Tongue Over the Bit

Lately, Connor has started getting his tongue over the bit more often.  He first did it at one of our first shows in 2013 while stressed, and did it about once a year after that until the last couple of months.

Since that the work has gotten harder, he has started putting his tongue over the bit at a very specific point in the ride, only in lessons: after he's done really good work, (not mediocre work, it has to be really outstanding work, hence the only-in-lessons thing), then we've given him a nice long walk break, he does it after I pick him back up again to start the second half of the lesson.  It's consistent enough that I know how to ride him to avoid it, so NBD as far as showing is concerned.

Nice pulled mane

My trainer, not one to anthropomorphize at all, said it seems like a protest move or a game.  He puts it over, and then usually puts it back himself.  A few times he didn't, and my trainer had to put it back for him - although after a couple of times of that, he started anticipating it, and now puts it back himself after she starts walking toward him and before she can actually touch his mouth.

I'm not too worried about it, but I do have a responsibility to make sure it's not physical.  The moment it started occurring with any regularity, I asked that the dentist be called ASAP, so that's scheduled for February 23.

Side note: I LOVE our dentist, who brings a laptop with him and emails me a digital chart of Connor's mouth just like at the human dentist, along with photos and a description of what his mouth looked like before and what was done.  (He's also really good at teeth in addition to technology).  Yes, yes, yes.


I'm also using it as an excuse to do a trial on a Neue Schule bit I've had my eye on for a while.  It should be here Thursday, which gives me a lesson and a couple of rides before the show to decide if I should show in it on Sunday or not.

Finally, the way I ride seems to contribute: the less I do with my hands and the more stable my hip angle, the less likely it is that he will get his tongue over the bit.  I know he has issues if my position moves a millimeter, so it's possible that my position and hands are solid in the "outstanding work" first part of the ride, then the "noise" of me picking up the reins and probably moving around more in the saddle might be too much for him.

What I am not trying is a flash.  Connor is telling me something has changed, I know how to control it, and I'm taking steps to rule out pain.  I believe in this case, for a horse not used to going in one, a flash would just be masking the issue, and I'd rather solve it (before it becomes a self-serving habit) than mask it.

15 comments:

  1. Interestingly enough I had a hore that would flop his tongue out the side of his mouth. A flash for about 6 months solved the problem and we went back to a plain cavesson :)

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    1. Interesting, but it's only something I'd consider if it becomes a habit.

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  2. Pig puts his tongue over the bit on the regular, but it's sort of a nervous or bored tick with him. He usually only does it at the halt, when he would rather be going and doing. He always puts it back, and I've never had it get stuck. He even does it in the double. He'll shove his tongue over both bits, open his mouth and waggle his tongue at people.

    It's very strange.

    I've had several people freak out that he's going to get his tongue stuck in the double and rip it apart. But, I'm not super worried. He's not retarded. Plus, his lips are very short so I typically keep his bits set fairly low in his mouth anyway. A flash never helped the problem, and neither did his drop. So, I wouldn't say that would help you much.

    Expressive horses be like :-P

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  3. Interesting. I've only had one horse get his tongue over the bit and it was definitely an "uh guys plz fix EEEEEEMEDIATELY" situation, haha. Hope the $$$ bit fixes it, if only because I love tack solutions. ;-)

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    1. Lol, I hate tack solutions except where bits are concerned. Although I don't want to spend the money to try a bunch of stuff that doesn't work, so thank you manufacturers that offer a trial!

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  4. I've always heard that the tongue over bit was a response to the riders' hands and that once a horse starts doing it they will continue to do it. Carlos went through a long spat of putting his tongue over the bit between the ages of 7-9 and I think that was when I was the most handsy. We switched bits to one with a port and roller, and once he realized he could play with the roller while he was working he actually stopped putting his tongue over the bit and also seemed more interested in being soft, which resulted in me being less handsy (because haha I resort to handsiness for everything because I suck)

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    1. I am with you on sucking with the hands. This is the area I've made the most improvement on in the last six months, but it was the area I needed the most work in so...yeah.

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  5. my mare has only done that once and was *not* happy about it! seems like you've got a good approach for managing it tho - and yay for new excuses for fancy equipment, hope he loves the new bit!

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  6. Nilla can get her tongue over the bit even with a very tight flash on, so I doubt that would fix it for you anyway. I hope the new bit/dental works for you.

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  7. Paddy flops his tongue out if I get too handsy or if the works gets too hard. If I give him a minute to take a break and build back up (and STOP PULLING DAMMIT), the problem magically goes away.

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  8. Interesting! Miles opens his mouth sometimes, but it's more him telling me my hands aren't doing what they're supposed to, so I actually kind of appreciate the reminder.

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  9. I have never had this happen to me before! So bizarre

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  10. I've never had a horse who put their tongue over the bit- I'll be curious to hear if the Neue Schule helps. (And hear what you think of it!)

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  11. Sounds like you've got it pretty well under control! Interested to hear about the Neue Schule..I'm always eyeballing those...so fancy!

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