Monday, December 27, 2010

Gumbits: Grinding away at a problem

When I reported on Riley's "behavior du jour" -- grinding his teeth -- dressagemom of contacted me and recommended that I try Gumbits. She had seen the product used successfully, and she tried a few herself. She described them as tasty and waxy-feeling. There is an article about Gumbits on, and an article in Horse Journal gives them a thumbs up.When I searched the usual online forums there were quite a few success stories. Not one poster said "they didn't have any effect."

Taking a test drive
In the spirit of consumer research,  I ordered a bag from Paddock Saddlery for $39 (I know, I know, a lot of dough). I started giving Riley a couple of the teensy balls at the beginning of every ride. The Gumbits start working at about the time you finish your ten minute warmup, and it lasts about 45 minutes. The first few rides he got a very foamy mouth, but he didn't stop grinding immediately. However, over the course of a week the grinding has subsided. I had a lesson this morning and he was pretty quiet in the mouth.

To be honest I'm not sure if he is just acclimating to the weather and the indoor ring, or if the gumbits have worked. From what I hear it takes about a month to achieve the full effect. Even if the Gumbits didn't fix the problem, it's worth the price to have a foamy mouth at horse shows, don't you think?

Thumbs Up!
Anyway, I'd buy them again and I probably will. The article says you can give up to a handful, which I'll probably try if he is grinding a lot one day. For now, I use them in onesy-twosies and enjoy the effect it has. I'd recommend Gumbits for these uses:
  • Teeth grinders, for sure. There are lots of success stories on COTH and elsewhere, and Riley might be one. Time will tell.
  • Horse shows, for sure. The Gumbits start working at about the time you finish your ten minute warmup, and it lasts about 45 minutes.
  • Gifts. While not everyone wants to shell out the $$ for that foamy, soft mouth, I bet they'd all appreciate receiving a gift bag!
A word about ulcers
 I bet some of you are getting ready to comment that I could be masking a problem, like ulcers. I suppose this is possible, but just FYI I've gone down that diagnostic road before. When Riley started cribbing as a yearling, I had him scoped at New Bolton, and his gut was fairly clean, showing only one small healed ulcer. The vet said to me "I could tell by looking at him he is not a candidate for ulcers." I did a course of Gastroguard anyway, to no visible effect. Ch-Ch-ching.

My current plan is to wait and see if it subsides on its own. If the grinding continues, I probably will try U7 or Seabuckthorn or somesuch. But he is eating heartily, in good condition, and comfortable in his stall. He's getting free choice hay, more or less, and almost no grain.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. I suggest checking to see if he is still teeth grinding. It's possible that he still is but you cannot hear it any longer. Don't remember where but have read of soap being used on the teeth of dressage horses to disguise grinding. Does he teeth grind when he doesn't have a bit in his mouth? I firmly believe in fix the problem and not the symptom. You did predict people would say stuff like that. It might even be his noseband or the combination of bit and noseband and not just the bit.

  2. Thanks for this review! My horse, even at his most giving and accepting of the bit, never has more than just lipstick. He's one of those horses who doesn't even seem to produce additional saliva for treats and grain, so it seems worth seeing if it will help him produce extra saliva.

  3. Fair enough about the ulcers.

    I read about the Gumbits and thought it was definitely an interesting idea. Glad to hear you are having some success. I'll be interested in hearing how it goes.

  4. From your earlier post I got the idea that you suspected your restless hands were contributing to the grinding, which he wasn't doing with your trainer. Don't allow yourself to be so distracted by other theories that you forget your first instinctive guess! It may be that your hands are getting better with the result that he's not grinding as much.

  5. Trust me Allie it's on my mind. But he was grinding with the trainer too. This doesn't mean I don't worry about my hands any more :-) but takes a few things off the table. If I truly thought my hands were the root of the problem, I'd be tempted to stop riding, or to ride only on the lunge. I think my trainer would tell me if she suspected this was the problem -- and I asked her -- but the bottom line is we really don't know. I appreciate your thoughts on this, it's nice to have input from someone who's paying close attention!

  6. After checking teeth, tack, and tummy, I would probably look at the routine. Does he grind in relation to a certain exercise? Is he getting enough walk breaks on a long rein? Is he being asked to carry more than he is ready or for too long? Is there a part of his body that needs to be more supple, like behind the saddle?

    I have watched my students' lesson horses go from quiet-mouthed, to chomping the bit, to quiet again after finding and releasing tight muscles in a single lesson. If you listen long enough, Riley will give you the clues that you need to solve the problem.

  7. Now I am curious about the gumbits, I have never heard of them. I will have to go look them up.
    If you decide to go the ulcer treatment route, try slippery elm bark.
    You can get it as a powder at a health food store, feed about a teaspoon daily in the feed, it will cost you about $4/month. It is the main ingredient in many ulcer medications. I have used it with great success.

  8. Love your blog and just grabbed your badge for mine (relatively new):

    Thanks for blogging!

  9. Never heard of GumBits! Hope it works for you. I am assuming they are legal for USDF showing??


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.