Can We PLEASE Stop The Bit Vs. Bitless Fight?

Can We PLEASE Stop The Bit Vs. Bitless Fight?

Debating is more than OK, but calling your fellow equestrians cruel or stupid for using basic equipment isn't civil or even close to participating in a fair debate.

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A fair debate isn't free of emotion.

It is more than OK to be passionate about whatever subject you defend or try to prove, but I have found with this particular "debate" is that it isn't a debate at all. It's a straight-up fight to the death that rarely ends in more educated opinions.

Instead, it more often is a fight that ends in leaving the victim who is "called-out" with a feeling of inadequacy as an equestrian.

I am not talking about the equestrians who jerk harshly on the bit or bitless bridle for more control, I am talking about the equestrians who are genuinely riding humanely but are called cruel and abusive for merely using a bit even though their horse is obviously plopping along content and listening well enough to their rider and handler.

Since these offenders do not have the brass to say such rude things in real life this bullying often happens online, but even though many adults know these offenders are not worth the time, it is the young and impressionable riders that already train under a professional who are the real victims of this fight. Young and impressionable riders who are doing just fine the way they are, but are bombarded by both popular social media accounts making videos and posts ridiculing either side of the debate and also the fans of these accounts.

And as someone who is an advocate for both bitless and bitted training, I see the fault on both sides of the argument.

I not only see fault on both sides, but I also see very uneducated opinions, quick accusations and over-the-top guilt tripping. It is to the point where it is overly excessive and causing equestrians to feel afraid to post about their riding on social media, even though they are honestly doing quite well for their skill level.

I understand completely, that if you are going to post your riding on social media, you need to be prepared for critique whether you are a beginner or an expert. There will always be someone that will not be satisfied by someone else's skills when they're watching it from a distance through a computer screen without fear of real consequences from the things they say.

However, as I said, it is excessive how much fighting there is about this subject online. It is never necessary to call someone a bad person just because they are using a bit, which seems to happen more and more frequently.

Again, I am an advocate for both, but I see riders who use bitless bridles religiously starting these fights and often using the fact the horse is bitted as a reason for things such as bucking, rearing, bolting, etc. When these riders tell them, no, that is not a reason their horse has problem areas, these riders are then called cruel and abusive even when they are using something as simple as a smooth snaffle while having soft hands.

And like I said earlier, the fault is not solely placed on the bitless side of the fight. I also see good equestrians who prefer bitless genuinely asking people online why they use the bits that they use out of pure curiosity but are attacked unprompted by whomever they are asking.

Like it or not — no matter what side you are on — bitless bridles and bits both have a place in training, and both types of equipment have a full spectrum of how much control the equipment is asking from the horse.

Yes, even bitless options ask for control from the horse, and if your reason for hating people you don't know simply for using a bit because "bitless isn't controlling over a horse's free will." I have some really bad news for you. No matter what type of equipment you use to ride a horse, riding in and of itself is asking for control over a horse. Even a horse's social hierarchy with their herdmates asks for control over each other.

A lot of the fight is about which one is better, and usually, people use studies done on bits versus bitless to back up their claims on both sides. However, the very few scientific studies that have been done, use incredibly small sample sizes. Most of these studies do not exceed over twenty horses, a study done by W. R. Cook and D. S. Mills only used four horses in their study. To give some perspective on how inaccurate of a study that is, normal case studies use sample sizes made up of thousands of individuals coming from multiple backgrounds.

The magnitude of the sample size determines the amount of information the study produces, which brings up another important point. Not every professional produces accurate results.

So do your research and be critical of the people that produce that research. Do not depend on large social media accounts to influence everything you believe you know, especially when certain social media accounts make it their goal to ridicule people for using basic equipment. Use common sense and be kind.

Educate yourself and learn about who you are taking in information from.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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The Anaheim Ducks Are In A World Of Pain

The Ducks have now lost 19 out of their last 21 games amidst a multitude of problems and a rebuild may be at its beginning stages after Randy Carlyle's firing from head coach.

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On December 17, 2018, the Anaheim Ducks had just defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road 4-2, and sat in a playoff spot with a 19-11-5 record, good for 43 points and 2nd in the Pacific Division. Since then, the Ducks have lost 19 out of their last 21 games, going 2-15-4 during that stretch, now sitting at 21-26-9 and 51 points on February 12th, eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. After their last loss, head coach Randy Carlyle was finally axed and general manager Bob Murray stepped in as the interim coach. Many issues exist currently and for the foreseeable future in Anaheim, which could see its first sustained rebuild since the early 2000s, where the team missed the playoffs three years in a row.

One of the Ducks' bigger issues is the lack of goal scoring throughout the lineup. The leading player in goals is forward Jakob Silfverberg, with 12 in 47 games played. That's not enough for a team that is 56 games into the season. The overall points production is quite anemic too. Captain and center Ryan Getzlaf leads the club with 36 points in 50 games, and he is the only player with more than 30 points to this date.

Injuries are also factoring into the equation: center Adam Henrique and defenseman Brandon Montour are the only Ducks to have played in every game this season, with players such as forwards in Silfverberg, Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Ondrej Kase as well as defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, and goaltender Ryan Miller all spending at least five games on the injured reserve.

With so many players in and out of the lineup, not to mention that most of the fill-ins are inexperienced at the NHL level, it is hard to develop any sort of chemistry for an extended period of time. Goaltender John Gibson has been unable to maintain grade A performance in net, as his save percentage is now at 0.914, below where he started the season. With all of this considered, the Ducks have a tough future ahead when considering their salary cap situation.

Perry and Getzlaf, both of who will turn 34 in May, have a cap hit of $8.625 and $8.25 million for the next two years after the 2018-19 season, while Kesler, who turns 35 in August, makes $6.825 million for the next 3 years after this season concludes. Perry has only played in five games this year due to injuries, Getzlaf's production is declining and not up to par with how much he is paid, and Kesler has only six points in 48 games, and he also only played in 44 games last season due to injuries, scoring just 14 points.

These expensive contracts are untradeable unless they attach a younger asset in a trade, like prospects Sam Steel, Max Jones, Maxim Comtois, or Troy Terry. It is possible that Kesler and/or Perry will be bought out of their contracts in the offseason, meaning they will save money against the salary cap for the remainder of those contract years, but will have portions of that contract counting against the cap for a few years more.

Despite these bad contracts which currently prevent the Ducks from signing more than one big free agent, the aforementioned prospects will most likely see more substantial time in Anaheim next season, which could boost the club, but it is unlikely that any of them take the league by storm to make the Ducks a contender again. For this to happen, young forwards like Rakell, Kase, and Daniel Sprong will have to exceed expectations, while the defensive core will also need to step it up compared to their performance this, which makes them look overpaid.

As it stands, the Ducks are 4th in the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery and could see a highly touted prospect come to Anaheim next year, but the current roster and prospect core will need bounce back seasons or the management group will be forced to blow up much of the roster, which would almost guarantee missing the playoffs again.

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