Tossing head after flexing

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Tossing head after flexing

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  • Horse shaking head side to side after releasing contact
  • My horse over flexes and tosses head

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    05-08-2012, 09:20 AM
Tossing head after flexing

New horse owner here. I think I need a forum intervention since I can't get enough knowledge from this place.

My 17-year old gelding was doing great flexing left and right, nose to my boot, soft and willing. Then out of the blue...he started fighting me, and spinning and pulling and wouldn't flex, he'd finally do it, but for just a second, then toss his head.

Last night, we spent 2 glorious hour doing stricly ground work. I decided to work on flexing from the ground in only a halter instead of a bridle. He'd flex beautifully and lightly, but wouldn't hold it long, and when he brought his head back he'd stretch and toss his head.

My first thought is teeth, who knows when his last float was but I know it's been more than a year, so I'm scheduling that today. But besides that, are there any other reasons he could be doing this?
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    05-08-2012, 10:01 AM
Green Broke
I had one mare do this that had been playing in the pasture and hurt her neck slightly.
    05-08-2012, 10:51 AM
Other than pain caused by teeth or soreness somewhere it could be that your release isn't dead on, I've seen horses do this when the rider/handler isn't giving a clear and consistent release.
    05-08-2012, 01:41 PM
While we are on the subject!

I have been working my horse from the ground on flexing. I release as soon as he gives. Now he has started biting himself and leaving a wet spot on his side. I don't know when to release now that he is doing that. I am afraid he thinks he is supposed to bite himself if I release as soon as he bites. Does anybody have any ideas how to stop him from biting and when to release from the flex. Thanks.
    05-08-2012, 01:50 PM
Super Moderator
This really sounds like a neck pain problem. Why are you flexing him so much?

And, TWO hours of ground work? That's a lot. Just out of curiousity, what sort of things were you doing for those two hours? If you aren't doing a real varied amount of things, your horse could get real soured to ground work. Too much backing up, drawing forward, yielding this and yielding that will make the horse irritated. It's like, "ok, ok, I know this already, stop pushing me around".
    05-08-2012, 02:00 PM
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
This really sounds like a neck pain problem. Why are you flexing him so much?

And, TWO hours of ground work? That's a lot.
I agree! Two hours on a horse not used to it? You are setting yourself up to tick him or or turn him into a over grown puppy.

I have a training horse that is very stiff, has no clue where his hindquarters are yet knows exactly where you are to get you out of his way if he doesn't want to do something. No kicking, hints at biting but will plow you right over without a thought.

He came in for training for those very reasons. Owner thought she was following video training tips. (he got the 'bonding over grazing time down VERY well) They can be great but the bottom line is anticipation on the cues and the release of the cues.
    05-08-2012, 02:02 PM
My trainer said to keep practicing with him on the flexion and getting his "brakes" working better. We weren't flexing tons and tons, just a couple times on each side. I noticed the head tossing after he straighted out and assume he's in some discomfort.

I also wasn't doing hours of lunging or anything like that. We were mostly working on relaxing and desentizing to various things around the stables that are new to him and in new areas. He's only been there three weeks and we've worked stricly in the indoor arena without distractions. Last night we moved outside to work on relaxing and focus when he can see his fillies (who hate when he leaves the paddock and whinny and carry on the whole time he's gone) but still focus on me. I want to be able to ride him in the outdoor without a struggle and he gets so rushed and excited to be put back to the pasture with the girls. These fillies were going nuts watching him in the arena, pawing at the gate, calling out to him...he did very well. We also just went for a walk around the barn, tackled scary mud puddles, the bobcat tractor, checked out the trailer, the scary fake flowers on the jumps in the arena...So we were working the mind more than the body.
    05-08-2012, 02:20 PM
I should also probably clairfy...I spent 2 hours with him, but that also including feeding, grooming, etc. I did not ride him last night. My trainer is on vacation so I'm only working on my "homework" with him right now and not doing anything I haven't been observed doing correctly by her (which doesn't mean I won't still make some mistakes here and there.) He's extremely well trained, but likes to test. He's really accepting my leadership, which is what she wanted to see when she returns next week.
    05-08-2012, 02:25 PM
Super Moderator
I see. S'cool.
You can do that kind of stuff while you are doing "chores". You have the horse on a line and go around with your broom or poo picker and do your chorse, with horse on the line keeping you company. During this time, horse must stand quietly, no grazing and he must not crowd you. Might not work so well at first, though, when he is still wanting to get out to the fillies.

Do you ever free lunge him or round pen and let him really move out?
    05-08-2012, 02:43 PM
I have worked him in the round pen, but that was his first week there and it was too funny. I wish I could draw you a picture...the far end of the outdoor arena is the entrance to the round pen. The outdoor and the round pen also make up part of the fencing for his huge paddock. There is a 30-year old gelding in that paddock with Whiskey and his "fan club" so they put the old-guy in there for his feed, then slide it open for him to return to the herd when he's done. I did not realize they did this, nor notice the small opening in the side of the round pen...two laps around and Whiskey shot back out into his paddock! I felt like a fool! Now I know, but I haven't been out there with him again until last night due to his distraction level and I wasn't exhibiting enough leadership. If it would ever stop raining, I think we're ready to try it again now that I know to make sure it's closed up all the way first. Won't he be surprised?

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