Is Your Horse’s Bit Harmful to His Mouth?

The results of a recent study suggest that bits could cause bone spurs and dental damage in some horses.
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When behavioral problems arise with riding horses, owners undoubtedly will search for solutions. But many horse owners don’t think to look their horse in the mouth for an answer. According to recent study results, the bit could be the cause of more behavioral problems and ailments than many owners currently recognize.

W. Robert Cook, FRCVS, PhD, completed a study recently in which he compared 66 domestic horse skulls and 12 wild horse skulls in four U.S. Natural History Museum collections for differences in structure near the point where the bit contacts the skull.

A five-point grading scale was used to document bit-induced bone spurs on the bars of the mouth (grade 1 being normal and grade 5 the most abnormal). Bone spurs are outgrowths on the bars of the mouth, akin to splints on the cannon bone. The first cheek teeth in the lower jaw are the first to be damaged due to their close proximity to the bit, so the frequency of dental damage was based on these

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Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as a certified equine acupressure practitioner. She also hosts a blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse. Once an avid barrel racer, she now enjoys giving back to the horses who have given her so much.

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