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This is a discussion on Softening...? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Horse softening
  • Combing the reins

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    04-03-2008, 09:31 PM

I am working with Blu with a tom thumb. He was really nervous yesterday. But anyhow, he is light on the sides but really hard in the mouth. How can I help soften his mouth? I always feel like I have to have constant contact with his mouth or he does something wrong. Help!!!
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    04-03-2008, 09:49 PM
Hi, have you tried a dutch gag or sumthin that works on ur horses pole?? That would be what I would try
    04-03-2008, 09:54 PM
My horse used to lean on his mouth a lot, so I was told to massage the bit back and forth in his mouth. Gently though. Also, I know my horse hated the bit he had and that's how he got into the habit, it was a two peice and it hit the roof of his mouth. When we switched it he was suddenly much happier! Hope this helped.
    04-03-2008, 10:26 PM
I think I need to switch to a roller again. He realy likes those. He can play with them in his sleep lol THANKS GUYS!

Anyone else?
    04-03-2008, 10:41 PM
I'm not a big fan of Tom Thumbs anyways, but I can say that if your horse is not giving his head willingly you shouldnt be using a shanked bit.

Try going back to the snaffles and get his head flexed well every time you ride. Bring him right up under himself and keep him moving. Just feel him out and give his mouth some space when he shows that he's ready to start listening better.

After you master that, you can try shanks again.
    04-03-2008, 11:14 PM
He does give his head but its like he's ignoring the bit.

Thank you for the advice tim
    04-04-2008, 08:05 PM
I would put him in a double jointed snaffle. The TT is single jointed so it may be poking him in the roof of the mouth and I know it's collapsing on his tongue and bars and some horses HATE that. Try a French Link snaffle or something like that. I would suggest getting the JP by Korsteel Oval Mouth Copper Loose Ring snaffle. You could also use a KK snaffle. With this snaffle you then want to teach him to reach for the bit. This is the first step in achieving collection or any kind of softness in the bridle. It's NOT a headset, it's total body collection.

So once you have the snaffle get on and start this from a halt. Start "combing" the reins through your hands with contact in his mouth. Use a flowing, rhythmic feel and allow the reins to slide easily through your hands. DO NOT block him. If he starts backing up hang with him and even put his butt up against a fence. This is a hand-over-hand motion. What you want him to do is to reach for the bit and stretch down. When he does release the reins completely and rub him. HERE IS THE KEY......the higher he puts his head up the more drag you put in the reins! You are insisting that he keep his head lower. What I mean by more drag is that you don't allow the reins to slide as easily through your hands BUT YOU DO NOT PULL ON HIS MOUTH. If you pull, his head will come up. Once he is okay at the halt then go to a walk, and then a trot. DO NOT do this at the canter. Your goal is to have him stretch waaaaaay down. Make sure you don't block him or pull on his mouth! If you are confused by this let me know and I will explain better.

One thing you need to be ready for is the fact that you may lose your back up when doing this exercise FOR NOW. But this is okay! Pick your battles wisely. Once your horse is consistantly relaxed and soft with that exercise then you can move onto shaping his body and asking him to carry himself in an actual frame. And actually you shouldn't have to use your reins to back up He should go off your seat.

When you are ready for your horse to hold himself up in an actual frame you can do a kind of serpintine and you use your inside knee to push his ribs out and you hold your inside rein up some to encourage his shoulder. Also, transitions will help A LOT.
    04-04-2008, 08:07 PM
I agree with Tim about going back to the snaffle and working on collection. I do most of my collection from the ground so I'm never fighting them while I'm on there backs.
    04-04-2008, 11:50 PM
How do you teach a horse to collect from the ground? I would love to know! I thought that was like on of those things like neck reining, you can't teach it to them unless your on them.
    04-05-2008, 12:27 AM
I would say go for the snaffle too blu. There is the french link loose ring training snaffle that would probably be great for blu

Even just a normal snaffle if yo can't get a new bit would be a lot better for him that the TT. I think he would start to soften up better for you in a snaffle for sure

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