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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 30, 2002
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    Canada
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    227

    Default Hunter with open mouth - why and how to fix it?

    I have started riding a horse that is very athletic , but opens her mouth in response to the rein aid. The horse has been doing this for some time with the former rider as well. She will carry herself nicely (forward, back up, framed nicely) but will often have her mouth open, even when I float the reins and "give". I have tried a plain egg-butt snaffle and a slow-twist full cheek snaffle with the same result. There is no head shaking or change of frame or other evidence of discomfort.

    Is this an indication of pain in the mouth, a reaction to the type of bit, or purely a resistance? Suggestions?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2012
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    1,841

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    Could be resistance, but I personally would try a bit like this, the Herm Sprenger Duo, or something like it. http://www.123tack.com/herm-sprenger...Fcid4AodhCMAVQ

    I've found a lot of horses with bit evasion or distaste like this one, as it's thin and gives some tongue relief. Or maybe try another ported snaffle? Have her teeth been floated lately? My old gelding got quite mouth-gappy whenever he was due for a float.
    Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors



  3. #3
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    Jan. 9, 2012
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    Default

    Also, is the current snaffle single-jointed? The horse may not like the nutcracker effect or have a low palate- maybe try a French link too.
    Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 2, 2005
    Location
    Upstate NY
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    12,163

    Default

    I assume you have had the horse's teeth looked at by a professional? If not that is where I would start.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2011
    Location
    Lambertville, MI
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    125

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PaintedHunter View Post
    Could be resistance, but I personally would try a bit like this, the Herm Sprenger Duo, or something like it. http://www.123tack.com/herm-sprenger...Fcid4AodhCMAVQ
    I ride my horse in the Sprenger Duo and he still opens his mouth. I would love to find a solution as well, but haven't yet. He is very sensitive to rein aids, but I don't think anything softer than this bit exists! I've been considering trying something double jointed, but I'm concerned that a switch to a metal bit would be the wrong direction. I rode him in a similar bit by happy mouth for a few years before trying the Sprenger Duo. I honestly don't feel much difference when riding, but the happy mouth was slightly thicker with some ridges.

    OP, is this horse very sensitive to the bit pressure, or just opening the mouth and evading? My horse is responsive regardless of what he does with his mouth.



  6. #6
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    Jan. 9, 2012
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by morsekg View Post
    I ride my horse in the Sprenger Duo and he still opens his mouth. I would love to find a solution as well, but haven't yet. He is very sensitive to rein aids, but I don't think anything softer than this bit exists! I've been considering trying something double jointed, but I'm concerned that a switch to a metal bit would be the wrong direction. I rode him in a similar bit by happy mouth for a few years before trying the Sprenger Duo. I honestly don't feel much difference when riding, but the happy mouth was slightly thicker with some ridges.

    OP, is this horse very sensitive to the bit pressure, or just opening the mouth and evading? My horse is responsive regardless of what he does with his mouth.
    Maybe try the Happy Mouth double-jointed with the roller in the middle?
    Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2009
    Posts
    48

    Default

    We had one at our barn that did this when it first came in. My trainer played with bits a little bit to and then put a removable flash on for a few training rides. The horse was young and green and just needed to learn to accept the bit. Worked very well.
    AU Hunter
    WAR EAGLE!!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2011
    Posts
    1,769

    Default

    I would try a bunch of soft bits. Anything from mullen mouthpieces (metal, rubber or plastic) to French links and oval mouths (the kind with the bean in the middle instead of a flat link). My Arab has wicked reactions to bits with a single joint including rearing and flinging his head from up by my face down to the ground and back again. He just will not tolerate them. Most horses are less extreme than this and do things like just doing what they're told, but gaping their mouth like yours. My friend's QH is also not a fan of bits with a single break. His response is to put his nose in the air, gape his mouth open and run around like a llama.

    Another thing you might try is something with stability like a mullen Pelham or a mullen or French link baucher.

    It sounds like the horse really hasn't learned to trust and accept a bit. If the bit is poking him in the roof of the mouth or pinching his bars/tongue he may not be willing or able to truly accept and trust the bit.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 18, 2005
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    Sweet, sweet Virginia!
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PaintedHunter View Post
    Maybe try the Happy Mouth double-jointed with the roller in the middle?
    My idea, too. Double jointed and soft.
    "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"



  10. #10
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    Jul. 5, 2007
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    Beside Myself ~ Western NY
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    My horse used to hold his jaw open. His lips were closed but his jaw was slack. He looked like he had a mouthful of $#!t. The massage therapist agreed with me that his poll was out of whack and he was experiencing some TMJD. He never would allow anyone to adjust his poll, but these days he yawns excessively when you drop the halter to bridle him and that seems to help him release jaw tension. He no longer does his $#!tface.



  11. #11
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    Sep. 30, 2002
    Location
    Canada
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    227

    Default

    morsekg - She does not seem to have a sensitive mouth. The opposite in fact. It is improving a bit now, and on the flat she is getting more responsive. But even as we are going along happy as can be doing everything right, the mouth is open half the time.

    I have a French link that I can try. I used it once and found she really ignored all input with that bit, but I can try once more.

    I will be getting the teeth checked too.

    Wondered if a Waterford would help with this type of problem.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    May. 8, 2005
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    between here and there...in Arizona
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    587

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by auhunter View Post
    We had one at our barn that did this when it first came in. My trainer played with bits a little bit to and then put a removable flash on for a few training rides. The horse was young and green and just needed to learn to accept the bit. Worked very well.
    This is what is working for my greenie. She is also in a french link happy mouth bit with a roller in the middle.



  13. #13

    Default

    I second everyone's opinions about the softer bits. I ride a horse who has a very hard mouth. She can get very strong and opened her mouth quite wide to evade the bit. She's had a long history of people switching to stronger and stronger bits and putting all sorts of contraptions on her... I found that actually what she likes best is an eggbutt snaffle wrapped in Sealtex Latex Bandage. http://www.amazon.com/Sealtex-Latex-.../dp/B001HB95F2

    She still opens her mouth with that bit from time to time, but much MUCH better. I actually found her to be much softer and quieter in that bit too. Just remember to change the wrap every month or so - little pieces of hay, grass whatever can get underneath the wrap and start to get pretty nasty... Also, if you don't use the bit regularly, the wrap will dry out.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 20, 2011
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    435

    Default

    Crank noseband?



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2000
    Location
    Pawlet, VT US
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    3,511

    Default

    You might look into a Myler with the MB 02 mouthpiece. http://www.toklat.com/dyn_prod.php?p=89-17025&k=87930
    The sides work independently, but the curved canons and the barrel keep the poking away. Many horses like a thinner bit- not harsher, just better suited to their mouth conformation.
    I like the c-sleeve, but it's available with whatever cheek configuration you like.
    madeline
    * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
    Posts
    7,338

    Default

    I'd try a figure 8 noseband at home and just switch it out for show, in addition to the mild bit.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2012
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    126

    Default

    My horse used to open her mouth then I switched her from a snaffle to a waterford and rode her with a flash 2-3 times and now she keeps her mouth closed no problem. I did have her teeth done and she had been seen by the chiropractor which could be a factor too.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2009
    Location
    Currituck NC
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    1,304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by morsekg View Post
    I ride my horse in the Sprenger Duo and he still opens his mouth. I would love to find a solution as well, but haven't yet. He is very sensitive to rein aids, but I don't think anything softer than this bit exists! I've been considering trying something double jointed, but I'm concerned that a switch to a metal bit would be the wrong direction. I rode him in a similar bit by happy mouth for a few years before trying the Sprenger Duo. I honestly don't feel much difference when riding, but the happy mouth was slightly thicker with some ridges.

    OP, is this horse very sensitive to the bit pressure, or just opening the mouth and evading? My horse is responsive regardless of what he does with his mouth.
    I have an older mare that went in the duo ring rather nicely, but still somewhat fussy and resistant. While she was pregnant I would ride her now and then and just tossed my other mares copper "nugget" double jointed snaffle since i was too lazy to set up a separate bridle for occasional rides w/t rides. She went absolutely fabulous in it (TOTALLY shocked me) and after foaling I've kept her in it without any issues.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    839

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by trubandloki View Post
    I assume you have had the horse's teeth looked at by a professional? If not that is where I would start.
    ^^^ Ditto this.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb. 18, 2008
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    932

    Default

    Once teeth/physical issues are ruled out, I'd play around with different bits.

    My guy goes best in a copper Dr. Bristol (he hates the nutcracker action of a regular snaffle). We have a twisted one for shows and a plain one for home (although we probably don't even need the twist).

    I also ride in a flash noseband at home, because he definitely opens his mouth primarily as a bit-evasion thing. I find that if I ride in the flash consistently, he forgets that he can evade by opening his mouth, but if I take it off for weeks/months he starts to develop bad habits. I'm sure a more adept rider could prevent these habits from occurring, but since I'm only human we use the noseband and it keeps everyone happy.



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