Horse won't take bit - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 11-15-2008, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Horse won't take bit

My TB gelding is 14, and very nicely mannered. However, over the past few weeks, he won't take the bit. I did change the bit several months ago, from a simple snaffle to a french link. But he has gone well on the new bit and isn't tossing his head or anything. He's eating fine. No teeth problems.

Once I get the bit in, he's fine. And I can get the bit right up to his teeth, and tickle around his gums, but he won't budge. He leans into me for a bit of a cuddle, I think, but simply won't open his mouth.

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post #2 of 9 Old 11-15-2008, 08:51 PM
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well if youre sure theres no teeth problems, and the bit fits then this behavior shouldnt the bit cold??? try warming it in ur hands before you put it in, a really cold bit in their mouths is quite uncomfortable..

if this isnt the case, try putting ur finger in by the bars, he'll open his mouth..
but really this is a last resort

a horse should willingly open his mouth, and bend his head down to accept the bridle and bit. They should happily accept the bit once they feel it by their lips

equineangel91 is offline  
post #3 of 9 Old 11-16-2008, 04:16 PM
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Warm his bit up in warm water and smudge a bit of honey on it. Horses love honey, and they will take their bit easier with honey. And they won't lean into your hands when riding.
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post #4 of 9 Old 11-16-2008, 06:14 PM
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My horse does this sometimes as well. She doesn't have any teeth problems either. It's just stubborness. I just keep tickling around her gums and asking her until she takes it.

But I really like the honey idea. I'll have to try that.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Jubilee Rose is offline  
post #5 of 9 Old 11-16-2008, 06:28 PM
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There are several reasons why a horse won't take a bit.

1) It's cold, like already stated.
2) The rider's hands are too hard/rough.
3) The bit is placed too high in the mouth (horses hate tight bits).
4) The bit clanks the teet while being put in and taken out.
5) While being ridden, the horse's mouth is being pulled on, yanked on, he's being micromanaged, etc.

This is not him being stubborn. He's just giving you feedback. Something is bothering him and you need to figure out what it is. Do this right now....with your finger push on your eye-lid, increasing the pressure until it's uncomfortable. Ideally you should never put anymore pressure than that on the reins when you are riding. That's how light horses can be. Tune in to how much pressure you are using on his mouth when you ride. Do you use the reins to stop? Do you use them to turn? You shouldn't. If you do, this might be part of the problem.
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post #6 of 9 Old 11-16-2008, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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horse won't take the bit

Thanks for all your thoughtful replies. I'm going to try that honey trick (although, can you imagine the mess in my tack trunk?).

My horse in an OTTB who prefers to be ridden with a kind of heavy hand. I think he feels more confident knowing that I am in charge. Is that why these guys like that? In any event, I haven't mastered the heavy hand. I ride very light/elastic (many years of Arabs ... I just don't have the heart to drag on him), so I don't think he's complaining about the bit. And ... oddly ... my trainer asked me to tighten the bit a month ago, which I did. And then I loosened it two weeks ago. Maybe he prefers it tighter? Is that possible?

After a restless night of feeling guilty about our "argument" (hey ... ANOTHER guy who did me wrong/wouldn't cooperate/wasted my time!) I turned up at the barn today with a peace offering: carrots and apples. He seemed to have forgotten all about our quarrel (guys!), and took the bit after just a little tongue tickling. And then he went fine. So I still don't think it's the teeth.

It hasn't been that cold here. So I'm still trying to figure out what he's telling me. We've been doing a lot of circles, etc to get him really balanced. Would he really be remembering that and not be taking the bit 'cause he doesn't want to work? (He's normally happy with any "game" thrown his way ... maybe the circles aren't fun. Is he thinking that long term? Have had a dozen boyfriends -- human! -- who don't think that far ahead!)
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post #7 of 9 Old 11-16-2008, 07:39 PM
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I agree with Spirithorse! Well said!

No horse likes a heavy hand...they might tolerate it, but they never enjoy it. As Spirithorse, said horses normally don't like a tight bit. Sonny's bit is loose in his mouth...not even a full fold on his mouth (folds show how tight the bit is in the mouth....2 folds is normally the "normal" tightness that most English riders least all that I've met)...he listens alot better than when I had the 2 folds.

I'd still say getting the teeth inspected might be a good idea, just to make sure. Why not rule out the easy things first?

Sounds to me that you might be relying too much on the bit while riding, making the horse dislike the bit. Can you drop the reins (or take them off) and be able to make your horse go in a figure 8? What about stop and back up? If no, then you are relying too much on your reins which could be part of the problem
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post #8 of 9 Old 11-17-2008, 08:33 AM
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Taking the bit

Just an opinion... based on much observation of horses and people...

I don't disagree with many or most of the previous comments.

The vast majority of the time if a horse doesn't take the bit well, it is due to poor bridleing technique. Even our youngsters take the bit decently the first time and continue to do so until they are sold and old "i been riding for twenty years. Don't need no lessons." buys the horse and then we sometimes hear about issues taking the bit.

Get some gray headed horseperson that is quiet and has a reputation of being successful watch you and offer some help. I'll have my honey on toast.

olegreycowboy is offline  
post #9 of 9 Old 11-17-2008, 08:49 AM
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I do find it's more in the technique. I've got a pony who can be reluctant to take the bit, but more so with my younger sister than with myself. I am usually more self assured, assertive, and quick as I put the bridle on. She'll take it within a few seconds of the bit being placed at her teeth. (I always take a paper towel, run hot water over it, and rub it on the bit. This gets it warmer than using your hands, and does it faster.)

We occasionally bribe her to take it by 'feeding' her the bit along with a sugar cube that'll dissolve in a few moments. She knows very well when you have a sugar cube and when you don't. ^_^

I do pride myself on being able to maneuver fully from my seat and leg in figure eights and serpentines at walk and trot. I cannot, however, achieve a full stop without putting the slightest pressure on the bit. I'm not sure about backing without the reins, either. We had to teach her how to back up and I'm not even sure we did it right, so that might make it more difficult.... egh
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