The Riding Aids Explained: Bits, Whips, and Spurs

The on going discussion of the equestrian community has almost always been riding aids: bits, whips, and spurs. People seem to be on one extreme or the other with these training and riding tools. Let’s take a refreshed look at these devices.


One of the biggest debates in our community has been bits. Now, take into account that every horse is different. Not ever horse is going to go best in a bit. But, not every horse is going to go it’s best in a hackamore/bitless bridle. This is just one of those situations where you need to put your personal beliefs beside and look at what your horse is going to benefit from the most. If your horse is playing with the bit obnoxiously and has issues with it, try bitless. But, if your horse goes fine in a bit but has a mental break down in a hackamore, keep working in a bit.

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There are many things that we as people need to let go of in order to make our horses be the best that they can be. In this particular argument, I have no opinion. If your horse is going great in a bit, keep riding in a bit. If your horse is going great in a bitless bridle or a hackamore, keep riding in it. Only switch things like this if it’s needed in order to keep your horse preforming it’s best. But another thing to consider is that our hands are attached to whatever bridle we’re using to direct our horse with. So if your horse is in pain, then recognize that the issue may be yourself: heavy hands, etc.


This one is simple. If your hitting your horse viciously with a whip, you shouldn’t have a horse nor a whip. That is abuse, flat out. But, if your whip is being used for training purposes such a liberty, it’s fine. Or a little smack on the shoulder or flank for a school pony isn’t going to kill them. In fact, few riding schools let their student carry whips until they know exactly how to and when to use them anyways. But in the long run, used as a training tool or an arm extension when doing things like lunging, whips are fine.


This yet again depends on the horse. If your horse has very sensitive skin and bucks when you ride with spurs, don’t ride with spurs. But if your horse goes better and takes less prodding and poking, then ride with your spurs. If they are used correctly, spurs should not harm your horse. In fact they should make your horse more willing to go forward or preform certain movements.anna frank 099

To conclude all of these controversial points in to one big outcome, you are the rider. You need to make to correct decisions that benefit your horse. Whether it will be riding with or with out bits, whips, and/or spurs, your horses comfort should always come first.

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