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melinda27858 07-14-2008 09:36 PM

Stop chewing lead rope and reins!
My horse is mouthy. He doesn't crib, sucking air, but will put his mouth on things such as metal gate, wooden fence, plastic bucket, his lead rope and reins! He doesn't chew til these things are damaged, he just mouths them.
The vet has recently floated his teeth, wolf teeth have been removed. No apparent medical issues. His diet consists of sweet feed, a little hay, grass pastures, and amplify. He has access to salt and mineral blocks. He is in good weight, is exercised almost every day for at least an hour, and has pasture buddies.
As you can guess, it is the chewing on the reins that is the most annoying of the items. He doesn't usually try to put them in his mouth when I am riding, but feels the need to do it when I am leading him whether I leave the reins over his neck or pull them off his neck. I have tried popping him in the chest with my hand,growling, and then opening his mouth to take them out, but I feel like in the few seconds it takes between the pop and getting them out of his mouth, I have lost the punishment in translation.

Any ideas as to why he is doing this and how I can stop it? I am aware that there is bitter spray, but I would like to try that as a last resort because of the proximity of the reins to his mouth....unless someone with the same problem has used it successfully.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Supermane 07-14-2008 10:48 PM

I have a pony in my barn that does that as well and I'm going to be showing him for the owner when I get back from England in a month. I'd really like to see people's answers.

melinda27858 07-14-2008 10:51 PM

I am really hoping to get some good ideas myself!
I don't think he does it out of anger. His ears are always forward and he has a good attitude in general.....maybe it is like a pacifier for him, but I would still like it to stop if possible!

sempre_cantando 07-15-2008 06:50 AM

How old is he? Being 'mouthy' is fairly common in young horses - a young pony I'm currently breaking in certainly is! If your horse is young, then he'll probably grow out of it. If he's not young, unfortunately its probably a habit he's gotten into and breaking this habit may be difficult.

melinda27858 07-15-2008 10:05 AM

He turned five in February......just young? or bad habit????

my2geldings 07-15-2008 12:42 PM

I don't know there is really to much you can do. Sounds like he might have let away with playing as a youngster. If he doesn't destroy things and he's just playing then let him be. Keep things out of his reach in case he gets ideas and leave it at that. I know of a lot of GP horses whom I know are also very mouthy but they don't destroy things. Some of them do it for endorphin release but again it's all playing not out of bad habit:)

melinda27858 07-15-2008 11:07 PM

Oh no M2G! Not what I wanted to hear! I don't want to give up on banishing this bad habit. Do you think it would be okay to use that bitter spray on the reins then once they are dry, clip back to bit?

my2geldings 07-15-2008 11:13 PM


Originally Posted by melinda27858
Oh no M2G! Not what I wanted to hear! I don't want to give up on banishing this bad habit. Do you think it would be okay to use that bitter spray on the reins then once they are dry, clip back to bit?

If you want to put something on the reins, it means you are leaving the reins in his reach while you are not around which is your problems not his. If you are there when the gear is at his reach it shouldn't be a problem because you can then stop him from reaching them.
The spray would only be good if he is destroying everything including fencings and various other things around the pasture which should not be damaged. It's not what you described in your post.

melinda27858 07-16-2008 12:20 AM

M2G, I agree with that statement 100%! Avoiding situations where he can be mouthy is ideal. However, I never leave him alone when bridled. When leading him to the arena, round pen, mounting block, etc. when he has his bridle and reins on, he will do a slight twist of his head and a reach ith his lips to get the reins in his mouth. It takes only a millisecond, and I try to catch each time he does it...keyword "try." For example, today as I was leading him the 200 feet from where I tacked up to the arena, he slipped or tried to slip the reins into his mouth at least five times.
I was thinking that the bitter spray would leave the reins not mouth-worthy for auto discomfort when he slipped them into his mouth. I am not sure exactly how it works.
I am still open for suggestions on how to make reins-in-the-mouth uncomfortable enough for him to NOT want to mouth them.

barefoothooves 07-16-2008 08:19 AM

I think I would just use the Bitter Apple and forget about it. Not that it will stop all of his mouthy-ness, but at least save your reins. I had a horse that constantly wanted to chew leather..reins..stirrups on the horse standing next to him...liked to chew lead ropes, even with a hay net in front of him. LOL The Bitter Apple stopped it, only on the items it was currently on, but hey, it saved money in lead ropes and reins...especially the show tack..grrrr when they ruin expensive leathrer show reins!

It might stain light colored leather, though. I generally have dark tack so it was never a big deal. better than tooth marks and green slobber at least. LOL

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