Horse plays with shank of bit - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Horse plays with shank of bit

The issue is that sometimes Lisa will play with the (usually left) shank of her bit and get it between her lips or between her teeth - new version of getting the bit between the teeth :)

It doesn't seem to me to be anything more than just playing, but it's annoying and what if she ever figured out that if she held on to it that I wouldn't have the command control that I usually have? Today once when I flipped the rein to get her to drop the shank (jeeze that sounds weird), instead I had to give it a little pull and I heard it grate against her teeth. Eek - it gave me shivers hearing that.

She's a good solid quiet horse. This never appears to me to be anything tied to pain, not wanting to do something or go somewhere. Just fiddling. She'll do it riding or standing mounted or just standing there alone. She's been in this bit for at least a year now and she responds very well with it.

So, how do I get her to stop?

MDH took the pic for me while I was on her, reins in hand, so you could see the position of the bit "in use". This is the usual rein position for us when riding.
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 06:53 PM
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Try a bit called a Texas grazing bit itfyou can find one with the same style mouthpiece. It has swept back shanks which make it difficult for the horse to grab.
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 07:21 PM
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Some horses just do it. You can try a bit with a roller in it to "entertain" her. Or as saddlebag suggested, use a bit with swept back shanks.

I've had two horses that grabbed their bit shanks. One was a smaller Nokita/Welsch cross we used to have. She was only about 13.1 hands so she had a short neck. whenever she grabbed her bit, I'd reach toward and GRAB her ear. She HATED it!!! She quickly learned that every time she went to play with her bit, she got her ear grabbed. She quit.

The other horse that does it is my moms horse. Ear thing didn't work with her, plus she was a full size horse and harder to reach her ear, so we just ride her in a solid grazing bit. The shanks don't move. She can't grab them. She rides great and honestly you could ride her in a halter, so it didn't really matter what bit you put in her mouth so we just used one she couldn't grab.
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 08:12 PM
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I've read a bit like this makes it harder for the horse to grab a shank:

My horses don't grab at the shanks, so I have no idea if it is true. Some folks say a bit guard will also help. Again, I have no first-hand knowledge. Good luck, and if you find something that works, please share!
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"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 10:23 PM
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You mean they don't outgrow this? Sigh! My 3.5 yr old has done this forever (well, about a year since he's only been under saddle about that long) and I always hoped it's because he's a mouthy baby and teething.

He does it a lot, just about anytime we stop and sometimes when moving. I know he's teething because his canines are starting to come in and he's always trying to chew the reins as well as grab the bit shank.

A fixed shank and even a grazing shank didn't help with my guy....he still grabs it and gets it in his mouth. Actually the grazing shank might have been the worst because once he grabbed it and I thought it was going to be stuck in his mouth....the bend in the shank made it hard for him to release it back out.

So I am constantly trying to get the left rein and/or shank out of his mouth. I was hoping he would outgrow this behavior.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 10:25 PM
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PS. I haven't tried the military or "seven" shank as bsms posted because 1. I don't own one and 2. they always seem to have a ton leverage and I'm riding a youngster in a curb so I'm trying to go with as short of shanks as possible. But yes, I hear that is what the shank was designed for. So that might be a great choice for an older horse.
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 10:53 PM
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I'd try the 'S' shank style like bsms suggested.

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post #8 of 12 Old 03-23-2014, 02:43 AM
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It almost looks like that bit is a bit low in her mouth, but it's hard to say due to the angle and the dark shadowing. check to be sure that it isn't so low as to bang against her front or canine teeth.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-23-2014, 03:03 AM
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bsms--Bomb looking bit.

Subbing to see what others say~

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-23-2014, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Ontario
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I might try a grazing bit or the one bsms posted - I'll keep an eye out and see what deals come my way. I'm a bit concerned about TrailHorseRider's experience with the grazing bit though. Scarey - what if she did get it stuck in there? eek.

Tinyliny - I don't think the bit sits too low. I'll double check, but when I first got this bit I asked for guidance and we all came to this position. Of course, those pics were better. Its so difficult to take pictures of a dark bay, especially in the winter. There is no contrast. She never gives me a hard time with the bit: bridling, unbridling, riding, leading, grazing. Other than this shank play.

Oh and she didn't do this at the beginning with the bit; it really seems just like some fun thing she found. A roller bit might be a thought; I'd have to look for one without a port. Actually, now that I think about it, she also used to play with the lead rope, but not as much as the shank.

I supposed I could also move back to the french link; just she holds herself and responds better with this bit. Not a lot of difference, but it's enough for me to notice and I'm no pro.

Thanks for the input. Sounds like training her out of it won't be easy. Maybe I'll put something on the shanks until I have a chance to try another bit. Not really bad tasting, just icky. Like pine sap
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