Rope Halters includes the Burwash Series, comes in a variety of styles of rope that provide excellent feel and no stretch. 






English Short Shanked Hackamore

​Short Shanked Mechanical Hackamore




This little hackamore works off poll and nose pressure. This is perfect for the horse that needs a little bit of leverage that has a sensitive mouth. Due to the short shanks this hackamore can be ridden with direct contact. Find out more here.





Professional's Choice Bob Avlia Flower Hackamore

​Professional's Choice Bob Avila Mechanical Hackamore


The long shanked hackamore works off of poll pressure and pressure across the bridle of the nose. Due to the long shanks of this hackamore it is most suited for neck reining work. These set ups should be ridden similar to a curb type bit.  Check out the ones we have in store here. 




​Traditional Bosal and Mecate Set Up


Bosals are a very traditional piece of tack. They are made with a rawhide core that knots under the chin where the Mecate reins are attached. A well made bosal is balanced like a well made spade bit. Bosals work off pressure on the nose and rotates to pole pressure, similar to a curb bit. Therefore most western riding horses will be started in a bosal and finished in a curb. They are designed be ridden in a touch and release style of pressure.






Horseware Rambo Micklem MultiBridle Brown

​Rambo Micklem Multibridle


The Rambo Micklem Multi Bridle is not only a bridle, but a lunging caveson and bitless bridle. The bitless option on the Micklem Bridle works off a side pull action and a step up with a chin strap. This is a great bridle to have in your tack room as it has many options depending on the exercise of the day for you and your horse! 

To read more about the Micklem Bridles check out our other article, click here. ​




Want to find out more about Bitless Bridles? Here are some additional links that we recommend. 

Dressage Naturally: To Bit or Not to Bit

Equus Magazine - Bitless Bridles

Micklem Bridles

Samantha Matsuda
Samantha Matsuda


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