Horse opens mouth when riding with bit?

When riding my mare, and if I apply any contact to her mouth, she will open her mouth, almost like she is attempting to evade the bit and not have to do what I want her to do. Before I got her, she was ridden in a reining bit and I use that as well most of the time – especially if we are really working on our reining pattern. But she will also open her mouth exactly the same in a D-ring snaffle and when riding trails or in the pasture. I have had her teeth floated regularly and there’s no problem there. She shows no other sign of discomfort. Yes, she can be hard-headed at times and will really test her rider to make sure you know how to make her do what she’s supposed to be doing.

I don’t know if I should add a nose band to her bridle (are there even such things for western bridles?) has anyone had experience with this? what did you do? any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you for the responses! I do ride soft handed and actually try to stay totally out of her mouth all of the time and ride her with a loose rein, with leg pressure only.

I tried without a bit, and she runs through my hands, and is almost uncontrollable. I’ve ruled out dental issues and pain and discomfort from the bits, through my vet.

11 Answers

  • Yep, she doesn’t like the bit pressure, some horses just don’t like the specific bit, others don’t like bit pressure of any kind and simply must learn to yield to it. Try out as many bits as you can, if nothing works better then I’d go with a light snaffle and a cavesson and flash. You may have to get one from and english store, but it still works under a western bridle just fine.

    I prefer to use flashes as a last resort, but many young horses gape their mouths when first getting used to a bit, and throwing a nose out front and balking is not an acceptable behavior. When using a flash, never be harsh on the horse, you are trying to teach them that bit pressure doesn’t really hurt, and it will go away as soon as you give me the correct response, or even think of giving the correct response. Being obstinate doesn’t get you what you want, but yielding to pressure does.

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    Horse opens mouth when riding with bit?

    When riding my mare, and if I apply any contact to her mouth, she will open her mouth, almost like she is attempting to evade the bit and not have to do what I want her to do. Before I got her, she was ridden in a reining bit and I use that as well most of the time – especially if we are really…

  • Few different reason.

    1- You aren’t telling us the whole story and you are putting way to much pressure on the horses mouth and you are not soft with your hands.

    2- The horse needs his teeth done.

    3- The horse has had a bad experience with the bit and attributes any kinda pressure to pain that has happened before.

    4- Some horses just don’t wanna cooperate and give to pressure.

    If all things ruled out and she was still opening her mouth. I would if it were me, put a English Cassanove band on for a few days. My Arab was fine, I had her teeth floated ect, was soft with my hands. She just wanted to avoid any kinda bit pressure. I put a band around her for a while, took it off and she doesn’t open her mouth anymore. She has no reason to. Some horses just do it to do it. If your horse is fine and has no pain ect. Then its doing it just to do it.

    See if your horse responds to bitless better. Some horses no matter what you do, will always hate the bit. My Arab is now bitless unless at barrel races.

  • Your mare is opening her mouth because she is trying to tell you something in the only way she knows how. Most likely she doesn’t like the bit you are using and you do not specify what kind of bit you are using. Saying a D-Ring snaffle tells me only one thing about the bit and that is what the rein action is. The most important part of a snaffle is the mouth piece. What is actually in the horses mouth, Straight bar, Single Jointed, Double Jointed, Multi Jointed, Ported etc.

    A snaffle bit works on Direct rein contact however the mouth piece determines how that contact is applied.

    A single jointed works directly on the bars of the horses mouth however some horses don’t like the nut cracker action it gives and often the joint can end up hitting the horses palate making it uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

    A double jointed bit works on the bars of the horses mouth as well as working on the tongue. The double joint creates more of a U shape compared to a single joints V shape making it a more comfortable fit in the horses mouth and more horses prefer it to a single joint. Also the type of joint differs in how the pressure on the tongue is relaid.

    Multi jointed bits should only be used by people that understand them. They are generally good for horses who lean on the bit a lot and helps prevent it. They do have a harsher action than single and double jointed.

    Ported bits are designed to make room for the horses tongue. However when fitted incorrectly the result is the bit squashing the horses tongue. Also large ports often hit the horse in the palate when the rein is picked up and this can result in pain and discomfort for the horse. Ports are not often found on simple snaffles and more likely found on Leverage bits.

    Adding a noseband will only make the problem worse. Your horse is trying to tell you something, you have acknowledged that there is a problem and instead of trying to rectify the problem you just want to make it go away like 90% of horse owners who would rather hide problems than fix them. By adding a noseband, all you are doing is attempting to hide the problem and make riding more uncomfortable for your horse.

    Horses act out for a reason. 9 times out of 10 that reason is too tell us that something is wrong, whether it be pain, discomfort, fear, confusion, unbalanced etc, it is up to the rider to determine what the reason is before claiming the horse is just naughty. Yes horses can be naughty but often that is not the reason they act out. You horse is not being naughty, she is telling you that something is wrong and you are wanting to ignore it.

    Change your bit before you attempt anything else. And when I say change the bit I mean actually changing the mouth piece. Western bits appear to be very limited so you may want to read this:… Do not ignore it because it says Dressage and that is English riding. It doesn’t matter what discipline it is. All bits across the disciplines fall into the same categories, Direct Rein or Leverage Rein and by reading up on different bit actions you can find something more suitable for your mare.

  • There might be something wrong with her mouth, She is trying to tell you something. She might have a sore or her mouth is sensitive. One of my horses is the same way. Every other day I check all of my horse’s mouths for sores. You could try a bit less bridal. They are harder to work with on some horses. Other horses respond better to bit less bridals. All my bridals do have a nose band.


    I would try what another person suggested. Have a small treat for him to take with the bit to begin with. Don’t just do this when you want to ride, work it into your groundwork routine! Once he starts accepting the bit more, reward him AFTER he takes the bit, and right after you take it out. Don’t leave it in his mouth for long at first, you want him to understand that him doing the right thing will be rewarded. Start with small sessions and end on a good note. Right now he probably associates the bit to riding only, but if you work with him long enough on this, and if you take him out to graze with the bit, have him take the bit right before dinner and reward him with his feed, or you even go bitless once in a while, he will eventually associate the bit with good things and not just being ridden. PS- don’t reward him with treats EVERY time or he may expect a treat every time you do this. Praise him with your voice, stroke him, and release the bit. Good luck! ( :

  • She is probably in pain. You are probably not giving her enough slack, so your hurting her mouth. I have a bridle with a nose band and yes it’s a western. My mare opens her mouth when I use my bridle with a nose band. But I suggest getting a Hackamore bridle.

  • have you tried a different bit? If you are sure the bit is a good fit it could just be a weird thing she does, I sometimes ride a horse at my barn who will go around with his tung out the whole time. All his tack fits fine, the bit is fine, it’s not a pain or discomfort thing he just does lol. Could just be a weird habit.

  • What type of bit are you using? If you are using one that lays on her tounge? Try a different but like a snaffle. She could just be trying to get te but placed correctly in her mouth

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