The two cross-under straps move freely and independently of each other. Whatever the particular conformation of a horse's jaw, each strap falls naturally where it should and without the built in tension that results if they are locked together. Being themselves relaxed, they exert minimal stress to the skin they lie on and mould themselves comfortably to the contours of the jaw. Being themselves free to move, they automatically adjust to any movements of the jaw and to the constant flux of rein pressure. For these reasons, It is a principle of the design that the cross-under straps should not be united.
STEERING Brief pressure on one rein pushes painlessly but persuasively on the opposite half of the head. Horses respond better to being pushed painlessly (nudged) with The Bitless Bridle(over a large surface area) than being pulled painfully by a bit (with highly focused pressure on the sensitive tissues of the mouth). Where the head goes the horse follows. Unlike the effect of a bit, that tends to twist a horse's head, the head stays upright and the turn is more natural and physiologically correct. By comparison with either bits or traditional bitless bridles (hackamores, bosals and sidepulls), more effective steering is one of the first benefits that riders notice. The Bitless Bridle 'works' with both direct and neck reining.
SLOWING AND STOPPING Brief pressure on both reins or alternate pressure on each rein applies a gentle squeeze to the whole of the head and triggers a 'submit' response. Braking is probably attributable to a combination of the calming effect of a whole-head-hug; to initiation of a balancing reflex at the poll; to the stimulation of areas of special sensitivity behind the ears; and to painless pressure across the bridge of the nose. The "brakes" are more reliable than those provided by the bit. First, bit-induced pain causes many a horse to bolt rather than brake. Secondly, at no time can the horse deprive the rider of all means of communication by gripping the bit between its teeth or under its tongue. Unlike the mechanics of the bit, hackamore, bosal or sidepull, braking is not dependent on pain across the bridge of the nose, nor, like the bit, to poll flexion and obstruction of the airway. The above method on steering/stopping, using the nudge/hug approach of The Bitless Bridle is used simply as a back-up, if required, to the more important aids provided by body weight, balance and breathing.