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mouth problems...fixable or not?

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  • mouth problems...fixable or not?

    Reading Sally O'Connor's Common Sense Dressage book and at one point she says her best advice to someone with a horse with a mouth problem is to get a new horse. I just tried to find this in the book and can't but that is about what she said. Mouth problems can be heart breaking.

    So I am wondering what everyone else thinks about this. Are some mouth problems just not fixable? I remember Nona Garson saying this very same thing at the EA last year.

  • #2
    depends on what kind of mouth problem as most mouth pproblems are bad hands bad teeth or ill fitting tack.. and or rider errors

    Comment


    • #3
      We have had 2 horses with mouth problems and both have been quite good. But not sure if you mean mouth problem from injury, or if your talking hard mouthed. Both ours have been injury. My guy had apparently had a mishap with a barb wire fence as a yearling, and when the vets put him back together had to partially sew the right half of his mouth closed. So basically his mouth looked fine from one side, but the other side was shorter (if that makes any sense). Anyway I took him through fourth level quite successfully! He could take a think mouthpiece in either a loose ring or a double, but it would crack and have issues so he also got schooled alot in a hackamore or just a dropped noseband with a rein on the sidering (yes he was a very good boy!).

      The other one we have is current, being aimed at eventing. He is only 6 but going prelim and actually had his jaw broken at the track. If you open his mouth his teeth nowhere near touch, and you can actually see the break/dislocation at the very front just below the teeth line. Its kind of gross looking, but doesn't effect him much and no pain, so vet said to leave it. Only thing he does is it can be hard to turn right when jumping as he will cross his jaw. Other then that he is completely light in the mouth and lovely to ride.

      Comment


      • #4
        I had a horse with mouth problems. Bought him in the Netherlands thinking I could fix him. He was six going in a double bridle, with all the muscles in the wrong places. I tried to fix him, but it was too late. The tongue would stick out, and he would get it over the bit often. Had the dentist out, and after 2 years of working on his teeth, he said the problems should go away (had zigzag teeth in the back, so it took multiple filings to get them to the point where the teeth were not touching gum). But they didn't he actually got worse. If someone knows how to fix a mouth problem, please share. I had to part with him, but I am curious if there was a way to fix his learned behavior.
        Welcome to my dressage world http://www.juliefranzen.blogspot.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd be interested in hearing stories. I have a 4 year old right now that has had mouth problems since being a foal. He constantly opens and closes his mouth, and almost stretches down like he's unlocking his jaw. Xrays have revealed nothing, he's had floatings up the ying yang, and the vets can't figure another out. They believe it to be a bad habit, since he has done it since a foal. He's been started now, and its a real pain in the butt, because he does not easily accept contact whatsoever. Tried different bits, flash noseband, nothing. He seems to brace against it and consistently try to move the bit around. I'm getting really frustrated
          In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.

          Comment


          • #6
            I heard before that mouth problems are the hardest to fix, but I didn't realize how hard they are to fix.

            My current mare is my very first horse that came to me with mouth problems. Her mouth was ripped on both sides from "one rein stops" and mouth yanking. She had open bloody blisters in both sides of her mouth. She was a head shaker, stopper, bunny hopper, and use to rear up a bit (but not very high).

            The progress with that horse was the slowest that I ever had with any of the horses. It took me at least 2-3 years just to deal with her "mouth" problems. Trust was lost and there were no way back to normal. It was very frustrating + there are not many trainers who want to take a horse with mouth problems, since it makes them look bad from the get go and from the painfully slow progress as well.

            My advice would be: do not buy a horse with mouth problems. If you are not madly in love with your horse, sell the horse that has mouth problems = you'll have a chance to stay saner.

            Me? I admit, I'm a sucker and I stuck it out with my mare, but this one seems to be the horse of my life for her personality. I'm not sure if I would off stuck as far for any of my previous horses.

            Comment


            • #7
              What kind of mouth problem? My first horse constantly sticked his tongue over the bit when I first got him. I don't know whether his prevoius owner was heavy handed but I did know that he was very uncomfortable with bits. We could be standing there with loose rein just relaxing, except he would not relax. He would try to push the bit out of his mouth. Any single jointed snaffle was bad for him. He cannot stand french link (too much activity for him). Any thick bits that are supposed to be gentle are intolerable to him. He went easier bitless.

              Then I tried Myler comfort snaffle... and the rest is history. He is still sensitive but no longer chomp down on it and no longer stick his tongue over.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Dressage_Julie View Post
                If someone knows how to fix a mouth problem, please share. I had to part with him, but I am curious if there was a way to fix his learned behavior.
                Every horse is an individual. So there is absolutely no way of saying if he was fixable. Fixing a bad mouth takes similar feeling/timing as training a piaffe. It's all in the feeling and it's really hard to explain.

                What helped my mare?

                * I never, NEVER, yanked or jabbed my mare with the bit on her mouth. Going above the bit or shacking her head was NEVER her fault. I just kept my cool and same steady contact. Even when she would take off in a dead gallop, I would keep the same light contact and circle in to smaller circle rather than pull on her mouth.

                * going on the long, long walk trail rides with a steady contact, weight of my hands, and following her mouth with exactly the same weight when she oscillates her neck during the walk.

                * Always have a positive light and steady contact with her mouth: no variations of strong contact or no contact - absolutely even contact no matter what we did.

                * working on the honest stretches down and forward in the beginning and the end of the training session. I would pick her up only in the middle for 15-20 minutes.

                * Baucher side flexions = the same as ground carrot flexions, only from the saddle during halt, then during trot, then canter = goal is that horse will FOLLOW your hand to the side, pulling your horse's head to the side defeats the purpose of this exercise.

                At the end, horse was OK with weight of the bit and weigh of my hands in her mouth = just like a friendly hand-shake. Horse was able to follow my hands to both sides and downwards.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It really depends. Some horses can have their mouth problems be fixed, some can't.

                  The problems are not always due to 'bad hands', 'rider error'.

                  The 'mouth problem' often isn't a mouth problem at all. Sometimes it's a 'whole conformation' problem (a heavily built horse with little balance and a low-set, thick, stiff neck can't easily be 'light' on the reins) or a 'temperament problem' or a 'years of bad training' problem. The horse that was so lovingly ridden on a loose rein 'as a baby' may be very uncomfortable with a contact after years of having that contact thrown away.

                  But, an inexperienced, tense person, as well as a hesitant, inconsistent, afraid to take a contact, rider, really can contribute to the problems horses have.

                  Almost all horses have 'mouth problems'. A horse with a heavier conformation or with less natural balance is a challenge to create a light supple contact. An upright horse with a tight topline may not even touch the bit. Most horses have some degree of these problems.

                  These animals over the years are slowly improved by good riding and training.

                  There are horses that much more serious problems. Some horses are just born this way. They are afraid of contacting the bit, and if you teach them to stretch, they seem to get even more confused and go from not touching the bit to snagging it and pulling down aggressively. Others have little natural balance and pull. Some horses simply have issues with their mouth.

                  If they are always ridden by very clever, experienced riders, the issues can continually be worked on and carefully improved. If they meet up with someone who doesn't understand what to do, the issues get worse. But with some horses even the cleverest most experienced rider is working very hard to keep the horses looking good.

                  Sometimes the solution is to do exactly the opposite of what the owner wants to do, and people can get so stubborn that they can do the wrong thing for a very long time. It's so hard to make a change, but often, that's what is needed.

                  The horse that fusses at the bit might need the bit raised in its mouth - the fussy horse may need a tighter noseband, not a looser one, and not loose, hanging down reins. Some horses are simply driven nuts by a bit rattling around in their mouths and don't settle into a good contact til the bit is held still.

                  The puller that the owner wants to 'lighten' with a more rigid bit or harsher bit, may go far, far better in the long run in a plain snaffle with loose rings. It may be counter-intuitive, but the puller often is far better off in a mild bit that the rider can get him looser in.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We bought a mare - not a dressage prospect - with some mouth issues. Long story short. Her mouth issues probably stem from multiple issues - like all things horse - but a lot has to do with her TMJ misfiring. If you look up TMD syndrome you will see some info. Still working on retraining but having her seen and worked on by an osteopath has yielded the best results. Now we have to do the retraining step by step. Thankfully I have a very supportive trainer and we are now investigating bitless bridles.
                    Susan B.
                    http://canterberrymeadows.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I was just going to post about this same thing, so I'll try adding on here first instead. This is not a teeth problem- had them floated and checked by a vet in the past 4 months.

                      My young TB goes along with his tongue on top of the bit. He is soft, he flexes, and is learning to come onto the bit from behind. He's starting to stretch down and we're in the beginning phases of 'long and low'.

                      However I have this strong belief that his tongue needs to be under the bit.

                      I use a loose fitted flash in order to keep his tongue inside his mouth... I don't believe that a noseband should be the "fix". I did try shoving his tongue under the bit, tightening the bridle way up, and cranking down a flash noseband. He was unhappy and still had his tongue over the bit in seconds.

                      I've ruled out single joint snaffles completely as he has a very low, flat palate and a HUGE tongue.

                      Egads I've spent some money on different bits. Looking around for the thinnest bit I could find, I bought a Myler comfort snaffle and he goes around well in that with his tongue over the bit. I just bought a Sprenger Ultra loose ring and he goes around well in that with his tongue over the bit. I tried the rubber bit ports and he got his tongue over that, scooted it to the side, and chewed it up.

                      I'm afraid to tie his tongue as I've never even seen it done and would HATE to do it wrong- plus it's illegal for dressage I'm sure.

                      Here are some bits that look like medieval torture devices I'm thinking of trying just to teach him about keeping his tongue under the bit:
                      http://albigears.blogspot.com/2009/0...damn-bits.html

                      What do you think? If he seems to be going well with his tongue over the bit should I just leave it alone???

                      Megan
                      Last edited by albigears; Aug. 16, 2009, 02:06 PM. Reason: So people don't have to read the whole blog to find the bit entry.
                      http://albigears.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The oddest thing I've ever run into is a 'bit popper', my friend's little 13 hand pony. His jaw is so tiny and short he pops the bit with his back teeth almost constantly. There's no room to put the bit lower, if it is, it's banging against his tushes and he gets frantic. Someone even seems to have almost completely hacked off the leading edge of the two lower first molars to try to stop him.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NCSue View Post
                          We bought a mare - not a dressage prospect - with some mouth issues. Long story short. Her mouth issues probably stem from multiple issues - like all things horse - but a lot has to do with her TMJ misfiring. If you look up TMD syndrome you will see some info. Still working on retraining but having her seen and worked on by an osteopath has yielded the best results. Now we have to do the retraining step by step. Thankfully I have a very supportive trainer and we are now investigating bitless bridles.
                          If you could PM me, I'd be interested in hearing what symptoms your mare had, and what you have found has worked
                          In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                            The horse that fusses at the bit might need the bit raised in its mouth - the fussy horse may need a tighter noseband, not a looser one,...
                            I don't think so.
                            Why tighter noseband? How that will help a horse with mouth problems?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've seen it help a number of horses, in fact. Because they don't like the bit wiggling around in their mouth. The caveson holds the bit more steady.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by albigears:

                                I was just going to post about this same thing, so I'll try adding on here first instead. This is not a teeth problem- had them floated and checked by a vet in the past 4 months.

                                My young TB goes along with his tongue on top of the bit. He is soft, he flexes, and is learning to come onto the bit from behind. He's starting to stretch down and we're in the beginning phases of 'long and low'.

                                However I have this strong belief that his tongue needs to be under the bit.

                                I use a loose fitted flash in order to keep his tongue inside his mouth... I don't believe that a noseband should be the "fix". I did try shoving his tongue under the bit, tightening the bridle way up, and cranking down a flash noseband. He was unhappy and still had his tongue over the bit in seconds.

                                I've ruled out single joint snaffles completely as he has a very low, flat palate and a HUGE tongue.

                                Egads I've spent some money on different bits. Looking around for the thinnest bit I could find, I bought a Myler comfort snaffle and he goes around well in that with his tongue over the bit. I just bought a Sprenger Ultra loose ring and he goes around well in that with his tongue over the bit. I tried the rubber bit ports and he got his tongue over that, scooted it to the side, and chewed it up.

                                I'm afraid to tie his tongue as I've never even seen it done and would HATE to do it wrong- plus it's illegal for dressage I'm sure.

                                Here are some bits that look like medieval torture devices I'm thinking of trying just to teach him about keeping his tongue under the bit:
                                http://albigears.blogspot.com/

                                What do you think? If he seems to be going well with his tongue over the bit should I just leave it alone???

                                Megan
                                Albigears, is that is your horse in the blog with the very long tongue? That set of photos shows the bit hanging way too far down in the mouth. Should be snug up against the corners of the horse's mouth to where there are (as a rule) two wrinkles at the top of the corner of the mouth on each side. Much harder to get the tongue over the bit when it is snugged up higher to where it should be.

                                However, getting the tongue over the bit is a bad habit. I would raise the bit higher to start with.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The blog pictures show a bit adjusted to hang extremely low in the mouth. This causes horses to put their tongue over the bit in an effort to get the pressure off the front of the tongue. The jaw, where the bit then lays, is generally not comfortable for the horse either, and causes most horses to suck behind the bit and to take very little contact with the rein.

                                  The bit needs to be raised quite a bit. The size of the bit may also be incorrect; it's hanging too low to evaluate its fit.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    wow so many interesting replies. I too would love to hear more from you NCsue about your mare.
                                    Mine too is a mare and I am desperately seeking help. I have been trying to get up to lesson with a new trainer and hope to get there this week. The trainer has only seen her once and hasn't seen this problem yet .She only saw the mare briefly and not long enough to see what she does.
                                    She also has another problem I am trying to address which may or may not go hand in hand.
                                    I did have a very reputable chiro come out and showed him my concerns, he is returning in two weeks. I had her teeth done before riding her and they said they were in good shape.
                                    I love this mare and would love to try and get her mouth issues resolved. I won't give up easily as she is all I have to ride and I do love her. I have trained many horses over the years and don't have this type of experience and don't want to make any mistakes which is why I am seeking out any info and help I can get. thanks!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                                      I've seen it help a number of horses, in fact. Because they don't like the bit wiggling around in their mouth. The caveson holds the bit more steady.
                                      Noseband doesn't do much for the secure holding of the bit, it's the flash that does that or raising the bit higher or d-ring bits. However, do me a favor and please try that:

                                      * Before tightening the noseband, put your hand under the crown peace of the bridle between your horse's ears. Remember the pressure and how easy it is to slide your hand under the bridle's crown.

                                      * tighten the noseband with no pressure on the horse's checks/jaw so that you can easily slide in 2-3 fingers under the noseband. Now again put your hand under the crown peace of the bridle between your horse's ears. Remember the pressure. You'll see that it's more snug/secure now.

                                      * tighten the noseband with hard pressure on the horse's checks/jaw, as hard as some riders do it, that you really need to put some muscles in to tightening it and it produces bulges on both sides of the noseband. Now again put your hand under the crown peace of the bridle between your horse's ears. You'll see that it's almost impossible to slide up your hand under the crown peace of the bridle. Bridle becomes a torture device putting so much pressure on horse's head that it's giving him a headache every time that you tag on the bridle.

                                      Yes, I've seen some trainers crank up the noseband and exclaim "oh, look that's a different horse now! A pleasure to ride!" but it's a short lived triumph and "help". In the long run no horse will want to work with such pain from the very strong pressure on their head/ears.

                                      I agree that a secure bit can make a HUGE difference in horse’s mouth. I would say that a correctly fitted egg bar or D-ring bit that has secure rings is a better solution than a tight noseband. It’s secure with no pain attached.

                                      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_bwGNY6UO-L.../iceycrap1.bmp this is too much and I consider that in the harsh methods of training just like those: http://www.horseadvice.com/horse/messages/7/207239.jpg
                                      http://www.bitlessbridle.com/RollkurFig4a.jpg
                                      since it's also easier to controll the horse that way.
                                      Last edited by Dressage Art; Aug. 15, 2009, 08:50 PM.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I don't care for a bar bit or a d-ring. The loose ring is looser and gets a looser, more supple response. I am not talking aobut tightening the caveson 'cranked down' tight, it is merely tightened slightly to keep the bit secure.

                                        Comment

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