Global survey aims to learn extent of bitless horse riding

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A campaign has been launched to survey bitless and bridleless horse riders and drivers around the world, and fittingly, it was announced on World Bitless Horse Day, September 5.

The Big Bitless Boniform is an initiative of Bitless Inc, an Australian-based non-profit association founded in 2013 to support those who wish to train and compete bitless, bridleless or at liberty. It regularly hosts online events to promote and support bitless equestrianism.

Despite the rapidly growing popularity of bitless riding and driving over the past 30 years, many equestrian organisations and competitive events are reluctant to permit bitless horses to participate. Bitless Inc said that “bitless riding and driving has an excellent safety record, and the backing of multiple research studies demonstrating that bitless horses are more relaxed, display fewer unwanted behaviours and are therefore happier”.

Currently, it is unknown how many bitless riders and drivers exist in the world, and the Big Bitless Boniform intends to provide a realistic estimate on numbers. The survey asks participants questions about their recent bitless and bridleless riding and driving experiences, whether they wish to compete, and what they feel needs to happen in the future.

Bitless Inc President Karri Nadazdy said the discrimination against bitless equines is based on an unwillingness to modernise. “There is a general lack of understanding of how bitless bridles work, and how quickly and easily most horses transition to bitless. There is no valid reason not to allow bitless equines in all equestrian sports,” she said.

Supporting the survey is a host of worldwide sponsors providing prizes to those who complete the survey, including Lightrider Bitless Bridles, Punk Ponies, Equiculture, International Horse Agility Club, Muddy Creek Raingear, author Hertha James, Equine Partnership, artist Amy Curran, Gills Gadget Market and Horses & People Magazine.

Bitless Inc Secretary Gill Shepherd and her equine assistant will be drawing the prize winners in four weekly draws during the Big Bitless Boniform, via a live Facebook stream, from September 15 at 5pm (AEST). The final draw takes place on October 6, 2020.

Anyone who rides or drives bitless or bridleless is invited to complete the survey.

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