Zelda takes the bitless challenge


Anna Blake’s Bitted vs. Bitless post got me to dig out one of my bitless bridle attachments and try it on Zelda. It’s off season so it’s a great time to work on responsiveness, balance and obedience. Bitless bridles don’t let you ride off your hands so you have to ride more off your seat and get your horse really listening to you.

Zelda is modeling a flower hackamore. It’s a variation on the Happy Wheel design with a very small amount of leverage provided by the attachment point. Zelda was happy: it’s much easier to grab a mouthful of grass without a bit in your mouth! As you can see, there was a lot of beautiful tall grass on our ride.

Beautiful grasses
The light was beautiful when we went on our ride. The grasses were swaying in the wind.

For the most part, Zelda was well behaved. We had one “oh crap” moment when a deer spooked her in the woods, but a bit wouldn’t have helped much in that case. Luckily, she came to her senses and I stayed on.

I never get tired of these views. In some light the leaves look illuminated.


Today we worked in the ring. It’s amazing how much her lips move when there’s no bit. It took her longer to start working through her back and staying straight but in the end,  we had a good ride. I think I’ll keep working her without the bit for awhile — and she’ll enjoy the opportunity to snack!

3 thoughts on “Zelda takes the bitless challenge

  1. I’ve never seen a hackamore like this! It looks so cool! Do you think you’d be able to get the same responses out of her in the arena with a flower hackamore as you do her regular bit?

    1. It’s called a Zilco Flower Hackamore and you can now buy them at Valley Vet! She goes pretty well in it in the ring. She’s not the most forward horse when schooling dressage, so stopping isn’t a huge issue. What this forces me to do is ride her body more than her head — which is a good thing. In my experience, using a sidepull style hackamore gives you a similar feel to riding with a bit because you are still using direct rein pressure. However, the signal is a bit muffled. In some ways, that’s good because it tones down your hands, but it can also be a bit frustrating.

      Now, out hunting would be another story. Not sure she’d listen much to me with just the bitless bridle!

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