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Unlocking the Jaw

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  • Unlocking the Jaw

    My horse tends to lock her jaw on the right. I'm trying to become much more aware of this and correct it right away. My question is, what is the best way to deal with it? Flex from the ground before every ride? Flex as soon as I'm mounted, at the halt? After warmup? At the walk, or only at the halt?

    Right now, what I'm doing is at the halt, usually after I've noticed a problem with the TOH. I keep a strong squeeze on the right rein for about 3-5 seconds, soften, the squeeze again. My left rein is looser than usual, but if I don't keep some tension on that rein, what she does is turn her head rather than releasing her jaw. If I keep just enough pressure on the left rein to keep her from turning her head, eventually (after about 5 minutes) she will relax her right jaw and start to chew. At that point I go on with the ride, and usually there's a big improvement. I don't repeat the exercise.

    Is this correct? Or should I be doing it differently?
    Yes, I am crazy. Is that an issue?

  • #2
    i am not sure how a 3-5 second "squeeze" is going to address a problem that is ongoing during a ride.

    In any case - a locked jaw is an indication that the HIND LEG is not working correctly. It is a SYMPTOM of a problem - not the problem itself.

    address the hind legs and the jaw will follow.

    so- ride actively forward into an even contact. ride the horse on bended lines appropriate for it's level of training asking it to really step under with it's inside hind. Spiral in/Spiral out are good - so is serpentines changing bend each time you cross the center line.... when you feel the horses topline lift and the horse feels lighter and move "handy" you know you are on the right track.

    also, in general you want your hands to be quiet, but alive. if your horse is coming above/below the bit (ie is unsteady) make sure your hands are quiet and not moving all over the place....

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mbm View Post
      i am not sure how a 3-5 second "squeeze" is going to address a problem that is ongoing during a ride.

      In any case - a locked jaw is an indication that the HIND LEG is not working correctly. It is a SYMPTOM of a problem - not the problem itself.

      address the hind legs and the jaw will follow.

      so- ride actively forward into an even contact. ride the horse on bended lines appropriate for it's level of training asking it to really step under with it's inside hind. Spiral in/Spiral out are good - so is serpentines changing bend each time you cross the center line.... when you feel the horses topline lift and the horse feels lighter and move "handy" you know you are on the right track.

      also, in general you want your hands to be quiet, but alive. if your horse is coming above/below the bit (ie is unsteady) make sure your hands are quiet and not moving all over the place....
      agree read this link as in my helpful links then read all of page one and all links
      http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=178116

      Comment


      • #4
        GLS - super links! i had no idea you had compiled such a great list!

        Comment


        • #5
          also... have clear contact with your outside rein, pushing the horse into that outside rein with the inside leg. This is assisting on bringing the horses inside hind underneath... as already stated above, but more descriptive of contact and what one should be doing exactly.

          I completely agree with the spirals and figure 8's. Just realize the horses level and ride accordingly, do not ask for serpentine of 8 loops if it is a young/inexperienced horse etc.
          http://dressageesquire.blogspot.com
          "The ability to write a check for attire should not be confused with expertise. Proficiency doesn't arrive shrink-wrapped from UPS and placed on your doorstep."

          Comment


          • #6
            It should be getting better over time, you should not need to keep doing this - if not, seek an instructor. One side of a jaw can't lock - the problem is the weight distribution putting too much weight on that side of the horse, the horse needing to be supple overall, not just the neck and definitely not the jaw. Physically, a horse can't lock his jaw on one side, at least, that is not where the 'heavy on one side' feeling comes from. Just taking the rein won't fix it because the origin is not in the jaw but more general. Leg yielding can help to get the horse more supple and to get him more even. Work with someone who can guide you in person.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bobblehead View Post
              My horse tends to lock her jaw on the right. I'm trying to become much more aware of this and correct it right away. My question is, what is the best way to deal with it? Flex from the ground before every ride? Flex as soon as I'm mounted, at the halt? After warmup? At the walk, or only at the halt?

              Right now, what I'm doing is at the halt, usually after I've noticed a problem with the TOH. I keep a strong squeeze on the right rein for about 3-5 seconds, soften, the squeeze again. My left rein is looser than usual, but if I don't keep some tension on that rein, what she does is turn her head rather than releasing her jaw. If I keep just enough pressure on the left rein to keep her from turning her head, eventually (after about 5 minutes) she will relax her right jaw and start to chew. At that point I go on with the ride, and usually there's a big improvement. I don't repeat the exercise.

              Is this correct? Or should I be doing it differently?
              You're starting at the wrong end.

              The locked jaw is symptomatic of a problem that has its genesis in the hind end. I don't see anything in your post about using leg or seat to engage the horse's hindquarters. If you don't do that, you're only treating the symptom, not the cause.

              Get yourself to a good trainer and get sussed out. Too difficult to evaluate the real issue online.

              Good luck.
              In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
              A life lived by example, done too soon.
              www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Quest52 View Post
                also... have clear contact with your outside rein, pushing the horse into that outside rein with the inside leg. .
                probably going off on tangent - but as i understand the training scale - first the horse learns to go into both reins evenly - and then once they have that mastered you start working on lateral aids - ie: inside leg to outside rein.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                  It should be getting better over time, if not, seek an instructor. One side of a jaw can't lock - the problem is the weight distribution putting too much weight on that side of the horse, the horse needing to be supple overall, not just the neck and definitely not the jaw. Physically, a horse can't lock his jaw on one side, at least, that is not where the 'heavy on one side' feeling comes from. Just taking the rein won't fix it because the origin is not in the jaw but more general. Leg yielding can help to get the horse more supple and to get him more even. Work with someone who can guide you in person.
                  She actually leg yields beautifully, can cross to either side quite fluidly and can even do it as a zigzag down center line. I've done a lot of spiraling and bending with her, but not so much lately, it's true. She does like to hold the bit in her mouth. In fact, fairly often I have to wait a few seconds for her to drop the bit when I unbridle her. I'm currently using a mullen mouth on her but wonder if I should go back to a french link?

                  It's not so much that she feels heavy on the right, but she seems less flexible in that direction. For a long time she had trouble picking up the right lead canter. Over the past couple of months that has improved a lot. I understand that some of that problem was due to weakness of the right hind (if I remember correctly). Maybe this consensus about the hind end means that I'm expecting too much at this point?

                  I do have a trainer but as it's show season, and I don't show, lessons have been canceled more often than I'd like.
                  Yes, I am crazy. Is that an issue?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I don't think you're expecting too much if you expect your horse to not pull your one arm out on the right side. But how to get there. I'd ditch the mullen mouth bit, first of all.

                    There is a contingency that anytime anyone asks a question, sighs and says, 'Oh Phillistines! It's all in the hind leg!', and quite often that's a part of the 'don't touch the reins' camp that believes no one should ever see even your pinkie finger move. I'm not that far gone yet. I do think you need to bend your horse and work your leg yields - if your horse comes out and you feel a ton in one rein and the only way you can fix it is by holding pressure til she gives (which means she is not crooked and BEHIND the bit), the leg yields you are doing aren't having the desired effect of suppling her and evening her up on both reins. Sometimes we don't really have the solid connection when we do leg yields and the horses learn to go sideways with their bodies stiff, instead of 'letting the leg yield' through to affect their entire body freely.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                      I'd ditch the mullen mouth bit, first of all.
                      Why?
                      Yes, I am crazy. Is that an issue?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yeah, I'd like to know why, too.
                        In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                        A life lived by example, done too soon.
                        www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Horses either back off of it too meuch eor get tooe stiff and tight on it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Beg to differ. If you have a horse with a low, fleshy palate (as many of the warmbloods and draft crosses do), they often go much better in something that isn't constantly poking them in the roof of the mouth. My 17.2h ISH gelding goes better in a rubber mullen than anything else, and jumps in a rubber mullen pelham. Also had flighty, sensitive TBs prefer it to all other bits, as well as a couple of warmbloods. Doesn't do to discount a bit, just because it's fashionable to ride in nothing but a French link loose ring.
                            In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                            A life lived by example, done too soon.
                            www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The properly fitted snaffle doesn't poke them in the roof of the mouth - even one with one joint. We used them for years. They didn't ever poke the horse in the roof of the mouth. And a mullen - I don't care for it. For years, we were told if a horse pulled like an effin' train, the mullen mouth was the remedy. I see it backing sensitive horses off more, and making strong horses too stiff and fixed and not supple enough, in their contact. Not enough spreading out of the pressure.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                question re: mullen..... how does it work for flexion/suppling etc? i have been taught that only a jointed bit works for that purpose. ??


                                i ask as i have a mare that broke her jaw as a wee foal and has forever after had a jaw that is not quite "right" and coupled with a fat tongue she doesn't have much room in there.... so i am looking for ideas on bits.... have always done the KK ultra or plain KK in a 14mm, but want to try others....

                                .

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by mbm View Post
                                  question re: mullen..... how does it work for flexion/suppling etc? i have been taught that only a jointed bit works for that purpose. ??


                                  i ask as i have a mare that broke her jaw as a wee foal and has forever after had a jaw that is not quite "right" and coupled with a fat tongue she doesn't have much room in there.... so i am looking for ideas on bits.... have always done the KK ultra or plain KK in a 14mm, but want to try others....

                                  .
                                  I was under the same impression, MBM. Really interested in hearing more on "the great mullen controversy."

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                                    The properly fitted snaffle doesn't poke them in the roof of the mouth - even one with one joint. We used them for years. They didn't ever poke the horse in the roof of the mouth. And a mullen - I don't care for it. For years, we were told if a horse pulled like an effin' train, the mullen mouth was the remedy. I see it backing sensitive horses off more, and making strong horses too stiff and fixed and not supple enough, in their contact. Not enough spreading out of the pressure.
                                    bits are only as strong as the hands that use them

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      "the great mullen controversy" - oh baloney. I am allowed to have different ideas about various bit designs if I want to. Some people like the bit and others don't. With everyone I worked with the mullen mouth was kind of a last ditch effort with a puller. I never saw it do much for either the puller or the behind the bit type.

                                      "Bits are only as severe as the hands that use them"

                                      Nice theory, and one I often hear to justify using a harsher bit/get tthe horse behind the bit. But a specific bit design has a specific effect, and horses react differently to them, and while the skill of the hand is important, different bits are, in fact, different. The mullen mouth bit has no joints, no looseness to it, it's just a straight bar that doesn't move, and it has a different effect from a jointed bit. I think a jointed bit is better for suppling the horse than a bit with a straight bar mouthpiece.
                                      Last edited by slc2; Aug. 14, 2009, 06:36 AM.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It's all in the hind leg!', and quite often that's a part of the 'don't touch the reins' camp that believes no one should ever see even your pinkie finger move.
                                        WHAT? So typically condescending. No one has said that except you, slc.

                                        Often when people say their horse has a 'locked jaw' there are other things going on related to the hind end and/or correct bending of the horse. The horse may feel braced on one rein and feel like he is avoiding 'filling " the other rein. Often this has nothing whatever to do with the mouth or the type of bit . Often it is a matter of bend or uneveness in strength or engagment of the hind leg or both.

                                        Of course you have to have the right contact and not throw the reins away. Give people some credit for understanding basic dressage concepts.

                                        Comment

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