Friday, November 4, 2011
I have a stupid question
It's a stupid question, but it's serious.
Why do we use a bit when we ride a horse?
I don't mean this in a "I am a bitless convert and don't think we should put bits in horses' mouths" kind of way.
I mean I don't understand what the idea is.
Very early in my re-entry to horses I gave up the idea that bits = brakes. I had enough rodeo moments on a horse with a big ol' bit that managed to run right through it.
So I've simplified my approach to bits, opting for the ones that seemed the most mild. Then I read this post by mugwump and I thought I'd try a bosal since Smokey was the age of the horse she described. I don't have "shoulder control" - or rather I have no idea what that is. But I know the bit was bugging him.
And right now I riding both my horses without a bit. My young one and my old one. Both are riding better, dropping their heads with the slightest pressure, responding well to cues. The merest touch on the reins works, I don't need leverage. Smokey responds just to the tilt of the bosal. Lily neck reins and stops with my seat and, if needed, a slight pull.
And it got me to wondering what a bit is even for. What's the idea? Where does a bit fit in training? Why do we move out of a hackmore or bosal? Do you have to be working on things beyond my ability? What if you are only trail and hacking around - not jumping or trying to do dressage? Do you need a bit? Cuz both my horses are doing better this way, so I keep thinking I must be missing something. Or that there will "be a reckoning" or something. (They both will take a bit and ride in it, my hands are pretty quiet I've been told)
Seriously, I'm not asking this as a philosophical question, I just thought this was the best place to ask (I've asked others I know and they just shrugged.). Anything wrong with staying in a riding halter (like above) or a bosal?