Friday, June 19, 2009

Kate asked what kinds of bits I was trying yesterday. The first was this bit, but WITHOUT the twisted wire. Regular smooth mouthpiece. He played with it and tried to get the shanks in his mouth.
The second one was this Weaver bit.
He wore it for a while and then we went to the round pen to try it, since we've never used anything like this before. He did great. He seemed less distracted by this bit and mostly followed my body cues with very very little use of the bit. But he played with it a lot and I can see why they call that roller a "cricket." It makes a lot of noise. I'm going to keep riding him in it over the next several days and see if he settles into it.

Why am I trying new bits again? Tonka plays with and chews on his bit constantly. It's very distracting to both of us. I'm hoping to find something he likes in his mouth, that he will mess with less. And if it distracts him less, I can use it less, because he'll be paying attention to other cues, and if we use it less, maybe he'll be happier and play with it less. I know, I'm grasping at straws. I don't know if this will help, but it shouldn't hurt.

I don't like any of the bitless options, I'd rather find a way for my horse to be comfortable and quiet in a bit. I also will not tie his mouth shut. If he really needs to play with his bit, he can.

Anyone else have a bit-chewer? What did you do to fix the problem? Changes in gear or the way you ride or handle your horse in general? Don't worry, I'm not just looking at the bits, I'm looking at myself as well.

9 comments:

Kate said...

Bit chewing sometimes is just young horse stuff and goes away on its own, and sometimes it means that the horse is trying to figure stuff out, including how to carry the bit - you could try it slightly higher, or slightly lower and see if it makes a difference. Or sometimes it means something else entirely - dental issue for example. He may be less distracted by the non-jointed mouthpiece. I'm not a big fan of jointed (snaffle mouthpiece) bits with shanks - I think they give confusing cues to the horse. I did a post on bits I use a while back that you might be interested in. I like it that you don't want to tie his mouth shut - that just treats the symptom but doesn't really solve the problem.

Kate said...

I looked up my bit post - it was on May 9. Good luck!

Andrea said...

Kate - good post on bits! I've had a few Myler bits too, trying to find something good for Tonka. Maybe I'll try that bit Mark Rashid endorses, if I can ever afford one. It might be a very good thing.

I'm pretty positive Tonka's bit-fiddling is just because he has a very over-active mind, but I keep hoping something will help him settle his mouth down. I'll keep on looking.

Oh, and that Robart jointed leverage bit - I didn't really like the idea of using it because of what I've read on tom thumb bits and what Mark Rashid told my sister about this sort of bit, but thought I'd give it a shot. He didn't complain but there was nothing special there that made me want to keep using it.

Kara said...

Hi Andrea,

I use a double jointed D-ring snaffle and I really like it a lot. The middle section is a "lozenge" that seems to fit in the horses mouth really well. I always make sure to let the bit set in their mouth in a place where they can pick it up and carry it themselves (in other words, I'm sure not to pull it too high in their mouths). I've not had any of my horses excessively chew at the bit and I've used it on 3 very different horses. Make sure you use a chin strap if you use a bit set low in their mouths so that is cannot pull through their mouth if something bad happens (I've gotten bucked off this way). The bit I like is the JP Korsteel Hunter D-ring duble jointed snaffle with copper center.

Tina said...

I have had a lot of success with a double jointed snaffle too, what we in Oz call a french snaffle. If the horse has a shallow palate, it sits nicer for them because there isn't that one triangular point sitting up on top of the tongue and into the roof of the mouth.

You could also try what we call a mullen mouth snaffle, which has no joint in the middle of it, but is just a straigh rubber or metal bar. It is said to be the mildest bit of all.

I agree on the noseband thing. I am getting very anti to all these mouths strapped tightly shut.

Andrea said...

A double jointed snaffle is what we usually ride in. The one I have is some dressage bit, I can't remember the brand, but he likes it better than anything else we've ever used. or maybe it's just that I like it better. There really isn't much difference in his behavior or performance no matter what bit we use. I've tried a double jointed snaffle with a roller in the middle, and still no change.

I have a mullen mouth Myler comfort bit sitting right here at my desk. It wasn't a hit with him. He was a little less responsive in it, and it didn't change his bit chewing.

I keep his bit as low as I can without it hitting his canines. It doesn't seem to matter where I put it, he pulls it up into his teeth and chews on it over, and over, and over again. To the point where the sides of his bridle are bowing out and flapping against his face.

I will probably have his teeth checked when I can afford it. But I really don't think that's the problem. I could also have a chiropractor out, but I've never seen any results with the chiropractor we have here.

They don't make bosals big enough for him. Or if they do, they're not in my price range. I don't like side-pulls, and I haven't heard much good about bitless bridles, plus they look funny. I don't like Indian Hackamores. The halter isn't a good enough communication tool for my taste...

I'll figure it all out eventually.

Kara said...

What if you rode with more contact so that it kept his brain busy? If you had more contact, it would be uncomfortable to suck the bit into his teeth, I would think. I like to ride with very loose reins, but when my horses get distracted or just off in their own little world, I have to bring them back by riding with contact and keeping them walking straight with my legs.

Andrea said...

He does do better when we're actively doing something that requires contact, so I think you have something there. But I'd hate to have to ride with contact all the time.

Lea and her Mustangs said...

I just am getting around to reading blogs since Thursday. Pepper still likes his cricket. He sucks on it.