For the first time ever, Equifest will be trialling bitless classes at their annual show taking place at the East of England Showground from 8-12th August. With an open ridden class and an open WH/WHP class on offer, this will be the first UK championship to provide strictly bitless-only classes. And what’s more, riders have the opportunity to compete to win £500!

Rachel Stock, founder and owner of Bitless Showing UK, explained the reasoning behind selecting Equifest to launch their classes: “We chose Equifest, as it is probably the busiest show of the season, with all level of riders attending so we can showcase bitless bridles and people can see what bitless horses can do.

“To me, it is important because there are many horses whose competitive careers end because they can’t, or won’t take a bit. Many with damaged mouths, some with benign lumps in their mouths, some with old injuries, some with mental trauma. By allowing bitless these horses can carry on.”

“Good schooling is far more important than what is in the mouth,” said Rachel Stock, founder and owner of Bitless Showing UK

 

The two classes on offer at Equifest, to be held on Friday 10th August, are as follows:

  • Open ridden bitless class – Open to all breeds/types of horse or pony. Correct showing attire only. No halters, hackamores, chains or pulleys. Neat looking bridles and tack to be fitting of the show ring. Turned out correctly for breed/type Judged on manners, conformation, way of going and breed/type. First place to receive £500 prize money and an additional rosette and sash from Bitless Showing UK.
  • Open bitless WH/WHP – Open to all breeds/types of horse or pony. Correct showing attire only. No halters, hackamores, chains or pulleys. Neat looking bridles and tack to be fitting of the show ring. Turned out correctly for breed/type Judged on manners, conformation, way of going and breed/type. First place to receive £500 prize money and an additional rosette and sash from Bitless Showing UK. Approximate height of fences: 75cms.

Classes will be run under the Bitless Showing UK rules.

Further prizes include: a Jefferies bitless bridle worth £375, a show whip handmade by Willowvale showing whips, bottle of Bolli, £500 as well as beautiful sashes and rosettes.

So what are the hopes for the future of bitless showing? Rachel continued: “I would, as would hundreds of others, like to see bitless allowed in with bitted competitors. As my team (Natasha MacDonald, Bethany Haycock and Ella Firth) have proven over seven years, under panel judges, bitless can and does win showing classes. It ultimately proves good schooling is far more important than what is in the mouth, it’s a lot of hard work to produce a horse that goes well bitless; there are no shortcuts. So no, there is no disadvantage showing against bitted horses. If anything we have had an excellent response from 99% of judges over seven years. We don’t want standalone classes.

“Times are changing, bitless is just another tool in the box, an alternative to bits and as long as the bridles used are not harsh, and blend in. I see no reason why we can’t compete at the top alongside bitted riders.”

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