M does this too, she's about flipped me over her head, the little brat. For her we've come to realize she HATES slobber. Bit makes no difference, cavesson style etc. but she really foams and she Hates it.
My gelding does this because of the flash noseband. I also looked carefully and found his regular noseband to be a tad low - I didn't want it over his soft cartelege - and when I raised that a notch, the constant attempts to rub his nose during work lessened. Stopped, actually, hasn't done so in some time. He also really tried to do this at the end of the ride and I have had to deny him doing it while bridled and still in my 'hands'. He can rub his nose when he's on his own all he wants. I do, though, give him a nice towel rub around nose and mouth which he appreciates, but I don't let him rub on his legs or other people, in or out of his bridle.
"If you're ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."
~Dean Podestá Original quote
I started using a Micklem Bridle, instead of a crank/flash combination on my mare's bridle. Within a week of using it, Tess stopped trying to rub her face on her legs and on me. The noseband/flash combination can cause the nerve endings in the face to become numb. The horse tries to rub his face to return circulation to it (as per William Micklem.)
I never let Tess rub, before I got the Micklem. However, when I would take off her bridle, she wanted to rub on anything and everything. She was quite frantic about it. Now that she goes in the Micklem, she patiently waits for me to put on her halter, then towel off or brush her face. It has been a huge difference.
Original poster here........here's an update. Vet was out yesterday. My mare's teeth looked pretty good, but she did take a few points off. But, on the inside of my mare's mouth, inside the cheek part, the vet noticed a pimply rash. She said she could have gotten some thistle or something similar in her hay...I know one of you mentioned foxtails, and I know they do grow in our state, so maybe she got some of those in her mouth. The vet gently "sanded" the inside of her cheeks hoping that will facilitate these little things working their way out. She said it may take a couple weeks for them to work their way out. My mare also has been chewing a little on the fence, so maybe there are some splinters in there too....but the vet seemed to think it was something smaller, as something she would have gotten in her hay. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I'm hoping this problem will go away once her mouth clears up.
The appy I was leasing is a furious and dedicated mouth/nose rubber. ALWAYS wants to do it at the start and finish of EVERY ride, always on his left leg. It would get to the point of evasion, but I do think he gets itchy and is sensitive in his face as well--switching to a Micklem bridle helped but did not eliminate the compulsion. I actually don't like the bridles that much but he has really high, pointy cheekbones and the Micklem just flat out fit him better. He rubs a lot less wearing that, but still always offers to rub if given the chance. Riding with NO noseband doesn't help, either--in his case the cheekpieces also make a difference. I have schooled him to not do it until the ride is finished, at which point I give him permission to rub when the bridle is off. He is OK with this and is no longer rude about it.
I've had his mouth checked twice a year and never any sign of irritation, and his teeth are done yearly (checked twice, but he doesn't need much done). Since he would gladly rub each and every day of the 3+ years I had him, I doubt it was a passing irritation thing, other than cerebral irritation--he is a very colorful individual.
He is moderately slobbery in his mouth, never any signs of headshaking, FWIW. I've never noticed much seasonal variation in this behavior, really. He does LOVE for his face to be groomed but so does my mare who never rubs her mouth--I think that's just an individual thing.
Incidentally, we do have foxtail locally and I have found patchess of it in my pasture. I've never had any of my horses demonstrate any slobbers or sensivity in their mouths. Not all foxtail species have hard/prickly seed heads, so maybe ours are "softer"? They do not feel prickly when I feel them but obviously microscopically they may be irritating. I just haven't (touch wood!) seen obvious problems in my herd.
Last edited by deltawave; Jan. 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM.
Reason: wrong leg!