Baucher bit for horse that opens mouth? UPDATED, Advice from BNT, good and bad news
Looking for some input/info on baucher bits for a fussier TB...My guy recently was switched to a happy mouth loose ring with a peanut in the center, as he was gaping his mouth with his old loose ring and we're trying to find something to appease him lol. He still opens his mouth with the happy mouth, but if I put a crank or a flash noseband on, he will start to grind his teeth and drop back behind the bridle. My friend recommended trying the baucher bit to see if that works out for him, but having never used one, I'm unsure how they work.
He has always been busy with the bit, he opens his mouth, and drools and chomps on it, but will get very backed off by anything too heavy. His "big bit" for shows was just a slow twist D ring, as he will not tolerate anything heavy
How about actually educating him on bit acceptance and being sure you are riding properly? Changing bits won't fix things if your training is lacking. So unless the bits are hitting his mouth funny - as in too thick, too narrow, not the proper width - I'd be looking to rider/training problems.
Btw, a slow twist, no matter how "light" is a harsh bit. It's intention is to put pressure on the horse's tongue therebye causing discomfort to the horse. Obviously, your previous training lacked teaching bit acceptance so I worry about what you are doing with your hands.
Would suggest a medium to light thickness french link or plain snaffle eggbutt. Loose rings move more and so relay your hands movement more. Then have some one teach you about flexions and be certain not to work on the bars of the horse's mouth (as in pulling down against the jaw) but being sure the bit action is always on the sides/lips of the mouth.
TBs tend to be worriers so your horse is telling you he's unhappy. You need to figure out ways to help him relax in his work which is all about you as a rider being tactful and properly balanced. This is especially hard as he's developed this response which can't be addressed through bits OR by tying his mouth shut (this last is the bastion of ignorance and you obviously aren't looking to go there).
If you don't have anyone who can teach you about flexions, look at videos by Philippe Karl (his first vid is worth the money). Teaching the horse to properly chew the bit from the ground translates well to under saddle work. It can look strange if you don't understand what is going on, but a properly chewing horse is a relaxed horse which is the essence of dressage.
If this is indeed a bitting issue, there is ZERO WAY any stranger from the internet that has never met your horse, or looked in his mouth can help you.
You need to evaluate the different anatomical parts of his mouth as step one.
corner of lip in correlation to tushes and molars
thickness and elasticity of lip
spacing between top and bottom bars
spacing from lower bar to lower bar
thickness and shape of tongue
arc of palate
space for tongue in relation to palate
without this information, you can buy bits til your hearts desire and you may luck out, you may no. But this I know, with the above information, we can narrow the choices down considerably.
... now that's all surrounding the assumption this is a bitting issue, and I'm willing to bet that while it probably is partially a bitting issue (all 3 of those fall into the same "family" of bits), this is also a training/communication issue between rider and horse. The solution could involve introspection and taking many steps back.
FWIW, Dominique Barbier recommended a Baucher with a drop noseband for horses in his clinics. That was quite a few years ago, and they all went way better with that combo. I don't know what he does now or whether you consider him worthy of listening to.
FWIW, he has always, from the day I got him, opened his mouth. When I tack him up, he will chew and clack his teeth together and drool everywhere (I have had him almost 10 years), so this isn't new behavior, however, I am told that I will be penalized if I am showing and his mouth is open.
I tried the crank and a flash to see what would happen, and he just grinds his teeth. My trainer thinks that it makes him feel trapped, which backs him off. He is getting happier with his career change, and I am becoming much more solid with my contact, which was my biggest issue, but there is no change to the opening of the mouth. He feels relaxed, his ears are floppy, he has rhythmic breathing, and he "sighs" - he also opens his mouth with my trainer and everyone else who rides him, and he does it on hacks, on the flat, warming up, jumping... It's just never really been an issue until now. And yes, teeth checked regularly as he has a parrot mouth so he gets floated 2x yearly, and he is not in any pain, gets chiro, massage, saddle custom fitted in July, and vet ruled out ulcers.
How should I evaluate his mouth shape/size? He comfortably wears a 5 1/4, and the bit is adjusted to 2 wrinkles, as 3 seems to be too tight for him. He currently just has a plain cavesson noseband, adjusted so I can slip a finger between it and his jaw.
I also forgot to add - He is an odd duck, he will stand in his stall at feeding time, in the crossties, and if he's bored, and will literally nod his head up and down and open and close his mouth to clack his teeth together.... He has his ears forward the whole time, and has always done this. I thought it was a track thing, but wondering if it may be a mouth thing? I know, I'm reaching
Some horses are annoyed by the movement from loose ring snaffles and go better in a fixed ring. I had one of them . When we finally figured it out, it made a huge difference.
The Baucher is very stable in the horse's mouth because of the way it's attached to the cheekpieces.
You can try him in a baucher but a simple eggbutt, D-ring or full cheek might help.
the other thing to consider is the mouthpiece. If your horse has a low palate, there may not be a lot of room left in his mouth for the bit. Some of the bits you showed are pretty large in diameter. Although a thicker bit is considered to be milder, that doesn't hold true for a horse with that kind of mouth (the horse I mentioned above also had a thick tongue and a low palate).
For those horses, you might find that they go better in a thin bit or in a mullen mouth. Many horses also find a ported snaffle to be more comfortable (half moon or quarter moon mouthpieces).
Unfortunately a lot of bitting is trial and error. And of course, looking at the other parts of the equation (your hands, saddle fit, and your horse's agreement that he actually needs to accept contact).
Although I often use a drop, they are really only for (young) horses which cross the jaw.
So, why does a horse open the mouth, to avoid pain on the bars from the bit. So, you can either go to the expense of buying a micklem bridge which can attach the front of the bit stationary (to prevent the pain) OR you can merely use a flash loop (NOT the flash leather) and take a soft shoelace and tie both sides (of a normal snaffle) to the flash loop. This will prevent the bit from coming against the bars.
But the major solution is reeducating the mouth with in-hand work. Teach the horse (in hand) how to stay high/light/open/and to mobilize the jaw. Since he was previously a hunter (as I understand what you said), he has learned to go too low/perhaps too closed, and therefore has pain on the bars.
And perhaps drop the bit a hole, and perhaps try a traditional fulmer bit.
I've had great luck with a Sprenger duo (bendy piece of expensive plastic) and Sprenger Dynamic RS (curved mouthpiece with two joints) with my horse who would get tense and grind his teeth a bit with single-jointed bits.
Like someone wrote above, it is something of a trial and error. Tried both of the above bits with a horse in the barn with what seems like similar symptoms to the OP's horse and it was OK, but not a miracle. Tried the duo on another horse who was sticking the tongue out AND grinding and generally fretful and it was a near miracle. YMMV.
If I were starting to work with your horse, I'd first drop the bit until there is barely a wrinkle in the corner of the mouth. I'd be using a mullen-mouth bit. I'd then be putting this horse on the lunge before every ride, and using properly adjusted sidereins as well. For this horse, properly adjusted would be fairly long. Attaching sidereins is an art to some degree, and the horse's conformation would dictate the length and attachment placement of them.
Your hands when you are riding will play a large part and must be very forgiving, and you will need to know how to retrain properly contact. This horse has no clue as to reaching to the bit. Doing this is another art...timing, degree of take and release, etc.
As someone else suggested, changing this horse's reaction to the bit will take a fairly long period of time. Eventually, you might be able to move him out of the mullen into a regular jointed snaffle, but I doubt it.
I would also have a skilled equine dentist evaluate this horse's mouth, making sure there are no hidden wolf teeth.
When I first start training a horse to wear a bit, I will put a light-weight, leather bridle/headstall on the horse, and let them eat in it. The caveat to that is that the horse should be in a stall that has no hanging things on which he might catch the headstall. It is also not good to leave the horse unsupervised while the bit is still in. The idea here, is really something from western, in that you want the horse to wear the bit so much it becomes almost a part of his face to him. Hopefully, he will then not play with it, but just hold it. I do not recommend any noseband if you do this, and initially, ride without any noseband. That will also help keep your hands "honest." Never, ever turn a horse out wearing a bit, and always make sure the bridle you are using is leather that will break easily.
Dominique Barbier has some interesting ideas. However, after seeing the results of one of his clinics on some relatively inexperienced horsepeople in my area, I would be hesitate to the point of negativity in recommending his methology. I think a Baucher is a good transitional bit between snaffle and full bridle, but would never use it under the circumstances you are describing.
You need to look at his mouth. I put a mullen mouth bit on a training horse I have when he got upset about the kk bit his owner put on him. He doesn't have enough space between his molars and canines to carry a double jointed bit.
I've given you all the anatomical parts to analyze. If you aren't confident in your assessment (best to compare to other mouths, so go poking around in barnmate's horses mouths if they'll let you) you could always call your dentist for their interpretation of these parts. You said he gets his teeth done twice a year, so I'm sure your dentist is familiar with your horse's mouth.
How long has been doing the head nodding and drooling. I do not want to scare you but my first thought after you said that was maybe head shaking syndrome. I have seen horses with this and they do just what you desribed.
There are several videos available of the behavior. Just pm me if you want links or if you want me to post them here.
He's always done the nodding head/drooling thing, but I don't think head shaking syndrome is too likely as he has never done it under saddle, and seasons/light/being in/outdoors has no effect on him. I did take a look at some head shaking websites, and wow, that must be frustrating to go through
Picked up a mullen mouth bit today and am going to put it on tomorrow, and had a ride in a friend's French link baucher bit - and he was AMAZING! Felt like I had a way more steady contact and he wasn't "bouncing" around in my hands. Mouth was still open though, but the change in contact was incredible!! I've never felt him reach for it right away like that, so this is encouraging for me! I will have to talk to my trainer ASAP!
The Micklem bridle can help IF it is used to connect the front of the bit and stabilize it (bit clipped to what they call the 'side ring')....or you can just tie the front of the bit (with a soft shoe string) to the loop of a flash. That keeps the bit from acting too much on the bars...IF that is the source of its pain. (I would have a dvm which specializes in dentistry look at it...also can you hold the jaw and shuttle/push it back and forth without resistance???)
Problems in the mouth can be a reflection of stiffness and tension in the back and hips etc. Maybe you need more of a whole-horse view than just the bit being the issue.
this is a great point. Please take note.
Also, the first thing I do with a horse who is "janky" or "dicks around" with the bit (yup, those are the terms I use because busy horses drive me INSANE) is give them something more stable and see what happens.