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Horse chewing on bit

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  • Horse chewing on bit

    Ok. I recently bought my horse Tank, but I have been working with him for the past few months. He was being used as a western trail riding horse and his previous owner was using a parelli (sp??) bit on him. She said when Tank chewed on his bit, it was because there was something that was upsetting him/making him nervous or he wanted to go.

    I recently have begun riding Tank in a snaffle, with a plain kincade bridle with an attached flash noseband (very loose). He does not object to the bit as far as I can tell (and he makes his objections very obvious) but whenever he is standing still before a ride or right after he chews/messes with his bit. There are 2 wrinkles on the corners of his mouth when the bit is in his mouth and occasional drops of saliva drop. I was told these were both signs he was "accepting" it and that they were positive but I just wanted to make sure.

    I feel like maybe it is just something he does because he is bored/wants to hurry up and move? My old horse did not play with his bit, and I want to make sure that I am not causing unnecessary pain to Tank. Should I try a different bit?

    Thanks for the help and information!

  • #2
    He could be bored, could be using the chewing as an outlet for energy. I would let him chew, better than some other bad habits like pawing!

    Have you had his teeth checked for sharp edges, which might be needed if he hasn't been getting teeth attention regularly.

    Some horses do seem to enjoy bit chewing, like kids chewing gum. They may not wear a bit very long at a time, so they FINALLY get bored enough to quit the chewing. Could be excitment of POTENTIAL fun or excitement to come, that gets bit chewing going.

    I don't like it much myself, so our horses wear bits to get used to them during their beginning saddle training. Wearing bits for meals, practicing managing the mouthpieces with grain, hay, drinks, is part of learning here. Does seem to take the "fun" out of bit chewing for most animals. Getting bridled with a bit is NOT a reason for excitment. Oddly enough our most PATIENT horse likes to clink her bit. We got a loosejaw so she can lift and drop the mouthpiece, which she does while standing around waiting. She won't move a muscle for LONG times, if she can play with the bit. She is a very oral horse, so for the MANY good points she has, we ignore the clink of her bit when waiting around.

    The one I used to hate was the Spade bit wearing horses, that spun the copper wheels on those bits in the ring lineup. It could drive you CRAZY pretty quick! My horses then just wore plain ported bits, no noises.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      yeah I feel like its a boredom thing for him, but people have told me horses only chew bits when they're hurting/uncomfortable.

      Except, if it was causing him pain, wouldn't he do it ALL the time? It really only seems to be when we're standing still and theres nothing to hold his attention. Today we were standing still and his attention was absolutely focused on a mare next to him. Jumped the course a few times and took a breather while I talked to a friend. Nothing was there to hold his attention this time- cue the bit chewing. His teeth were just floated last month so I don't think it should be anything with them.

      I appreciate the answer Like I said, I just wanted to get a 2nd opinion on whether I was actually ignoring his way of telling me he was in pain. I just feel like he wouldn't be so relaxed if it was actually hurting him..

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by tec890 View Post
        yeah I feel like its a boredom thing for him, but people have told me horses only chew bits when they're hurting/uncomfortable.

        Except, if it was causing him pain, wouldn't he do it ALL the time? It really only seems to be when we're standing still and theres nothing to hold his attention. Today we were standing still and his attention was absolutely focused on a mare next to him. Jumped the course a few times and took a breather while I talked to a friend. Nothing was there to hold his attention this time- cue the bit chewing. His teeth were just floated last month so I don't think it should be anything with them.

        I appreciate the answer Like I said, I just wanted to get a 2nd opinion on whether I was actually ignoring his way of telling me he was in pain. I just feel like he wouldn't be so relaxed if it was actually hurting him..
        If it's causing him pain he would be more likely to throw his head around or have some other sort of bad reaction when you took up the rein, not just chew.

        Does your snaffle have rings or Ds? Just check that it is the correct width - that there is not a lot of bit sticking out either side of his mouth nor that it's so narrow that the O or D or whatever at the sides is pinching him and that it's not cranked up too tight (sounds like you have looked at that).

        Also, if he's working comfortably in the bit you would expect to see a reasonable amount of build up of saliva.

        If he's standing with his head down, looking calm, just chewing then he may well just be getting to know that bit, or bored.

        Perhaps he was nervous or in pain with his previous owner, but it sounds like you are doing just fine.

        One question - why are you leaving your flash very loose?

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          It's just a plain ring snaffle. I tried out my D ring snaffle first because that is what I used with my old TB gelding for eventing and such, but Tank was quick to show his displeasure with that bit. I do not think the edges are pinching him and he does not throw his head around or show any other sign of discomfort.

          I keep the flash loose as of right now because when I put it on for the first time the other day he about had a heart attack. I decided to use it in the first place because he had gotten into the habits of:
          A. throwing his head down and eating whenever he wanted
          and B. his previous owner let him get away with grabbing his bit in his teeth and running away with it because he was "just feeling feisty".

          I've been working on the second issue and the flash helps me. I am gradually tightening it though because he is very sensitive and has had a lot of dark moments in his past, and i don't want to traumatize him more. Maybe I was reading into it but I felt like the flash tightened to a normal range was a little jarring for him so I'm trying to work him into it slowly.

          Does that make sense? Or am I being irrational? ha. Also, I've heard a lot of negative comments about using a flash, but I feel like it's working great for me and Tank so far. What are yalls opinions on flash? Are they just a "quick fix" for a problem? I don't want me using a flash to come across as me not wanting to work with Tank on fixing any problems he might have.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Also for better reference here is a pic of him in the bit in question. To me, he looks relaxed. However, he WAS chewing/chomping when this picture was taken so I guess I could just be incredibly clueless.

            Please let me know yalls thoughts/opinions. Thanks

            https://twitter.com/#!/tec890/status...026496/photo/1

            Comment


            • #7
              Here's my thoughts.

              1) whoever told you that horses only chew their bits when they are in pain obviously has very little experience with a range of horses

              2) I have no issues with a flash but question why you really need to use one. I would take the flash off, leave the noseband on, give him a week or so to settle into that bit and see if you even need the flash

              3) Mrs/Mr Parelli that owned him before could have easily got him agitated with the bit, so let him get used to you with a quiet hand before messing with anything else

              4) If he throws his head down to eat then give him a sharp tap with a whip/crop and get him to keep moving on.

              5) He looks lovely and relaxed

              6) Quit worrying - you are over-analysing it all :-)

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