Sensitive Event Horse


I have a very sensitive event horse that is currently compeitng at CCI1*/ Intermediate and aiming CIC2* in the next few months. I have always found him quite difficult to bit in general but under the advisement of our dressage trainer earlier this year we have put him in a Bomber Loose Ring Eliptical for flatwork which has made a huge difference. He now also show jumps in this with in elasticated grackle. For XC he has been going in a 2 1/2 ring Elliptical with a back strap.

For all his jumping he has always been quite fussy, he sticks his head in the air and waves it, particularly coming towards a fence, which can make combination fences challenging! He has been much, much more rideable XC since riding him in the 2 1/2 ring but still sticks his head in the air a bit, especially when you go to take a check or re-balance before a fence and is quite strong, particularly on hilly courses or longer CCI courses when he gets tired, and becomes difficult to set up and steer again. And I would ideally like slightly more control when riding around bigger more technical tracks. He is a very sensitive horse and anything too strong and the problem gets much worse and he will not go forward into the bridle at all. I have tried a waterford bubble bit which worked once or twice before upsetting him. I have also tried a Bomber Williams happy tongue which he loathed and then took weeks/ months to settle and round over fences again. I then tried a neue schule jointed pelham which he was very reluctant to work into, and although waved his head slightly less, ended up being a very fragile contact.

Any suggestions of what to try would be of great use!! TIA

Posted in Eventing, asked by Christine, one year 1. 249 hits.


Hi Christine,

Thank you for your detailed question!

His reactions to the bit while jumping are suggestive of an issue with tongue pressure. The fact that the didn't go well in the Happy Tongue is suggestive of two things.

Firstly that he could have a narrow bottom jaw, and the port was therefore a little too wide for him. This allows the port to sit incorrectly in the mouth. We now make a narrower port as well, to better fit those horses with a narrow bottom jaw.

Secondly, I suspect that he may dislike too much pressure on his bars. The Happy Tongue takes all the pressure off the tongue, but that pressure has to go somewhere, it is placed directly on to the bars. Most horses are quite comfortable with direct bar pressure, but there are those that cannot stand it.

Please would you have a look inside his mouth. I need to know if he is quite fleshy, this will affect the fit of the bit, if he is fleshy, we will want to bit a little smaller to ensure that the bit fits the inside of his mouth.

Please would you also feel his bars, if you stand in front of him, with a hand on either side of his face, you should be able to slip your thumbs into his mouth where the bars are, this is often accepted very well. Are the bars an even height? Are they wide or narrow and sharp?

The conformation of his bars will help me to advise a bit that will not use too much tongue pressure, but also soften the pressure on his bars at the same time. This will allow him to accept the contact and be more responsive.


Claire @ Bombers
one year 1
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