Horses that constantly chomp and chew at the bit

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by meadow36, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. meadow36

    meadow36 Senior Member

    Feb 3, 2010
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    This is not one of my current horses, but I tried out a TB for sale that has this problem. I understand why they could get this way - poor training, being rushed into the bit (esp. a TB broke for the track). However, my question is, can this habit be resolved?

    I looked in her mouth with a flashlight and didn't see any glaring hooks or problems, however I would have her floated ASAP if I were to buy her anyway.

    She's a nice mare but I don't want to take on a problem that has very little chance of resolving.
  2. maggieandduke

    maggieandduke Senior Member+

    Jan 3, 2010
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    Horses chew on the bit because they like the sound. what you do is get latex to put around the bit its like a rubber tape stuff, and it quiets it
  3. horseluvr287

    horseluvr287 Senior Member

    Sep 1, 2010
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    lol i know a horse who does this a lot, but only after jumping a course. most horses do this to entertain themmselves,if the bit is the wrong size, or if the bit is cold
  4. Ambrose

    Ambrose Senior Member+

    Oct 22, 2009
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    Some horses may chew because they're bored, or because they like it for whatever reason (the feel, taste of sweet iron or copper, etc).

    However, it's not a habit that's great for the horse to get into. Even if the horse isn't in discomfort, it's bad form for you horse to chomp and crunch and foam especially while being ridden. There's a difference between playing with the bit and accepting it and crazily crunching its teeth, and sometimes it can get you in trouble in the showring. Further, if the horse can actually CHEW the bit itself, you have a serious fit problem. ;) Usually what we hear is just the grinding of the molars.

    It's more likely, however, that the horse doesn't like the bit for whatever reason. And you hit the most common reasons right on the head - ill acceptance of the bit because of poor training or no training.

    I do feel that this habit can be resolved in most cases. You can never say "all." But, when the teeth are taken care of, you can start fitting different bits in her mouth and seeing what she likes. A couple tips -

    - Measure her mouth, with a string or something, to see what exact size she needs. You may want to try a difference of a quarter inch either way to see if that has an effect - some horses like a "squeezy" bit with no leeway, but others may want a couple millimeters of space.

    - Try different bits. If she's in a plain snaffle, get a French link. I really like a full-cheek French-link snaffle for starting or retraining. The cheeks keep the bit just in the right spot, with no sliding, and gives some lateral pressure to make training simpler for the horse to understand, and the French link prevents the nutcracker effect of a snaffle. My horse's bit has a copper roller in it for him to play with.

    - Adjust the thickness. A thicker bit is milder, but if it's too thick for her mouth, it won't do. Make sure it's not too thick (or too thin) for her mouth.

    - Try different materials. Make sure the metal is always warm. You can try Happy Mouth bits, which are covered in synthetic material. Or try copper, or sweet iron, for the mouthpiece.

    - Make sure fit is right for the horse. The "two wrinkle" rule is a good guideline, but it won't hold true for every horse. The bit needs to rest in the cente of the bars of her mouth, so peel back her lips and check to see if it's in the middle...wrinkle or no. My horse has more than 2 wrinkles when his bit is in the right spot, but if you lower it to meet the "two wrinkle" rule, he is unhappy. Check for her mouth. And you can try raising or lowering it a hole to see if that makes a difference.

    - Start retraining. She may have no clue how to react to the bit (not as a riding horse, anyway), and she may be very confused. A confused horse is a resistant horse. Or worse, she may have had painful experiences that cause her to equate the bit with pain. I like to work a horse on the ground with its bit to make sure they understand the meaning before asking them to understand undersaddle.
  5. GotaDunQH

    GotaDunQH Senior Member

    Dec 19, 2008
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    Some horses are just very "oral" and this is their way of dealing with stress, anxiety, tension, anticipation etc. It could also be a bit that is uncomfortable in the horse's mouth...the way it fits. You put a regular snaffle in my horse's mouth and he'll chew on it. Put a ported correction bit in....quiet as a church mouse. He simply does not like tongue pressure. I know snaffles are popular bits, but some horses simply do not like them and will let you know. In my case, my horse gets active with his mouth.

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