Crossunder Bitless Bridles: fad – or stroke of genius?
Here are a few thoughts to consider
You and I weren’t around at the time, but the invention of the stirrup changed horsemanship (and warfare) forever.
So what about Dr. Cook’s Crossunder Bitless Bridle? Will it improve your horsemanship or not? For that matter, how will horses feel about it?
Let’s start with a simple question. How would your horse rather stop? With a hug to the head, or a jolt to the teeth?
Dr. Cook says that his crossunder bitless bridle is “the only bridle that is painless, compatible with the physiology of the exercising horse and universally suited to all disciplines”.
You can almost hear our horses shout “amen” to the news.
They’ve been ridden bitted since the Bronze Age (approximately 3000BC). It’s a crude method of control that inflicts pain. The horse is told to steer and brake through concentrated, sharp pressure, directed at sensitive, soft tissues within the mouth.
What’s more, the damage is proven. Supporters of the jointed snaffle might blame their horse’s deep tongue and mouth lacerations on other factors. But there’s no ignoring Dr. Cook’s study of horses’ skulls. Only 12% of domestic examples were free of bit related tooth damage.
And defending 5000-year-old technology is probably even worse for the rider – perhaps fatal. Your horse doesn’t scream or cry with pain. It simply changes its behaviour. This could mean bolting or bucking (putting you at extreme risk), but also restraining.
So how could your horsemanship improve after fitting this new kind of bridle?
Dr. Cook says, “It is common for a horse to exhibit 50 side effects and for 90% of these to be resolved within two weeks of using the crossunder bitless bridle”.
If you don’t believe that, believe the tests. Four horses (who’d never ridden bitless before) ran two, four-minute dressage exercises. Bitted, their score average was 37%. Running bitless they scored 64%.
So ends the debate of whether inflicting unnecessary pain equals more control.
By the way, nobody knows who invented the stirrup. There were variations on the idea a good 2,500 years ago.
But when the Goths used it against the Romans it was a major factor in the collapse of the Roman Empire