Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Open Wide and Say Neigh

I had a spare 20 minutes this weekend, so I thought I'd spend it trying to get my 4-year-old filly to accept the bit. She's been wearing the bit for over a year now, but recently developed resistence to having me put it in her mouth.

It's a single-jointed D-ring snaffle with a copper bar. There are no places where it pinches her, but she must have had a bad experience with it at some point to decide that she'd rather throw her head around than to hold still and allow me to open her mouth by slipping my thumb in the corner of her lips.

The tactic I used this time was to remove the bridle from near her face each time she dropped her head, since raising her head out of reach was the main reason why I couldn't get the bridle on. She caught on quickly and instantly dropped her head each time I brought the bridle near her face, which resulted in my taking it away from her face.

However, at some point I had to actually get it on, which took some trickery, but we did work together to get it on. I was so happy about getting it on her that I forgot that dinner was going to be ready soon, and I started ground drving her in the bit. My husband had to come outside and warn me that dinner would be ready soon. She got the world's shortest driving lesson, got that bit out of her mouth and that bridle off her head in record time.

My trainer taught me to adjust the bridle so that the bit creates one or two wrinkles in the corner of the horse's mouth. I prefer more like flush with no wrinkles or only one wrinkle. Looking at these pictures, I think I'm going to loosen the fit a notch. For those who use bits, what are your rules when it comes to adjusting a bridle?

14 comments:

enlightenedhorsemanship.net said...

Have you thought of trying Tellington TTouch mouth work? It can be remarkably effective for helping a horse accept the bit and also deworming.

dp said...

I like to see a bit fit with just the slightest hint of one wrinkle. I know lots of people like to see two wrinkles, but that is to tight in my opinion.

C-ingspots said...

I too, go for 1-2 wrinkles depending on the horse and how they respond. Too loose causes more problems than being slightly snug as the bit flops around in the horse's mouth.
I absolutely love that first picture of your little mare!! She has the cutest little pouty face!! Gotta love Arabian faces...

jen098 said...

I have done TTouch with my horses for their mouths, and it has made everything, from worming, to bridling, better. I have found that once I have done it a few times, my horses love to have their mouths massaged.

I also do something I saw in a John Lyons video. It involves teaching your horse to drop his head, or flex, or hold it in one place. I used the technique with my new horse, who hadn't been bridled much, was head shy, and hated her ears touched. She came a long way in a few days...I could explain more if you want!

HorseOfCourse said...

Hi NuzzMuzz! I like to have a wrinkle, to keep the bit off the teeth.
And I have a very simple solution to the bit problem.
One treat when they take the bit. After a while they come willingly, put their head into the bridle and take the bit themselves.
Super easy. No conflicts, no complicated training and a happy association for the horse.

Leah Fry said...

1 wrinkle.

Kate said...

Tooth problem? Or perhaps just banged the teeth at some point? I adjust the bit so the horse can carry it by him (or her) self - some horses prefer it with no wrinkles and some with one or two wrinkles - the horse will let you know what is right.

I use the same approach/retreat method you used - just holding whatever it is against the horse until they stop moving, without constraining their movement too much. You could try the same thing with fingers on the mouth, in the mouth, etc., although this takes a little agility on your part!

Paint Girl said...

I used to go by 2 wrinkles until I hired my trainer and she prefered the bit lower in the mouth, to having 1 wrinkle so that is how I have kept it, looking back, 2 wrinkles did seem too tight.
I also love your mare! She has the most beautiful face!

Pony Girl said...

Like you, I like one or no wrinkles. I will have to let my mom know about this post. She has issues getting the bit in her geldings mouth at times.
Sorry I upset your dinner with my disgusting pasture picture! ;) I was debating on whether to add it but decided it was an interesting part of my day.
I just noticed that you have another blog w/Leah and Lisa, how fun! Good for you guys. I will have to head over and do some additional reading.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

At least one wrinkle is what I've been taught. She looks good!

Shirley said...

One or no wrinkle, it really depends on the conformation of the horses mouth. some have a really short(shallow) lip, and some have a longer area.
If she has developed the bit issues recently, it may be time to get her teeth done. I think this is something you do regularly, but it is spring of her 4 year old year, and she'll be having changes going on in there.

Mrs Mom said...

Look how grown up that sweet filly is these days!

I like to let the horse tell me where the bit needs to be. Adjust your bit some and see how she reacts to different positions. And give her a big rub from us!

Sydney said...

Barely one wrinkle. I want the bit to not create pressure when I drop the reins. It's the reward for things like if I ask for stop, it creates pressure, if I drop the reins it should all go away, not be there constantly.

manker said...

i;m a one (at most)wrinkle gal.. tho every horse seems to be the proverbial "experiment of one"

happy trails
gp