Bitting is a fascinating but complicated subject. Not only are there hundreds of bits to choose from, but nearly everyone you speak to has their own ideas and theories. Before you run out and buy a new bit, it is essential that you understand why your horse is resisting. Here are a few factors to add to your checklist:
When was the last time your horses’ teeth were checked?
An equine dentist or horse vet should check your horses’ teeth once a year. Start at around the age of three. If you do not pay attention to this, the tongue and cheeks can be badly bruised and cut, causing unnecessary mouthing and bitting problems. The following signs indicate that your horse is in need of an equine dentist: general resistance to the bit, obvious discomfort when a nose band is done up tightly, reluctance to have its face handled, and loss of condition.
Does the saddle fit comfortably?
Saddles need to be fitted regularly as both young horses and horses worked correctly for the first time dramatically change shape. Older horses and horses coming back into the game after illness also change shape. An uncomfortable back can lead to many evasive situations that have nothing to do with the bit.
Does your horse get out enough?
Sufficient freedom and exercise will eliminate most behavioural problems. A horse in a 3,65m by 4,26m stable needs stimulation. By nature, horses spend 16 hours a day grazing. Therefore, one hour of lunging or two hours of schooling are definitely not enough. Being turned out all night in summer and all day in winter will definitely create a happy, balanced horse.
Is the diet right for its temperament?
If your horse is at a livery yard, it is essential to keep a close watch on its diet. Most horses, even endurance or eventers, only require 10% protein in their diets. Anything higher is just going to cause problems.
Is your champion cut out for the gold medal?
You can do everything by the book, but if your horse is not cut out for the job, it will never cope. If you can’t part ways with your best friend, change your direction and do something that both of you will enjoy and maybe even excel in. Maybe join a new club or start a new equine sport? – Kim Dyson
Contact Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511.