Horse with very sensitive mouth and tongue

Hi there

I am experiencing problems with my 7 year old Boerperd. He has recently started training for dressage and showing. He refuses to go on the bit, he is soft in his mouth and rides happily with loose reins and does everything I ask if he has his head up high as he prefers it, but the moment you take contact he starts shaking his head profusely. . . He is working in a snaffle at the moment, I think that he hates the pressure on his tongue. Can you please give me advise on which bit would help him to happily work on the bit. As he is very willing to please and I think he will be a different horse if I can sort out this problem for him?

Posted in General, asked by Melissa, 4 years ago. 2454 hits.


Hi Melissa,

From what you describe, I would say that your instincts are spot on. Your horse has a sensitive tongue.

The Dressage bitting rules make it quite difficult to give these horse's all the relief they seek. I would normally recommend a Happy Tongue, which has a low, wide port to relieve tongue pressure. It is not legal for Dressage, except under the USEF in the USA.

Ideally you would do all your training in a Happy Tongue, and swop to a legal bit just for the actual test.

The best legal bit I can suggest in the Lock-up Snaffle. The Lock-Up doesn't fold closed like a normal Snaffle, and therefore eliminates the nut cracker action. The Lock-up doesn't relieve any tongue pressure unfortunately, what it does is distribute the pressure evenly over the mouth, therefore not creating any pressure points on the tongue.

He will be a very different horse under saddle when he has a bit that he is happy with!


Claire @ Bombers
4 years ago
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