Smilie

Four Main Reasons A Horse Does Not Accept A Bit

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Well, in the interest of helping to keep this board alive, I am pasting apost I started on another board, being too lazy to re -write it.! I will only paste what I wrote, and no other replies.

Four main reasons why a horse does not accept a bit
I read an article by Dana Hokana, which I think has some very useful points, far as a horse not accepting a bit by gaping his mouth, mouthing the bit, getting upset when your draw back on the reins or ask for contact

Often the excuse is made that the horse has 'too soft or sensitive a mouth,' thus I thought I would summarize key points

The non acceptance stems from 4 main points

1/ the horse needs dental work done in his mouth

2/ The horse has developed a learned behavior or conditioned response
of opening his mouth
The majority of problems with a horse gapping or showing resistance with his mouth are learned conditioned response,The rider has pulled or bumped on his mouth and the horse
reacted negatively and the rider released
A negative reaction may include gaping, pulling back and refusing to give or gnashing and grinding of teeth
You have to ride mindfully and communicate correctly with your hands
Won't go into how that mindful riding is done, nor how to re program a horse that has developed these habits, due to bad riding

3/ The horse has a stiffness or pain in the neck or elsewhere


4/ a wrong or ill fitting bit

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Then, the elaboration on that learned behavior, that I did post, as a follow up:

Correct, and sorry if I did not mention that given.
It can even be a combo of more than one.
Once the physical reasons have been ruled out, one can then concentrate on that learned behavior

I will go a bit into how to reprogram a horse, if the reason is that learned behavior

You need to start with small victories. To achieve these, you have to understand the fundamentals of the pickup
There are three main components tot he pickup
-the approach
- the draw, pull or bump
-the release

The draw must be smooth and not too abrupt. Riders who jerk with their first approach (the movement of being out of contact with the horse's face, to in contact ) end up with horses that either brace against them or become over reactive
Many horses that gape, are the product of riders who jerk on their first approach. The horse opens his mouth to escape from the jerk. By opening his mouth he avoids giving and softening in the jaw and becomes resistant

Bump an draw
This is when you give direction to the horse, and the draw is the first approach, and softer.However, if the horse is pulling back against the draw, that is time time a bump can be used, to get the horse to soften, then go back tot he draw
Many horses that gap are ones that as soon as the rider bridles their head, the rider throws the reins to them. The horse has not learned to be tolerant of or accepting of being held
To become well broke,it is important for the horse to allow you to hold him, if you chose, meaning he keeps his head and neck still, waiting for that release.
If a horse gets upset being held, then he needs to be held until he gives and gets quiet in his head and neck

The release, is the reward and clear approval of the horse's response
The release has to be clear and smooth, and the horse learns by that release.
Don't hang on , nor balance off of the horse;s mouth

Again, while I agree with what I have written here, , I am not taking credit as them being my words, as I have taken much of this from an article written by Dana Hokana, that I found very much tot he point and informative
Since it is from a magazine and not an internet site, could not simply use a link!

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if I may add one more point to that list based on personal experience, the type of metal that bit is made of can also be a cause. when the dentist was out last may for the annual check up I asked him to check for causes of an occasional gaping mouth and at times reluctance to open his mouth for the bit (double broke very expensive sprenger snaffle), clear preference with quiet mouth for sweet iron. he asked me to sniff both of them--the sprenger had a distinctively pungent metallic odor so I can only imagine how it tasted, and the sweet iron was absolutely neutral.

in horses guess it's also a matter of taste.

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#4 happens far more often than people think. The fit of the bit is not just the width. Too thick a bit, or too thin for comfort. Some horses have a thick tongue, or a low palate, among other things that should be taken into consideration.

Edited by ozland

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True, to what you both say, Nick and Oz.

I like a sweet iron mouth piece , with copper inlay

Agree, many people take the 'thicker the mouth piece', the milder to an extreme. A stock horse does not have the mouth size to comfortably accommodate abit designed for a warmblood

Some horses prefer more tongue pressure, thus a jointed mouth curb is great for them, while others prefer tongue relief, thus a curb with a wide port

Many people use rubber bits, but rubber dries a mouth, JMO

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I'm going to bring up two things:

1. If it's cold, then please, please be kind to your horse by warming the bit. I hang my bridle in the bathroom (the only part of the barn that's heated) for about twenty minutes. Dunking it in warm water works well too. Would you want something freezing cold pushed in your mouth? Nope.

2. This is an incident from many, many years ago. Somebody I know bought a very nice pony, and they listened to the advice that "when in doubt, jointed eggbutt snaffle" (Which I disagree with, but I suspect every large barn has the default bit they try first on every animal that comes in. Mine isn't a single jointed bit, but).

He immediately started stargazing. Within a few days they realized his gums were bleeding! No sharp edges on the bit - I'm forgetting the exact material, I think it may have been a non-stainless steel bit, or an older bit with nickel in it. Got the horse dentist to check on him.

His bars were bleeding for no apparent reason. Called the vet.

The diagnosis was that he was allergic to the bit.

A week of rest and then they put him in a rubber bit with guards so no metal touched his skin directly, and no further problems.

It's the only case of that I've ever heard of, but...I doubt it's the only one in the history of the world ;).

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Other things i'v seen is bits that are to small and rub sores in the corners of the mouth. Also a big pet peeve of mine is bits that aren't ajusted properly ,hanging to low in the mouth ,or cranked up to high so corners of mouth are being pulled on.

Edited by Jazzystar66

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Other things i'v seen is bits that are to small and rub sores in the corners of the mouth. Also a big pet peeve of mine is bits that aren't ajusted properly ,hanging to low in the mouth ,or cranked up to high so corners of mouth are being pulled on.

Yes and that is where fit comes in, or wrong bit. Guess one could add improper adjustment also, as a curb strap way to tight, or even in the wrong place. Seen the latter afew times, on those curbs (often correct bits ), where the curb strap is attached to those rings opposite the mouth piece, versus up where it should be

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I have even seen people insist on putting bits on the bridles backwards; not just snaffles but broken mouth with shanks, then wonder why the horse is giving them so much trouble.

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I'v seem people putting curb bits in horses mouths, that didn't have the first clue on how to respond to a D ring snaffle. I also think a lot of training issues start because of to severe of bit put in horses mouth.

Like on these horses who have no breaks,so lets grab a more severe bit to fix that,only to create another problem...so get an even bigger more severe bit. Then you run out of severe bits and nothing works,and you got a rank out of control horse, this was me i'am describing here. People need to learn about bit function and how to properly train their horses to respond to a bit.

If horse knows how to respond to bit properly,you won't need that gag bit...Guess i'v been down the severe bit road, ran out of severe bits to control my horse,so had to train him..and get control of his body and head.

Edited by Jazzystar66

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I've always been a huge fan of snaffles. If you know HOW to use one properly, you can do amazing things with it.

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Yes. There are. Shouldn't be too hard to find one the horse works well in.

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You'd think, but man, some people seem to find it difficult.

Or they find a bit the horse goes well in and never look further and then...okay, a while back I was supposed to be riding a big TB. He'd been off for a while and JUST come back sound (which meant he'd be unexploded ordnance). He was strong, hard to control, and tossed his head a lot.

When I tried to find his bridle it came up missing - somebody, thinking he was still unsound, had borrowed it to show another horse. Not quite thinking things through, I remembered this other horse had a head very similar in size, snagged his bridle, adjusted it to fit (making a careful note of the holes it had been on before) and rode.

He didn't toss his head once. I'd never HAD such an easy ride on that horse.

I was trying to work out what the heck I'd done when it hit me: The other horse went in a different bit! Oops!

We thought he was doing "well" in the bit he was in, but it turned out there was one he went a lot better in ;).

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Some people just don't bother. Shove a bit in and go. Annoys the fire outta me!

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Yep. And I have 3 horses and 17 different snaffles, 8 curbs. Reiners are shown in curbs, so.............

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And half the time in western it seems that same exact bit is a tom thumb. In English, people seem to go for the single jointed eggbutt snaffle as the default, which at least isn't a bad bit. It's my experience, though, that it doesn't suit nearly as many horses as people think it does.

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No tt in my barn! Around here they tend to use the thinnest twisted wire snaffle they can find. It doesn't suit most of their HANDS!

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And I bet they don't have any body control and are all riding the wrong end of the horse, right?

I have good hands and I wouldn't use a twisted wire snaffle. I personally see no use for one.

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Shameless - not the only one! An old showjumper gelding at work had a nickel or metal allergy - his mouth would bleed with a metal bit and even his sides from the stirrups or spurs - everything had to be rubber or similar and then he was fine.

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At least the stirrups didn't trigger a reaction. The owner didn't use spurs. (The last thing you needed with that horse was any encouragement to go faster and they weren't doing dressage).

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I have lots of different bits, and am a bit of a collector in that department, like many horse people. However, I could get along very well with about four basic bits

I don't have horses with warmblood size mouth, so a simple single jointed snaffle works great for starting every horse I started, over the last 30 years or so, at times alternating with a bosal

I buy good bits, as they last a lifetime-thus prefer sweet iron with some copper

Since I show, I move my horses on to a curb,after a year or two in a snaffle. For a transition bit, I like a short shanked jointed mouth curb, that is loose jawed.

As a note, all jointed mouth curbs are often referred to as either a TT or shanked snaffle, for convenience sake, but they are in reality not all TT, unless those shanks are fixed, and straight up and down, nor are they snaffles

Then, i like a curb with a medium port,and lots of tongue relief, and with loose jaw design.

Last, I like a curb with a slightly narrower port and fixed shanks, for a really broke horse

I guess I should throw in a 5th, as I do ride English at times (HUS) for that, I use a D ring snaffle, regardless of age, as I'm riding with two hands and contact

Yes, horses slightly prefer some bits, once you go on to a curb, with some rather having more tongue pressure and some with tongue relief and more bar pressure, but I have no problem riding any one of my horses in any bit, once they are at the curb stage (adjusting headstall, of course )

I have a slow twist snaffle, but I use such abit , short term, to lighten a horse that has gotten just a bit heavy in a plain snaffle

I also have a few correction bits, left over from my reining days (the term is a mis nommer )

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I've actually found very few horses that do not prefer a double jointed bit over a single jointed one - I think my personal default "First bit I try" would be a double jointed French link.

WHat do you do if you get a horse with a low palate that has issue with single joints, Smilie? In 30 years you must have...

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^^interesting that you post that. I switched my horse from a double broke sweet iron back to a western snaffle (also sweet iron). difference is remarkable!!

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It would appear so. And he likes thin. He was starting to go BTV when I'd ask for more (don't want to make that a habit) on the somewhat fatter double jointed sweet iron and now he's reaching for the contact.

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I have the feeling there was too much of the "nutcracker effect" on his tongue. And that it was too fat.

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