Bitting Q&A – what can I do if my horse puts its tongue over the bit?

By retailer Lucy Nicholas

I thought readers of Pegasus Online may like to hear about a recent bitting issue that I helped a customer with. Essentially this lady’s horse objected to any sort of pressure by putting its tongue over the bit – a really tricky issue. My suggestion to her was a combination bit by the manufacturer Myler.

Here’s her question to me, and the reasons why I suggested this extremely popular bit for her gelding:

Q

“I am desperate to find an answer to my young horse’s bitting problems. He is a 15.2hh Warmblood x pony rising 5yrs.I have owned him since a foal and he is a big, confident character who does like to be in charge of situations. His main problem is taking any sort of pressure; he is happy to hack out, though does on occasion get his tongue over the bit, even on the quietest walk; when schooling, he can do the warm up, but as soon as you ask for a little more flexion, bend or carriage, he gets his tongue out. It goes out as far as he can get it, and then you can do nothing with him; putting it back is short lived, and if you persist, he gets nappy. He is worrying rather than naughty, but I am hitting a brick wall. I have tried half moon bits (happy mouth and metal), french link, hanging cheek, and at the moment he is in a snaffle which has a shaped mouthpiece that’s curved away from the tongue. His teeth have been checked regularly by two different EDTs and he had his wolf teeth removed prior to breaking. He has no problems eating, and even from the first day on the long lines, has always resented contact more than a loose rein.”

This is a difficult problem and horses that put their tongue out cannot always be cured – even in a bitless bridle, the tension caused by just being ridden can be enough for it to manifest itself!

There are two ways to go, in my mind as a bitting expert. You could try a high ported bit to physically help prevent him doing it, or try to find a solution (with a bit or a bitless bridle) that he feels happy and confident with. The problem is of course that he may not feel happy in anything, and if you try to prevent him doing it by using a high ported bit or something else with the same principles, it could cause more problems, as you have found.

My ‘first port of call’ suggestion for this and other horses that put their tongue over the bit would be to try the Myler short shank combination bit (3304) which has a low ported, comfort snaffle mouthpiece – this is the most popular Myler combination bit that we retail at www.thesaddleryshop.co.uk .

myler combi

The 3304 uses the comfort snaffle mouthpiece, which acts on the tongue and corners of the bars of the mouth, gently wrapping the lips, but the port gives more tongue relief when the bit is not engaged by the rider. Combination bits are often misunderstood and thought to be severe. The action of these combination bits is to use up to five pressure points on the horse’s head, as opposed to one or two that most conventional bits work on. This means that the combination will give the rider superior control, without using excessive force in any one place, which usually results in a much more relaxed and comfortable horse.

 

 

The combination bits can be useful to school horses in when they are normally ridden in a double bridle, as it encourages self carriage and natural lightness.

The bit is anatomically designed to follow the contours of the horse’s mouth and should give the rider good control. Bit hire is of course a good way to try out new bits!

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