Crooked Horse/Head tossing - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-26-2011, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Question Crooked Horse/Head tossing


I've recently started riding a horse I haven't ridden in a while. She's a really good horse for a beginner like me, lol, but has some minor problems.

First problem: Whenever I ask for canter, she reacts quite quickly but before cantering, she always tosses/puts down her head. It's pretty annoying, because it costs me some major marks in dressage and my instructor just says to "ignore it." We have been practicing transitions and she's become far more responsive, but the head tossing never changes. Should I really ignore it? I mean, sure, she's only a school horse, not a dressage prof, and neither am I lol, but is there any way to cancel the habit? And even if I really should ignore it, I'm worried that it might turn into something more serious, like bucking... Is there a risk of that happening? (I started riding her last year, and she hasn't bucked once, but I'm still worried...) If it can turn into bucking, how do I stop it from happening? Please don't get the impression that my instructor is bad for not dealing with it, she has years of experience and I trust her. It's probably just me and my worries as usual

Second problem: This one is being dealt with right and I was wondering if there is any way to speed it up? Lara (the horse) leans to the left a lot, and she gets really crooked. It takes A LOT of leg to get her to the wall when we're on the left rein. My instructor says that she's stiff and it will just take time to solve... how long should it take, and could any of this training be painful to her? Also, is there any way to speed the process up without making her sore? Just be aware that she is not my horse, she is a school horse and I only ride her once a week. Also, my own riding ability is very limited and I have basically no control of what we do in lessons... but is there a cetain way I should ride?

Sorry about the length, and I know that both these questions are probably unneccassary because my instructor knows what she's doing... but I would still appreciate some advice!

Call me a chicken, call me a coward, just don't call me battered up from a horse fall.
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-27-2011, 12:04 AM
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Since you are on a school horse, you have to kind of do what your teacher says. I agree that for the most part, ignore the head tossing. It is possible that there is a discomfort issue, that is most apparent to the horse during canter. LIke saddle fit or soreness in the hock or what? If the instructor is knowledgeable and has checked the saddle fit, there is little you can do. The less of a big deal you make of it, the better. Thatj's my opinion.

As for the horse falling left, I think it would mean that she has trouble reaching under herself with her left hind and may have trouble bending to the left (some tightness on the right side of the body)
As a beginner, you will be challenged to induce her to step under with her inside hind, lift up the inside shoulder and give in her inside jaw. If I was there I might be able to help you more, but may I at least say that these sorts of problems are just par for the course, and you will most likely find them (or some other of equal difficulty) in just about every horse you ride in the future. As frustrating as it feels, work with it and know that it takes time to be able to effectively guide a horse WHILE maintaining your seat (something that is no doubt paramount in your lessons right now)
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-27-2011, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Stella View Post

Second problem: This one is being dealt with right and I was wondering if there is any way to speed it up? Lara (the horse) leans to the left a lot, and she gets really crooked. It takes A LOT of leg to get her to the wall when we're on the left rein. My instructor says that she's stiff and it will just take time to solve... how long should it take, and could any of this training be painful to her?

I agree with tiny on the head tossing. And for the same reason that the crookedness cannot be solved under the present circumstances.

This is a school horse ridden by different people and most probably don't help the problem and may in fact make it worse.

It takes a skilled rider/trainer to correct the crookedness and you don't have that ability yet and whatever progress you may make will be overwritten by the next beginner that will undo any gain you may have achieved.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-27-2011, 01:38 AM
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i used to have a horse who would constantly toss her head so we used a martingale on her. but as you said she is a school and the instructor will know what is best for her. and as for the leaning. My horses sometimes does this because she has an old injury on her back leg though when she is quite fit it her transitions with that leg and leaning are smoother and easy to control.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-29-2011, 10:10 PM
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Gemtheunicorn, a martingale will only hide the problem.

I agree with your trainer just to ignore the head tossing. Since she is a school horse, unless your trainer says so, you can't really train on her. She's just there to give you a ride so you can work on yourself. If pain is ruled out, head tossing usually disappears as their training moves along and if the training is correct. Worry about the head last. Though, I do not like that she ducks her head down as you ask her to canter. Could mean she's wanting to throw in a buck. Just pull her head right back up.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-30-2011, 12:45 AM
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I am riding a horse that is 17 hh and had the same habit of tossing his head while transitioning to a canter. Giving a couple of bad injuries for WAY back, I get nervous and feel he threatening me, like an "oh, yeah?" so the owner of tha farm came into the lesson and the horse straightened right up for us. Of course! But he had me do. Certain things to establish control over the horse which began with me a while back when my confidence was null n void. He had me hold the reins really tight with the left hAnd and pop him with the crop in the hind with the right hand or then give him a little kick from the right ...all while keeping him at a halt. It was the absolute attitude check the horse needed. Suddenly, that head tossing was a bit less and it gave me increased confidence to get himback in line.
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-30-2011, 12:46 AM
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Sorry, on an Ipad which hinders my typing and grammar check...argh!
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