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skidroe

Horse Is Not Accepting Bit

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Ugh! My 11-year old quarterhorse started giving me fits about 4 months ago with not accepting the bit when I go to tack him up. My vet said he had several sharp points in his mouth so I understood why he wouldn't want a bit in his mouth. I has his teeth floated and guess what--still tosses his head to the moon and back in an effort to avoid it. :bang_head: I never had this problem with him before, and I wonder if he just got used to avoiding because it was painful and that's what he's now learned. GRRRRRR. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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You could be right - horses will anticipate pain readily and take a while to realize it doesn't hurt any more. (Not always - I know a mare who was horrible and then they took her wolf teeth out and she was a different horse the very first time she was ridden afterwards).

But, first, I'd make sure:

1. That his teeth really are good.

2. That he hasn't put himself 'out' in the neck or poll by tossing his head to the moon and back, that then becomes a self-perpetuating problem.

3. If this is only happening when he is being bridled, check his ears for sensitivity or pain reaction - he could have picked up ear mites.

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all good advice, but i'd also be curious to know how you offer the bit, what kind of bit you're using, and how you ride with it.

Edited by nick

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Also, if it does turn out to be a pain memory and he only does it when being bridled, you might try a bit of an incentive. There's nothing wrong with using treats to help overcome bad memories ;).

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all good advice, but i'd also be curious to know how you offer the bit, what kind of bit you're using, and how you ride with it.

Sorry, not sure what you mean by how the bit is offered and how I ride with it. I have been using a tapered dee snaffle.

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I mean does he lower his head and then resist bitting up, does he resist anything concerning his head etc. I was riding with a stainless steel double broken snaffle (thick) that my horse didn't care for at all. I then put him in a sweet iron and the change was remarkable. the dentist asked me to sniff one and then the other. the stainless steel stank and the sweet iron was neutral.

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Tapered dee - single or double joint? Material? Not enough information, I'm afraid. (Bitting is a very complex situation).

And again, is he resisting under saddle as well or just when being bridled?

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I mean does he lower his head and then resist bitting up, does he resist anything concerning his head etc. I was riding with a stainless steel double broken snaffle (thick) that my horse didn't care for at all. I then put him in a sweet iron and the change was remarkable. the dentist asked me to sniff one and then the other. the stainless steel stank and the sweet iron was neutral.

He lowers his head and will keep it level until I get the bit close to his mouth and then he fights. I will check his ears tonight but I haven't noticed any issues with them (I can slip the bridle over his ears without a problem). The snaffle is a single joint, kind of thick, but I've had it a long time and don't remember what the material is. I recently bought a Korsteel full cheek snaffle but I think it's stainless.

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:confused0024:

how do you get the bridle over his ears without putting the bit in his mouth? sniff the bit. if it stinks that might be a clue.

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:confused0024:

how do you get the bridle over his ears without putting the bit in his mouth? sniff the bit. if it stinks that might be a clue.

I have loosened the headstall as far as it will go and I can get it over his ears.

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why do you do that? I loosen mine up by 3 holes just so I don't cram the bit in my horse's mouth, but he takes it and then I tighten it up.

there is something unpalatable about it. start trying some others, like a sweet iron. just about every horse I know seems to like that material.

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why do you do that? I loosen mine up by 3 holes just so I don't cram the bit in my horse's mouth, but he takes it and then I tighten it up.

there is something unpalatable about it. start trying some others, like a sweet iron. just about every horse I know seems to like that material.

Nick, it sounds to me like we are trying to achieve the same thing by loosening the headstall. :smilie: I smelled the bit last night and although it smelled more "steel" than my other ones, I wouldn't say it stinks. I am going to try a sweet iron this weekend and see if that helps.

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I don't loosen the bit.

But, I am very careful on how I both put the bit in the horse;s mouth and remove it.

Ditto to possible pain memory, or teeth still a problem, etc, BUT many horses get hard to bridle because they have that bit clanged against their teeth, either by not being taught to lower their head and just accept that bit on their own, thus opening their mouth for the bit, or, by having that bridle just pulled off, versus waiting for the horse to drop that bit and open his mouth

Far as resistance under saddle to abit, unless there is a real physical reason, it is often due tot he horse having an un educated mouth, and/or wrong use of that bit by the rider, who hangs on that bit, rides mostly with their hands, versus with legs ans seat, rewarding the horse with bit relief when he is responding correctly

The horse can't 'learn the right answer', if you never show him where he is correct, by giving that total release

Instead, he will seek it on his own,m, the only way he can, by pulling and tossing his head,or by getting behind the vertical

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I don't loosen the bit.

But, I am very careful on how I both put the bit in the horse;s mouth and remove it.

Ditto to possible pain memory, or teeth still a problem, etc, BUT many horses get hard to bridle because they have that bit clanged against their teeth, either by not being taught to lower their head and just accept that bit on their own, thus opening their mouth for the bit, or, by having that bridle just pulled off, versus waiting for the horse to drop that bit and open his mouth

Far as resistance under saddle to abit, unless there is a real physical reason, it is often due tot he horse having an un educated mouth, and/or wrong use of that bit by the rider, who hangs on that bit, rides mostly with their hands, versus with legs ans seat, rewarding the horse with bit relief when he is responding correctly

The horse can't 'learn the right answer', if you never show him where he is correct, by giving that total release

Instead, he will seek it on his own,m, the only way he can, by pulling and tossing his head,or by getting behind the vertical

Excellent advice Smilie! Thanks so much--I will be working on all of this over the weekend.

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That definitely sounds like he wants to please but is remembering pain.

I'd definitely try an incentive. Not saying Smillie's wrong, of course, but a bit of molasses or unsweetened apple sauce might help him realize this bit thing isn't so bad.

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