Ladies, using the double bridle is not rocket science. So far the seven or eight horses I’ve introduced the double bridle understood it just fine. If the horses understand it the double bridle is not rocket science. These horses included horses that were responsive to the snaffle through regular Forward Seat schooling ala Littauer, green horses who were having difficulties understanding what the bit means, including horses ridden for decades by not so good riders, rebellious horses, cooperative horses, horses who were just trying to understand their riders, and they all improved.
I DO NOT ride horses in the double bridle like many dressage riders and Saddle seat riders I’ve seen pictures/videos of. I DO NOT haul back on the curb bit, the curb bit is for light cues which the horses seem to understand better than spurring the poor horses into an ungiving hand with a snaffle with the mouth tied shut to prevent gaping.
After over 50 years of riding and studying about bits and contact I, like many educated riders of the past, find that the double bridle helps to bring clarity to the horses who really do not understand what in the Hades their riders are asking for with the snaffle bit, either contact or rein aids.
If g-your horses truly understood what you ask for with the snaffle bridle g-you would never have to tie your horses’ mouths shut with tight nosebands that look strong enough to hold an elephant. Your horses would not travel with their faces behind the vertical. I have not used a noseband with any bit for over a decade, and that noseband was over 2 fingers loose, my riding teacher and I were having discussions about the necessity of nosebands with my hands and riding, I ended up removing anything that could ever tie the horses’ mouths shut.
Ladies, you claim that experienced riders are truly incapable of handling a double bridle when Saddleseat kids, young kids, kids younger than 6 years old are trained how to use the double bridle from the start.
As for the double bridle being inherently dangerous cross country, maybe you should go back in time and say that to cavalry men who rode their horses in double bridles into the chaos, confusion and danger of armed conflict with bullets flying and cannon balls plowing through the troops, injure and dead horses and people strewn across the landscape, riding cross country over land that was not groomed for the benefit of the horses.
For many decades many fox hunters in England preferred to follow the hounds with a double bridle on their horses’ heads. According to their writings they did this because they wanted to be prepared for anything that came up.
Riding cross country on a groomed course in a double bridle is not any more dangerous than careening around the course with a harsher snaffle bit, and the horse’s mouth will be more comfortable with a double bridle than with many snaffles with “creative” mouthpieces that when you get down to in DEPEND ON MORE PAIN to keep the horse listening to you when its blood is up galloping fast and jumping obstacles.
I do not ride dressage. I do not ride Saddle Seat either. But I, a severely handicapped rider with a neurological disease that affects my balance, my strength, my coordination, and the sensitivity of my body (numbness) can get better results from the horse just riding around the ring at the walk and trot with the double than with the most carefully selected snaffle bit (the one that the horse finally says, OK, I like this bit.) Before my MS crippled me I gladly galloped in field, trail and ring with the double bridle, and my horses did NOT go behind the vertical, they did NOT run around with their mouth agape, I did not have to have a death grip on the reins ever, and the horses went cheerfully in the Forward Seat ideal of free swinging gaits that cover the ground without wasting the horse’s energy and their faces were definitely in front of vertical.
As far as “using my seat” to slow down/halt the horse? Well ladies I have MS, almost no energy, I can only ride 30 minutes maybe three times a week if I am in top form. Why in the world would it be “better” for me to waste my energy engaging many large muscles to move the biggest, heaviest bones in my body, when I can get good, soft results by increasing the strength of my maybe one to two ounces of contact by a few grams in a well timed rein aid?
I ride lesson horses at two stables, one hunt seat and one sort of Western. Both ladies have told me that they do not want me to change from my double bridle to any snaffle. I get good, soft results with the snaffle, it is just with the horse also having the curb bit in its mouth even though I do not take up direct contact with the curb bit I get BETTER results without distressing one lady’s heart horse of the ages and with the lesson horses with some problems. My riding teacher is also willing for me to introduce her own personal riding horse to the double bridle, she wants to see how he could improve.
The horses I ride reach out willingly to take contact in response to my leg aids. Though I wear spurs (Spursuaders, the gentlest spurs I’ve found) and carry a crop I do not need to use them to get the horse to reach out and take contact. 98% of the time these horses have relaxed mouths, tongues, lower jaws and polls, as for the remaining 2% of the time, well sometimes I just have to explain something to the horse. After that the horse and I go back to regular contact with a relaxed mouth, tongue, lower jaw and poll.
Using a double bridle need not be dangerous. Using a double bridle is not rocket science, the horses understand it just fine after the first 30 minutes in it, at least they do when I introduce them to the double bridle.
And of course the double bridle can be used to hurt the horse. ANY bit can be used to hurt the horse. It is the hand on the other end of the rein that causes the horse pain. You have a decent seat? You have decent, responsive hands? You should not have many problems using a double bridle and you may find out that your horse PREFERS the double bridle over every single snaffle, Pelham, Kimberwick, Elevator or other single bit that you have tried in that desperate, very expensive search for that elusive “perfect” bit for your horse, the one that your horse will listen to even though all hell is breaking loose around you.
Or you can spend hundreds of dollars on one special snaffle bit after another, on all the tight nosebands, on all the auxiliary reins for training, all the time looking desperately for the results that a good double bridle can bring you with minimal training of the horse in the double bridle.
Horses understand the double bridle just fine when it is introduced properly, with light hands and well timed rein and leg aids. It seems to me that it is human beings that are not up to using the double bridle. But do not lose hope, the double bridle is almost as easy for a human to learn to use as it is for the horse.