where did his mouth go?
 
 

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where did his mouth go?

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  • Horse super soft mouth
  • Working saddler mouth problems

 
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    03-13-2010, 06:20 AM
  #1
Trained
where did his mouth go?

Ok this might get a bit long so please bear with me. A cup of coffee and a biscuit or two might be in order for this lol

Here goes:

In other posts I have touched on the situation with my green broke qh. In short the story is...4 weeks ago I sent my 4 year old qh off to be broken. He was only sent so old because I got him as a 3 year old that was in bad shape and undergrown. I had to wait until he had grown and developed a bit more before I could have him broken.

Anyways, I bought him home from the breakers early because they were complaining about how difficult he was which confused me as I had had him saddled a dozen or more times before he left and he had had the bridle on just as many times. They said he was putting on a right show with all this stuff too which my reply was basically 'what did you do to make him like that?' of course it was apparently my fault even though he was an angel for me. Anyhoo, somewhere along the line he became girthy and incredibly head shy. Oh yeah and for some stupid, idiotic reason they were hobbling him to lunge him ???? Then wondering why he was arking up when they asked him to move forward ???? Needless to say when I turned up to check on all this and they were once again lunging him hobbled, I pulled him out and bought him home. Maybe not the brightest idea in the world from a training perspective but I felt it would be more detrimental to him to leave him there. He had been backed twice at this point so I figured as long as that was done I would be ok.

And until today I have been. He obviously knew next to nothing but in the last couple of weeks I've been working on leg aids, getting him to follow his head and perfecting our whoa :) he has a great stop! That's one thing I suppose.

Anyhoo, getting off track a little. He has a SUPER soft mouth which is fine but at this stage I need a little something to work with. I don't mean I want to hang off his mouth or anything as that's not what I want but when you have no leg aids or recognition of weight distribution in the seat you need something. So far though I have managed to get by with working him in a large round yard where I can focus more on getting him moving off my leg etc without worrying about him taking off and me having such a soft, fresh mouth to try and work with. But, all in all, we were doing well. I've been doing lunge work in loose-ish side reins so he gets the feel of a little more contact with his mouth. Before that I would only have to put the tiniest, and I mean tiniest, amount of pressure on his mouth and he would lift and throw his head around (have had the dentist check his teeth and they are A-OK). After a week and a half with the side reins he was giving to the pressure a bit more and last time I rode him he was SUPER!!! I had a little more mouth control and combined with starting to work off my leg and following his head I felt we had made a little breakthrough of sorts.

Then came today!!! Until today I have been trailering him around to my friends place to use her round yard but during the week hubby built us one and today I got to try it out well...he had no mouth and I mean, no mouth. I had nothing to work with. Absolutely nothing. He might as well have never had a bit in his mouth before today. I controlled him for a while using my legs but he isnt far enough along to be completely controlled by legs.

I know all horses have bad days but I've been on first time rides with breakers and never found the problems I found with arizona today.

Different things that MAY have contributed to the problem:

1) at home I ride him in an aussie stock saddle as I don't have a western saddle YET. At my friends place I use her western saddle. The few times I have ridden him in the stock saddle he has been a little more agitated. The saddle fits him fine though. I've done all the saddle fitting tests and it actually fits him really well. I used to work for a saddlery and they put me through a saddling fitting course with our saddle fitter which was great. Learnt EXACTLY how to fit a saddle.

2) he is a colt and here he has the mares he is used to and is always pining for. At my friends place her horses are kept far away from the round yard and he doesnt know them. Even though he was a fair distance from my mares maybe he was funny about them. Dountful but maybe

3) our round yard is open on the sides. Maybe he feels a little more out in the open therefore a little more toey???

4) it was a little windy. He has worked fine in the wind before but maybe something else had him agitated at the moment. I know working in windy weather can often be hard but where I live its windy like 95% of the time. Most of my horses are pretty much used to it now and unless its blowing a gale I can pretty much work with them like normal. Even arizona is normally fine in the wind.

5) he is a little girthy since he came home. I've been working with him on this and he has been getting a lot better and today we managed to get an extra hole up on the girth without him cracking it. His girthiness does transfer to saddle work but considering I got the extra hole without him taking off and bucking around the joint I was under the impression that he was starting, slowly to get past it.

6) he's a colt and therefore unpredictable. Please no harassing me because he is a colt. He will be gelded but we have had some issues. Gelding pending

These are all options maybe however I don't feel that many of those are really going to give me no control on his mouth. Its just like he was never mouthed

Help!!!!!!! Lol most things I can work through and maybe we just had a bad day but I prefer to get on top of things before they become major issues. Out of all my horses this boy is my baby and I only want whats best for him

I may have missed something vital but im going crossed eyed from reading through and through trying to make sure I havent missed anything
     
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    03-13-2010, 08:29 AM
  #2
Banned
I start many a colt and I always, always start with a running martingale and snaffle. Without the running martingale they toss their head in the air and take off.. Adjusted properly a running martingale doesn't come into play until the head is lifted.
I follow Al Dunnings way of training and he recommends the running martingale and so do I.

I certainly would have pulled my horse from the trainers if he is hobbling and lunging?? This doesn't make sense.
I was going to mention about having a colt at 4 but you already cut that arguement off I geld everything.
     
    03-13-2010, 05:44 PM
  #3
Trained
Hes in a french link snaffle so its nice and soft. Til now he has liked this one more than the full cheek snaffle he was broken in.

I did think about a running martingale but didnt end up using it because of how sensitive he is too mouth pressure. I worried that once he lifted his head and felt that pressure he would get more cranky. I may have to look into it though. Im not so worried about him taking off as he hasnt even looked like doing that so far but I am worried about the head throwing. That IMO can be just as dangerous as other things especially if backing up accompanies it

Hopefully he will be gelded within the next week or so and that will help some of the attitude that goes along with everything. He was never intended to stay a colt but his little boys bits didnt make their grand entrance until a few months ago and now they keep going up and down lol but I've found a good vet who has that sussed and he'll be doing it next time he is in my area

I know the hobbling and lunging doesnt make sense. How the hell to you expect a horse to go forward if he's got hobbles on that stop then moving ???
     
    03-13-2010, 08:33 PM
  #4
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzyrider    
needless to say when I turned up to check on all this and they were once again lunging him hobbled, I pulled him out and bought him home. Maybe not the brightest idea in the world from a training perspective but I felt it would be more detrimental to him to leave him
I've only got what you've told to go on, but it sounds like they were idiots & you couldn't have taken away him too soon! Did you ask them their purpose of hobbling??

I had a bad experience with one of my horses, when after having kids, very little time, having only started my horse under saddle between pregnancies, I thought it was in my horse's best interest to send him to a trainer... short story is I collected him after only a week, after being accused of lying about him having any training at all, told he was effectively wild & a 'good bronc horse'. Found him headshy, 'uncatchable & with sores on his mouth from the bit, on his nose from being left in a badly fitting halter & a bundle of... mess. He's still frightened of strangers now & headshy & uncatchable for anyone else... There are of course good trainers around & I thought I'd looked into these guys well enough before hand, but since then I will never just give a horse to a trainer without full supervision.

Quote:
anyhoo, getting off track a little. He has a SUPER soft mouth which is fine but at this stage I need a little something to work with. I don't mean I want to hang off his mouth or anything as that's not what I want but when you have no leg aids or recognition of weight distribution in the seat you need something.
I personally teach horses first from the ground, to yield to pressure in various ways from pressure on their sides, where my legs will be, so they have an idea of leg aids before I get on. I also start horses in a halter or 'bitless' & don't use a bit until they're reliably responding to leg & seat, as well as light rein pressure & able to be ridden on a loose rein as well as with contact.

Quote:
so far though I have managed to get by with working him in a large round yard where I can focus more on getting him moving off my leg etc without worrying about him taking off
Good idea I reckon & I'd keep him in this sort of environment until he's reliable, so you can *ask* gently & just persist until you get the responses, rather than having to *make* him with heavy pressure for safety. I wouldn't start attempting to speed up his responses(eg. Stop NOW!) with quicker or heavier pressure until he was reliable with softly softly.

Quote:
only have to put the tiniest, and I mean tiniest, amount of pressure on his mouth and he would lift and throw his head around
Perhaps he was treated to 'harsh hands' &/or not desensitised to the feel before they got heavy? I'd probably just get him reliable on a loose rein first. Then be asking for nothing of him aside from giving to the pressure when starting to teach him to accept constant contact. I'd start on the ground for saftey, with him backed against a fence(to prevent backwards) & ask him to accept light contact by repeatedly persisting until he gives the smallest amount, even if only for a split second to begin with. Reinforce the smallest 'tries' & build gradually from there. I'd do the same on his back before asking him to also go forward or do something with contact.

Quote:
friends place to use her round yard but during the week hubby built us one and today I got to try it out well...he had no mouth and I mean, no mouth. I had nothing to work with. Absolutely nothing. He might as well
Horses don't generalise well & tend to need to be taught in a range of environments or situations in order to learn that x means x in any circumstance. He may have had little experience anywhere else, not to mention having had a bad time of it last time he was in a different place.

Quote:
1) at home I ride him in an aussie stock saddle as I don't have a western saddle YET. At my friends place I use her western saddle. The few times I have ridden him in the stock saddle he has been a little more agitated.
Different saddle, very different feel, may also cause confusion in a horse who has had little experience. Not in the least saying that the saddler/course you did wasn't good, but IME there are many bad saddlers & even professional saddle fitters too, and saddles are so frequently an issue, with even the best fit of a rigid object to a dynamic body still being sometimes problematic, that I'd consider it *could* be saddle fit(or design) prob also.

Quote:
2) he is a colt and here he has the mares he is used to and is always pining for. At my friends place her horses are kept far away from the round yard and he doesnt know them. Even though he was a fair distance from
Unfamiliar environment he wasn't confident or comfortable in. Closed round yard & wind adding to the differences/stresses. All maybe little things, but all adding up. I'm guessing girthiness is probably not the only hangup he still has from the trainers too. I'd personally want to sort out those issues first on home ground. Then whenever in different environments or situations for a while, treat him as if you're just starting him & don't do more than the very basics until he's reliable with them.

That's the way I'd probably tackle it anyway.
     
    03-13-2010, 09:18 PM
  #5
Showing
Mostly I just want to say Hi Em *waves* glad to see you
Also, I assume you are bending him laterally and vertically via Frank Bell before you start? I still do that every time I get on, just to get my girl giving to the bit and stretched.
     
    03-14-2010, 09:48 PM
  #6
Trained
Thanks loosie. Im going to go back to doing a lot more 'just starting' type stuff and you're right, I need to get him through some of this stuff on the ground.

I was also thinking about giving a bitless bridle a try. I do have a bitless rope bridle and I figure it worth a try. I have a friend who has had her horse bitless all the way along because she doesnt do bits well. Anyways, its something om going to think about :)

So ill just plod again from the beginning and see where we end up :)

Vida - yes! We always do our lateral stretches :) its good to be back ;)
     
    03-16-2010, 10:58 PM
  #7
Weanling
Other than stretching, what are other ways to encourage a soft mouth?
     
    03-16-2010, 11:16 PM
  #8
Trained
^ You don't get a soft mouth by being soft all the time. You need to ask softly first, and follow up with a consequence if you don't get the response.
     
    03-17-2010, 01:20 AM
  #9
Trained
Agree 110%^^^
     
    03-17-2010, 06:19 PM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by HooverH    
Other than stretching, what are other ways to encourage a soft mouth?
If I understand what you mean by stretching, this doesn't teach or 'encourage' anything. IMO it is an exercise to test or confirm what the horse has already learned. So teaching them cues clearly - depends what stage of teaching them you're at, but basically I'll 'ask' something easy & lightly, then follow it up with gradually increasing pressure, until I get a response. As wild spot pointed out, following up the 'soft' cue with an unpleasant consequence will teach the horse(if you're clear & consistent) to avoid the unpleasant by responding to the soft.
     

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