The Surprising Way to End Teeth Grinding in Horses

Why do horses grind their teeth?
Why do horses grind their teeth?

Meet Easton. He is a confirmed tooth grinder. He has been grinding his teeth under saddle daily since he was purchased over a year ago. His owner and her trainer tried just about everything. Nothing worked.

Before you read any further, take a second to think about how you would try to solve this issue. Think you know the answer(s)? Read the list of some of the things that were tried. Can you pick out what worked? You’ll find the answer at the very bottom of this post.

A very mild snaffle bit



A kimberwick (mild leverage bit)

Changing the fit of the bridle/bit

Gastroguard for ulcers

Extra lunch feeding to keep him busy

Slow feeder so he always has food in his stomach

Smartgut Ultra for gastro health

Equishure for hind gut acidosis

No riding/time off

Chiropractic care

Teeth floated

Hoof tester for hoof pain

Vet check to identify lameness/pain

A better fitting saddle

No saddle at all

Natural horsemanship/round penning to improve acceptance

Natural horsemanship training under saddle

Target/clicker training under saddle

No arena work-trails only until relaxed

Riding with no horses around

Riding with only really confident horses

Ride with extremely light aids (leg/seat/light reins)

Ride with no reins and turn/stop off legs

A different rider

Sounds like a lot I know, but I’m sure this list doesn’t even contain everything they have tried. Think you know the answer? Try clicker training. Easton was re-trained to “give” to the bit. The “gives” were reinforced with a click and a treat. That simple change immediately halted all tooth grinding. Why? Easton carries a great deal of stress from his training early in life. He was clearly trained by force and punishment at some point. He is extremely fearful of making mistakes and that anxiety caused him to grind his teeth. When his thought process changed from “What am I going to do wrong and get punished for” to “what am I going to do right and get rewarded for” his anxiety started melting away. The tooth grinding disappeared instantly and has not come back. There is more to Easton’s story. He has many anxieties that we are going to work through one by one to make him a happier horse. I just found this one piece so fascinating, I had to share it.

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