Bitless bridles for driving. Whilst we are advocates for the use of bitless bridles we have recently been given a very strong, clear message on the subject from one of our herd.

Bob Marley who was our first gypsy cob came to us at a very young age already trained for driving.

Bob arrived at Horse Haven fully shod and pulling a cart. We quickly realized that he was much younger than we first thought, we made the decision to remove his shoes and turn him out to be a horse, no more work just play for a while.

When we brought him back into work he was keen to drive. Bob loves driving and is really good at the job. We feel quite happy for a novice to take the reins as he has always proved himself to be sensible and safe.

We tried him without a bit or blinkers but he was very confused and unhappy.

We then tried a Dr. Cook bitless bridle with blinkers, slightly better but needed lots of contact and was very strong. He became agitated and quite honestly unsafe to drive on the road even with a most experienced driver.

We then used a snaffle bit with blinkers and he was perfect, didn’t need much contact, basically just voice commands. In this scenario Bob knew his job and seemed confident, happy and safe.

Bob also cannot stand being ridden bareback. Once he has a saddle on and a snaffle bit in his mouth he is as close to bombproof as you can get.

Very interesting and this has forced us to re-evaluate fixed beliefs about bitless.

No two horses are the same.

Saffia, our fjord mare has only ever been ridden bitless and often bareback, even bridleless with just a cordeo, no problem.

She was trained to cart by Lee Hughes with a bit, which she accepted immediately. Lee is an excellent trainer for driving using traditional methods but very patient and kind.

Saffi can now be ridden and driven with or without a bit, no problem and no difference either way so we choose to drive her bitless.

Dr. Cook bitless driving bridle with blinkers is fine but she cannot be driven safely on the road without blinkers. The whole blinkers idea for driving seems to give her security.

Safety is paramount and it would be stupid to ignore this.

All our horses apart from Bob are ridden bitless in the orbitless bridle which is our personal favourite. They are happy to be ridden bareback without any problems at all.

What to do? Listen to your horse and decide what is safe and what is not. Always go with safety and what your horse is confident with.

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