Horse’s Headset: Tips & Bits

Dear Trainer, I need help, my trainer tells me to massage my horse's mouth to get his head down. I do but my horse won't listen, he will just perk his head up more. I am using a loose ring bit I got at a farm supply store, because the bits in the catalogs are too expensive. What do you suggest I should do?

Story originally posted by: Maggie Flowers


I don’t know anything about massaging your horses mouth to get him to lower it, in fact I haven’t heard of such a thing. Maybe he knows something I don’t. However, I have heard and have done this…massage the horses poll–the knobby space between his ears. When you do this it tends to relax the horse at his neck, which then automatically lowers his head. This is a great thing to do while you’re on the ground and not riding. This is not what affects the horse’s headset during that time. What affect the headset is the bit and the reins which allows the horse to ‘give to pressure.’

As most people know, not to mention trainers, the first thing to check and evaluate is the condition of the horse’s mouth. Have you veterinarian check your horse’s mouth and teeth. If nothing is found, then the next step in to look at the aids or mechanics.

This brings me to the bit. “You get what you pay for,”is the old saying. If your bit isn’t of proper material or ill fitting then this will cause your horse to feel the discomfort and thus express his annoyance the only way he can–lifting his head. You buying your bit at a local farm supply store is not wrong, but keep this in mind. The bit to a horse is like the steering and brakes in a car. If your steering is not responding correctly and your brakes are not grabbing…you get them fixed, right? But if you take them to a cheap garage or a mechanic that doesn’t really know what he’s doing…then what you have is a dangerous and uncontrollable situation. This is the same with a bit that is not of proper fit, type, made of the right material, size and width. If you wear shoes that are too big, they slid off your feet and you can’t walk right. Same thing if they are too small, they wear blisters on your heels, toes are cramped and you can hardly move. In either case you protest about their fit and their feel on your feet. This is the same in the case of a bit.

You may need to read the articles in the HorseCity archives addressing and explaining the difference in bits and their uses. Go to the main page of HorseCity, on the left hand rail locate the search the archives box. In the box type in the key words, “bits” click to search. I hope this helps you and I wish you good luck.

Maggie Flowers
Equine Training Advisor