Any Suggestions?

I’ve got a boarder who has a very difficult mouth.  When wearing her full bridle, she braces hard against the bit if the curb chain is loose, but when it’s tightened, she becomes too sensitive to the point that any contact with the reins and she pops her head.  It would be one thing if she held her head in frame and became light, but she carries her head much too high (she’s a hunter) but any attempts to bring her down and she pops her head or breaks to the canter. 

I’ve been trying to find a happy medium with the curb chain with no success, as well as trying out some different bits, also with no luck.  I wanted to know if anyone has ever encountered a similar problem and if so, how was it dealt with.  She can be an outstanding individual when she does it right.  Any suggestions would be appreciated, especially if someone has a favorite bit that maybe I could look into! 

Also, the mare has no medical problems and her teeth are floated regularly so there’s no problem there.

15 Responses to Any Suggestions?

  1. mrmi says:

    I would suggest going back to basics. A snaffle bit and lots of ground work. You don’t want to use too harsh or big of a bit too quickly. Get her in the frame that you are looking for while using a snaffle and then move to something such as a jointed pelham. I have had a lot of success with them. I really like the rubber pelhams too.

    You can also try running the curb rein through a martingale. I don’t like to use a lot of devices though. They are a good for temporary use but you will not have them in the show ring so don’t let your horse become dependent on them.

    Also, have you tried wrapping the curb chain in latex? It might help.

  2. colwilrin says:

    Check the curb chain. She might be super sensative to any kinks or twisted links. Find one that lays really flat. Make sure the curb hooks aren’t twisting and the ends poking into her cheeks when the bit moves.

    Also, have you tried bitting or “stall bridling” her. On the riding vs. Ground Work thread, it was discussed. As Stacy commented, it is a great way to let the horse figure it out for itself.

    As a longshot, has she ever had any sort of injury to her jaw? I knew of someone that had a horse with bitting problems. They had x-rays and found that the horse had a bone splinter in its jaw. It must have been injured as a young horse, before purchased.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Have you tried covering the curb chain or perhaps a pelham.

  4. Sammy M. says:

    The mare is 8, not to say that back to basics wouldn’t work, but she is an experienced horse and was started and finished by an experienced trainer. She is all around a wonderful girl but is just very inconsistent in the bridle. Mainly her full bridle.

    I have not tried running the curb rein through the martingale as I always thought that a little harsh, but I could try it.

    Her curb chain is and always has been wrapped. She also does get stall bridled pretty regularly. When stall bridled, she will try to lean hard into the bit but will then relax, flex, and accept it after a while.

    To my knowledge she’s never had any kind of jaw injury/problem

    She has gone in several different pelhams and all of them made her worse, mostly she’ll just dive when she’s in one

  5. kim viker says:

    Does she chew at all, or play with her tongue? Is it that she is trying to remove any pressure from her jaw or perhaps her tongue?

    Kim Viker

  6. Sammy M. says:

    She wears a tongue tie sometimes because she has been known to get her tongue over the bit. She also plays with the bits a lot when she’s working. How do I know if there’s pressure on her jaw or tongue?

  7. StacyGRS says:

    Playing with her bit is good…she can’t brace when she does that. I would be tempted to try to try a snaffle that has a roller on it. Put her in a stall bridle with the full bridle (IF she’s done this before…it can be dangerous if she doesn’t understand what is going on), make her caveson quite loose and feed her a peppermint right after you bridle her and then right after you tie her back. You might need another in 5 minutes or so…the idea is to get her to move her mouth around and soften. If she needs a tongue tie, I’d put one on her during this for sure since I leave the caveson loose.
    While you said she is 8, that doesn’t mean she can’t get herself into a bad rutt. I’d follow the other person’s advise and go back to the snaffle a little here and there. Then try putting a draw rein on your snaffle rein in your full bridle. It takes being pretty handy with your reins, but if I have one that isn’t uderstanding the curb I’ll teach them like this. I hold all 3 reins (finger between each one) and I use the curb and draw rein at the same time. If she’ll flex for the draw rein, then she’ll realize that the curb pressure comes and goes at the same time and rewards the same way. I tend to make my curb chains (almost always wrapped) a bit tighter than some do, because I don’t like them to have alot of “play” to them. I’d rather they had a firm end so I know exactly how much pressure I have on it and don’t end up dragging one down that way. I generally adjust my curb so that if my horse’s head is in the right spot, there is no pressure, I just have the slack out of the rein. It is basically there to stop them from raising above that point, so, the only time they really have curb pressure at all is when they are not in the correct position. otherwise, there is no reward, IMO. Good luck and be careful…curb issues can be tricky.

  8. kim viker says:

    The advice Stacy gave is wonderful; that sounds like the way to go with your mare. And, I also agree with others in using the snaffle. The curb bit can always be a bit tricky. Take your time with her and introduce things slowly with much patience.


  9. mrmi says:

    I also agree with Stacy. The curb rein should not be over used. I think a lot of people abuse the curb rein as if it solves all problems, when really it can cause more. Snaffles are very important and having them work well in one is probably the best thing that you could do. Then, as Stacy said use the curb to get them back in the correct position.


  10. Jennifer says:

    How about a snaffle with a martingale to teach her to relax into the bit rather pull into it.

    IMHO, there is nothing more annoying than a person who doesn’t know how to use or adjust a curb bit. Upper level dressage riders are the worst! Drives me nuts.

  11. Sammy M. says:

    I’m sorry I forgot to mention that she isn’t only worked in her full bridle. We also work her in a snaffle with a draw rein and a straight rein. She is completely different in a snaffle, she wears her head more like she’s western. She hangs her head in your hands and becomes overflexed easily. Once you get her in a curb though she becomes almost the opposite- very touchy.

  12. Jennifer says:

    If she is a hunter and good in a snaffle, why are you pushing the full bridle issue?

  13. Sammy M. says:

    Because she doesn’t go well in a snaffle and when she’s in the snaffle, she’s in a draw rein, which she can’t wear in the show ring. So when she’s showing, I have no choice but to put her in a full bridle.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I see, I didn’t understand your previous post. I, personally, don’t like draw reins.

  15. mrmi says:

    In a previous post regarding western show bits this web site was given In it there is a really interesting and helpful section called “a bit of advice.” I know that she is a hunt horse but bitting is bitting. He talks about horses that dump in the bridle and how raising the bit up will help with that issue. I just thought it was interesting reading.

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