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Bits for a fussy horse and training fussy horses to accept the bit?

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  • Bits for a fussy horse and training fussy horses to accept the bit?

    This is going to be a bit long... Sorry!

    My horse is chronically fussy with his bit (at least, all of the bits I have tried thus far). He chews, chomps, grabs it, drops it, drops behind the contact, get his tongue stuck over top, etc. In short, he is very fussy. He is also very oral, he tries to put anything and everything within reach in his mouth.

    There is nothing wrong with his teeth, jaw. etc. He has a small mouth (about a 4.75"), big tongue and I believe a low palate. I currently ride in a double jointed loose ring snaffle made out of one of those "specially formulated" metals. I would say it is no better or worse than any of the other bits I have tried. I also ride in a Rambo Micklem bridle which seems to help a little but not a lot.

    When I ride in a hackamore, he is completely steady in the bridle (with the exception of dangling/twirling his tongue outside his mouth). Unfortunately, even the most lovely, padded, properly positioned sheepskin covered hackamores given him a swollen lump on his nose after a couple rides.

    Basically, I am looking for any bit and training suggestions the wisdom of COTH might have! Here is a list of bits I have tried, none of which have seemed to alleviate the fussiness: double jointed myler d-ring, double jointed copper full cheek, plain loose ring snaffle, plastic medium-diameter mullen mouth, d-ring happy mouth, plain d-ring).

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
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  • #2
    I love the Myler bits. I am not sure which double jointed Myler you used, was it a comfort snaffle?

    You can phone the Mylers and talk to Dale. They can recommend a mouthpiece for you. If you have the time and a bit of money for shipping trials on the Toklat Myler bits, The Horse Bit Bank in England rents bits for a month for you to decide to commit to the purchase.
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    • #3
      I was going to suggest just sticking with a hackamore, too bad he gets a lump. Have you tried a ported bit? That might allow more room for his tongue and less fuss.
      "Horse Sense is a thing a horse has that keeps it from betting on people." - W. C. Fields

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      • #4
        I would try a nathe, usually fussy horses like those. Or have you tried a side pull? That should work as a softer hackamore and can help address contact issuses.

        I learned this from a clinician for a horse that was very behind the bit:

        First put the horse in a side pull until they are very comfortable with the contact. Then when the horse feels ready but a bit (maybe something nathe or rubber) in the horses mouth, but keep the reins attached to the side pull. Then when the horse is comfortable with the bit in their mouth again you can finally attach the reins to the bit again.

        It helps to reassure the horse about contact, and can help one that is nervous with the bit. Maybe worth a try anyways

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        • #5
          Either the nathe or you can sealtex the joint of a regular snaffle. My fussy mare likes the sealtex better because it kind of molds to her mouth over time. Plus it is much cheaper to experiment with first before going to the nathe..

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          • #6
            I was in the same boat as you with my four year old. Soft mouth but fussed at every kind of bit I tried. I finally went from a convention middle jointed bit to a french link. No fuss and he loves it. I think the break on the top of his mouth was just irritating and with the link he is super soft and doesn't complain at all.

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            • #7
              waterford
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              • #8
                I would absolutely give sealtex bit wrap a try. I didn't use that exact brand name product but another similar (blanking on the name right now) for a soft-mouthed, sensitive, and distracted OTTB I was riding last year and he was a different horse. I would try the bit wrap over maybe a Dee Ring French Link Snaffle (something neutral) or whatever you have found has worked the best so far. It only runs about $5 so not much to lose

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by horsechick View Post
                  waterford
                  I would have recommended the Waterford too as it is good that a horse can't pull through the bit but the Waterfords tend to be on the large side for horses with a small mouth and as the OP said her horse has a shallow pallet.
                  Last edited by tua37516; Sep. 7, 2012, 09:37 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I love the HS Duo loose ring for my sensitive-mouthed TB. He still chews a bit but he will accept the contact well. He hated the Happy Mouth, the bumps aggravated him.

                    I don't care for waterfords much but especially not for this problem. The design is intended to keep the horse from having something to lean on, which is counterproductive to one that won't take the contact to start.

                    I am allergic to latex so I have no experience with sealtex.

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                    • #11
                      I'd chime in with the HS duo since that's what my uber uber sensitive mare LOVED! However...I actually had even better success with the basic copper "nugget" D ring that I had bought for my other mare and then tossed on her one day on a whim. http://www.smartpakequine.com/jp-kor...x?cm_vc=Search She adored that one and although she's semi-retired now, she's quite happy in it when she's dusted off and played with.

                      One thing I found with my super fussy "old lady' over the years is that she really liked the stability of a full cheek or D ring and the loose ring had a BIT more motion then she liked. Same with a waterford, she'd go "ok" but was a bit more reactive. She hated a happy mouth (I think the rubber was too rigid for her princess tastes). Meyler was meh.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks so much for all the advise so far!!

                        Originally posted by SlamDunk View Post
                        I would try a nathe, usually fussy horses like those. Or have you tried a side pull? That should work as a softer hackamore and can help address contact issuses.

                        I learned this from a clinician for a horse that was very behind the bit:

                        First put the horse in a side pull until they are very comfortable with the contact. Then when the horse feels ready but a bit (maybe something nathe or rubber) in the horses mouth, but keep the reins attached to the side pull. Then when the horse is comfortable with the bit in their mouth again you can finally attach the reins to the bit again.

                        It helps to reassure the horse about contact, and can help one that is nervous with the bit. Maybe worth a try anyways
                        This is a really intriguing idea, I think I will definitely give that a try!

                        Originally posted by MoonLadyIsis View Post
                        Either the nathe or you can sealtex the joint of a regular snaffle. My fussy mare likes the sealtex better because it kind of molds to her mouth over time. Plus it is much cheaper to experiment with first before going to the nathe..
                        Unfortunately, I did sealtex a couple of bits and it anything, he seemed to think it was a lot more fun to chew because it was squishy and squeaky ? Does this likely mean I would get the same reaction from a nathe bit or would you say it's different?

                        Originally posted by tua37516 View Post
                        I would have recommended the Waterford too as it is good that a horse can't pull through the bit but the Waterfords tend to be on the large side for horses with a small mouth and as the OP said her horse has a shallow pallet.
                        Yes, I do think a waterford would be too bulky in his mouth and at this point in time I am a lot more frustrated with the ducking behind the bit than the occasional pulling.
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                        • #13
                          Try the loose ring curved port bit from Trust.
                          It basically is a mullen with a gentle port. It gives releif for the horses tongue and I've had horses absolutely love it.

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                          • #14
                            Have you considered a chewing bridle?

                            It's just a snaffle hanger with a bit. Let your horse just wear a bit. My trainer uses them frequently. I think there's one on every stall door. Horses there have been known to have one on for an hour or two, either when stalls are being cleaned or when other horses are being worked. He makes his from old reins and pop rivets. If the horse gets it caught on something, the leather is thin enough to break. He even has couple "full bridles" that have a curb bit (with the shanks cut off) and a bradoon.
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                            • #15
                              Try looking into the pee wee bit. I think you can find the website with a Google search. Has helped my 4 yr old WB mare tremendously this summer to become lighter in her mouth and less fussy.
                              I believe I read one of the reasons it was developed was for horses with big tongues and smaller mouths.
                              "It is the tragedy of the world that no one knows what he doesn't know--and the less a man knows, the more sure he is that he knows everything." Joyce Cary

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                              • #16
                                I second trying a Waterford as a place to start to find a solution.
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                                • #17
                                  I thrid the Waterford! I'm a peot and I didn't know it...... Haha

                                  Ponies are the bestest!!!

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                                  • #18
                                    I had a mare who sounds almost identical. I put her in a very short shanked hackamore. The top of the nose band was fleece and I wrapped a hand towel covered with vet wrap around the chin portion. This made it very cushy and plush (sensitive TB mare) and reduced the amount of leverage. I think a side pull would be good too. I was able to get her used to contact and moving forward into the bridle with that set up. After about a month I switched her to a JP D-ring, french link bit. They are nice and curved which is perfect for a low palate. It is also thin enough for small mouths (she too had a 4.75" mouth). I also use a flash attachment to help keep the bit steady and her mouth quiet. I still ride on lighter contact but she has been absolutely perfect with her head. No fussing, grabbing, flipping nose, etc. By the way, I tried the waterford and she HATED it, she nearly flipped over just leading to the arena. She is very sensitive and I believe it was just too bulky for her mouth.

                                    Good luck!

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                                    • #19
                                      I would also try a baucher bit, some of the event and dressage people swear by it, seems to work well on the fussy ones.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by serendipityhunter View Post
                                        I would also try a baucher bit, some of the event and dressage people swear by it, seems to work well on the fussy ones.
                                        This is my exact suggestion (and I'm a hunter turned dressager). I have had two horses for which a french link or KK with a baucher cheek was the answer. Both have smaller mouths (a 5" and a 4.75"), low palates and thick tongues. Your description of your horse is the exact description of what we went through with the first of them, a very sensitive, hot QH gelding. He was a bit demon, could get his tongue over anything he didn't approve of, as well as chew the devil out of it.

                                        The sensitive ones like B really seem to like the stability of a baucher. Our younger TB mare has now benefitted from our experience with him, as we knew the signs earlier on in the bitting journey. Best of luck!
                                        - JK Sporthorses -

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