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Horse's mouth ruined?

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  • Horse's mouth ruined?

    What do folks mean when they say a horse's mouth is "ruined"? I was visiting a barn recently and was told this about a former dressage horse who doesn't do dressage anymore because of the ruined mouth.

    I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that she was referring to the horse accepting the bit. Does this mean the horse is insensitive to the bit? TOO sensitive to the bit? Has developed a physical problem with its mouth?

    This is just to satisfy my curiousity. Should've asked at the time.

  • #2
    Originally posted by coymackerel View Post
    What do folks mean when they say a horse's mouth is "ruined"? I was visiting a barn recently and was told this about a former dressage horse who doesn't do dressage anymore because of the ruined mouth.

    I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that she was referring to the horse accepting the bit. Does this mean the horse is insensitive to the bit? TOO sensitive to the bit? Has developed a physical problem with its mouth?

    This is just to satisfy my curiousity. Should've asked at the time.
    means hes had somone on his back thats been heavy handed with a light mouthed horse and that they have more than likely supoorted there bodyweight throught the head area via the bridle via reins on poll prssure aswell as the mouth

    to understand more read these links
    read all links on page 1 of my helpful links pages and read link 2 3 and 4 on page one


    annd then re this link by thomas 1

    given the correct training the horse could be re habbed and started again with the right trianer
    things that are common for it, are rider error big part, ill fitting tack to include both saddlle and bridle and bit
    pain - via teeth and bad dental care
    if one has a horse then one should provide proper fitting equipment


    • Original Poster

      I just read the helpful links you mentioned and the post by Thomas about bitting. Thank you for directing me to that info - I wish I were a good enough rider to re-make this horse as he is absolutely gorgeous. Also want to let you know how much I enjoy your posts - lots of great info and very to the point.


      • #4

        Ive seen some pretty harshly ridden horses spring back just fine.

        Dunno what it means and to what degree the horse has to be ridden that way to be "ruined' but it seems on a cellular level the feeling in the mouth will return after some rest...

        Correct me if I am wrong?
        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


        • #5
          A mouth cannot develop calluses, but the bars could develop bone spurs which may cause extreme discomfort. Nerve damage could also have taken place, although I have only seen that through injury, and not through poor riding. A cut tongue could also be cut making holding a bit uncomfortable.

          More likely though, it is just that the horse has developed a distrust of the hand/bit, and the trainer lacks the knowledge/patience to repair to damage.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


          • #6
            A lot of people use the term ruined to describe a horse who has contact issues due to previous poor riding. If there is no physical injury to the mouth (there usually isn't), then I truly believe things can be repaired with any horse if enough PATIENCE and TIME are given to the horse. Most people are not willing to do this and would rather call the hose ruined.


            • #7
              I took a horse in to sell and found out in pretty short order that his tongue had literally been nearly cut in half - it was held together by a small piece at the bottom and kind of "flipped" when he ate. Poor guy and there is a lot of sad stuff to the story, but anyway it was repaired surgically and that horse amazingly enough was able to recover and go on in dressage. Of course one had to be careful with him and he was always a bit less than trusting (for good reason) but he continues to do just fine. Sometimes it depends on the nature of the horse as to how "ruined" a bad experience of any kind will make them.

              I have another horse in training now, an OTTB that was a rescue and so his history is unknown and I am coming to the conclusion that he in fact is "ruined" in his mouth. I doubt he will ever be willing to accept contact or any pressure at all. And that's not from dressage. It may be that bitless will be the only solution for him.


              • #8
                Yeah, a horse with a "ruined" mouth likely has weird contact and bridle issues that will be very very hard to fix without a lot of time, patience, and experience. This may be a horse with an extremely hard mouth, or a lot of horses develop the opposite defense and stay behind the bridle or pop in and out of contact constantly. Most ruined mouths can be fixed by a patient professional (or experienced ammy) with a lot of time. However, these horses often will fall back into their old bad habits quickly if they aren't ridden properly every time - so it can be a lifelong thing.

                Even if there were phyisical issues contributing to the problem, the mental issues take much much longer to fix. Some horses develop rein "lameness" because of the discomfort and confusion in their mouths and appear to by physically unsound even if they're not. We used to have a mare (who had previously been "ruined" in the mouth) in training that was square and sound as could be until her slightly one-sided and stiff owner got on, then she would hitch behind like she was dead lame (the mare had discovered this was an easy way to get her rider to briefly stop hanging on her mouth). The owners were unwilling to put the rider time in to fix the problem and eventually ended up retiring her as a broodmare instead.

                If a horse comes with a ruined mouth, unless you are very able and also willing to put the time in, it's usually best to pass on them in hopes they will find the right match for their tricky mouth. Confirmed bridle issues are just such a difficult (and often lifelong) problem for many to deal with that it's not worth it no matter how fancy the horse might be.


                • #9
                  it just makes me sad that this happens.
                  Yes, pretty much invariably due to very bad riding, and sometimes, even at the top. We had a girl here who eventually competed at the Pan Am Games, but her horses were seen at local shows with blood coming out of their mouths. Not from bad bits, but from severe misuse of ordinary double bridle bits.

                  I mean, how can these supposedly experienced riders, capable of using a double, not realize when their horse is in severe pain and bleeding!

                  Poor horses.
                  "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                  • #10
                    yeeeee, COL. That's disgusting.

                    I know of a horse that was jacked into a frame with a twisted wire snaffle and hands of concrete.

                    By the time the present owner got her, the horse could NOT accept contact of any sort in any bit. When the horse took to rearing, the owner was on the point of retiring her. But decided instead to take her (with full disclosure) to a very patient trainer who just started the horse all over.

                    It took more than a year, but the horse now goes in a regular snaffle with few problems. But I would still call that a ruined mouth. And a nearly ruined mind.
                    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                    the best day in ten years,
                    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                    • #11
                      It really depends on what particular ringer the horse was put through.

                      I showed a WP mare a million years ago who's tongue was nearly severed. A prior trainer had tied her head back to her cinch in a twisted wire snaffle and left her there routinely. The mare eventually healed up, like the horse noted above her tongue was nearly severed, she had only a thin piece of tongue on the bottom that was intact. Owner did not know any of this. She tried to ride her in a regular low port grazing bit and the mare freaked out. Investigation found the tongue, trial and error found that a 'whoa maker' - a western bit with a super high port, was something she'd wear quite happily as it didn't annoy her poor tongue.


                      • #12
                        It can also mean that the horse was taught to duck his nose from rein contact to appear to be on the bit (holding a head position, shortened neck), rather than seeking contact with the hand, stretching his neck and topline.