Why would a horse seek to pull on the bit?

I’m stumped. There is a horse who pulls on the bit when ridden, especially at the canter when going around a corner on a hunter course, or when stopping. No matter how harsh the bit is, he still pulls! What stumps me is when I am standing still and only holding the reins at the buckle, he will pull all the way until he makes contact and then pull some more. It makes no sense to me why he would seek to stand there and pull on the reins for no reason…
I have had his teeth looked at, and explored TMJ (the dentist said no) Chiropractor said he is very stiff, but couldn’t find a reason. (he has a lot of trouble bending to either side to get a carrot at his girth). He has a long neck.
We’ve started riding him in a hackamore so he can’t grab the bit to balance, and he does great…but as soon as you put the bit back in his mouth, he’s back to pulling.

Any ideas? Any health ideas? Any training suggestions?

Because he’s never been taught not to.

Because he isn’t balanced, strong or supple enough to hold himself.

These would be the most logical reasons, and given that he does well in a hackamore, methinks he isn’t well educated with a bit.

The bit serves as a communication tool, and if the horse never learned how that tool works, if he never learned that moving off the calf means becoming lighter in the bit, if he hasn’t been shown that he is responsible for carrying himself, well, you get exactly what you’ve described.

To compound this, it also sounds like he may have some body issues, muscular imbalance or lack of strength so he really can’t carry himself without it being a big to-do or potentially being uncomfortable, in which case more investigation or a very slow work-up for strength is required.

If that is an OTTB, that may be because he has not been retrained properly from his race track training.

At the track, you let a horse pull on you some to help him balance as they are going faster, called “giving the horse a fifth foot”.
When you ease up, they ease up the speed and come back to hand, slowing down.

Now, your horse may not have had any race training, just not be educated to how you expect him to go and figured on his own maybe that is what riders want him to do.

Have you asked some good trainer in person to evaluate the horse and tell you what is going on there?

If that is an OTTB, that may be because he has not been retrained properly from his race track training…

[/QUOTE]That’s sure what it sounds like. ~FH

check the bit fit, it might be too tight as was my horse’s bit and he was always pulling on the bit to relieve the pressure.

He could be pulling on the bit to relieve pressure on his palate. When the mouth is quiet and the tongue is at rest, the tongue will push the center of the bit towards the roof of the mouth. If the bit is single jointed and horse has a sensitive palate the joint might be causing him discomfort that he is looking to relieve. A double jointed bit may resolve that issue.

teach to yield to pressure

Horses, and humans too, naturally push into pressure. Consider you are given the end of the rope, told to hang on to the rope , you will sit back and pull to retain your balance. If you are being pushed you lean into the pressure so you don’t lose you balance. You teach them to yield to pressure. You push with your hand and click, they lean, you push(poke) with the end of your thumb, they step away to move from the discomfort, you say good boy and you teach them to give to pressure all over their body. You push, they yield. A hand on a rein is the same, naturally they bore into the pressure and balance against your pull. You teach them that they can maintain their balance if they yield to the first tension in your hand and life is so much more pleasant. There are all kinds of pressure you can teach them to respond to. But they have to first learn to yield. PatO