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Hawks Nest
Dec. 18, 2011, 09:28 PM
So I have a mare that is very hard to bit. She has zero space in her mouth and is extremely sensitive. Her former owner (who abandoned her) was the 'hold the nose to chest' sort of rider so the poor mare is terrified of contact. We had her in a happy mouth Mullen to learn how to take contact in the first place and since then we've had a hard time finding a bit she really liked. She is going in a KK ultra right now and is okay but she has a tendency to hold her mouth open and really worry the bit.

So far she has rejected the double jointed happy mouth, a myler comfort snaffle, and a JP French Link. Her usual sign is head tossing which we know is the bit because she stopped doing that when we switched her to a Micklem bridle. Due to certain circumstances we cannot go bitless yet.

Any bit suggestions?

Also at this point I don't want to spend more till I find a bit so any ideas on how I can try bits until I find the right one? My trainer doesn't have anything I haven't tried on her? Anyone local (south east NH) have any nathe, mikmar, or watson (also made by mikmar) bits I could try?

Far_North_Equestrian
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:06 PM
I have a stupid question - but has she had her teeth floated? there is little purpose to playing the bit game if they are otherwise unhappy in the mouth. I've seem downright violent reactions to the bit on horses that were 100% cured by a good float/removal of wolf teeth.

Are all the bits you've tried loose ring? Some more sensitive tipes can't handle the "noise" created by the loose ring, so use of a solid cheekpiece like an eggbutt can quickly fix this. If she goes OK in the KK, if you can get access to a fixed-cheekpiece KK to try it might be all the difference.

I've heard VERY good things about Nathe's and the flexible plastic Sprenger bits (the name escapes me), but I've not tried these.

Hawks Nest
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:24 PM
First thing we did when he got her was get her teeth done. They were pretty bad but not horrible and she definitely was happier after her teeth got done.

The first KK we used with her was a full cheek but now we use a loose ring KK since I am using a Micklem bridle and they just don't fit with the full cheek. The change in cheekpiece didn't seem to phase her. The myler was a loose ring but everything else was a D-ring if I remember correctly.

Just talked bits with my trainer and she actually has a mikmar combination bit and she may bring it to my next lesson so I can see if Zoe likes the mouth piece (she doesn't need the full combination bit though, I would probably either go with the plain D or the short shanked because it comes with a curved mouth)

vanraf
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:27 PM
...
I've heard VERY good things about Nathe's and the flexible plastic Sprenger bits (the name escapes me), but I've not tried these.

The name you're looking for is the Sprenger Duo bits :)

eponacowgirl
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:30 PM
Try a boucher- they "hang" rather than sit on the bars and some horses really appreciate that.

Bogie
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:37 PM
I had a horse like that and he did best in a mullen mouth. I used a Myler triple barrel mullen or a happy mouth mullen mouth. Another bit that worked for him was the PeeWee snaffle, which is a very thin mullen mouth.

I eventually took him bitless.

He had contact issues as well and one of the bits that worked when I was trying to get him to accept the bit was the KK training snaffle, which is a ported loose ring.

You might also try a bit with a port -- my current horse likes a quarter moon mouthpiece which leaves some space for his tongue.

I still have the Myler and I also have the Watson Mikmar snaffle. I am not all that far from you. I don't use them now. I would lend them to you IF you send them back. The last time I loaned someone on this board my Little S hackamore I never saw it again and since I'd deleted my PMs, couldn't remember who I sent it to :no:.

ake987
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:38 PM
Did something go wrong with the happy mouth mullen? My gelding went in a rubber dogbone bit (loose ring, but it doesn't really slide due to the mouthpiece being rubber), just like a hunk of rubber, soft and flexible, but not "squishy" soft. Was great until he started to lean on it, and we switched to a loose ring double jointed snaffle (14mm) with a copper bean, and that's been working just fine.

Hawks Nest
Dec. 18, 2011, 11:47 PM
You might also try a bit with a port -- my current horse likes a quarter moon mouthpiece which leaves some space for his tongue.

I still have the Myler and I also have the Watson Mikmar snaffle. I am not all that far from you. I don't use them now. I would lend them to you IF you send them back. The last time I loaned someone on this board my Little S hackamore I never saw it again and since I'd deleted my PMs, couldn't remember who I sent it to :no:.
The port in the mikmar was one of the reasons I liked it, not to mention it is wide while being flat so it might fit in her mouth a little better.

Someone did recommend the Watson Mikmar. I would definitely send it back to you although sadly I will be leaving in about two weeks and will be away for two months so we might want to wait (mom will be riding the mare but she'll probably just stick with the KK). If the Watson worked I would send it right back and buy my own, I don't think I could live using a stolen piece of tack...


Did something go wrong with the happy mouth mullen? My gelding went in a rubber dogbone bit (loose ring, but it doesn't really slide due to the mouthpiece being rubber), just like a hunk of rubber, soft and flexible, but not "squishy" soft. Was great until he started to lean on it, and we switched to a loose ring double jointed snaffle (14mm) with a copper bean, and that's been working just fine.
Once she got over the initial, OMG it is a bit, it will eat me, she started going fit through it and waving her nose in the air. In a metal bit a slight squeeze and she'll drop her head respectfully and I would rather teach a horse to take contact and not be afraid of it than teach a horse to respect it

flashwhitelock
Dec. 19, 2011, 07:57 AM
another thing you might try: a bit with keys. You don't use it for long, just a few months but it often calms a horse that is worried about the bit. Once they learn to relax and accept the bit, it's easy to change to a regular dressage legal bit. It works a treat on OTTB's with a low palate.

ACMEeventing
Dec. 19, 2011, 08:45 AM
I have a nathe I'm not using right now that I can lend you (but like Bogie said, IF you return it ;) ). They don't get more gentle than that, it's like riding with a loaf of bread in their mouth.

Good luck

Hawks Nest
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:04 PM
Well I think we found the bit that the Zoe mare likes!

My trainer had a mikmar short shanked combination bit with a low port and a slightly curved mouth and she let me try it. It is a 5" so a little tight, a 5.25" or a 5.5" will probably be better. But I let her sit on the cross ties while I got her ready with the bridle on, letting her get used to this very different bit. She made a few faces and tossed her head around but she was also a little confused and nervous about other things (like being in when the other horses weren't and the high wind). So I get her ready and go out and get on. As usual she tried to walk away and instead of getting super nervous when I pulled back and asked her to stop, she slowed down some and seemed rather relaxed. So I took up a gentle contact as I usually do while walking her around and instead of worrying the bit she just chomped on it a few times and then steadied. There was none of her usual head tossing at contact at the walk (she'll even do it with the KK on occasion) and I could play with the bit a little without her curling up into a ball and hiding her nose at her chest. She was accepting of contact and willing to have slight corrections without fighting it or getting nervous. I couldn't do too much because she is off thanks to a cut on her fetlock (boots rub it, wraps press on it, and all in all she is unhappy about it but she was willing to go and didn't want to quit so we did some nice bit circles at the trot but not a ton).

Not once in the whole ride did she fall being the bit or toss her head. She was soft and willing and excluding her spooks at random stuff she was quite relaxed. The BM who was watching me ride (she is also my aunt) reported that she was keeping her mouth closed most of the way and wasn't worrying the bit at all.

I had the rein on the "snaffle" setting so there was little to know leverage but I felt like I could have had a second rein on the lower setting and she would have been fine. If/when we get a mikmar of her own I will promptly remove the nose rope although I'll keep it in case the mare ends up needing it on XC.

Bogie
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:46 PM
Glad you found something that works. I have a Mikmar pelham and I find that my horses really like the mouthpiece even if it does look like an implement of torture.

Hawks Nest
Dec. 19, 2011, 04:52 PM
Yeah it really is strange but if you think about it, the mouth piece does actually look like it could work for horses with low palates and thick tongues. I do wish there were cheaper versions of it though, or at least similar cheaper versions. But I sent Mikmar an email asking about cheek pieces since I am set on the curved low port so we'll see :)

Bogie
Dec. 19, 2011, 05:09 PM
eBay is your friend. That and the Bits & Barter board.

I rarely buy bits new anymore. They are too darned expensive, especially if you are not sure they will work.