Trying new bit

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Willow Flats

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Hey Drivers,
I mentioned in the Your Drive Day thread that I was trying a french link bit on Rocko and it seemed to be going really well. This morning while cleaning his feet before hitching he reached back and nipped me good. He has never done that before and when I got to the front foot on the other side he it tried again. So I am thinking he is trying to tell me something, maybe he is lame? I took him to the round pen and he was moving just fine. I brought him back to the hitching area and tacked him up no problems. He didn't try to resist the bridle which I would think he would if it was a fear of pain with the bit. But then he didn't want to head out to work even though he has had 2 days off. Tried backing and doing some evasions which he has tried before in the past but then complied and drove well. Sometimes they just have a bad day and in his case he is the type of worker that would rather stay home and have you mail him a check preferably coated in alfalfa. He is sound and eating and alert but I couldn't stop thinking about the uncharacteristic nipping.

His usual bit is a 3 1/2" and this french link is a 3 1/2" also, but I have never used a snaffle on him so the one I have on order I sized up 1/4" because they collapse a little unlike a mullen mouth or his port bit which is rigid from side to side and only moves forward and backwards. Maybe it is pinching the side of his mouth? I checked his mouth and one side of his lips in the corner is soft and supple while the other side is a little bit dry and chapped feeling. Not cracked. Like I said it could be he didn't feel like working or it could be the bit. My hands have been very light as we are working on him not leaning on the bit. Any time he leans I give with the reins and then take them gently back up. Any thoughts? If only they could talk!
 

Marsha Cassada

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I think he was just feeling ornery and bossy. Though unprecedented nipping is sure odd. You would naturally expect to find something in the hoof or body to explain it. I doubt his anticipating a different bit would explain it. Hope it was a one-time thing!
Dapper Dan is an inveterate nipper. I EXPECT nips and guard myself. Usually one reprimand (no teeth!) works, but sometimes he just won't quit. It's possible he is feeling his arthritis, but probably he is just used to bossing Midnight and wants to keep me in line.
 

Willow Flats

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I sure hope that's all it is. Annie used to be a nipper but she just stopped doing it one day. He has always been low man in the herd, but lately has been asserting himself more. He was striking at the 2 full sized horses that were sharing our fence line for a while and almost took a fence panel down trying to fight my friend's stallion at the play day/clinic.

The weather has turned really warm so I'm going to clip him. He may be thinking it's too hot to work. We had so much wind I have put off giving him a bath.
 

Kelly

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It sound like he is trying to assert himself more since he was striking at the two full sized horses. Have you had anymore problems with him nipping? You need to NIP that in the bud! You get it, NIP it LOL LOL 😂 No nip zone here, I don’t care if they are feeling bad or having a bad day there are others ways they can express themselves. Alpha mares don’t put up with that SH*T. 😇😘
 

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I'd go over him really well before you say it's just attitude. Check for any pulse/heat in his feet, soreness from the harness, any sore spots or heat anywhere. They can exhibit attitude and it's really them yelling at you that something is wrong. I knew one who started rearing then leaping in the air, everyone had a 'training' method to cure him of being bad, turned out he has arthritis in his hocks, another who started kicking constantly while working, arthritis in his hips. It happens all the time.
 

Willow Flats

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I'd go over him really well before you say it's just attitude. Check for any pulse/heat in his feet, soreness from the harness, any sore spots or heat anywhere. They can exhibit attitude and it's really them yelling at you that something is wrong. I knew one who started rearing then leaping in the air, everyone had a 'training' method to cure him of being bad, turned out he has arthritis in his hocks, another who started kicking constantly while working, arthritis in his hips. It happens all the time.
Yes, I checked him over throughly. I am what is commonly known as an "overthinker" when it comes to my horses. Even thinking the side of his mouth was chapped...turned out it was just dried food! I went back out with some salve and it was normal. Must have washed it with a drink of water. 🤣
My trainer was here yesterday for a lesson and he did really well. She is the one that found this guy for me and is teaching me to do his training myself.
 

Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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It may be a one off, however, my instinct is he may have something going on. 🤔

You did mention it was a diagonal pair he wanted to nip you on. Maybe the shifting of weight on that diagonal caused some pain. If he were mine, I'd do a full body assessment, flexing all joints, pressing down gently on his topline from poll to tail, gently massaging his whole body and head looking for tenderness, sensitivity or heat.

He's been leaning on the bit, you've recently changed bits and you've a trainer helping you address this. Maybe he's strained something using his body differently?

Last question: was the chapped lip corner on the same side as the front hoof he tried to nip you on? I know you said it turned out to be food. Again, my curious mind is wondering.

Thanks for bearing with me, I'll be interested in your answers.😉
 

Willow Flats

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He tried to nip with both front feet.
I flexed his legs no problem and the trainer completely checked him over and we also double checked the cart balance. He moved beautifully and did the best canter, really enjoying himself.
The vet is coming next week for vaccines and she will look him over too.
But he was doing things like turning, trying to follow Annie, planting his feet and trying to eat grass and getting mad when asked to go forward when he wanted to have the grass on the same day that the nipping occured. This is why I'm leaning toward behavior...but always willing to consider anything and I know first hand after starting a physical therapy exercise program for my back how using different muscles shifted the pain around until the proper muscles got strengthened.
 

Cayuse

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When all else fails, blame it on ulcers :). Peanut gets really nippy when he has gas or his belly is bothering. Cappy too, come to think of it. You could always try giving him a couple of Tums or gas-x before you work with him and see if that helps the nipping. I usually give Peanut a couple before I drive because he's so sensitive (and full of hot air🤣).
 

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