Study: Horses Tolerate Similar Levels of Bitless, Bitted Bridle Pressure

New study results indicate the pressure horses appear to accept from most bitless bridles is comparable to that they accept from snaffle bridles.
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bit pressure in horses
New study results indicate pressure from most bitless bridles is comparable to that from snaffle bridles. | Photo: iStock

Choosing the most welfare-friendly bridle—bitted or bitless—can be confusing. It might seem kinder to spare horses a jointed metal bar in their mouths. But new study results indicate horses find pressure from most bitless bridles to be just as unpleasant as that from snaffle bridles. And with one of kind of bitless bridle, the researchers found the pressure to be even worse.

“Our study indicates that with different types of headgear, the same rein aid is similarly aversive to horses,” said Anina Vogt, PhD candidate at the University of Giessen, in Germany. Vogt presented the study results on behalf of herself and Uta König von Borstel, PhD, also of the University of Giessen, at the 2017 International Society for Equitation Science conference, held Nov. 22-26 in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

“This indicates that at equal levels of prior training, signals of the same intensity are sufficient to produce a noticeable aid,” Vogt said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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