December. 18, 2019 – Ask Monty Newsletter

Question: My horse has difficulty taking the bit

My horse has difficulty taking the bit. It was recommended by someone that I use a bitless bridle for her, but I don’t know how to use one and no one will help me. They will only help with a bit. My horse has never bitten, reared, bucked or been difficult in any way. She just gets very scared of the bit.

Monty’s Answer:

I sympathize with the problem you are having. Horses often come to me in the same condition you have outlined in your question. I will never understand how professional horsemen can feel that violence and brutality can solve the condition you have described. This behavior is one of the few where I recommend a food substance.

I place honey first on a stick and ask the horse to take the stick in the mouth, licking the honey off. I then put honey on a bit with no bridle and repeat the process. Before long, the horse will follow me around and attempt to put the bit on himself. I have had good outcomes from this process.

Often horses become fearful when they hear the sound of metallic bits. In such cases Mylar or Happy Mouth bits are quite effective. These are made from a plastic-type substance that will take the honey quite well. The honey taste will remain on the soft mouthpiece, and you can put it on and take it off many times with your horse still experiencing the taste of the honey.

Note that it is quite possible to work without a bridle on the bit. It is easiest to work with the bit as a solo object, without reins either. Get in a mood to have fun with this. I recommend that you work with your horse in a box stall (loose box). If you put the horse’s tail in a safe corner, then it is easier to approach the muzzle area. Don’t be forceful with the honey-coated stick; start by putting it in the corner of the mouth and on to the tongue. Continue this work until you can pass it through the front teeth and on to the tongue so that the horse tastes the honey.

Experience is always valuable in these areas. I would like you to realize that with my decades of work with horses I can take the most difficult sort and cause him to reach out consciously to take the bit in two or three sessions of forty-five minutes to one hour. When you can achieve this level of acceptance from your horse, it is fun. When it is fun, it happens faster and more effectively.

Wherever a bitless bridle can be advantageous to the horse owner, I recommend using the Dually halter . It can serve as a normal halter and is invaluable for educating the horse. It comes complete with its own DVD to help you in learning to use it.


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