Doesn't Lower Head for Bit - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 1,156
• Horses: 2
Doesn't Lower Head for Bit


I recently bought a 2 1/2 year old Appy gelding. He is being boarded at the person who trained him's stable. I have had him several weeks. He wasn't taught to lower his head, but with the halter, he doesn't find it annoying, threatening, he his head is higher than preferred, but he never tosses it up, and his ears aren't back , he just let's me slip it on.

I have been working on him to keep his head down when I am doing stuff, by applying pressure on the top of his head, and when he lowers it, even just an inch, leave my hand where it is, and he gets rewarded like that. He does it so great now! (I can get his head even with his withers) But when I get his head lowered and bring out the bridle, he pins his ears and tries to do anything to get away, tossing his head, etc. He is fine with my hand between his ears otherwise. I have also tried putting the bit on like a halter, didn't work either.

I was just wondering, is he spoiled, or in pain? They said he had his wolf teeth removed. Maybe it is the bit? The trainer was using a black steel colt training snaffle, and he said I just keep using it.

Some of my friends thought I should use a hackamore, but I was worried about be able to control him. Your suggestions and opinions would be most appreciated, I just want to figure out why he hates it so much.
ChevyPrincess is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: In Denial...
Posts: 1,679
• Horses: 1
Could you post a picture of the bit? I've heard of the American Tom Thumb described as a colt training snaffle many times, and if that is what kind of bit you are using, it could definitely be causing confusion or pain. Also, "true" snaffles with a single joint can easily have enough of a pinch on the lower jaw to cause pain and reticence to accept the bridle. The teeth are also a potential cause.

Since he is so good when the bit isn't in the picture, I would say that the problem is in the bit, his mouth, or both.

My advice would be to rule out any dental problems or bridle adjustment issues, and if that doesn't help, then start experimenting with bits. French links are popular, and relatively inexpensive, but some horses don't like that many moving pieces in their mouth. I've heard good things about Myler comfort snaffles as well, but I've never used one personally, and they can be pricey. If the teeth aren't the problem, you'll just need to experiment.

Hope that helps!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
Scoutrider is offline  
post #3 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 1,156
• Horses: 2
Black Steel Training Snaffle Bit 5 Inch Mouth -

That is the best picture and information site for the bit I am using on him that I found. That could be the problem. When we first got my mom's paint, he was green, but was in a twisted wire snaffle. We didn't have any problems with him. It is way lighter than the one we are using on Bo.
ChevyPrincess is offline  
post #4 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 2,061
• Horses: 1
You ask us over the Internet "Is he spoiled or is he in pain?"
We can't tell you down the internet - you, who is on the spot handling the horse, is the one to say if he is in pain.
You have to sense when he is in pain - not just for this particular problem but because one day he may well be in pain and you will have to sense his pain to know that you have to do something about it.

Me, well if I had to make an assumption, I'd say that he doesn't like the bit or the bridle - which may or may not be adjusted correctly.

Don't assume that he is being difficult for no reason - he might be, just to test his new mistress out - but there again he might have a good reason.

It is for you to determine if he has a good reason by making sure he doesn't have a good reason.

Hackamore - nothing wrong if properly used. But why change something so soon - unless it is obviously wrong. He won't like change. Let him get used to you, with what he is used to, before you change things.
Then if you do change the bit and he likes it, then he will think you are a nice new owner.

Barry G
xxBarry Godden is offline  
post #5 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: In Denial...
Posts: 1,679
• Horses: 1
That bit isn't horrible in and of itself, but depending on your horse's level of training and understanding, it could definitely be part of the problem. Since it has shanks, it shouldn't be used unless you're neck reining. Direct reining with this bit can be very confusing for the horse. It's a good transitional bit for when you have a very solid foundation in a snaffle and the horse has some skill with neck reining in the snaffle.

Even after a dental exam, I would back him off to a bit like this: 5" Copper Mouth Eggbutt Snaffle-Outfitters Supply

and ride with a fairly loose rein and soft hands. Start by letting him travel where he wants, and allow him to carry the bit without it moving in his mouth. If he is anticipating pain or discomfort from the bit, you need to build a pattern of pain-free rides to help him to accept the bridleing. If you're concerned about control, start in an enclosed area, so if he starts something he can't go far.

You shouldn't need the twisted wire, that has a good amount of bite. It might be less confusing in effect than the transitional bit, but it's still a strong bit, and shouldn't be necessary for control. The copper mouth eggbutt has enough size to it that it shouldn't cause pain with a reasonable contact.

As a matter of personal preference and experience, I ride my horse in this bit myself, and he responds well, has good brakes, and doesn't try any of the bit evasions that I'm familiar with.

EDIT: Barry has a good point that he may be testing you as the new owner. Also: "It is for you to determine if he has a good reason by making sure he doesn't have a good reason." Very well put.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown

Last edited by Scoutrider; 09-24-2009 at 10:52 AM.
Scoutrider is offline  
post #6 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Alachua, FL
Posts: 199
• Horses: 3
Ok ChevyP, your not alot. I have the same issue but with a 18.2 hd Belgian. This is our story.
He's only been in training since April 2-3 days a week. I had a SS oring snaffle that he was started in, he hates it throws his head which is a pain when I'm 5'4' and he's 18.2. The girl that started him would unbuckel one side of the headstall put it over his ears and then wrap the bit around his mouth and stick her finger in his mouth to make him open up. He would open as he would raise his head and of course she would push the bit in and it would always bump his teeth. So he learned to raise his he when the bit was either going in and he would raise his head when I was taking the headstall off. As soon as I put the 1st ear under the band he would start raising his head. He's perfect for the halter and everybody will tell tell you that if he lowers for the halter and not the headstall he doesn't know the command. BULL
My guys does know the command he hates the bit.
Anyway long story short, I got rid of the SS oring and got a rubber coated bit. I started with the bit and a hay string on each side of the bit. In the begining I coated the bit with honey (it was new and I'm not sure I would like the taste of rubber either). I left his halter on so I had some control over his head and just asked him to lower his head then lifted his lips so he could get a little honey in his mouth and let him just pretty much open up for it. I then put the haystring around his poll like a headstall and put on and off the bit with the haystring about 10 times. If you use a haystring you don't have to worry with the throut latch or the brow band, what I wanted was for him to see that he could get the bit in and out without banging his teeth. He didn't have any problems with the bit once you got it in his mouth it was just the in and out process.
I will take a while for them to understand it won't hurt and my guy will still lift his head if I go 2 or 3 days in between putting the headstall on him.
Hope this helps
waterbuggies is offline  
post #7 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: In the mountains
Posts: 20
• Horses: 1
My horse does the same thing, she sticks her head out and tosses her head. What I do is effective but it's hard to explain.
I wrap my left hand around her lower lip, then stick my two middle fingers into the space behind her teeth. I then pull her head down and around into my body. The pressure and position of her head makes it very hard for her to move it. With my thumb and forefinger I hold the bit in place. Then I put more pressure on my two middle fingers to make her open her mouth. Be careful to put the bit in the right position; it hurts to have the bit slip and slide up under her lip! Of course all during this time I'm putting pressure on the top of her head with my right wrist, holding the bridle in place.
I hope that helps!!

Tawny <><

Tawny is offline  
post #8 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 01:13 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Posts: 4,847
• Horses: 1
If you do direct reining you should downgrade to a snaffle.

Check that the bridle fits properly. Also, something that people over look is that often when people put the bit in the mouth they bang the teeth (unintentionally). Ensure you do not do this.

My recommendation would be to change to a snaffle. The above poster mentioned he coated it in honey - which can be messy. I recommend apple sauce. Just put some over the bit and soon he'll be happy to have in his mouth. Just ensure that your riding is correct for your bit. I would rather have too soft a bit and have to communicate that bit harder rather than have a harsh bit and hurt the horse.
Saskia is offline  
post #9 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Californian
Posts: 1,979
• Horses: 2
Originally Posted by Scoutrider View Post

Even after a dental exam, I would back him off to a bit like this: 5" Copper Mouth Eggbutt Snaffle-Outfitters Supply
i agree that the above is a much better bit to start with :)

:: Karley ::
Tucker WB/TB- 11 yr
Speedy QH/TB- 22 yr
kchfuller is offline  
post #10 of 16 Old 09-24-2009, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 1,156
• Horses: 2
Thanks for all the helpful information guys =]

I went out today and I honestly think it is the bit. He let me put the headstall on fine when he realized I took the bit off and it wasn't going in his mouth.

Thank you so much waterbuggies, that makes me feel better. Like I am not a complete idiot. xD I will try that, and go bit shopping for either an eggbutt, or d-ring snaffle.
ChevyPrincess is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lower leg swelling CaEcho Horse Health 12 06-14-2011 07:26 AM
Hello from slower lower, De PaintedDolly13 Meet the Community 3 07-03-2009 11:30 PM
Ugh! Floppy lower leg MyBoyPuck English Riding 6 06-29-2009 12:33 AM
Want my horse to lower head for bridle/halter horseheaven Horse Training 17 10-21-2008 07:16 PM
Crazy head!!! Help for a horse with 'head raising probs'???? trot-on Horse Training 20 09-17-2008 11:29 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome