I am glad you want to discuss this as I am doing so much research and it would be great to have someone to bounce ideas off right now.
I horse Peanut is a 14.3h 12 y o half breed trotter with some welsh and TB in there somewhere too. He was owned by gypsies for the first 4 years of his life. He was broken ot drive at the age of 18 mths ouch! and raced down the roads but those gypsies, it is barbaric really, but that is their way. Then my friend bought him cheep and backed him, but alwasy had issues with him, he proved to be very good at XC but dressage is a no go, he cant get his head around the idea of balance and rhythm. ANyway 3 years ago I aquired him on loan as my friend had had enough, he was proving very difficult with all sorts of vices bucking rearing cribing etc. Anyway, he had always proved to be strong and leans on the bit, gets his tongue over the bit, rushes and spooky. Well, I tried every bit under the sun but the stronger the bit the stronger he would go, the stronger the bit although he wouldnt lean on it, he would still rush and go hollow especially on canter depart. I even tried a myler combination bit, yes he was ok in that one but something didnt seem right to me. Anyway, then I thought if there is no bit in his mouth then how can he argue with it? SO I tried a bitless. Well, he didnt know what to do with himself. I will always be a sharp little horse, spooky and jolly to hack on, if you know what I mean. But the greatest difference I found was the trot canter transition. He stayed through his back and even took the contact forward down and out, he usually tends to go overbent and high in the neck so it feels like you dont have anything from the withers forward.
I have to try it again but I believe I wont be going back to bits.
I will try to get a video of him on youtube soon as I have some videos already of him with bits it would be interesting to get one of him going bitless too as a comparison.
Anyway that is all for me to start with and I would be very interested in your opinions of bitless riding.
Great letter. I would love to compare notes with you. I agree with the "on the bit" being a misnomer. I have ridden (as have you) a horse that is soft and through his back with a relaxed poll and even chews and licks his mouth without a bit. I travel all over working with different horses and so-called difficult ones, and so many of the "resistances" are caused by bits and of course rider's hands.
I will give you an example. In Holland I had a Tinker-type horse in a clinic who would just overbend (ridden in a snaffle) and bulge to the inside and take his rider and owner into the center of the ring. She had always had trouble and was not able to canter her. I worked with the owner on half halts and indirect rein, but the horse would just tuck his head into his chest.
I got on the horse,and was able to use half halts more successfully, and I was careful to not put pressure on the reins, but the horse just felt so resistant and just was so used to tucking. I wanted to lift the horse up, and teach her that she could lighten her forehand, but I certainly did not want to use a bit to do it! That would be abusive to the horse's mouth. I had one of Dr. Cook's Bitless bridles with me, and put it on her. I LOVE the way the horses initially react when you first put one on! They show this positive interest...like they woke up a bit. With the Bitless, I just lifted my hand up in a vertical direction and gently pulled her head up...kind of suggesting she could travel differently. She understood almost immediately and by the end of the lesson the owner could keep her on the track.
The next day just before her lesson, she rode her horse for a short time in the woods. I brought my digital camera with me, as I had promised Dr. Cook I would take some "before and after" pictures with the Bitless. I hated doing it, but I told the rider we would put a bit in her horse's mouth to get the "before" picture. She did not do as well as with the Bitless, but it had already shown her that she could travel differently so we could not get a good before picture. She was already so much better and understanding.It was amazing! Her rider was even able to canter her. Her owner does not show at the moment, so her horse is lucky and can stay in Dr. Cook's bridle.