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Discussion Starter #1
I cannot for the life of me find a bit that my gelding likes. I've tried almost everything and I really can't think of anything else. I've even tried a mechanical hackamore and a bosal and those didn't work at all. He needs retraining and it's not going to happen bitless.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with his teeth. If he is in pain, it's for some other reason.

Does anybody have any ideas?
 

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what are some of the bits youve tried ? have you also played around with different thicknesses/metals/rubber ?
 

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My first questions are:
- have you had a professional check your saddle fit?
- have you had a chiropractor out to rule out any bodily discomfort?
Both of the above can manifest itself to look like a bit problem, when it's not. Denny was locked up through the jaw and he couldn't flex to the right. I attributed it to a bitting problem, and was heartily embarrassed when his dentist (who is also certified as a chiropractor) told me that his entire jaw was locked up. I mention this because:
If he is in pain, it's for some other reason.
This tips me off that maybe (just maybe, not trying to assume anything here :) ) there might be another issue coming into play?

What kind of bits have you tried?
 

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Firstly, what does he do to show he doesn't like the bit? Get nervous, chew, shake his head, etc.?

Have you tried a Baucher/Hanging snaffle? It's meant to sit really still in the mouth, he might like that sensation.

Have you tried bits with rollers/keys for him to play with?

Tried a myler/billy allen mouthpiece?

Ports?

Gag action? - A friend was having the same issues, and has found a snaffle with a slight gag action is his favourite so far.

Tried a flexible mouthpiece - i.e. leather, or a waterford?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I won't be able to remember all of them, but I'll try...

- Imus bit: http://doubleoranch-tack.com/images3/Bit24300.jpg

That's the bit I've used on him for 2 years. A few months ago, he decided he didn't like it anymore.

- Plain D-ring snaffle
- Plain O-ring snaffle
- Single-jointed Tom Thumb
- Twisted dogbone snaffle
- Straight bar kimberwick
- Straight bar pelham
- Curbs of varied port heights
- French link snaffle
- Low-port grazing bit

I've tried both sweet iron and copper. I was planning on trying a bit with a rubber mouthpiece, but I couldn't find one at any tack shops around here.



My first questions are:
- have you had a professional check your saddle fit?
- have you had a chiropractor out to rule out any bodily discomfort?
Both of the above can manifest itself to look like a bit problem, when it's not. Denny was locked up through the jaw and he couldn't flex to the right. I attributed it to a bitting problem, and was heartily embarrassed when his dentist (who is also certified as a chiropractor) told me that his entire jaw was locked up.
He has a bad back and gets a visit from the chiropractor every 6 months. She's actually coming out next week. I asked my vet about it when he floated his teeth and he didn't see anything that could be causing bit pain.



Firstly, what does he do to show he doesn't like the bit? Get nervous, chew, shake his head, etc.?

Have you tried a Baucher/Hanging snaffle? It's meant to sit really still in the mouth, he might like that sensation.

Have you tried bits with rollers/keys for him to play with?

Tried a myler/billy allen mouthpiece?

Ports?

Gag action? - A friend was having the same issues, and has found a snaffle with a slight gag action is his favourite so far.

Tried a flexible mouthpiece - i.e. leather, or a waterford?
He shakes his head, holds his mouth open, bares his teeth, curls his lip, and sticks his nose out. He will still collect, but there are certain times when he acts like he's in pain (mostly when I stop him, slow him down, or back him up). The weird thing is that I have given him many opportunities to be free of bit pressure and he won't take advantage of them. I mentioned he needed retraining... the main things I'm working on are not jigging and stopping with a voice command. He's not a big fan of walking, and when he starts jigging or trotting I pull back - softly, but firmly - and immediately release. He acts like it hurts, but when I release him he starts jigging again after a few steps! He knows exactly what's going to happen but he does it anyway. The same thing with the stop... I tell him "woah," give him a second to stop, and then I use the reins to stop him and I back him up. Same thing - he acts like that hurts and then refuses to stop again. He knows FULL well what I want him to do.

Anyway... I've gone off topic.

I haven't tried a hanging snaffle, but that sounds interesting. I've tried rollers, ports, and gags.

Myler and Billy Allen I think are similar to what I was using before.

I haven't tried a Waterford. I think my trainer might have one that I can try.
 

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Have you had the saddle professionally fitted? In a downward transition such as stopping, and thanks to Newton's laws, a lot of the forward motion is transferred forwards. If this horse has a history of back problems, that could be your culprit.
I strongly suggest getting the saddle checked out - not just while the horse is standing, but while in motion as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Have you had the saddle professionally fitted? In a downward transition such as stopping, and thanks to Newton's laws, a lot of the forward motion is transferred forwards. If this horse has a history of back problems, that could be your culprit.
I strongly suggest getting the saddle checked out - not just while the horse is standing, but while in motion as well.
Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that. The chiropractor has already checked his saddle and she said it was fine. He threw out his back after he fell in the pasture and ever since then his back gets sore every 6 months or so.
 

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I have an idea. Have you ever heard of a Nathe bit? It's entirely rubber. It's like a Happy Mouth but it doesn't have ANY metal in the mouthpiece. My horse had a head shaking problem before I put this in. Now, she's amazing! My horse has a very sensitive mouth and metal just makes her mad.

Nathe Loose Ring Snaffle Bit
 

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How long did you give him to get used to it? It may take a week or two to for a horse to figure out how to carry it comfortably in his mouth.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have an idea. Have you ever heard of a Nathe bit? It's entirely rubber. It's like a Happy Mouth but it doesn't have ANY metal in the mouthpiece. My horse had a head shaking problem before I put this in. Now, she's amazing! My horse has a very sensitive mouth and metal just makes her mad.

Nathe Loose Ring Snaffle Bit
That sounds really nice. I think I'll give it a try. Thanks : ]


How long did you give him to get used to it? It may take a week or two to for a horse to figure out how to carry it comfortably in his mouth.
Do you mean get used to a bit in general? Like, for the first time?

I've never heard of a horse having to get used to a bit for that long... especially when they react as if they're in pain, and not just weirded out.
 

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Have you had a veterinarian out to do a full physical?
That is the first thing I do if my horse starts acting out of character. I get flexion tests done.
Then I get my saddle checked and look for anything the bridle/bit would be doing to discomfort the horse.
After that is cleared - then I assume it's a training issue. As much as you need to find something the horse is comfortable in, at some point you need to just ride it through - or pay someone else to.

Good luck!
 

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Has he had his teeth floated? I had a horse that would fling his head a lot and just didn't like anything in his mouth for awhile, got his teeth floated and he was great after that. I would have a vet take a look. You can also run you finger back along those back teeth and feel if they're pointed or rounded, pointed and jagged, they probably need floated.
 

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Wow- this is perplexing...... I was wondering if he really just wants to go and thats why it seems like he is not getting used to any bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Post a video of the behavior.
This was the best I could do, because all I had was my cell phone... All I did here was jiggle the reins (on the ground) to back him up.

Grazing bit: Video - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting

Rubber full-cheek snaffle (I found one! Unfortunately, he didn't like it much): Video - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting

Kimberwick (cavesson is unbuckled): Video - TinyPic - Free Image Hosting, Photo Sharing & Video Hosting



Have you had a veterinarian out to do a full physical?
That is the first thing I do if my horse starts acting out of character. I get flexion tests done.
Then I get my saddle checked and look for anything the bridle/bit would be doing to discomfort the horse.
After that is cleared - then I assume it's a training issue. As much as you need to find something the horse is comfortable in, at some point you need to just ride it through - or pay someone else to.

Good luck!
Yeah, I've already done all of that. I've been riding through it with the grazing bit (he doesn't love it, but he seems to like it the best). I'm currently teaching him how to stop on a voice command and walk on a loose rein without jigging, so that the people who ride him can stay out of his mouth.



Has he had his teeth floated? I had a horse that would fling his head a lot and just didn't like anything in his mouth for awhile, got his teeth floated and he was great after that. I would have a vet take a look. You can also run you finger back along those back teeth and feel if they're pointed or rounded, pointed and jagged, they probably need floated.
He had his teeth done in June, so I doubt that's it.



Wow- this is perplexing...... I was wondering if he really just wants to go and thats why it seems like he is not getting used to any bit.
That's definitely a possibility. I just want to be sure it's not a pain thing first.
 

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Here's my advice. Throw away all the bits you have and get a curb bit with swivel shanks and a snaffle type mouth. Make sure that you can put two fingers between the curb strap and his chin and make sure that the bit is contacting the corners of his mouth and maybe making one wrinkle in the skin. Or Ride him in a simple ring snaffle. He is not real soft in his face and mouth so you need to work at that. Put a small amount of pressure on the reins and as soon as he gives even a tiny bit give a release, but don't give the release or increase the pressure untill he gives his face. The reason he is mouthing the bit so much is because he is resisting it not because he is in pain. It's not about the bit with him it's about resistance and the horses inability to break at the poll. The softer you get him the less he will fight that bit. Just ride him and work on getting him soft in the face and otherwise trained and the mouthing the bit will take care of itself.

The grazing bit your horse is wearing in the first video is junk. It is the worst bit ever made and should be thrown in the garbage. It is designed to be cheap to build not to fit well in a horses mouth. It's also made out of aluminum which will dry out a horses mouth where copper or sweet iron will encourage salivation.
 

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What I meant was for you to ride him and show us his behavior. These vids don't really show me anything. There's not much release being given, besides the horse needs to be engaged and forward before being asked to yield and back up, and then they shouldn't be backed up with just the reins.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Here's my advice. Throw away all the bits you have and get a curb bit with swivel shanks and a snaffle type mouth. Make sure that you can put two fingers between the curb strap and his chin and make sure that the bit is contacting the corners of his mouth and maybe making one wrinkle in the skin. Or Ride him in a simple ring snaffle. He is not real soft in his face and mouth so you need to work at that. Put a small amount of pressure on the reins and as soon as he gives even a tiny bit give a release, but don't give the release or increase the pressure untill he gives his face. The reason he is mouthing the bit so much is because he is resisting it not because he is in pain. It's not about the bit with him it's about resistance and the horses inability to break at the poll. The softer you get him the less he will fight that bit. Just ride him and work on getting him soft in the face and otherwise trained and the mouthing the bit will take care of itself.

The grazing bit your horse is wearing in the first video is junk. It is the worst bit ever made and should be thrown in the garbage. It is designed to be cheap to build not to fit well in a horses mouth. It's also made out of aluminum which will dry out a horses mouth where copper or sweet iron will encourage salivation.
Yeah, I know he needs work... That's why I'm trying to find a better bit for him. I guess I'll just have to ignore it. I rode him in a draw gag today... He was still mouthing a lot, but he was resisting less and flexing pretty well.



What I meant was for you to ride him and show us his behavior. These vids don't really show me anything. There's not much release being given, besides the horse needs to be engaged and forward before being asked to yield and back up, and then they shouldn't be backed up with just the reins.
Well, that was the best I could do with just a cell phone and nobody to hold it. I was releasing when he started moving backwards, but the problem is that he was hesitating after I released him, so I had to take away the release. I was only trying to show you what he does when he mouths the bit, because I thought that was what you wanted to see.

And how exactly can I back him up on the ground without using just the reins? Putting pressure on his nose or chest is not going to help you see how he responds to the bit...
 

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And how exactly can I back him up on the ground without using just the reins? Putting pressure on his nose or chest is not going to help you see how he responds to the bit...
Most horses will do this when not engaged and asked to back with the reins. An engaged horse will only require the hand to 'close then release' to rein back..yes, even from the ground. It's the release that tells the horse to step back, not the 'close' of the hand, or the tug on the reins.

I wanted to see if there was a problem with the mechanics of asking for the rein back. And I wanted to see if the horse was seeking contact and accepting of it when being ridden forward. I'm simply not convinced this is a 'bit' problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Most horses will do this when not engaged and asked to back with the reins. An engaged horse will only require the hand to 'close then release' to rein back..yes, even from the ground. It's the release that tells the horse to step back, not the 'close' of the hand, or the tug on the reins.
Most will.... this one won't. And again, I needed to take contact with his mouth because that's the only way he'll open his mouth.


I wanted to see if there was a problem with the mechanics of asking for the rein back. And I wanted to see if the horse was seeking contact and accepting of it when being ridden forward. I'm simply not convinced this is a 'bit' problem.
Since this doesn't happen with any other horse I ride, I'm pretty sure it's not me. I know this horse has problems and I'm working on them. I'm not convinced this a bit problem, either. I just want to rule out that possibility.
 
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