Horse who doesn't like taking the bit, maybe a bit change? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-11-2012, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Horse who doesn't like taking the bit, maybe a bit change?

Alrighty, I comment haven't gotten him just yet but I've heard lots about his bit problem.

First, background information on Hustler:
He's a nine year old 16hh quarter horse. His current owners said they were told by the previous owners that he used to rope. His current owners have had him about a year. Since they've had him, he has not been ridden regularly because he is too much for their son. They ride him in a single jointed snaffle, when he does take the bit. Which I hear is a pain. So, he usually rides in a mechanical hackamore. I feel that either his teeth need something done, or he's one of those horses who isn't a fan of the nutcracker action. And he possibly they haven't treated his mouth great, because judging by their "experienced" friend in the riding video he was pulling really hard when he was asked to stop. (in the mechanical hack)

Now, what I plan on doing when I get him is first check his teeth. Then, I'm going to work on lowering his head with as little pressure as possible on his poll. Once we have that down, I either want to try a dog bone french link snaffle with slobber straps, OR some form of curb with a roller. Maybe a jointed curb? Whether it's a snaffle or curb depends on how well he neck reins. I plan on barrel racing by the way

Do I sound like I'm going the right way?
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-11-2012, 09:16 PM
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My first question is how well does he let go of the bit? If it's been banged against his teeth a few times he will not want to take the bit.
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post #3 of 11 Old 09-11-2012, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'm unsure of that. Maybe they are letting it bang his teeth because he's tall, they are shorter, and they may not notice they are doing that. I'll find out Saturday when I go to test ride him.
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 02:30 AM
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If you go in a bit I would school in the french link, maybe even a lifesaver, snaffle. Definitely check his teeth like you said. Teach him the "head down" cue in the halter...You could also try a Myler comfort snaffle. Bailey, my other barrel mare, used to violently pull back when taking any sort of lightweight bit out of her mouth. But anything with weight, she was fine. Not sure why that was, but the havier the bit the happier she was. Might be another thing to consider. Also, maybe try the Jr. Cowhorse with the copper rollers or the sweet six lifesaver when you move him up. Maybe a light o ring combo bit too.

Or alternatively you could try the horse in a Little S Hack. That is a very nice hack for barrel racing, very light.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 02:51 AM
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Once you've cleared everything physical up, there are simply horses who are smart enough to not open their mouths when the bit comes, lol. Have you tried pushing your finger against his gums/tongue to get him to open up?

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post #6 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 03:03 AM
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maybe try a little karo syrup on the bit.. yummy little treat. sounds like they have banged his teeth , another problem overlooked when biting a horse is put your hand between his ears and pull the bit up, careful going over the ears and dont bend his ears.
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 09:17 AM
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Take the time to find out how he is with handling his ears, not with fingertips but with the palm of your hand. Can you move them around and apply a bit of pressure. If not, then this issue has to be dealt with first. Being one of their key survival senses horses can be very protective of their ears. In getting him to lower his head apply as much pressure as necessary to get him to drop his head even and inch and let go as if you got burned. It's the release that teaches. If he's tall, use a stool and hold the lead rope, don't tie him. You can also try just resting your hand on the poll and waiting. He may move around but again as soon as his head is a wee bit lower than when you started, release. It is key that the horse's eyes be lower than yours so that is your goal. This takes time and and should be part of your daily routine. When his nose will almost touch the ground it has a very calming effect. That is when you try stroking his ears.
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 01:21 PM
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It sounds like you already know what you are doing, but I'll post what I have always done to teach a horse to accept the bit. Maybe it will help with this horse.

First, the suggestion by Saddlebag to teach a horse to lower his head is a good one. Before you get to that point, though, you have to be able to get your hand on the horse's poll. I recently worked with a horse that would not let anyone touch his ears (and consequently the poll), so they were having a very tough time haltering and bridling the old gelding. I overcame this by getting a halter on him, then holding the lead, right at the snap with one hand and running my other hand up his forehead and over his ears repeatedly. Two keys in doing this: 1) He was not tied, just weight on the lead from my hand; 2) I did not try to rub his ears, just passed my hand over them. He would jerk his head away each time, and I held him under control with steady weight on the halter lead. I did this repeatedly without stopping, first on one side, then the other. After a few minutes he got tired of jerking his head when nothing bad was happening. Horses don't like to waste energy. When he decides jerking his head wastes energy and gives him no benefit, he will quit. It took me several sessions of 15-20 minutes each to get him to relax about his ears. He eventually decided he actually likes me rubbing his ears. I do it often, so he remembers that he likes it.

Now, stand on the left side of your horse, just aft of his head, you facing forward, and lay your right hand on his poll. Put down-pressure on his poll with your palm. Not a lot, just a little added weight. He will probably try several moves to get you to remove your hand. The very instant he drops his head (which is what you want), even a little bit, you instantly release the pressure and give him a good rub on the neck. Then do it again. It will take several times before he understands that you want him to lower his head when you put your hand on his poll, and that you will release the pressure when he does so. At that point you can start asking him to lower his head a little further each time before you release and reward. He will eventually lower his head as far as you wish.

Now, for bitting and bridling, hang the bridle from your right thumb, palm down. Place your forearm on the horse's poll/neck with your hand extending over his forehead. Drape the bridle over his nose, cheek pieces on either side with the bit hanging below his chin. Cradle the bit in your left hand (not the cheek pieces, but the bit itself) with the chin strap hanging out of the way (in position to slip under his chin when you slip the bit in his mouth). Now bring the bit up to the horse's lips by lifting with your right hand (the one on the poll - simply bend the wrist up to lift the bridle). Keep your right forearm on the neck/poll of the horse for control (remember you already taught him to lower his head this way). Now, you have the bit cradled in your left hand with the bit at the horse's lips. This brings your left thumb into perfect position to slip it in the left side of the horse's mouth, between his gums, right there where he/she has no teeth. Slip your thumb in his mouth and wiggle it against his tongue. He will open his mouth. When that happens, lift the bridle with your right wrist, gently pulling the bit into his mouth. Now, take your left hand, reach through the top of the bridle and pull his right ear through, then the left. Adjust the brow band and the throat latch, and you're good to go.

To unbridle, simply reverse the process. Slip your right thumb under the top of the bridle, placing your forearm on top of his neck for control (this discourages a horse from pulling away when he spits the bit out), place your left hand in front of his lips. Slip the top of the bridle over his ears and drop it down by bending the right wrist down, allowing the bit to gently slip out of his mouth into your waiting left hand, without allowing the bit to bang against his teeth. With a horse that tries to spit-and-run, I always hold the bit in place with my right (top) hand until he settles down, then drop the bit out. That's why the forearm on top of the neck is important for control.

I will try to take a few pictures and post them later this week to help explain it. Hope that helps.
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 01:57 PM
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When I got my mare I was told she didn't like bits-which was true-I rode her in rope-bridles or halters for a couple of years, until she started to take advantage. Then I got a french link snaffle & yes it has slobber guards & I've been using that & ooccaisionally switching to a plain D-ring. She's in her 20's now & we have had no further problems. Hope your situation is as easily solved. Love thenrie's post on bitting-very detailed!
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-13-2012, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! Y'all helped a lot. That's normally how I bridle a horse, arm resting thumb in the mouth. See, I haven't seen him myself yet, so they may just not know how lol. They say he picks hia head up where you can't reach, so I'll try myself and if he won't take it then we will work on the head down thing the way you said :) it was very detailed, I appreciate it!

I'm about to go buy a french link, or life saver snaffle here in the hour :) thanks everyone, I'll let y'all know how it goes when I ride him Saturday!
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