New horse with a hard mouth - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-24-2012, 03:51 PM
Green Broke
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The stop and turn looks interesting. I've never tried it but it looks like it may help for what you are wanting. I know the one I suggested has a little curb action as it puts pressure on the nose and because it criss crosses under the chin it also gives the same pressure that they would get from a curb strap/chain but I don't think it adds nearly the same amount of poll pressure as the mechanical hack or a bit with curb action. I know some horses are actually calmed by poll pressure too. I do know my horse responds much better to his hack than to his bit LOL.. He will actually slide stop in it where when I ride with my dressage bridle he ignores when I ask him to halt .... he needs much more training in this area :)
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-24-2012, 06:21 PM
Green Broke
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I am just against twisted mouth peices...

Horses are scared of two things... Things that move and things that don't.
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post #13 of 18 Old 06-24-2012, 09:49 PM
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Does the horse have a good bit of scar tissue at the corners of the mouth?
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-24-2012, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Palomine View Post
AYou might also try squirting ACV, Heinz brand, not imitation, in mouth as that will tenderize the tissues. 10 cc is what I would use.
Short of nerve damage, mucous membrane tissue(the bars of the mouth) remains sensitive regardless of pressure - it's incapable of callousing. Therefore it doesn't need 'tenderising' - strong bit pressure still hurts a 'hard mouthed' horse - what is 'hard' is it's mind, not it's mouth & it's learned to brace & ignore it.

OP, I agree with those who have suggested a hackamore or bitless. I've had a fair bit of experience 'retraining' 'hardmouthed' horses in this manner. *Hopefully if he was well trained & you're skilled, it won't take him long to get him back to where he was, but I believe the more you try to force him, the more you're reinforcing his current *attitude* & resulting braciness. Hopefully well trained & skilled also means you both understand seat & leg cues well & I'd make the most of that too.

If going the hack, I'd use a real one or a rope halter, not a leverage device. The point is to *teach*(in this case, reteach) the horse to *respond* to gentle pressure, rather than attempt to force him to comply. The reason I think it's best to do this without a bit is that he's already got his habitual attitude & braciness to the bit pain. I would avoid a bit for the time being until he's going well & reliably in a halter or such.

I wouldn't worry about finding something strong enough to stop him bolting back to the stable - you probably won't find anything that in his current head space will work anyway, short perhaps of some severe torture device. So I'd firstly keep him in a safe environment, where you're able to *ask* for stuff but there's no need to attempt to force it.

I'd start out on the ground, teaching or reinforcing him yielding in different ways to halter pressure first, especially as depending on the type of halter/bitless you use, your rein signals will have a different feel. Then I'd do the same on board, starting with just standing there & getting him yielding his head around, or 2 reins means back up. *Yielding is not forcing, but teaching the horse to give with a light feel. If that's stating the obvious to you, great - I don't know what you know, so rather give too much than not enough.

You take that feel, perhaps increase it to a level of *mild* discomfort if the horse braces(it depends I reckon), but then you just hold that pressure & wait. Don't increase further or try to hurt the horse, just wait. Eventually(might take a while if he's previously learned that ignorring it makes it eventually go away) he will move in such a way as to relieve the pressure from himself. At that instant, release all pressure & you can also positively reinforce that instant, to strengthen the message further. Might take a number of patient repetitions of this to start sinking in, but I've found that esp with well trained ones that have been spoilt, it doesn't take much to remind them what good deals feel like. Once the ball starts rolling, I find it does carry over & everything becomes quicker to learn, but it's still important to go at the horse's pace.

Then you do the same at a walk, including slowing & stopping to *gentle* pressure, getting good & reliable with that before trotting, etc. I'd want to have him reliable at all paces before 'testing' it by taking him out. I'd also start outside in the same manner - have him master a walk before asking for more.
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-26-2012, 07:39 PM
Green Broke
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I agree but I wouldnt try triding in a halter......

Horses are scared of two things... Things that move and things that don't.
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-26-2012, 07:53 PM
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Donut Twisted Ring Snaffle - Frontier Western Shop Ltd.
This is a bit that I really like to use on older horse that are tougher mouthed. It is a bit more difficult for them to lean on compared to just a plain smooth mouthed snaffle.

Good luck.
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-26-2012, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by cherriebark View Post
Thanks for the responses and advice!

I am very familiar with the school of thought that holds to the minimalist theory of bitting, such that no bit is a good bit and we should all ride our horses in nothing but a loincloth like the natives. As I said, I've been a horse owner for many years and have trained many of my horses from the ground up. In theory, I love the idea of riding any horse in a plain snaffle or hackamore, and I wish that were a feasible theory. In reality, as experienced horse people should know, that is not always realistic.

Currently, this horse in question is downright dangerous to ride if I can't get him listening somehow. I can't begin to work on things like flexing and bending when we are both in danger of crashing through the gate and fences and both getting injured.

As any trainer can tell you, any bit is a harsh bit in the wrong hands, and "harsh bits" are only harsh when used improperly. There is no need to "cringe" when the training equipment is used in the proper way to improve rider/horse communication.

At the moment, I need to use all my strength to control this horse just to prevent him from plowing through fences and gates. I want to use less contact to control him, by using something that gets his attention, I can ease up and ride in a long rein. NO bit is a "harsh" bit if ridden at a long rein with light contact only when needed.

I think my bottom line is, I know what I am doing, thanks. I am not here for the tired old rant about harsh bits blah blah blah. I'm looking for specific advice on the usefulness of certain bits. I've already read the sticky about different bits.

This horse is also very well trained, he was originally trained for western pleasure and gymkhana, but was ridden too long by novices and picked up bad habits. He has advanced enough training that he should come around quickly once I can get him over this initial hurdle.

I am also looking for short term bit solution for training purposes. I want to get him going and start re-learning, then as he softens up I will downgrade.

I have an indian hackamore that I ride my other gelding in from time to time. I've had him 7 years and started him as a baby, so he's well trained, bombproof and has no bad habits. He does well in the hackmore, but he will still be a little stiffer in it and stick out his nose more, and on the trail he's always eager to grab a bite of grass. I could try the hackamore on my newer gelding, but I am not too optimistic.

Honestly I really like the idea of a hackamore or bosal. I would love to give this a try and see if the different type of contact would get a different response. But, I know he's not going to respond to a basic english hackmore or side pull. I'm looking for something with a bit of curb action. Has anyone used the "stop and turn" hackamore?

I really do think it's a beautiful idea to ride every horse in a snaffle or halter and rope and poke right along without a "harsh bit", but ask your local barrel racer, roper, cutter, polo player, etc., and you will see that there ARE legitimate, humane uses for bits that everyone likes to get up in arms about.

Thanks to everyone who provided useful advice! I appreciate it. :)
If you can't get his attention to work on things like flexing and bending then why would you even try to ride him? These are things that should be taught on the ground before you should even consider getting on for a ride.

This basic training would all be done in a snaffle and in an enclosed area if you think he would run off while doing ground work. As his training develops then you could change bits to get more advanced.

You say you are experienced but not sure what kind of experience you have that you wouldn't get the basics down before even thinking about riding.
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post #18 of 18 Old 02-18-2013, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone who offered advice! I have now had this boy for a while, and he's going great.

I tried the "indian bosal" , the one that criss crosses under the chin, and hated it. I am not sure if it is the material it's made out of, but it does not appear to be made for direct rein contact, because if you pull the reins, (like when your horse is galloping *sideways* toward the barn) it tightens and then stays tight around the jaw. The loops simply don't allow the rope pieces to slide freely, so it stayed tightened up on my horse's jaw and he hated it.

I always start with a little groundwork warmup before a ride regardless of the horse, so I worked on yielding in hand a lot. I started with an Argentine sweet iron twisted bit for an "emergency brake" and worked on riding with as light rein contact as possible. He was used to leaning on the bit because he was always responding to his rider yanking on his mouth. At first I was using pretty constant contact on the reins to keep him in check, giving him his head at moments when he began to relax and listen. When he realized his rider isn't going to just yank on his mouth for no reason, he really started to loosen up and relax. I had him going really well with 80% seat and leg aids and 20% rein cues, when I had a friend who wanted to ride him. She is a decently experienced rider so I told her all the important info about his tendencies and she got on. It was a disaster. He took off, spinning and throwing his head, and of course she choked up on the reins. So I needed to put some more time into this.

So it's been over 6 months now, and I'm still the only one who rides him. But, he is going fantastic. After initial work in the twisted Argentine I transitioned him to a rawhide nose side-pull and tie down. He has really relaxed in the side pull and seems so much more comfortable. I can ride him with a pinky on the reins, and I've used him to pony young horses out on the trail. Success!

Just wanted to give an update and thank all of the people who offered advice!
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The basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
He's of the color of the nutmeg and of the heart of the ginger.
His neigh is like the bidding of a monarch,
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