Bits give us an advantage over the horse. We all know that’s why we use them. It’s not that I’m particularly against bits, but I am against people with bad hands being allowed to pull on a piece of metal causing pain or serious discomfort to the horse so they can get their way. Particularly when they haven’t invested the time and training to know how to do this right.
Think of something you have that you’re proud of. Something you do well. Something that is precious to you. Then, say an acquaintance comes to your house, assumes they can do what ever they want with your ‘stuff’ and… breaks it. Happy? I think not. I also think you’d take precautions so that that didn’t happen. And would you break your own stuff?
One of the reasons that we “say/believe” we need bits to control the horse is because they out-weigh us. While true, there are a lot of people out there that out-weigh us and we don’t use metal to control them… Except we do.
Handcuffs? Chains/manacles? But, generally, we try to use our heads, true or true? So use your head with your horse, too!
Because we want this advantage over the horse, it’s important to fully acknowledge and be responsible for the potential ab-use. We tend to underestimate how much it could or does hurt the horse when we yank on their head. Many times people have no idea what their hands are even doing. But, ignorance is not an excuse and it doesn’t help the horse out at all. We listen to bit-makers that tell us this bit is gentle or other such crap.
Bits cause the very trouble we want the advantage for. Our control of the horse is lost because pain and trying to escape the pain and frequently anger, over-rides what we want the movement of the horse to be.
Sometimes when I’m out riding in the desert bridle-less, I’ll run into someone, who upon noticing I don’t have a bridle on, proceeds to tell me how dangerous that is. Really? Depending on my initial impression of the person, my response may be “Have a nice day,” and I ride on. But, I’ll also chat sometimes and ask the person if they’ve seen a horse run away with someone before. They reply, “Of course,” And I ask, “And did they have a bridle on?” And “Is my horse running away with me?” While I don’t always ride bridle-less, wouldn’t you say that the people who do, don’t do it on horses that aren’t willing to ‘be’ with their person and handle themselves appropriately? It’s much more likely that if you see a horse running away with a person, it’s going to be wearing a bridle.