So my 6 year old mare has a sensitive mouth. I been using a normal D-ring Snaffle on her since she doesn't need anything harsher. But I can tell her mouth is sensitive and I can't have her tossing her head in the jumper area. Should I change her bit? If so what should I change to (or try)?
Have you had her teeth checked? Is the bit properly adjusted and fitted to her? Are you using a single or double jointed? If you are using a single jointed she might want something more like a lozenge bit
My event mare who has the softest mouth you can imagine always seemed to go best in a lozenge loose ring, but recently tried a full cheek because she sometimes gets strong and she goes like a dream in a full cheek french link.
Also if you have him in a flash noseband or grackle you might want to try a regular noseband. My mare was in a flash for years, I lost her flash and started riding without it and she was a dream. I put it back on and she started tossing her head so I took it off and she has been so happy and soft.
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Right now I'm using a regular noseband and a single jointed but I'll pick up a double jointed and a flash noseband and see how that works out!! Thanks so much!!
Head tossing can be a sign of discomfort so I second what NBEventer said... first make sure that her teeth are floated and there isn't anything in her mouth causing pain. I'd also try a few snaffle type bits with 2 joints instead of one in case the joint is hitting the roof of her mouth. Also, make sure she has been training to fully accept a bit. And last of all, make sure that it's not your hands that are causing the problem.
Head tossing is either a sign of discomfort OR a sign of bit evasion. Personally, I like a lozenge or Dr. Bristol Full-Check for a miriad of training issues. I've schooled in a D-Ring with copper rollers (6) successfully, and she might enjoy the rollers to play with. Go look at International Jumping online videos and see what everybody is currently using. I was pleasantly surprised to see many Pelhams and even a few Hackamores at last year's Olympics.
It sounds like you are using a single joint snaffle? If so it is probably jabbing her in the roof of her mouth the causing the head coming up, she's trying to find relief from the nutcracker action. Also, Dr. Bristol's are actually not considered mild because of how the middle piece sits. The angle that is it at causes it to "dig in". I would steer clear of them, go with a french link snaffle, the cheekpiece is up to you and what your horse needs.
If she is running around with her head in the air a standing martingale is NOT going to fix it. It will just give her something to brace against. I would suggest removing it and working on the actual training issue, try a few different bits and see which she responds to best. Any double jointed snaffle type will probably be better. Start by working with very little contact, get her moving from behind so that her head naturally works its way down then start adding contact slowly.
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