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Bitting the fussy brat!

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  • Bitting the fussy brat!

    I have been lurking on these forums for years but I finally feel driven to post!

    I am in great need of some advice on bits. The horse in need is a coming 5 year old Trakehner mare. Was broke as a three year old in a simple dee ring snaffle. When she was solid in the basics I moved her to a sprenger KK ultra loose ring snaffle.

    She has ALWAYS been fussy about her bit, but recently I've stepped up her work and started working with a trainer to help me start to prep her to show, and she is a bit fussier now. She likes to pull the bit up with her tongue and bite it with her teeth. She does this from the second the bit is put on ad will do it sporadically throughout the ride and really fixates on it. It creates a ton of static in our communication.

    Now, I trailer to my trainer. He has a lovely indoor with minimal distractions and she focuses there a lot better for me, so hen she does fuss I just close my leg a bit and it sends her into my han and she stops biting the bit. But at home, or anywhere distracting really, she really fixated on it and will go way too strong in the hand but react dramatically when I correct her.

    I tried a drop noseband for a couple of months to try o stabilize the bit and help her realize that opening her mouth isn't what I am looking for, but then I started having trouble getting her forward. I took the drop off and viola, instantly forward again. So now we are in a plain noseband again, and I have come to realize just how fussy/picky a mare I am dealing with!

    I tried raising the bit in her mouth to minimize play, but she did NOT like that...like I mean winging her head around and threatening to rear.

    I tried a plain eggbutt snaffle and while she didn't bite it as much, she was SO strong in it.

    Teeth were done. Twice. Saddles were fit and refit. Trainer is trying to help but sadly she actually focuses when she's in that indoor...still will bite the bit but at least pays more attention to me.

    I intend to event her but may take her the dressage route as she isnt too talented at jumping.

    I ride a ton of horses for work every day and am not a green rider and I am confident that while I am not perfect, I'm quiet and understanding enough to not be (at least the main) source of this issue. I really think I have a mare that is very particular about her tack. I didn't want to change bits, just le her get used to it, but after this whole time shes still biting it and fussing in it and trying to spit it out. Oy.

    So I was thinking a Boucher with a bean hopin the stability would help, a Mullen mouth so she would fixate on playing with the link and biting at it, or a myler, so I still have some play in my bit but she can't suck the link back and bit at it. Thoughts? Anyone have a fussy little brat like her???

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I think I would try a mullen mouth with a fixed, eggbut type ring. Nothing on this bit is mobile or loose. It may give her something solid to move into and hold. Maybe she just doens't like the looseness of the KK ultra. Mares are so picky.
    Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!


    • Original Poster

      That was my thought with the mullen...I am a little worried with how strong she might be in it but I want to try. Does anyone use a happy mouth? I'm even thinking she might not like the Mullen in metal. Geez.


      • #4
        i personally would look to myself first and foremost - and to me it doesn't sound that bad? she does it periodically?

        sensitive mares are sensitive and there is not any way round that fact. Become a more sensitive rider (which i am sure you are doing) - ride with a lighter feel, ask her to be a bit more connected and a bit more forward. Be sure she is bent and flexed as needed.

        and finally - if she went well in a D why not put her back in that?

        (ps - horses aren't brats - only people are )


        • #5
          We use several bits to start our youngsters. First is a key bit, a straight snaffle with three dangles in the middle. I usually fasten this to the halter and let them learn to eat their dinner with it on. Second is a happy mouth dee bit which we put on over a plain lunge cavesson. Lunging is done off the ring on the canvesson, no side reins on anything to put pressure in the bit. We also use a copper roller ball dee bit as that gives the youngsters something to think about.
          If you are having issues now that were not there in the beginning do two things. Back up your training schedule to address the horse's obvious distress.
          Get teeth and TMJ issues checked.
          Most of all be kind. Horses are not brats. They just can't talk.
          "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


          • #6
            My Dutch mare would grab bit in her mouth and clench down on it. Not a bit problem - turned out she has a thyroid issue. Working on resolving that now (Regumate helped quite a bit as her entire system was whacko) - perhaps get her thyroid and iodine tested? Also selenium?

            It may not be physical but if she was good in a loose ring I'd take her back to it - even if she is strong. Just do LOTS of full and half halts to back her off.
            Now in Kentucky


            • #7
              Having the same problem with my coming 7yo gelding.

              Instead of repeating what I've already written, here's a link to my recent blog post about the different bits I've chosen and why:


              In short, I've tried a KK Ultra, two Happy Mouths (eggbutt single-jointed snaffle and mullen mouth), and now we're in a Myler MB02.

              I haven't tried playing around with the noseband and generally keep it on the loose side.

              I'll be following this thread closely.


              • #8
                If it were me, I'd start this horse all over again from the beginning. She is young enough. I would ride her at the walk with her nose encouraged to be forward, down, and out. The walk must be ACTIVE. If she trots off, don't pull, and keep your knees relaxed and off her. Just breath and come back to a walk and again ask her to step underneath of herself.

                The important part is to (at the active walk) ask for her to seek the bit. You do that by holding your hands low and wide, and with light contact. Then you gently rotate your hand so the thumb goes forward and your rein becomes *slightly* tighter. Hold until she tries to pull the bit a little. When she does that, let her take the bit down by letting the reins slide through your hands. If she loosens the contact then repeat. Each time, she will take the bit a little further down. She will soon, within the first lesson, be walking with her head forward, down, and out.

                This is not only good for her confidence in your fairness with the bit, but it is also good for a young horse's back development. Even if the saddle fits, she could be trying to pull you off of it if it her back (or more importantly, the supporting abdominal and pelvis muscles) was not developed correctly. Sit light, but deeply and centered, and post at the trot for the first couple of months (that's what I would do anyway, to make sure that it is not a back issue).

                Ride FDO (forward, down, and out) for the first 10 minutes of your lesson, and gradually take up contact a little at a time. Resist using your hands for her to brace against. Soon, you will have a different horse.
                Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                • #9
                  And I would do this with a well-fitting KK loose ring snaffle. It is not the bit...it is a riding or a training issue, unless the bit is not fitted properly or she has dental or back problems.
                  Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                  • #10
                    Many horses do not like tongue pressure and will go much much better in a ported bit.

                    I have posted this many times before, but go get the Myler book on bits and bitting. It is a great read and applies to bits from all manufacturers, not just their own bits.

                    It helps understand how bits really work, and that the jointed bits we have all been taught are so kind and soft really are not to many horses.

                    Even a Myler tongue pressure bit will not work, it sounds like your horse wants more relief. I have seen many many horses transform instantly from just a simple curve in a piece of metal.


                    • #11
                      In dressage, the bit should really be a whisper. Ride from your seat. I can ride my mare on the buckle, and she will still do everything that I ask of her, as well as be in self-carriage.
                      Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                      • #12
                        If you go to a ported bit, I hope that you understand how to fit a particular bit to a particular tongue and palate shape. I highly recommend against doing this, however.
                        Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                        • #13
                          You may have to play with different bits -change them often- because your mare is smart to figure them out. Change your nosebands, too. maybe add a german crescent in your arsenal.

                          I have a friend that has a very smart, distracted mare that she events. she changes her bits often--for dressage and jumping. she has to keep the mare from being devious. Uses what she worked best in, for shows only.


                          • #14
                            I'd put the horse in a mullen mouth (egg butt or D ring) and really work on riding the horse forward to the contact. The contact may be heavier than what you ultimately want- but I wouldn't be deterred by that in the short term.


                            • #15
                              I have something similar but not as bad.

                              My mare likes to play with the bit. She is also a bit inattentive.

                              I ride her f/d/o at w/t/c at the beginning of each ride. She can be really really good, and have moments of fussiness. I will say that this has improved.

                              I have tried the following;
                              A loose ring french link snaffle,
                              A happy mouth french link snaffle,
                              and a happy mouth boucher..also french link.
                              I would say they all have had similar effects.

                              I have tried a flash...still same.

                              I put her on smart calm ultra (which I think helps the attention).

                              She has been saddle fitted, has regular dentals, chiropractic, massage, and even acupuncture. You name it, she gets it! She is the princess.

                              I do think that her fussiness is getting better, but I am very interested in reading everyones input.


                              • #16
                                Cupcake, I would let you ride my horses anytime. :-)
                                Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                                • #17
                                  I think the way you titled your thread tells me a lot about what you know about horse training. You need to ask yourself some much deeper questions than about equipment.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Canteringcait View Post
                                    I am in great need of some advice on bits. The horse in need is a coming 5 year old Trakehner mare. Was broke as a three year old in a simple dee ring snaffle. When she was solid in the basics I moved her to a sprenger KK ultra loose ring snaffle.

                                    She has ALWAYS been fussy about her bit
                                    This is a training issue that has been allowed to go on for almost 2 years - don't expect to fix it in a day/week/month; even as you sort out the issue, expect this to be her "go to" in times of stress & be ready with reassuring/relaxing answers.

                                    Until you get the latter don't actually show her - you can both go & hang out but don't set her up to fail in an environment where you ultimately want her to shine.

                                    Your new trainer sounds like a good fit for this mare, so maybe consider placing her in training with him for 30 days, or trailer in for every ride for a couple weeks, etc.


                                    • #19
                                      Yep, what Angel said.
                                      Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


                                      • #20
                                        Brats, like beauty, are in the eyes of the beholder.

                                        Despite the popularity of the KK ultra, it's not the right bit for every horse.
                                        The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry