Finnish researchers found more horses with bit-related lesions than without—and most of the riders had no idea.

Bruises and open sores from bit use are common even in competition horses, although many riders are unaware they’ve occurred. In a study carried out at national and international cross-country events, researchers found more horses with bit-related lesions than horses without—and most of the riders had no idea.

Two years ago, Tuomola and her team noted that 84% of trot-racing horses on Finnish tracks had bit lesions after the race. While the statistics were better—at “only” 52% — in eventing horses, as her team reports in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, there’s still a lot of progress to make, she said.

“Bit-related lesions definitely hurt; there is no doubt about that,” she said. “The amount of pain is difficult to evaluate, but the mouth is intensely innervated.”

“By giving them a rest from the bit to give the lesions time to heal and paying attention to how they’re handling the horse—educating themselves and watching their rein tension—they could prevent the lesions from becoming chronic and (protect) the horse from further pain.”

Source: The Horse.

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