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Bitless Bridles

The British Horse Society considers the welfare of the horse to be paramount, whether it is being used for sport, recreation or breeding.

The BHS believes that through education, the welfare of equines will be improved and as such the correct training of the rider is a major focus of our work. Training of the rider can take many forms, from instructional lesson to advice from stewards and judges at a competition.

Subsequently, any abuse of a horse through the incorrect use of tack or equipment should be addressed. The educated rider, at any level, will ride with empathy for their horse and the use of a bit or noseband will not cause pain or distress to a horse.

There are many different types of bit, bridle and bitless bridle with different types suiting different horses.

However, a bitless bridle is not without fault and when used incorrectly can cause excessive pressure on the horse’s head and restrict normal breathing.

The BHS believes that the choice of whether a bitted or bitless bridle is used remains with the rider. Bitless bridles are regularly used for hacking, training and unaffiliated dressage competitions organised either by the BHS or British Riding Clubs.

However, the rules for dressage state that bitless bridles are not permitted and this reflects the training requirements of the horse which are fundamental to the sport of dressage.

Therefore, for certain levels of competition, qualifiers and Championships, the rules of British Dressage are followed.

When producing rules for competitions the relevant sporting organisations will work together to ensure the uniformity of rules and the BHS will defer to British Dressage (BD), who in turn defer to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

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