Can I use a bitless bridle in dressage?

Joanna Fisher
Joanna Fisher

International Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Joanna Fisher shares her thoughts on bitless bridles for dressage.

This is a very interesting subject and I’m sure one that would divide many opinions.
So far, the rules of dressage state that bitless bridles are not allowed or to be used. We know that in show jumping they are quite common and have found themselves as a respectable piece of tack amongst some of the elite.
Bitless bridles work on the bridge of the nose, and can control the horses breathing.
I haven’t ridden a horse in a bitless bridle and it must take a very skilled rider to use one.
Personally I’m not sure they will ever find a place in dressage. I guess because dressage is partly judged on the poll position and submission to bridle.
I think part of training horses in soft thick bits is all part of the fun.
I for one train my horses up to GrandPrix in a thick jointed snaffle and have never used thin bits. The main objective is getting the horse onto the riders seat and body and off the hand…that said, there are always exception to the rules, and for whatever reason some horses I guess just go better in a bitless bridle.
I can’t see it ever happening in the world of dressage… but never say never!

Joanna has written a collection of children’s books based on her horses over the years.

It has been published by award winning Candy Jar books and currently available in Waterstones and being read in schools. Click here to link to her website: She also has a dressage website which can be found at

For more advice from Joanna, why not visit her other blog posts here:

Do I need a dressage saddle to do dressage

How Can I make my Pony Stop Leaning on me?

Help My Dressage Circles are oval

What Age should I teach my horse flying changes?

How to turn a leg yield into a half pass

How can I teach my horse shoulder in?

How should I prepare for a dressage test?

Should I do Sitting Trot in My Dressage Test?

Swinging Quarters Are Ruining My Dressage Halt!

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