|3 year old TWH/SSH with 18 MONTHS pro
training, ridden in a curb with a medium port and Aussie Saddle in ring
and pasture by very experianced rider
Question: I bought Churchill because he was being abused and could not
leave him once I met him. He had been on built up shoes since he
was 18 months old and with a trainer in
When I first got him he was scared to death. He hid in the back
of his stall when you came up and if you moved your hand on him while riding
he went crazy. He would jump straight up in the air and grab the
bit and take off running. He has gotten out of that and knickers
to you when you walk by his stall and he would rather be with me than eat
grass. You can rub him all over when you are riding him -- so he
has gotten over his abuse -- I have been very gentle and patient with him.
I just trail ride him which he loves. He is very
THE PROBLEM - he has a very hard tough mouth. When I first got him the sides of his mouth were split from a twisted wire snaffel they were using on him. I would like to know what I can do to make him more responsive to the bit. When I pull back to slow him down he opens his mouth to avoid the bit -- pull and release does not seem to work.
I grew up showing hunters and jumpers (TBs)-- this is my first walking
horse - what a great change in temperment!
From Panelist Liz
First of all I want to say how wonderful I think it is that you have
taken on what can be a very challenging task of re-habbing a horse with
Churchill's history. I have worked with many find it a very rewarding experience
to show these horse a new and better life.
What I am trying to do is reprogram the horse to respond to pressure on the nose instead of the mouth and become sensitive to leg and seat aids. When this is done I will then put the horse back in the bit but also use my bit-less rig at the same time and just let the horse carry the bit but not engage it at this point. Just let them get used to carrying it again. When they seem comfortable with this I will then start using the bit for signals and if they get confused I re-enforce with the bit-less bridle. You will have 4 reins to use and will take the some time for you to get used to using them, but this is a skill that will pay off in developing.
There are some horses with to much history that they just never do go well in a bit again and then I just use the bit-less bridle . I do think it is the effort to first try to get one back in the bit though.
I would also like to point out that he is still only 3 and should not be pushed to much as he still has lots of maturing to do yet . Take your time and you will have many years of enjoyment together.
Good luck to you and Churchill!
From Panelist Erica
Congratulations on your successful effort to create a lasting partnership with Churchill. Have you thought about trying a sidepull or something similar? I personally don't like to use hackamores. I found a sidepull in one tack catalog the other day that had a leather nose instead of a rope one (most common). I have one horse who does exactly the same thing as you described Churchill doing with the exception of running away, and the only thing that works for him is either riding in a rope halter or a sidepull.
Sometimes regular bits are too much for a horse, and in Churchill's case they have been used for abusive measures and that certainly doesn't help for light communication.
From Panelist Lee
Congratulations to you for providing a good home for this horse. The mouth problem is not at all unusual, as you have probably figured out. The good news is that it doesn't have to stay as numb as it is.
There are a number of different strategies that can work. You
might try riding in a sidepull, teaching the horse to respond to weight
aids to slow down, and the pull and slack on his nose of the sidepull in
place of a bit while his mouth regains some sensitivity. If you are
not familiar with a sidepull, you might try riding in a mullen Pelham,
most work on the snaffle
Good luck with this horse -- he will take time to reclaim, but his mouth should come back if you can discontine use of the curb alone while you ride him. You might even try an eggbutt snaffle to see what happens, but do it in a small enclosed area!
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