Bit and bridle fitter Gail Johnson discuses what to do if your horse keeps getting his tongue over the bit and why it might be happening.

As with most behaviours our horses display, there can be many reasons for them, which I always like to try to understand.

Due to the anatomy of the horse and how the tongue is attached, some such behaviours may show up in the mouth but are caused by issues in other areas — for example, a horse whose saddle is pinching may start to pop his tongue over the bit.

Perform your checks

It’s important to first rule out any causes of discomfort that your horse may be suffering from.

This includes making sure that his teeth are all OK, that his saddle fits, that the browband isn’t too tight, and so on.

In conjunction, you also need to check that his bit fits properly and is in good condition (with no sharp edges on a chewed plastic bit, for example), and is suitable for the work you are asking him to do.

Generally there is always an explanation; it’s a case of investigating and diagnosing.

What next?

You also have to remember that, by now, your horse may be displaying this behaviour as a habit.

Once you are sure that everything is comfortable, I often find that with time and patience the issue can be successfully resolved and the habit broken.

Contact a bitting expert

Once everything else has been ruled out, enlist the services of a bitting specialist. It could be that the bit you are using is the wrong size or an unsuitable shape for your horse’s mouth conformation among other bitting-related issues.

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