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  1. #1

    Default Andalusian Contact/Mouth issue about to lose my mind. Help!

    My lovely 8 year old Andalusian mare has ongoing issues with her mouth and accepting contact on the bit. My mare is a homebred and I have had her all her life. She has had ongoing issues with her teeth that I just did not get for quite a while since every vet or dentist I have ever had do any horses teeth has complained about the previous float job.

    My mare had regular dental care as a youngster from either a licensed vet or equine dentist. Was started under saddle at age 4 (four years ago). Was floated once a year her five and six year old years. Since then has been checked and floated every six month since I figured out that she gets awful sharp points and a major wave quickly. In theory she has been pain free for two full years. Still, she fights any kind of contact. She will open her mouth and fling her head when I ask for contact.

    I ride two other horses that don't have these same issues. So while my hands may not be perfect the issue is unique to her.

    I was riding my mare in a KK loose ring (not the thickest and not the thinnest), then tried the myler french link. In between tried a rubber mullen mouth, and regular snaffle with a loose ring. A few months ago I bought one of the Myler, comfort bauchers and no difference. I do notice the 5" Myler is huge on her when other 5" have fit fine. I have a KK D ring that I could try and also a bunch of full checks.

    I decided that for this summer I was just going to hack her out on the buckle and not fight about the mouth and have had a blast with her this summer. She is light to the aids and works just lovely off my legs and seat. I have taken a few jumping lessons on her this summer just for fun. She is a dream about everything as long as I don't ask for contact. We have also done a lot of long and low work on the buckle and she has muscled up in all the right places over the summer.

    My instructor says that my mare has made phenomenal progress otherwise this past year and that is true. She thinks I should try a flash and just not worry about her opening her mouth and flinging her head for right now. It is such a contrast to how my other two horses go that is is majorly disconcerting.

    I am pretty much at my wits end and I want to progress with her and that will mean working through this issue. I want to do dressage with her with a bit and regular bridle. Bitless is not a realistic option for us. Please do not start a debate about bitless here as that won't be helpful.

    Otherwise, I am very open to suggestions and appreciate any one willing to share their own experiences and how they worked through an issue like this. Does anyone think yet another bit will make a difference? Any exercises anyone can suggest that might help her to accept some contact? Thanks!



  2. #2
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    Default

    In my experience, Myler bits run large.

    In your list of bits it wasn't clear to me which mouthpieces you tried. I have one horse that hates a double jointed bit but is fine in a single joint, had one that did best in a mullen mouth.

    If she has a low palate and/or thick tongue a mullen mouth will likely be the most comfortable for her. Otherwise I'd try a few different mouthpieces.

    I will also say that I had one horse that was very fussy in the mouth. One we found a good bit for him the next step was to get him to focus on his hind end and forget about his mouth. To a certain extent that meant taking a light contact and ignoring his fussing while moving him forward.

    Good luck!
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  3. #3
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    Apr. 19, 2009
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    I one horse who absolutely loathes double jointed snaffles and fat bits under any circumstances. Her favourite bit is a very thin single jointed german silver snaffle. The other horse is fussy if she doesn't have padding under her noseband and if she is ridden in any other style of noseband than regular with a flash. Before we figured out about her noseband she would have days where she would absolutely not take the contact. No tooth issues causing it just a preference.



  4. #4
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    You've ruled out pain, so she's behaviorally displaying a pain memory. If you can ignore the behavior and consistently insist on contact, driving her forward, and keep your frustrations in check i suggest you do so. I would suggest you go out into a large field for trot and canter hacks, and every time she flings her head think or even say "that's nice, now go forward to my hands"

    My horse was very similar except he plotted around like a rabid giraffe. After his TMJ issues were resolved, and PSSM resolved, he was put to work. no more excuses. go forward to my hand. It took about a month to get him going fab, and i employed the help of a gogue to teach him that forward to my hand did not mean forward knock mommy's teeth out with your poll.
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  5. #5
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    Jun. 23, 2010
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    Hi. My real sensitive-mouthed horse is alot more comfortable in a solid mullen mouth bit, medium thickness, stainless steel. No flash, noseband not tight. The other thing I do is alot of inch up the reins, let them out slowly and teach her to follow the bit down, then repeat over and over. To check my hands, I keep my pinkies so that I can feel the saddle with them-this way I know it's not my hands, and also has improved my hands. Hope this helps. Use your seat to keep her forward while doing this.



  6. #6
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    Smile

    1
    Last edited by Baroquecoco; Aug. 8, 2010 at 11:21 AM. Reason: duplicate



  7. #7
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    Smile

    [QUOTE=Bogie;5024420]In my experience, Myler bits run large.

    In your list of bits it wasn't clear to me which mouthpieces you tried. I have one horse that hates a double jointed bit but is fine in a single joint, had one that did best in a mullen mouth.

    Thanks so much everyone. I have tried the a medium thickness double jointed KK. Myler Comfort snaffle with the wide roller, Myler French link which is a very small thin French link, Thick rubber mullen mouth, Thicker German silver double jointed and double jointed with a lozenge. Thanks!



  8. #8
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    Do you longe her with side reins? Let her work it out a bit on the longe. I also like the idea of the gogue, they pull against themselves and reward themselves when they stop.

    Dawn
    Last edited by rizzodm; Aug. 8, 2010 at 10:33 AM. Reason: Spelling



  9. #9
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    Always difficult without seeing the horse and rider but from your description this problem likely can't be solved by changing bits. She needs to be made light in the mouth,first in-hand, and then ridden at halt,walk and trot. If this were my horse I would practise the flexions of Baucher in a simple snaffle to educate her mouth and work with lightness from the beginning. You may not be familiar with these in-hand and ridden techniques?
    Good luck



  10. #10
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    Thank you everyone so much. I don't expect to solve the problem with a bit. I was wondering if for a horse with these kinds of issues one bit might help her more or be more comfortable for her than another.

    She works nicely from hind to front. I would be happy to help her become light in the mouth I just need constructive suggestions for getting there.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by princessfluffybritches View Post
    Hi. My real sensitive-mouthed horse is alot more comfortable in a solid mullen mouth bit, medium thickness, stainless steel. No flash, noseband not tight. The other thing I do is alot of inch up the reins, let them out slowly and teach her to follow the bit down, then repeat over and over. To check my hands, I keep my pinkies so that I can feel the saddle with them-this way I know it's not my hands, and also has improved my hands. Hope this helps. Use your seat to keep her forward while doing this.
    This sounds pretty sensible. I like the idea of "keeping" your pinkies. I have a grab strap on the saddle so I can set my hands by looping my pinkies on the grab strap.

    Would you inch up a little each time you ride....meaning inch up to one place and stay there. Or inch up little by little each time you ride until she objects?

    We have done a lot of long and low work on the buckle this summer and she will carry herself quite nicely, lifting her back, at the trot.



  12. #12
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    I really like what smithywess has said. I agree that is not the bit, but the way you are trying to introduce "contact." If you could post us some pictures, it would be much easier to help you find a solution.



  13. #13
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    Get a sidepull or riding noseband to use with your bridle, as a temporary measure. See if the ability to carry her head without contact causes any problems. You can have the bit but no contact on it. Ride the noseband rein to ascertain if in fact it is the bit.

    If not, build everything from there and gradually reintroduce the bit that seems the best for her.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baroquecoco View Post
    We have done a lot of long and low work on the buckle this summer and she will carry herself quite nicely, lifting her back, at the trot.
    IME, too much long and low can be deadly with any baroque. They're really not built to do it well. If you allow them to lurch along on their forehands, you bury the shoulders to the point that, not only will the horse have trouble carrying herself correctly, but you will have absolute hell getting extensions (which baroques traditionally have trouble with, anyway).

    I'm betting the reason she's not accepting contact is that you've allowed her too much long and low. She's down in her forehand, and therefore not able to balance and accept the bit at the same time.

    In your shoes, I'd quit switching the bits around. Decide on one (I LOVE a mullen D-ring for a horse like this - preferably rubber, if brakes aren't an issue), and insist on acceptance. The more you putz around changing them, the less likely your mare will become accepting.

    Also, I saw a technique several years ago that I really liked. A trainer was giving a lesson to a rider with a horse with contact issues. The trainer took a long length of 1/2" elastic (the kind you sew with) and tied it to either side of the bit, making an extra "rein" out of it. The rider held the elastic rein as one would a curb rein, and the regular rein in the snaffle position. Horse could not get away from the contact, yet it was very gentle. Progress was evident from the beginning to the end of the session. The horse wasn't perfect, but he was a whole lot less tense and much more accepting of the contact.

    Just a suggestion.
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  15. #15
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    I have ridden Andies in the past and currently have a Lipizzan.
    Going on the info you posted, my guess would be that it isn't directly bit/mouth related.
    If you have a continuing teeth problem, look @ the Jaw itself possible TMJ.
    Then check the Atlas [where skull-spine meet]
    If these are crooked so to will the mouth, and no bit will sit right.
    I'd also check any/everything Spine/Muscle, ie...
    If she is out sketal the muscle mass will develope in an awkard way and when you ask her to perform in a correct way.
    She will protest.

    As far as bit change-try wrapping some of yours with Latex, not legal to show in, but may point you in the right direction.



  16. #16
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    Have you had a professional get on her?

    Sometimes clever horses train their owners to back off the contact by getting fussy the second the contact even comes close.



  17. #17
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    In your shoes, I'd quit switching the bits around. Decide on one (I LOVE a mullen D-ring for a horse like this - preferably rubber, if brakes aren't an issue), and insist on acceptance. The more you putz around changing them, the less likely your mare will become accepting.

    Also, I saw a technique several years ago that I really liked. A trainer was giving a lesson to a rider with a horse with contact issues. The trainer took a long length of 1/2" elastic (the kind you sew with) and tied it to either side of the bit, making an extra "rein" out of it. The rider held the elastic rein as one would a curb rein, and the regular rein in the snaffle position. Horse could not get away from the contact, yet it was very gentle. Progress was evident from the beginning to the end of the session. The horse wasn't perfect, but he was a whole lot less tense and much more accepting of the contact.

    Just a suggestion.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks. Maybe I am not describing what I have been doing well but she is not at all on her forehand. As for bit switching I agree too much switching can be a bad thing and that is why I am asking for help. I have been using the boucher for about six weeks now.

    I will talk to my instructor and see if she has any experience with the technique you describe. Thanks for the thoughtful response.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ltc4h View Post
    I have ridden Andies in the past and currently have a Lipizzan.
    Going on the info you posted, my guess would be that it isn't directly bit/mouth related.
    If you have a continuing teeth problem, look @ the Jaw itself possible TMJ.
    Then check the Atlas [where skull-spine meet]
    If these are crooked so to will the mouth, and no bit will sit right.
    I'd also check any/everything Spine/Muscle, ie...
    If she is out sketal the muscle mass will develope in an awkard way and when you ask her to perform in a correct way.
    She will protest.
    That is an excellent suggestion because for about five months she went just fine in the KK and then poof she did not and her teeth were ok.

    A few years ago when she was first started I noticed that developed a very funny bulky muscle in her lower back. I switched instructors and that went away.

    That has given me a good bit to think about. Thanks!



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    Have you had a professional get on her?

    Sometimes clever horses train their owners to back off the contact by getting fussy the second the contact even comes close.
    Yes, I have. But a good thought! I took the attitude for a long time of, "Fine, but let's just keep going forward." When she did not get over it I figured I had another kind of issue which I need to figure out.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baroquecoco View Post
    I would be happy to help her become light in the mouth I just need constructive suggestions for getting there.
    What a timely post.

    I am reading a book called "Lessons in Lightness," by Mark Russell. I'm sure you could get it used from Amazon.

    A whole slew of exercises to "lighten" the contact needed, both in hand and from the saddle. He also points out the need to start from the jaw and that tension in the jaw will cause tension through-out the body.

    Also mentions TMJ.

    You might try it.

    But be aware he is more from the Port./French school and would never advocate the kind of "contact" you usually see in the current competitive dressage ring.

    It could be you simply asking for more contact than your Andie is comfortable with. Horses DO have difference thresholds. Again, tough to say without seeing, but it's a thought.

    Also, someone asked about lunging. What does your horse do when lunged with side reins?



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