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Bit suggestions?

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  • Bit suggestions?

    Advice is welcome!

    My 8 year old OTTB mare has picked up an annoying habit in the last few months. When I use anything other than very gentle contact, she chomps on the bit. Loudly. And it makes her look like an angry war horse. Her teeth have been checked and floated. No problem there. I had my trainer watch to make sure I'm not constantly pulling on her or using my hands in a way that makes her do this. Also, she is engaged behind and moving up into the bit. My trainer has checked bit fit/size and says it looks correct and that she is out of ideas. I am using a full cheek snaffle. Yesterday, I tried a french link and a Dr. Bristol and neither made much of a difference.

    My trainer suggested lots of patterns, circles, and lateral work to keep her interested so she chomps less. However, since this is a new habit, I'm hoping that I can help her unlearn it. Any suggestions on different bits would be great. Also, any experience on trying a flash or dropped noseband? I wouldn't show with them but maybe just at home?


    Also, she doesn't have ulcers (has been scoped). Also, in the past 3 months, she has muscled up and put on weight. She is in the best condition she has been since I have owned her (5 years) and has been working from her hind end more than she ever did before.
    Last edited by Prima Donna; May. 18, 2009, 11:16 AM. Reason: Adding

  • #2
    I don't think she can be correctly moving "up into the bit" if anything but very light contact makes her that agitated.

    I would have a chiro give her a thorough exam. My first thought is that more contact is asking her for more "forced" flexion in her poll area and something is pinching, or she just can't. It could be something further back too.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • #3
      I have a very similar horse - well trained 14 year old with no teeth, ulcer or back problems who simply likes to chew on his bit. He stands in cross ties and plays with his mouth, and he has done it since he was 3 years old, he is just plain mouthy.

      The bit I have had the best luck with is the Myler MB32. I think it is the fact that the bit is straight with really nothing in the middle to mess with.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Prima Donna View Post
        . . . it makes her look like an angry war horse. .
        This suggests she's opening her mouth quite a bit to chomp the bit. More than just teeth grinding. Which would indicate a flash noseband could help (see below).

        Originally posted by Prima Donna View Post
        . Also, any experience on trying a flash or dropped noseband? I wouldn't show with them but maybe just at home?.
        I would definitely put a flash on her. Be sure her regular cavesson is sufficiently high and tight, too. Even though the flash may not solve the underlying reason for her chomping (see below), it can help prevent it from becoming a learned habit.

        Originally posted by Prima Donna View Post
        . Also, in the past 3 months, she has muscled up and put on weight. She is in the best condition she has been since I have owned her (5 years) and has been working from her hind end more than she ever did before.
        Some horses start grinding or chomping when they're being asked to work harder, carry themselves differently, etc. Sometimes it's simply a sign of concentration. But even if the reason is innocuous, it's still interfering with proper contact, so as you already realize, you want to head off the habit. Consider riding without contact a bit, asking for forward only, and no "frame" or contact whatsoever, and see if it continues. Also see if she does it on the longe line. That will help you realize whether it's your riding that she's reacting too. I'm not saying your riding is wrong in that case, but that she somehow worries more or reacts to what you're asking by chomping. Process of elimination at this point.


        • #5
          My friend's horse would chomp on his bit all the time. She tried a variety of different bits, and nothing seemed to work. Last time I saw him, he loved his hackamore.


          • Original Poster

            Tried a few things...

            Thanks for the advice so far. I did some experimenting last night. When we first started, just walking, no contact, she didn't chomp. Then as we started doing circles, bending, bringing her head down she started. After that, I rode with light contact but even when walking, she would still make the bit squeak. I tried raising and lowering the bit with no effect. I jogged her without me on and she still chomped. And then I jogged her without a bit and she didn't squeak. I ordered a cheap flash noseband to put on and I'm going to try a D ring copper roller bit.

            I'm trying to arrange for a chiropractor to come out and see if any of these help!


            • Original Poster

              Update: Chomping on the bit

              So I tried a copper rolly bit, a flash noseband, and had a chiropractor come out. She is chomping even without contact and the girl who turns her out in the morning said sometime she chews even with just her halter.

              Any more ideas? I am going to try a hackamore but can't show in one.

              I also remembered the dentist commenting that she had blind wolf teeth. Maybe they have started bothering her? I am also going to try a rubber D bit that is a bit thicker. Anyone have experience with blind wolf teeth causing trouble?


              • #8
                wolf teeth

                not sure what you mean by blind wolf teeth - didnt even think mares got wolf teeth. I run a boys only farm. Wolf teeth always have to be pulled otherwise your bit will hit them and can cause pain.


                • Original Poster

                  Both sexes get wolf teeth. "Blind" means that they are unerupted, or didn't break the surface. Usually they are removed when the horse is young. My mare is now 8 and they hadn't bothered her until now. I'm thinking that maybe they are starting to bother her but don't know anyone who has had blind ones removed.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Prima Donna View Post
                    Advice is welcome!
                    Also, in the past 3 months, she has muscled up and put on weight. She is in the best condition she has been since I have owned her (5 years) and has been working from her hind end more than she ever did before.

                    just made me think, does her saddle still fit well?


                    • #11
                      Bit and Saddles

                      I would check her saddle if you she has grown. I went through 3 saddles with my OTTB mare. It may not show when she is being tacked up but as she goes into a frame and expands her back the saddle may start to pinch. I ended up getting a Bates saddle with interchangable trees so I always have the right size. Maybe a wider tree will help her. My current horse had start to chomp and try to get his tongue over the bit. My trainer put a myler bit in his mouth. Many of the level 1 bits they have are curved so reduce pinching in the mouth. He has stopped fussing with his bit. Hope this helps.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Canopach01 View Post
                        not sure what you mean by blind wolf teeth - didnt even think mares got wolf teeth. I run a boys only farm. Wolf teeth always have to be pulled otherwise your bit will hit them and can cause pain.
                        I bet you are thinking of canines, and even then some mares do get them!

                        I have a 5 year old here that I took in last fall. He was chomping on the bit and drooling excessively. The dentist looked at him and said the same thing-?"blind" wolf teeth. One had erupted though, and was still present. The other had not erupted. We had them pulled, and while he still does chew, MUCH better. In his case, he loves a roller and prefers the happy mouth. I alternate between a happy mouth dee w/roller and metal with roller for when he just needs a little more bit.