Chewing on the bit

by Natalie Healy
(El Dorado Hills, Ca. )

We are looking at buying a very sweet horse. Her only problem is she chews like crazy on her bit. She is a jumper and we want to do shows but this behavior is annoying. Is it possible to cure this?


Yes, it is very possible to cure this and this is how:

It’s long been known that a horse’s mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of its whole body. Try this experiment. Touch the top of one of your hands with a finger, gliding it a few inches. Notice how that feels. Now touch the inner palm of your hand with a finger, gliding it the same way. Notice how much more sensitive the palm of your hand feels than the top? It could be compared with a horse’s muzzle being the top and inside the horse’s mouth like the palm of your hand. A highly sensitive area! Add to that the fact that inside a mouth, even your own you have only cellular membrane (like the gums in your mouth) not hard calloused skin.

Now if you were to put a piece of steel in your mouth, and then with just a slight pull on one side which creates huge pounds of pressure per square centimeter you get a huge pain inducing instrument!

The way to build a strong communication and eliminate behaviors such as chewing is to use a bitless bridle because you will no longer be the one inducing pain in your horse's mouth. Pain which induces Fear and causes all kinds of training problems in horses - it is a natural reaction for horses (and all of us!) to run from Pain.

In the Natural Horse Magazine Vol.11 Issue 1, page 11, Dr. Robert Cook did a demonstration using independent judges to score horses before and after using the bitless bridle. None of the horses had ever used a bitless bridle prior to this experiment. The results were astounding. Within a four minute exercise the average score when bitted was 37% and when bitless, it was 64%! That’s a huge improvement within minutes!

In addition, it has been proven that a bit is harmful to the health and welfare of the horse by its interference with the normal functions of respiratory and digestive tracts.

For further proof on the abusive effects of bitted bridles see the book called “Metal In The Mouth”, by Dr. Robert Cook and Dr. Hiltrud Strasser.

Because our goal here at Training Horses Naturally is to achieve the most honorable and ethical relationship possible with horses we only endorse bitless bridles, barefoot trimming, treeless saddles and we oppose the USE of horses through any competitive sport or racing industry as a means for financial gain or by appeasing the human ego.

Elaine Polny
Horses by Nature

Comments for Chewing on the bit

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Apr 25, 2010
chewing on the bit
by: Anonymous

Or the best way to understand would be put a metal bar in your own mouth and attach the reins to a car then ask them to drive. With the bit in your mouth make sure try and you stand your does THAT feel?

Nov 14, 2014
by: Anonymous

I definitely believe in natural horsemanship, however this woman saying put a metal bar in your mouth and attach it to a car, if your going to bother too post, say something worth posting, Elaine, not ALL horses can be ridden bit less, only in a perfect world, I can ride 2 of mine in hackamores, the other if I tried I would be dead and he would run to China!! This was a horrible answer and I hope the poster asking the question got her correct answer elsewhere!!

Nov 14, 2014
To the second Anonymous person:
by: Elaine Polny

Now I agree the comment from the first anonymous was not a reasonable/calm response and was likely from someone who knows the effects of bits and was frustrated at the question being asked. However, I will disagree with your suggestion that not All horses can be ridden bitless, just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean that’s the way it could (or frankly should) be. The scientific research is in! And if we all were to become AWARE of the truth surrounding metal in this animals mouth, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. You proved your point only under your experience & understanding, that YOU cannot CONTROL your horse without inducing pain, those that are more skilled would know that something is missing in the training and the need to create better communication from human to horse. Furthermore it is a false sense of security if a person believes they need a bit in order to solve the problem, "if I tried I would be dead and he would run to China". Any horse with this problem needs emotional development not pain inducing gadgets. I would be more concerned for anyone who NEEDS a bit to control any horse.
You are entitled to your opinion, as am I, and this was not as you stated, a horrible answer! It’s the experience and research I solidly stand for! This site promotes only natural ways of being with & solutions surrounding our horses and the interactions we encounter. So there is no need for you or anyone who strongly disagrees with our philosophy to hang around and become frustrated with answers given.
I am always up for a reasonable discussion/debate but please note your sense of sarcasm was the very same tone as the other anonymous’s which you found distasteful earlier. :0) And so you get what you give.

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