Bitting advice for a strong horse who gets his tongue over the bit and sticks it out

My horse is a thoroughbred ex racer. He has always stuck his tongue out, got it over the bit and is very strong in the mouth. Since he has stopped racing, I have tried snaffles, mylers, a KKK Sprenger and he is currently in a mini harmony edgware, plus all sorts of nosebands. My vet dentist says the only conformation reason he can find is that the horse has a very fleshy mouth which might cause a lot of flesh to get caught in the bit when you take up a contact. I have also tried a hackamore but as he is very strong, he tried to hang against it. If you ride him with no contact at all, he is really happy but when you pick up the rein in trot or canter, at some stage the tongue will come out again. He does a nice dressage test but the tongue usually makes an appearance. I took him XC recently and he was very strong wanting to get his head up and tank around the course not really listening to the rider. He has regular physio with no major issues.

Posted in Eventing, asked by Elizabeth AMPAIREE, 8 months ago. 272 hits.


Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for your question.

Sticking the tongue out is a big sign that the horse is not comfortable with tongue pressure. This discomfort can also lead to the horse becoming very strong, the horse is trying to run away from the pressure.

We aim to have the horse light and responsive to the rein aids by soften the pressure and moving it to an area that the horse finds more comfortable, when the horse is comfortable with the pressure the resistance melts away and the horse responds to the aids.

With a fleshy mouth we need to bit the horse a little smaller than we normally would, this is because the fleshiness is hiding a small bone structure, it is important that the bit sit correctly on the inside of the mouth, as well as the outside. This does mean that we need to look at a fixed cheek piece for your horse, to ensure that the smaller size cannot pinch.

For Dressage I recommend an Eggbutt Ported Barrel. The Ported Barrel will take the pressure off the tongue very well, this will stop him for sticking his tongue out because the reason for sticking his tongue out has been removed.

For Cross Country I recommend and Eggbutt 2½ Ring Ported Barrel. This will give you a few more options as the rein can be placed on the middle or bottom ring.

We want the fixed cheek pieces to sit quite snug against his lips. Both these bits will need to be smaller than the bit you are currently using because they fit in the mouth differently.


Claire @ Bombers
8 months ago
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