While enjoying a ride with your best horse, she throws her head in frustration and pins her ears. You chalk it up as an off day, one of many as of late, but it could be much more than that. It could be time to change bits.
“It is important to understand what the bit is doing and what to watch for,” cautions Dr. Chris Blevins, associate professor in Equine Field Service with Kansas State University. “It is our responsibility to keep our horses comfortable.”
If your horse is experiencing bit pain and discomfort, you may notice signs of bit resistance.
“There are several signs of bit resistance,” says Judy Auble, with Toklat and Myler bits. “The best way to determine whether your horse needs a new bit is to pay attention to how your horse reacts to your rein action and rein pressure.”
Could it be time to change bits? Watch for these warning signs:
- Inverting, when horses ride with their muzzles held high
- Riding behind the vertical, as horses tuck their nose into the chest
- Gaping, when horses drop their jaws behind the vertical, relieving tongue pressure
- Running through the bit or being heavy on the bit
- Riding with their tongue out of the mouth
- Consistent throwing of head and pinning of ears
“If you think your horse is experiencing bit resistance, look for the behavior repeated frequently and routinely,” Auble said. “When a horse inverts only once in a while or is fussing because his trail buddies left him on the trail, it could be more of a behavior or training issue.”
When exploring new bit options for your horse, take into consideration not only what you are doing with your horse, but also which mouthpiece best fits your riding style, recommends Dr. Blevins.
Visit ValleyVet.com to continue learning more about horse care.
About Valley Vet Supply
Valley Vet Supply was founded in 1985 by veterinarians to provide customers with the very best animal health solutions. Building on over half a century of experience in veterinary medicine, Valley Vet Supply serves equine, pet and livestock owners with thousands of products and medications hand-selected by Valley Vet Supply founding veterinarians and their professional staff. With an in-house pharmacy that is licensed in all 50 states, and verified through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), Valley Vet Supply is the dedicated source for all things horse, livestock and pet. For more information, please visit ValleyVet.com.
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