Bit playing and pulling on the reins....
I'll be starting work with a young 4 yo paint that the young owner is having issues with. The horse tends to "chomp on the bit", play with his tongue, and pulls on the reins (where it unseats the little girl). I have not evaluated this horse yet (that will be the beginning of next week), however I do already have some information and a plan of action - looking for different suggestions in case there's other methods to help teach this horse to accept the bit and to NOT get away with bearing down on the reins.
The horse just had his wolf teeth pulled and his teeth floated. I will first off be checking for any body soreness, an ill fitting saddle, bit or bridle. So I will be ruling out any physical causes.
I personally believe that it's not going to be physical.
That this young horse has not learned yet to give to and accept the bit (snaffle and now french link snaffle that his owners' are using). And I also feel he has learned the bad habit of pulling the reins out of his young rider's hands and getting away with it (as he does chomp on the bit when the mother rides, but does not pull on the reins). So, I am going to work on softening his jaw and neck, teaching him to accept the bit and to work in a steady frame. I am also not going to allow him to pull the reins out of my hands, and I will give only when he softens and does not pull.... but I have two ways to go about that - I can ride him without any direct contact so he has nothing to lean and pull against or I can be unforgiving and release the tension when he stops pulling. (I don't really like the idea of riding with contact....)
But I am just looking for personal opinions as to what other's have done so I am well educated and prepared to find what works to help this horse.
Of course, I will be helping his young rider learn to apply these methods to her riding and to cope and positively and persistently to correct his behavior.
Open to personal experiences.
I don't know...I've only ridden one horse who did that (a lesson horse too...surprise, surprise:P). Once he figured out I wasn't going to be pulled out of the saddle, he stopped trying. He always liked to play with the bit though...that was his favorite sport while standing in the middle of the arena. When he went to work, it would stop: for him, it was just something to do when he was bored.
I had the same problem as a young rider with a horse (who was about 9 at the time). I was young and built like a stick, and he was purely taking advantage of me. He would throw his head down and grab the bit in his teeth; one time he did that and took me right out the ring and to a nice patch of green grass.
He was fine with accepting contact, he just knew I was puny and that he could take advantage of me. My trainer/mom refused to come to my rescue and made me work through it. Eventually I learned that I could stop him from grabbing the bit by pulling up with just one rein. As soon as I stopped him a few times, he never tried it again.
I do realize this situation is different than the one you have described. My thought is just that if it's a behavioral thing like taking advantage of the little girl, he's not going to stop until she can make him stop. Having you work with him to figure it out is a necessary step to see if it's an attitude or acceptance thing.
Years later I taught lessons with this same horse, and the kids couldn't get him to do much but I could get on and get him to do anything I wanted. He knew who could do it and who couldn't, and it made all the difference.
I know it's more than likely behavioral..... he's learned he can do it. SO, I will try my best to help teach this girl how to handle him and how to try to show him who's "boss"....
My paint does this too, it drives me nuts! He will chew and pull constantly. I have found the best way to get him to stop pulling is to lift my inside rein and give him some calf, kind of like an, 'excuse me, thats rude.' He is slowly (very slowly because of the stupid weather) coming along.
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