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.
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.