I've recently started lightly riding my three year old cob mare. Up to now she's been really good and very responsive and relaxed, didn't mind me on her back at all and was really happy walking and gently trotting. I've always known she's had a stubborn streak in her, but suddenly she's started being really naughty - after weeks of nicely accepting the bit when I put her bridle on, she's started clamping her mouth shut and dragging me (and others) around and even throwing her head back like she is going to rear, whenever the bit goes near her mouth. We finally got her to take the bit by taking it off one side and putting the bridle on, then gently slipping it in 'sideways' whilst distracting her with food. Once she's got the bridle on and the bit in, she isn't bothered in the least, also she's not bothered when i put any sort of pressure on the reins whilst riding her. I am concerned she may be a little sore in the mouth after not having been used to a bit, but I am only riding her once a week and the bit is only a snaffle, also there are no sores on her mouth. Do I need to get her a rubber bit, or a 'sweet iron' bit? or would simply rubbing a bit of treacle or something tasty on there help?
Sounds like the problem is with how you're bridleing her and not with the bit. you need to make sure that you are not bashing her in the teeth and gums. Make sure that you use your thumb to open her mouth wide enough to take the bit with out banging her teeth. You will need to go slow and teach her to give her head again since you have taught her that getting bridled is going to hurt. It may resolve in two or three bridleings or it may take alot longer but you still have it to do.
Once again the problem is not the bit!
the thing is, she has been having her bridle put on as gently as possible with great care taken not to bang her mouth with the bit, so that this kind of thing wouldn't happen! thats what I don't understand. :-(
I agree with Kevinshorses, this sounds like an issue with how the bridle is being put on. Not necessarily bashing the teeth with the bit, but not being totally effective with bridling. I know several horses who will run backwards and fuss at bridling unless its done fairly quickly and tidily, in which case they are gems. Also, watch how you're putting the headstall over her ears. If she's anticipating having her ears stuffed into place, she may be reacting to that rather than bit discomfort.
Was this a sudden change, or has it been building for a while, slowly becoming less and less manageable? If it's been sudden, figure out what changed around the same time as your mare's attitude. There's always a reason. Have her teeth been done recently? If her teeth are bothering her that can be a definite reason for her behavior.
A change of bits may help you, some horses can be pretty choosey. Rubber bits are big and bulky, and a lot of horses just don't have the mouth space to carry that big of a chunk around comfortably. If the bit is hurting her (i.e. she needs her teeth done or something adjusted tack wise), changing metals won't help you much.
I'd love to see what she's doing and how you're bridling her. It's hard to describe in print, but I see a lot of fussy horses instantly bridle better if you hold the cheekpieces in your right hand (assuming that you're standing on the left side to bridle), "feed" the bit to her while cradling the bridge of her nose in the right hand with the headstall, and, after the bit is in, taking the crownpiece in your left hand, and gently fold the ears under.
Hope that was somewhat helpful to you, and good luck! :D
now you come to mention it, she does seem to have had a couple of times where she's pulled her head up and i've had to stick her ears under the headpiece quick, maybe it is that she's reacting to. She's not had her teeth done, and she hasn't got any issues with them so its not that. Could it be that she had just come out of season recently? Her dam was very hormonal so maybe she has (well i know she has) inherited some of it. Especially as on the same day she violently bucked me off, this is a horse who isn't usually spiteful, but being a youngster full of surprises haha. Do you think putting treacle on the bit might help, my friend suggested it and I think it's a good idea, maybe she'll be more tempted? I'm also going to make a point of giving her a small treat every time she takes the bit in her mouth so that she will hopefully begin to associate having the bit in with being treated. I will also be very careful in future that when I or anyone else puts her bridle on that it's done as gently as possible. :)
It could be a hormonal thing, I wouldn't immediately rule that out. If that is her problem, I would look for her bridling issues to coincide with other "mare-ish" behavior, and to come and go with her cycle. Maybe keep a journal of her cycles and aberrant behavior so that you can spot patterns to help either confirm or rule that possibility out.
If her teeth haven't been done, I'd advise at least having your vet take a look see next checkup. Some vets can do the job, and if not most can probably spot glaring problem and recommend an equine dentist to handle it. Since horse's teeth change continually throughout their lifetimes, just because the teeth haven't been an issue up to now doesn't mean that a hook or spur hasn't developed that's causing her discomfort.
Sure, putting some kind of tasty something on the bit might help at least get the thing in her mouth, but if she was once good about it and now is having a problem, something has either changed or built up to the point that there's now an issue. I'm not too familiar with treacle, but something like pancake syrup, molasses, or honey might work but be sticky and messy. You could try a horse cookie or a handful of grain in the hand that you "feed" the bit to her with. I've seen fruit-snack gummy strips, too, made just to wrap around the bit and entice reticent bitters to take it, however, getting the bit in her mouth with a treat gets the job done, but hasn't fixed whatever her underlying concern about bridling is.
I am a fan of Happy Mouth bits, but even that won't help if there's a physical problem.
oh yes i will definitely get somebody to look at her teeth, just incase it's that. what i meant was that she's not got any identified tooth problems and i don't think she had any, but i can't rule it out so i will definitely get somebody to check.
do you think that horses can play up just simply because they are bored and don't have much else to do? i've noticed she messes around with everything and drags her feed bucket all over the place, i was wondering should i get her some stable toys to keep her occupied and happy, maybe relax her a bit?
Sure, she doesn't know yet she's not supposed to be silly. A jolly ball or something is a great idea.
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