Bit help?!?!

Sorry for the long post!!

I have an 18 year old off track Standardbred gelding.
My aunt had adopted him when he came off the track at 5 years old, and we used to ride him in a simple snaffle.

Fast forward a couple years, and my OTHER aunt & uncle had him… They leased him to a girl who was showing him at the time, meanwhile, they moved to out of state, leaving him in care with this girl. They got a phone call from a rescue one day, so they went to visit and found him completely neglected. Barely skin & bones. :cry: They took him back with them, and rehabbed him.

Now I have taken him in, after have been given the warning that he was become quite a handful… And that he chews the bit so much that he will end up “biting himself, to the point of bleeding”. They said they found the only bit he will not do this with is a Broken Segunda Hunter Dee. I did some research on this bit, and found it can be a very harsh bit in the wrong hands.

We’ve been working on going on short, easy trail rides to try and get him to relax, however, as soon as your butt hits the saddle, he’s starting pulling, and chewing, trying to run everywhere. We’ve been really working on relaxing, and he is doing well, and I would like to get him out of this bit… I have not seen his mouth bleed as of yet.
Does anyone have a suggestion on this??

Two things. Have you tried reschooling him in side reins with a fat snaffle? He will find that pulling and flying around doesnt do anything for him. You just have to wait him out. sooner or later he will figure out that leaning on the side reins and flying around really doesnt do anything for him, Side reins will help him learn to balance himself. Yes it takes time. After schooling him in side reins, you might consider saddling him up and just sitting on him in the arena watching the others ride. If he realizes that he can just “hang out” in the ring, he may begin to realize that life is not always about running and being nervous.

No, I haven’t tried that… we’re aren’t trying to show, or anything. All we do is trail ride, and that’s all I plan on doing… We don’t have an arena to ride in, or watch other horses - we have dirt roads… I’m working thru the nervousness with him, and he’s doing great - I know that takes time… What I was having trouble with was choosing a bit to move down to, I don’t know whether I could move him straight to a snaffle now, or gradually.

Sounds like the young girl who had him rode him at full throttle all the time. I would try him in his old snaffle and use your pasture for an “arena of sorts” to do some retraining ( back to basics). He will be comfortable there and maybe not get so hyped up as he would going down the roads.

Bitless bridle? Maybe? The fact that a bitless is sort of a glorified halter, perhaps your horse won’t associate it with: BIT = CHEW = NERVOUS = RUN. Just a thought.

Whether or not you are planning on showing him really isn’t the issue. Having him balanced, relaxed and comfortable to ride is what you are looking for. The young horses - and the “retrained” horses I have worked with have done well with longing in side reins. They learn that leaning, pulling and trying to run through the bridle just does not work. They do learn that carrying themselves by backing off the bridle and raising their back is a good thing.

It takes patience. But once they get it - its a lot easier for both you and the horse.
Take your time doing work on the lunge line with side reins. The side reins should be relaxed when he gives in and carries himself.

Once he gives to the side reins, he should have a light feel on his mouth. If he he is pulling and on his forehand then he is not balanced. This helps him learn to carry himself instead of being on his forehand and pulling. Start with semi loose side reins so he can figure it out - then slowly increase the tension (not tight) such that he can give to the side reins to release the pressure.

If you dont have an arena, you can do the longing with side reins on flat ground with reasonable footing… I would use a light snaffle and attach the longe line through the bit, and over his head to snap on the snaffle on the other side.

This should help your horse learn that leaning on the bit and running doesn’t do anything for him. He will figure out that backing off the bridle and carrying himself in a frame is easier that flying around in circles. When he gives, make sure you give to the pressure immediately such that he is rewarded by the softening of the bridle when he caries himself.

If you have a round pen, so much the better. But you dont have to have one. I have done a lot of this work just in an open field that was flat and had "reasonable " footing. No holes, or uneven terrain…walk it and check it out before you go out to lunge.

This takes time. So don’t be in a hurry. Lunge him several times a week (daily if you can)with the semi loose side reins. You want him to be able to reach forward into the bit while raising his back and using himself to balance. The idea is that he balances himself by not leaning on the bit and running. Only when you see him slowing down, balancing and carrying himself should you even consider riding him. You want the rides to be successful such that he relaxes and is willing to listen. A horse I rehab’ed about 8 yrs ago, took a good 6 months to figure out how to “really” carry himself. I started riding him a few months into this program but he still wanted to shift his weight on his front end and GO. So I basically did not ride him for that time until he figured out that it was easier on his mouth not to be leaning and running all the time.

This takes time. He just needs to figure this out, just as much as you do.

[QUOTE=Lex0855;8485410]Sorry for the long post!!

I have an 18 year old off track Standardbred gelding.
My aunt had adopted him when he came off the track at 5 years old, and we used to ride him in a simple snaffle.

Fast forward a couple years, and my OTHER aunt & uncle had him… They leased him to a girl who was showing him at the time, meanwhile, they moved to out of state, leaving him in care with this girl. They got a phone call from a rescue one day, so they went to visit and found him completely neglected. Barely skin & bones. :cry: They took him back with them, and rehabbed him.

Now I have taken him in, after have been given the warning that he was become quite a handful… And that he chews the bit so much that he will end up “biting himself, to the point of bleeding”. They said they found the only bit he will not do this with is a Broken Segunda Hunter Dee. I did some research on this bit, and found it can be a very harsh bit in the wrong hands.

We’ve been working on going on short, easy trail rides to try and get him to relax, however, as soon as your butt hits the saddle, he’s starting pulling, and chewing, trying to run everywhere. We’ve been really working on relaxing, and he is doing well, and I would like to get him out of this bit… I have not seen his mouth bleed as of yet.
Does anyone have a suggestion on this??[/QUOTE]

You don’t have a bit problem; you have a training problem.

How are his ground manners? Probably “mixed.” So spend a couple of MONTHS with him on the ground reinforcing the notion that the human is in charge. There are several methods that can work with this so pick the one you like. I like Littauer’s approach but it’s a 7 month program. With a well broke 18 year old it will take less time but it’s more than an hour or two.

During this ground work examine the mouth and address any issues that you find.

After you’ve got the ground work “handle” you can start addressing issues under saddle. If the ground work is well done you’ll likely find that the “saddle” issues resolve in a short time.

Good luck with the program.

G.

I didn’t see it mentioned. When were his teeth last checked? I would start there.

It’s worth trying. I restarted an OTTB that had major bitting issues . I put him in a bitless bridle (I like the LG bridle) and he immediately calmed down. Eventually, I was able to ride him in a bit again but going bitless broke the pattern in his brain and allowed us to make a lot of progress. He was completely controllable bitless so it wasn’t a safety issue.

How does his saddle fit? Seems like that could be an issue, if he’s fine up until you get in the saddle.

Have you had his teeth looked at? Any idea the last time they were floated? Could be really painful and wreaking havoc.

I agree, ‘chewing the bit until he bites himself and bleeds’ screams teeth issues to me. Have a vet that specializes in dental work check for sharp points, hooks, and wave mouth.