View Full Version : Best bit for a horse that pulls/chomps on bit?

Just Around the Corner
Mar. 23, 2012, 02:36 AM
Need thoughts/ideas for a horse that pulls and chomps on the bit.

For background: Horse is a hunter that is schooling the 3' stuff right now, age 11 years old. Had been ridden by a pro (very successfully) and previous owner in 3'6 & 3'9 green and junior divisions a few years ago. Got injured, junior went to college, horse was shipped to a new trainer to get rehabbed, kind of got forgotten, junior's parents eventually pressured for a sale, horse shipped to different new trainer to sell. Had not been in serious work for very long when sold and had spent most of previous 3 years in a field essentially.

Sweet disposition, good mover, excellent jumper, naturally has a pretty decent pace/carriage (definitely not a slow-poke or kick-along type -- no need for spurs here!).

THAT SAID, the horse didn't pull on trial (with D-ring snaffle). Didn't pull for the first 3-4 weeks with same bit (what they had been using @ sales barn). Then once in regular training/work started pulling like crazy and actively chomping on the bit while being ridden. Trainer started schooling in a flash bridle and horse got better. For three weeks. Then started pulling again. Have tried lots of bits - each seems to work for about two weeks.

Vet checked the horse - no apparent medical reason for situation (teeth, back, etc.).

Anyone have any ideas?

Really nice (dare I say fancy?) horse that was sold at a very good price with the understanding that he has been out of work and "is not an easy ride." Ironically he is actually a fairly easy ride except for the pulling issue!

Mar. 23, 2012, 03:21 AM
Does he grab and pull or just lay on your hands.

Maybe you can try and do some suppleing excersizes to get him off your hand. Get him moving and carrying himself. Id try that before bumping up the bit. For a bit that a horse grabs and leans on I would go for a waterford or cherry roller.

Mar. 23, 2012, 09:07 AM
I would check with the previous owner.

It usually isn't the bit...

Mar. 23, 2012, 09:24 AM
I agree with Madeline.
Honestly, the majority of the time it's rider error, the other small percentage of the time it's the back half of the horse or the poll that hurt.

Mar. 23, 2012, 09:25 AM
I have a similar-sounding horse. We do lots of suppling exercises because if he doesn't know what we're doing, it's harder for him to pull me in the direction he thinks we're going, and we switch his bits around a lot. He goes mostly in a loose ring slow twist snaffle and I keep a D-ring corkscrew for shows or when he's just being naughty at home. We've also ridden him in a hackabit and a pelham, I think? I liked the hackabit a lot, personally, but it didn't give me much turning power.

Mar. 23, 2012, 11:21 AM
My hunter used to (and sometimes still does) pull/chomp for apparently no reason and like the horse in question, is a fairly straightforward and fun ride otherwise. We've been at a dressage barn for almost a year now and while hunter is where my heart is, the dressage lessons and suppling exercises that go along with the whole environment has improved his pulling exponentially. It still happens sometimes, but is much, much better. Perhaps enlisting an experienced dressage coach for a few lessons would be beneficial.

Edited to add: he used to go in a port on occasion for jumping purposes, as I was just getting used to riding a big, strong horse after moving off my uphill pony. It proved to be useful for a little bit as it gave me a little more leverage, but was definitely not a long term solution. The key is to use his whole body, not just his mouth, to get him off his forehand.

Mar. 23, 2012, 12:05 PM
Some horses, honestly, get bored or frustrated with a bit and need their "favorites" rotated on a daily or weekly basis. Your horse might be one of these guys.

But as far as what is the best bit for a horse that pulls/chomps... whatever bit he doesn't pull or chomp on. Over the years I've found my horse does not like the following:
loose rings
plastic mouths
double jointed mouths (as in french link)
fat mouths

Through trial and error, I've found he's quite happy with a single jointed plain Dee. But sometimes he needs to be reminded just how much he loves that bit, so I have to keep at least one other option to switch too when he forgets. ;)

Mar. 23, 2012, 02:08 PM
Agree with the waterford suggestion, and I would probably try a loose ring waterford, or maybe just a double jointed loose ring first. I have found it is more difficult for them to lean on a loose ring.

I do second the sentiment that leaning/pulling on the bit is often a sign of hind end weakness - either from being out of work, or due to the need for hock/stifle/SI maintenance.

Mar. 23, 2012, 04:08 PM
Did the vet consider ulcers?
What was the injury? Could he be having some low grade pain from his previous injury?

At the least, you could put him on ulcergard and adequan or pentosan.

It sounds like, if he is ridden more lightly, he is happier and easier to deal with.

You can NEVER 'train' away pain problems. It sounds like your horse might be better off with very little 'training' and continuing on with very light work with a lot of turnout.
If he's a smart, bright sensitive type, trotting around in circles in the arena with a trainer to get/stay fit might not be his idea of a great time.

Star's Ascent
Mar. 23, 2012, 11:11 PM
My horse started chomping/grinding about a year and a half or 2 years ago. Don't remember now. She was off the track and for the first year she was fine and didn't do it. Then suddenly one day she started. I was told its because she is a 3 yr old, its because you are asking her to do harder work. Any other suggestions I had as to what was going on were kind of blown off. We tried everything. Lots of bits, turnout a few days a week, different saddles, having her teeth done, chiro, riding in a halter instead of a bridle (that is the closest I have gotten to getting her to stop completely.)etc. Pretty much everything and it didn't seem to help. Just when I would think we might have found a bit that she seemed to like (which was of course a full cheek myler with hooks-which I didn't use-and a port it was slightly too big. And they don't make the full cheek without hooks. So I got the egg butt, she didn't have the same reaction to it. $85 down the drain on that one.) She really seemed to like a full cheek with a half moon that I bought from horseloverz on a whim. Of course she has started chomping again. The newest thing we are doing is riding without a noseband. She is also going in a racing dee with a copper roller in the bridle without the nose band. She seems to think that wearing a snug figure 8 does not allow her to move forward. We can go every direction but forward. Up, sideways, backwards, but not forward. That was a fun ride to say the least. So now we are trying the noseband thing. Obviously she will need to have one on at some point. I don't know if this is going to be a long term fix while we are at home or not. Like I said, everytime I think we have figured it out she starts again. She does not do it as much when we are just walking around the property but then she will do it when we are done and I have taken her bridle off. I'm so confused! I am going to try going between the couple of bits that she seems to like that someone suggested too so she has a variety. Oh, and that reminds me I also tried things like sugar and putting yummy stuff on the bits to get her more slobbery and to think it meant good tasting stuff. ( I wasn't going to shell out the money for those little treats who's name I can't remember only to find that they didn't work.I figured I would go the cheap route first. Well, cheap if you don't include all the bits I've bought. And saddles. )