ZOMG WAS SHE EVER MAD!!!!
She tore around her stall, trying to spit it out and rub it off, pawing in anger. I pulled it off as soon as I figured she wasn't going to calm down about it. I tried again a couple days later with the exact same results, and the added bonus of her starting to become difficult to halter. So I shelved it.
A couple months later I found a different bit through Craiglist and decided to give it a try. It has a solid rubber mouthpiece like this:
only this bit isn't loose ring, it's a weird kind of full cheek. Instead of having little balls at the tips, this one bends out at the tips. She hated this one *slightly* less, but she was still storming around her stall in anger and I was freaking out she'd find a way to hurt herself with those sticky-outy bits on the full cheeks. So I shelved it.
But now it's time for Gwen to revisit the bit. Remembering that she seemed to hate the solid mouth slightly less, this time I bought Happy Mouth's mullen mouth loose ring bit:
|BTW- these don't taste like apple, I tried.|
and I've completely changed my approach. Knowing how much happier she is when I don't restrain her in any way when introducing new things, I'm just taking the bit and pockets full of treats out to her in the pasture. On the first day I started by holding the bit out and asking her to target it with her nose. Then I touched her on the face and neck with it. She didn't mind that, so I laid it on my hand and clicked her for letting it touch her lips. I left it for the day when she went ahead and picked it up in her lips. She got a click and treat for that plus tons of praise.
The second time I went out, I did just a little bit of targeting with it and then continued where we'd left off before. Very soon into the session she picked the bit up in her teeth. This freaked her out. She raised her head in the air, lips all ascew, mildly panicking because she couldn't figure out how to get it out of her mouth! Finally she tossed her head and sent the bit flying. I admit, I laughed. It was too funny to see how happy she was to figure out how to drop it. I went over, picked it up, and started at the beginning again. She surprised me by quickly progressing back to picking it up in her teeth, where again it took her a moment to figure out how to let go. I decided that doing that twice was good enough for the day, so I gave her a hug and left.
Hindsight being 20/20, I can see that if I hadn't started her with the bit by tying it in her mouth she probably wouldn't have been so upset about it being there, even when she did it herself. But I can't change the past, maybe her being able to gleefully toss the bit across the pasture will help her forgive my mistake.
I hate working on a deadline, but I'm hoping that by the end of the month she'll have decided that it's not so bad to have something in her mouth. Those molars are in need of some attention!