Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Resists or Roots Against Bit

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you want to rule out any physical issue being a factor in the behavior.
  • If this is a slowly but consistently worsening problem and you are unsure of the cause.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If this seems mild or occasional and the horse seems normal otherwise.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Resistance to the bit takes many forms. This includes simply pushing through the bit, being unresponsive to it, opening the mouth (gaping) either with tension on the reins or not, biting down on the bit with the cheek teeth, head tossing and shaking, and rearing, among others. It helps to consider these different behaviors when observing bitting resistance.

When a horse resists the bit, there are several potential reasons. There may be a physical reason such as a dental problem, wound in the mouth, or ill fitting bridle or bit. A horse may have simply not been trained to understand to yield to pressure, or they may have been taught the opposite – that resistance is the most rewarding behavior. This is usually a result of poor rider/trainer timing or technique.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s mouth (wear gloves) looking for other problems. Try to assess bit and bridle fit. Consider your own technique and knowledge. Consider the cues you are giving, improve them if you can, and seek help from a qualified trainer if you are not confident solving the problem, or are not having success.

Have your vet examine your horse and tack to ensure that the problem is not being caused by a physical issue.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet can perform a careful physical and oral exam to rule out the common causes of this behavior. It may be of value for them to see the behavior while the horse is being ridden, and to evaluate the bridle and bit.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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