Another solution for a bit puller
“How to Handle a Bit Puller” (Consultants, EQUUS 465) reminded me of my experiences.
I was given a 3-year-old Chincoteague Pony when the owners who had purchased him at Pony Penning could not afford to keep him or have him trained. My main interest in taking Chico was for my grandchildren, and he was big enough and sturdy enough for me to ride to keep him tuned for them. Since they were still too young to ride alone, I sent Chico off to a training/boarding facility where the focus is on safe mounts for children. He stayed there for nearly two years and was a favorite---he was leased as a 4-H project, taken to local shows and ridden on trails.
On my visits I noticed they always tacked him up with a cavesson because he played with the bit too much. Once I brought him home I decided to work with this problem and was so frustrated that I could not get him to settle into the bit; he was mouthing it so much that he was nearly oblivious to the rider.
The first thing I did was a dental check, which right away identified the root of his problem. The insides of his cheeks were quite cut up and painful. However, once taken care of and healed, he still had an aversion to any bit I tried. Every bit caused him anxiety no matter how smooth my feel on it. It wasn’t until I got completely out of his mouth that he finally learned to relax. I first tried a hackamore but had the best results with the Dr. Cook bitless bridle.
The memory of his discomfort, and the related behaviors it produced, still prompt him to toss his head at the beginning of many rides, but then he settles in and seems to be happy with his new relationship with all riders, whether they have experienced hands or not. Another advantage is that even younger children find it easy to tack him up---bareback and bitless (and a helmet), and they’re off on a beautiful, trustworthy, attentive pony. groans from racers. It’s unfortunate that horses have this reputation, and it doesn’t need to be this way.
If a trail is wet or soft enough that your horse’s hoof sinks in and leaves a lasting print, turn around and go back. One ride on a muddy trail can leave deep ruts that will dry that way and turn the trail into a rough mess. A horsedamaged trail is no fun for runners, hikers and fellow equestrians; it can be downright dangerous for bikers. Of course, any user can tear up a wet trail, but horses, with their much greater