Read here about the sense of taste and what it has to do with the bit YOU have chosen for your horse.
First of all, we need to know a bit more about the sense of taste to understand the full picture.
The flavours sweet and salty are critical for nutrition:
Such as humans brains , the horses brain runs on Glucose (sugar) and will steal it from other parts in the body if there is a lack.
Sodium balances the function of the brain and motor cells and salty flavours motivates the horse to take it in.
THATS WHY EVERY HORSE NEEDS A SALT BLOCK near his water.
Horses are more tolerant to bitter tastes than humans are. That allows some of them to eat oral medication without resistance.
Cold temperatures reduce bitterness, so if your horse has issues to take bitter meds in you can use the trick of refrigerate it first and then it will be more tolerant of eating it.
Horses are just good in avoiding toxic plants or bad water, if they are not hungry/thirsty and have plenty of hay/straw/grass and fresh water available.
If there is a lack of food/water and they are very hungry/thirsty, they might eat toxic plants and drink bad water.
So again, its OUR RESPONSIBILITY to remove toxic plants, have plenty of hay available clean and check the water source regularly and make sure the basic needs of our horses are met.
When you travel with your horse, encourage him to drink by spiking the water with peppermint or apple essence. If you are just on a short trip, take water from home, as your horse is used to the taste. Each horse has taste preferences just like humans have.
So, what about the bit then? Can a horse refuse to take the bit into his mouth because it does not like the taste? YES.
We expect horses to take bits into their mouths and keep it there for as long as we ride. We expect them to stay soft in the mouth so we can stay soft with our fingers/hands.
So, its our job to support them and make it a good experience to have a bit in their mouth.
These issues can also be caused by physical problems in the body or a hard hand of the rider.
As Always, a holistic approach can help.
Check with your trainer and bodyworker and try different bits if necessary. If you don't have a trainer nearby ask your friend to make a video while riding. That will give you a good indication what is happening with your hands and the horses head and mouth while riding.
So it is worth to consider the sense of taste in our management with and riding of the horses.
And, learning never stops and we all want to improve. We can improve our approach by gaining more knowledge and learn to see things from a different perspective.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
For the horses!
Britta Bruns, Invercargill