Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle
Western Leather Headstall
Manufacturer: Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle
Model: Western Leather Headstall
Category: Western Bridles
Purchase: This bridle was given to me as a gift. I'd been wanting to get one for a while so I could try it on my horses, and so I could have it on hand for the various training projects that come my way. I didn't pay for it, but they sell it new for $115.
Likes: It is a good quality piece of tack, and I love having another tool in my tack box for retraining problem horses. My horses are well-behaved in it, and it seems very well accepted by horses who are afraid of bits or hackamores. It provides plenty of control plus the feel of a bridle without fear of damaging a horse's mouth, which makes it great for teaching beginner riders! It can also be a great alternative for hard-headed, hard-mouthed horses who have stopped listening to a bit. It can be especially good for horses that are afraid of bits because of some past abuse.
Dislikes: The price is outrageous!!! I expect Weaver could make a comparable item for $30-$40. As far as how horses go in it, I'm not pleased with how they neck-rein. I read that horses neck rein just as well in the bitless bridle as they do in a bit. Well, it works about as well as neck-reining in a snaffle bit. You can train a horse to do it, but a curb is much more intuitive for the horse. Like a snaffle bit, the BB tends to make a horse invert instead of rounding through corners. Training can overcome this, but I prefer to make it easy on myself and the horse and just save the neck reining until the horse is ready to graduate to a curb. Also, I found that my well-trained horses are heavy in this bridle. They tend to get heavy on the forehand, if not downright leaning on my hands. A very heavy puller (read that "runaway"), if he doesn't listen to this bridle, will get the hair rubbed off his nose pretty quick, particularly if you're forced to use the side-to-side method recommended for stopping such a horse. For one particular horse I even used a fleece nose pad and he still got the hair rubbed off. However, some runaways go much better in this bridle, particularly if their fear stems from past misuse of the bit. Some horses may take a while to get used to the tight cavesson. I've got one young horse that shook and tossed his head for several rides, and even still he will try to rub it off as soon as I dismount. He's not happy unless it's loose, at which point it starts rubbing his nose.
Quality: I commented above that this is a good quality piece of tack, but for $115 without reins I expect GREAT. The leather was stiffer than I expected at this price, and the chinstrap was actually papery-feeling. For this price I want buttery-soft leather of highest quality.
Summary: To sum it up, I believe anyone who trains horses should have one of these in their barn because if it helps even one horse, it's worth having. But for riders whose horses already go just fine in what they've already got, I say don't bother. This can be a great stepping stone in the process of getting a horse to go happily in a bit, but I wouldn't want to use it on a finished horse. However, I would love to see this used in every case for teaching beginners as it saves the horse's mouth a lot of grief from rough hands.
Usefulness Rating: 2.02273 out of 5.
44 reader(s) voted.
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