This is a collection of scientific studies on bits and bitless riding. Please contact us to submit a new study.
Paschel: Dr. Cook, some people call you “the father of bitless riding” but would it be more accurate to call you a researcher on the bit and bitless riding?
Cook: Yes. Bitless riding was first discovered by pioneers about six thousand years ago. They probably first used a noose around the neck (today’s neck strap) and then a simple halter. In time, the bitless approach led to the bosal, hackamore and sidepull; all of which are less painful methods of communication than the Bronze Age bit. The word ‘bit’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon ’bite’ but horses don’t need to be bitten to respond to a rein-aid. They can feel a fly landing on their face – touch is enough. Pain is overkill and a barrier to partnership.
My contribution to equine welfare and rider safety has been to ask the question, ‘What does a bit do to a horse?” Realizing, late in my career, that a bitted bridle was the cause of avoidable pain and accidents, I developed a more humane and safer alternative.
Paschel: As bits are depicted on old Greek vases, has man gone astray for centuries? more »
The question of whether or not certain head and neck positions make horses uncomfortable has received a lot of attention and research, but has anyone asked the horse? That’s what a team of German equitation scientists set out to do–sort of. more »
An article by Carley Sparks, published in the June edition of Horse Sport magazine. The article as pdf can be found here: www.bitlessbridle.com/CarleySparksBronzeAge.pdf
This is the pre-peer-review version of the following article: “Damage By The Bit to the Equine Interdental Space and Second Lower Premolar” published in Equine Veterinary Education, 23, 355-360, 2011.
The pdf document can be found under www.bitlessbridle.com/DamageByTheBit.pdf