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Ask pierrebeaupere: Ask pierrebeaupere: I want to ride my young dressage horse in a side pull, do you advise to start with a bit or to go bitless directly?

Ask pierrebeaupere: Ask pierrebeaupere: I want to ride my young dressage horse in a side pull, do you advise to start with a bit or to go bitless directly?
Hi Scott,

Thank you for your question!

It is actually a tricky question, because it depends a lot on what was your preparation with the horse!

The more you prepared from the ground, the more he learned to yield but also to accept the pressure and can make the difference between the light pressure we want him to keep to have a contact on the reins and the pressure he should yield to, the safer and more interesting it will be to ride him directly without the bit.

But I must confess that I'm neither a pro- nor a anti-bit. In my opinion, horses should be ridden with or without bit and (!) really accept very well both.

I personally prefer to start directly with the bit, and of course I also prepare them for that. In my experience it gives me more precision to interact with the horse and allows me to use lighter aids but also to have a better feeling about the signals the horse gives me. It also seems to me that it is easier for the horse to understand my signals and to start immediately to improve his balance without misunderstanding.

I also think (but it is only a personal feeling) that with the bit I can have a deeper access to his physical relaxation.

I like to ride them bitless as a way to check if the work I'm doing with the bit is good enough, because if I can only rely on the bit it means that there is a problem in my approach and the responsiveness and acceptance of my horse.

I hope it is clear and that it answers your question!

Pierre.