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Head Throwing Issue

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by MoonWings, Jan 10, 2017 at 10:14 PM.

  1. MoonWings

    MoonWings Registered

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    I need some help. I recently started leasing a really nice horse but I've come across some issues I need help with.

    He is fine in the walk and trot, but I have some issues with him in the canter. He sometimes rushes away and when I ask him to slow down, he throws his head and continues to rush. When I do get him back to the trot, he rushes to canter again, and starts throwing his head when I ask him to slow down. He continues with that behaviour until the end of our ride. I think he may be anticipating me asking him to canter again, but I'm open for any suggestions and advice.

    Note: He isn't young. He has no soundess issues. His teeth are fine.
     
  2. Kiesha

    Kiesha Registered

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    My gelding is an ex-barrel/ranch horse who was used primarily as the 'galloping' horse for a woman who had a horse for every gait, so for him it's go fast or go home. I fixed this problem by stopping and backing him every time he went to canter without being asked. Same thing for walk to trot. If he doesn't slow when you ask him to, stop and back. And remember to just ask once or twice for him to slow. If you ask too many times and get no results, he'll think he's winning the argument, so make sure your response is immediate. Hope this helps! :)
     
  3. JKetsche

    JKetsche Senior Member

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    How independent is your seat? How soft are your hands? What aids are you using to ask for the transition (both within and between gaits)? Is this a habit (at some point he learned that he should throw his head) or a resistance? It sounds like the latter.

    I suspect you are asking him to slow down with your hands while the rest of your aids are giving him the opposite signal--if you are tight through your core and legs, leaning forward, etc. you are sending him mixed signals, and this is either a resistance to what he considers unfair pulling (since you are telling him to go forward) or frustration at his confusion.

    Make sure your downward transition aids are correct--your reins should really not be a big part of this equation. If his head tossing is dangerously high, you can consider a properly adjusted running martingale to keep the angle of your aid correct and to keep him from hitting you in the face, but that won't actually stop the head tossing since the martingale will do little until the horse's head is pretty high. It's just a safety measure.
     
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  4. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

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    Honestly, if you want to pin down the reason...a video would be needed. No way to tell without seeing what is happening. More than likely, it is something the rider is doing or not doing to support the horse. Could also be saddle fit.
    Do not throw on a martingale, especially not without nailing down the cause. I'm picturing how far forward a person has to be to get hit in the face by a flailing horse head. My god, you'd have to be up on the horse's neck.
    For the record, I have a reformed head tossing ottb. Some of it was him and some physical issues whigh took me 3 years to get diagnosed and treated and not for lack of trying, saddle fit and most of it was me and my position and aids. Never had to use any gadget or gimmick to fix it.
    Op, do you take lessons since you're leasing ? And, if so, what does the instructor say to do ?
     
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  5. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Are you taking riding lessons?
     
  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    How do you ask him to slow down? If you get into his mouth as your response to his going too fast, he's simply telling you to get out of it. Your horse wants comfort. You ask first with your seat by sitting down and stop riding. Going to the bit first will make any horse throw his head.
     
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  7. JKetsche

    JKetsche Senior Member

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    Not necessarily if the horse throws really high--and remember, if this is a rider issue, it's entirely possible/likely the rider is leaning forward. It really doesn't take much leaning forward with a violent head toss (you get hit with the neck, not the head). Additionally, the martingale will keep the reins from flipping over the head as well as keep the angle of the pressure more correct. Again, we are talking extreme head tossing. A properly adjusted running martingale will not come into play until the head is pretty high, and it can prevent a host of problems without becoming a problem (assuming it is properly adjusted, as I mentioned, and has rein stops, as I forgot to mention).

    As a running martingale does not come into play until the head has already been tossed fairly high and does not, in and of itself, do anything to fix the problem, it is not using a gadget or a gimmick to fix the problem. It could, however, keep them safe while they figure it out. This isn't a standing martingale or draw reins or anything. It's not designed to, nor was it recommended to fix anything. It is simply a safety measure until the problem gets sorted through proper training of horse and rider (assuming pain and equipment fit are also squared away).

    One thing none of us has thought to ask is what bit the OP is using. This may be a huge part of the problem.
     
  8. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

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    Yes, necessarily.
    I have ridden horses on and off for over 25 years. I have never been hit in the face with a horse neck. And i have jumped to 4 ft. And bareback. With nothing more than a halter and lead. I learned riding hunter jumpers so am naturally very forward to begin with. If a horse is tossing head like that, there are plenty of other ways to deal with that rather than to use another piece of equpiment. And, my god, if rider has this problem at canter and is falling forward to the degree they could get smacked in the face, welp, that rider has no business cantering and should be put back on lunge with no reins. And, if it is a rider issue, rider should be able to get help work on their position.
    I have ridden, on multiple occasions, horse who would rear up completely vertical including my own horses, never have I been hit in the face.

    If horse is rushing and tossing head with me, I am not going to try 500 other things depending on what is going on before I even think about using a crutch. And, *i* am not going to suggest to anyone online to slap a martingale on when I have no earthly idea about their skill level or what is happening, i know you will come back and say the martingale is not a crutch. Plenty of times I have discussed that on here. I do not use martingale of any kind and have no problem dealing with head tossing without that kind of equipment. That is the way I do things and my belief. A horse tossing his head is not relaxed, so I would go back to relaxation and find out what was lacking in conditions to cause tension.
    Like I said, and really no sense in postulating a kazillion scenarios...no way to really make accurate suggestions without a video and seeing what is going on. If it's a rider issue, I don't recommend a gadget...I advise the rider to fix their issue.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017 at 4:20 PM
  9. savethewhaley

    savethewhaley Full Member

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    Like others said, a video would be ideal. However, I understand that that's not always possible.
    First, what bit are you riding in? Some horses need different kinds of bits, and the one you have may not be ideal. Depending on the amount of pressure you're putting on your reins when you're trying to stop him (which should be minimal), his bit could really be bothering him. Let me know about that and I can give you some suggestions; however...

    My suggestion: go back to groundwork. Do trot/canter transitions on the longe until he is relaxed. If you do not know how to longe, you really should find someone to teach you-that is a precious skill that I firmly believe all horsemen need to know. Relaxation will be key here, and I'll bet, if I'm interpreting this correctly, that your trot and walk aren't as nice and pretty as it sounds: a horse will only become more tense and painful as he moves faster and more pressure is put on him. For longing to be done correctly, a horse needs to be engaged and relaxed. I highly recommend Will Faerber's YouTube channel Art2Ride for longing videos.

    As for the riding part I would stop worrying so much about trot/canter transitions right now. It sounds as if you're getting frustrated with it, and that won't help. It's time to take a step back from this problem. Redirect his energy by teaching him a new skill, shortening/lengthening at the trot, getting him over his back at the trot. If not already, I would recommend lessons as well, we can all learn more and a lesson sounds like it would be really helpful with this problem.

    If you really just need to fix this issue now, start with yourself and make sure you are riding correctly. It is difficult for all of us to take criticism, but we all have problems and they all should be fixed. Horses, thankfully, are very forgiving. Then, ask for the canter, take three strides at most, and go back to the trot. If he wants to rush back, ignore him. Keep him trotting until he's back to normal, then ask again. Three strides, stop, wait, back to canter, three strides, stop, wait, back to canter, repeat. Do it enough and picking up the canter won't be cool beans anymore. Repetition is key to training horses.

    Other things to look at: saddle fit, back soreness, hoof imbalances, new changes in environment, tack, or feed.
     
  10. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I'm not sure that the OP's complaint is that she's actually getting hit in the face by the horse's neck. I'll read through again, but I thought her complaint was merely that the horse was moving its head around too much when she would try to canter - and then the horse would keep on doing it after she tried to canter.

    A typical novice problem as they may fall forward or not go with the horse if he goes up. Also typical with a horse that has a sore tooth or other mouth or bitting problem.

    Maybe all the horses you rode carry their head/neck unnaturally low. Just because it never happened to you, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    It is quite easy to get hit in the face with the back of the horse's neck, actually. It can happen if the rider is simply a novice and falls or leans forward.

    It can happen when the horse rears, for example, when the horse shies, or if the rider gets bucked off, and during jumping. But it can also happen when the horse simply - puts his head/neck back suddenly. I had it happen once when I...ah...fell asleep while I was riding(lol). I was counter cantering. And also in the 'good old days' when riding problematic horses.

    But yes, in fact, it's not really that unusual or that uncommon. At one barn we had a horse that did this so often to people, his nick name was 'Fat Lip'. Or the orthodontist's business partner, LOL.

    As for the use of a running martingale, it is one of the safer ways of preventing a rider from getting hurt until it can get sorted out. As I've noted many times here, it needs to get sorted out, rather than just having the horse ''live permanently'' in an appliance.

    And it was, in fact, invented to prevent a rider from getting hit in the face with the back of the horse's neck. Supposedly it was invented by people who rode jumpers - to prevent them getting hit in the face and getting their teeth knocked out.

    Have seen them used when a horse was simply too strong in the bridle for the rider and the horse's mouth was ruined. A weaker rider may not ever be physically stronger. I don't like horses 'living' in an appliance but that's one case where it may happen.

    However, I've also seen them used to correct rider errors and to prevent the horse from being affected by rider errors - like the rider putting his hands up too high, as the trainer gets the fault corrected, it makes life easier for a lesson horse. The running martingale causes the direction of the rein action to be lowered.


     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017 at 10:47 PM

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