A new bitless bridle

As I wrote before, Cassie doesn’t like any kind of restriction around her head, so I have been trying different ways to bridle her to find our what she finds acceptable. After trying the Dr. Cooks bridle and the rocking S bit, neither of which really worked out, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and comparing different kinds of bridles, looking for something that is light and unrestrictive and doesn’t work by putting pressure on the nose or poll. I finally came across the Enduro bridle. I liked the look of it and it was not expensive, so I ordered one. It arrived last week in a small plastic bag, coiled like a new lead-rope.

The Enduro is made by the Australian company Lodge Ropes and it is basically a re-designed rope head-collar. The difference is that there is no pressure on the nose. There are loops on either side of the noseband, and the reins and chin-strap are attached to these loops. If the reins are used independently, the bridle works like a sidepull. If the reins are used simultaneously, the loops lift the chinstrap, giving the horse a light cue in the chin groove to slow down. The chinstrap also has a loop for attaching a lead rope.

We went out for a hack with Maíre and Ben yesterday and I rode Cassie in the Enduro. I hadn’t had the chance to put it on her earlier in the week to try it out, but it slips on exactly like a rope head-collar and Cassie accepted it as matter-of-factly as I put it on. All I had to do was experiment a bit with the position of the chin-strap to make sure it was in the right position. It was rather loose, I could probably tighten it a bit for Cassie’s fine muzzle, but I haven’t quite worked out how to do this yet and as I don’t use my reins for breaks I didn’t think it mattered all that much. The Enduro doesn’t look like a bridle and there is no browband, but that doesn’t bother me. I think the minimalist look suits Cassie’s face really well.

We had a lovely ride. It was a beautiful morning, with the scent of spring in the air. The sun came out for a while and for the first time in months I was almost too warm in my jacket. Cassie was enjoying herself and acted as if she had been trotting around in the Enduro for years. She stayed soft and calm even when I took up a bit of contact, which told me she didn’t experience any form of pressure.  When I asked her to halt, she responded without getting flustered, even though Maíre and Ben were moving away from us.

The bridle comes supplied with 10 mm rope reins, which I love. I have rope reins for Minnie, but they were too short for Cassie. The reins that came with the Enduro were more generous in length. We trotted up a long slope and when we gave the horses a little break at the top of the hill, Cassie could graze easily without me having to lean over her neck to let her reach the ground. 

After our first ride in the Enduro, I am pleased with it. It is very light and gentle, and I think the rope lets you feel very subtle nuances much better than leather. When I took the bridle off after our ride there were no marks anywhere on Cassie’s head, which was good to see. Yes, I really like this bridle and more importantly, it seems to suit Cassie too.

I was also very pleased with the timing of our ride; we only just made it back before the weather turned and unleashed a hail storm. The horses didn’t seem to mind, but we were much happier inside with coffee and chocolate biscuits.

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8 thoughts on “A new bitless bridle

  1. Looks like a nice bridle, and well-made. I had a picture of one on a post I did on bitless options, but I’ve never actually seen a real one. Some horses do well with the Dr. Cook’s but my horses didn’t like it much.

    • I have heard of a lot of horses that didn’t like the Dr. Cook’s. Minnie always went well in it, but I rode her in a loose rein most of the time. For Cassie there was just too much gear around her head. I hope the Enduro is the answer for her.

  2. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I am very interested in this post. I use the Dr. Cook’s but am always eager to learn about other bitless options. Actually, I wish I had the fortitude to train my boys to go in nothing! Is that even possible outside of a ring?

  3. Hi Juliette,

    Welcome to my blog! I always used to ride Minnie in a Dr. Cook’s and she responded really well to it, so I was surprised when Cassie hated it so much. Cassie reacts to any form of pressure around her head by threatening to rear, even if I’m leading her in a head collar. I started leading her with a rope around her neck and she was happy with that, so I use that for riding too. I always have a very light rope loosely tied around her neck and if she doesn’t respond to my body language I pick up the neck rope and use that for steering or to slow her down. I’ve had one occasion where I had to do an emergency stop with the neck ring and she came to a halt in only a few strides. So it works really well and I could ride her in a neck ring alone, but of course she has to wear a bridle for insurance purposes if we go out on the road. I really like the Enduro, it is incredibly light and unrestrictive.

    Minnie’s had more than a year off with a tendon injury, but she is now ready to be brought back into work and I’m going to start her with a neck rope too. I’d love to be able to ride both my girls around our fields bare back and with only the neck ring. I know it’s possible, I just have to find the confidence to do it.

  4. I have to get this neck ring. Bareback with the neck ring sounds like the very thing! And…oh, yeah, I have to find the courage too. I am not keen on falling off, but more than that, our property is not entirely fenced so I worry that they will go out on the (busy) road. I guess I better get the fence first and then the neck ring so I am not tempted!

  5. G’day from Downunder..
    Sharon & I are so pleased that you and your horses are going well in the Enduro bridle.
    When I made your bridle I used magic rope :0) Seriously, the success of the bridle results from the work you have done with your horse. The bridle does very little but releases any pressure instantly and this helps clarify the cue/response communication you have already established on the ground and in the saddle. Any success is due to your work, we just tie knots in rope :0)
    We do make versions of the Enduro with browbands, adjustable throat latches and thicker reins but these are really to suit the riders requirements not the horses, in 7 years the only real change to the bridle has been that we now offer a range of 4 different nosebands each with a slightly different feel or action…….. but the 6mm coiled noseband on your enduro is the best “all rounder”.
    have fun & ride safe
    Best wishes from Rob & Sharon
    LodgeRopes

    • Hi Rob and Sharon,

      Thank you for your comment. Cassie and I have never looked back since we started in the Enduro and I am very pleased with it. It suits Cassie and my way of riding really well.

      Best wishes,
      Sandra

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