We all know that our leg is a key method of communication with our horse. Our seat, hands and fingers are very important too.
....But what about the bit? Can this key communication method cause neck, behavioral, dental, tongue and other issues?? Yes it can!
Check out this informative article by My Horse Daily that demystifies bit basics and provides easy to understand information to help riders make an informed bit choice.
The Horse.com also published an article regarding how bits can affect the horse's mouth. The article suggests that if behavioral problems arise with your horse, checking the mouth is a good step to take.
As a bodyworker, I wholeheartedly agree. I always ask about dental issues and when the last dental was done when I am working on a horse.
A few years back, I was working on a rescue horse that was doing "crop circles" in his stall. The owners loved this horse and were doing a great job rehabilitating him. But, they overlooked the mouth. When I checked out the teeth, there were sharp points everywhere and cheek sores. No wonder this horse was having bit issues and was doing crop circles! The vet came and did a dental. Voila! The improvement was dramatic and instantaneous. After the dental, we could then make a proper determination about the bit.
The wrong bit, incorrect bit fit, or using the bit incorrectly with too much hand, fingers, or other riding error can also cause neck problems such as sore muscles, lack of cervical vertebrae (the bones in the neck) alignment, as well as dental, mouth and tongue problems and other issues. These issues can then have a ripple affect throughout the horse's body. Moreover, what we classify as a behavioral issue may in fact be a bit issue.
The decision regarding whether to use a bit, what bit to use or to go bitless can be complex. Many factors come into play, and the answer is different for every horse/rider team. Hopefully this post will give readers some more information about bits to enable them to make the best choice for their horse and assist in providing a potential solution for physical and behavioral challenges.
Tell us a bit about your bit....or are you going bitless?
Ilene Nessenson, Certified Equine Bodyworker, is the creator of Stretch Your Horse, a 25 horse stretching video tutorial collection.