Bit over bit, what a change.
My gelding and I have been having problems recently with him wanting to throw his head in the air like a nutcase whenever a light contact to the bit is made... He's been acting like this for a while now, and I've been ignoring it... but the other day I decided to ask for help on another forum I'm on, and after getting lots of good responses and talking to a friend on there who helped me to pinpoint when his head tossing behavior began, we surmised that it was the bit... I already knew that Dakota didn't like joined bits, but I've been using an O-ring snaffle on him anyway to try and get him to accept it... Apparently he just will not accept it for some reason or another.
So... I changed his bit today to one that I was riding him in before the jointed snaffle. The bit I put him back into is not a 'real' bit... well, it is, but not the way it is now. It was origionally a... Pelham, I think... The shanks have been welded off to make it into a thick, straight-bar snaffle with a slight port. When I was origionally using it on my boy, he liked it and didn't fuss. I changed him out of it because it was too thick for his mouth and we had some unbridling issues with him wanting to grab it in his teeth and jerk back while holding it.
Anyway, like I said, I put him back in the 'made' bit and his attitude completely changed. I rode him about half a mile to see how he was going to react, and he did very well. He only threw his head up a few times (when I stopped to talk to some family members and he put his head down to graze... he threw his head up when I made him get his nose out of the grass and move forwards ;; when I stopped to talk to my cousin and he got antsy because we could see the house from where we were at and he wanted to go home, he tossed his head once and pawed ;; when I took him around the loop on the way home and he wanted to take the shorter route home he tossed his head once). Every time he tossed his head, he only did it once and calmed down really quickly. He also was responding to leg and seat cues from a stop to a walk, walk to a stop, and trot to a walk. He responded very well to my 'kiss' cues to go from a walk to a trot and he also listened to my voice cues that I use along with leg and seat commands when I slowed him from a trot to a walk to a stop or any variation of those.
I was really amazed that he was so willing to do what I asked in this bit. The biggest thing, though, IMO, was that no matter what I asked of him (which wasn't much, granted) he didn't pin his ears back once, and he does that sometimes when riding in the regular snaffle bit.
Oh, also, I got a few pictures...
Here's the snaffle I was riding him in...
Here's the bit I rode him in today.
Here's a picture of him wearing the bit I rode him in today... I had just given him a handful of sweet feed...
This is a great example of a horse who needs more tongue/bar relief. A lot of horses CAN'T STAND jointed bits (and who can blame them?!). But you give them a slight port and their attitude completely changes. Great switch!
I'm glad that he's acting better, and I wish that I had paid more attention to his bahavior when it started instead of making him ride with the jointed snaffle... then we could have fixed all this ages ago... But I'm still going to go back over all his groundwork training this summer and work on getting him responding better to voice commands on a lungeline (as I said before, he only knows and understands 'walk' *sometimes*, and 'hold up, whoa' *most times*...)
Could be he has a low palate. I have a horse that has a low palate, regular snaffles poke the roof of his mouth, so I use a jointed snaffle that has curved bars for tongue relief. Also, if you are pulling straight back with both hands, it causes a nut-cracker effect, so you have to be sure to NOT do that in a jointed snaffle, regardless. They are designed for one rein or the other to be pulled, curb or solid mouth pieces don't have that pinching force, and could be why you have less trouble with that. Bits with the port, if you have shanks on them, can still poke the roof of the mouth when reins are pulled back, but without the squeezing, as well.
Thanks for the info, someone else on another forum said that he may have a low palate... I had to look it up to understand what they were talking about.
My one TB is the same way. He will freak out in a regular snaffle, but is fine in either a three piece snaffle or in a mullen mouth - even without any tongue relief. He actually prefers the straight bar mullen mouth and loves it. Glad you found something that works!
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