how to lighten a horse's mouth

Ideally, you want both… an educated mouth that responds and is sensitive to light pressure. “Hard-mouthed horses are protecting themselves from pain caused by extreme bit pressure in their mouths, or the pressure of the hackamore or bosal on the nose and chin,” says Kim Hayes, riding instructor and trainer in both the English and western disciplines, in Arvada, Colo. “These horses develop defense mechanisms to lessen the pain, such as bracing their heads and necks against the reins, and are difficult to slow down or stop. “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. If the horse comes to me with some training already, I’ll go back and make sure he knows ‘whoa’ on the ground. If you horse is more hesitant one way or the other, make a note of this. Snaffle bits often have a jointed mouthpiece. With the higher port, there is less tongue pressure and more bar pressure. They will test you by being heavy. Generally, the horse should stay in some form of o-ring snaffle bit until he is well along in his training. However, most horses will eventually need to be moved up into a regular, solid-mouthpiece, curb bit. 1 cup per load. Please let us know a convenient time to call you on, (*All time slots are available in CDT zone.). LET ME CLARIFY: The result is a heavy hand prone to hitting the horse in the mouth, causing undue pain, pressure and miscommunication between horse and rider. Also, be aware that some horses just can’t stand prosperity. The horse should have a good “whoa” at the walk, jog and lope. This article originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Horse Illustrated. Check out the transition bits and curb bits. And, many older horses that need re-training should also be schooled in a snaffle bit. 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. “Suppling exercises are a super way to start working to lighten up the mouth,” she says. Remember, a horse that is scared or worried will not work to his full potential. Here is the sequence of the various types of snaffle bits that I use. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. He should be in a snaffle bit while he learns to stop, turn and rate the cow. For those horses, the next bit I’ll use will be a low-port mouthpiece with 8” loose shanks (cheeks). CTRL + SPACE for auto-complete. “This can often develop into the horse becoming very heavy on the forehand and lacking the drive from behind needed to respond properly. If you would like to see what the different types of bits look like, click on the links below. Important note: You should feel your seat bones ‘plug’ into the saddle like you would push an electrical plug into an outlet. Definition of from the horse's mouth in the Idioms Dictionary. Some horses just won’t lighten up the way they should in a snaffle bit. Transition bits are middle-of-the-road bits used to transition the horse from the snaffle to a regular curb bit. Bernie demonstrates how to use this technique properly and effectively without hanging on the horse’s mouth. Most horses, I’ll ride with the 8” shanks. Then, you should go back to a regular or thin, … 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 lack of leverage allows you to take the horse’s head laterally without scaring him. With that idea in mind, a green colt will usually be ridden with an o-ring snaffle that has a smooth 7/16” mouthpiece. The mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of the horse’s anatomy. 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. I’ll ride a horse for a while with this low-port curb bit and see how he responds with it. Practice this walk-halt transition using the seat aids first, reinforcing lightly with the reins after the seat aids are given. Definitions by the largest Idiom Dictionary. Courtney Meitz starts with bending work. My favorite training snaffle has a thin, smooth mouthpiece that is 3/16” in diameter. Usually, a few rides in the snaffle fixes the horse up and I can go back to the curb bit. Hard mouths are not impossible to fix. The reason why is because the Billy Allen mouthpiece moves and is flexible similar to a snaffle. By navigating the site, you agree to the use of cookies to collect information. As soon as he gives to the rein pressure, I release and let him walk straight—that’s his reward. “This is a problem most often seen in beginner or novice riders,” she says. 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. Repeat to this same exercise to the left. A horse that is really resistant I may only ask to the point where I see about  three-quarters of his eye. This nicely illustrates what the dressage judge is looking for, i.e. 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. I should also mention, on some of the heavier horses, I’ll use a curb chain with this bit that has more bite to it than the usual one that I use. I have a horse like this in training right now. 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. 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 remedy starts by going back to the beginning,” she says. This is what to use when you’re riding a heavy-mouthed horse that refuses to lighten up. Bend your knees as you ask for the halt to avoid pushing up from your stirrups. Back in the early 1970s, my father always put the 'mouthing gear' on every young horse straight away. I do this byasking him to follow his nose in a circle. (Billy Allen was a top trainer who invented this mouthpiece many years ago. Now, this particular horse behaving this way disappoints me but I don’t hold it against the horse. So, if you want your horse to be a reining horse, you should teach him to stop, spin, change leads etc. The horse I ride refuses to open his mouth for the bit and then listen to the bit. Hold it in your mouth for 10 minutes several times daily. Once good results are achieved, put the horse back into … I also believe she may be having some pain issues as well, so I’ll have to look into that. Hard-mouthed horses also stiffen up when you try to bend or flex them, causing flat turns and jolting transitions. I don't know if your horse is on hay, but that might be worth looking into. I understand that horses cannot breathe through their mouths. I’ll normally ride the horse with a tuning bit for a ride or two (or show in it) and then go back to whatever bit I normally ride him in. Having a horse is a commitment that goes deeper than feeding and cleaning out the stalls.To keep your horse healthy, proper grooming is essential. Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and the author of Horses for Dummies. It is possible for a horse to lighten its forehand while its nose is behind the vertical but the imbalance this position creates causes stiffness and tension. But for the majority of horses it won’t be quite enough. You want him attentive and responding well but not afraid. Should they go to a snaffle bit with more “bite” to it or should they go to a curb bit? Savvy Tax Planning School for Financial Advisors. A browband headstall, with a properly adjusted throatlatch, keeps your horse’s headgear in place for proper use. When he does it without the rein aid I praise him and let him stand for a while.” However, Courtney also makes sure the horse knows “whoa” on the ground. in the snaffle bit. Also, these bits are a “ NO PINCH ” design. Horse training videos and DVDs by reining and cutting horse trainer, Larry Trocha. The horse will be taught the majority of what he needs to know wearing this bit. “If I’ve started the horse, ‘whoa’ in a halter and lead rope is part of leading training. The horse should be ridden with this bit for a few days or until he gets light. The other, I use on horses that are in a transition bit or a regular curb bit. When you first put it on it might look a bit blochey but if you just put it out in the sun it will even out considerably. from the horse's mouth phrase. But with lots of thought and input from friends, I think I’ve depended on my hands far too much to control my horse. “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.”. Poor training and poor riding skills are usually the culprits in the development of a hard mouth. We use cookies to help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience. Exercise 1: Squishy Hands. A standard thickness for the mouthpiece is three-eights of an inch. Again, as soon as the horse lightens up and is responding well, I’ll I do this until I can take one rein, and, before there’s any contact with the bit, he curves his neck, steps over his inside front and walks softly and relaxed on a small circle. Be aware, I no longer sell these bits on my website as my suppler has retired. When I feel the horse is ready to leave the o-ring snaffle, I’ll move up to a mild transition bit. “It may take awhile to achieve, but trust has to be earned before I can really ask him to be light in the mouth,” she says. Even though I’m advancing the horse in the bitting process, I still want the curb bit to have “loose” shanks. Some horse’s can stay in the low port for years and years. Ian demonstrates a very simple way to check your horse for mouth pain caused by sharp hooks on the molars. With some really sensitive horses this is all the snaffle I’ll need. I was thinking of trying a hackamore without thinking I was the problem! If you want to try a piece of equipment that DOES HELP a horse learn to give to your hands, supple-up and flex at the poll… use a German martingale. Mouth injuries can happen in any horse, whether in elite competition or in our own stables and pastures. For 10 years, I trained with a running martingale purely out of habit. Use it if you have a toothache. That was until a young mare reared over backwards and broke her jaw. After the horse gets farther along in his training, then “solid” shanks can be used with good results. I said, I want to use the mildest bit possible that WILL GET THE JOB DONE. It’s very easy and very effective. Laurie also believes a bit seat can help—which involves rounding and smoothing the second premolars in your horse’s mouth. The Australian Cheeker is often seen on racehorses. For the horses that are normally being ridden in an o-ring snaffle, I’ll use a curb bit that has a “correction” mouthpiece and very short, curved-back, “Argentine” shanks (loose shanks). Now, don’t confuse a mouth that is merely “sensitive” with a mouth that is “educated”. Side note: The mouthpiece has enough “bite” to get the job done. 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. (Note: adjust your headstall so that the hose lies flat in your horse's mouth.) What I like about this bit is that it gives the horse the “feel” of being ridden with a curb without scaring the horse. “The rider must remember to always use the leg and seat first, and in some cases, voice commands, prior to the reins.”, Whenever working with a horse with a hard mouth, it’s important to resist the temptation to use a harsher bit. “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. A professional trainer can help the horse learn to give to the bit, and good instruction can teach a rider to have soft hands. But NOT so strong that it scares the horse. Thank you for choosing this service. “Good regular dental attention is important for all horses,” says Laurie. Any performance horse needs to learn to give his head to the direct rein, move his shoulders off the indirect rein and position his ribcage and hindquarters from leg pressure. “A more severe bit, or switching to a hackamore or bosal, is never the answer to correcting a horse with a hard mouth, since the underlying issue is the rider,” says Kim Hayes. 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. “Back pain should be considered in finding and curing the problem in the hard-mouthed horse,” says Laurie Takoff. Thanks a bunch! 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.

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