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CHT
May. 2, 2012, 11:59 PM
My new horse has the annoying habit of occassionally biting her bit. Chomp. Annoying. Usually when we are first walking, and at the very end of our cool down walk. Rarely when we are doing a working stretch walk, but sometimes she will. She may also sometimes suck behind the bit to grab it when we are trotting and she is getting a tad tense, but seems more like a nervous habit than an evasion. She is a very lippy/active minded horse in general.

Today I put a flash on her, not even all that tight, and I could tell it pissed her off to not be able to open her mouth to chomp the bit, which led to longer moments of stiff jaw/crooked headedness.

Do you think the flash is the answer to break this habit? Different bit? I had her in a KKUltra, but switched to the hanging snaffle thinking it may be harder to pull in her mouth enough to bite. Did help a little, but can still do it.

In general she is lovely soft and quiet in the mouth.

Petstorejunkie
May. 3, 2012, 12:21 AM
It could be that you have it positioned too high, too low, or that your hands are too active (either voluntarily or involuntarily) to her liking.

NOMIOMI1
May. 3, 2012, 12:25 AM
Is this the Arab?

If so were they trained in araby events? My gelding took a while to renew his mouth and quiet down after the tug and seesaw world he lived in off and on at AHA with me AND prior.


I also knew a warmblood that would grind her ported bits down to nothing in hunters :no: It took her a while to transition if not completely after...

Sigh

Canteringcait
May. 3, 2012, 09:11 AM
My mare does this, too. I also have a KK ultra on her. Except she will start biting the bit the second I put it on. She just closes her eyes and starts biting. It's like her pacifier...she's also the type that gets bored very very easily and will try to find ways to amuse herself, I have to attempt to make every ride different and interesting. I can get her to stop doing our ride after the warm up but some days she bites at it more. I too tried a hanging cheek but she still bit that one and all I had was a French link which she did NOT like. I tried a loose ring myler which helped a ton with the biting, and I thought we had a winner, but I am noticing that she carries herself with tension and comes against my hand in this one. So now I'm back in the KK and dealing with the biting til I figure something else out, because at least she will go softly in it. She too will not tolerate flashes or drops. Fussy thing. I'm interested in hearing responses. I have tried raising and lowering the bit, loosening and tightening the noseband...to no avail!

I hold also mention that she doesn't do it much at shows...heck she goes much better for me at shows than home!

CHT
May. 3, 2012, 12:40 PM
CanteringCait, that sounds like the same issue! I think you hit it dead on with it being like a pacifier when she is focusing inward.

NOMIOMI1, yes it is the arab, but I did not see any evidence of them see-sawing her in the videos they sent (all show ring footage) so I don't think it is that. I spoke to people in the area about the trainer and it sounds like she trains with dressage type principles, which is why I bought from her. I have realized though how much they ride off inside rein with the horse going in a continuous oval in the ring. Outside leg/rein seems new to her, but we are taking it slowly and I don't feel I am having to go backwards with her or really undo much.

Petstorejunkie, the chomping of the bit happens before I am even on her, or when I am on her, it happens before I take contact, so doubt it is my hands. Raising or lowering the bit may be something to try...how many rides do you try the bit higher or lower to decide if that was the issue though?

librarianjess
May. 3, 2012, 08:11 PM
I'd be interested to hear more replies on this as well, as it's been on my mind lately. My mare doesn't do much bit-chewing while we're moving, but lately we have been working on polite halts -- she has good brakes but once stopped, likes to fidget -- and the minute I give her a release in the halt, she grabs for the bit and tries to get it between her teeth to chew it. It strikes me like fidgety/bored behavior rather than an evasion, since it comes with the release and not with the halt (or with contact while we're in motion).

DangerHorse
May. 3, 2012, 08:53 PM
I have the same issues, and posted about a maybe a month ago but didn't get much help other then checking to make sure the bit is the right size and fitted correctly. My mare also does it as soon as I put the bit in her mouth, if I hold the rein at the buckle, or as soon as I end the ride...so only when there is no contact. Flash doesn't seem to make a difference...but she doesn't do it when we have contact, so I'm not sure what to think :-\

CHT
May. 3, 2012, 11:54 PM
Have any of you with this issue tried a bit that doesn't fold as much like a mullen or a Stubben EZ control?

Interesting to know that there are a few of us with this issue.

beckzert
May. 4, 2012, 06:53 PM
Have you tried the KK with the roller in the middle? Or the one with the rubber link? Maybe she just needs something else to put her energy into and a roller or rubber lozenge would do the trick? I really like the one with the rubber link-horses like to suck on it and it's very soft on their tongue. I would also try a mullen or stubben EZ control as mentioned by CHT.

MyssMyst
May. 4, 2012, 07:25 PM
My half-arab does this. I've got him in a flash and single jointed copper eggbutt. With Friday (horse) it seems to be a confidence issue more than anything. When he knows what you want and is comfortable doing it, the mouth quiets right down. Anything new, and you can hear him across the arena, lol.

CHT
May. 4, 2012, 09:05 PM
I don't have a KK with a roller, but I do have a happy mouth with a roller in the middle....could try that.

May try the EZ mouth next ride.

The flash is really pissing her off; she can't open her jaw enough to bite the bit so fights it...meaning the loss of contact lasts longer and she gets MAD...but perhaps she will realize sooner rather than later that she can't grab the bit and give up? She is a very busy minded horse. She was quite good by the end of the ride...and MOST of the ride was very good.

Trying to decide if her hating the flash means she needs it, or that it is a mistake.

colorfan
May. 5, 2012, 11:22 AM
My mare is a champion bit chewer also. She has been under saddle for two years now and still chew-chew- chews.

I have found a kk ultra french link works best, (every now and again I try a reg snaffle or w h y only to have her spend her time trying to break it and spit it out)
also, I have found that a figure 8 keeps her a bit quieter than a noseband with a flash.

I get asked about it constantly because it is unconventional but my horses comfort is my priority.

Love the pacifier idea, that really fits. If this girl were a child she would likely be the type of child that couldn't do her work if she had to sit still.

I tried many adjustments of the bit itself and a variety of bits. Most bits made no difference in the amount of chewing and if the bit wasn't high enough she would get her tongue over it.
Also with out the flash or figure 8 she could get hold of the bit in her teeth and hold it.

I have come to accept her chewing as part of her but this year I have noticed that at some point into a good ride she gets more focused and stops chewing; :)while moving. As soon as we halt she chews.

If we are hacking she chews. It seems that she only slows down the chewing when she gets 'in the zone'.

Be encouraged, you are doing what you can.

rememberthenight
May. 5, 2012, 11:36 AM
I had an NSH gelding that did the same thing. He constantly played and chewed on his bit when he was stressed, or if he was bored. The thing my trainer did, was that she took a thin loose ring snaffle and wrapped it with latex and put in on a bradoon hanger and he lived in the bit for a week or so. He ate, drank and got turned out with it. It got hung up and we had to find it a few times, but since it was on a bradoon hanger it popped right off if it needed to. She said that it made the bit no longer a game to play with. And it really helped my horse not see the bit as a novelty toy. Just my humble experience...

KarenRO
May. 5, 2012, 05:32 PM
CHT,

My Morgan mare 'worries' any type of jointed bit. She chews, grinds, etc. even while happily trotting along. Moving from a loose ring to a fixed (eggbutt) helped a little but the bit she rarely chews on is a mullen mouth eggbutt. Her jaw is relaxed in this bit and she gets oodles of foam which tells me that her mouth is comfortable. I do not use a flash. The expression on her face the few times I've attempted to fasten a flash is priceless...she looks insulted!

KarenRO

goeslikestink
May. 5, 2012, 07:10 PM
CanteringCait, that sounds like the same issue! I think you hit it dead on with it being like a pacifier when she is focusing inward.

NOMIOMI1, yes it is the arab, but I did not see any evidence of them see-sawing her in the videos they sent (all show ring footage) so I don't think it is that. I spoke to people in the area about the trainer and it sounds like she trains with dressage type principles, which is why I bought from her. I have realized though how much they ride off inside rein with the horse going in a continuous oval in the ring. Outside leg/rein seems new to her, but we are taking it slowly and I don't feel I am having to go backwards with her or really undo much.

Petstorejunkie, the chomping of the bit happens before I am even on her, or when I am on her, it happens before I take contact, so doubt it is my hands. Raising or lowering the bit may be something to try...how many rides do you try the bit higher or lower to decide if that was the issue though?

in answer to your question of the above
tut tut if the bridle is fitted correctly then the mare shouldnt chomp the bit and one wouldnt ride if she did, as this would be most painful to her

it would seem tha you mare get agigtated before the off, as shes trys to get the bit in a more comfortable position

please read this link ok

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178116

read page one and all links on that page then you will understand hand to mouth and issues that can be prevented

if it was me i would give her a couple of weeks off work, so if any discomfort in her mouth ie bruises can die down, then
get abit that fits her properly and encourage her to mouth the bit
by getting a slice of yesterday bread slap a bit of honey on it and then mold it to the bit - stuff the bridle on her take the reins off and let her
mouth and chew and suck and saliva do this for one week #
but dont ride her you can do this in the 2nd week of the week your giving her off

she will learn to accept the birdle more easily and know it will not harm her in fact its a pleasure rather than a discomfort, and when taking it off after 20mins or when she finish yum yum bit, say head down take it offas gentle as you put it on

next week start bringing back her into work slowly via walking exercisies a few days then add trot another couple days and build up to canter then resume as normal
you will find you mare will be pay more attention and probably normal and not agigated

horses do things for reasons and half the time its ill fitting tack and bad hands - so lets get her tack sorted and encourage her sso you can enjoy her and she can enjoy you as her rider

merrygoround
May. 6, 2012, 10:12 AM
I haven't read gls's link, but I would suggest checking the width of the bit, and the fitting of the bit. It may need to be raised a bit in the mouth.

It could also to too fat or too skinny a bit for the mouth to which it is fitted.

Ambitious Kate
May. 6, 2012, 10:35 AM
My horse would throw his head up and lunge down to try to grab the bit when I had it too low in his mouth. I changed to the baucher (hanging, I think is what it is being called on this thread) which keeps it up higher in his mouth and away from his bars. I also had the bit adjusted too low in his mouth. Once the bit was stable and not moving with the baucher, he quit, because it he couldn't 'get' it.

He also tends to lean down and heavy on the bit, ducking behind if he can, but only if he is on the forehand. We are working on lightening him and getting him to rock back and use his hind end - keeping his head up too - and even though at this point he only goes a few steps 'lightly' when he does, he is not chomping or pulling. For us, the key is getting this nicely uphill conformed hanovarian/TBX horse to use his back and hind end to push instead of using his front end to pull. Here is a photo of my trainer riding him to see if she could get him off the bit a little more and using his hind end. Please excuse the chair seat - she is a tiny thing and she is in my large, 18.5" saddle and just hopped on him for the first time that day. He is still overbent, and this photo is but a second in time when he was coming out of pulling and picking up his front end more, but is trying and starting to use his back and hind end a bit more. It is coming slowly, but the secondary effect is that he is not pulling or trying to evade the bit by ducking, chomping, or coming above the bit.

http://s264.photobucket.com/albums/ii165/clhigginscheryl/?action=view&current=Pat.jpg

I think it takes strength for them to use themselves correctlly, and chomping down is part of heavy forehandedness.

CHT
May. 6, 2012, 09:31 PM
in answer to your question of the above
tut tut if the bridle is fitted correctly then the mare shouldnt chomp the bit and one wouldnt ride if she did, as this would be most painful to her

it would seem tha you mare get agigtated before the off, as shes trys to get the bit in a more comfortable position

please read this link ok

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178116

read page one and all links on that page then you will understand hand to mouth and issues that can be prevented

if it was me i would give her a couple of weeks off work, so if any discomfort in her mouth ie bruises can die down, then
get abit that fits her properly and encourage her to mouth the bit
by getting a slice of yesterday bread slap a bit of honey on it and then mold it to the bit - stuff the bridle on her take the reins off and let her
mouth and chew and suck and saliva do this for one week #
but dont ride her you can do this in the 2nd week of the week your giving her off

she will learn to accept the birdle more easily and know it will not harm her in fact its a pleasure rather than a discomfort, and when taking it off after 20mins or when she finish yum yum bit, say head down take it offas gentle as you put it on

next week start bringing back her into work slowly via walking exercisies a few days then add trot another couple days and build up to canter then resume as normal
you will find you mare will be pay more attention and probably normal and not agigated

horses do things for reasons and half the time its ill fitting tack and bad hands - so lets get her tack sorted and encourage her sso you can enjoy her and she can enjoy you as her rider

She started biting the bit from the first moment i put it on her...and she hadn't had a bit in her mouth for 6 months prior, so not sure how giving her more time off would help. I am thinking it is a learned habit rather than something that is a reaction to the current state of affairs.

I did read the above link, but find the bit fitting simplistic. Not all horses go well with one wrinkle, it depends on the internal structure of the mouth as well as the thickness of the lips. With this horse, I do have the bit set at 1 wrinkle though. I had wondered if I should go with a wider bit, but then that would give more room for her to pull it back to bite. No signs of pinching/rubs. No signs of bruising in her mouth. Teeth recently checked.

Covering the bit with bread seems more likely to make it seem like food to her...

I don't think that her biting her bit is painful for her. As others have noted, it seems more like a pacifier/restless habit as she does it more when she is loose rein/looking around, and not when in work mode, and does it more before/beginning of ride than after.

When in work she is soft and has a nice feel. We are still mostly in getting fit mode, so not asking for too much, but she seems to have a good connection for the short periods I ask for it.

goeslikestink
May. 6, 2012, 10:24 PM
She started biting the bit from the first moment i put it on her...and she hadn't had a bit in her mouth for 6 months prior, so not sure how giving her more time off would help. I am thinking it is a learned habit rather than something that is a reaction to the current state of affairs.

I did read the above link, but find the bit fitting simplistic. Not all horses go well with one wrinkle, it depends on the internal structure of the mouth as well as the thickness of the lips. With this horse, I do have the bit set at 1 wrinkle though. I had wondered if I should go with a wider bit, but then that would give more room for her to pull it back to bite. No signs of pinching/rubs. No signs of bruising in her mouth. Teeth recently checked.

Covering the bit with bread seems more likely to make it seem like food to her...

I don't think that her biting her bit is painful for her. As others have noted, it seems more like a pacifier/restless habit as she does it more when she is loose rein/looking around, and not when in work mode, and does it more before/beginning of ride than after.

When in work she is soft and has a nice feel. We are still mostly in getting fit mode, so not asking for too much, but she seems to have a good connection for the short periods I ask for it.


do the bread thing - to encourage and re mouth her for 2 weeks


let me explain- when riding of course it doesnt happen as your pulling the bit up into her mouth when riding your holding or hanging on to the reins when resting and on free rein or loose its hanging in her gob so it bangs and in order for to stop the banging shes trying to grab or bit the bit as its painful

now although you notice it as problem your not sorting the cause of the problem

i repeat horses do things for reason - good or bad they learn by you the owner

bad hands cause bad mouths - its simple and to stop that part of any rider then they need to learn to ride from there arse to to hand to mouth to learn to push the horse from the back end to the front end so one doesnt hang on the gob and have issues with the mouth

oh and try a happy mouth bit as this would be more acceptable to her as now she will have a sensitive mouth

CHT
May. 8, 2012, 08:40 PM
Well the Happy Mouth was a bad idea. She was fussier than ever in it, and wrecked the bit.

Today I rode her in a NS hanging snaffle that was slightly wider than the previous one, but slightly thinnger in diameter. Still had the flash on. She still tried to bite the bit, but didn't argue with the flash as long. I am thinking the flash is helping get it into her head that she can't grab the bit, so as much as she seems pissed by the flash, I think it is the way to go.

I also spend the warm up walk rubbing her neck along her crest which kept her from trying to bite the bit at all and had her starting out with a lower neck.

She still flipped her nose up from time to time to try to grab the bit. I reacted by bumping her with my inside leg, but my hands follow her head. Should I try restricting her ability to pop her nose up/out with my hands?

GoesLikeStink, I think what you are missing is that this is an established habit for this horse. It is not something she just started doing. As such it is difficult to know if her biting the bit is in reaction to something current, or just a habit based on something in her past. I do think she was likely started as a 3 year old by someone concerned with "frame" as she was a sales horse...and I think sometimes they get pushed to look more trained than they are. I know the people I bought her from worked hard to get her to look for contact rather than contract from it.

My coach is up this weekend to see her for the first time, so interested to get her opinion on the bit biting, and what else is going on when she bits the bit.

goeslikestink
May. 12, 2012, 09:43 PM
being doing horses all my life and done far more than people think

point is- sometimes we have to go backwards to go forwards

the horse has a problem------- so we have to find the cause if shes biting thebit then its pain issue or thought of pain as - going to hurt me type thing
so one has to remove it
by re mouthing her-

CHT
May. 12, 2012, 10:21 PM
The flash seems to be working.

She argued with it at first, but we are now on day 4 (or 5?) of using the flash, and she didn't bite the bit once, and didn't seem to mind the flash at all.

The flash isn't overly tight, but enough to make biting the bit more of an effort...although she can still do it. She didn't even bite the bit when I undid the noseband after getting off to handwalk her to cool her off.

It could also be the slightly wider mouth peice I now have her in is more to her liking...or she likes NS better than KK...

Next week I will take the flash off and see what happens.

WishesRHorses
May. 13, 2012, 05:22 PM
I hope we are not having this discussion without having checked the horses' teeth for possibly needing floating. I will never forget talking to a guy who had brilliant Saddlebred show horses, and he said he had their teeth floated 4 times a year because it made such a difference in their way of going.

I can't afford that, but it is so important to make sure the teeth are OK before we start wondering about the bits!

Vesper Sparrow
May. 13, 2012, 07:40 PM
My mare will do this a tiny bit during our breaks. I don't stress over it because when we are working, she gets down to business, seems to enjoy the work and is a real trier. She is more and more connected and on the bit in the last few months. I use a flash but it is on very loosely. I interpret it as her wanting to have her own way a little and that is fine when we aren't working. She is a chestnut TB mare, not an automaton.

CHT
May. 13, 2012, 09:12 PM
I hope we are not having this discussion without having checked the horses' teeth for possibly needing floating. I will never forget talking to a guy who had brilliant Saddlebred show horses, and he said he had their teeth floated 4 times a year because it made such a difference in their way of going.

I can't afford that, but it is so important to make sure the teeth are OK before we start wondering about the bits!

Her teeth were checked when she first arrived(so about 6 weeks ago now) and were fine. her owner had them done regularly, but I still like to have them checked by my own vet. She is 7, so no caps left to come out either.

Day two of clinic and she hasn't gotten the bit in her teeth for another day. The more I get her to reach down into contact the better she is too.

colorfan
May. 15, 2012, 09:05 AM
cht, sounds like you are on the right track. I agree that some horses just fuss with the bit.
My mare fussed from the first time I put a happy mouth in her mouth. Exactly the same kind of fussy chew/chew/chew she does today, three years later.
I have tried many bits, widths, diameters, cheap, expensive, some do make it worse for sure.
I adjust the bit from as low as I dared to as high as I dared and did find a position that does appear to suit her better.

Something else I tried is a figure 8 noseband. That has helped more than anything. Helped, did not stop it.
I do get crosswise looks from certain dressage people but oh well.

As far as hands go, this mare will chew whether my hands are on the reins or not.
Improvement has come with time and now when she is in the 'zone' her mouth gets quiet but as soon as we halt or change things up she is back chewing.

I think it is just her. She is particular about everything, move the feed bucket in her stall and she stops and takes a loooong look before going in. Funny girl.

goeslikestink
May. 15, 2012, 07:06 PM
I hope we are not having this discussion without having checked the horses' teeth for possibly needing floating. I will never forget talking to a guy who had brilliant Saddlebred show horses, and he said he had their teeth floated 4 times a year because it made such a difference in their way of going.

I can't afford that, but it is so important to make sure the teeth are OK before we start wondering about the bits!

so true

CHT
Jun. 20, 2012, 05:33 PM
So Izzy is no longer biting the bit. Still sometimes opens her mouth to fuss with it, but no longer getting it in her teeth, even without a noseband.

Interestingly, when I took her to a show, she was much quieter in the mouth than at home.

But...I video'ed us on Monday, and realize that we do have a connection/acceptance of contact issue. Are the two related? Not sure, but could stem in part from being taught headset as a baby rather than connection. She look stiff even though she feels soft.

So today I spent time before getting on her doing some basic ground work; stopping beside me when I stopped, and giving to rein contact. Then did very basic work on her, and by the end she was following the contact much better, and listening to seat much better. So, going back to basics for a while, try to fill some holes, and then go back to the more exciting stuff.

Planning to start videoing my rides weekly so I can better assess what is going on vs what I think is going on; Iz is so light in the bridle, I mistook that for softness/connection. Bad me.

For a bit I have her in a 5.5" KK. Somewhat thin and not the ultra.. I think she would do better in a 5.25" but oddly I don't have any good bits that size so would have to order one in, so think I may try my thicker Ultra a few times and see what she prefers before placing the order. Riding her without a noseband for now, but only because it has been humid and her nose gets sweaty/itchy. She is also "girthy" about the noseband even though not tight, and fairly padded. Need to sort that out. She did come that way, so perhaps previous owners rode with a tight noseband to deal with the bit biting?

cyberbay
Jun. 21, 2012, 02:40 PM
Interesting thread! Thanks for posting about the issue. I'm not quite sure what is meant by "biting the bit" -- is it that the horse plays with it, jangling it in her mouth all the time?

I would put in that connection and contact are very much related. And for horses that have had previous jobs that had different concepts of contact, it can take time to get through to them to feel comfy with the bit and truer contact. Connection, throughness, etc., to me tend to resolve the contact issue. I also wonder if your horse might be prone to being sore in the poll -- the jangling is coming from nervousness about being on the bit and feeling that soreness? --and would like some preride neck massage?

My horse also had a previous job (at a h/j barn) and I was told he was 'happiest' when not ridden on contact. Now this is the ONLY way he's ridden these days (on contact), and he's thriving. But it's also not a simple concept for him -- I'm guessing given that he was forehandy that he was pulled on to stop and slow down, and being a big horse, that he became sore in his poll from that style of riding. He also needs his teeth done 2x/year and after seeing them when I first bought him, am guessing previous owners had them done just 1x/year.

Don't worry, GLS. The OP IS getting to the root cause of the problem. That is why she posted here, all in the name of hoping to find an answer.

CHT
Jun. 21, 2012, 04:02 PM
Interesting thread! Thanks for posting about the issue. I'm not quite sure what is meant by "biting the bit" -- is it that the horse plays with it, jangling it in her mouth all the time?


She still jangles the bit on occassion. I think she does that when she had a tense jaw and then releases it, but not 100% sure. I hope one day to get someone other than the fence post to video us so I can try to see what is going on with her body (and mine) when she jangles the bit. (I like the term jangle).

This isn't the same as chewing the bit...it is more anxious feeling coming up through the reins, even though her head is still down.

The biting the bit was literally that. She would suck the middle of the bit back and gets it between her teeth and bites on it for a moment. Bit and jaw both locked for a short, but still bothersome, amount of time. Thankfully she no longer does this.

This keep progressing, and in combination with the tips GLS gave on my other post for my filly, we are started to get a better connection, and actually managed to get a few strides of a real lengthened canter today. (longer not quicker...yippy!)

SharonWF
Jun. 21, 2012, 07:46 PM
I am glad there was one other person on here who has heard of letting the youngsters "wear their bits".

The trainer I trained with in my 20's would put a snaffle on the younglings before beginning their groundwork and let them wear it for a while. She would tie it to the halter with twine and have it hang just a little low. Just enough so, that the horses would learn to pick it up on their tongue and carry it properly in a comfortable position.

I do the same thing now myself, and have never had a problem with horses chewing, or being mouthy on, the bit.

Of course, during that time it is important to keep salve at the corners of the mouth to lubricate the skin and avoid chafing, and make sure that the horse is not exposed to objects he/she can get the bit caught on...