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Bits of Freedom? Not for horses.

I was shocked when I received the latest letter book from the Arabian Studbook Germany, the “Araber Welt” #4 from July/August 2011 .

On the opening page there was this image with an advertisement.

How could they possibly put this picture there? Is this advertisement? This is pure animal cruelty!

Click on this image to see what the bit actually looks like, including the internal ring which is squeezed around the jawbone (can break the jawbone too) and around the tongue (can cut the tongue in half too).

Look a bit closer and ask yourself

– What kind of bit is that? It’s so thin, it doesn’t do any good to the horse.
– And if you look at the horses’ eye: does he look happy?

To see what a bit does to the mouth of a horse, watch this clip:

As a rule of the thumb:

– the more bits in a horses mouth, the worse the rider.
– the thicker a bit, the less worse it is for the horse.
– bits should not be used to force a horse to walk with his neck round and his head down.

If you, especially as a professional, are not able to exercise your horse properly so it can collect itself without the use of a bit and you can sit in all gaits without a saddle, you might consider quit riding horses, or do put effort in the being “horse” and what it needs.

A so called “trainingbridle”: The more leather and metal, the less happy the horse

Loving horses?
But still, horses don’t like bits, they don’t need it either. What they need is a careful rider and good preparation, without a bit.

Groundwork (yes, get your but out of the saddle and walk yourself) is what reveals most about the horse, what it can do, what it can’t do yet and how it feels. Isn’t that what being with horses is all about? That you want to be with them and that they want to be with you? That you know what they feel, think and expect? That you can ‘read’ and understand them?

Riding schools / Maneges
Most maneges these days have a pretty strict lesson setup. The horses are already saddled, waiting for their one-hour-rider to grab them out of their stables, bring them to the manege and mount them. Just like you would mount a bike or get into a car. There is no way for the horse to get to know the rider or the other way around. And after the hour; the rider is swapped with the next one.

Most of these horses from the school are being ridden with these kinds of sets additional pull-down reins:

to name just a few.

Yes, you’re probably relatively safe up on a horses’ back as long as you use these kind of setups that pull the head down.

Until.. The horse decides to buck you off. Time after time again. That is, if you’ve got a mentally strong and smart horse.

The normal reaction: You put a sharper bit in, cos that is what everyone would do and advise you.

Yes, despite “art”; people do ride with these bits, see the top image.

Or, a bit with a pull-down-effect with a sharp cinch on the chin: it won’t allow the horse to open the mouth; but within the mouth the tongue is pushed down by the metal of the bit, causing the horse to bend it’s head down (as you can see here).

To make it easier for the rider; you can even buy rubber and leather bands to attach straight from the bit to the saddle:


And so it goes on.

The sad story after this:

Most horses won’t even defend theirselves. They protect theirselves by retreating themselves into their mental shell, shutdown and let happen with them what happens. They are “worn out” by the time they should be fully alive. With 10, 15 years old they’re then put on a field to have their retirement. Or, if they’re not lucky, they end up in the butcher or worse, horsetraders that transport horses under bad conditions where they are sold for more than they are really worth. In the end, it’s still the horse that doesn’t win. So much for “caring for horses”.

Normal? Cruel? Or just too expensive?
I think there should be more people open to change; despite the fact that it might sound scary. Some people have; but it still needs to be pushed towards the public. That that what looks “normal” (as published in this booklet) is not normal at all but as a matter of fact close to cruelty to animals.

If, for a start, on the manege those additional/traditional rains won’t be used anymore, horses would appreciate their lives a lot more and care a lot more for their riders. Horses might even start to like their riders / owners. And only then the magic can happen.

now, ok, this is the ultimate in natural collection probably a few people will only be able to achieve. Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is one of them

Riding schools / maneges
Riding schools / maneges should actively push people to learn to ride with a halter only and without a saddle at the very beginning. They should first learn to sit the step, the trot and the canter, without the reins and the bit to hold on to. Once they’ve achieved that they should try to start the riding with a halter, which could be reduced in the end with riding with a ring around the horses’ neck, or better; by a few manes. But; when you look at the time this might take; it’s a lot more expensive to give lessons this way. They prefer to give lessons to 10, 15, 20 people in one go per session, the “oldfashioned” way.

Ofcourse not only the maneges have a word in this “riding with a bit”. Did you know that in many countries it is forbidden to be outside with a horse that has not got a bit in? Or in many insurances it’s stated similar. No bit means no insurance. Well, every tried putting a bit in a foals mouth? To just think about what sense it makes to do such a thing.

Rollkur – Hyperflexion – Low-Deep-Round (LDR) & co

Ofcourse there are many wellknown people not having any problems with going extreme on bad riding and putting the horse under great stress physically with bit & leather ‘weapons’; being an example for many wannabe’s:

Meet the dutch Anky van Grunsven; well known with her dressage horses during Worldcup and a few Olympics. She’s got nothing against using the severely damaging Rollkur on her own horses.

With the Rollkur you pull the head of a horse while riding that deep under that the chin touches it’s chest. As if it would make them more flexible?

Au Contraire.

Watch some of the videos below about Anky and her Rollkur. Filmed with a hidden camera, causing a real scandal. Not big enough yet to stop it though, but time will come.

And after all the comments she did get after the above videos; she now does reining. In which she does exactly the same; pull the horse with a sharp, closed bit. The horse has no chance; if he wants to get rid of the pressure in his mouth he needs to give in. Maybe Joker from Anky van Grunsven could teach them a bit selfdefense (Joker broke Ankys leg by bucking her off. Horses only buck if they can’t cope with their rider and treatment).

Do you see any difference? Yes, the top nose band is missing, but watch closely to the band below the chin. That, in combination with the bit will put a lot more pressure on the tongue of the horse when one pulls the long(er) handles:

Open up your eyes! Read!

When stretched forward-down-out, the nuchal ligament is not so stretched out, but the muscles that raise the withers are elongated. When rounded in btv/deep the nuchal ligament is stretched but not the muscles. The insertion also changes its angle to the back of the skull

Image & text taken from as an example.

A lot of techincally unbreakable and very very interesting information about Rollkur, Hyperflexion, Low-Deep-Round (LDR), false and natural collection and more has been published by Theresa Sandin.

Theresa Sandin has pointed out all the benefits (none) and the disadvantages of using a bit to get the horse collected; especially when being used for riding with a Rollkur, also called Hyperflexion or Low-Deep-Round (LDR)

I strongly recommend reading this, watch the pictures, and then think twice the next time you go to your horse or take horseriding lessons.

Is it really necessary?

Well; horses do collect theirselves naturally. No rider is on this horse to pull her/his head down.

Even these 2 are walking freely with their heads in the best position to balance theirselves.
Note that the first horse has had all of the above over her. She even has got a nasty remain of a cut in her nose. You can’t touch her hoofs or she will go mad. Yes, she’s been on transport to never return, but was rescued. She’s doing better than ever before as you can see.

And about the Rollkur? Na, this looks better, isn’t it? So much for spanish steps while being collected, nevermind the doing it in a trot!

So, if you are able to to train your horse from the ground to search for his/her best comfortable position; it will make him stronger. If it makes him stronger, he will recognize it and he will have more fun in action and will have more fun with you (and the other way around!).
donutdonut frei

And then; if the horse is trained enough; you will be able to ride him, with halter or with halsring, and he still will be able to be as balanced as before.

More and more people are opening up now they find comfort in people sharing the new view on horses, bits and rollkur. More and more vets reporting the things they see in the ‘professional’ dressage branch. I can only support that.
Watch this video about “Stimmen der Pferde” & “Finger in der Wunde” (both german, but it pictures enough, original titles “Voices of the Horses” and “Finger in the wound”.

Oh, and yes…

did you know that it is a lot cheaper to keep your horse natural?

Just to mention a few things:

– Horses are herd animals. They live outside in the dry fields in 2 types of herds:
1) the herd of mares with a leading stallion and
2) the herd of young stallions with a leading stallion.
They do not spend their lives behind bars 23 hours a day, not being able to be with their family and friends. It might be even more cost effective to keep horses outdoors. Plus you don’t have to come by every day to move them for an hour or two.

– you need less “gear”. No expensive bits (EU 200,-) and such; just a ropehalter (from EU 4,99) with a solid, long leadrope (EU 16,90) is enough. A long whip (EU 25,-) might be need of the tack as well. Still cheaper than a set with bit and reins; and you don’t need an additional halter.

– The barefoot saddles are a lot cheaper (from EU 240,- till EU 1200,-) than the Kieffer, Stübben and co saddles (starting from EU 1200,-),
Guess what? The flexible interior of the barefoot saddle is a lot better for the back of your horse, the movements and on top of that it fits multiple horses.

– The vet doesn’t have to come by that often if horses feel well. They also build up health and strength by being outside in all weatherconditions (they do need a shelter though!).

– Say goodbye to the blanket; no need to shave a horse and then put a fake warmkeeper on. Nature can do that better than you.

– Absolute must: The horse dentist..

– Food: Not the pre-pressed pellets. That’s like fast food for horses.
If you can choose your own horsefood; choose hay at liberty, lucerne and some herbs from e.g. PerNaturam.

They do it theirselves, for themselves. Naturally.

See also
Saddle your moneymaker.
A bit of bit for horses.
A frightening bit.
The perfect dressage horse? (Das perfekte Dressurpferd?)
Horse “Show” trainers – behind the scenes
Bits of Freedom? Not for horses.




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