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nosebands and tightness

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  • nosebands and tightness

    Hi all,

    I understand and respect the rules about the tightness of nosebands and the 2-finger rule (being able to slip 2 fingers under the noseband on the lateral side of the nose, distal to the zygomatic arch). HOWEVER, my horse chews the bit, fake gags, opens his mouth and roots when contact increases. Nearly every trainer I have ridden with, including 3 judges, has tightened my noseband 1-2 holes to where I think it's too tight. I have to say that my horse is more responsive and respectful of the bit with a tighter noseband. I want to be kind to my horse but I want him to be kind to me. I have tried tapping him with the whip when he's rooting but it doesn't seem to stick. We are schooling 2nd level. He has had a great start in life, no excuses there.
    What say ye?

  • #2
    I'd try some more bits.
    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I use a KK Ultra double-jointed lozenge in the middle type bit. It can't get milder than that. FWIW he also gags with a twisted Dee, my trail riding bit.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Dogsandponies View Post
        I use a KK Ultra double-jointed lozenge in the middle type bit. It can't get milder than that. FWIW he also gags with a twisted Dee, my trail riding bit.
        It's not about mild, it's about what fits best and makes your horse happy. Some like narrower bits. Some like single jointed or bits without joints. You have to be sure he likes the bit and hope it fits the rules and is legal.

        A different bit, for a while even if it's not legal but makes the horse happy is worth it to work toward a solution. It might even mean a custom bit that merges legal with what he likes best. A lot of horses like bits that are no longer legal. I have a horse with a big tongue and low palate that lives a Dr Bristol, which is now illegal. It loathes KK and even Happy Mouth bits that other horses love.

        Then again, the issue of hands and communicating more with your body and less with your hands has to be mentioned. I don't know how you ride, or how strong your horse gets, etc. But working on a constantly elastic contact and focusing on getting your horse as close to 100% off the seat, weight and leg aids rather than hand can also help. It can't hurt.

        I do, however, know that often that is just not within reach for multiple reasons, and that often a change of bit can help improve MOST of the problems you described. Add some work on getting away from the hands with a new bit and you might feel like you have a new horse.
        "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd also try different bits. My Arab has some pretty strong opinions on what is comfortable and what isn't. Thankfully his favorite bit is the JP Korsteel oval mouth eggbutt. Don't give him the same bit in a French link though. He's most unhappy. He also accepts a Mullen mouth snaffle or Pelham (I foxhunt and like the look of two reins for formal days, he'll actually happily go bitless in a sidepull just fine. I don't 'need' the Pelham).

          I tried various Mylers with him and he HATED them. Gaping. Violent head flinging. And just a generally unhappy pony. I tried every bit I could get my hands on. Including the nice KKs and one of the Herm Sprenger ones. He didn't like any of them.

          In the oval mouth, I can ride with a noseband loose enough that I don't even undo it most of the time when I put on/take off the bridle. It's purely for looks the way I have it set. With any other bit? Forget it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Try a B-bit. I have a horse who came with similar bad habits, and he was terrible in the KK ultra loose ring. When I switched him to the KK ultra B-ring, he was drastically better and continues to improve every ride with it. I switched him back to the loose ring for one ride last week just to see if he was really working through the issues or if it was the bit, and it made me a believer. He was terrible in the loose ring again. Some horses just don't like how much a bit can "wiggle" in their mouth, and those horses find the stability of the B-ring very inviting.

            Comment


            • #7
              Your horse sounds uncomfortable.

              Consider body work like TTouch that can loosen up his body so he can better respond to you. Lateral and longitudinal flexion can only happen under saddle if your horse is capable of moving that way without you on his back. Little restrictions in his ability to bend while unmounted are magnified under saddle. But these restrictions are easy to loosen up. I can make a tremendous difference in a horse in just a few minutes.

              I see so many horses that are stiff and unhappy and uncomfortable with their riders trying to get the horse to the desired flexion. They blame the horse for being uncooperative when really it is just restrictions in the body that are limiting the horse and the horse just doesn't know how to accomplish with his body what his rider is asking.

              It is also really helpful to educate yourself about bits and horse's mouths and how the shape of the horse's head and mouth dictate what kind of bit, noseband or bridle is best for the horse.

              Though it sounds counter intuitive, taking the bit out and riding in a hackamore can make amazingly positive changes in the horse's way of going that will reveal how much the horse is being restricted by the bit.

              Even though you can't show in dressage in a hackamore, occasional training rides with one will really improve your horse!

              Comment


              • #8
                He's telling you there's something about this bit that isn't compatible with him.
                Most likely suspects:
                Bit size (some have preferences that don't follow our rules)
                Mouthpiece shape
                Mouthpiece diameter
                Cheek piece.

                1. I'd put him in an eggbutt since he's a bit more responsive when the mouthpiece is given more stability via the nose band.
                2. I'd consider a smaller diameter bit.

                Fwiw every horse that comes to me for training gets switched to the JP Korsteel eggbutt lozenge snaffle. This last one went from being a severely behind the leg curler in a KK ultra loose ring to forward, seeking contact just by the bit change.
                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yep, bits, bits, bits. Sometimes you have to try a ridiculous number of styles, thicknesses, sizes, materials, etc. This is why trainers usually end up with a giant crate full of unused bits in various sizes. Some horses prefer something more substantial and still in the mouth, so for many the double-jointed isn't the best option.
                  Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    hmm, when does he root? i work my horses at home with only the cavesson nose band and very loose, i want them to be able to open their mouth to relieve pressure and i want to train them to acceptance of the bit, not tie them to it.

                    i do close it a bit tighter when i show for acceptible fit. Sometimes rooting is simply that, trying to take the reins away in lack of submission, and sometimes, as others have suggested, it is an indication that they are not comfortable with the shape of the bit in their mouth.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dogsandponies View Post
                      Hi all,

                      I understand and respect the rules about the tightness of nosebands and the 2-finger rule (being able to slip 2 fingers under the noseband on the lateral side of the nose, distal to the zygomatic arch). HOWEVER, my horse chews the bit, fake gags, opens his mouth and roots when contact increases. Nearly every trainer I have ridden with, including 3 judges, has tightened my noseband 1-2 holes to where I think it's too tight. I have to say that my horse is more responsive and respectful of the bit with a tighter noseband. I want to be kind to my horse but I want him to be kind to me. I have tried tapping him with the whip when he's rooting but it doesn't seem to stick. We are schooling 2nd level. He has had a great start in life, no excuses there.
                      What say ye?
                      This sounds like a stress or discomfort issue (& it may be mental rather than physical) - definitely explore different bits but finding the "right" instructor/clinician may be the direction to pursue ...

                      I'd take a step back in training scale & try to sort out the contact issue - the tight noseband is limiting the response (& you might try that consistently if it's just a habit you need to clamp down on) but seems unlikely to be a true solution.

                      Even a horse that is started with every advantage may not be happy in the journey (trainer finally sold her lovely boy to a young student and he is so much happier).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We don't know you, and we don't know your level of riding, so real advice is difficult here - how is he with your trainer, for example. Is it your hands he is fighting?

                        Myself, I don't believe in the night noseband, and only minimally tightened in some instances to 'show him the way'.

                        My daughter had a trainer and every lesson she yanked up the bit in the horse's mouth. Afterwards, I dropped it down to where I felt it fitted best.
                        We never did agree, so we found someone else with more miles on her. I should have stayed with my daughter and done it myself.
                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks for the replies. I have been through the bit switching journey with this guy with no real changes. I will give it another go, though.
                          I'm surprised there haven't been comments on all my trainers cranking down the noseband. Why do we think this is? There is such a dichotomy with what seems right and good for the horse and what is actually done.

                          Dressage is rife with contradictions but I have to do what lets me sleep at night.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dogsandponies View Post
                            Thanks for the replies. I have been through the bit switching journey with this guy with no real changes. I will give it another go, though.
                            I'm surprised there haven't been comments on all my trainers cranking down the noseband. Why do we think this is? There is such a dichotomy with what seems right and good for the horse and what is actually done.

                            Dressage is rife with contradictions but I have to do what lets me sleep at night.
                            First, I am horrified by tight nosebands. I actually also hate, hate, hate flash attachments. I just simply don't get it.

                            I went to watch my friend in a Buck clinic last weekend, he had interesting things to say about bits. Pretty much KISS. He rides his horses in a simple eggbutt sweet iron snaffle and thinks every horse should go in one. Fussy, gaping mouths are the fault of the hands and rider. I have to say I agree once one takes away the risk of a horse being in pain from sharp teeth.

                            I have gotten into the habit recently of riding in our arena with mirrors at least once or twice a week and concentrating on my mare's mouth. She's very fussy with her head and can be busy with her mouth. But she is telling me something about my hands and seat every time. I have been experimenting with the way I ask things of her, and can see that when I have very soft contact, and she is relaxed and understands me and is working with me, her mouth gets very quiet. If I were to try forcing her mouth closed I am certain her mouth would never get quiet, and I would never learn the lessons she has to teach me.
                            On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Because cranking the noseband puts a bandaid on the problem and you get what appears to be faster results. It rarely solves anything in the long run though. Most people just want to see the sorta right result and don't care that there's an underlying issue that you've just got a bandaid on. You want to solve the issue which will take time, but be the better long term solution.

                              How does he go bitless? My guy is considerably happier bitless, but will do his dressage work bitted. I get the same gaping and head tossing with or without a but if he's out in his poll though when asked to go on the bit.

                              Like someone above said, does he have some other physical issue unrelated to the bit? If he's out somewhere, that could contribute. My guy throws his poll out. A lot. Just being an Arab. He gapes and tosses his head when he's out and asked to go on the bit and/or collect. It's nothing huge and someone might look at it, say its a bratty move and want to crank the noseband down. I've learned it's time to see the chiro. He' instantly back to softly mouthing the bit afterward.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The crank noseband is wide and very padded and comfortable. Tightening a loose noseband is not cruel. The poster say all trainers and 3 judges tighten the noseband on her horse and the horse goes better and is more responsive. Unhappy horses do not go better they go worse. They are not more responsive they are less responsive. It sounds like the hands of the rider and the learned evasions of the horse are both problems. The poster may wish to consider why her horse seems happier with adjusted tack and why he has developed a problem in her hands (she says horse was well started and developed the problem with her).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  He rides his horses in a simple eggbutt sweet iron snaffle and thinks every horse should go in one.
                                  I'm all for avoiding shortcuts and manipulations, but I just have to point out that this statement would send me running for the exit of any clinic... there is no one-size-fits-all no matter what the discipline. I do not advocate over-tight nosebands but I wish more riders were truly educated about noseband function as well as bit mechanics.

                                  For the OP, is it possible that the noseband has genuinely been too loose from day 1, and never served its function of encouraging the horse to take up a quiet contact? I can imagine clinicians using a tighter noseband if they are hoping to work on more short-term aspects in the here-and-now; but otherwise the fundamental issues should be discovered and addressed.
                                  Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
                                    First, I am horrified by tight nosebands. I actually also hate, hate, hate flash attachments. I just simply don't get it.

                                    I went to watch my friend in a Buck clinic last weekend, he had interesting things to say about bits. Pretty much KISS. He rides his horses in a simple eggbutt sweet iron snaffle and thinks every horse should go in one. Fussy, gaping mouths are the fault of the hands and rider. I have to say I agree once one takes away the risk of a horse being in pain from sharp teeth.

                                    I have gotten into the habit recently of riding in our arena with mirrors at least once or twice a week and concentrating on my mare's mouth. She's very fussy with her head and can be busy with her mouth. But she is telling me something about my hands and seat every time. I have been experimenting with the way I ask things of her, and can see that when I have very soft contact, and she is relaxed and understands me and is working with me, her mouth gets very quiet. If I were to try forcing her mouth closed I am certain her mouth would never get quiet, and I would never learn the lessons she has to teach me.
                                    Buck rides with no contact or only left or right contact most of the time. One bit would be okay with most horses in those situations. In dressage, we seek a steady, elastic contact so it has an effect on the bit at all times and how it sits in a horses mouth. He is not a dressage rider working toward collection the way we want it in the show ring.
                                    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      yeah, so lets change the bit a million times and change the nose band.... instead of addressing when and why the horse actually roots against the hand

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Yeah, I am sure Buck has no clue about bit mechanics, lol. And I have the videos and watched him ride for 2 days, his horses are soft in the bridle and exhibit a balance and self carriage that 95% of dressage riders could never achieve. I watched him ride with a nice, soft contact. He certainly does not ride with no contact most of the time, not even close.

                                        The point is, most people are constantly looking outside themselves for a "fix", when most of the time it is a problem with the riding. Start with simple, basic tack, and work on your riding.
                                        On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

                                        Comment

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