Where’s the Bit? Part V: Rotational Bridles
Lindsay Rausch takes us even deeper down the rabbit hole with this look at yet another unique variation on the bitless bridle theme.
The last classification of bitless options that I looked into is also my favorite in many ways: bitless bridles with a rotational control. We’ll look at two brands, the Orbitless and LG.
The Orbitless includes an elliptical piece that is attached to the headstall, noseband, chin strap and reins.
The ellipse is broken into wedges. Each of the pieces can be attached in different locations to change the leverage and parts of the head that are acted on by this piece of equipment. Various configurations include:
The Orbitless has been designed to have a passive state and an active state. The passive state is as the bridle sits on the horse’s head, there is no pressure exerted by the bridle. The active state occurs when contact is taken, pressure is applied to the horse’s head. When the contact is released the pressure is instantly and completely released back to a passive state, making full use of pressure and release techniques used in horse training. Bitless bridles which have running or cross straps, have a reduction of pressure but they do not release completely. Some horses find this confusing or uncomfortable.
The Orbitless is a UK design but there are a couple of domestic retailers for them–some digging around on the Internet required.
Another type of rotational bridle is the LG. This includes a wagon wheel shaped piece that hooks up the same way as the Orbital but is round. The bridle is based on the same concept as the Orbital in that how the pieces are connected to the wheel changes which parts of the head experience pressure first. For example: On a horse that responds well to poll pressure but not chinstrap pressure, the connections can be changed to support that preference. There is also the option to attach a curb-type shank that increases the leverage more like a mechanical hackamore.
The LG is a German product so it can be pricy to get in the states. The options are to buy these from the manufacturer or find a domestic source that might be reselling them.
I like these options because they provide the flexibility to learn what balance of pressure that your horse best responds to, as opposed to some of the others that react in one way or another and you just have to hope that your horse likes that one best. These bridles can also be used for any discipline–English, western, driving, etc.
With all of these bitless options that are available to us as riders it is sad that many of the professional disciplines do not support the use of bitless bridles in competition. The final installment of this series will look at English and western style disciplines that do permit bitless bridles in competition.
Lindsay Rausch learned to ride at a young age from her mom who had been a trainer and horsemanship instructor in a previous life. Lindsay has always been a western trail rider, and even though she has not owned a horse of her own she has always looked for any chance to get a leg in the saddle. She is currently setting up a 10-acre farm for cattle and horses. Lindsay would love to hear questions that readers have about the western world that she could research for the Horse Nation.
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