Horses with Hard Mouths - Bitting Up. - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Bathurst, Australia.
Posts: 166
• Horses: 5
Horses with Hard Mouths - Bitting Up.

I want to get this out of the way like a DISCLAIMER. I do not advocate using stronger bits, nor do i advocate covering up or brushing aside horses with breaking problems, this horse will stop as soon as you say "woah" but when the rein aid is introduced, it's like he says "Eff you and eff that too" and continues on his merry way he has been broken for over 6 months now.

I have one horse and one horse only with a steel mouth, i know the beaks are in the brain, train him on a snaffle, use only a snaffle etc. But i feel now i am getting no where, my shoulder is hurting more and more after i ride him, and i have tried to sell him and cannot do it, he was returned to me because of this, i want to either fix it or work with it.
As a back ground, he was trained in harness as a pacer, he never raced but trialled.
If i Ask him to slow down he will rush through the aid/ignore it, continue at his speed/go faster. On a loose rein he wil just pick up and pick up and pick up speed ti he is near bolting and only the one rein stop helps there, i would nto like to let him do that.

he hardly turns, if i use the bit it's an argument/locks through the neck, stiffens the poll, crosses the jaw/opens his mouth, falls out through the should swing out the hind end or slams on the breaks.

Getting him up in speed is ridiculous to say the least, from walk to trot, he's okay, going back down he leans and sits on the hand, i throw my reisn away and he'll pick his speed back up.

The excercises i do are;

When he starts to lean, downwards or upwards transition, good old kick in the ribs and a nice tug upwards if he is leaning/yanking, not straight back or outwards.
Trot poles, in trot, lots of up and down transitions, trying to avoid canter, trying to let him be on a loose rein, he just fiddles though tosses his head around ect.

Bits i have tried ; single link fullcheek/loose ring snaffle/egg butt snaffle/d ring, sweet iron and copper roller loose ring snaffle, french link copper baucher.

In the baucher, i could not get him to stop, he knows woah verbally, he knows woah off the seat.

In the singles, he slows down and shovels his head forward opens his mouth and then yanks down.

In the loose ring french link, he would open his mouth and it would just slid merilly around , with a lip strap he would shovel his head between his knees.

Know, i wont say he hasn't improved, but i have a dislocating shoulder, and i cannot always fight with him, if i can fight with him half the time. And was wondering, if there are any other bits anyone would suggest, i have no option of trying different bits ill have to commit to a buy.

I do not want any sweet iron suggestions. And i have a riding instructor who has given me advice, but owuld liek a wider range of opinions.

I have considered a pelham but don't know if it will have any affect, or if it will be the right affect, opinions?

Advice, suggestions, experience, opinions greatly appreciated! :)

Ace, Duke, Red, , Trojan, Unnamed. *Sold* Babe, Shadow.

Last edited by Savvy Debonair; 12-29-2012 at 08:53 AM.
Savvy Debonair is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 09:03 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 5,791
• Horses: 4
Depending on your hands/coordination, I find a pelham can be a very useful training tool for the hard mouthed horse - but ONLY used with double reins, and ONLY on horses that don't drop their head to evade. I would not recommend it for this horse.

You want a bit with NO poll pressure. That immediately rules out all leverage bits.

I prefer something that has a mild action when possible, but a strong action where necessary. My bit of choice on my strong gelding is a pelham with double reins [this is my jumping/XC/trails bit, at home and on the flat when out he is in a snaffle] for this very reason. It has a very gentle action when only the snaffle rein is engaged, but if I engage the curb rein I can put on enough force to MAKE him listen. However as I said you do not want poll pressure as this horse has learned to drop his head to evade.

Crossing the jaw is best corrected not with a bit but with a noseband - grackle/figure 8 to be exact. The grackle was specifically designed to stop a horse crossing its jaw and for this purpose it is a wonderful piece of equipment.

I personally would prefer to see your horse re-educated to go in a snaffle, but sometimes it does take something with a bit more bite to do that. Get a good coach, and see what they suggest. Standardbreds on the track are trained to lean on something, which is why most of them go well in a tight overcheck, and the majority need re-mouthing as part of their training for a ridden career when they finish racing.

The other thing is not to give him solid pressure to resist or lean against. A check and release approach works brilliantly... RELEASE is the most important part. Constant pressure deadens the mouth and they will eventually ignore it. If you just tighten your fingers, release, check, release, check, release, increasing the power of the check with each go, most horses learn to respond more quickly. It's not necessarily pretty [I have been on horses I had to YANK to get them to respond, the important part is to give them the opportunity to respond to a lighter aid first] but it works.

They can't lean if they have nothing to lean ON so another thing you might try is bitless.

In the dead-mouthed horse, some of them respond better to a SOFTER bit. The Standie I had went best in a thick rubber snaffle, or else bitless.

blue eyed pony is offline  
post #3 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 09:20 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Olds, AB Canada
Posts: 2,749
• Horses: 2
You could also try a kineton noseband.

Horses are scared of two things... Things that move and things that don't.
Ray MacDonald is offline  
post #4 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 09:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 5,995
• Horses: 0
It takes two to pull. You have to be accommodating him by getting into these tug-o-wars.

Not every horse will develop a good snaffle mouth. Some horses and mules with very 'deep' mouths just do not physically have a good mouth in there anywhere. Most can be trained to have 'acceptable' mouths, but not all can be trained to have 'good' mouths.

Finally, I would teach this horse a very good 'one rein stop'. Here is a link to an old post I made that explains in detail how to do it. How we teach a 'One Rein Stop'

This works very well and will cure his stiffness and heavy mouth in turning also. You just just take his head away from him every time he does not listen and every time he speeds up. He will begin to listen very quickly. I have reschooled horses this way that would take their heads so hard to the ground that they nearly jerked a rider out of the saddle. Works every time.

visit us at
Cherie is offline  
post #5 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Bathurst, Australia.
Posts: 166
• Horses: 5
Yep i squeeze release to stop him, that is where he drops his head down and opens up the mouth aswell.

I didn't think the pelham would be a good approach to this situation at all actually, because of that curb.

We have been teaching with one rein stop, he is responding to it much better actually, i do love the one rein stop as a training aid

Yes Cherie; i often feel like i get into a battle with him because he just plows around and i often wonder why, if i sit back and squeeze release the head just goes further under himself, should i maybe lift my hand instead of staying sort of level with my hip area or the place i want it?

I have been told i have nice quiet hands, perhaps too quiet for this horse? I am not a huge fan of yanking on animals mouths as i feel i may damage it or make it worse, im guessing though, that is not the case? i haven't had to deal with a mouth like this before and all angles are appreciated!

But I have got the one rein stop going well, but it doesn't seem to be making him connect the dots between the squeeze release and stopping or slowing down, as people have said standies lean on the bit for racing, my tbs dont even have the same problem haha. That is why i am so puzzled, most horses o respond well to squeeze release, perhaps he stilll just doesn't under stand, even though i praise him like an idiot after he has responded for the 100 times i have asked lol :3

Ace, Duke, Red, , Trojan, Unnamed. *Sold* Babe, Shadow.
Savvy Debonair is offline  
post #6 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Bathurst, Australia.
Posts: 166
• Horses: 5
I have a grackle on him actually and i do find it is extremely useful, but i have lost that bridle somewhere in the million i actually have, i have never seen a kineton noseband, that is a interesting piece i must say!

I woud like to try hiim bitless and i will one day, if it is the key to the puzzle i will jump for joy, i do not plan on doing any dressage type events with him, i bought him to produce as a show jumper, and he has great fire in the belly, just need to unlock the other bits and pieces of his puzzle

Ace, Duke, Red, , Trojan, Unnamed. *Sold* Babe, Shadow.
Savvy Debonair is offline  
post #7 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 5,995
• Horses: 0
I would just do what I call 'one rein riding' until he gets more responsive and responds to using both reins at the same time. Horses can argue with a rider using both reins but can do little to fight using one rein at a time.

I would also put a nose-band / mouth-closer on him. I use one made of rope and not flat. I want the horse to learn to keep his mouth closed -- not just pry against a flat nose-band. I leave it loose enough to slide my hand between it and the horse's nose. That way, it does nothing when the horse is not trying to open his mouth wide.

I would also use a three-piece full cheek or dee ring snaffle with the nose-band.
smrobs and rookie like this.

visit us at
Cherie is offline  
post #8 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 06:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 490
• Horses: 0
Have you had him looked at by a chiropractor?
spurstop is offline  
post #9 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 08:12 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 2,249
• Horses: 0
I have known a few people who have retrained standardbreds (I am assuming your boy is one since you said pacer). One woman swears by bitless bridles. She says that they go better and respond better. She rides and drives her horses in bitless bridles.

I am a fan of three piece bits like french links. When racing or training they wear a snaffle and sort of lock up on the outside rein to communicate with the driver. Some people assume that they are taught to go faster when the reins are tightened. This is not traditionally true; however, depending on who did the initial breaking and training with your horse they could have taught him this. The theory is that the three piece does not allow them to lock up. I was really worried about putting my boy in a three piece and he is much happier in it than he was in a snaffle.

Have you tried instead of pulling back relaxing? I found with my boy if I asked to stop by pulling back with the reins he got fast. When I relaxed and thought it out he stops better before I fully ask. Does he respond to voice commands? If so start with voice command and start pairing that with the stop request.

I would also suggest you start on the ground working on stop and back up with voice commands. This would allow your shoulder to heal. It might be that he is exploiting your shoulder weakness. How long are you giving him in each bit?
rookie is offline  
post #10 of 18 Old 12-29-2012, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: The land of Enchantment
Posts: 8,318
• Horses: 0
My mare would walk right through the bit sometimes. She had no other problems (e.g., transitions, what not). She stops quite well w voice and seat, but if she got excited out on the trail or whatnot, she would nearly ignore the bit (single joint snaffe and french link) for stops. bUT, responded(es) perfectly and very lightly in a hackamore - no matter the circumstance. Anyway, it had me stumped. I ended up w a waterford, and I always use a bit hobble. The waterford did the trick - like magic!
Pressure straight back just gives them something to lean into, you might try lightly "see sawing" the pressure if you don't already,
Maybe you could give a hackamore a shot just to see.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
Missy May is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hard to catch horses xVannaIsLifex Horse Training 9 11-16-2012 06:25 PM
Losing horses is hard WSArabians Horse Talk 47 09-29-2012 07:20 PM
Happy Mouths eqkidd Horse Tack and Equipment 8 07-27-2011 01:00 PM
WTB Mullen mouths! Curbs or snaffles CloudsMystique Tack and Equipment Classifieds 0 11-03-2010 03:50 PM
General Thoughts on French Links and Oval Mouths AngelWithoutWings54 Horse Tack and Equipment 10 06-23-2010 01:15 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome