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November 1, 2008

Does a Horse Need a Bit to Be Broke?

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Horse bucking

Hello Cherry,

I want to say first of all I love your books and look forward to reading more.

Here is my dilemma, I got a new horse about a month ago. He is a 15- yr- old quarter horse gelding, very good conformation, great to work with, great attitude, I mean a all around good horse. I have not noticed any bad vices what so ever, even in a month.

I have had him saddled twice, first time, he would not go forward, only back, I mean would not move only played with the bit. I am a equine massage therapist and he gets body work daily, so I know this is not a issue. Well I examined his teeth and called the dentist immediately and was done three days later. My dentist told me upon exam that he had a injury when he was 4 yrs of age to the mandible but will not affect anything and he is still sound. He was then floated, filed and had a bit seat put in.

I saddled him again tonight for the second time. Keep in mind the horse has not been rode in five or six years, and bucked previous owner off at that time. I proceeded to put the bit {smooth snaffle} in his mouth, he welcomed it nicely too. When I got on him he went plum crazy, bucking and crow hopping, rearing up and backing up.

So I got down and took out the bit, I decided to ride him in just his halter, because he does so well with ground work and yields to nose pressure wonderfully. I got back on him and he loped off like nothing, I had him side-passing, spinning off his front and back end, backing up and much more and all at a very collected gate. He acted as though he has been rode everyday, I was amazed as to the fact he might just make a good cow horse after all { cows all around us too while riding }.

When I told my fiancé he told me that the horse is not broke then if he won't ride in a bit. I wanted to just go get a bit-less hack and that be that, but he swears that a horse is not broke if you can not ride it in a bit.

How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry HillI don't understand, doesn't this make for a better more collected horse. I mean not to have all that metal in the mouth. What should I do? Force him to ride in a bit? I am a third generation cowgirl and know how to train and ride very well, and I definitely know a lot about horses {not to sound high on my horse} everyone I know calls me a horse whisperer. My fiancé is great with horses too but we always have different outlooks on this stuff.

I guess my question after the explanation would be... Is a horse broke with or with out a bit? Or does a bit really mean the horse is "dead" broke? Please help me with this, I would really appreciate the advice from one horse woman to another. I look forward to hearing from you. And THANK YOU in advance.



Hi Laura,

As you have discovered, it is a matter of opinion. All you have to do to make your point to your fiancé is to have him watch Stacy Westfall do her bridleless reining. There is no doubt that her bridleless and sometimes bareback and bridleless riding showcases her finely trained horses. On her website you will find two videos you can watch together: Stacy Westfall videos.

So, on some things, you two can just agree to disagree !

Making Not Breaking by Cherry HillI tend to ride the majority of the time in a snaffle bit. I prefer the feel. But I also like riding certain horses in a bosal or a bitless bridle and others in some type of curb bit.

I do not use or advocate the use of a mechanical hackamore because many of them are mainly designed to stop a horse and don't offer the variety of communication between rider and horse.

But hey, bottom line, if your horse is as well trained as you say with a halter, then it shouldn't take you long to get him used to a bit or bosal or a bitless bridle. Here is what I am talking about when I say bitless bridle...just so you don't end up with a mechanical hackamore: Bitless Bridle.

Best of luck !

Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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      2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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