Trainer and 'Free Rider' Alycia Burton says what she thinks about using a bit if your horse struggles with them:
Most of the time I ride without using a bit with Goldrush because he simply doesn't like them. Before you comment - YES I have tried him in every bit possible and his teeth are excellent.
When he has a bit in he will often open his mouth and fight constantly even if there is no pressure on the reins - he doesn't stop chomping and is clearly uncomfortable.
MOST people would put a tight 'drop noseband' on to force his naughty mouth closed.
You will never see me use a drop noseband ever again - WHY? Because it is masking the issue instead of fixing the problem.
The horse is opening his mouth out of discomfort, confusion or pain... NOT because he is being naughty!
The horse's mouth and nose is just as sensitive as ours (if not more). Tight drop nose bands seriously interfere with the horses breathing, and are nothing short of painful.
Disagree? Please go strap your own mouth shut putting tight pressure on the sides of your nose and go exercise. Now tell me how much you love it :)
We must always be able to put ourselves in our horses position. Would you like it done to you - would it help you or hinder you?
Ask the question WHY is my horse doing this?
I do not have an issue with bits and I use them on many horses. However - I will always try to work with the individual horse instead of what the horse world says is 'right' or 'wrong'.
I want my horse to be happy and I do not want to fight. I do what ever I can to make this happen. Some horses like Goldrush do not like bits and you are better off riding them bitless.
I see so many horses with their mouths tightly shut... please DO NOT do this to your horse. When the rider is asked 'why' they have a tight drop noseband on- the most common reply is "My instructor told me to" or "Everyone does it"
SOME HANDY ADVICE- Don't let your instructor or friend put forceful gear on your horse because they are more experienced then you. YOU are the voice for your horse and it is your responsibility to make sure he is ok. When you know its wrong SAY NO
You can find out more about Alycia at her website here