We went on a little family vacation the other day. While we were in the big city we stopped at a tack store. We live in the boondocks. Out here in the middle of nowhere we have our local farm supply store and a few feed stores that sell some tack. The options are limited. I was excited to see what was out there.
It was exciting to smell the new leather and run my fingers over beautifully tooled saddles. I loved looking at all the tack options, colors, fringe, different textures and types of leather.
Then I came to the bit wall.
I have been thinking about trying out a bitless bridle and thought maybe I would be able to see one in person. I like bits too. Nice snaffles, rollers, metal options to choose from. I used to love to look at bits.
This wall horrified me. Maybe my opinions have changed and I think more bits are bad than I used to, but I don’t remember so many chain mouth pieces, gag bits, serrated edges, and generally vicious, nasty bit options being available years ago.
Not that it’s been years since I was in a real tack store, but the number of bad ones seem to be growing exponentially in recent years. It makes the days when everyone just rode in an aluminum curb look good.
I admit I thought we would be improving on our horsemanship as the science of riding and training improved. Apparently it is going the opposite direction. Instead the science is being used to create more and worse torture devises to torment our horses with.
Don’t we ride because we love horses? Aren’t they supposed to be trusted companions, our partners in work and play?
Why then do we want to rip their cheeks open up to their jowls with gag bits that don’t stop, then combine that with thin, twisted, long shanked, who knows what else so we can hurt the horses as badly as possible? Why do we look for short cuts using pain to force horses into submission instead of applying some effort and training ourselves how to ride properly?
It was a sad thing to see. Instead of enjoying a rare trip to a tack store I left with a bitter taste in my mouth. A disgust with the lack of riding skill and training that is so prevalent in the modern horse world.
These things are not “fine when used properly”. They are not “useful tools in the right hands”. They are not “A necessary step in training”.
Anything can be trained in a soft kind bit, or no bit at all. Not knowing how to do it doesn’t mean it can’t be done, only that you don’t currently have the tools. We should always seek knowledge instead of a harsher bit.
The amount of force used is a direct reflection on the amount of skill the trainer possesses.
- So Easy A Child Could Do It