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Serious cribber who never closes his mouth when under saddle... bit issue?

Good morning. I have a question for those with experience with cribbing horses. None of the cribbers I have known have displayed this issue but I can’t get it out of my head that maybe cribbing and this not closing the mouth is related in my student’s new 4 y.o. OTTB gelding who cribs. We control the cribbing with a collar and he doesn’t do it at all. But while under saddle, working on the flat, he always has his teeth slightly showing and his mouth about an inch open. I’m not big on making nosebands super tight and that would only mask the issue. He did his first schooling show this weekend and the judge commented, “odd mouth behavior” and didn’t penalize him - he scored well. So maybe it’s not an issue… he’s not resisting, he’s not heavy in the bridle. He takes a very honest and soft feel of your hand and he’s pretty lovely to ride and to watch. We bought him 2 months ago and the previous owner had just had the teeth done and our PPE vet thought his teeth looked great. The previous owner said we must use a nathe bit on him. He does the same in a nathe and he leans on a nathe so he’s in a variety of other bits while we work this out. The best bit so far has been a Myler boucher but it’s still there. Of further concern is the fact that in none of the bits at any point has he salivated. There’s never any good slobber going on. He just goes around with his lips pulled back a little and his mouth slightly open and closing and open and closing. It doesn’t look pained. It doesn’t look resistant. When you ride him, you can’t tell he’s doing that. But it bothers me not to see a quiet mouth with some slobber. Anyone have experience with this?

I haven’t ever seen this, but some of my OTTBs have had strange habits when ridden. I know you’re trying all kinds of bits but I have two questions:

  1. Does he do this when longed while wearing a halter or longeing cavesson?
  2. Have you tried a bitless bridle or hackamore for grins and giggles? I know they aren’t legal for showing, but might give you insight into causes.

Another thing to try: using a fairly thin bit, wrap it in chamois. Before riding with it, soak it in water with some molasses. I use this to break all of my babies, and they learn to suck on the bit and play with it. Just a thought.

Good luck. Looking forward to reading more on this.

I would have his teeth double checked by someone who specializes in dentistry. It can be easy to miss something in the back regions of the mouth. I had a pony floated several times with no improvement so I changed vets. New vet, who specilaized in dentistry, found his last molar to be so long it had curved back and was pressing into his soft tissue. By length of the hook, it had been there, untouched by previous floats, for some period of time. I felt pretty awful about it.

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I’m going to sound like a broken record, but have you treated his ulcers? Cribbing and ulcers go hand in hand. People have reported all sorts of weird behaviors that disappear once the ulcers are treated.

I haven’t ever seen this, but some of my OTTBs have had strange habits when ridden. I know you’re trying all kinds of bits but I have two questions:

2. Have you tried a bitless bridle or hackamore for grins and giggles? I know they aren’t legal for showing, but might give you insight into causes.

Hey Thanks! So I tried that part yesterday. Asked her to attach reins to the side of her Micklem and remove the bit. And that was very funny. He trotted around with mouth closed but lower lip flopping and flapping. So odd. And almost as distracting to the eye as you look at the whole picture. Not sure what it means. Going to try the chamois idea today.

Cayuse comment about the potential dental issue is also very intriguing so he has a dentist appointment coming up tomorrow. He doesn’t like you to press on the sides of his mouth…so maybe? And jherold is right also, we should look at ulcers as well. You’re thinking treat him with ulcerguard for awhile or scope him?

This is GREAT feedback! Thank you all!

I just treated mine. It won’t hurt and it saves the expense if scoping.

My gelding does this also, check his tongue - where is it when this happens? Chances are he is sucking it back. Contrary to what you want to do, he may want the flash snug. I don’t mean illegal tight, but tight as it should be. My horse in particular, will open his mouth like yours unless the flash is on snug and holding the bit into place.

The flash isn’t to hold the mouth shut,. but to support the bit so it stabilizes, and rests on the tongue properly, thus the horse not sucking is back. It makes the bit, noseband etc more comfortable. It has to be tight though, not just sitting there doing nothing. Two fingers width still, but definitely not loose. This completely stops my horse from opening his mouth, and he isn’t pushing against the flash and his mouth isn’t being held shut. A lot of people think a flash is there to hold the mouth closed, but really it is help the bit find its place and be a bit more stable when they do open the mouth.

Try a drop nose band or one of the anatomical bridles. I had an OTTB who did this too. Not a cribber. He preferred an eggbutvor d-ring over loose ring and liked bits with tongue relief.

Our OTTB does this as well. He doesn’t crib and has been treated for ulcers. It’s gotten better as he is more and more broke on the flat but he still “smiles”. He even did it when George Morris rode him so we decided not to stress too much any more.

What kind of bit is considered tongue relief? Thanks

Of course not cheap but this one is super nice and legal for USEF and FEI. I have one that likes it in the D-ring and several that use the loose ring. https://www.smartpakequine.com/mobil…IVDluGCh0vKAJ1

more affordable would be one of the Myler bits.

i just noticed that the second half of my original post didn’t show up. One thing we found with our OTTB was that he much preferred a non-jointed bit on the thinner side. He went well in a rubber Pelham but it was a little thick for him. We switched to this bit http://www.hastilowusa.com/bits/beris-bits.html#/product/761 and he has been very happy in it. Still smiles some but it is not as severe. The Beris bits have a lot of configurations so you should be able to find one that works for you.

Mine does this too! OMG! She does not crib, but she does go around with her top lip retracted. She particularly does it when we are working on something new or hard, so I call it her “thinking face.” Has not gotten us penalized at all. Things that don’t hurt and might help her:

So how do you wrap the bit in chamois? How do you secure it to the bit? Would love a picture of that!

Hmmm. I last did this about 100 years ago, but I’m still using the bit I wrapped then. As I recall I cut the chamois into a strip about 1/2" wide and twice the length of the bit. I lined it up parallel with the mouthpiece of the bit and ran the end about an extra half inch over the end of the mouthpiece where the ring attachment is (whether loose ring or eggbutt). Then I started wrapping the chamois strip around the mouthpiece over that extra 1/2 inch to secure that end, and then down the whole shaft of the bit… If you wrap it as if it was a candy cane (or a good leg bandaging job) it will overlap pretty evenly. I left the last two wrap arounds a bit loose, passed the end of the strip over the other end of the mouthpiece and then underneath the two loose wraps (This is the only tricky part. Might be good to use needlenose pliers to help). Pull to tighten, trim excess, and voila! Don’t be afraid to pull the chamois tight. Like many things it will swell up and may loosen when it gets wet.

If I weren’t so tech challenged I’d send a pic, but in truth mine has been chewed on so much over the years that I don’t think it would look like anything but a very old, twisted vine. Still gets nice and mushy when soaked in molasses water though!

And have you had the dental consult? What was the result?