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Horses/adding bit guards

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Question
Hi Lyn. Sam here. Lets suppose I bought a young 2 year old horse which it totally green. When i bridle her, to protect her lips, should I include rubber bit guards so that her lip corners wont get damaged. My dad telling me that she has to get used to the bit bars touching the lip corners. I would like to know your suggestion on this.

Answer
Sam,

A properly fitted bit should never rub the horse.  If the bit bars are rubbing against the corners of her mouth the bit is too narrow.  Measure the width of the bit from side to side and get one that is at least 1/2 inch wider. A properly fitted bit will cause no damage other than as a result of a rider with bad hands.  Hanging on the reins for balance because you don't have a good seat is one I see way too much of.  Me, I don't use bits.  Horses are much happier and do what I ask with no problems. I even drive my Standardbred mare I use for endurance in a hackamore. Same bridle I ride her in.  Just swap the reins I use for riding with a set of driving reins.  I, personally, think training to ride at 2 is too young.  A horse's body is not fully mature until they are 8 when the spine finally completely ossifies.  I will teach a young horse to drive but not start riding them until 5 or 6.  And then lightly.  I want my horses still healthy, happy and working until well into their 20's.  My driving pony is 30.  The Standardbred is 22 and going strong.  She raced but I didn't get her until she was nearly 6 and didn't start serious riding until she was 6.  So she had a lot of work early that helped her build bone and muscle without the structural damage of weight.  Sorry, getting preachy but it's something I feel strongly about because I see over and over the results years later on the horses.

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Lyn Kamer, C.E.S.M.T.

Expertise

Training, alternative therapies, saddle fitting problems, behavioral problems, endurance riding, driving, Mustangs

Experience

Horseman of over 50 yrs., certified equine massage therapist, trainer both riding and driving, long distance trail riding and driving. Both endurance and competitive trail riding and driving.

Organizations
American Endurance Ride Assn., Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Assn., New Jersey Trail Ride Assn., Aromatherapists International, American Mustang and Burro Assn., United States Trotting Assn., Standardbred Pleasure Horse Org., US Wild Horse and Burro Association

Publications
Trail Blazer magazine, AERC Newsletter, Hoofbeats magazine

Education/Credentials
Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist, Least Resistance Trainer, Certified Aromatherapist

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