Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bitting Issues

When I first got Casey, one of the most obvious of her bad habits was that she would constantly put her tongue over the bit. It didn't matter how high or low the but was in her mouth, or what type of bit it was, or how I used the reins. It was almost like her calming habit, kind of like how little kids have to carry around their blankies.

After a lot of experimenting I landed on two bits that I could use with Casey that decreased the tongue over the bit issue. We used an copper oval link snaffle bit for quite a while that she really liked and then we also were using a roller link Myler Combination Bit. Gradually the frequency at which she put her tongue over the bit decreased. She got to the point that she would only do that when she had to do something that was hard and required a lot of thinking. Eventually the habit seemed to entirely disappear.

Myler Combination Bit - Roller Link
I'm bringing this up now because after her really long vacation caused by her injury, this bad habit has resurfaced and is getting worse. She has started throwing her tongue over the bit multiple times during a single ride and takes her sweet time in returning her tongue to where it belongs. It's really frustrating because I don't know why she is doing this again. The times that she is doing this don't seem to have a pattern the way that they did before and so I'm not sure how to change the situation.

Things that I tried to fix it are: tightening the bit straps, loosening the bit straps, trying multiple different bits, being lighter on the reins, trying to distract her by lateral work (which had mild success), and "punishing" her for it by hopping off and grabbing her tongue for a couple of seconds. 
Today I tried yet another bit. It's still a Myler Combination Bit, but it has a slight port to it. The purpose of the port is to give her tongue a bit more space. She did seem to like this bit better, but she still put her tongue over it twice in the span of half an hour. My current plan of action is to keep her in this bit since she responded most positively to it.

Myler Combination Bit - Low Port
It's interesting when talking to other people about it, because they sometimes give me other ideas. A women at the barn today told me that her horse had this issue and it came down to a back soreness issue. I really don't think that this is Casey's problem though so it wasn't too helpful. My trainer/Casey's prior owner said that Casey just never go over this with her. I'm not willing to give up in her about this though because I have had success with her before.

My current theory is that Casey does this when she is feeling stressed, usually from me asking her to do new or complicated things. I think that it came back because she had such a long break that she isn't used to our routine anymore. If my theory is right than just being consistent and compassionate with her will solve the problem. Plus the help of the ported bit!

Me? Difficult? No way!
Anyone else have bitting issues with their horse? How'd you end up fixing it?

No comments:

Post a Comment