Side Pull Bitless Bridle: Types and Different Uses

Several types of bridles are used for different styles of riding. Currently, people are trying bitless riding, it can get quite confusing when buying a bitless bridle. There are tons of options available in the market for different styles of bitless bridles which also shows riders’ growing interest in bitless riding.

It can get quite difficult if you have not seen or used a bitless bridle before and are not aware of the fitting and how it suits the horse.

Out of different styles of the bitless bridle, the side pulls bitless bridle is the most common one and preferred by most riders. 

Bitless riding is relatively a new style and not a lot of people are aware of it. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to educate people on the common side-pull bitless bridle used for riding.

What is a Side Pull Bitless Bridle?

As the name clears, it is a bridle used without a bit. Reins are connected through rings on either side of the horse’s muzzle.

The pressure is on the nose when the reins are pulled queuing a halt or turn. This bitless bridle system has direct rein contact without disturbing the horse in the mouth.

Pulling on either side of the rein cues the horse to move in that particular direction; pulling on the left rein means turn left whereas the right one cues for the right turn.

Side Pull looks like cavesson and rope halters and fits the horse better. 

Side Pull bridles go by different names like cavesson bridle, Indian hackamore, or a Lindell. Some are also named after their manufacturer, Dr. Cook bridle. 

How Does a Side Pull Bitless Bridle Works?

With side pull, steering is usually direct reining. A rider can neck rein with this bridle, pressure is put on the bridge of the horse’s nose when reins are pulled back. 

When either side of the rein is pulled, the horse’s nose or head is turned in the direction of the rein. Depending on different types and styles,  some side pulls place pressure over the poll or under the jaw. However, this bridle has less contact than the one with a bit. 


Why You Should Ride Your Horse on a Side Pull?

Side Pull is perfect for beginners who learn to ride on young horses. Though it is bitless, it feels the same as riding with a bit.

Most trainers start out riding lessons with side pulls as it allows the horse to learn directional signals without hurting or putting pressure on the mouth. 

Horses suffering from dental problems, malformed jaws, or other facial injuries may find side pull more comfortable than the one with a bit.

It also works well for horses who had a bad experience with heavy-handed riders that have caused pain and numbness in the horse’s mouth.

A rider must use his hands gently even with the bitless bridle.

Horses may as well become insensitive to bitless horse bridle if the rider pulls with force causing pressure on the horse’s nose.

Once the rider learns to use side pull properly, horses stop showing behaviors like head tossing, shaking, balking, and rooting.

With no bit in the mouth, horses are free to drink and snack when on a trail or during long hours of riding.

No need to worry about the frozen bit to hurt the sensitive mouth during colder temperatures. Riders with unsteady hands riding school horses should ride with side pull for the horse’s comfort.

Side Pull Bridle Construction

Side pulls are available in multiple styles and are made of different materials. The common material used in the construction of side pull is leather and rope.

There is often a synthetic or metal wire inserted into the leather for stability and longevity.

There is also a stiff strap on the nose piece of some side pulls. The nose piece can be made either of one or two lengths of stiff lariat rope.

On some side pulls, nose pieces are designed with knots to place pressure when reins are pulled. Wider nose pieces exert less pressure than thin ones.

There are different Western and English style side pulls available as well.


Different Styles of Side Pull Bitless Bridle

A lot of different styles of bitless bridles are available for purchase on many horse tack websites. A rider can choose the one that fits his horse the best.

Some straight side pulls have reins attached to the bridle which puts pressure on the nose.

The other one is the sliding chin strap which puts 90% of the pressure on the nose and 10% behind the jaw.

Some side pulls feature leverage mechanisms like shanks to increase the leverage on the nose. 

No matter which style you choose, it will be a step up for the horse to relieve it from the pain. Any style would be better than the one with a bit.

Side Pull Fitting

When it comes to horse tack, right fitting is important be it saddle or bridle. Side Pull should fit the same as a regular bridle.

The browband should be long and wide enough that when the rein is pulled to turn, the cheekpieces of the bridle do not get pulled into the horse’s eye on the opposite side.

The bridle should fit about four fingers from the top of your horse’s mouth. It should not sit on the cartilage or the end of the nasal bones.

It should be placed high enough to mild the action and impact. The chin strap should be well-adjusted so it not dangling and the horse can open his mouth easily.

Other Types

Some of the popular side pulls are 

  • Hackamores
  • Bosals

These are leverage bridles, in Bosals, reins are attached to the back instead of the sides. The pressure, however, remains on the nose.

Summing Up

Side Pull Bitless Bridle would be a perfect riding partner that will allow the horse to learn all the riding techniques and directional signals without hurting. Even though the possibilities are endless with side pulls, it would be a win-win situation no matter whichever style you choose.

Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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