Is anything worse than when your horse (on its own) decides that it should eat grass while having a bit in its mouth? Some even believes there is a risk for the hose to choke because of the bid combined with the grass eating. However, we have not been able to determine whether this is true or not. No matter what, we can probably agree that the combination of grass and a bit is not preferable. Therefore, we give you our own three tips on how to avoid this.
The bid affects the horse’s teeth and gums
The horse’s teeth are, as you know, built to eat and not having a bit in the mouth. Nevertheless, our horses have learned to accept that we put a metal peace in its mouth to create a better communication when we ride them. But it is important to remember that a horse mouth is sensitive. The front teeth are developed to rip off long grass, while the molars are chewing it all to pieces and afterwards it is swallowed. When the horse is chewing with the molars the bit will therefore be in the way and this can cause damage to the teeth, tongue and gums. Source: VCA Animal Hospital: Equine Dentistry.
1. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM
Most riders probably believe that eating while wearing a bit is a bad habit. Often the horse wins the fight about the grass a little too often. Perhaps you have also tried that it eats whatever it can find in the arena or on the way inside from the field. And as you have experienced it does not take long before the horse finds the opportunity to do it without permission.
If you really want to deal with the problem, and you have a horse who cannot behave at all if permitted to eat grass occasionally, the only thing you can do: Never let it eat grass while being handle by you or anyone else. Otherwise, you will end up fighting with it day in and day out.
2. A horse head stuck to the ground
If the horse is already putting its head in the ground to start eating grass it is very naturally that we do everything in our power to prevent it. The result is often a rough pull in the rains and thereby the bit. We all know this is not the best tactic, but what can we do? To prevent it you can try the following:
Create energy from behind
Dot the horse gently on the hindquarters with a whip. The exact same thing as when you are riding the horse. Create anergy from behind which can result in fewer struggles at the front of the horse. At the same time, it is important that you move ahead, look up and not down at the horse – this way it understands the signals better. Think about it this way; the horse should be thinking: “Oh we are moving forward.” And this is the case no matter if you ride it or walk next to it.
Shaking the rains
You can also try to shake lightly in the rains until the horse finds it so annoying that it lifts its head. You should not pull in the rains – the horse should just have a sense that something is happening.
Tap on the shoulder
If you sit on the horse, you can also decide to place three slow taps on the shoulder. The same way as with the shaking in the rains this will also make the horse pay attention – something is suddenly more important than the grass.
The advice is from a trainer in horsemanship Michaela Love. She is inspired by the legendary Pat Parelli who is the founder of ‘natural horsemanship’. In the video below you can watch how Micaela complete all the exercises mentioned above.
3. IF YOU WISH TO OFFER YOUR HORSE SOME GRASS
Of course, we do understand if you enjoy grazing with your horse occasionally both when standing next to it and while riding it on a cosy hack. There is a way to do this without the bit being in the way. However, if you do this sometimes you also have to accept the fact that the horse will try on its own to eat grass even you have not permitted it.
How to let your horse eat while wearing a bridle:
- Keep the rains in one hand so that the horse does not leave you.
- Loosen the cheek piece from the bit
- Remove the bit from the horse’s mouth in one side. Now the bit is hanging lose on one side of the horse’s head.
- Place the bit behind the mouth of the horse and tighten it to the bit, cheek piece and noseband.
- Loosen the noseband as much as possible so that the horse can open its mouth and eat properly.