Alabama 4 year old Missouri Fox Trotter ridden in Alum curb bit and Cordura western saddle in Round pen, pasture, small oblonged arena by Intermediate rider, no professional riding lessons.

Question: Doesn't like the alum curb bit, chews at it and kind of moving her head from side to side a lot.  Mostly ride for pleasure, trails, etc.  I show her for fun once a year.  She has a great fox trot and very smooth. Want to do what is best for her. 

From Panelist Liz

Before changing the bit I would first have her teeth checked. She could need to have them floated or have her wolf teeth  pulled if not already done. This would be the first thing because you state she gaits well . So just in case it is not the bit I would hesitate to
change it before checking the teeth. Next is the bit adjusted in the mouth. I know that we see it said often that there should be 1 wrinkle in the corner of the mouth but I have found that on some horses they do better with no wrinkle but the bit is just in contact with the
mouth corners. Also check that the bit is not to low as well. Be sure the bit is the correct width to. Is it to small and putting pressure on the sides of the mouth or is it to wide and creating a lot of unnecessary movement or slide from side to side in the mouth.

Another thing is to be sure that the bridle eyes  are a little bent out away from the face. Not the shanks just the bridles eyes. Many times the manufactures already do this for us but once in a while I do see where that has not been done so the bridle eyes of the bit can be rubbing on the sides of the mouth.  With all this done and no problem found then it may be time to consider a different bit.

Since she seems to gait well with this bit It sounds like it is not the balance of the bit because this would put her in a carriage that would change her gait. It could be the type of metal (aluminum) that she is not happy with. This is very common with the aluminum but there are horses that do just fine in it too. Aluminum bits can in some horses create an unpleasant taste and can also be drying to the mouth. Having a good moist mouth eliminates friction  from the bit being engaged. Try  different metals such as nickel, sweet iron, stainless steel, or even copper. If this is not having an effect next would be the mouth piece. Try some different ones such as a mullen, Billy Allen . These do well in fox trotters. To buy all these bits to try is very expensive so I would find people that may have some of these options to try before purchasing. I do recommend before putting someone else's horse bit in her mouth to sanitize it to protect your horse and theirs. 1 part bleach and 32
parts water is a good way to do this. Finding the right bit can sometimes take a bit of time but just as saddle fitting one does not work for all.

Thanks for this question this topic is one of my favorites.

From Panelist Bob

If your horse does not have wolf teeth or other dental problems, I think that she is trying to tell you that she doesn't like that bit. Aluminum bits dry the mouth and don't taste very good either. You might try a sweet iron bit or a bit with a copper overlay. These bits promote salivation and they taste better! (Yes, I taste bits!) <g>

Bob Blackwell

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