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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 2003
    Location
    Yarrow, BC, Canada
    Posts
    318

    Unhappy Suggestions for teeth grinding

    I have a 7 year old Hanoverian gelding that grinds his teeth excessively when I ride. I have had his teeth, back, stomach (ulcers) and hocks checked by a vet for pain - nothing. He is my dad's horse that I ride a few times a week. He grinds WAY more with me than with my dad. He generally starts off the ride okay, but as soon as I shorten the reins and try to get to work, the grinding begins, which leads me to believe that it is a tension issue. However, he is also an extremely orally-fixated horse - everything has to go in his mouth, and he likes to play with the bit anyway (although he doesn't want to take a contact - he avoids the bit by throwing his head up or curling behind the vertical). I want to try a new Herm Sprenger WH Ultra snaffle, but I'm not sure which one:
    http://www.doversaddlery.com/herm-sp...01894/cn/1457/ - this one has the roller disc in the middle
    http://www.doversaddlery.com/herm-sp...-01881/c2p/cs/ - and this one has the rubber centre link
    Which would you suggest? I can see the physical difference in each bit, but what is the difference in EFFECT? Has anyone used either of these bits and seen a difference? Any other suggestions? Thanks!
    Last edited by Dressage (Pea)Nut; May. 14, 2008 at 07:05 PM.
    *****************************
    Designer Sport Ponies...never go out of style!
    **Breeding quality riding ponies for dressage and sport**
    www.designersportponies.com - UNDER CONSTRUCTION



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    22

    Default Teeth grinding

    How does he go, apart from the fact that he grinds his teeth? Does he ever duck behind the vertical? Is he heavy or light in your hand? Does he shy? Is he slow off your leg or okay? What happens if you let him chew the rein out of your hand? Does he step up his pace or maintain his own rhythm?


    And what exactly do you do when you try to get to work? Apart from shortening the reins? Is it possible that you are putting your leg on at the same time as applying your rein aid? Are you trying to use the rein to place his head and neck? If so, you might try seperating those aids - this has done wonders for my riding mare who used to do all sorts of funky things on all sorts of different bits

    All the best

    Jules



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 2003
    Location
    Yarrow, BC, Canada
    Posts
    318

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JulesT View Post
    How does he go, apart from the fact that he grinds his teeth? Does he ever duck behind the vertical? Is he heavy or light in your hand? Does he shy? Is he slow off your leg or okay? What happens if you let him chew the rein out of your hand? Does he step up his pace or maintain his own rhythm?
    He often ducks behind the vertical. He is also usually light in the hand, but too light (ie. not taking the contact). He is not particularly spooky. He is naturally forward, but can be dull to the leg (ie. ignores me when I need to kick him). When I let him chew the reins out of my hand, he falls on the forehand and curls behind the vertical again. He has natural cadence and generally moves with good rhythm, although like I said, tends to ignore my aids (seat, legs, and/or whip).

    And what exactly do you do when you try to get to work? Apart from shortening the reins? Is it possible that you are putting your leg on at the same time as applying your rein aid? Are you trying to use the rein to place his head and neck?
    When I say, "get to work" I mean shortening the reins and starting to work on large circles, changes of direction, and transitions, etc. At this point, I'm honestly not looking for him to come truly "on the bit", I would just like him to go forward off my leg into a contact. I hardly have anything in my hands - I want him to seek the contact. He is also extremely crooked, and when I try to straighten him with my legs, he starts to fish-tail and gets more tense (and grinds more furiously). Seriously, I just want him to go FORWARD!

    If so, you might try seperating those aids - this has done wonders for my riding mare who used to do all sorts of funky things on all sorts of different bits
    I try to separate my aids when I ride him (as described above), but this doesn't seem to make any difference. I currently ride him in a FAT HS KK snaffle, but I thought that something to play with might distract him enough to at least reduce the grinding. I really appreciate your help. Thanks!
    *****************************
    Designer Sport Ponies...never go out of style!
    **Breeding quality riding ponies for dressage and sport**
    www.designersportponies.com - UNDER CONSTRUCTION



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Ha ha... sounds like you have your work cut out.

    First, the leg issue: In my limited experience, horses who are "naturally forward" are often not very responsive to the leg when push comes to shove (as it were *grin*). This is because such a horse will normally move forward as soon as the rein is given, and so the leg is never trained as a forward signal. Then when suddenly there is something in the way of that naturally forward movement (like a bridge or a water jump), the rider has no aid to give which will produce a forward response. Any amount of kicking, whipping etc. will only produce conflict, because the horse is not being disobedient, it simply has never been properly trained to go forward, beacause this has never seemed necessary with all that natural forwardness. The horse is confused.

    What might further confuse him about the meaning of the legs is that you are trying to straighten him with your legs. No amount of leg pressure that you can produce can straighten a crooked horse. The straightness has to come from the forelegs which have to follow your reins to the left and right, so that you can balance the shoulder between your reins. That initially means, when you ask for a right turn with your right rein, the right foreleg should immediately lift, move to the right and step down, upon which you release the pressure. Try to test this the next time you ride. What happens when you ask for a turn with one rein? Does the horse move that same foreleg out to the side at once (within one second)? Or does he just turn his head and neck? Does he fall to the right with every other leg than the one you are trying to move? My guess is your horse needs to learn what the turning rein aid means before he can go straight. I think he will turn his head and neck and only after some delay will he turn, probably not even leading with the targeted front leg. This is if you ask for the turn from a standstill. If you ask from walk or trot, I think he will cross the foreleg you are trying to turn in front of the other foreleg and load the outside shoulder. But this is easy to fix.

    Finally, the contact. Your horse curls his neck because he has learned that this removes the bit pressure, which he probably doesn't like very much. Instead, you have to show him an alternative behaviour which he can use to remove bit pressure. This behaviour has to be stop/slow. Try standing beside him and putting a few ounces of pressure on the bit to make him step back. What is his reaction? Does he move his feet backwards immediately, or does he do something with his head and neck like lean, flex or toss? If the answer is the latter, then he is confused about the bit. If you keep releasing the rein and riding forward to make his neck go long, you are actually rewarding the neck curling by releasing the bit pressure every time he does it, which is what he is trying to obtain. This will further confuse him, whereas if you stop him, when he curls his neck, and reward only the complete standstill of his legs with a release, then he will learn that he needn't go behind the bit.

    A horse who is confused about the leg, crooked, AND confused about the bit is constantly running into pressure which he doesn't understand, and this will make him tense and likely to do weird stuff like grind his teeth. When you sort out these issues, I think you will find that the bit you are using works just fine

    All the best

    Jules



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 20, 2007
    Posts
    38

    Default Mine grinds too

    I have a horse who grinds his teeth. For him, it seems to be a nervous tick. Whenever he is learning something new that challenges him and complicates his mind, he grinds. He used to do it ALOT and loudly, but that was when he didn't know anything and was confused by everything.

    He is getting much better. He was a race horse and I think he taught himself to grind as a way of dealing with stress. When he doesn't have a bit in his mouth he chews on his tongue if he is stressed. It can be a hard habit to break. I thought I'd try a bit with rollers or keys but that just exacerbated his problem. I also tried strapping his mouth closed with a flash, but forget it, that just made him really tense and tight in his jaw. What my horse needed most was become relaxed under saddle and understand what was expected of him and to be rewarded and reassured when he was going well.

    Ultimately, I just decided to ignore it and just work through the tension until he figured out the relationship between leg, seat and bridle and came to trust it more. He still grinds, even on good days, but it is only when some pressure is being applied that is pushing him out of his comfort zone(easy to do). I think that once he gets to a high enough level so that most of what I ask of him is old, old hat, he may eventually relax enough that he loses the grinding altogether. I have found that with this horse, I always need to push him up to the bridle, inside leg to outside rein, than outside leg to inside rein, alternating all the time, whether I'm on a circle or on the straight, to keep him light. It is an ongoing thing with him. He needs the push, release, push, release. If you push him too much, he just grinds. He needs reassurance from the leg to trust the bridle and he is not a horse you can use much rein aid on.

    Of course, it took a long time to even get to that point. When we started, he was behind the contact and did not know leg aids at all. I had to teach everything in baby steps. Now has a very trusting relationship with the bridle. I need to always be soft with him and ask rather than tell, or else he grinds. And some days he just grinds away no matter what. I don't think he is in pain--it is just a bad nervous tick he picked up. He does it in the crossties when he is uptight too.

    I can't say what might work for your horse, but for mine there has been no quick fix. I'm not really a dressage rider BTW--more of a HJ person who does alot of flat. As far as bits--it has been my experience that there are some horses that hate fat bits and spend alot of time trying to spit them out rather than accepting them. Also, I have found that loose ring bits can pinch some horses in the corners of the mouth. My horse wears a Stubben french link D with a copper lozenge in the center. I guess what I'm trying to say is that my personal experience is that there is no quick fix. However, there is a product called gumbits that supposedly you can feed your horse before you ride--it is supposed to coat there teeth with a waxy substance so they can't get a good grip when they try to grind. Never tried it.

    two cents from an amateur...



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 27, 2007
    Location
    Behind the Orange Curtain
    Posts
    9,694

    Default

    No help with the training issues, but good luck One thing about my horse is that he hates fat bits. Is it possible that your horse is avoiding the tongue/palate interference from the bit?

    One to try to test that theory is the Myler comfort snaffle, which is thin and doesn't buckle up or down to increase pressure on the center of the tongue or palate. Of course, I have a lot of bit theories I'd love to test on my horse, and not nearly enough $$ to try them all



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2000
    Posts
    24,408

    Default

    Sometimes horses just do this as a habit and it's not always because the rider is riding incorrectly. Judges don't generally mark off for it in dressage if it isn't accompanied with other faults. They may note it but don't generally mark off if everything else looks good and there are no other signs of tension.

    This guy, however, seems to drop behind the bit and not go forward, which is what i would worry about. A riding instructor can help you get the horse more connected with the bit and forward off your leg.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    37

    Default

    If your horse has a smaller mouth or low pallette then he may be trying to deal with the thick bit in his mouth. If he is just stressed or it is a habit I would do what you are thinking and give him something to "play" with. Either way a new bit may help. The HS bit with the center disc is great. I have used this bit with great success on a gelding who likes to keep himself occupied with bit playing.
    Also, you could try GumBits. They are getting very popular and I know alot of riders swear by them. You put a small amount in your horses mouth before riding and they keep him occupied. Their website is www.gumbits.com. I know you can buy them at www.lasaddlery.com as well as the HS bits. Good luck!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2000
    Posts
    9,165

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dressage (Pea)Nut View Post
    I want to try a new Herm Sprenger WH Ultra snaffle, but I'm not sure which one:
    http://www.doversaddlery.com/herm-sp...01894/cn/1457/ - this one has the roller disc in the middle
    http://www.doversaddlery.com/herm-sp...-01881/c2p/cs/ - and this one has the rubber centre link.
    Try the second one (with the roller disk). It was developed by Lisa Wilcox and Ernst Hoyos specifically for one of the stallions Lisa used to ride in Germany that was a SERIOUS tooth grinder. I have a friend that had some success using that bit on her confirmed tooth grinder. Some people also have good luck using Gumbits.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 30, 2007
    Location
    Pensacola Florida
    Posts
    45

    Default

    neue schul makes 14 mm bits if you need thinner bit. How about a mullen mouth?



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Btw - how about trying something bitless to find out if the bit is causing the teeth grinding or not? I am not normally a bitless sort of person, but in order to investigate a specific problem, I would be willing to experiment. My vet is just now riding her huge Hannoverian in a bitless bridle because he would curl his neck and duck btv in a snaffle. So they are doing all the long and low stuff on the bb, and then they hope to switch to the snaffle when he is ready to pick up his head and neck, well in time for any showing dates they have in their calendar.



    My personal view, however, remains that it is seldom about the hardware

    Jules



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2000
    Location
    Brookline, NH, USA
    Posts
    2,094

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    Sometimes horses just do this as a habit and it's not always because the rider is riding incorrectly. Judges don't generally mark off for it in dressage if it isn't accompanied with other faults.
    slc - you seem to be out of touch in regards to what judges will or will not mark down for, which is understandable, since you haven't actually shown in years.

    Judges will mark down for teeth grinding. I'm looking right here at a test where I received a score of 75.8% on my horse who will grind his teeth....it was a very nice test, if I say so myself.

    The collective marks as as follows:

    Gaits 8
    Impulsion 8
    Submission 7 - with a comment of "grinds teeth"
    Rider 8


    So, yes, I would say that judges *will*, somewhere on a test, mark down teeth grinding.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 27, 2008
    Posts
    2,152

    Default

    Well, you won't like my answer, but I'll tell you what worked for me. My horse used to grind his teeth the whole time I was riding him (dressage). I wanted to believe that he was just mouthy, or that he was playing with the bit, or that it was just a nervous habit. It took me about 4 years to admit that he hated dressage, hated contact with the bit, and hated my hands.

    For the past six years, I've ridden him bitless in a rope halter on a loose rein. No, it's not dressage, but my horse is so much happier I can't tell you. He simply never grinds his teeth. Hasn't done it once in years.

    He actually didn't quit the minute I tried the rope halter. It took him some period of time (weeks? months?) to believe I was going to ride like this. And it took me some period of time to not resort to grabbing the reins when he got too fast or felt like he might spook. But we both adjusted, and as we did, the teeth grinding disappeared.

    Nothing else has changed in his diet, his dental care, his vet care, his health, his lifestyle, etc. The change came from me.

    No slam on you or how you ride. Just sharing my experience. Yours might be different.
    Last edited by Cindyg; Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:41 PM.



  14. #14

    Default fit of your saddle?

    Most of the responses focused on the horse's mouth but how well does his saddle fit? Teeth grinding can be a direct response to a ill-fitting saddle that becomes more ill-fitting as the horse becomes more connected and collected.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 2003
    Location
    Yarrow, BC, Canada
    Posts
    318

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BCoffeyCurle View Post
    Most of the responses focused on the horse's mouth but how well does his saddle fit? Teeth grinding can be a direct response to a ill-fitting saddle that becomes more ill-fitting as the horse becomes more connected and collected.
    Nope - checked. We thought it might be that as well, so we had a pro restuff it, and the saddle fits fine. I really appreciate everyone's suggestions. Thanks!
    *****************************
    Designer Sport Ponies...never go out of style!
    **Breeding quality riding ponies for dressage and sport**
    www.designersportponies.com - UNDER CONSTRUCTION



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    9,888

    Wink

    Do what a top trainer told me.

    Ignore it! I've noticed on some horses it seems to go with worrying. And with new work, they'll always worry, until the new work becomes routine. Out on a hack they'll do it some times because you can't smell that lion and they can.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



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