how to lighten a horse's mouth

Be aware, there are always exceptions to the rule. You can’t rely on a one-ear or slit-ear headstall to keep your snaffle in place. “Imagine your shoulder blades are like thumbtacks that will drop down into the horse as you ask for the halt,” says Kim. Horses also appear in various phrases or idioms like, “Straight from the Horse’s mouth,” associating Horse with accurate or unadulterated communication, and “Get off your high horse,” implying condescending behavior. The difference is, the Billy Allen mouthpiece has a “roller” that is molded over the middle joint. Be aware, I no longer sell these bits on my website as my suppler has retired. From this point on, it’s just a matter of experimenting with different bits to see what the horse responds to best. “The idea is to let your weight sink down into the saddle, without slouching or leaning forward or backward. Keep the hand pressure gentle but steady, and as soon as the horse gives to the pressure—even the tiniest little bit—reward him by releasing the rein. I’ll eventually bring his nose around almost to his shoulder, but how long it takes to get to that point depends on the horse. It seems there is a lot of confusion about when to use a certain type of bit and when not to. Imagine you’re peeking in the window at the family holiday scene unfolding. I never would have thought I was the one to cause the problem my horse is having. After the horse has a good idea of what is expected of him and is pretty far along, I’ll start riding the horse in a “transition bit”. The following four exercises can help you develop lighter hands. Even the most docile horse in the barn can become resistant when human fingers are probing his tender mouth full of stickers—it hurts! The number is dependent on the gender of the horse, and whether or not the horse develops extra teeth along the bars of its mouththe empty space between the front teeth and rear teeth where the bit sits. Another remark that means the same thing is, ‘could be more uphill’. Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and the author of Horses for Dummies. Also, be aware that some horses just can’t stand prosperity. This can affect performance and cause a horse to fall far short of his potential. “Once a rider is balanced and using the seat correctly, it’s time to work on softening the horse’s response to bit pressure,” says Kim. It’s just part of horse nature to take the easy way out and slack off. Copyright © 2021 EG Media Investments LLC. There is a light contact and finger feel of the horses mouth. Don’t worry if it takes a long time for the horse to stop at first—he needs to learn the new aids too. Most horses develop hard mouths as a result of poor riding and training, but on occasion physical problems can be the cause of poor response to the bit. Take a look in your horse's mouth and youll see a lot of teeth in there. I will take [the inside] rein and slowly bring my hand to the outside of my hip and ask for a little bit of bend. The practice of using a stronger bit to lighten a horse up and then switching back to a milder bit, works really well to preserve the horse's mouth while keeping him working right. Either the regular or the thin twisted-wire. Transition bits are the stepping stones between the green horse and the finished horse. I recommend riding the horse with it for one or two days to lighten him up and then switch back to the smooth-wire snaffle. “Overuse of the hands, transferred to the bit, combined with the lack of training in teaching the horse to respond to the rider’s leg and seat, is where most of these problems usually start,” says Laurie Takoff, owner of Laurian Quarter Horses in Kelowna, B.C., Canada, and a member of the American Quarter Horse Association of Professional Horsemen. Use it in your laundry to whiten your whites. “If you give a rider with hard hands a more severe bit, you only amplify the problem or cause other issues to develop as the horse tries to protect himself from pain.”. My favorite training snaffle has a thin, smooth mouthpiece that is 3/16” in diameter. It is used to lighten the response when horse hangs heavy on the bit. Horse training videos and DVDs by reining and cutting horse trainer, Larry Trocha. 2. The reins are attached to the ends of the levers and when pulled the levers swing back and pressure is applied to the tongue and bars of the mouth, while a chin strap or chain applies pressure underneath the jaw. I was thinking of trying a hackamore without thinking I was the problem! One of his versions of a half-halt that is simple to do, he calls a “nip up.” This can be used in many instances, especially on a horse that is too low in its carriage or is too heavy on the forehand. Laurie points out that the problem can even develop in well trained horses that are constantly exposed to riders who rely too much on their hands for control, instead of using their legs and seat. “All of this prepares the horse to bridle up and be collected.”, Laurie Takoff also recommends returning to the basics when retraining a hard-mouthed horse, using bending and flexing to teach him to give to the bit. Many people automatically reach for a different piece of equipment when their horse starts to open their mouth while riding. I have also seen these horses overflexing at the poll and neck or not flexing enough.”, According to Laurie, overflexing can develop to the point where the horse uses his neck as well as his mouth to pull on the rider’s hands. In this newsletter, I want to try to clarify some of the misconceptions about bits and how to use different types of snaffle bits and curb bits to their best advantage. Most colts should be started in a snaffle bit. Important note: The mouthpiece has enough “bite” to get the job done. A horse’s mouth can be very sensitive but if its not also educated on how to respond to pressure, the sensitivity really doesn’t do you much good. It’s the best horse training aid there is. Either they refuse to lighten up at all or they will get light for a while and then revert back to being heavy. The Australian Cheeker is often seen on racehorses. Ideally, you want both… an educated mouth that responds and is sensitive to light pressure. Next comes the walk-to-halt transition. The twisted wire snaffle bits should not be used for an extended time. You have to use your legs and seat to encourage your horse to step further under himself and engage his back and abs to lift himself up. The other, I use on horses that are in a transition bit or a regular curb bit. Working on a longe line with an instructor can go a long way to developing a balanced seat for a rider, and thus less reliance on the reins for support. I believe the snaffle bit is the best tool for teaching a horse how to position himself and use his body correctly. Those seedheads can pierce the inside of the horse's mouth, almost like splinters. From there, it can get infected. To resolve the problem, consider each possible cause, starting with pain. On my horse’s that are normally ridden in a transition bit or curb bit, I’ll use a tuning bit that has a “correction” mouthpiece and seven (7″) inch, loose shanks. When a horse is said to be, ‘on the forehand’ it means that the overall impression to the onlooker is that the majority of the weight is being carried on the horse’s shoulders and front half. Ride your horse lively forward at the walk and on contact. Even though it works well, be aware that a “twisted” mouthpiece is abrasive and can sore a horse’s mouth if it’s used too many days in a row or too harshly. Every time I go back to a milder bit to reward the horse for good performance, he cheats me and won’t work right. The problem with this approach is that it is akin to putting a Bandaid on a deep gash. Do this softening the rein and using the voice if necessary to reward. Practice this walk-halt transition using the seat aids first, reinforcing lightly with the reins after the seat aids are given. Then, you should go back to a regular or thin, … This nicely illustrates what the dressage judge is looking for, i.e. If he doesn’t stop, I’ll repeat the above, but this time I’ll ask him to back a few steps. Something to illuminate the back of his mouth?a helper with a flashlight will do or you can wear an inexpensive headlamp such as I have, available through sporting goods stores or websites (type "headlamps" into your search engine). “The remedy starts by going back to the beginning,” she says. His mouth is closed and shows white foam, indicating that he is relaxed in his jaw. After a while though, this is the bit I’ll be using to do MOST of the training. “When this happens, the rider has a tendency to lean back in the saddle too far in an effort to move the horse’s center of gravity back and gain leverage by pulling back on the reins,” she says. My barrel race horse is fine responding to bit during slow work (bending, stopping,) but when running flat out at a race he becomes unresponsive to cues, rating, words, and fights me the whole pattern. Often, the very things that horses do to lessen the pain cause riders to stiffen up more and pull harder on the reins, creating a cycle of pull—brace—pull harder—brace harder—that only ends in frustration for rider and horse.”, “Hard mouthed horses are commonly known for ‘running through the bit or bridle,’ ” says Laurie Takoff. Usually, a few rides in the snaffle fixes the horse up and I can go back to the curb bit. for teaching a horse how to position himself and use his body correctly. And you stay with that mild bit until the colt doesn’t respond to it well enough anymore. “For novices, using the hands, arms and upper body for control offers a greater feeling of security in controlling and steering the horse.”. Again, as soon as the horse lightens up and is responding well, I’ll Even though I’m advancing the horse in the bitting process, I still want the curb bit to have “loose” shanks. I stay with this until the horse is too heavy in it and I can’t get him to respond as lightly as he should. The longer the shanks the more pressure is applied. I am told that yawning is a method of increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood. “Suppling exercises are a super way to start working to lighten up the mouth,” she says. Most horses, I’ll ride with the 8” shanks. “[Once the horse knows ‘whoa’] I’ll spend as much time as necessary to get him soft at the walk first. However, most horses will eventually need to be moved up into a regular, solid-mouthpiece, curb bit. Side note: Aloesin , which is derived from aloe vera, can help lighten the skin around the mouth. The twisted wire tenders the tongue and corners of the horse's mouth. It’s very easy and very effective. Definitions by the largest Idiom Dictionary. It’s not a bit you should spend an extended amount of time using; it’s for occasional use, returning to a smooth snaffle or the curb bit you regularly use. One of the best ways to lighten up a tense situation is to take a step back and look at things from a bird’s eye view. And, throughout its life, it will have two different sets of teeth, ju… Fix horses that buck, rear, bite, kick, spook. To measure the width of your horse's mouth, bridle him with the measuring tool attached to the headstall, placing the hose in his mouth just like a bit. “A horse with back pain might learn to pull on the bit in an effort to lift the rider’s weight off his back, thus reliving his pain.”, Laurie also suggests looking over the horse’s tack for potential problems. Side note: The bit pressure is more evenly distributed over the tongue and bars of the horse’s mouth. To get the horse to lighten up and respond, I’ll try schooling him with a snaffle that has a mouthpiece that is smaller in diameter… usually a 3/8” mouthpiece. Once he knows how to work, then you can step him up to a curb bit. If a horse absolutely refuses to respond to a very mild bit, then I’ll step up to the next bit in the sequence. “The first thing I’ll do when I get on a horse with a hard mouth is put him in a snaffle and find out if he knows what the word ‘whoa’ means. This subtle movement is enough to signal the horse and every time you go to the horses mouth it should begin with this soft feel. Oct 14, 2009 #4 patandchickens Flock Mistress. Curb bits are for “refining” the training that you have accomplished with the snaffle. A: Horses develop a hard mouth for many reasons, including pain, stress, and learned behavior. Not surprisingly, horses that have learned to resist the bit are not easy to ride. I left the photos up so you can see the type of bits I’m talking about. What I like about this bit is that it gives the horse the “feel” of being ridden with a curb without scaring the horse. Especially the older horses that are being tuned up or re-trained. Please try again. I’ll use this bit to lighten a colt up for a few days and then I’ll switch back to the regular snaffle. I finally asked myself… why am I wasting time and money on a piece of equipment that doesn’t work? As soon as he gives to the rein pressure, I release and let him walk straight—that’s his reward. The next bit in the sequence is my favorite transition bit. Most horses love this bit and you can usually leave a horse in it for most of his training. “Also, look over the bridle and bit to ensure they fit properly and are not pinching.”, Dental care is also crucial in maintaining a healthy mouth that will readily accept the bit. I don’t get angry with him for it. Bernie demonstrates how to use this technique properly and effectively without hanging on the horse’s mouth. With that idea in mind, a green colt will usually be ridden with an o-ring snaffle that has a smooth 7/16” mouthpiece. For those horses, the next bit I’ll use will be a low-port mouthpiece with 8” loose shanks (cheeks). On the upper teeth, they are located on the side of the teeth nearest the cheek and on the lower teeth, they’re on the side of the teeth nearest the tongue. The horse will be taught the majority of what he needs to know wearing this bit. The most commonly addressed issue in a horse’s mouth is sharp enamel points on the premolars and molars. Be aware, there are always exceptions to the rule. Keep in mind, all through the training and bitting process, if I run into a problem, I’ll sometimes go back to an o-ring snaffle to iron out the trouble and regain the horse’s confidence. Hold it in your mouth for 10 minutes several times daily. This article originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Horse Illustrated. This is why I emphasized solidifying your seat. Like the fishback, the twisted mouthpiece helps to lighten a horse to your pull. The horse is vigorously active, yet the work has an obvious resting quality. Back in the early 1970s, my father always put the 'mouthing gear' on every young horse straight away. I suggest that the side reins be adjusted quite loosely at first. A two year old colt will have a much more sensitive mouth than a ten year old horse. from the horse's mouth phrase. So to get the job done, I’ll go to a twisted-wire snaffle. The loose shanks make it much easier to take a horse’s head to the side and get lateral flexion. Not too much—I want it to be somewhat easy. The horse gets the feel of a mouthpiece that is almost “solid” like a regular curb bit yet still has some “flex” to it. Horse how to lighten a horse's mouth be retrained to respond properly to the bit is closed and white. “ sweet iron ” and has inlaid copper stripes to produce the taste that can! 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