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ADJUSTING THE BIT TO THE HEADSTALL

Q/A Natural Horsemanship training Tips

© by Gordon Adair / Trainer

What is the best way to tell if a bit and bridle is fitting properly. My horse acts like his bit bothers him. He will move his jaw back and forth, and sometimes he will throw his head to flip the bit.

Whenever there is a bit problem first check the condition of your horse's teeth. The most common tooth culprit is the wolf teeth. Wolf teeth are much smaller and sharper than the rest making them very easy to spot. The wolf teeth are located in front of the first molar of the back set of teeth. This area is very close to where the mouth piece of a bit will lay. The bit coming in contact with the wolf teeth can be very painful to a horse. If your horse has wolf teeth a veterinarian can easily remove them.

Horses chew their food by grinding their teeth from side to side. This causes their teeth to wear down on one side of the upper jaw and the opposite side of the lower jaw. A ridge is left which becomes very sharp and can cut your horse's tongue or cheeks creating sores that the bit may come in contact with. A vet should file these ridges or points down at least once a year. This procedure is called "floating the teeth". A horse that requires floating will spill grain while eating. Also you can open your horse's mouth and examine the teeth for sharpness.

ADJUSTING THE BIT TO THE BRIDLE

When the bit is torqued to high in your horse's mouth it will work as a gage bit. A gage bit applies pressure in a upward motion for a high headset especially as bit pressure is applied. A tight bridle will also apply more pressure on your horse's sensitive points, the poll and lips, more than a loose bridle. There is also a consistent amount of pressure being applied which your horse is unable to avoid. This breaks a very important training rule; horses should avoid pressure and the rider should release pressure as a reward.

A bridle should hang so very little pressure is applied to your horse's lips between the bit and the head stall. The head stall should not hold the bit in your horse's mouth instead he should hold the bit as if it is part of his body. Horses will pull a bit up into their own favorite spot. If the bridle is to loose the side straps will pop outward. Then adjust the side straps so they lay flat against your horses head.

Adjusting the curb strap is done after bridling and while you are still on the ground. Ask your horse to back, the bit should move 45 degrees backwards when he starts to respond. Loosen the curb strap if your horse responds in less then 45 degrees. Tighten the curb strap if the bit moves more than 45 degrees before your horse responds. When the bit moves beyond 45 degrees the port of the bit will apply most of the pressure on the roof of your horse's mouth. This excess movement will cause discomfort and may wedge your horse's mouth open when bit pressure is applied. The tighter the curb strap is adjusted the less pressure the port will apply to the roof of your horse's mouth. A curb strap is less severe than a curb chain. The curb strap and chain that is narrow is more severe than wider ones. Curb chains and straps should be turned until they lay flat against your horse's jaw.

Training programs and rates / Lesson outline / Ground training / Training tools / Gordon's articles

Hoof Studies / Club foot and uneven heels / Laminitis and founder defined / Laminitis / founder treatment

Homepage / G.A. Equine Center / About Gordon Adair / Interview

Gordon Adair is a professional natural horse trainer and riding instructor with over thirty-seven years of experience. Gordon's specialty is instructing owners with their horses, the philosophy of teaching horsemanship and communication. The ability to teach and communicate can then be used with the owners own discipline and personality. Ocala, Florida for more information

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