Science & Equine

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Written by Anouk van Breukelen

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Responses to different bridles during training

Traditionally bitted bridles are the main method of controlling the horse when riding. However, in response to health and behavioural concerns the use of bitless bridles has gained popularity.

The horses wearing the bitted bridle opened their mouth, chewed, pawed and swished their tail more often. These behaviours decreased when training progressed. The horses in the bitless bridle showed more head lowering during long reining. During long reining, the heart rate and heart rate variability of horses was higher for bitted horses. The study showed that horses wearing a bitless bridle responded just as well as the bitted horses to training.

Expert opinion by Anouk van Breukelen

The number of horses used in this study was very limited. Because of this it is hard to disentangle factors that may influence behavioural responses and thus the results, like the character of the horse. Nonetheless, the results are interesting and are worth further investigation as they may have beneficial implications on horse welfare.

> From: Quick et al., Journal of Veterinary Behaviour 4 (2009) 169-176. All rights reserved to Elsevier Inc.. Click here for the online summary.

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