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bitting the fussy mouth... improving downward transitions.

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  • bitting the fussy mouth... improving downward transitions.

    ok. hints/tips/suggestions/what has worked for you time.

    6yo ASB gelding. Had him a month. He's really honest, and wants to be SO GOOD, but he gets upset if he thinks he's messing up. Trained as a 2 and 3 year old but has sat around since. Green broke. Walks, trots, canters. Wears his bridle and goes a NICE show trot (trots above level in a snow pad and a keg shoe. Wheeee!) but any defensiveness/nervousness shows up in his mouth. I put my mom up on him for a few minutes last weekend, just walking on light contact, and his mouth was not quiet for two strides in a row and he stuck his tongue over the bit and out the side of his mouth several times because my mom was being a weenie rider and wasn't giving him any sort of confidence. If I pick up the bit any higher, it'll be up in his teeth. It's not like it's dangling in his mouth. I tried dropping it a hole to see if he would feel a need to maybe carry the bit a little bit in his mouth would quiet him up a little (worked well on previous mouth rehab project...) but no luck there. I also did try a couple rides with the bit "he goes really easily in" (single joint twisted wire o-ring. Not really a fan but there are worse out there...) just to see if maybe the familiarity of it would give him a little more confidence... No cigar. Backed him down to a slow twist dr bristol full cheek, he's a lot quieter but still will flop his tongue over, usually only if he's being asked for a downward transition and he's resisting it. He generally will put it back where it belongs once hes feeling no longer pressured.
    He's also wall/end of arena dependent for downward transitions and very set in "showring routine" mode. W/T/C Reverse, W/T/C done. He anticipates the canter. He picks it right up, correct lead every time, but you can see and feel the anxiety over it. Right now, we've put the canter away and are just working walk/trot.

    His teeth were last floated in the fall, will be having him checked by my vet when I have him out for spring shots/coggins, etc.....

    His former owner/trainer says tongue tie will fix his issues. I don't like it. I dont' believe in it. Those fall in the same category for me as drop nosebands, spike nosebands, crank nosebands etc. They exist only to mask a problem. A properly trained horse doesn't need its mouth clamped shut and tongue tied down.

    Tonight I warmed him up at a trot (damn, he's fun. It's easy to get carried away at that fun trot and keep remembering that his training needs refining too if i want to have an equitation horse in a couple of years) , and then worked on walk/halt, trying to get him to stop promptly without bridle (he hears whoa, he immediately roots into the bridle. I would tell him WHOA and give him a couple strides with my seat deep/down and then stop him with the bridle and seat combined, and if he really keeps walking through it or rooting down against the bridle, take him immediately into a back pretty much back to where I asked for the halt. He did get more prompt and started needing less bridle, rooted back into it less.

    Two part question after that loooong explanation....

    The bit is closer but I think still no cigar. I'm considering picking up a ported snaffle to try on him and see if less tongue pressure makes him any happier or at least makes it more challenging to get his tongue over.... Any experience on these: http://www.bluegrasshorsesupply.com/...iece-1183.html
    http://www.horseloverz.com/Dee-Ring/...affle-Bit.html

    (would love to get hold of one of these to try out... but... expensive bit+gotta order it from the UK or australia= not totally an option right now http://www.thehorsebitshop.co.uk/product.php?xProd=514)

    And second... any hints/tips/drills that work well to put a more prompt halt on a horse?

  • #2
    Get a qualified (not the trainer suggesting a tongue tie on a green horse) trainer to help you. A green broke horse that has done nothing for years, needs to go back to the beginning, and learn how to accept a bit, and go forward, and straight. Putting a twisted wire bit, stopping and backing him, etc are not the way to go with a green, unfit horse. He isn't fit enough if he's just been sitting to properly balance himself with a rider, and doesn't know how to accept a bit if he was just green broke. Putting a rider with untrained hands/seat on him (like your mom, if she doesn't have educated hands) is unfair.
    Horses that aren't fit/or are unbalanced will root a little while they find their balance. Using twisted wires, and halting abruptly/backing will teach a green horse to go behind the bit.

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    • #3
      I would recommend having an equine dentist look at his mouth ASAP. I had a horse the same age do the same sort of thing with his tongue, the trainer's vet said his mouth was fine, the eq.dentist found a retained cap on a lower molar. Until then try wrapping a thin bit with Sealtex bit wrap.
      To teach stop, walk straight at the rail. When you feel the horse begin to stop, ask for a halt, and praise when you get it. Do this many times. Then ask for halt a step or two before the rail. Praise when you get it. Do this many times. Then ask for halt going along the rail. Lots of praise, do this many times. Then when you get a halt any time at the walk, repeat the steps at the trot and then the canter.

      Comment


      • #4
        If you don't want to wrap a bit this bit comes in Soft, Medium, and Firm texture.
        Soft is great for starting, or mouth issues. It also comes D-ring, and Full cheek.
        Contact info is in USA.
        http://www.equusport.com/item.php?it...ategory_id=130

        Comment


        • #5
          Some horses do not like jointed bits of any kind. My guy is very resistant to jointed anything. He will open his mouth, set his jaw, be very fussy, etc. Switched him to a low port pelham and all the nonsense stopped. He's light, very quiet mouthed and happy. Have you tried something with a mullen mouth or non-jointed?
          Lost in the Land of the Know It Alls

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            The only mullen/straight mouth that isn't a curb (horse is only snaffle broke and is a long way off from going into a full bridle) I have in my repertoire is an oddie. It comes from the age of dinosaurs (it was old when my grandparents got their first horses...) and I think is a hand made. It's a straight bar, loose ring but has two rings around the mouthpiece as well. Cheek pieces go to the floating rings, reins on the rings.

            can always give it a try though. Worse comes to worse, it goes back in the tack trunk.

            Today was a much more successful ride. Started to get some halts just from the seat without having to touch his mouth or him to respond to the request by rooting.
            csaper58- tried your suggested drill and it helped. the first couple times he got a little worked up and flipped his tongue as he continued straight at the wall . I'm gonna guess he's been kind of driven forward into stops using the wall as a brake in his previous training. He started to get it though.

            Comment


            • #7
              I would try something with a mullen mouth or a French link (not Dr. Bristol). My Arab did similar things with his mouth in the beginning. His chosen bits are the JP Korsteel oval mouth (has a bean instead of a flat link) eggbutt or a mullen mouth eggbutt snaffle.

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              • #8
                In my experience, most head issues (if not caused by pain from teeth that need floating) are not bit issues, but rather are riding hands issues. Work with a good trainer who understands how to ride from back to front with a giving soft hand.

                And ditch the "trainer" that suggested tying the tongue.
                Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by blairasb View Post
                  The only mullen/straight mouth that isn't a curb (horse is only snaffle broke and is a long way off from going into a full bridle) I have in my repertoire is an oddie. It comes from the age of dinosaurs (it was old when my grandparents got their first horses...) and I think is a hand made. It's a straight bar, loose ring but has two rings around the mouthpiece as well. Cheek pieces go to the floating rings, reins on the rings.
                  That sounds like a four ring driving bit, used when you don't want to have a seperate overcheck bit.

                  I have a student with a Morgan that does the same thing. I am having her maintain contact through all transitions and to work more from her seat for downward transitions. This horse's mouth was so bad that the previous owner gave up on bits and just used a bitless bridle on him. We have him going pretty well at home but he still gets a little anxious at shows and will sometimes bounce around in the bridle on his transitions. He is sired by Courage of Equinox and is drop dead gorgeous and is worth the effort.
                  Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
                  Bernard M. Baruch

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    amwrider- exactly. It's like the four ring bits except it's a loose ring instead of a half cheek. I'm just not sure if he'll like it because it's STRAIGHT. not even a hint of a curve so I think it's gonna give a LOT of tongue pressure. Though... I've had horses like bits that I thought there was no way in heck they'd do well in before....

                    candysgirl- I tried him in the oval mouth eggbutt I had for my last horse. He didn't seem to care for it.

                    The tongue thing has been an issue since he came to me and been consistent through a few different bits.

                    Our bit progression has been this- smooth french link. Was the first bit I was able to get my hands on when the horse arrived as I packed up most of my stuff when my gelding died in November. It was a light weight hollow mouth and also too wide in the mouth for him.

                    The next one i tried was a JP curve oval mouth eggbutt. he really didnt' seem to care for that one, the tongue was all over the place, chomping on the bit.

                    My next (and current) bit was the slow twist dr bristol full cheek. It's what I would call "barely" twisted. Theres a small turn to the metal in the distance between the cheek and the middle link that is totally unsharp. More of a bump than a sharp corner. His mouth is quiet 80% of the time in this one, finishes the ride with what the dressage set calls "lipstick foam", when he's doing something he feels confident about doing, he's quiet and his tongue stays in place. He only gets silly with his mouth when he's feeling challenged or anxious about his work and the bit is used in any way other than extremely light contact with a gentle shift to the bit (just fingers, not a big see saw motion) to ask him to balance up. So... this tells me we're close but still not quite right, and he may like something with less tongue pressure?

                    I tried a single joint twisted wire on him on three occasions. First time his mouth was QUIET. No tongue issue. Second time was pretty similar though I asked him for more time at the walk and more transitions instead of just going around and around at the trot... and he started to get fussy. Third time, his tongue was EVERYWHERE. Instead of our usual quiet alone time in the arena, it was a saturday so we had to share ring time with lessons, a very loud instructor and a couple of kids who got in his "bubble" a bit (not in a dangerous way, but he's not really used to working with other horses so if they get "too close" he's nervous. His mouth was crazy from start to finish time, grinding teeth, tongue out the side of his mouth by a FOOT, twisted upside down (I kid you not.)

                    Switched back to the slow twist Dr. B after that to some improvement though not complete. Again, quiet mouthed when doing easy stuff, when he feels challenged, there goes the tongue.

                    The trainer who suggested the tongue tie isn't my trainer , hes in the picture because he's the one who gave him to me (he's the SO of my best friend) and he's my farrier. No intention of using him as a trainer/instructor. I don't have a trainer per se, but I have the part time assistance of my mother, who isn't a really confident rider anymore (hasn't had a horse to ride in years) but is one hell of an instructor. I like to train a horse my way and took my last project from much more significant mouth troubles (he was a hard mouthed locked up mess wearing a mule bit, tongue tie, and spike noseband when I bought him. His work bridle set up before I lost him was the smooth oval mouth, no noseband needed and he was SLICK. But it's been 10 years since my last "bad mouth" rehab project and I wanted to make sure that I'm not forgetting something that could be of benefit.

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