Why is my horse putting his head down?
 
 

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Why is my horse putting his head down?

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  • Equine chiropracter for horse that puts head down at canter?
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    11-07-2011, 08:44 PM
  #1
Weanling
Why is my horse putting his head down?

Hey all!

I've seen some earlier posts on this subject, but none of the situations seemed the same as mine, so I would like to get your helpful thoughts unique to my situation!

My horse, Shamrock, is currently training..
You can read his story here: Shamrock the horse

I ride him around four times a week. We mainly work on basic walk, trot, canter and especially canter transitions. I recently started having a problem with him putting his head down whenever I put contact on the reins. I've tried letting him walk with the reins all the way out, letting him stretch his neck to where his nose even touches the ground, and bumping him in the mouth every time I feel him starting to pull. It's starting to be a constant struggle, him starting to pull every time I gather the reins and put any kind of contact. At the canter, when he starts to pull and put his head down, he trips really bad, which is scary for me, but I'm concerned about him getting injured.

Any suggestions?

Oh, & because I ride frequently and we mostly do the same stuff in the ring (I usually ride alone because he's so beginner and can't go on trails by myself), I figured he might just be starting to get bored and is throwing attitude. If that's the case, does anyone have any suggestions for fun things I can do with him? Mounted or not?

Thanks!
     
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    11-08-2011, 12:35 AM
  #2
Green Broke
Sounds like he's relying on you to keep his head up. Instead of having self carriage, he's expecting you to "hold" him every step of the way. Because he's not balanced he'll trip at the canter. The difference between a "feel" on a horse's mouth and a "constant pull" can be a tough thing to figure out. He might need some training to learn to carry himself better as well.
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    11-08-2011, 04:31 AM
  #3
Green Broke
I agree with upnover, he may have also learnt to pull his reins through your hands, and now evades the contact because you can't pull him back up, so to speak.

Firstly, however, as this is a horse in training, I would suggest getting his teeth checked, back checked, and saddle checked. He may be in discomfort, and pulling his head down and evading the contact is elevating the problem for him.

If you get these checked and its non of the above, it means somewhere your training has failed somewhere. You need to take him to more basics, more transitions, make them clean. You can't fight a horse's head and neck.

Make sure you aren't fixing your hands on the reins, and if he does drag you down, sit back, sit deep and sit tight, ask him to work more from the behind. My old horse used to do this, and he learnt if he did, he'd get a boot in the side, and within a week it was resolved.

Good Luck!
     
    11-08-2011, 09:29 AM
  #4
Weanling
Thanks for your input guys!

His teeth were just done this summer, so I know he's fine there. He's been riding in the same saddle and everything since I got him and he's just now starting to act up. I do remember that he used to try to put his head down, and I corrected it, but now it's starting again, but worse.

As for his transitions, they're good. They are what we've mainly been working on and he's come from running around the ring a couple of times before breaking into the canter, to picking it up right when I ask. I really feel like it's mostly just him trying to get away with something because he's still pretty young. A girl at my barn has a horse his age and said he did the same sort of stuff Shamrock does. Her suggestion was to bump up the reins, but there's no use in fighting him for it, it'll just make us both agitated and worn out.

If he needs to learn to carry himself better, what are some good exercises for doing that?
     
    11-08-2011, 09:35 AM
  #5
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahkgamble    
His teeth were just done this summer, so I know he's fine there. He's been riding in the same saddle and everything since I got him and he's just now starting to act up. I do remember that he used to try to put his head down, and I corrected it, but now it's starting again, but worse.

As for his transitions, they're good. They are what we've mainly been working on and he's come from running around the ring a couple of times before breaking into the canter, to picking it up right when I ask. I really feel like it's mostly just him trying to get away with something because he's still pretty young. A girl at my barn has a horse his age and said he did the same sort of stuff Shamrock does. Her suggestion was to bump up the reins, but there's no use in fighting him for it, it'll just make us both agitated and worn out.

If he needs to learn to carry himself better, what are some good exercises for doing that?
That first part, you've said it yourself. You've had him over four months or so, so I would get it checked. I keep an eye on my saddle A LOT. If it goes wrong, your horse starts acting up and you can do some damage to their back muscles. Please get it checked! Might just need some reflocking, or it might be touching his withers.. get the saddle, and his back, checked to make sure. He's a young horse, so with work, he is going to develop.

I would get this done before thinking about any excercises to get him working from behind... when you have, ask me again ;)
     
    11-08-2011, 09:43 AM
  #6
Weanling
The only problem I see with that is, I've never heard of anyone around here who checks saddle fit or a horse chiropractor. :/
     
    11-08-2011, 09:48 AM
  #7
Green Broke
Ask your vet to do it, any vet worth their salt can have a look at your horses back, and go to a local tack shop for a saddler, they will likely have numbers for you.

It is really important, and if a saddle is too tight or touches the withers, the horse will drag his head down to get away from the bumping....
     
    11-08-2011, 09:55 AM
  #8
Weanling
I'm not a fan of the only local equine vet. And our only "local" tack shop is 45 minutes away so that doesn't do me any good. :/ We're very deprived of basics where I live. But because of that, my trainer is very knowledgeable in all things horse, so maybe I can get her to check it. My only other option is to do it myself.
     
    11-08-2011, 10:03 AM
  #9
Green Broke
Get your trainer to have a look, my vet travels an hour, and my saddler 1h15.. if you're paying them, they'll come.

I'm really sorry, I don't mean to sound harsh, and circumstances are different for everyone, but this is basic care for a horse, to ensure his teeth, back and saddle are in working, correctly fitting condition. This, otherwise, becomes bad, and dangerous for the health of the horse and the rider.

Can you not phone your tack shop?
     
    11-08-2011, 10:11 AM
  #10
Weanling
I will get her to have a look the next time I go out.

Oh no, you don't sound harsh. You just know that him putting his head down may be due to his saddle not fitting right or his back being sore. I definitely want to have many years with him and to keep him healthy so we don't unexpectedly have huge vet bills due to something that could be prevented. His teeth are fine, though, like I said they just got floated.

I can try them, but I've really never heard of any saddlers anywhere around here. Maybe they'll surprise me.
     

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