Belmont Park Clinic

Belmont Park – Home of the Belmont Stakes

Cathie was invited by the Northeast Equine Expo to present a clinic on transitioning to Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York
The demonstration went very well! The clinic started with Diane and her beautiful Friesian gelding.  Diane, a dressage rider rode her horse in a double bridle, while I talked with the spectators. The gelding was very energetic and easily spooked because of the venue, but still able to maintain himself very well. After about ten minutes of riding, we removed his bitted bridle, and fitted him with a Dr. Cooks bitless bridle.  I mounted up demonstrating walk, halt and rein back, just as Diane did previously. The horse understood the bridle immediately. He spooked less, and his rein back was much lighter.
 Since I am no dressage rider, I had Diane remount riding her horse in the Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle for the very first time. She was delighted with the immediate positive change in her horse, and immediately after our demo she expressed a desire to try it further at this two day event. I happily offered her the loan of the bridle, but her enthusiasm was squashed as her dressage trainer who was in ear shot highly discouraged her from trying the bridle further. Her trainer stated to me that her as own Friesian was much too hot to be ridden bitless.
Although the demonstration was a total success, the use of the bitless bridle is still frowned upon by many people in many disciplines. These people refuse to remove their blinders, are just too set in their ways (stubborn) to accept the idea of a horse happily being ridden without metal in the mouth. I am fully aware there are rules against riding bitless in many show rings but this is no reason to deny giving your horse a break outside of the show pen. This can be done successfully and many users of the cross under bitless bridle are proving this daily.
You CAN school in the bitless and go back and forth between it and your bitted bridle if you live anywhere besides Holland.
If you live or plan to compete in Holland, The Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS) has approved a rule that will allow riders to compete bitless for the next three years. I hope many will be encouraged about this exciting news.

Update The bitless bridle is now accepted and integrated by KNHS 10/11/2013 Good for them, it's time for the USA to follow suit.

For more info about bitless dressage please visit


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