Bitless In The Showring

Alright, I know that I left the equestrian world behind, but sometimes it still shows up on my time line on face book. With an article like this one.

It’s in Danish, so no worries, I’ll translate briefly. I am linking to it because of the picture of the bitless bridle.

It basically says that DRF- the Danish Equestrian Federation- is looking for riding clubs that will arrange D shows where they can test bitless riding in dressage. D shows mean that it is the lowest kind of show. You know, the local school horse, kind of show. Then we have C shows for people who are richer and get around more, B shows for people who compete nationally and A shows for international riders. Just so we are clear. We are testing this very dangerous riding method on those deemed most inexperienced. (Irony may occur.)

Because no professional riders would possibly dare? DRF hardly dares, by the looks of this article.

What DRF is asking those who arrange the shows is, that they can keep the bitless riders at a warm up of their own- away from those wearing bits. And if the show ring is not indoors, there will need to be a 120cm tall fence around it.

I am stunned at that. All of it.

Keeping bitless riders separated from the others? Why? To keep the other riders safe from those uncontrollable hippie horses, as the article calls them? That may have been said in jest, but really, that is the message DRF is sending.

If you ride bitless, you need to be kept out of harms way of others and behind a tall fence. Usually an ordinary dressage fence is like 20cm or something. The whole point of dressage is that you have a well trained and happy horse that does not run off with you.

I am not sure how to respond to something like this. It displays clearly how terrified DRF is of horses in general, when they cannot IMAGINE them ridden bitless without a tall fence or a wall between them and the rest of the world.

Isn’t that just a shame. The Danish Equestrian Federation, everyone. Scared senseless of the very idea of a well, none violence, trained horse.

Which brings me back to the bitless bridle in the picture. I mean, come on. It’s not that much of a hippie bridle. Something like that can be just as hard, just as cruel as a bit. Or, a hackamore, which is bitless and has been allowed and used in showjumping for years. Why is this different? Because its leather and no metal? Don’t think for a second that this is not designed to cause pain, because it is.

A bitless bridle like that one is created to touch all the pressure points on the horses face, all the nerves. It is every bit as hard and as painful as a hackamore or a bit in the wrong hands. The mere fact that DRF doesn’t even know that, is just stunning.

Not only are they terrified of horses in general, but they have no clue as to the anatomy of the horse, or how the equipment they allow in the show ring, works. But that is nothing new. This just confirms it, yet again.

With federations like that, we really do need animal police…. But that is another story. Ish.

All that said, I am glad that they are willing to TRY the bitless bridles. As much as I despise those bridles, (I actually think an ordinary snaffle is softer than this, but then again, I have my own noseband crusade,) I do believe that allowing them in the sport, it a step in the right direction. At least it is a way for those “hippie” riders to prove  that their horses are no less safe than others.

Maybe someday, this will lead the sport back to what it should be. A place for riders to display how well trained and willing their horses are, not how able they are to work through pain, as it is today.

Maybe someday, DRF will realize that a horse, trained without violence, will always be less dangerous than a horse that is forced, broken and in pain.

One can always dream, right?


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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