Liz Goldsmith
  • 61, Female
  • United States

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  • William Micklem

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At 8:07pm on January 14, 2010, William Micklem said…
....NB...see previous comment for the first part of thei comment!...

It would not help horses because: 1) riders using this bridle are not encouraged to allow their hands to go as much with the natural movement of the mouth as happens with a bit. Yes of course many riders using a bit do not go with this movement but in my experience the proportion is even greater with this type of bitless bridle. Horses are more prepared to put up with rein contacts that are not in harmony and thus the riders hands and rein contact do not improve.
2) Unfortunately it is inevitable that there will be a proportion of riders who use much stronger versions of bitless bridles in preparation for competition...bridles that I consider less humane than most normal bits. In this case it is the dressage competition itself which drives an inappropriate use of bitless bridles. Without the aim of using the bitless in competition this does not happen to any great degree.

There are no easy answers to this conundrum.... but I recognise that not all horses are uncomfortable with a bit, and that if they are coming through in their backs and the rider has good hands that the majority of horses are comfortable. Therefore I prefer primarily using my bridle with the clips attaching the rings of the snaffle to the bridle so that if the rider does pull hard the pressure is taken to the nose and not to the tongue or the bars of the mouth. This is similar in use to the Australian racing noseband, which together with my clips should certainly be considered for approval in dressage for young horses.

I will continue to keep an open mind and look for alternatives but with regard to dressage competition, as opposed to training, I still favour keeping to a bit. Having said that I would ban cranked up nosebands and low dropped nosebands. Now that is a subject that needs discussion and action. I hope this helps your own deliberations on the subject. William
At 8:07pm on January 14, 2010, William Micklem said…
Hi Liz....thank you for making me your friend.

Re your question...a clarifications... A well fitted snaffle or double bridle with soft hands and a well trained horse is a thing of joy and I have no problem with this. I myself prefer to use a plain eggbutt snaffle with my Micklem Bridle and I do not think that generally speaking there is anything more comfortable than this. This does not mean to say that all horses are so comfortable but the same can be said of bitless bridles. Bitless bridles can be as badly fitted and over strong as badly fitted and over strong you probably know bitless bridles are not always the magic answer.

Having said that the rear cross over strap is effective and comfortable as long as the front nose piece is not fitted too low. I use this myself with horses that need to get over bad habits or injury. As both a trainer and a judge my first reaction years ago was that this type of bitless bridle should become legal and be allowed as an alternative in dressage competition, but unfortunately I now know this would have disadvantages in the long term that probably outweigh the advantages.

NB...see the rest of this answer in your next won't allow the full answer in one comment...

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