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tongue over bit

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  • tongue over bit

    lately, my horse is trying to get his tongue over the bit which leaves me without control. any ideas on preventing this or why he might be starting this after 5 years? I have added a flash noseband but I guess I didn't have it tight enough. this is the same bit I have always ridden him in.

  • #2
    In my experience horses do this because their mouth is uncomfortable. Either the bit bothers them, the rider's hands or their teeth. Tight nosebands can make it worse.

    Have you changed something lately? Maybe it is time to have your horse's teeth floated?


    • #3
      If this is a new problem, then it's probably a reaction to discomfort somewhere. When were the teeth last floated? If over 6 months ago, it might be a good idea to have the teeth (and the whole mouth) checked for either sharp edges on the teeth or sores or other problems with the gums (or even a cracked tooth).

      Is the horse's back sore? How are the hocks? Any kind of body-soreness can translate into playing too much with the bit, grinding the teeth, putting the tongue over the bit, etc.

      You can try a new bit as well, but that may not solve the problem. To my mind cranking the flash tighter is unlikely to help much (or if it does, you will simply be masking--or perhaps muzzling would be the better word--the underlying problem).

      Good luck.
      "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


      • #4
        Tying a horses mouth tightly shut to "solve" a problem like this is sort of like putting masking tape over the "low oil" light on the dashboard of your car. Just because you can't see the problem doesn't mean it isn't there, and ignoring it will make the underlying problem progress until something builds up to a far worse result.

        Tongue stuff can be tooth related, back related and riding related (conflicting aids). Something has gone wrong under the hood, and it's your job to try to figure out what. sometimes that's not easy, and you have to call In a master diagnostic mechanic! (trainer, vet, chiro)

        Good luck!


        • #5
          After ruling out dental problems (requires a dentist to check out the horse's mouth) you might try riding with a hackamore or bosal for a while and see how the horse responds.

          I agree that masking tape over the low oil light is a half assed solution.

          Doin' the job right requires Gorilla Tape!


          • Original Poster

            thanks for the input. I only did the flash tighter then because I was out on the trail and wanted to get back ok. I had his teeth checked 2 months ago when he started bolting his feed but will have them come again. the eating thing started when he got a new pasture mate. that got better with a brick in his bucket and changing the feed. he did have a sore back a couple months ago, but that seemed resolved after acupuncture and saddle adjustment. He was getting girthy then and that has stopped. when I bought him, they had him in a myler with a link because "he likes to get his tongue over the bit." I wasn't having that trouble so changed to a slow twist snaffle for the last 5 years. I will check the teeth again before changing the bit.


            • #7
              Call me crazy but I don't think I'd use a tight flash with a slow twist bit. A tongue over the bit may be a way of dealing with pain being caused by the bit, and you may be making the pain worse by tightening the flash. A twisted snaffle is not a particularly kind bit.

              If it were my horse, I'd take the twisted snaffle off and put a double-jointed (French link or a lozenge) onto the bridle. See if that helps.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


              • #8
                I'd take the cheek piece up one hole!!! Leather does stretch!!!
                Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                • #9
                  I am kind of the opposite direction, with tongue-over bit issues. I drop the cheeks of bridle a hole on each side, remove any kind of flash and KEEP RIDING. I don't stop to fix the issue, nor do I allow him to misbehave or not do as requested in my commands. He WILL go forward, give the lead requested, at the speed asked for! Not MY FAULT he got his tongue-over!! He can work on fixing the problem with walking between gait changes or direction changes.

                  With the longer cheek setting he has room to put his tongue back under. Seems like horse can ALWAYS get tongue-over, no matter WHAT you do to tighten, use flashes, tie his mouth down. Then with bridle tightened up, he can't get tongue fixed by himself. I don't want to reward him by fixing the problem, stopping, getting off, so this behaviour is repeated. He needs to fix things himself, UNDO the problem.

                  Ours have figured out how to fix and then QUIT putting tongue-over bit because there is no reward and it can hurt!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by crosscreeksh View Post
                    I'd take the cheek piece up one hole!!! Leather does stretch!!!
                    ^^^This. Tighten up your cheekpieces.


                    • #11
                      If the dental is OK two options are a Myler Ported bit (I like the MB33). It is actually gentler because it gives the horse's tongue a place to go or a hackamore. Good luck!


                      • #12
                        Agree with tighten the cheek pieces (they may have stretched) and check the tongue and teeth for small ulcers. I'm worried that bit will cut into his under-tongue if this habit continues.


                        • #13
                          When I was a teenager, my Appaloosa gelding would get his tongue over the bit all the time and then take advantage of his novice rider His teeth were fine. We solved the problem by using a flash, bringing the cheekpieces up one hole, and switching to a happy mouth mullen mouth bit. Not having the jointed piece kept his tongue in place.


                          • #14
                            Yup, check the bridle fit. Yes, four fingers between the cheek and the cheek prices may be the rule of thumb, but I also lime to look at corners of the mouth, and even how the bit us sitting in the mouth. Also, what kind of bit makes a difference in how high it should be sitting in the mouth.

                            Personally, I like corkscrews better then slow twists. They have a bit more breaks then a smooth bit, but the corkscrew isn't as pointy as they are on a slow twist.

                            Have you tried him back in a double broken Mylar again?
                            The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!


                            • #15
                              I agree...discomfort. My horse started doing this last spring. He had a sharp tooth and arthritis flaring.

                              He had had his teeth done just a few weeks before during our annual spring tune up...not all people who work on teeth are created equal in their skill/talent. So even tho yours may have been seen, doesn't hurt to get another opinioin. And a chiropractor!

                              We took care of the tooth, has regular chiro adjustments, has started on Adequan and no more fussing.
                              Ride like you mean it.


                              • #16
                                My former horse used to get bored when I would stop and chat with the neigbors when we were out hacking. I was allowed about 2 minutes of chatting. Then, he would stick his tongue over the bit and out the side of his mouth, in the direction of the neighbor. That was always a conversation ender. He was quite a character.