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Teeth Grinding

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  • Teeth Grinding

    My 5 year old dressage horse has started grinding his teeth under saddle. He is working well at Novice/elem level,...is forward, seems happy,...but 20 mins into the session he starts grinding. not all the time, just in small spurts.

    His teeth are up to date...I have had a chiro to him, with no results. his saddle does need to be readjusted to him, it was fitted to him 4 months ago but he has put on so much muscle etc since then that it needs to be looked at again. I am in the country so have to wait another 6 weeks before the fiitter comes again, but have played a little with teh flocking and seem to have it much better.

    he has a Myler comfort snaffle in, which he seems to like....has a fussy mouth with no room in it, so Im not sure whether it is him being fussy or he isnt right somewhere. He feels fine...I have massages everywhere and cant find any sore spots...arrgh. Any help or ideas?

  • #2
    Kind of sounds like he's grinding when the work gets hard? Pay attention to what you are doing when he grinds. Are you stiffening? Asking more than he can comfortably give?

    You say he's happy, but grinding is a sign of worry on the horse's part so he's obviously having issues.


    • #3
      My gelding will also grind his teeth every once in a while, but I've found it is when he is getting tired, or the work is a little more demanding. I try to be aware of what is going on and finish the work so that he ends on a positive note.
      Mirror Image 2001-2007


      • Original Poster

        deepdown i think he is unhappy with something but cant put my finger on it.
        I have spoken to a horse physio..and she thinks maybe he could be a bit siick of dressage arena work...as I have been working him in the arena a lot lately! my bad....so she suggested riding him out for a few hacks and then seeing how he goes. Otherwise to get her to come and check him over.


        • #5
          I'm currently schooling a 4 year old that is slowly learning some lateral work, and he'll start to grind when I tend to push for a little more. He is lazy and a bit unmotivated, so initially I tried to push through it, but the past few months have just backed off. He's happier and we're still progressing. See if you can pinpoint where he's struggling and then give him more time.


          • #6
            consider ulcers also. it could be that it takes that much time for the stomach acid to start bothering him in a rounded frame.


            • #7
              Try Gum Bits, they are a little expensive but work well on grinders and mouthy horses. Just give a small handfull after you put the bit in. Worth a try


              • #8
                I have a mare that grinds when working hard in stressful situations - She usually does it the worst in the show ring. For her, this product has worked better than gumbits: http://www.kahls-products.de/index.php?mID=2


                • #9
                  I have a mare that grinds. She seems to be telling that my hands are not quiet enough for her liking. Its a good reminder.

                  She will not even think of the idea of eating the gumbits, so anyone want a pretty new bag? I will make you a good deal!
                  I love cats, I love every single cat....
                  So anyway I am a cat lover
                  And I love to run.


                  • Original Poster

                    okay...lots of people have said maybe ulcers....we dont have gumbits here...but I can get hold of some slippery elm

                    It is generally just after I have started sit trotting (after our warmup) that he starts grnding. my hands are still...and he is over the back giving me a place to sit. A friend of mine has suggested doing all of my work in rise trot and staying off his back for a bit...which I will do. Can ulcers only affect them if in a round position? or sit trot?

                    I use a thinline under the saddle...but might replace this with a sheepskin half pad and see if he is any happier?

                    I rode out last night and had a fun ride out, riding through massive puddles...there were no teethgrinding at all...but he was only walking...and was stretching very nicely through back and neck.


                    • #11
                      IME - some horses grind from stress, others grind from poor teeth alignment or ulcers, others grind due to habit (like sucking a pacifier). Try to figure out if it is either teeth or ulcers. If not - then that leaves you with just manageing it.
                      RoseLane Sportponies
                      Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
                      Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
                      Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


                      • Original Poster

                        Hi honeylips...thank you...its just hard trying to pinpoint it.

                        His teeth are fine...only been done a few months ago by a good horse dentist. I will get the slippery elm today, coz it could be ulcers...who knows...it doesnt seem to be habit as it started 3 weeks ago...and I know exactly when he started....it was at a show and it was our 2nd novice test....he was tired and started to grind.

                        Since then, he has done it 20 mins into our ride ...a few mins after I have started sitting on him. Back has been palpatated adn he WAS sore.....so have kept on top of it....and his back muscle are nice and soft again. Will keep u all updated...thansk for all the replies already


                        • #13
                          Swing, you've gotten your answers from those who'll tell you, like me, that in my humble experience, grinding comes from mental insecurity. Whether the work is more than can be processed at this moment, the sitting trot is too early to ask, the gremlins are about to come out of the trailside bushes.

                          Fussing and fuming will make it worse. As riders we are expected to use our superior brains and figure out the cause of the problem. If doing the rising trot stops the grinding-good. Then figure out what about your sitting trot creates the problem.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14

                            I second the gumbits suggestion -- they do last a looong time, I got a bag in Jan and they are not halfway used up. My 4 yo gelding started grinding when we started working him inside as the weather changed -- whether it ws the cold, or the indoor, or something else, the gumbits worked within about 8-10 rides. Now we forget to feed them before the ride, and he has not been grinding in months.
                            Dressage, riding, sport horse blog
                            Unique browbands for dressage and hunter riders


                            • Original Poster

                              Small update.

                              I replaced the thinline under his saddle with a half numnah..and have spent the last few rides either riding out or riding him in 2 point and rise trot. Last night I rode him in the arena...all rise trot and cantering off his back....did our shoulderins ...travers and legyeild....all lovley forward work...horse working wonderfully..no teeth grinding at all.

                              So I am concluding that he had a sore back and sitting too heavy on his back wasnt helping...so will rise trot for a while till he feels fine to sit on it...not sure how long this will take!