Today, I would like to introduce an experiment, the straw experiment, that was conducted in Sydney, Australia, recently.

straw experiment

The Straw Experiment

At Equitana in Sydney, 61 people took part in the ‘Lucky Straw Draw’ –  experiencing how it feels to hold a plastic drink straw in their mouth like a bit, for as long as possible. Some barely managed 2 minutes, others did it for 20 minutes!

Here’s what they felt…..

17 found it ‘Uncomfortable’ – several ‘Really Uncomfortable’

11 found it ‘Annoying’

11 found they needed to ‘chew on it’ or ‘play with it continually’

10 said they were ‘Preoccupied’, ‘Couldn’t Concentrate’, ‘Distracted’, ‘Couldn’t focus’

7 said they felt ‘Restricted’ or ‘Blocked’

7 said they produced ‘Lots of Saliva’

7 found it ‘Hard to swallow’ or Couldn’t Swallow’

4 felt ‘Tension in their neck/head/face/jaw’

4 said they ‘Don’t like it’

3 said the ‘Corners of their mouth got sore’

3 ‘Wanted to get rid of it’

3 said they ‘felt numb/tingly’

2 said their ‘Tongue was restricted’

2 said it ‘Irritated their mouth’

2 said it was ‘Not Pleasant’

Other comments included:

Hard, Pain, Strange, Un-Natural, Couldn’t get used to it, Sore tongue muscles, Irritating, Sore jaw, Awkward, Stressed, Sick to my stomach, Felt stupid/ un-dignified/ embarrassed, Pulls lips, Can’t lick lips, Dry mouth, Tired mouth, Hitting teeth, Can’t breathe properly, Would make me cranky, Horrible/yucky, plastic better than a steel bit, Painful gums (where there was no teeth – just like in a horse!), Would kill if someone reefed on it!

A small group of high school students (non-horsey) also took part in this experience and made the following comments:

“Hard to swallow, annoying, more dribble, bad, can not chew, can not talk properly, hurts teeth, want to chew on it, want to spit it out.“
Time in = 5mins 44 sec.

“Difficult speech, more saliva, uncomfortable, annoying”
Time in = 3mins 42sec.

“Annoying, boring, don’t like it”
Time in = 1min 27sec.

“My throat feels kind of sore and painful and uncomfortable. I am making more saliva. My head keeps being pulled down and I can’t lift it up. My gums and teeth are painful I want to chew on it. My neck feels hard.”
Time in = 2min 2sec and 1min 5sec

Many thanks to all those who took part. If you haven’t yet tried this, next time you see a plastic straw give it a go.

You don’t need a bit in a horse’s mouth to control them. There are other, better, more subtle ways. It’s all about developing your relationship, bringing in natural trust by your actions and feelings.


Madeleine Innocent

You know how often people struggle with their horse’s health? They want to know WHY they suffer with health issues and all their veterinarian can offer is drugs and more drugs? They feel helpless and at the mercy of another. Well, what I do is to help you pinpoint WHY your horse is getting sick and implement a strategy that takes you to a feeling of empowerment, of being in control of their life. A strategy that restores their health and allows you, and them, to enjoy life.

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