Owners of Parrot Mouthed Horses Flock to Me!

Welcome my brethren!

I acquired a parrot mouthed 3 year old TB a few months ago that I intend to use for Eventing. I am familiar with the condition, but I have limited experience with it. Now that I’m starting to bring him into training I became curious about a few things and wanted to see what other people’s experiences have been dealing with their parrot mouthed horses. This got a bit lengthy. If you don’t feel like reading it all then refer to the synopsis at the end.

I’m already educated on the high maintenance dentistry needs of these guys and I have a great dentist that is helping me manage that aspect. Aside from missing a front tooth, he has a good callus and his back teeth actually seem to line up. I feed his grain/hay from the ground and he does very well eating.
My curiosities arose when determining what bridle and bit combination to use. He has a shallow palate that I’ve been trying different bits out with. I had a Korsteel full cheek snaffle with a french link and a happy mouth french link full cheek snaffle that he didn’t care for. I figured that these were too thick for his tiny mouth and I tried out a thinner Myler loose ring comfort snaffle bit that I had lying around. He seemed to like the mouth piece better than the previous ones. I’m thinking of getting him a Myler eggbutt comfort snaffle to try out. What kinds of bits are you guys using for your horses? I dug through a bunch of old COTH posts regarding parrot mouths and found a small tidbit in one post that said people had success with a forward ported bit. Has anyone found that those seem to be easier on the parrot mouthed guys?

I also wondered what kinds of bridles you guys tend to use. I’m not one that overly tightens the flash and noseband. I’m even more cautious about this with my TB since I don’t want his teeth to be jammed into his gum. I currently have a figure 8 bridle for him. I had originally debated using a flash on him with his condition. I ended up going with the flash since I couldn’t shake the worry that he might be able to get his tongue over the bit easily, considering his shorter lower jaw. Do you use a flash with your horse (not over tightened of course)? Or do you think it’s better for them to go without one? Do you find that these horses can get their tongue over the bit easier?

I’d love to hear any other tidbits you’ve learned along the way with your parrot mouthed horses. I know a lot of this will be trial and error and I’m going to make sure I find what works for my horse. I wanted to start a discussion with all of you to try and glean as many experiences as I can to come to a good solution for my horse, since my experience is limited.

Synopsis: Dentistry is under control, what kind of bit do you use?, what kind of bridle? Flash/no flash?, do you find that parrot mouths can get their tongue over the bit easier?, and any other fun tidbits unique to these horses you’d like to share.

My first OTTB was as shallow-mouthed, narrow and parrot-mouthed as you could get; seriously, he needed braces and you could tell without lifting his lips that he was ‘beaky’.

He went best in regular old bridle, no flash - it took us a few years of playing around but he went absolutely wonderfully in a french link Baucher. With how flat his palate was, I think he preferred the stability and little movement of the bit in his mouth as possible.

We played with everything with him; from Kimberwickes to Pelhams to D-rings… you name it - the Baucher was The Bit for him.

He hated the flash or figure eight; I never had him pull his tongue over the bit.

His biggest problem with being parrot mouthed is his intake; he has always been a hard keeper and I think a lot of it has to do with his dentition. We’ve stayed on top of his dentist visits for years and last year discovered he has EOTRH. Part of me wonders if he had it a long time before the signs (draining ducts) were ever visible.

I have a parrot mouthed guy. I agree with Beowulf about intake. Hes a big guy and weight has been a constant battle with him.

He sees the dentist every 6 months. He came to me with major dental issues and we have been working on them.

He goes in a KK Ultra eggbutt for stadium and for XC and he goes in a Stubben Boucher for Dressage. He has a plain crank noseband for dressage.

He wears a figure eight for SJ and XC. He hates a flash. Grinds his teeth, digs while riding, and will slam on the brakes on the flat with it. The figure eight is fine though? Go figure. He can jump in the plain noseband but i dont want to bump up his bit for XC and he respects the figure eight.

Don’t own one currently, but my last OTTB was almost parrot mouthed. Very mild case. He ate off the ground, didn’t have trouble with eat or dropping feed. Dentistry was a bit more regular than a “normal” horse.

We played around with some bits, mostly generic, mild stuff. French links, snaffles, etc. I had a 3 ring elevator (french link mouth) for occasional days where horsey Really Wanted To Try Flying, and I Really Wanted To Stay Grounded, thankyouverymuch. Ultimately, he ended up going in a waterford. Loved it. Mild-ish, but enough brakes if needed. I like that the entire mouthpiece is flexible/jointed, instead of just the center.

My parrot came pretty bad - upper incisors mostly not meeting lower. After 3-4 dental apps 8 months apart the incisors pretty much matched. He eats and grazes just fine. Is chubby ;-)) Goes in Micklem with double joint eggbutt bit. Or figure 8 but never tighter than 2 perpendicular fingers loose. NOT flat fingers where u could fit 5 in :frowning:
Keeping with - 8monthly dental apps, the horse is phenomenal jumping and 20s in prelim dressage.

My parrot came pretty bad - upper incisors mostly not meeting lower. After 3-4 dental apps 8 months apart the incisors pretty much matched. He eats and grazes just fine. Goes in Micklem with double joint eggbutt bit. Or figure 8 but never tighter than 2 perpendicular fingers loose. NOT flat fingers where u could fit 5 in :frowning:
Keeping with - 8monthly dental apps, the horse is phenomenal jumping and 20s in dressage.

[QUOTE=kinscem;8940291]My parrot came pretty bad - upper incisors mostly not meeting lower. After 3-4 dental apps 8 months apart the incisors pretty much matched. He eats and grazes just fine. Goes in Micklem with double joint eggbutt bit. Or figure 8 but never tighter than 2 perpendicular fingers loose. NOT flat fingers where u could fit 5 in :frowning:
Keeping with - 8monthly dental apps, the horse is phenomenal jumping and 20s in dressage.[/QUOTE]

Ive been wanting to try the Micklem with my guy but am afraid he will hate it especially after his distain of flashes. Do you recommend? Did you see a big difference?

Yes! I saw a huge difference. Micklem is very different from flash. Doesn’t put pressure on the facial nerves and the wider upper jaw the way flash does.
Might not have to do with the parrot mouth necessarilly but works for my parrot guy. Micklem allows the mandible to move back and forth.
Make sure your horse dentist doesn’t leave any molar hooks for the same reason.
Keeping at the overbite incissors is more for grazing efficiency than bit. I think :))
Also for breeders of parrot foals: early quality dental intervention can pretty much fix the problem in young age!

[QUOTE=kinscem;8940315]Yes! I saw a huge difference. Micklem is very different from flash. Doesn’t put pressure on the facial nerves and the wider upper jaw the way flash does.
Might not have to do with the parrot mouth necessarilly but works for my parrot guy. Micklem allows the mandible to move back and forth.
Make sure your horse dentist doesn’t leave any molar hooks for the same reason.
Keeping at the overbite incissors is more for grazing efficiency than bit. I think :))
Also for breeders of parrot foals: early quality dental intervention can pretty much fix the problem in young age![/QUOTE]

Micklem just redirects the pressure laterally elsewhere: directly to on the bridge of the nose and poll. Micklem’s got a good marketing scheme, I will give them that, but it’s far from pressure free: they just found a way to put the pressure somewhere else. If your horse hates nose or poll pressure it probably won’t love the Micklem.

I’m loving the discussion so far, a lot of good input. Since my guy is still young I’m going to focus on Dressage for a few years until he’s 5 or he stops growing, which ever comes first. He’s huge and still growing.

I worry about his intake and monitor it carefully. He appears to be doing really well eating currently and I think I’ve finally found a good combination of food that is easy for him to eat and helps him pack on the pounds. I’m sure I will be altering this again when he starts into serious work.

I have a Micklem bridle for my other horse. I can’t try it on my parrot mouthed horse due to it being way too small, but that is an interesting suggestion.

Edited to add: My other horse needed the nose pressure which is why I switched him to the Micklem. I wonder how parrot mouths respond to drop nose bands. I’d assume they might be uncomfortable for them.

I kind of judged my parrot horse’s feeding pattern by watching him graze. When he first came with that huge overbite he just pulled grass with roots and dropped it in frustration. After the dental work and when his teeth work together he can snip grass like everybody else.
As far as bridles - every bridle puts pressure, riding a horse puts pressure. We are discussing from experience- what works for parrotmouth horses.

My old man has (had, actually) a very severe parrot mouth. When I bought him his front teeth were about 4 inches long and stuck out a little like buck teeth… I had a terrible overbite too so we were two peas.

I never had any issues with him eating/keeping weight but I know that can be an issue for some. I always rode him in a plain old eggbutt, regular bridle sans flash. I never had an issue with bitting or bridles. Honestly we never gave it much thought other than teasing him about his buck teeth.

Now I suspect my guy had never had his teeth done and this somehow caused him to develop the parrot mouth rather than him having an actually physical “deformity” of the jaw so that may make a difference. Once electric tools came into being my vet trimmed his front teeth. After owning him for about 20 years she came out and proclaimed him normal! No more overbite, everything lining up just as it should. He’s 33 now and knock on wood still has every tooth.

My parrot mouthed TB goes in an egg butt french link. Bridle is a plain old snaffle, no flash. I keep it just snug enough to stay on his face, so fairly loose. I like the egg butt over a loose ring because it does not move around as much in his mouth, and I’m hoping it keeps the bit from possible getting somewhere it shouldn’t be. I do have to keep the bridle adjusted so the bit sits a little lower in his mouth than it would in a normal mouth, but it works fine for him.

I knew a young horse born with a pretty severe overbite (the first vets that looked at her were very concerned about it). She had her teeth done every 3 months from about 4 months old onward. When I met her at coming five she had no problem eating or grazing etc, although her front teeth barely overlapped.

While she was tough in the bridle that was attributed to her breeding and other factors (she had unfortunate conformation that lead to her being unsound by 6 even with very very light work), she went in a loose ring KK and a flash. The only trouble she ever had was because she wore a speculum from such a young age, it took a while to teach her that the bit went in her mouth, not between her teeth.

Yeah, French link Baucher. My previous horse was mildly parrot mouthed,with a shallow palate, and he went very well in a Baucher, but was very fussy with loose ring snaffle

My OTTB is parrot mouthed. I would say 1/2 inch to 1 inch depending on the time of year and how close he is to needing his teeth done.

I tried a micklem, found no difference in my ride, so didn’t keep it. He was going in a straight bar loose ring happy mouth for the last 2 years, I found it made him happy. He’s currently in a french link loose ring, but I think I’ll be switching back to the other loose ring straight bar because he’s popping his head a little bit.

He’s due to have his teeth done at the moment. He was on a 6 month schedule for his teeth, but last outing the vet said he could do a year, I think we need to stick to the 6 months because he’s looking due now.

He also goes in a flash in his jumping tack and dressage. His jump bit is a eggbutt snaffle. Which is new to us this year.

I haven’t noticed any limits. I’ve noticed his parrot mouth has become a little bit more obvious as he’s aging. Weight is not an issue, he gets fat off of air, which is hard to keep off in the winter. He’s all around pretty easy going, so I haven’t noticed much with him and his parrot mouth.