Study Indicates Bitless Bridles Not Necessarily Better Than Snaffles When It Comes To Equine Welfare

Some riders believe that riding a horse without a bit is kinder than traditional bitted options, but new research suggests this may not be the case. Results of a new study show bitless bridles can cause as much pain and pressure on the horse’s face as a traditional noseband might, according to The Horse.

Tracy Bye with the University Centre Bishop Burton in Yorkshire, and student Nina Robinson used five university-owned horses in a study using three types of bridles: a bridle with a snaffle bit and regular noseband, a cross-under bitless bridle, and a sidepull bitless bridle. The nosebands on the bitless bridles were fitted to manufacturer instructions and the bridle with the snaffle was tightened to the “two finger” rule.

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Each bridle was fitted with pressure sensors under the crown piece and the noseband. The horses were worked for 30 minutes per day, three days in a row with the same rider, with each type of bridle.

The scientists found that the average amount of pressure on the nose was 65 percent higher with a sidepull bitless bridle than a snaffle-bit bridle. The cross-under bitless bridle had pressure that was 11 percent higher than a snaffle bridle. Compared to the snaffle, peak pressure on the nasal bones were 147 percent higher with the sidepull and 109 percent higher with the cross-under bridle compared with the snaffle.

Though peak pressures were high, they were not sustained, so it’s unclear if they would cause damage. The team found that each noseband created pressure as high as that recommended for a tourniquet in human medicine. The scientists also noted that horses ridden in a cross-under bridle tended to hold their heads higher with their necks extended, which could contribute to back pain and poor performance.

The team concluded that the different styles merely transfer the pressure to other areas of the face. The ideal welfare solution may be teaching riders to use their hands differently rather than switch to any one particular type of equipment.

Read more at The Horse.

The post Study Indicates Bitless Bridles Not Necessarily Better Than Snaffles When It Comes To Equine Welfare appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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