How We Started

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Photo by: Amanda Brown

Welcome to World Bitless Association

We are a global collaboration of trainers, behaviourists, and bitless bridle designers

For some of us, our journey began in Norfolk in 2003 when a small band of riders wanting to investigate ethical and empathetic ways of training horses eventually becoming a BHS affiliated riding club in 2008 and then endorsing equality in Bitless Bridles in 2012. 

In 2013 the Norfolk Horse Training and Equitation Club (NHTEC) (supported by the BHA, ISES and others) requested a national rule change to allow bitless bridles in all UK horse sport under the BEF/FEI rules, based upon emerging trends and evidence. The rule changes were refused by the BEF and all national equestrian bodies without any counter evidence produced. The debate continued until 2016 when NHTEC resigned from the BHS because of their refusal to move forward in reviewing the bitless rules or evidence presented to them and because of their continued discrimination against bitless riders.

In 2007, Wendy Wainwright created the website and online forum the Bitless Horse Association (BHA). Also holding a bitless event later that year. The BHA sought to bring together like minded people to share their ideas, experiences and to provide support for bitless riders who often felt isolated. Wendy has written several articles and was invited to write a pro bitless debate piece for Your Horse magazine in 2009. Wendy has continued to lecture, hold clinics, demos, train and campaign as well as develop her own patented bridle design over the years.

 

The NHTEC club continued to function as a private club and provided funds to help set up Why Not Bitless and other campaigns to challenge the status quo and to promote the best of Bitless Bridles, riding and training, it has been instrumental in helping to fund the launch of the World Bitless Association 

We have always hoped from little acorns mighty oaks might grow and we continue to have faith in good humans who ride horses in Bridles without bits to spread the popularity of modern training and bridles.

World Bitless Association and its Why not Bitless campaign is credited to the commitment of ordinary riders who love horses and want to see higher standards of empathy in training, riding and keeping horses to raise the standard of equine welfare across the board.

From volunteer bitless advocates from across the world’s long efforts at working to change rules to remove the discrimination against bitless, came the idea for another way to demonstrate that bitless should be not only allowed but encouraged. There are many riders who prioritise their horses’ wellbeing above competing, and more who would very much like to compete, but find themselves unable to do so because they (rightly so) will not compromise their horse’s welfare by using bits to compete. No one should have to make this choice, everyone should be able to compete or not, bitless or not.

People are out there, challenging the status quo, challenging archaic rules, looking to ride and train and be with their horses with kinder softer communication. They are our true Bitless Ambassadors.

The Why Not Bitless campaign started in July 2018, recognised Bitless Ambassadors, giving Bitless Ambassador rosettes to riders using “modern” bitless bridles, competing in any discipline for placings in mixed bitted and bitless. To promote kinder training and riding, pictures showing unkind tack, and/or poor riding (behind the vertical) do not qualify for a rosette.

Four global makers of modern bitless bridles, Circle-X, LightRider, Orbitless, and Transcend came together with WhyNotBitless.org to make this initiative truly Worldwide.

With the successful launch of the Why Not Bitless campaign, the collaboration with the BHA (Bitless Horse Association) and the growing evidence in equitation science regarding the validity of bitless bridles we felt that the time is right for Riders, trainers, behaviourists, societies, organisations and designers to truly gather together and challenge all equestrian federations to end the discrimination of Bitless Bridles and improve the welfare of competing horses forever within one umbrella organisation representative of ordinary riders the – World Bitless Association, fighting for fairness, equality and welfare improvements for our beloved horses.

Credits:

Norfolk Horse Training & Equitation Club & every single supporting club member. Special Thanks to: Sallyann Weston, Abigail Grand, Claire Southgate, Jo Richardson, Colin Richardson, Avis Senior, Christine Westlake, Polly Smeath & Mike Harrison.

World Bitless Association/Why Not Bitless Credits: The whole WBA team, our endorsed and associate trainers, our international representatives. Including Alex Le Grand, Greg Glendell, Wendy Wainwright, Cynthia Cooper & Jo Richardson.