I have never tried a rope halpter, but it is true the Dr. Cook don't release well. With the cross under it may fasten. "Everybody" knows that...
i am dissagree with you
i am riding with a Cook for many years and havo no problem with the release at all. By both of my pony's and do not have any problems with their beard during the winter.
I think ,and have seen, now a lot of horses who riding with a original Cook that it depends sometimes on the shape of the horses head.
Then how the rider uses the bridle and the reaction of the horse.
For example my horse don't know a bit, when i started to train my horse i wanted to use a rope halter.
But it did not work, everytime i put the halter on, he get mad. And i did not even thouch it at all.
i reconise after a few times that he did not like the rope on his nose it was tickling.
So i started to use a stable halter and that was fine to him. But this is a bit to loose for riding he could may stuck in a tree or something so not save enough for a ride in the woods.
But good for the first training. Games and other things we do in total freedom. But to prepare your horse for riding outside, through traffic etc. You have to take some "savety-things"
Your horse can be very trustfull and good, but other people on the road not,
So i am very happy with the original Cook. I can do a lot of things with this bidle. And yes i use it also somethimes as a sidepull. Thats why i like this bridle. You can chance it easely.
There was someone over here who uses now a little peace of leather between the crosslines and now she have no problem of the release anymore. Her horse give a better response. She wrote it somewere on the list i am forgotter were. sorry...