Mouth Sensitive Polo Pony -

I have an issue with a tongue sensitive horse and could really use some help. A little background first. When I first got the mare (4 years ago) she was playing polo in a single break gag. She would try to put her tongue over the bit, pulling her tongue back into her throat, causing a loud snoring/growling sound - obviously restricting her airway. This, in turn, would make her incredibly nervous and hot. We started tying her tongue to her lower jaw and that seemed to fix the problem - no more trying to put her tongue over the bit and she stayed focused rather than worrying about her mouth and breathing. I played her a couple of months like that but thought that there must be a better solution. That’s when I first became aware of your company - I can’t remember how actually, but it was during my search for a better option. Anyhow, I first put her into a Polo Pelham Gavin Chaplin and, initially, she did great - no more swallowing the tongue and she remained focused. The following seasons (we have two polo seasons - fall/spring) were completely rained out so she was not being played and worked only occasionally. After the layoff, I found that she wasn’t responding to the bit the same as before. She was working her jaw and sticking her nose in the air, throwing her off balance and making her nervous and hot once again. Thinking that she was reacting to the spinner, I tried her in a Happy Tongue pelham and a 3 ring McHardy - neither worked and she was back to pulling her tongue back into her throat. Thinking it could be something physical, I had her checked and, eventually, we found that she had a broken tooth that was intact enough that it could bounce up and down while she trotted/cantered. Thinking we had finally found the answer for her behavior, I gave her the rest of that season off to recover and get over any resulting sensitivity in her mouth. Now, we come to 6 months ago when I started to get her up for the spring season. When I started working her in an exerciser, I noticed that despite not having any tack on whatsoever, she would act like she had a bit in her mouth at a trot - working her jaw and sticking her nose in the air. Thinking now that it was a bad habit, I tied her tongue. Again, she became quiet and quit working her mouth. Not wanting to push her, but rather wanting her to work herself through it, I didn’t play her in the spring season but rode her in a bitless bridle in which she did ok. Finally, we come to this season. I was told that I could not play her in a bitless bridle so I have been working her back into the Gavin Chaplin Pelham since that was the bit that I’ve gotten the best results. I’ve started her slowly. First, just standing with the bit in her mouth so that she got used to it being in her mouth, then having her wear it while she is on the exerciser - no reins, just bridle and bit. And finally, riding her - while keeping her at a walk or trot, with only a single set of reins (no running reins) attached to the snaffle ring. She has been doing ok and has shown improvement but the progress has slowed - there are times when she is completely happy and focused in the bit and then, for whatever reason, she will revert back, start gaping, working her jaw and trying to swallow her tongue. Because she behaves the same whether being ridden or not, I’m down to 1. she has a bad habit that I’m going to have to work through or, 2. she would be happier in another bit. So after all of that, here is my question. Should I keep working her slowly this way or do you have any suggestions, as far as bits/cheek pieces go, of something else that I might try?

Posted in Polo, asked by Hunter Glass, one year 1. 287 hits.
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