Bitless bridle proposed rule change

Anyone know when they’re supposed to vote on the proposed rule change to allow bitless bridles in dressage? I know I read somewhere it would be in June but I’m curious if anyone happens to know when.

Side note… I really hope the proposal gets passed! My mare LOOOVES her Dr. Cook’s and I would love to be able to actually compete in it. Would certainly make her a happier pony! :crossed_fingers:t3:


I didn’t even know this was on the table for consideration. What a cool thing. This would have to have a pretty significant wording/rule overhaul of both the rule book and score sheets, though.

Wonder what the limitation would be for styles of bitless bridles? Assuming hackamores of mechanical variety would be off of the table… so… is it only bitless (Dr Cook) style, what about sidepulls, bosal styles, etc?

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No idea about when a vote might happen but I would be SO stoked if this passed!

Does anyone have a good explanation of how horses in bitless bridles can be considered on the bit? I don’t disagree with the rule change but don’t understand it that well.

Are they just required to show a certain degree of “roundness?” Do they come into the contact through the hackamore etc the same way?


Yes they would no doubt need to change the wording but honestly I think it’s about time to. And yeah they’d need to restrict it to certain bitless bridles (like no mechanical hackamores). Western dressage already does it. If English doesn’t follow suit soon I will likely switch disciplines. I’ve had my mare for over 13 years and tried every bit known to man and she prefers her Dr. cook’s crossunder bitless bridle to anything else we have ever tried!

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In western dressage it’s about the roundness of the frame and the harmony between horse and rider. And you don’t need a bit in their mouth to show that. They can fake a frame in a bitless and show resistance just like they can with a bit. The term “on the bit” needs to be better explained or better yet, replaced for this day and age so to speak, in my opinion.


So essentially it is about showing self carriage and a frame? I feel like this is going to require a lot of judges education-- not that I am opposed to better educating judges lol.

What level does western dressage reach? I don’t know much about it either. To me the loose slack loose I see with horses ridden above the bit or in bitless bridles is distracting and unsightly, though I guess that doesn’t make it incorrect.

A horse in a bitless bridle should still be ridden forward, working from back to front, “reaching” to the end of the contact with a steady but soft rein connection, a lifted back, and a telescoping neck. You don’t need a bit to do that and if one feels like they REALLY do there are probably some significant gaps in the training. But I am not saying that every horse should go bitless or goes better bitless.
That being said, the horse “carrying” the bit in their mouth does produce a slightly different feel than bitless. But the training and end product doesn’t change. Good judges will recognize this no problem.


Exactly my thoughts! :+1:t2:

There is a proposal to allow bitless bridles in dressage almost every year.

I don’t think this one has any greater probability of being passed than the last 10.


Well that’s disappointing. I didn’t realize that was the case, I assumed it had passed some preliminary markers to make it to the “vote” point it’s at. Well I won’t be holding my breath, may have to go a little deeper down the western tack shopping road :joy:

Looks like it didn’t make it:

That’s really too bad. I compete eventing & dressage and I wouldn’t have a problem with another competitor using a bitless if that’s what their horse went better in. In eventing there are some people who choose to use bitless for the jump phases.

I hack one of my TBs in a La Cense bridle ( I bought it because I wanted him to be able to eat on longer hacks and we’re adding endurance rides to our bucket list. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he schools flat in it just as well as in his bit bridle - if not more relaxed. A side note: love the design of this bridle but the leather is mediocre - mine already has cracks for a bridle that is only ~8 months old.

I’m definitely not one of those dressage purists that thinks the bit is the end all/be all towards connection and harmony in the horse.

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Disappointing for sure :confounded:

@Snowdenfarm that appears to have been updated in May, and I know the bitless bridle proposal was to be voted on in June…?

I am still seeing it as pending… It’s DR121:

I have never been so happy to be wrong, hahaha!


LOL! I wish I knew when the vote was going to happen… I also wish that as another poster above said, that this wasn’t something that got considered and voted down every year :confused:

I wouldn’t mind bitless being legal as long as it is sidepull-type, no leverage, no pinching, etc.


I see where you can make comments at this link. I commented in support of the rule change. Maybe if they see a lot of people backing it, they will consider it fully.

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