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Discussion on Mouthy 3 yr old gelding

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Karen Vazquez (Mollyo)
Posted on Sunday, Jan 14, 2001 - 9:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have a 3 yr old morgan gelding that has to put EVERYTHING in his mouth. Shirts, jackets, hitching posts, lead ropes, reins (while riding him) bit shanks (while riding him), EVERYTHING, in his mouth. It is soooo annoying and nothing scares him enough to stop. I can bash him on the nose, neck, legs, he stops for one second then back in his mouth it goes. He doesn;t care if he gets smacked. I just ordered a muzzle. Does anyone have experience with a muzzle. I though maybe if he can't get it in his mouth, he will everntually stop trying. Any advise is appreciated. I am ready for a rubber room.


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Amy E. Coffman (Redroan8)
Posted on Monday, Jan 15, 2001 - 7:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Karen,

Mouthiness is a normal tendency in a young horse, but what you are describing sounds more to me like it could be insecurity, especially since he goes right back to it after being punished. Some horses, when feeling tense or conflicted, will grab the nearest object in their mouths and just hold it there.
You are right to cease smacking and bashing him--obviously his motivation to do this is stronger than is the one to avoid something very unpleasant, which points to this being more than just silly horse games. Rather than thinking in terms of scaring him, I think you'll have better luck applying some empathy here.

A couple of things you can do, in addition to ceasing to hit him--you can do some mouthwork with him, ala TTEAM, which tends to be comforting and relaxing for a horse who seems very "oral", and usually lessens their need for oral contact.

The other thing is, be vigilant and don't allow those situations to be set up so easily... ie, don't let someone stand there absentmindedly while he snuffles their jacket--have them step out of range. Don't tie him with something as tempting to chew as a thick, soft leadrope, etc.

I don't know how long he's been under saddle, but it must be a pretty good while if he's already in a shanked bit. It could be that he's not yet mature enough for the work/attitude that's being asked of him--three's pretty darn young---and the oral behavior is how he's expressing these worries.

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Karen Vazquez (Mollyo)
Posted on Monday, Jan 15, 2001 - 10:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Amy

I am not sure what you mean by TTEAM. I don't know what that is. Please advise. Thanks for taking to time to answer my post.

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Eva B. Orndoff (Eveo)
Posted on Monday, Jan 15, 2001 - 11:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Karen, TTeam is a system of training and massage-like work that gets a horse in tune with its body & the work it's asked to do. It was developed by Linda Tellington-Jones. Her books & videos are for sale on, among other places. She's been around, and generally well respected, for a long time.

I, too, have a 3-yr old gelding, but not started under saddle. He puts stuff in his mouth, too. I think it's a baby thing. You know, they don't have fingers, so how else can they tell what the world is like? However, they don't necessarily grow out of it. His 20-yr-old "brother" carries his feed pan around in his mouth (and bangs on the walls with it). I also think it gives them some comfort in a new situation. I just tell mine no--which works until next time. Since mine doesn't bite, I don't get too upset by the feeling, lipping stuff.
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Sharon M Roboski (Roboski)
Posted on Tuesday, Jan 16, 2001 - 1:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

John Lyons has a similar process that worked well for my gelding. (First I had to stop handfeeding treats, which also contributed to the problem!) He recommends giving them lots of attention around their heads & noses - rubbing and messing with them until they say "ENOUGH!" Just pester the dickens out of them. Worked like a charm for my fella who was gelded late and really mouthy, nipping and all. Once in a while he reverts & I rub and bug him until he has had all he can take. Added bonus is it doesn't contribute to head shyness ; mine was quite head shy when I got him because the prior owner used to pop him for it.
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