Articles 2007

Why is 'Rollkur' Wrong? (part one) [2007] Observations on the Report of the FEI Veterinary and Dressage Committees' Workshop on 'The use of over-bending ("Rollkur") in FEI Competition,' January 2006.  The practice of bit-induced over-bending is reviewed and evidence of its harm provided. Why is 'Rollkur' Wrong? (part one)  

Why is 'Rollkur' Wrong? (part two) [2007]
Continued observations on the Report of the FEI Veterinary and Dressage Committees' Workshop on 'The use of over-bending ("Rollkur") in FEI Competition,' January 2006. Why is 'Rollkur' Wrong? (part two)

Why is Rollkur Wrong? (part three) [2007] The conclusion (appendix) of observations on the Report of the FEI Veterinary and Dressage Committees' Workshop on 'The use of over-bending ("Rollkur") in FEI Competition,' January 2006  Why is 'Rollkur' Wrong? (part three) .

Procedure for Submiitting a Rule Change Proposal [2007]
Rule changes to allow cross-under bitless bridles in competition must be initiated by you, the rider. Here's how to get started. Procedure for Submiitting a Rule Change Proposal

Are Bits Necessary for Dressage?  [2007]  A text extract of an article by Jessica Jahiel, PhD, published in Dressage Today.  Presented here with permission from the author and Dressage Today.Are Bits Necessary For Dressage?

A Fact Sheet Regarding Bits  [2007]  Some important points to consider concerning the bit. A Fact Sheet Regarding Bits

Can Everyone Ride Bitless? [2007]  by Cathie Hatrick-Anderson
Yes, even beginners! Some information and advice from an authorized Bitless Bridle Instructor. Can Everyone Ride Bitless?

Epiglottal Entrapment [2007] An unpublished letter to the editor of the Veterinary Record, the official publication of the British Veterinary Association.  The author of an article in this scientific journal had stated that the cause of epiglottal entrapment was unknown.  My letter explains my contention, based on anatomical and physiological evidence, that epiglottal entrapment - a deformity of the horse's voice box - is most commonly caused by the bit. Click here to read in PDF Format:. Epiglottal Entrapment

Why is a Bit an Impediment to a Horse?  [2007]  An introduction to some of the problems that are caused by bitted bridles.  Links are provided to articles providing more in-depth evidence.  Click here to read in PDF format:  Why is a Bit an Impediment to a Horse

Bit-Induced Diseases  [2007]  An extract from the second article in our Fear of the Bit series, this table presents a list of over 40 diseases caused either directly or indirectly by the bit  Click here to read in PDF Format  .Bit-Induced Diseases

Enabling the Disabled Rider [2007] On the benefits of cross-under bitless bridle for Therapeutic Riding programs such as those of the NARHA. (An abstract of this article was published in "Strides" the official journal of the NARHA. The full article, available here, is unpublished ) Click here to read:  Enabling the Disabled Rider

Fear of the Bit: A welfare problem and safety hazard for horse and rider.  [2007, 2004]
This three part article was written for a veterinary readership (Veterinary Times, UK) and is an update of a horseman's version written in 2004, also included. A questionairre is included to allow the reader to participate in Dr. Cook's ongoing research.

(The 2007 articles are currently "In Press" Veterinary Times, UK) .  The original 2004 version appears below the updated version.  Click the titles to read.
Bit-Induced Fear, Part 1: From Human Hand to Horse's Head (2007)
Describes the clinical anatomy and physiology relevant to the bit method of communication and the pathology that the bit causes (bone spurs, dental erosion etc). Bitted and bitless methods of communication are tabulated according to their action and scored subjectively

Bit-Induced Fear, Part 2: Bits and Diseases (2007)
The 40 or more diseases caused by the bit are tabulated. A number of these are diseases that have previously been classified as of unknown cause, for example, trigeminal neuralgia - the most common cause of headshaking - and several causes of airway obstruction (dorsal displacement of the soft palate, "bleeding," epiglottal entrapment, dynamic collapse of the throat, and deformity of the windpipe).

Bit-Induced Fear, Part 3: Bits and "Bad" Behavior(2007)
Part III introduces a Behavioral Profile Questionnaire which, for convenience, is added below as a separate file. About 25% of the bit-induced problems are specific to the bit. The remainder, though often caused by the bit, are non-specific and could be caused - for example - by pain in the back (saddle?) or hoof (shoe?). Nevertheless, the conclusion is that any method of management, such as the bit method of control, that is responsible for so many negative side-effects has to be considered counter-productive or even contra-indicated.

Bit-Induced Fear, User Questionnaire (a PDF document that must be printed and mailed) The questionnaire lists the hundred or more behavioral symptoms of pain and suffering caused by the bit, together with another ten or so symptoms exhibited by the rider. Riders can use it to recognize bit-induced problems, many of which they may never have suspected as being caused by the bit, and to document improvements in behavior
that follow removal of the bit.


Fear of the Bit: A Welfare Problem for Horse and Rider. Part I: Why Horses Hate the Bit [2004]
This and the next two items are the horseman’s version of the three-part series listed in 2007 (qv). The series has three objectives. To provide references to publications on the new bitless method To present additional material on the bitless method. To publish a questionnaire that enables riders to compile a behavioral profile of their horse when ridden with and without a bit. This first article provides an update on recent research; anatomical and other explanations as to why the bit method is unacceptable; the criteria necessary for an acceptable rein-aid.

Fear of the Bit: A Welfare Problem for Horse and Rider. Part II: Bit-induced Diseases and other Indictments [2004]
Explains why the bit is the cause of: The headshaking syndrome Breathing difficulties Welfare problems The mechanisms of the various types of bits and bitless bridles are tabulated and scored for their ability to signal for stopping, for steering and for their humanity.

Fear of the Bit: A Welfare Problem for Horse and Rider. Part III: Behavioral Profile Questionnaire [2004]
Explains how the questionnaire works and describes some of the findings, the most important of which has been to discover the degree to which a bit frightens a horse. The various rein-aid methods of communication are compared and a bibliography provided

Correspondence about a FEI Rule Change Proposal  [2007] An exchange of correspondence from 2005-2007 between Dr. Cook and the Secretary General of the FEI, initiated in the hope of persuading the FEI to permit the cross-under bitless bridle for dressage competitions under FEI rules. (Unpublished)   Correspondence about a FEI Rule Change Proposal

Bitless Riding By Christine Trutmann.(2007) This lecture/demo included a comprehensive description of the reasons for riding bitless, including this comment, "I have worked with over a hundred horses since eschewing bits, often deliberately selecting the ones reputed to be hard-mouthed and runaway. I have yet to find one who cannot be ridden safely without a bit." (Unpublished)  Bitless Riding: A Presentation at Cornell Horse Expo Click the link to read the article in PDF format.

The Untettered Foot By Dr. Tomas Teskey. (2007) The penultimate draft of an important article on barefoot hoof care. (Published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science) The Unfettered Foot: A Paradigm Change For Equine Podiatry  Dr.Tomas Teskey.
Click the link above to read the article in PDF format.

The "What" "Why" and "How"  (2007) The correct fitting of the new crossover design of bitless bridle is quite simple. The noseband is fitted low and snug. This can be done without fear of obstructing the nostrils or causing discomfort This article has four objectives. To explain where bone stops and cartilage begins on the bridge of the nose To show that the crossover bitless bridle is uniquely compatible with the physiology of the horse at exercise To explain why racehorses bleed from the lungs. To provide reasons why the bit method of communication is contraindicated, counterproductive and cruel.
The "Why", "What" and "How" of Fitting the Crossover Bitless Bridle Click the link  to read the article in PDF format.

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