How to overcome horse clamping jaw shut when trying to tack up? - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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How to overcome horse clamping jaw shut when trying to tack up?

Over all I am enjoying my horse immensely! We're getting to know each other, and I am determined to progress slowly starting with walking exercises until I am sure she is actually listening to me. She's a good girl once I'm riding.

However, tacking up before a ride is becoming a battle of wills. At the moment it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 mins to get the bit in her mouth, and that's with a lot of coaxing. She clamps her jaw shut. I've never had a horse do that before!

So any advice on working with her to get her use to the bridle and bit? I've double checked the bridle, and bit, and tried different kinds, but she responds the same.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 08:32 PM
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She is refusing the bit so she doesn't have to work. When you have some extra time, take her bit and work with her. Once you get her to open her mouth, take the bit away. Keep practicing this until she opens easily. Then start leaving it in for a few seconds longer and longer and longer. Give her some breaks and lots of praise. You probably should spread this out over a few days. When you can leave it in, brush her out, take the bit out and let her be for the day. She is associating that the bit means work. You can change that though by doing this.
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Good advice. Yes she hasn't been worked much. The previous owners couldn't ride her due to health issues, and then I was away for 6 weeks just after I bought her. So now she doesn't want to work at all! I will give it a go and see if things improve.
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 08:47 PM
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Puting your finger in her mouth is another little trick to get her to open her mouth. Put your thumb in her mouth where there are no teeth and place pressure on her tounge/wiggle you thumb around. It sounds odd, but it works. Be ready to gently put the bridal and bit on once she opens her mouth and give her LOTS of praise. Eventually she will be easier to bridal up.

Usandpets also has a good idea as well.
Good luck! :)

There is one principle that should never be abandoned, namely, that the rider must first learn to control himself before he can control his horse. This is the basic, most important principle to be preserved in equitation - Alois Podhajsky

Last edited by PumpkinzMyBaby22; 01-21-2011 at 08:51 PM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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I've tried the finger in the mouth trick. It works on all horses .... except this one apparently :)
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 11:05 AM
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Another thing you might try is to put some molasses, honey or a little bit of applesauce on the mouthpiece of the bit. When she opens her mouth to lick the bit slip it into her mouth. Then give her lots of praise, if it works for you.
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Worth a try! :)
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-12-2011, 07:19 AM
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Oh, that's tricky then...

Flavoring bit should work, and if not I would have nothing else to suggest.
Good luck!

There is one principle that should never be abandoned, namely, that the rider must first learn to control himself before he can control his horse. This is the basic, most important principle to be preserved in equitation - Alois Podhajsky
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-12-2011, 06:53 PM
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I was going to suggest the finger in the mouth thing. My only other thoughts on the matter is to maybe have her teeth checked to be sure the bite and work is not causing her pain and next when you remove the bit make sure your not smacking her tether on the way out. My horse stopped taking the bit for a while because the kids that tacked him up before I got him used to let the bit drop out of his mouth and smack his teeth on the way out and he no longer wanted to take the bit after that. I used the finger trick until he started to take it better, and made sure not to smack his teeth. Horses have a few reasons for not wanting to take the bit, not wanting to work is only one of them.

"It's a lot like nuts and bolts - if the rider's nuts, the horse bolts!" ~Nicholas Evans
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-12-2011, 06:58 PM
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You could try holding a handful of grain with the bit in your hand, and when the horse opens his mouth for the grain, slide both the bit and grain in.
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