Fighting the bit

This topic contains 7 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Joan Fry 3 years, 9 months ago.

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  • shannon_thelander Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 0

    I just got ownership over a friends horse because they were first time horse owners and couldn’t control their horse.. Eventually they gave up and told me if I could control her I could have her.. I have worked with her for a month and she went from going ballistic just walking to the arena to being able to be ridden bareback out on trail with no problems.. Unfortunately I can’t get her to take the bit easily. She won’t open her mouth and when I stick my fingers in her mouth she pulls her head back and tries to get away from me. I have to fight her every time.. I have tried a lot of different bits and the one I have for her right now is a Myler bit. I also will end up riding her in a hack if I don’t want to fight her and she’s good with that but I want her to be able to take a bit when I need her to.. Help!

    NinaJD NinaJD
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 139

    which myler do you have?
    how old is she, what kind of training does she have?

    She’s associating the bit with pain. Someone was rough on her mouth. It took my horse over 3 weeks to get over his fear of the bit(this included rearing, bucking, running, because of the pain he associated with having a bit in his mouth from his previous owners).
    I got him a myler comfort snaffle(level 1). Depending on your horse you may want to get another myler but a higher level(maybe level 2).
    I love these bits and with patience and time your horse adjusts.
    you might also want to try to just spend some time rubbing her gums. Don’t put the bit in her mouth, just rub her gums with your fingers and once she stops fighting you move your hand away and then do it again. Do this for a few minutes on each side and call it good.
    Do this for a few days and then try the bit. But just put it in her mouth and then take it out. Put it in, take it out. Don’t ride her yet.
    Maybe do this on and off for a week before getting on her.
    how is she once the bit is in her mouth? is she tossing her head or is she fine?

    I know it’s a lot of work, but trust me, it’s worth it. My boy now lowers his head and willingly opens his mouth for the bit. It’s such a relief not having to try to fight him.(we never win and just get frustrated and sometimes give up, which teaches them that if they fight enough they win)

    keep us posted. =)

    "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time."
    "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often."
    Pat Parelli

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Congratulations on the progress you’ve made. Good work! She is lucky to have you! It may take some investigation, but someone who as gotten this far with her will be able to work this out.

    Have you had her teeth checked/floated? If she hasn’t had a float in a while, the bit could be causing pain and it won’t matter which bit you use, it will hurt. Does she drop grain when she eats? If your answer is yes, she definitely needs a float.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Possibly sliming the bit with applesauce will help? My boy is very willing to accept the bit in his mouth, and then spends all his time tossing his head, trying to spit it out, etc. At times, he reverts to holding his head sideways. I have had his teeth checked, and it isn’t that – seemingly he has had some truly cow-handed riders in the past, and it is going to take a lot of time to get him past it. It sounds as if your girl is reacting to past experiences also, and that is a very difficult thing to fix.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    1st thing – have your vet check her mouth, as the previous poster stated, if her mouth hurts, no bit will be acceptable.
    2nd thing – if/when her mouth is healthy, read Linda Tellington-Jones’ books (any of them). She has quite a few excellent mouth exercises. I’ve used them on foals, greenies and older horses with very good results.
    In the mean time – if she goes happily in a hackamore, stick with it. Sounds like she needs the reassurance that riding is a good and fun thing.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 8

    I’ve got a Myler bit too. They’re great but maybe it’s just not the bit for her. I remember when I had my horse in twisted snaffles, she was awful! Without a martingale, it was a CONSTANT fight to get her to keep her head down, and she wouldn’t tolerate chain chin straps. But when I tried the Myler bit, she was a whole new horse. There’s a perfect bit for everyone, maybe you just haven’t found it yet. Talk to a good trainer and see what they say. Bitting horses can be really tricky, but the basic idea is to use the least severe bit you can. Maybe the one you’re using is a little too much for her.

    Plus, maybe she’s associating the bit with something negative like pain or work. When you do get the bit in her mouth, make everything after that positive. Eventually she’ll stop thinking, “Ahh there’s the bit again! That means I’m gonna have to do a whole lot of stuff I don’t like!” And be sure to be as gentle as you can with the bit so you know that it’s not hurting her. Check her teeth and the inside of her mouth for sores too.

    Another note on making the experience positive: you could try using those flavored bit wraps. They’re strips that dissolve, (kind of like those listerine strips), and taste like apples. If she likes them, she’ll probably be more willing to take the bit.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    I agree with the mouth checking advice, and would suggest a soft rubber bit to start. is coat it in something delicious, like molasses, and just let her lick it without even trying to put it in. then once you can place it into her mouth with no trouble learn to ask for mobilization of the jaw – this is demonstrated by Phillippe Karl in his ecole de legerete videos – if she’s already licking molasses off the bit you can encourage further licking and chewing which will induce relaxation through the neck and back, create a positive feedback loop in her brain about the bit and work in general. good luck!

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    All good answers. If the people who owned her previously had such a hard time controlling her–and were first-time owners–chances are she’s never had her teeth floated. I’d start there, before you do anything else, especially before you change bits. I especially agree with Nina and Max. Get him accustomed to having your hands in his mouth, and keep the lessons short. Five minutes, max. Having to fight a horse to do anything isn’t good. Take your time and be patient. My old mare went through a spell where she didn’t want a fly mask on. Once I did get it on she was fine. I just kept following her around her pipe corral, holding the mask. Eventually she would end up facing her feeder. When she looked back at me, making licking/chewing movements with her mouth, I knew I could walk up to her and put it on. By the end of the summer she’d had enough drama and would watch me approach her and then put her head down for me to put it on. You’ve already accomplished a lot with your girl. Keep up the good work!

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