19 July 1998

Bitless Bridles Spell Good News For Horses

Having an articulated piece of steel shoved in your mouth, then having someone yank on it with two long levers would be a real turn off for most people (with the possible exception of one or two British politicians). Unfortunately this is exactly what happens to almost all horses - but hopefully not for much longer. In a piece of practical applied science a former cowboy named Allan Buck from California has invented a way for riders to control their mounts without the need for a traditional bridle.

His bitless bridle may not the first new horse control system tried, but it apparently works.

More than a few US veterinarians are said to be impressed.

Professor Bob Cook from the Veterinary Science School at Tufts University has been quoted in New Scientist as saying that Buck�s bridle is possibly the greatest advance in equine technology since the fifteenth century. He says that traditional bridles are a problem because horses cannot breathe and swallow at the same time, and bridles exacerbate this by altering the angle of a horse's head and neck.

While Buck's device represents a major advancement in equine welfare, it is still no cure for incorrectly fitted equipment or cruel and incompetent riders.