When your horse runs through or fights the bit, it’s called evasion. Some common bit evasions are opening or crossing the jaw, running away, leaning on the bit, shaking or tossing the head, going above or behind the bit, and tongue hanging.
A common solution is using a stronger bit or adding a training gadget (eg. draw reins or tie down). While these may work in the short term, they don’t address the real source of the problem.
If you want to eliminate the problem and build a stronger, more trusting and willing partnership with your horse read on.
#1 – Dental Problems & Poor Bit Fit
Horses run from pain. Sharp teeth, ulcers in the mouth or a tongue injury will be aggravated by the bit – even in gentle hands.
The Correction – Have your horse’s mouth thoroughly examined by an equine vet or dentist and checked for sharp or broken teeth, ulcers and even tongue injury. Just like you, your horse should have his teeth checked by a professional at least annually.
#2 – Incorrect Bit Fit
A bit that is too wide or sits too low in the mouth will not be stable. If it’s too narrow or sits too high, it will pinch and damage the skin and bars in the mouth. If it doesn’t fit the shape of your horse’s mouth it won’t leave enough room for the tongue or push up into the palate causing pain and injury.
The Correction – Check the width of the bit and how it fits the shape of your horse’s mouth. It should be about ¼” wider than the distance between the outside corners of his lips. Find the style of bit that works with the shape and size of your horse’s mouth leaving enough room for the tongue, not pressing on the palate and fitting easily between the bars.
When fitted correctly, the bit sits quietly across the bars without pulling up the lips or moving up and down. Remember “a wrinkle not a smile“. For most horses, this means at least one wrinkle but no more than two in the corners of the lips But, for some horses there may be no wrinkle at all. Adjust as necessary to ensure the bit fits comfortably without sliding up and down loosely.
#3 – Busy or Unsteady Hands
Hands that are busy, unsteady, tense, see-saw, pull or constantly bump the horse’s mouth cause pain and discomfort. They are also the sign of a tense and unbalanced rider.
The Correction – Develop an independent seat. The reins should never be used for support, balance or the primary means of controlling your horse. Your hands must work independently from your seat so that you can influence your horse without creating tension or resistance. You will be balanced, able to follow and work with your horses movement – applying your aids at the right time, with the least amount of pressure and without tension.
For your horse needs to be pain free, balanced and relaxed to be able to perform at his best and be the confident, trusting and willing partner you dream of. You can help him by being a quiet, balanced and relaxed rider.
When you put your horse in good hands and eliminate any sources of pain, you eliminate resistance and gain his trust.