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What is a hard mouth and soft mouth?

Posted By LilGreenHorn 4 Years Ago
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LilGreenHorn
Posted 4 Years Ago
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What does it mean when a horse has a hard mouth or a soft mouth? Please forgive the question; I'm very new to all of this!

Gracie53
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soft mouthed horses are wonderful to ride, and are made that way through correct training (light/correct hands) sm horses accept the bridle, as in they can take just enough contact so it feels like your holding two fishing poles w a small fish on the end. also, you can easily collect them w/o them curling in you.

hard mouth horses could be described as 'bullish in the bridle', brought on from years of rough hands, pretty much they just dont have the same responsiveness to the bit. hope that helps



LilGreenHorn
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So, if my trainer says that my horse has a hard mouth, what is a good way to handle him (Especially if he is half thoroughbred and half arabian and stubborn as heck! LOL!)?



Should I be gentle when he's being good and try to teach him to have a softer mouth, and be firm when he's not cooperating? He is 15 years old. Is there even a way to give him a soft mouth at this point?

BuckWeath
Posted 4 Years Ago
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Hard Mouthed Horses are horses that resist the bit, have very stiff jaws, and wont accept the bit, completely ignoring your cues.

There can be several reasons to why a horse is hard mouthed, the most common reason would be more of a phsicological problem than a physical one. This is mostly cause by bad riding or failing to train the horse to give in to pressure. Also this could happen to well train horses, when the rider depends too much on the reins for balance, and does not use his/her legs and seat to steer the horse; Pulling a horse too much too often can only develop a hard mouth, stiffness and resistance. Horses by nature resist to pressure, so its our goal to teach them not to.

 A lot of riders will only put a harder bit masking the problem, but in the end the horse will eventually learn to resist the bit, forcing the rider to use even a harsher bit, its like a cycle that will continue to repeat itself until it gets fixed from the roots.  Hard-mouthed horses also stiffen up when you try to bend or flex them, causing flat turns and jolting transitions. Often, the very things that horses do to lessen the pain cause riders to stiffen up more and pull harder on the reins.

A hard mouthed horse can be fixed, by careful retraining, going back to basics, and teaching the meaning of "whoa" rather than just pulling or seesawing the bit un till he cant resist no more, Teach your horse the meaning of the seat, horses are very sensitive animals, they can feel the slightest touch of a fly on their body; Your goal as a rider is to each your horse the real meaning of your body cues and avoid pulling your horse too hard, it just creates resistance.

There can be other things causing a hard mouthed horse, such as back and mouth problems. Horses who have back problems will try to pull on the bit in an attempt to lift their back and the rider trying to get rid of the pain.





"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." -Winston Churchill


BuckWeath
Posted 4 Years Ago
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LilGreenHorn (1/23/2010)
So, if my trainer says that my horse has a hard mouth, what is a good way to handle him (Especially if he is half thoroughbred and half arabian and stubborn as heck! LOL!)?

Should I be gentle when he's being good and try to teach him to have a softer mouth, and be firm when he's not cooperating? He is 15 years old. Is there even a way to give him a soft mouth at this point?

* The only real way to handle him is by re-trainning him and not by using a harsher bit. Also by teaching you to use your seat and leg aids in a more dependent way, in the end if you look at a well trained horse with a good rider, the rider will use a 50% legs 45% seat and 5% hands. which means that it is possible to ride a horse without having to use your hands much. But it does take a lot of hard work to achieve this. By doing a lot of flat work and lower level dressage exercises, or down ward transitions, you can eventually develop some suppleness and more understanding of the aids.

*The problem with him being 15 yrs old could only be that he has carried on with the problem for a long period of time, but it really doesn't matter when talking about age, it depends more on the horse and how you are working with him.

*It is always a preferable thing to have someone with more experience to help you out and fix this problem. because there are cases when the horse is not the one with the real problem, it could possibly be the rider itself, your body and your way of riding completely affects the way the horse feels, moves, and what he does. There are many exercises to retrain hard mouthed horses, but for now start teaching him to stop with the word "whoa" when you are leading him with a halter on the ground. He will soon relate the word with stopping.





"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." -Winston Churchill


Edited 4 Years Ago by BuckWeath
LilGreenHorn
Posted 4 Years Ago
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Thank you so much for you input guys. I really appreciate it.



My trainer said that Scooter was handled very roughly the first five years of his life. He's very touchy about being saddled and doesn't like to take the bit well. She said he's come a long way from where he was 10 years ago. But I just remember her talking about him being a little hard on the mouth at times and thought I would ask about it.



Thanks so much for you patience with me! I'm so new to this, I feel so silly asking these questions, but I'm trying to do everything I can to learn as quickly as possible- but also learn the right way. I believe in gentleness above all things with animals! That's why I became a feline behaviorist!



Anywoo, I digress! Thanks a lot!

Swing_Away111
Posted 4 Years Ago
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^^^If he was handled "roughly", especially with the bit when he was young, he could have scar tissue built up on the bars in his mouth resulting in a truly "hard" mouth. Try retraining, but having a vet look at his mouth isn't a bad idea, either.

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LilGreenHorn
Posted 4 Years Ago
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She had the 'horse dentist' out last year and he said everything looked good, so probably no scar tissue. I think he's just one of those horses who doesn't forget things very easily. Though he did great with me today! [BigGrin] I was so excited! I learned to trot and did a little posting! [:O] Can't wait until it warms up where we can really get into the hard work. We can only do so much because of the snow on the ground and Scooter needs his shoes put on in 3 weeks.



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