refuses the bit - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-29-2008, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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refuses the bit

Just want to get some more thoughts on how to get my 20 yo TB to take the bit..

He does everything else near perfect..I can even get my right arm under his chin, to over his face, but when the bit approaches him lips, off we go...backs up, throws head, we'd call it a "hissy fit" humanly speaking...
I will not resort to physical force, as I suppose somewhere in his past he's been mishandled., and he won't let the bit go properly when he does have it (backs off with it still in his mouth, wont let me gently take it, or release easily)
Others that have known him longer can get him to finally take it, but it is always some struggle. I have only been with him for three weeks, and he's been riderless for almost two years...
His teeth are ok, been it's "I don't wanna!" kinda fit..
so, what's the next Idea?

Thanks, Lw
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post #2 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 02:22 AM
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You might try some of the bit flavors that are out there. There are some wipes that are apple flavored or you could try molasses. Just put the flavor on the bit and hold it like a treat. Let him lick the flavor off and then leave him be. After several times of this, try bitting him with the flavor on the bit. When he takes the bit willingly, bridle him, give him a treat or two then take the bridle off and turn him loose. Try to associate the bit with happy experiences and before long he should be trying to get the bit in his mouth. Good luck and keep us updated.

If all else fails, would you be able to ride bitless like with a rope halter? Does he have enough handle?

Last edited by smrobs; 12-30-2008 at 02:23 AM. Reason: Had another thought
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post #3 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 03:28 AM
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you could take the bit off your bridle and ask him to take only the bit alone as he is standing in ties.

put it in his mouth, hold it there while you praise him, then take it out.
it might take you a lot of time to even get this far, just dont get frustrated with him, work on it everytime you've got him out.
you want to him to know this is not the end of the world.

then baby steps ;)
put the bit back on your bridle and move the buckle on your bridle's cheekpieces down a hole (or two) on both sides.
slowly ask him to accept the bit
if he refuses... well go back to the beginning .
with TIME and only if he is accepting the bit 100% of the time, move the buckles up to their normal position for riding and work on bridling him like that

just be careful that your bridling him correctly ALL the time
you know, dont be clunking his teeth, or wrenching on his ears
this should be a PLEASANT experience for you and him

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears - Arabian Proverb
R.I.P Michele and Sierra

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post #4 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 04:16 AM
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What kind of bit is it?

I am owned by the Sandman
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post #5 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 08:23 AM
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I wonder what kind of bit it is too. And how is he ridden with it?
A sharp bit in ''normal'' hands can be much painful, it sounds like he's protecting himself against it by not taking it, or when it's there, holding onto it to keep it out of his sensetive areas.

Even if he has a gewntle bit and gentle hands now, he can have painful memories that lies behind his behaviour. In that case I'd put honey or molasses on the bit to make it taste good and associating it with smething good. Then I'd try riding in a riding cavesson or another ''semi harsh'' bitless (I'd avoid the ''bitless bridle'' and hackamores tho, because hacks are curbs and bitless is just weird), if he's not used to it, try out in a fenced area.
I'd keep the bit in his mouth, with no reins to start with, while I used the bitless.
It's all to teach him that bits doesn't hurt, and even better, they taste good ;) When he seems fine with it and takes it, I'd gradually start using it and eventually remove the bitless.
If you feel it's worth it with such an old horse and doesn't just convert to bitless completely. ;)

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

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post #6 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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I have tried the molasses idea (NG there too), but what I haven't tried yet is "bit alone" that has possibility...I also won't go away, so he'll eventually give in...I am trying to speed-up that process a little
one other Idea I have is the straight "happy mouth" bits, as he hasn't any Issues with what bit, but what he has (a few have been tried, no difference)
currently is his old twist full cheek snaffle...I never liked them, but I tried one of my simple egg-snaffles, made no diff....

I also like the idea of "bitless" however due to the amount of change this will bring, I will save that one (and it's extra expense) for the next round with our four-hoofed Tyson...

I will report back, -Lw
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 10:23 AM
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Bitless doesn't have to mean much change, actually, if you just chose the right one. A riding cavesson (with an unleaded iron or a chain) can be used just like a regular snaffle and it normally don't take long before the horse learns what it means either, but safest is to try it out in a fenced area.
But it's not always easy to find good, cheap ones.. just avoid those oversized, over-padded and three or four jointed lunging cavessons.

If he don't care what bit to use, how do you figure the happy mouth will help? :)
A straight bit might be better than a jointed if you'll leave it there to get him used to it, as it won't disturb him as much..

Another thing to try is to just take the bridle on, be gentle and give a treat as soon as it's in his mouth, take it out and do it all again, several times with treats as soon as he takes the bit :) Then let him go back to his friends.

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

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post #8 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 11:00 AM
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I would only use a smooth mouth piece. I would guess he's had his teeth banged when being bridled and unbridled. That will make them bit shy. Never let the bit just fall out of their mouth with no support. Not saying you do these things but the memory would be there for him if this is the problem. I'd practice practice practice when I was not riding, therefore removing the "get it done" rush. Make the exercise enjoyable with treats. Teach him to lower his head to take the bit as well. Follow his head when he evades but don't bit him unless his head is down. Ride in a hack, sidepull, or other bitless in the meantime if possible.

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post #9 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 11:01 AM
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My two year old has problems taking his bit and letting it go... He throws a hissy when I put it on him, but in the end he'll calm down enough to open his mouth for it... and he clenches onto it and throws his head when I take it off... I usually have to just let him drop it at his own pleasure, lol.

Anyway, I tried running feed on the bit the other day before I put it in his mouth and he accepted it pretty well... not near as much of a hissy as usual, and he's slowly getting better at unbridling. Maybe you could try to use something to make the bit taste better/sweeter...?

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post #10 of 24 Old 12-30-2008, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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If he don't care what bit to use, how do you figure the happy mouth will help? :)

Only because IF there IS something further going on is his mouth yet undiscovered causing him discomfort, AND because it is a "rubber" covered bit,and it is a straight bit, and no too out of line in price, and the local tack shop has them...

It made sense to me at the time...the "two-piece" common bits everyone has are a slight problem with me, in regards to this Horse.
It becomes a challenge to get him to take what then becomes (for me anyway) an unwieldy folding mess (English cavesson standard type) after the second or third attempt at bridling...
This may help in a few areas, and I am going to Introduce it by Itself first, then the rest of the bridle thereafter

film at 11...(or earlier if all works well) -Lw
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