Herbie is an 11 year old Trotter x Thoroughbred, 14.2hh, coloured gelding who we bought from an old lady 3 years ago. His main purpose is for Driving Trials, which he loves, although he was only hacked around the lanes in a two-wheeler all his life by this lady.
Anyway, these past few months have been a nightmare. He has been gradually getting worse with chewing and chomping on the bit both in harness and under saddle, tossing his head every now and then as if he is in pain, and getting himself lathered up in his mouth really bad. He has had his teeth checked several times by several experts, his back has been checked too. Nothing was found except a few sharp points on his molars which were sorted out - this was sorted out ages ago and now the problem's getting worse.
He gets crabby when putting on his harness/saddle/rug yet it is as if he is 'looking' for the bit and happily takes it when bridling. He is worse at chewing under harness though. We have tried changing his bit (we have tried everything from a plain snaffle bit, jointed, mullen-mouth, copper, rollered, straight barred, sweet-iron, happy-mouth, ported!) yet he is the same in them all. They all fit well in his mouth, we have tried using a flash noseband but this makes him worse and he chews so much that he rubs himself raw with it. We are now trying a Harbridge training aid eBay.co.uk Guides - Harbridge Training aid and this has stopped the head-tossing, but it's only a quick-fix and not the answer to the problem.
There is no sign of soreness in his mouth, and he is not in the slightest strong, if not too sensitive, in his mouth. We have also tried being tough with him when he snatches the reins, still not the answer!!! He does it the minute he is bridled, the only thing I can think of is that he is either stressed/anxious, or possibly neck pain??? Help!!! We are getting quite a bad reputation for bad dressage marks and surely it isn't comfortable for him to have to keep chewing all the time..??
Many thanks for any replies xxx