Un-responsive mouth? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Un-responsive mouth?

Hi all!

This isn't my horse, but it made me wonder.

My friend has a 26 yo Quarter horse. He's had a few owners, but she's had him for four years.

She rides western and english, his bit is always a full cheek snaffle.

If she puts him in a loose ring, or anything else, he will not listen. At all.
The point of a full cheek/D ring is so that they feel the pressure on their face and move away from it, correct?

My mare does fine in all three, why won't he listen? Just because he's used to it?

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post #2 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 05:02 PM
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Probably because that is the way he has been ridden. Heavy or ungiving hands that constantly jag him in the mouth, whether intentional or not. It doesn't have to be a rider ripping at the horse's mouth that will create an unresponsive mouth - just a rider that doesn't have enough of an independent seat to be able to follow every motion of the horse to give the horse confidence in the rider's hands.
Just because your horse is responsive in those bits, does not mean every horse will be.

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post #3 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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Ahh. That makes sense
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 05:29 PM
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But you say he is ok in the full cheek, but bad in a loose ring? Some horses don't like the way a loose ring makes it a bit harder for them to "lean" on the bit. IF the horse is in a habit of leaning hard on the bit to get it out of the rider's hands, then in the loose ring, it has a harder time of taking over.

It would take concerted and focussed training to make him soft and responsive in any bit, but it can be done.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 07:09 PM
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Have her try tickling the rein with her pinky.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 08:57 PM
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He may not know what is being asked, even at 26 years. May have never had good, clear, consistant signals given. Pressure can be felt even over very calloused areas of the body. Even if nerves were damaged on the bars of a horse's mouth, they can still sense pressure beneath that area and can learn to respond to lighter cues.

If it is a problem, she can play around with cuing more off her seat and legs.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 09:02 PM
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Boots, that is correct. People often assume that an unresponsive mouth is caused by nerve damage or callus build up.
It is actually a training issue - heavy/heard/unforgiving hands create a horse that switches off to the rein aids, as they become so jumbled and uncomfortable after a period of bad riding.
Put a good, feeling, sensitive rider on the horse for a couple of riders and you'd be amazed at the difference in the horse's responsiveness, when it learns that it's not going to get gobbed every few seconds.

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post #8 of 11 Old 01-30-2013, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!
I don't keep a hawk eye on her while we ride, but i've never noticed heavy hands. I know she doesn't use her seat though.

Could it ever be just from a different feel?
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-31-2013, 01:10 AM
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If she doesn't use her seat, then she's using her hands.
As said above, it doesn't have to be heavy hands, just unsteady hands. If she's not using her seat, then she is not remaining balanced through her core and her hands will be unstable as a result. Some horses will learn to ignore the reins very quickly through seemingly not much issue on the rider's part, others will put up with a lot more.

There's always the obvious and generic - teeth need doing, bit may not fit correctly/horse doesn't like bit scenario as well, but in most cases, a 'hard' mouth comes about due to rider faults.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-31-2013, 08:31 PM
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I'm assuming your talking about Skip?

Skip used to actually be very responsive. That was the only thing I ever liked about that darn horse what that with the slightest pressure on the reins I knew he would stop. As a teenager when I had friends over to ride I'd actually put them on him over Blue since he never bucked on the trail, I knew if I put them on Blue they would be in for a gallop back to the barn the second they let their guard down.
His owner is very unstable and I'm guessing her lack of balance is a big cause of his unresponsiveness. Although when was the last time he had his teeth done. I know last year she had said she had never had them done so the last time would be when I owned him back in 2005.
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