Unsteady in the mouth

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Unsteady in the mouth

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    12-09-2010, 02:29 AM
Unsteady in the mouth

I have recently taken on an 8 year old, dutch warmblood gelding who has been out of work for over 8 months due to his not getting on with his owner/rider.
He is an extremely sensitive soul, is very wary and in the past has tied up from stress under saddle. Because of this, I am taking him VERY slowly, the first 3 weeks were spent working with him on the ground, getting him yielding every part of his body and developing his trust/respect. I then began lunging him lightly before finally starting him under saddle.
I noticed even in the ground work session, that he is very 'mouthy'. His teeth have been recently attended to, and after speaking to the owner, it seems he has been like this from day one. They have tried about 10 different types of bits and he has continued to fuss in the mouth. Currently he is in a thick, loose ring french snaffle.

His work under saddle is really starting to develop, I am starting to find his 'forward button' and he is becoming far more supple and willing, and in the last week I have started to get quite a good connection in his trot work. He comes beautifully up to the bridle and is starting to weight his haunches, but despite his willingness to meet the contact he continues to fuss in the mouth.

People watching him work have all commented on how softly he is travelling, and say he is far more relaxed than they have seen him in the past, so are surprised that he is still so fussy in the mouth. He is progressing in leaps and bounds, and I would like to start him at an unofficial prepatory/preliminary test (I think this is training level in the US??) in January to see how he copes with the atmosphere. However I would really like to sort out this mouthing issue before I take him out in public.... if only I was willing to strap his mouth shut with a flash strap :P

Any ideas on possible bits to try with him, or methods of training to try and curb this, I am thinking it may have just become a habit with him.
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    12-09-2010, 03:08 AM
It does sound like just a habit for him... though perhaps other members will have more advice. I volunteered at a therapeutic riding program that had been given a dutch warmblood because he would stick his tongue out while being ridden regardless of bit, tack or anything. It apparently made him unsuitable for dressage competition, so he became a therapy horse.

Sounds like he's got a nice bit as it is, but if you have a few spares of something different lying around, you might pop it in his mouth just for kicks. Also, maybe play with the adjustment of the cheek straps? Some horses are finicky about how high or low the bit is in their mouth. Other than that, it sounds like you're riding him well. He may continue to settle.
    12-09-2010, 03:18 AM
Thanks for the reply Eolith, luckily he does not stick his tongue out or grind the bit, which is usually a sign of crookedness and dodgy riding/tension! It is just a constant mouthing and chewing of it, but not a content, soft jaw chew, its difficult to describe, he doesn't seem agitated anywhere through his body, I can move him anywhere, just in the mouth. I've ridden him with the cheek straps adjusted 2 holes variation in either direction and it made no difference. I might try him in a fixed ring french snaffle soon and see if that does anything.
Such a pain as he's so relaxed elsewhere and I know there are some judges that will hammer his for being fussy in the mouth even if he is totally relaxed and through his back!
    12-09-2010, 07:23 AM
Kathy, have you tried eggbutt or D-ring rather than loose rings on him? I'm not sure they are legal for showing down there, but at least you can try and if he'll get better later switch back to loose ring. From my (although rather limited) experience some horses really prefer the stability of eggbutt and go much more quite in it while were chomping on loose ring constantly
    12-09-2010, 07:27 AM
Yep he's had an eggbutt and it didn't do anything, but I don't think he's had one as a french link so I'll try mine on him when I work him tomorrow. I think it's become more habit than bit issue now though, after being tried in so many other bits :/
    12-09-2010, 07:33 AM
Just curious, have you tried oval mouth? I switched from french link to oval mouth over a year back and I could tell a difference: they both definitely preferred the oval one (especially my paint, who is also rather busy in her mouth).

In any case good luck! If you find out something that work let us know - I'd be very curious to hear about it!
    12-09-2010, 12:52 PM
Although you may think that a thick bit is best for a horse, if the horse has a low pallette a thin bit may be more comfortable. See if you can borrow some thinner bits to see what works for him.
    12-09-2010, 12:59 PM
I would try a thinner bit maybe try rubber or copper as well?
Also is there anywhere you can try in a mullen moutjh piece on him?
    12-09-2010, 06:05 PM
Vibrate the reins in an alternating pattern then release.
    12-09-2010, 06:22 PM
Yep tried thinner bits too and he was actually worse in them! Have tried both a fixed and loose ring oval mouth and no difference in either of them.

Spirithorse, he is not blocked in the jaw or poll, I am a believer in 'talking' to the horse's mouth through the rein so that the contact is not fixed, just a gentle vibration to keep the bit active, so the problem is not that he has a solid force in his mouth. He is beautiful and supple through the forehand so no amount of 'vibrating' is going to stop the mouthing of the bit.

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