Simply put, taking away the bit and spur puts the horse and human on more equal ground. Leveling the relationship forces the rider to adopt ways to connect with the deeper essence of what a horse is. Listening to your horse and making changes within yourself, allows the horse to teach us how to ride them. The rider becomes a more integral part of the riding experience for the horse, and essentially becomes a Human Bit, replacing force with influence.
When riding, one cannot be more in physical and etherial contact with a horse. Why not use that level of contact to influence a horse by becoming the rider a horse prefers. The rider's body energy and balance become the prime influence of moving, stopping and natural collection of the horse. Developing softness, through the body to the hands, encourages the horse to seek a connection to the rider's intent, completing the Human Bit concept of riding the Ironless Horse. The horse will let the rider know how well this is being done, and thus does the teaching. This is the path where the Internal Art of Riding is appreciated by both rider and horse.
Horseback riding is nothing, if not the synthesis of the affects of the rider and equipment onto the horse. The more functional and comfortable the equipment, the clearer the translation of the rider's influence will be. Rider control of body energy and balance, along with developing softness in body and hands, through the conveyance of intent, produces true communication in a simple language a horse naturally searches for, connects with, and understands.
Tack problems override everything, and cannot be overcome by riding improvements. Well fitting, saddles and functional bitless bridles can translate clearly and simply the intent of the body and hands. The Rope Riding Bridle and Reins that I have designed, plus the Gaucho Saddle that I import, work well for the Ironless Horse lifestyle of riding.
In general, many horses can be ridden soundly without being shod. Some horses need nothing more than regular trimming/riding. Others require more effort to stay barefoot which includes solving diet, trim, and conditioning issues. A few horses are just not good barefoot candidates.
All horses benefit from an owner who increases their knowledge of nutrition, trimming, and conditioning in caring for the unshod hoof. Wild horses are in shape, both in body and feet, to travel over 20 miles per day, 24/7/365 un-shod. Domestic horses are only limited by the quality of their care, conditioning, and breeding.