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Tongue bitting issue

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  • Tongue bitting issue

    I have just purchased a 4 yr old WBXTB. She was broken in earlier this year and was hacked out in a rope halter for 2 months before being turned out again. She came in again 2 months prior to me purchasing her and was introduced to a bit. She had no formal dressage schooling just alot of trail riding.

    When i tried her i found she had no real mouth. Her turning and stopping was pretty bad but it did not sway me from purchasing her as she had such a nice attitude and even when riding her around at a canter around the arena weaving all over the place she was completely safe.

    So when i got her home i put her in the same bit they had been riding her in. A French link full cheek snaffle. i thought this would help with the steering. She was very resistant in the jaw in it so i thought i would try a Eggbutt happy mouth Mullen. She was instantly happier in this and was not so resistant to turning. I thought maybe she did not like the sides of the full-cheek against her face. I rode her in the happy mouth for a few days but i could tell she was not really happy so i tried a Sprenger KK ultra with bit guards. Nope still not happy.

    I put the happy mouth back on and put a friend up so i could see what she was doing. It was immediately apparent that she was really tense in the mouth. Her lips were curled back and while she was riding she kept flicking the tip of her tongue in and out like a anteater. We put the Sprenger back on again just to see if it was that the Happy mouth was too fat but nope she did the same with the Sprenger.

    So I gathering from this that she has a low palate thick tongue thing going on??

    I had intend on purchasing an eggbutt Sprenger but it seems the mouthpiece is the issue as much as the ring. I think she needs the stability of an eggbutt or the like.

    Suggestions please.

    She had her teeth done shortly before i purchased her so its not a teeth issue. Even when she is so tense in the mouth her back is really good and shes not tense through her body ( as yet). i don't want it progressing this far so want to make her as comfy as possible

  • #2
    Having been trail ridden in a halter for months, and then started with a bit by I'm assuming the same person, is it possible that she has been ridden completely off the leg and seat, and has no clue about steering from the bridle?
    Last edited by merrygoround; Sep. 26, 2013, 10:52 AM. Reason: missing letter
    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.


    • #3
      If she really does have a low palate, thick tongue, then you need to try a thin bradoon like the KK ultra 14 mm. That is the only bit that I have found that is thin enough in this situation.

      I know that she has had her teeth done. but you might also want to mention this to your vet. Canine teeth are not common in mares, but they do occasionally have them, and if they haven't broken through yet, you wouldn't be able to see them.

      Finally, it goes without saying that you should check the bit fit beyond just the thickness. A bit that is too wide can float around the mouth and bruise the sensitive gums. A bit that is too narrow can pinch. Also make sure that the bit is adjusted correctly and is not hanging too low--which again can cause the bit to move around the mouth too much.

      Good luck.
      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


      • #4
        Sprenger Duo.

        It's less bit than the Happy Mouth by a long shot. It doesn't have those stupid knobby things to press on tongue and roof of mouth. It is slightly cut away to give more room for the tongue and it is a tiny bit thinner as well.

        I thought I had a wait it out bitting problem when I broke my mare this spring and just needed to give her time to get used to the idea. Then I started thinking about how long it took all the others I've started to get used to a bit. Um, yeah, mouth problem. The Duo has been a godsend for her tiny flat palated mouth. Not looking forward to figuring out how to fit her in a curb and bridoon in a couple of years. Ugh.
        Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


        • #5
          I also used the HS Duo (http://www.doversaddlery.com/hs-duo-...g/p/X1-011925/ - but I have a D-ring) when starting my mustang and it seemed to work well for a while.

          Ditto the bridoon if you have a horse with a really low pallete and thick tongue - I use one on my TB because he has a small mouth. Another option would be a Myler, as their mouthpieces are thin.

          What does she do if you lunge her with a bit in her mouth but attach the line to either a rope halter or lunging cavesson? Still fussy? If not she might not understand what the aids through the bit mean, what the bit is for, etc., and some educating from the ground would be helpful.
          "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


          • #6
            So how was the horse introduced to the bit? Was it progressively (ie lungeing in a caveson with s.r., and then to the bit)? Was the horse introduced to light bending/large circles in the halter? Did you just 'go large' when you first were riding the horse? (Have you ridden babies before?)

            French links tend to work on the tongue, esp if the horse is asked to offer longitudinal flexion. Did you work the horse in hand to introduce the reactions to the bit?

            A young horse will open and close the mouth, they will use the tongue excessively when chewing and swallowing (rather like a lapping dog) before they learn how to properly react. That is why work in hand is good. Is the horse allowed to carry its neck rather up and quite open and just go steadily forward? That is job one of the rider, no long/low/longitudinally flexed. Just straight on with a light connection.

            Imho full cheeks (or better yet) fulmers are the best bit for babies (and they also help with turning). Why not try a micklem (with the bit hooks to keep the bit from acting on the bars)? (Or you just could tie the sides of the bit to the loop which would be used as the flash attachment.)

            Have you actually looked in the mouth to see the type of tongue/palate? (And the wolf teeth have been pulled, right?)
            I.D.E.A. yoda


            • #7
              All of the above and, the horse is at the age that the pre-molars are nearly done being shed and replace by the permanent teeth. Check to be sure this process has gone smoothly and no capps were retained.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks all. Some great stuff to think about.

                The teeth were done by one of the top dentists in the country so i imagine there should not be an issue in that department.

                I have no idea what the bitting process was. The breaker was one that does not use bits. Her first bitting experience was with another trainer who is a jumping trainer so i suspect they just put a bit in and rode away. She was there for a month. They ride her in an eggbutt. I only know that from a photograph taken while she was there. They trail rode her mostly.

                She was then sent to another who was the agent. I purchased her from. She had been there for a month before I purchased. They were an eventing stable and again they pretty much just rode her in big areas and she was taught to pop a few small natural obstacles. They rode her in a full cheek snaffle.

                So when I got her she'd not had any formal dressage training.
                I did teach her flexions on the ground as she had no idea, i have also lunged her a few times in the bit with viennas on.

                ideayoda she really hated the full cheek she really hated and resented the lateral flexion. She completely blocked against it. The happy mouth is clearly too fat. The lapping you describe is exactly what she is doing. I have never seen a young horse do this before. It seems to come from tension in the mouth and i gather she just never got mouthed correctly and has learned to resist.

                Its the untangling of the resistance and finding a bit to suit that has me the most stumped.

                So i will try some of the bit suggestions and see how they go. Im not familiar with the micklems so off to google.


                • #9
                  So, there was little to no preparation on the ground. Viennas act on the bars (are really meant to establish upper limits for piaffe, not for lungeing. And if you did work in hand, lateral flexion (at the atlas/axis) are usually the easy part (unless the handler is acting backwards instead of upward).

                  The lapping is typical of youngsters, and a horse is a least mobile. It is not tension per se, it is learning how to deal with a bit. If the actions were against the bars (ie viennas) in a low closed posture, it is to relieve pressure (on the tongue).

                  It is NOT about the bit type, it is about the education of the mouth. Use a fulmer, and carry on. Let the horse be up/open. Try a micklem (to just tie the bit to a loop of a flash so that it cannot act backward). Lunge the horse off a caveson with side reins to the caveson, not the bit (and set high, not by the elbows). Teach the horse how properly to respond to the bit (lifted toward the lips...to mobilize the jaw w/o tongue pressure)/lateral flexion while high/light in millimeters/and then lateral flexibility while extending the neck and chewings foward/down/out).

                  I believe in always starting at the beginning. I go through all those steps every time I work with a new horse. Then I know the holes which might exist. And longitudinal flexion is the last thing to be addresses, but most trainers de jour attempt to cater it with a long/low neck (which is the most problematic to undue).
                  I.D.E.A. yoda


                  • #10
                    It can most definitely be about the bit type. That is coming from someone who is very anti-fixing anything with a bit change. If a bit is too fat or the wrong shape for a horse with a flat palate, you can do the most perfect bitting job in the world and the horse will either not ever become happy or will develop callouses or bad habits.

                    Saying it's NOT about the bit type is like saying someone with a wide foot can wear exactly the same shoe as someone with an extra narrow fit and that they will both be equally comfortable.

                    Sometimes we need to let go of our outdated and disproved notions and crawl into the current century.
                    Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


                    • #11
                      You're getting lots of good suggestions, OP. She's no doubt still teething, and that causes all sorts of issues, even though we know there are no teeth where the bit sits. Just an uncomfy mouth for the duration of the process.

                      I like the bradoons. My 12-year-old gelding prefers them. Agree it's about educating the mouth, but your mare needs a bit that suits. There's a snaffle bit out there (not expensive, I think it's stainless steel) that has a nice curve to the mouthpiece -- almost a half-circle. My mare liked it a lot. It relieves the nutcracker effect that many single-joint snaffles have.

                      But instead of joining the bit-of-the-week club, put her in one nice suitable bit and ride her in it for a month before you change. You may be confusing the horse with frequent bit changes.


                      • #12
                        A month is an awfully long time to give a horse a chance to figure out how to best evade something that is uncomfortable. A month is a long time to wear ill fitting shoes because they might break in or your feet might get used to them.

                        I'd be willing to bet that when you find the right bit, you'll be amazed that much of the weird behaviour goes away immediately. I'm not talking about the horse becoming instantly trained, I'm talking about the tongue play and mouth tension.
                        Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


                        • #13
                          I see your point, but switching bits too quickly can confuse a young horse, too. I did suggest a "nice suitable bit", after all. Given that the mare may still be teething, perhaps a bitless outfit like a sidepull or Micklem until she's through that phase.

                          I have a student who had a devil of a time finding the right bit for her young gelding. All his bitting troubles cleared up once his permanent teeth were all in. She rode him in a Micklem for a while and even tried a halter with reins attached while we waited for his mouth to settle down.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks again all. Yes to Ideayoda i definitely suspect she had no preparation. i suspect when she went to the jumper trainer after being broken in a rope halter they just banged a bit in and rode away and the same happened when she went to the sale trainer.

                            I've had a few young horse and broken in several of my own but never encountered the lapping issue. I must have just got lucky. All have had quiet mouths and good steering from the get go.

                            She really hates the sides of the full cheek i am sure. Shes the most resistant in it so although it does help having sides the throwing the head around violently to get away from side pressure was not something i wanted to persist with.

                            But will try it again with the sidereins on cavesson and see how she reacts and then of its still really horrible for her will try something else. I havent been abke to source a Duo yet but keen to try one on her.

                            Co incidentally i received an email today from the breeder who has retained a half sister who is a year older and broken in at the same time by the same guy in a halter. Shes having bitting issues with that one too so definitely a pattern of no mouthing with a bit. Her one came straight home and as she was a year older was put straight into work without much of a break as mine had. But even so the owner is still struggling with finding any contact.

                            I don't want to ride her bit less as i know she goes fine that way. She was hacked out on farms with teenagers in a rope halter so i cant see that doing any mire bitless is going to make the transition to bitting any easier.

                            Thanks all. You've been a great help.