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My horse tries to grind teeth on bit

My name is Sue and I have a 17 yr old Walker/draft mix. I've had him for 3 yrs., always had his teeth floated every year, and is in good health. He always acts like a big deal when I put a bit in his mouth, until I start to ride then he's o.k. He seems to try to chew on it and you can hear him grinding his teeth. I can't raise or lower the bit, it's in the right place. I've tried a full cheek snaffle and a low port cumberwick. Is he just a putzer? Should I try a more narrow bar? I want to try a basic snaffle, don't want to keep buying a ton of bits.

Maybe have a vet use a device to crank his mouth open (scapula?) to actually see what's up in his mouth? Floating may not be enough for the older guy?

Thanks, Sue

Hi Sue,

Here are a couple of things you might consider. Many horses simply don't like snaffles. They seem to always be chewing on them and moving them around in their mouths. Sometimes putting the bit a little low causes some horses to pick the bit up and hold it up (carry it), thus having a quieter mouth. For other horses an 'unbroken' bit with a shank and a higher port (a higher port if actually more comfortable than a lower port bit for the tongue). It does require quiet and sensitive hands as leverage bits can be severe in a heavy handed rider. A drop noseband just above bit and snugged helps many competative horses (reiners, cutters and dressage) from having too busy a mouth.

The topic of hackamores and other bit-less bridles is interesting as well. Unless you are somehow required to or attatched to using a bit, consider a mechanical hackamore. No bit can mean a quieter mouth. At least you might try one to see how well the horse does with it. I used a hackamore on one particular horse with a busy mouth for years and it solved the problem. The noseband was a bicycle chain covered with rubber tubing. These types of bridles, again, can be severe when used by heavy handed riders. The hands of the rider are always the key and not so much the bit. Could be your horse was 'pulled on' a lot before you got him and that is why he has a nervous mouth. Try riding him in a halter and leadrope (rope halter and lead without a metal snap) tied up as reins and see if he has a decent stop without a bit. You can also train him to have a good stop without a bit in his mouth. Don't rely on the bit to stop the horse. Rely on your seat, hands, skill and good trianing to move or stop the horse as you want. When the vet floats the horses teeth he should be inspecting the animal's mouth thoroughly anyway. If he is a good vet he should tell you if he finds something physical that would cause the horse's problem.

I hope I have given you some food for thought. Good Luck....

Sincerely, Franklin

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