An­other solution for a bit puller

EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

“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

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