Bitless bridles are good options for young horses, therapy horses, school horses, trail/endurance horses, and horses that have difficulty carrying a bit. Bitless bridles come in several different styles: bosal, loping hackamore, sidepull, and mechanical hackamore. If you plan on competing in a bitless bridle, make sure you check the rule book for your sport to see if bitless bridles are allowed.
These are non-mechanical and made of leather, cotton, rope, or rawhide. The bosal is traditionally the first step in the education of a bridle horse and is allowed in many western competitions. Fitting the bosal is extremely important to prevent rubbing.
These are a great choice for riders looking for a traditional western look, but are not interested in using a bosal style hackamore. Loping hackamores are available in soft rope, making them great choices for horses prone to rubbing.
Soft Loping Hackamore
These offer a similar feel to riding in a snaffle bridle making them a good choice for english riders. My personal favorites are the Linda Tellington-Jones Lindell and the Farah DeJohnette Bitless.
Dressage Naturally Riding Halter
Farah DeJohnette Bitless
Linda Tellington-Jones Lindell
Waldenhousen Lindell Bridle
Potato Richardson Squeeze Bosal– Designed by Potato Richardson for his endurance horses
These work the same way as a curb bit. The only difference is the pressure is applied to the nose instead of the bars of the mouth. The benefit to these is that you can use a regular headstall and reins. Mechanical hackamores come in a variety of shank lengths and noseband materials making them suitable for a wide variety of horses and ponies. If you need a smaller noseband, most of the distance riding/biothane tack companies can make a custom size replacement hackamore nose.
Most hackamores have a ring to attach your headstall to. This ring is *usually* the same ring that your curb strap/chain also attaches to. There is a common exception to that- the Western style mechanical hackamores with swinging shanks. This style does have a ring, but it is only for the curb strap or chain. The headstall attaches to slots in the noseband or on the outside of the noseband.