So....I have been riding in a bit sort of like this:
...since last fall. On mine, the snaffle hook-up is larger. I have ridden in it only hooked up to the snaffle ring, not to the shank. The plan was to use the shank hook up the week before, and during shows.
Anyway...this winter, he started to be very sensitive when I removed his bridle. No matter how carefully I try to remove it, he would end up throwing his head up, and seeming to wince away from it. At the same time, he will have not opened his mouth enough to even release the bit. I have tried very hard to find a way to remove the bridle without it bothering him, but have failed.
He has no issues being bridled, or while being ridden. Also, I have ridden with very little contact all winter, as I have been prepping for WP and trying to work on bridle-less. I have focused much on seat and body drive. Recently, I have begun riding with contact, but not heavy contact at all, and with A LOT of release.
Finally, the last time that I rode him, and removed his bridle with him wincing about it. I decided to check out his mouth (don't ask why I didn't think to look sooner). Up until this point, I had figured that his winter hair was making it awkward and uncomfortable to remove the bridle (I had even loosened the actual bridle quite a bit). Anyway, when I looked in his mouth, I saw that he had purple bruises on his bars about where the bit sits. His canine gums were also red and inflamed. I rinsed the area in a diluted paroxide as suggested in the Vet. manual, and have not bridled him since (two days ago).
I have a bit like above, but it is broken in two places instead of one...would that help?
I am going to keep him bridle-less for now, but I don't understand how this happened. It is also weird that he has always sort of held onto his bit with his teeth, and not readily opened his mouth for removal. At times, he has shaken so hard that his show bridle (no throat-latch) has come off of his head, but he held it in his mouth. This happened even when I was riding him in a loose ring snaffle.
Course of action?