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Non-forceful methods to get him to stop playing with the bit already?

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  • Non-forceful methods to get him to stop playing with the bit already?

    My 11yro Arab gelding looooves to mouth everything. He chews, he licks, he grabs, he sucks on his lead rope like a pacifier, he unties himself at the hitching post, he turns on arena sprinklers, he chewed through a lead rope on a trailer ride (!!!)...you follow.

    Well, this also means that when we ride, sometimes he sucks the bit back, or puts his tongue over it, or sucks his tongue back, or otherwise does things to make me constantly half halting and wiggling the bit gently, mumbling, "Let. GO." He's the kind of horse that LOOKS for the bit as soon as I start bridling him. (He's also the kind that tries to chew on the reins and/or lungeline the moment they're accessible to him.)

    A trainer I haul out to for riding lessons has adjusted his caveson up and cranked it shut tight, and talks about using a tongue tie and/or a flash.

    Thing is, I'd like to work with him rather than force him. The trainer tried--oh crud, what was it? I think it was a doc bristol--something different than the slow twisted D-ring snaffle I ride him in, to little effect.

    Is there a bit that'll keep my busy boy busy, yet attentive? I know there are rollers in Western bits--is there something like that in English? (I ride hunter pleasure, FTR.)
    SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
    CP Trilogy 2002-2015
    My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

  • #2
    Maybe try a key bit?


    • #3
      Try a broken roller snaffle (think I have the terminology right) or a big rubber snaffle, with a flash if you need it. That's what I had to use for Bluey, the rubber snaffle and a flash.


      • #4
        If you haven't tried the key bit, it'd be my suggestion. When I was grooming, the trainer I worked for had a GP horse that had to do his flat work in it or he'd start performing interpretive airs about the ground.
        Blogging - cause who doesn't love hearing that someone else is wrestling with the same challenges? If The Saddle Fits


        • #5
          Man- I wish I could find the exact bit online. NEVERMIND - found one. I have this D ring snaffle, that has a large copper roller barrel in the center. Instead of two joints, the mouth pieces come into the barrel - and have a ball type socket. This prevents the mouth piece of the bit from doing the "nut cracker" action that most bits do - and thus, its harder for my horse to pull the bit up into her molars and chomp on it (which she likes to do). Its not straight mouthed like a mullen mouth - but yet has much less movement than a standard snaffle.

          Like this:


          It appears to be a "western" bit. Mine is a normal silver color (stainless steel).
          APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


          • #6
            I vote for a flash. I have tried mullens, single-joints, French links, and NOTHING stops Lucky from fiddling with the bit. And I notice in all his race pictures he's got a flash and/or tongue tie. I begin to see why. My other option is going bitless.
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            • #7
              A mouthing bridle?

              take a snaffle hanger or old rein and a couple rivets, with a snaffle or whatever you ride in and just let him wear it for a while. Let him wear while you clean stalls, feed, etc. My trainer has used them for years. He has some great ones made of a curb bit (with the shanks cut off) and a bradoon to mouth his horses.
              Visit my Spoonflower shop


              • #8
                Originally posted by red mares View Post
                A mouthing bridle?

                take a snaffle hanger or old rein and a couple rivets, with a snaffle or whatever you ride in and just let him wear it for a while. Let him wear while you clean stalls, feed, etc. My trainer has used them for years. He has some great ones made of a curb bit (with the shanks cut off) and a bradoon to mouth his horses.
                Yep, and hang it a little low so horse has to carry it a little. Make sure there is nothing in the stall he can catch it on.


                • #9
                  We started with a plain, medium sized D ring basic snaffle.
                  With horses that play with the bit, you may have already tried this, keep changing one or two holes up and down and up and down and so on and put them to work with transitions and such, so they don't have time to play.

                  Works on most we had do that, before going on to change bits.


                  • #10
                    If he likes to chew everything, is it possible it isn't a bit issue, but rather an anxiety/coping issue? Or ulcers/belly issues? Dental issue?

                    Could also go at it by really discouraging him from chewing the other items so he looses his oral fixation by making the lead ropes, reins and so on taste awful.
                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                    • Original Poster

                      Ooh, the key bit has his name written all over it. I'll see if the tack store has one.

                      red mares, heh, there's a reason I call myself a perpetual newbie--I'm afraid I did not understand what you wrote. I don't know what a snaffle hanger is, or a mouthing bridle. Googling didn't help me too much--just lots of pics of snaffle bridles. Are you saying maybe just put him in a snaffle bit (with a basic headstall holding it in place) and have him wear it for a long period of time, like in his stall doing his normal day horse thing?

                      CHT, his teeth were done just a few months ago, and there were no significant issues there. Some wave mouth needing correcting, but not severe. Ulcers/belly issues--no, vet didn't see any indicators of those (we were checking on weight loss, which honestly just seemed to be because he needed more groceries--he's regained quite a bit of it just increasing his hay). And as far as anxiety--I don't know. My mare before him, absolutely--she would chomp the living crap out of her bits whenever you'd ask her to start working. Loose rein on the trail, no. Working in the arena, chompchompchomp. She was an anxious thing. This boy will play with his bit no matter what or where, though on the trail he's often too distracted by the sights to chomp/grab/play/fiddle.

                      In the ring, I try to keep him busy to distract him. But, with our first schooling show coming up on Sunday (he's a show veteran--this is just our first together and my first in *gulp* two years), I need to be able to just ride the rail. Yesterday doing that, he nearly wore my forearms out as I was constantly squeezing, releasing, and fiddling to get him to let go and focus.
                      SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                      CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                      My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


                      • Original Poster

                        Some pics of Mouthy McMoutherson:

                        Chomping the lead rope while tied to the trailer (at a hitching post, he's busy working on untying himself)

                        Sucking on the leadrope while I paused to photograph my son during a leadline ride. My son is very shy, obviously.

                        One for his trophy wall

                        Pony pacifier

                        Drinking from the water fountain

                        Fleeing the scene of the crime after turning on the arena sprinkler

                        Ooh, a tree? Can I eat it?
                        Last edited by Lauruffian; Jun. 6, 2013, 03:48 PM. Reason: Added last pic link
                        SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                        CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                        My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


                        • #13
                          I have a bit mouthy mare. I did try a roller bit and that made things worse. She has no teeth issues. She does have a low palette, so have her in a very low port bit.

                          the other day when the farrier was out, she had my whole glove in her mouth chewing it. My SSG all weather glove. She is black the glove dark navy blue with black palm, so it was not noticeable right away. I asked her to give it to me, she did. Amazing all the chewing the glove was dry? Silly horse. She isn't always a chew on the lead rope like you cute bay arab. Not on the reins either, but is busy with her bit. I guess I could try a flash, hate to though.

                          My mare will drink from a real bird bath fountain. Silly girl. She is not nippy or even touches a person with her mouth. I think she may do this due to being bored and trying to entertain herself?????

                          In an S hack she doesn't (obviously) chew on the bit. But it doesn't have enough whoa for her, but she does very well in it. She can be a pushy girl in it, she is a forward type horse, and also sensitive. Fun ride though.


                          • #14
                            A snaffle hanger is the piece that hangs the snaffle in a full bridle and looks like this:

                            A piece of thin leather and a couple chicago screws would work too, just so there's something holding it in his mouth. Not sure I'd clip it to a halter, I'd rather have it on something cheap that will break.

                            Are you saying maybe just put him in a snaffle bit (with a basic headstall holding it in place) and have him wear it for a long period of time, like in his stall doing his normal day horse thing?
                            That's it. Just let him chew himself until he's completely bored with it and doesn't notice it. If you had a small (not multiple acres) turnout, you could leave it on him there, too. My mom's calf roping buddies on occaison left a bit in a horse's mouth for a day or two, until they just got over it. Ate with it and everything.
                            Visit my Spoonflower shop


                            • #15
                              You have had some great suggestions here, and I'll make one more (just because not everything works for all horses!).

                              You might try a double-jointed baucher bit. A lot of tack shops carry them (StateLine, etc.), and they often do help.

                              This site has a lot of interesting information on bits (scroll down to see what it says about the baucher and other types of snaffles):

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


                              • #16
                                No suggestions here, just wanted to say that he is really pretty! One of mine also chews on lead ropes like a pacifier.
                                http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
                                The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
                                Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
                                Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding