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  1. #1
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    May. 20, 2009
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    Default Dressage - "holding" the bit

    My horse has developed a habit of leaning on the bit lately when I (and my trainer) have been riding her. The past four of five rides, she would not get off the left rein (she will bend and no matter how 'on' the bit or round or straight she is, she still clenches her mouth on that side and just holds it there). She LOOKS soft and appears soft but it's very deceiving to what we are feeling.

    We are trying different lunging techniques with her, so I'm not really asking for advice on the problem itself (although if you have any I'd love to hear it), but rather I have a couple of questions about bits.

    Right now she's in a single jointed D-ring snaffle that has a cyprium (sp?) coating. It's one of the only bits that doesn't give her sores in the corners of her mouth (we tried many different mouth pieces and cheek pieces), and through a combination of events/talking to different people, we are pretty sure that the types of bits themselves were not causing the sores, but rather the fact that they were stainless steel and she likely has an allergy to it - so the cyprium coating prevents the sores because the stainless steel isn't touching the inside of her mouth. With that in mind, we are willing to try other bits on her to see if she likes one more than the one she is in (different mouthpieces, cheekpieces) as long as we can get it with the cyprium coating. It has to be dressage legal. What bits would you recommend? The main problem is her grabbing the bit and holding it, even though she "gives" with the entire rest of her body.

    Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Jan. 30, 2010
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    Default

    For certain horses wearing a single jointed bit, when their tongue relaxes, it pushes the break up into the roof of their mouth, so the horse locks its jaw and/or leans on the hands to pull the bit back off the roof of the mouth.

    I would try something double jointed with a nice curve to start.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post
    For certain horses wearing a single jointed bit, when their tongue relaxes, it pushes the break up into the roof of their mouth, so the horse locks its jaw and/or leans on the hands to pull the bit back off the roof of the mouth.

    I would try something double jointed with a nice curve to start.
    Thanks! I didn't know a single jointed bit could have that kind of effect on some horses. Would you recommend a french link over a 'bean' or anything else? Would a single jointed bit with a curved mouthpiece have the same affect as the bit she's currently in?

    http://www.elysianfieldsranch.com/images/CopperDee.jpg

    This is the bit she is currently in. If anything, the coating on hers might be slightly lighter. The link says it's copper coated. Several people at Rolex (vendors) told us the coating was cyprium. She came with the bit and her old owner does not remember where she got the bit or what the coating is. Unlike the other cyprium bits I've searched for online, hers is NOT coated anywhere along the cheek piece, it ends just before it (like the one in the picture I linked above).



  4. #4
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Wink

    see my answer to the question about haunches out versus S/I. The last exercise might solve your "bit holding" problem which I suspect is more a suppleness problem than a bit problem.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  5. #5
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    May. 20, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    see my answer to the question about haunches out versus S/I. The last exercise might solve your "bit holding" problem which I suspect is more a suppleness problem than a bit problem.
    Ok thanks! She's been progressing quickly with her suppleness (she's gone from muscle under the neck to muscle over the neck, head up to head down, on the forehand to off the forehand in 3 years - which is really good for this mare. She was ridden incorrectly for over 8 years at least, and wasn't started correctly either. She's also been part of a lesson program with a wide range of riders/ability levels all riding different disciplines). She'll flex to the left and right and let go of the bit easily at the halt. At the walk as soon as you ask for her to let go of either side (usually the left, but today she wouldn't get off the right), she'll bend and give with everything except for the clenching of that one side of the bit.

    Are there any other exercises you'd suggest to improve suppleness and help with this problem?



  6. #6
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Question

    Are you asking for flexions from the neck rather than bending in the body?
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  7. #7
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    May. 20, 2009
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    Are you asking for flexions from the neck rather than bending in the body?

    Yes. She bends through the body very nicely, but wont let go of the inside bit. We've been warming up with flexion from the neck only at the halt and walk to help her become more supple and to let go of the bit. When we first started riding her dressage, she would not flex or bend at all. We worked on flexion. She was great, let go of the bit, gave, etc. Started working more on bend and she's been very supple/bendy lately through her body, but won't let go of the bit (usually the left, except today where she wouldn't get off the right). All we've been trying to ask her to do is flex left and right and "give" or let go of the bit for 3 seconds each direction at the halt, and then walk in a straight line and flex to the left and right and hold for 3 steps, but she just won't let go. She'll turn her head around all day left and right but she won't stop clenching down on the bit.



  8. #8
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    Post

    If you ride a correct S/I, one of the self checks that it is correct, is rider's ability to give the inside rein and have the bend remain the same with the horse softening on the inside rein. The softening comes from the engagement, the reaching under, of the inside hind.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  9. #9
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    Mar. 4, 2007
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    Western Washington
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post
    For certain horses wearing a single jointed bit, when their tongue relaxes, it pushes the break up into the roof of their mouth, so the horse locks its jaw and/or leans on the hands to pull the bit back off the roof of the mouth.

    I would try something double jointed with a nice curve to start.
    I'd also look at a baucher. The cheek pieces will help steady it, and it has a nice curve so it tends not to poke into the palate. Most horses like it.



  10. #10
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    Default

    I would guess that bit is copper coated. I have not seen a cyprium made that way...although it is possible. Cyprium is mostly copper anyway though.

    I like a middle link that is somewhat rounded, but not bigger than the bars of the bit. I like it so that when the bit is curved as it would be in the mouth, the bars to the middle link are a smooth semi circle. If you have the money, I really like the KK Ultra. The angle of the middle link really does make a difference for a horse that dislikes palate pressure.

    I like the baucher/hanging snaffle too, but since getting the KK Ultra, I have found myself using it more.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    Default

    I would try to change how you are looking at this.

    You are right, that you don't want her to hold the bit. That's a stage horses go thru, an important one actually, but you don't want to stay there.

    You don't want her to give to the bit either. This is not WP, our horses stop giving to the bit after they understand how to follow the inside rein around. Giving to the bit is now saved for fixing things and hello lover moments.

    You want her to chase the bit. Picture like it's a carrot and it is independently moving around the arena, and she is going after it. In order for her to do this, to get the idea, you have to drop the bit on the side she is holding at the same time you make more energy. So you close your leg and quickly advance your hand a tiny bit. If she doesn't reach out at it, repeat and tap with the whip. When she gets it, any time you feel her begin to lock onto the bit, fix it.

    You may have to do this many times. People watching might think you are crazy. Try to remember in those moments that most people never Ride past training level a main reason being that they are told that contact is the horse being stuck on the bit and they never learn to ride with forward energy... And they are afraid to let go. Well energy and holding equal rearing and bucking! But I digress, sorry!

    Standing flexions also help your horse learn to mobilize her jaw.

    Last, try to remember to keep her really straight on your outside rein. If you begin to bend and add flexion and the horse locks up, she may be over bent in the neck which also stops energy coming thru. Reestablish the horse actively chasing the bit before you add bend. Flexion to the inside should be minimal unless you are systematically correcting a physical problem, overbending on purpose is a tool that is too easy to overuse. Focus on being the one who refuses to hold her, instead being the person who invites her to chase the bit Instead.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 9, 2005
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    uk
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SUNKIST090888 View Post
    My horse has developed a habit of leaning on the bit lately when I (and my trainer) have been riding her. The past four of five rides, she would not get off the left rein (she will bend and no matter how 'on' the bit or round or straight she is, she still clenches her mouth on that side and just holds it there). She LOOKS soft and appears soft but it's very deceiving to what we are feeling.

    We are trying different lunging techniques with her, so I'm not really asking for advice on the problem itself (although if you have any I'd love to hear it), but rather I have a couple of questions about bits.

    Right now she's in a single jointed D-ring snaffle that has a cyprium (sp?) coating. It's one of the only bits that doesn't give her sores in the corners of her mouth (we tried many different mouth pieces and cheek pieces), and through a combination of events/talking to different people, we are pretty sure that the types of bits themselves were not causing the sores, but rather the fact that they were stainless steel and she likely has an allergy to it - so the cyprium coating prevents the sores because the stainless steel isn't touching the inside of her mouth. With that in mind, we are willing to try other bits on her to see if she likes one more than the one she is in (different mouthpieces, cheekpieces) as long as we can get it with the cyprium coating. It has to be dressage legal. What bits would you recommend? The main problem is her grabbing the bit and holding it, even though she "gives" with the entire rest of her body.

    Thanks!
    excuse me for saying this but no horse should get sores in the corner of there mouth that only happens if you have bad hands or that the bit is to small or that its hanging to high in the horse mouth ie bridle dont fit


    and if its happening with both of you then a- i surgest you change your trianer for not picking it and dealing with the root cause - ie lack of expreince in fitting a bridle
    and b- if its one sidedness only say happens on one side then both of you have a rider error - of which the trianer hasnt resolved the problem
    this can also include
    uneven rider as not sitting central to the horse
    with either odd stirrups and stirrups not at the correct lenght
    see page one on how to alter your stirrups correctly,
    now you may not think this is relevent but it is, if your not balanced then the horse wont be either if your not using your seat correctly via being unenven then your hanging on to the horse mouth and supporting all your body weight into the bridle area this makes for a horse to lean on to the bit as hes compensating your wieght with his own

    2- if loads of riders use this horse then it could be his saddle is or saddles that are used on him dont fit or need flocking just give the saddle to a mastercraft persona nd they cna tell you how yous it onand ride the horse just by looking at the saddle, for exsample if your uneven then it shows up,
    so check you saddle desont need flocking or check he using equipement that fit him any horse should have decent tack fit him well as if it doesnt then it will effect on his way of going

    check his teeth and feet ie farrier vet check if off for any reason to do with pain

    check to see if your trianer can show you how to perfrom the half halt stride and ask her/him what it does if they cant then you have to ditich them as they arent worth a light as a trianer but for my money i would surgest you change trianers anyways as shes hasnt sorted the root cuase of the problem and lunging isnt going to fix it



    look here for and read page one and links 2 3 and 4
    http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=178116

    read this linke whilse you at it about mouthing and biting by thomas 1

    http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=223453

    the best way to see with out hurting your horse in anyway to see
    if the bit is hanging to low in his mouth,
    is to hold the bridle up against the side of his head from poll position to his mouth this will give you a rough guide of where the bit should be
    undo all buckles on the bridle and adjust them to that lenght
    repeat action before you attempt to putting the bridle on
    makesure all parts of any noseband straps are also adjusted to lenght and if a cavasson nose band being used makesure you can get 2 fingers under the noseband part,once its been done up
    then put the bridle on- the bit should be resting in the corners of his mouths and when closed place your thumbs both sides between the bit and bridle to check the distance so its doesnt pinch - this also helps to check that you have altered both sides of the cheek pieces evenly when measuring for the bridle fitment
    makesure that the horse has enough room around his poll and brow areas of the bridle - an ill fitted bridle can cause harm, and also effect they way of going for a horse as he wouldnt be able to use his head properly which in turn effects his balance let alone hurting in the mouth
    the poll and brow areas shouldnt be to loose nor to tight - but a snug comfy fitment
    the reins - make sure you use the correct length of riens for the size of the horse -
    Last edited by goeslikestink; May. 30, 2010 at 12:30 PM.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2008
    Posts
    80

    Default A few questions.

    Is your horse actually holding the bit clenched between it's teeth mainly on the left side or is it leaning more onto your left hand compared with your right? You say the horse is now off it's forehand after three years so I assume it's not leaning on it's bit but actually holding it with it's clenched teeth? Is that the case here? Leaning and clenching become two different problems if you seek advice. I would wish to know more of the rather sad background you mention about the horse not having been started or trained correctly. What is that all about? May I also ask as to whether your horse has a little salivation on it's lips and if this salivation is symmetrical?

    I would tend to agree with the poster who thought that cracking of the skin in the corner of the mouth isn't a good thing with any bit in a horse made light in it's mouth and ridden by a rider with educated hands and fingers, independent of the seat. By the same token I would have thought that an allergy to stainless steel must be very unusual indeed. That's why they put stainless steel on watch backs and bracelets to avoid irritating sensitive skin as metals like nickel will do (cheap rings). From the limited information in your posting I would doubt this is a bit problem at all apart, perhaps, from the way it's being used in a horse that may not be balanced or straight.

    Good luck in your search for the answer.



  14. #14
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    Mar. 20, 2010
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    Bucks County, PA
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    yes--are you or your trainer left handed?

    Edited to add that like what ET suggested, whenever I feel too much weight in my hands, I'll tap the horse with the whip.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Callaway View Post
    yes--are you or your trainer left handed?

    Edited to add that like what ET suggested, whenever I feel too much weight in my hands, I'll tap the horse with the whip.
    if the person or person riding the horse and are riding the horse as they write - ie left handed or right handed then they dont need to tap the horse on the opposite side or same side they need to give with there hands on their strongest side- so if a person is strong on the right for exsample the horse would be stiffer on the left hand side
    so one would give with hands on the strongest side which will even the horse up
    not only that but if one is to strong in there hands on one side they are actually pulling the bit through the mouth
    on wouldnt be tapping no horse with a whip when its rider error and not a horse error



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by goeslikestink View Post
    if the person or person riding the horse and are riding the horse as they write - ie left handed or right handed then they dont need to tap the horse on the opposite side or same side they need to give with there hands on their strongest side- so if a person is strong on the right for exsample the horse would be stiffer on the left hand side
    so one would give with hands on the strongest side which will even the horse up
    not only that but if one is to strong in there hands on one side they are actually pulling the bit through the mouth
    on wouldnt be tapping no horse with a whip when its rider error and not a horse error
    Nope, I completely disagree with you. A left person has a stronger left rein, hence the horse leaning on the left rein. Just like when a horse leans on 2 strong hands. It's the same thing. Trust me, I've seen it quite often. You find it a lot in lesson barns where most kids are right-handed, and the horses are all heavy in the right hand, since the horse becomes desensitized in the mouth.

    And, I wrote if I felt too much weight in my hands, I would tap the horse with the whip. You did not entirely understand my post.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Callaway View Post
    Nope, I completely disagree with you. A left person has a stronger left rein, hence the horse leaning on the left rein. Just like when a horse leans on 2 strong hands. It's the same thing. Trust me, I've seen it quite often. You find it a lot in lesson barns where most kids are right-handed, and the horses are all heavy in the right hand, since the horse becomes desensitized in the mouth.

    And, I wrote if I felt too much weight in my hands, I would tap the horse with the whip. You did not entirely understand my post.
    you need to give on your strongest side if that is the left side then give on the left side



  18. #18
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    Yes, I agree...that was my point.



  19. #19
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    And also, maybe it is time to think chiropractic treatment(s) and that the R stifle/hocks may be sore. It sounds like the mare has been in consistent work -- ie, working like an athlete -- with you, and had several years of lots of work prior to you, and that can result in some joint deterioration, sore muscles, etc.

    Or, teeth. Maybe she needs to be done? I've had horses go very still in their mouth when their teeth are due for floating.

    If you do pursue releasing the rein that is heavy (the L), be sure to take a sure feel of the R rein. The purpose is not so much to get off the L rein but to become more balanced in both reins, wouldn't you say? Be sure your R aids are doing their job by being present and giving the horse something to go to.

    Can't agree with you, GLS, about 1) sores in corner of mouth and 2) that it's all about rider crookedness. Horses, like people, are inherently crooked. And they may have little niggly sorenesses, or tight muscles, or... that exacerbate that crookedness. One of my horses goes in a loose-ring French link -- has gone in it for a full year -- and he just recently got a little sore in the corner of his mouth. People who use loose rings know that on occasion the skin of the corner of the mouth area can get caught in there -- a loose-ring construction is predicated on a moving part, and that the rings, over time, can make for a sharp edge where it passes through the hole to the bit itself.



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