Bit Acceptance - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Bit Acceptance

Hey all,
I do not post much as I am so new to horses. I have an 18 year old QH gelding. First of all, he is not a bad horse. I have just not become a good rider and handler.
He can demonstrate he can be very hard headed. I do realize that 99% of that is me. I try desperately not to let him win any of the head games but I feel sometimes, if I knew just a little more or just another approach, he would have never initiated testing me.

I am writing today because it is a battle to get the bit in his mouth. I can do anything else with him without incident. Put on his fly mask, his halter, wipe his face and eyes for crud, lead him, ground work with him. When it comes to accepting the bit, I have to pull his nose back to me, or up or down. Depending where he throws his head.

Does it frustrate me? Oh hell yes but I have never done anything except tell him to quit. Then we face each other eyeball to eyeball waiting for the blink. Once again I will start trying to put the bit in and I continue until he takes the bit. Once he takes the bit, he stands quietly while I recheck his tack before mounting. He will play with the bit. I am assuming he is playing with it. Does not sound like he is chewing on it and I have not noticed saliva gathering around the bit at the corners.

Okay, that is the problem and now I will explain the tack I am using. When I purchased him, the previous owner showed me the bit he used. It was a fat rubber bit. I asked him if the horse liked the bit and if he responded well. He said he has to be convinced. I guess that should have been a walk away but when I was around or near the horse, the horse would seek me out and stand by me.

After doing some research and listening to several of the horse forums and sites, I settled on this bit, Myler Eggbutt No Hook Low Port Comfort Snaffle 5.5. It is a stage 2 bit. I used a dowel rod to measure his mouth. The strange thing, he took the dowel rod with little resistance. Held it in his mouth giving me ample time to mark both sides. He measured out just a tad over 5.5. Maybe 5 5/8. I also purchased a Legacy Plain Raised Snaffle Bridle. He stood quietly while I fitted the bridle to his head. I chose the snaffle because I need to learn to be soft again and I wanted to determine why he was in that ridiculous bit and where he is in training. Also, applying pressure and then release is easier for the horse.

He is a really good horse. I need help to determine why he is not taking the bit. Maybe I am not presenting the bit correctly. It is a snaffle and therefore loose in the hand. My last horse, 40 yrs ago, preferred a low port curb bit. He did not resist the bit but if so, you had a chance to hold his nose and the bit for presentation. The snaffle offers new challenges in not sticking your fingers in his mouth.

That is everything in a large nut shell. If anyone has a suggestion or question, please do not hesitate to offer or ask. I will appreciate any information. If I have confused you, let me know that also.

Thanks
Chuck
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 05:51 PM
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First teach him to give his head by lowering it. If he already does this then standing to the side is your hand big enough (and strong enough) to cup the bit against his lips (or genlty against teeth) while you use that thumb to press on the bar of his mouth to get him to open. You other hand should already have the top end of the bridle ready to slip on as soon as the mouth opens and he accepts the bit. You can also put molasses or something sweet and sticky he likes (apple jelly works too) to encourage him to open.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 06:45 PM
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Here is what I found for an image of the bit you describe:







Was the former bit all one piece? no 'break' in it, just a 'bar'? that would be called a 'mullen mouth' bit. Some horses really HATE the movement of a jointed bit and work better in a solid bit, like a mullen mouth snaffle, or a solid mouthpiece curb bit.


Once you DO get the bit in, how does he react to it? Is he irritable about it, and throwing his head up if there is any kind of pressure on the bit? That might indicate his need for dental vet attention.



As for making your own hands soft, are they hard? and if so, can you explain why? (I mean, what sort of riding past do you have ?)


The horse sounds like a pretty solid citizen in all other ways, so please don't give up on this. IT is an eminantly curable problem.


Make sure he has not mouth /teeth/cheek sores, his teeth are in good order. this must come FIRST!

Make sure you aren't placing the bit so high that it is gaggin him, or so low it is clanking his teeth.
Make sure you aren't clanking his teeth when you put in/take out (to the best of your ability)
Teach him to lower his head , doing the many times withough actually putting the bit in, and then doing the bit.


try wrapping a piece of fruit rollup candy around the metal bit when yoiu offer it to him.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 07:07 PM
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Hiya I just want to say that you'll get some great advice about bits here. And that sometimes it is behaviour related. I noticed that if my previous ride on my mare I didn't ride very well she'd be reluctant to take the bit next time. Then I'd have a good ride and then next she will practically bridle herself! Is the issue with the bit or with his ears being touched? Mine initially was head shy and her giraffing had nothing to do with the bit and everything to do with worrying about her ears being grabbed. When I volunteered at a few yards some people had great difficulty bridling horses that I'd have no issue with only because they were probably on the too timid side of the scale. Boy, dont they learn fast as well how to avoid being bridled? >.<

No teeth bashing defo.

Are you able to get pictures of your bit and once actually in? So far I've always had to get people IRL to double check as I seem to be off one way or another >.< Good luck! I defo think you can get through this :)
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuckc197 View Post
The snaffle offers new challenges in not sticking your fingers in his mouth.

Not sure what you mean by this. Are you saying because it's a snaffle you can't stick your fingers in his mouth, or that with the snaffle you're sticking your fingers in his mouth too much?


If he's raising his head, you want to teach him to lower it on cue. Steady poll pressure with your hand (or rope, reins, ect) until he drops an fraction, then release. Rinse, repeat. I pair it with "down" for my big guy for the times I actually can't reach his head.


Moving his head to the side, either keep a halter on underneath or bring the reins up on the neck to just behind the ears. That gives you more control over where the head is. You didn't say your stance for bridling. I find the over the head/between the ears method to provide little control over their head movement. By holding the bit with your left hand, and the right hand goes under their chin to hold the headstall, you have the head encircled and much closer control over their movement.



I like using cookies for this problem. Often I find that they clamp their mouth shut, so any amount of trying to get their mouth open using your fingers doesn't work. Cookies are a natural mouth opener. In the beginning, one cookie to loosen them up, then hold a cookie with the bit. Eventually they get a cookie only after the bit is in and the bridle is done up. Still use the thumb in the corner of the mouth as a cue if you need.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 07:20 PM
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You will get so much good advice here. First of all, I love the idea of putting a little molasses on there, to "sweeten the deal." I never tried that.

All three of mine had some sort of problems, at some point, with bit acceptance. Which I realized was due mostly to me being a new rider (well, Teddy has a sensitive mouth so that's a little different). Anyway, what I did eventually was just get their head down a little to where I wanted it, then rest my right hand on their poll, then put the bit up to their mouth. And wait. If they tried to pull their head back, or away, or toss, or whatever, I would increase my hand pressure until they got their head back to where I wanted. And wait. Maybe they would try evading again, or maybe they would just stand there and do nothing. No problem. Eventually they'd get tired of the game and open their mouth and I'd just slide it right in. I was just really matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Now, this was easier for me because I have one pony, one very short horse, and one average quarter horse. And it took a while at first. Even now, sometimes I will wait for up to a minute, well maybe 30 seconds, until they are ready, then I will put it in. But I don't get any more attitude or evasions.

I think not forcing them improved their attitude about the whole thing.

Last edited by ACinATX; 07-12-2019 at 07:27 PM.
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-12-2019, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Make sure he has not mouth /teeth/cheek sores, his teeth are in good order. this must come FIRST!
I just want to emphasize this. If you are new to horses and now have an 18 year old horse, it would be critical to first have a vet look at his teeth and get them floated. An 18 year old horse that has not had regular dental care could have all kinds of issues making his mouth painful inside. I would start there before trying to get the horse to accept a bit, because if you are inexperienced and he is having pain, you could begin developing bad habits right away that might keep coming up even after his mouth is fixed.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-13-2019, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Here is what I found for an image of the bit you describe: That is the bit







Was the former bit all one piece? no 'break' in it, just a 'bar'? that would be called a 'mullen mouth' bit. Some horses really HATE the movement of a jointed bit and work better in a solid bit, like a mullen mouth snaffle, or a solid mouthpiece curb bit.
It was just a solid rubber piece with loose rings for bridle and reins to attach.


Once you DO get the bit in, how does he react to it? Is he irritable about it, and throwing his head up if there is any kind of pressure on the bit? That might indicate his need for dental vet attention.
The vet was out this past March to give a physical and administer any required vaccines to bring him up to date with the Vet. At that time, he also examined his teeth. He said it looked as if his teeth had previously received attention, within three maybe four months. He did not seem to find any sores in his mouth or physical/medical problems at the time and felt the horse was good to go.



As for making your own hands soft, are they hard? and if so, can you explain why? (I mean, what sort of riding past do you have ?)
It has been 40 years since I was on the back of any horse. My last horse was a paint and he was very ready for anything. He too was a really good horse. Getting him to stand was his biggest issue. He would dance constantly. We tried different saddles, blankets and anything else we could think of. I think that may be where I am fearful my hands may be hard. Because of the dancing, you were always having to rein him to stand or he would dance all around and cause others horses to become excited.


The horse sounds like a pretty solid citizen in all other ways, so please don't give up on this. IT is an eminantly curable problem.
He is a good horse and with a better rider/trainer, would become an excellent mount. I know it is curable and I really hope some of the suggestions here will help me to understand how to become a better teacher.


Make sure he has not mouth /teeth/cheek sores, his teeth are in good order. this must come FIRST!
His vet gave him a thumbs up.

Make sure you aren't placing the bit so high that it is gaggin him, or so low it is clanking his teeth.
I will get some pictures with the bit in, I only have one wrinkle at the corners and as I said before, sometimes he stands quietly with the bit and other times he seems to play with it.
Make sure you aren't clanking his teeth when you put in/take out (to the best of your ability)
Hard to do when he wants to giraffe away or toss his head.
Teach him to lower his head , doing the many times withough actually putting the bit in, and then doing the bit.
I think this is the most important piece. I don't think I have ever seen him lower his head for halter or bridle. He does not resist the halter but knows when he sees the bridle and bit


try wrapping a piece of fruit rollup candy around the metal bit when yoiu offer it to him.
I have read that some where else. What kind of fruit rollups? I am not finding an apple rollup.

Last edited by chuckc197; 07-13-2019 at 12:23 PM. Reason: Answers to some questions
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-13-2019, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Hey tinyliny
Thanks for your response. I edited your post with some answers to your questions. I am especially interested in the fruit rollups but I realize this is only a band aid until he learns to drop his head.
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-13-2019, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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ApuetsoT,
Thanks for your response and help.
I am referring to the presentation of the snaffle bit to his mouth. If it was a curb bit, I would hold the bit in my left hand by the left leverage bar and press the bit against his lips. My last horse used a curb and once it touched his lips he would suck it in.
With the snaffle, because of its design and his resistance, I am having to apply pressure and I cannot get my left thumb to the corner of his mouth. I thought about trying with the right thumb but then the headstall is now in the way of trying to get the bit in. Although I keep my hand as flat as possible, when he opens his teeth, my fingers are close to being in his teeth if he suddenly decides to close his mouth.
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