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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Bits & Bitting with Dean Briggs

 

 

June 2013 issue  

 

Q What are the tooth anomalies in a horse of any age that can cause problems?

 

A  It is important to understand the mechanics of the mouth. For the horse to be able to chew correctly and to perform at his best, the lower jaw must move freely, anteriorly, posteriorly, and laterally. Sharp points and hooks on the teeth can lock up the jaw and keep it from moving freely. This then causes problems in the mechanics of the horse.

      To perform at his best, the horse’s back needs to stay elevated so his hocks move under his body and carry more weight. If the jaw cannot move properly, the horse starts throwing his head, tossing it up and down. When this happens, the horse hollows his back, which puts his hocks too far behind him, which in turn can cause a sore back and pain in the hocks. All of this happens if the horse’s teeth haven’t been properly taken care of.

      We need to make sure the horses we ride have had their wolf teeth out. These teeth are shallow rooted and sit right where the bit lies. These teeth can cause a horse discomfort and hinder the training process. They can also cause bad habits, such as head tossing or rearing.

 

Q What type of metal do you prefer in bits? Why?

 

A  Several of the bits that I use I make myself. Some of the less expensive bits aren’t balanced, and a bit needs to be balanced so it doesn’t pinch, fits the mouth, and works properly. If I make them myself, I know that they are properly balanced.

      I like cold rolled steel for the mouth piece. I have used copper on some bits, and horses like it. But copper is soft and in time with wear and with the horse biting it, it becomes rough and sharp. In turn, this causes the corners of the horse’s mouth and tongue to get sore.

 

 

      Horses have been the central influence of Dean Briggs’ life. He has competed in rodeos, cutting, and reining and has taken hundreds of horses from beginning to finished bridle horse. He and his wife Wendy own Briggs Quarter Horses and Jefferson Valley Equine Center in Whitehall , Montana . 406-287-3670. www.briggsranch.com.

    

Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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