Watching a horse throw its head, mouth open and tongue hanging out, or chomping anxiously on the bit is distressing not only for the horse but for onlookers. Many riders hear the stories of the cut tongues and lips and broken jaws, they see the distress in the eyes of the heavy-handed rider and do not want to inflict any such pain on their horses. They see bits as the culprits and choose instead to use some form of unbitted head gear when riding. Their aim is not to inflict pain on their horse, but are they succeeding?
Many times riders have come to me with bitless bridles that are hardly better than bits. Some have leverage systems that will crank down with great pressure on the horse’s sensitive poll and around its jaw. Riders may think the horse responds to very little pressure, but that is because the pressure is so painful. Some of the gear works by pressing down on the nostrils, interfering with the horse’s breathing. I don’t think it is very kind to cut a horse short of its breath at any time, especially when it is moving.
Then there are the headstall and halter options which have no leverage effect, but the knots can be uncomfortable and the headgear can slide around the head and push up on the horse’s eye. Heavy ropes attached can get up quite a swing which transfers through to the horses nose. The horse has to tolerate this movement and differentiate it from rein aids. Because it is hard to be precise with such obtuse movement of the headgear, the horse also has to guess what we want a fair bit. This makes it hard to be clear enough to help the horse with the sort of straightness and balance exercises that improve the horse’s confidence and physical capability.
Trying to address these issues led me to creating the Gydle. The whole intention behind the Gydle is to be kind and clear so that the horse can understand us and trust us. There are no pressure points, no leverage, and the horse can still open his mouth to yawn or chew without the rider losing communication. In this way we can build a relationship that allows us to pursue our equine interests in a way that is a pleasure for both the horse and the rider.
Find out more here: www.gydle.com.au