A Quiet Mouth
- October 26, 2015
- Jenn Zeller
We’ve all been on a horse that fidgets with their feet and can’t be still. Or they have a mouth that won’t stop fussing when we are on them.
It has been my experience that a horse with the fidgety mouth often isn’t getting the message we are sending through the bit. He may have a dental issue that needs to be addressed, but more often than not the message we are sending through the bit isn’t getting to his feet, so his mouth moves as a way to express his confusion.
A really soft, confident, horse that’s been helped to understand how a rein connects to their feet will have a soft, quiet mouth and one that hasn’t might not.
If we reward for every try our horse makes as we are teaching them something new, we can help their mouth stay quiet. But if you’re on an older horse that has never been afforded that luxury, there are some things you can do to help them get that way.
- Be consistent with your hand placement. For me, if I’m asking for a hind foot my rein stays in front of my saddle horn. If I’m asking for a front foot to reach, it’s behind the saddle horn. However you choose to ask, start with a little, and start the same way every time. Easier said than done, I know.
- Reward the slightest try. I was riding a young, outside horse the other day that I was really struggling on. The message wasn’t getting through and I found myself pulling harder and harder. That’s not the answer as it doesn’t make a soft horse. Look for a reason to give the horse a release. If she makes it for half a beat, get out of there and build on that.
- Do more waiting. Which is what I should have done above instead of pulling harder. I should have waited more. The horse doesn’t want to be uncomfortable or fidget or be hard- mouthed. So it’s our job to help them find that comfort in what we are asking them to do.
- Build on the things the horse understands already. If they’re good at turning and keeping their mouth quiet work one step at a time on that. Then add in one step backwards or sideways to help the good feeling carry over.
- Get in time with their feet when you do ask with your hands and it will make more sense to both of you.
About Jenn Zeller
Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...