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Suggestions Needed, Am I Missing Something?

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  • Suggestions Needed, Am I Missing Something?

    Background: Horse is a 7yo chestnut with chrome WB mare. I purchased her as a hunter project 3 months ago after she was sent to our barn to be sold. Very fancy with nice suspension and great gaits. Previous owner had no idea of leg to hand and used some pretty harsh bits to acheive a frame with her ie Kimberwicke, Mylar. Previous trainer just as idiotic as the owner. Mare had no idea what to do when I put my leg on her except throw her head up and open her mouth in protest. I stepped back and put her in a plain loose ring snaffle, standing martingale, and recently added a flash. Vet has checked her over, teeth were done and chiropractor is coming this month. I have a great trainer
    who trains hunters and jumpers with a dressage base.

    She has improved with tons of flat work ie circles, leg yields.transitions, shoulder in, haunches in and is starting to accept my leg 60% of the time. The other 40% of the time, her tongue is out and she is locking her jaw when she decides she's had enough of my leg and I have no brakes. I continue to push her forward and she will relax eventually. I haven't jumped her much because until the flat work is there I feel there's no sense in adding to the problem. I did put a german martingale on her the other day and she was as good as gold but I feel that's not the answer as I need to address the root of the problem. She also will do the tongue evasion thing when I lunge her, not all the time but periodically.
    I have noticed that she seems to like a 3 piece bit, something thinner than I am currently using. Does she need something more stable than a loose ring? How do I address the evasion of the bit and the tongue thing? It drives me crazy. Are we on the right track with her training and do I need to be more patient? Any new ideas greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Tongue out of the mouth is usually indicative of the horse not liking something about the mouthpiece of the bit and trying to avoid it/pad the pain.

    I think you're on the right track with thinking a three piece/different mouth and/or slimming things down. She might have a low palate or not a lot of room in her mouth -- something fat and single jointed might be annoying the crap out of her, hence the behavior. You might also be right in that the loose ring doesn't offer her the stability she needs. Borrow some bits and give them a try.

    Comment


    • #3
      Loose rings are for dead mouths to liven things up. Clearly, that's not this gals problem!
      I'd do an eggbutt or a D. My go to bit as a baseline is the Jp korsteel oval mouth eggbutt.

      More importantly I'd approach this with the assumption she doesn't understand what the aides mean. I'd start on the longe with a proper caveson and see if she will reach over her top line. When I added side reins, I'd add them to the caveson, not the bit. See what her mouth reaction is to activating the longitudinal axis. If still yucky, check her SI area.
      I'd do gerivolta in hand to help her learn about giving to ribcage pressure, and do some leg yielding in hand.

      I'd go slow with this one. Ditch the flash and the gadgetry. Only use a standing to protect your own nose, but note if its needed, that's a big fat sign you have more work to do on the ground.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
        Loose rings are for dead mouths to liven things up. Clearly, that's not this gals problem!
        I'd do an eggbutt or a D. My go to bit as a baseline is the Jp korsteel oval mouth eggbutt.

        More importantly I'd approach this with the assumption she doesn't understand what the aides mean. I'd start on the longe with a proper caveson and see if she will reach over her top line. When I added side reins, I'd add them to the caveson, not the bit. See what her mouth reaction is to activating the longitudinal axis. If still yucky, check her SI area.
        I'd do gerivolta in hand to help her learn about giving to ribcage pressure, and do some leg yielding in hand.

        I'd go slow with this one. Ditch the flash and the gadgetry. Only use a standing to protect your own nose, but note if its needed, that's a big fat sign you have more work to do on the ground.
        Good advice here ^. If if you feel you need something use a running martingale not a standing which is basically a tie-down. Lots of confidence building work on the longe.

        Sometimes a mouth and tongue thing isn't strictly the bit, sometimes it's nerves or frustration.
        Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

        Comment


        • #5
          Patience, patience, patience. She has a fair amount of history with fairly clueless people. You aren't going to overcome that in a month or two.

          Lots and lots of horses prefer three piece bits. And a lot of them also like a thinner bit just due to the conformation of their mouths. Experiment some with a variety of bits - maybe including some mullen mouth snaffles as well - and see if you can figure out what she prefers.

          I would keep things really simple for her, riding-wise. As a hunter rider now doing dressage - my observation is that it can be really easy to get mired in the minutiae. For the moment, I'd say you want to be able to go forward and come back, & turn right and left. Go back to teaching this horse the ABC's as you want her to understand them. That means baby stuff like yielding to pressure... but once she gets that, you will be able to use light aids and avoid all the gadgetry. (You are correct that using "stuff" is not the answer.)

          Remember that horses learn through patient repetition and positive reinforcement. If she braces / locks her jaw against the rein, pulse that rein and unemotionally let her know that is the wrong answer. You can lift and bend a horse to help indicate what you want in that circumstance - but if you have to do so in a way they don't recognize as punitive, or you'll create more resistance.

          Finally, consider doing some of this work outside the arena. Riding in a field can help your horse get a bit more forward - working INTO the bridle, not being pulled into "a frame" without risking the sourness that can come with too much drilling in a ring.

          Good luck.
          **********
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          • #6
            Another thing to add: mares in general don't like tight squeeze legs, so don't. The moment she responds, return to drapy loose passive leg.

            Comment


            • #7
              Try many bits. I might go in the "more stability" direction as others have suggested, maybe even a thick mullen mouth. That makes what the bit does less surprising when you use your hand.

              I'll get flamed for this in DressageWorld for sure, but I get all Philosophical/Western for a horse who has a bad relationship with the bit.

              Stop and reteach her what you want her to do with bit pressure.... alone. You can do this at the walk. To an extent, you can do it standing still. When you pull, her answer should be to relax her jaw, flex her poll and give. She can even turn her neck. If she feels dull to the leg (and you walking), you can add some inside leg until she moves her hind end over. Use an opening hand and look around to the base of her tail. As with a colt, I do one side at a time, maybe alternating. It's all direct rein at first.

              Once I have this "button" installed, I have made the bit into a very specific signal for the horse. The same "answer" should come always, no matter what the speed. The horse who opens her mouth, flings her head around and/or speeds up gets the same treatment: I don't let go until she chooses the different strategy of putting her head down and relaxing her jaw.

              If I work on this at the beginning of a ride and the horse is pretty good, I move onto other things.... but! I lower my standards a bit. I don't ride around picking on the horse's face at the trot or canter if the speed makes the horse go to brain-fart and forget that the one, constant right answer to bit pressure is to let go of it.

              I'm not sure I have explained this well, and it's just the very, very beginning of what you'll want from this mare in terms of the way she relates to the bit. But my point was that it can help to isolate the issue you want to teach and slow things down so that the mare can learn.

              ETA-- later:

              It sounds like you also need to change her relationship to the leg. So it's not just that she needs "go," it's that she needs to know what to do when you close your hand and leg. With babies, I do this one side at a time. I *never* pick up my hand unless I have put my leg on first. If I already have tension on that inside rein and the horse isn't giving to the bit, I add leg pressure or even a kick until the horse wants to do something different (anything to make it stop!). My goal with the horse is to teach him that I don't want to do a whole lot with the bit-- if I want a bend, he'll feel leg first and has the option to get me to be very, very soft with his mouth if he listens to leg rather than hand.

              For you dresseurs that want a horse to push into the bridle, not hover behind the bit like a western trainer would be satisfied with one of his colts, the change between what I described above comes from the rider: You stop asking the horse to relax his jaw and flex at the poll before he comes all the way off the contact. He learns that your having contact with his mouth is "neutral" and, in his opinion, a reward that is "good enough"-- he doesn't need a big loop in the reins to be happy.

              But you can see that in all these cases, you are teaching the horse that the bit is a signal. She has the option of getting you to let go of her face if she finds the right answer.
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              Comment


              • #8
                I have a horse that had a similar problem and he liked this; http://www.horsetackinternational.co...affle-bit.html
                The centre piece rotates, and he plays with it, keeping his tongue busy.
                It also helps them to relax if you go on long no pressure trail rides.
                Last edited by Equibrit; Apr. 10, 2013, 11:47 AM.
                ... _. ._ .._. .._

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                • #9
                  When she goes against the hand, send her laterally OUT from your leg. Don't let go of the outside rein until she softens first (you don't have to escalate, just stay the same and wait until she gives first.) When she softens, she gets to go straight again.

                  Cross the middle lots, turn early at the ends of the ring and ride up the inside track so you always have room.
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                  • #10
                    Re: bits, I'd try a mullen and a Myler MB02 wide barrel mouth, to start.

                    My older mare came to me with a single-jointed full cheek and a fattish, french link loose ring, and some of the same problems. She was the type that everyone except good trainers always wanted to put in a leverage bit. Fat tongue, low palate, HATES being poked in the roof of the mouth. Single jointed bits were definitely out. Mullens were too thick for her. Best compromise for a long time was the JP curved mouth French link. Tried the HS $$$ baucher, along with a bunch of other bits, no improvement. A few years ago, however, I found a Myler MB02 for a steal and gave it a try. Holy moly, she was like a new horse! I really didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but she carries it happily, never flings her head up, takes a half halt and goes into the outside rein beautifully, etc. She is the type of horse that will lean into a harsher bit, rather than backing off of it, and apparently for her even the french link was too much. Much easier to keep her in front of my leg (and therefore nice foam!) with the Myler.

                    My young horse, meanwhile (total greenie), flung her head around with every type of jointed bit I tried. She was okay with a thick rubber, single-jointed snaffle, as in not trying to fling it off, but wouldn't keep a contact in it either. She looooves her mullen Happy Mouth. If I can get my hands on a Duo or Nathe (Beris now?) to try at some point, I will, but she actually seems to like the HM a lot. She was so worried about the other bits (even loose in the round pen), it wasn't until I switched to the HM mullen that she relaxed enough for me to explain inside leg and outside rein to her. That was like watching a light bulb come on--I swear she was going, "Well, why didn't you say so before?"

                    Anyway, the point of this long-winded response is that I'm now a believer that a bit change can make a big difference. Yes, the hands on the other end of the reins matter of course, but I'd encourage you to try out different bits and focus on "bitting down" especially on a horse with past issues. For some reason I think the mares, in particular, can get so focused on a bit they find uncomfortable that they don't even "hear" your aids very well--leg, seat, or hand.
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                    • #11
                      Ignore the tongue for now. You can try different bits, and take notes, but otherwise ignore it. Focus on her body, but don't drill. Leave the German martingale, and the others, hanging in the tack room. Unless of course you need one to save your nose.

                      Hacking out may help, but do be consistent with your aids, as if you were in the arena. And patience, patience, patience.
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by carasmom View Post
                        Background: Horse is a 7yo chestnut with chrome WB mare. .. Very fancy with nice suspension and great gaits...I continue to push her forward and she will relax eventually. ...I did put a german martingale on her the other day and she was as good as gold but I feel that's not the answer as I need to address the root of the problem. ... a 3 piece bit, something thinner than I am currently using... Are we on the right track with her training and do I need to be more patient? Any new ideas greatly appreciated!
                        That could be my horse you're talking about except I just get a Very Tight Back and Short Neck, no tongue ... but it might has well be the tongue for how ineffective I feel... and really good training the previous several months before I got her. But still, she needs a 20 minute warm-up and my aids have to be totally consistent. Which they're not, so her trainer (her professional trainer, not the ammie ) sometimes warms her up so I can get the feel of her being correct.

                        She is very happy in her kk-ultra-aurigan thingie (that I ensured is dressage show-legal) and the german martingale provides a little security (it doesn't get in anyone's way) when she jumps.

                        Her trainer (my instructor) counsels patience for us both and focus on my body control so I can provide clear consistent aids and a secure connection for her. The thing is, both of us are a bit sensitive and neither of us are particularly patient, so it's kind of a Life Lesson for me.

                        Ask your trainer(s) if you can raid their bit boxes for candidates, experiment with the marginale to see how much it affects YOUR hands and position, and mix things up -- some fun hacks and grid work -- while you thank your lucky stars that she's forward rather than the opposite!

                        (What kind of WB? Mine is a Hanoverian/TB cross, but since her sire isn't approved by the AHS, I call her a half-TB )
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                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I like a French link snaffle for my guy. I think it is a kinder bit since it does not have that nut-cracker action.


                          Good luck, and I agree - try a couple of different bits and patience...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just throwing this out there: last week I attended a clinic with a trainer who stated that tongue out indicates horse is not straight. As the horse in question worked through its crookedness problem, the tongue stayed in the mouth more.

                            FWIW.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by witherbee View Post
                              I like a French link snaffle for my guy. I think it is a kinder bit since it does not have that nut-cracker action.


                              Good luck, and I agree - try a couple of different bits and patience...
                              French links are not soft bits...a KK or peanut type would be more ideal.
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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I raided the bit box and found a loose ring rubber mullen mouth and rode her this morning. Very little tongue so I am think I am on the right track. She actually reached down into the bridle more consistently. Thanks for all of the ideas. I use a number of them (like I said, I have a very good trainer) but it never hurts to get more! Yes, AllWeatherGal, Hanovarian/TB, short neck, chestnut mare with a blaze and 4 high white socks! Quite the looker! The mare is super fun to ride and even with all of her issues, I still leave the barn smiling.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Could also try a Micklem bridle
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                                  • #18
                                    I had a simliar problem, only my horse rocked her head to the side and chewed. Once I got her to relax off that with lunging and side reins then she started with stiffening and locking. I had to go backwards again and jog loose rein, circle with inside rein until she softened. I also would let her stand still, apply rein pressure and wait for soften. When this was installed I could then walk, apply leg and rein, wait for soften and then a small release. It's been a year..I still have to warm up with softening before I can get a consistent straight soft horse. Different bits won't hurt but you may also have to be patient, learned habits are hard to change!

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