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sylvesmiller

Dr. Cook Bitless

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Have you ever used a Dr. Cook bitless bridle (for schooling...)? I am contemplating getting one for Jaggar.... Why? I have this idea that less is better for him. The more comfortable he is, the better he goes for me, go figure. Just wonder if it'd suit him.

Thanks!

Edited by Sylves

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there was a thread about this on COTH not too long ago, about how none of his "research" was ever substantiated by anyone other than him, and about how the bridle actually works (puts pressure on sensitive areas of the face).

if you think that his bit may be a problem, then I would try a different bit. Jag probably has a small mouth (like many TBs), and he may not have much room in there for a thick bit. JP makes several bits that are thinner and comfortable in the mouth, and they also make a very nice thinner mullen (by korsteel though). I would try the single joint full cheek with keepers (stable in the mouth, good for a fussy horse), or the mullen. my arab goes well in the mullen, and my mare goes well in the single joint baucher (similar enough to the full cheek since the baucher is nto sold in the US).

read some of the stuff my HS on bits. they have some rather good information abotu how the mouth is built and how the horse carries and responds to the bit.

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Well we use Dr, Cooks bitless bridles on our Horses and they work JUST FINE !! The horses

like them and so do I !! but of course we have all Mustangs if that matters and they are

smarter than the average hoss no brag just facts !!

do hope this helps !

P.C.S.

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Very overpriced for the quality of the leather. I was going to buy one for my horse after trying a friend's nylon version of it. I couldn't believe the price tag after feeling that cheap leather. I doubt they will hold up very long.

The bridle itself is okay, but not for a very sensitive horse, it does put a lot of pressure on different parts of the face. My gelding went around in it fine after an initial fit, but I had a less dramatic reaction with a hackamore.

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I would consider a simple snaffle "less" than some leather contraption without a bit. Don't look for the silver bullet, Slyves, nothing but good hard work will achieve your goals, and even then it won't be instantaneous. Shortcuts don't work, addressing the problems and working through them does.

Good luck! Bring pics!

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I agree with Beckham and KTS, when you are retraining, especially for dressage (and w/in eventing) which is your goal, it is very easy to wander down paths looking for a quick fix and trying new ideas only to find yourself back at square one 6 months later. The bottom line is, USEF rules require a bit for all phases of dressage. You can spend $$$ and time with the bitless; however, at some point, you are still going to have to go back and teach your horse how to go on the bit and that is going take time.

I can understand you wanting to use less, but within what confines? Especially if he is working well and making progress, not actually sure why the desire to change to something that is out working vocabulary of dressage as the horse cannot accept something that is not there and essentially works on pressure. I'm not entirely convinced one is "better" or "superior" than the other.

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I have had great results with a mullen mouth with Ellie. I would try different bits rather then going bitless and not being able to show in it.

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Thank you for the input. I'll stick with our mullen- you guys are right. He's doing fine in the mullen and there's no need to be looking for something different.

It's too icey to do much of anything with Jag. I hopped on him for 20 minutes today and carefully rode in the hayfield- had to carefully walk around the icey spots and avoid the deep snow drifts. The drifts were so high that Jag and I couldn't get to the pasture where we normally ride...

Right now I'm trying out my jump saddle- practicing 2-point. Totally forgot just how much muscle and balance 2-point requires.... Jeesh, it's been a while! But, as KTS and PMJ stated, there are no short cuts!

Wishing we had an indoor.... :questionicon:

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I thing I like to do, when relegated to light walk work, and some trot (which happens to be often with the Walking Disaster that is Riley) is to jack my stirrups jockey short, even in my dressage saddle, and try and crouch above the saddle for as long as I can (like, a minute, lol). You can really get a good work out just walking.

Just make sure you have good balance or a trusty steed!

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That article this month by Courtney King-Dye that talks about working on your position is really relevant. You can do a whole lot of position fixes even at the walk.

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What mag?

Thanks! I have a thread with some pictures of Jag and me from a recent ride- maybe a month ago or so...? I'm looking forward to your opinions- both postive and constructive negative.

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I hear ya on wanting an indoor...Shelby will be heading to the trainer's in 2 weeks so I can ride.

When the ground is crappy I do a lot of lateral work at the walk and work on moving off the leg with the lightest of touches. I can do all this bareback on Beckham...the Shelby usually turns into a disaster too, KTS!!

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I hear ya on wanting an indoor...

See the large shed in the background of some of my pictures? That'd make a nice small indoor. But, the large combines, tractors, planters and other equipment will sort of get in the way... but the nice spot light from the building illuminates my riding area!

Chad and I plan to build an indoor on our acrage someday (and convert our cattle shed into a decent barn)... One day...

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Well, I have an indoor at my disposal where I board, but I can't make good use of it so I am jealous of the people who are able to ride, even outside. Stupid knee!

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Hey Sylves, I've never had experience with a bitless bridle before, but I had my mare going in a very simple hackamore while doing some re-training (as she's an OTTB too).

There was so much anxiety around the bit for her that, at that point in time and training, it was best to eliminate the anxiety by eliminating the bit. I had her in it for a couple of months, she gained the strength she needed, learned a whole lot about be comfortable and confident, and then I was able to transition her back into a normal bridle with a loose ring snaffle with out any problem.

This is what it looks like:

bridle.jpg

(I've been reading your posts with Jag and seeing the progress and he's looking really nice! keep up the good work)

Edited by TheBrownHorse

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Actually, it was because of you I considered the bitless bridle! :grin: The more I ride Jag in a mullen, the more I realize that there's no need for a change... while he doesn't get anxious besause of the bit, I have learned that he does best when things are simplified...

Thank you!

Oh, and if you hear of one of these bridles that need a new home, let me know! :winking:

Hey Sylves, I've never had experience with a bitless bridle before, but I had my mare going in a very simple hackamore while doing some re-training (as she's an OTTB too).

There was so much anxiety around the bit for her that, at that point in time and training, it was best to eliminate the anxiety by eliminating the bit. I had her in it for a couple of months, she gained the strength she needed, learned a whole lot about be comfortable and confident, and then I was able to transition her back into a normal bridle with a loose ring snaffle with out any problem.

This is what it looks like:

bridle.jpg

(I've been reading your posts with Jag and seeing the progress and he's looking really nice! keep up the good work)

Edited by Sylves

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Sylves, it's actually a relatively cheap piece of tack, on Dover they are about $30 (although I think I paid about $25 at the tack shop). You just attach the noseband where you would normally put a bit.

Hackamore Noseband

At such a low cost it's worth a try to see if he goes better in it, for the time being at least.

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Aw, so I DON'T have to spend an arm and a leg for a whole new bridle! Thank you! I'll see what I can find on Ebay!

It looks like you have to raise the cheek pieces. Obviously, you don't want the nose band too low on the nose.

Edited by Sylves

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That hackamore noseband is a very simple and mild piece of equipment. I have one, and I use it for hacking out with my older/quieter horses. It is very different from the Dr. Cook Bitless bridle, which actually has a fair amount of leverage.

I never had a problem with the idea of the Dr. Cook Bitless bridle until a recent issue of a well known dressage publication. In that issue he paid for a full page advertisement (which is fine,) and wrote an "article" to fill the space. That's not really a problem either, although it does bother me that most people will think the "article" is, in fact, an "article" and not realize it for what it really is ... propaganda. He also stated his opinion that dressage rules should be changed to allow for the use of bitless bridle ... which I don't agree is necessary except in extreme medical cases (I know of someone on HC who has a horse with a somewhat deformed jaw who does not do well in any kind of bit .... but this is an unusual and extreme case.) But although I don't agree it is necessary, I also think it can do no harm.

But what really bothered me was his request that dressage rules be changed to allow a bitless bridle was worded to allow HIS bitless bridle, and only his bitless bridle (or very similar copy-cat versions.) If dressage rules should indeed be changed to allow bitless bridles, why should it only allow his version of the bitless bridle? (Obviously, so he could sell a bunch more of them, but other than that .... why?)

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A sidepull isn't the same thing, but still won't fix your problem

I think you'll remember that when I got CK, he walked and trotted, but not on contact and not in straight lines, he didn't go over poles, he didn't canter much at all, basically had no right lead, etc etc etc. I went through a bit transition with him:

1. Started with a KK Ultra Light Loose Ring French Link

2. When he got to the level that your horse is at (accepting contact but long and low, falling BTV, and having trouble coming back up into a working frame), I schooled him briefly in a Dr. Bristol to get him to stop leaning and then;

3. Put him in a full cheek snaffle. He went OK in this but we moved "up" in this a lot, in terms of learning new skills, regularly going in a working frame, establishing finesse and finite movements, lateral movement.

4. But he never seemed quite happy in this, he was more prone to temper tantrums in this (though I can now attribute some of that to pain, I think, that was undiagnosed), and I thought the single break was too much for his mouth. But a friend convinced me to try a Happy Mouth Full Cheek

The Happy Mouth Full Cheek is where we're at (though he's out of work/trail horse right now). He carried the bit so much better, stopped head flipping, stopped playing with the bit so much in the nervous anxious way, and I lost none of the fine tuning that the Full Cheek gave me.

CK has a low palette, he's an anxious horse, he's very sensitive, and went through the same learning progression that your horse seems to be on though I did not canter for the first 8 months that I had him. That's what worked for us :) I have ridden him in a hackamore but I thought it actually made his anxiety worse and his resistance to contact more.

What helped us at the beginning was actually taking off the noseband. I rode him sans cavesson for several months. Any time that CK felt trapped, he wanted to curl up up up and then usually explode. I let him chomp and move his mouth around a lot because it made him less anxious, gave him something to do, and I figured it was part of the learning process with him carrying contact and accepting the bit and my hand and leg and seat.

Also, I had to watch myself a LOT. CK also subscribes to the "Less is More" philosophy but it took me a LONG time to realize that *I* could be doing less or more on his back and that that was the biggest change. If I was constantly bumping him with my leg, or nagging him with a spur, or cocking one wrist more than the other, then he would react every single time. He wasn't like my QH mare who would ignore me if I was too busy in the saddle. I had to work extra hard on CK to sit still and quiet and be so so so consistent. I took videos of myself every week in order to double check and be sure that I was staying true to that.

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Thanks OWT! That is so true- less IS better, and it normally has more to do with the rider's activity more than the type of equipment that is put on him!

Jag seems pretty happy with the Happy Mouth "look alike" Mullen Mouth (it's by Korsteel). Even though Jag is leaning right now, I'm not sure I want to change the bit (unless I try out the bitless) just because I'm convinced that he couldn't take the single joint. Maybe he would tolerate the french link better, but the mullen is working well right now. Really, I'd like to still try the bitless for this winter (avoid the cold bit and just for fun riding when the conditions outside are too dangerous for real work).

Thank you!

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I soak my bit in hot water before I bridle up in the winter, and scrub it with a toothbrush and toothpaste once a week so it tastes good (the rubber holds the taste really well and I have an old happy mouth so not sure it still "tastes like apple" or anything). Makes bridling a finicky horse much easier haha.

I trail ride in the same bit, but add a running martingale but CK's not a predictable horse out in the open so a bit different than Jag :P

good luck!

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I had this young OTTB gelding that was super super sensitive in his mouth. He was always fussing, chewing and messing with the bit, putting his tongue over it, chewing ulcers into the sides of his cheeks, sometimes grinding his teeth, all that fun stuff. After checking all the basics (had the dentist out to do his teeth, had his massaged, had my saddle reflocked (it fit him rather well regardless), just checking for general pain, taking training slowly, etc.) and coming up empty handed, I played with some bits, nosebands, and various other inventions.

Eventually I figured out through trial and error that wiggly bits made him more nervous, so I traded the KK for a simple, stainless steel eggbutt mullen mouth. I wanted to go with the happy mouth thing, but he didn't have the space in his mouth for it (remember...the rule of thumb is "the thicker the bit the nicer it is"...BUT...if your horse doesn't have much space in his mouth FOR the thicker bit...it really isn't "nicer" at all!) He was loads happier in the mullen mouth. I also traded the flash (which made his mouth ulcers worse because the location of the cavesson is right over those grinding molars) for a drop noseband, which did a fantastic job at making sure he didn't get his tongue over the bit and he seemed to like it much better than the flash. This combination worked fantastically with him.

Since he was young and I really didn't have huge plans for him in the near future, I decided one winter to see how he would like going bitless, since he still had some fussiness with the mullen and drop. I actually came to this BB for suggestions. I decided to go with the Dr. Cook, it had raving reviews and I thought it might actually be a good alternative for a jumping bit for my other horse, who had some shoddy training in his past as well as some jaw problems that made him difficult to bit as well.

My TB LOVED LOVED LOVED the Dr. Cook. No question about it. He seemed so happy in it. We were able to make some huge leaps in his training progress and I had a quieter horse in general. I kind of did what BrownHorse did, worked him in it for a while and let him build his strength and balance, and then transitioned back to his normal bit. Worked out so nicely. It was a great route to take with him.

Not so much my other gelding though, he was just as obnoxious as ever in it...oh he liked it well enough, it just wasn't...ehem...for him.

I'm not saying that the Dr. Cook is the only bitless bridle, I'm not saying you SHOULD do bitless with your guy, but for some horses, I think it could be very useful. Even after transitioning my TB back to a bit, I still usually jumped in the Dr. Cook, just because he really seemed to like it. I like having the Dr. Cook in my tack trunk, I think it can be a useful tool for some horses in the future. I like trail riding in it as well. None of the horses I have put it on seem to object to the various pressure points of the bridle.

There are, of course, many many bitless options. But I do have to agree that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That being said, I suppose my TB wasn't broke either, I'm just a hands on, experimenting kind of gal :) It gets kind of expensive at times...haha.

Well, hope that might have helped a little bit...

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OWT made a good point about taking off the cavesson. A lot of times if a horse is fussy with his mouth we tighten and tighten when what he really needs is a release of pressure. A cheap thing to experiment with is simply to loosen the cavesson a couple of holes and see what happens after a couple of rides.

A side pull is a lot like the hackamore noseband shown above, but nothing like the Dr. Cook Bitless bridle.

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Haha are you the type of person that no matter how many opinions and theories you hear on a piece of tack, you have to try it out for yourself? Hold it, fiddle with it, feel it, see how the horse responds to it? I can't help myself, I'm a hands on, visual learner...it's how I've ended up with a large collection of nosebands, bits, the Dr. Cook, and half pads. It's a real problem. Thank god for Ebay!

Can't say I regret it though, hands on experience has proven to be the most valuable for me...I can make my own theories and my own opinions on tack now. I've discovered things about tack that goes against and/or with popular thought.

We could form a club of people who go broke because we can't help but try things out for ourselves!

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We could form a club of people who go broke because we can't help but try things out for ourselves!

Or we could form a club and just trade amongst ourselves and save a boatload of money [ROTFL]

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