Head bobbing? What do I do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-27-2012, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Head bobbing? What do I do?

Hey There,

I have a 5 yrs old Gelded Clydesdale with a mix of standard bred in him. His name is Walker. He is such a joy to look at <3 but the problem is, once we got him a friend of my family's came to check him out. He was sound but has a tendency of being too clingy to people ( pops your personal space bubble ). And she told us that he was round pen trained. so her and her family came out and taught him to drive a sleigh in the winter time. all went well. but his riding skills however were just terrible! he didn't know what right or left was. My question is how can I get him to learn his rights and lefts? And he seems to have a nasty habit of bobbing his head and nearly hits you in the head? Is that normal if he hasn't had much experience? is there any way to stop this behavior?

Thank you so very very much for your thoughts.
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-27-2012, 10:01 PM
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Head bobbing - do you mean he just carries his head high? Or are you saying his head is going up and down every stride? If the latter, he is likely lame. If the former, he just doesn't know how to carry himself.

As far as not knowing directions, he is likely not trained under saddle at all. He doesn't know what you are asking.

I think you need a trainer.
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-27-2012, 10:13 PM
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Ok my first suggestion would be to get a trainer. It sounds like you love him very much but need more help than the internet can provide. I'm very much for Do It Yourself, but it sounds like you need one on one help. There are a number of trainers who can come to your property and teach you how to train your horse.

Now, the next thing I have a whole pile of questions.
What type of tack are you riding him in? Has it all been professionally fit?
Does he head bob when your on the ground and knock you down? Does he head bob when you're trying to steer him from his back? Does he head bob when he's trotting with or without a rider? when and how does he head bob? Have his teeth been floated recently? Is his back sore at all?

Next. Get a well fitted bit and bridle - I'd use a french link Full cheek snaffle with keepers to hold the bit in place (I start ALL horses in this). Then (on the ground) hold one rein and apply a tiny amount of pressure to it. Wait. If there is no response slowly increase the pressure. If he throws his head up and fusses you've added too much pressure (which sounds like might be what's happening), if you just hold a small amount and wait he should try pulling away from the pressure, just hold your hand firmly in it's place, so he increases the pressure, then he'll try turning Toward the pressure. The moment he turns even 1 inch in the direction you are pulling Immediately release pressure and give him a good pat. Repeat this, applying pressure, waiting, increasing the pressure slowly if nothing happens or if he does move in the correct direction Immediately release and praise. Repeat this until just a tiny amount of pressure will be enough to get him to bend his nose to his girth without any fussing. This will take a few 5-10 minute sessions. Do not do this for more than 10 minutes, for a new horse who doesn't understand bit commands he'll have a soft mouth and pulling on it for that long will just frustrate him. When he begins turning more effectively make your sessions shorter as he'll be rewarded for doing the right thing. Give him plenty of time between sessions he'll have time to think through what he learned.

You'll also need to teach him to give to all sorts of different pressure. I'm sure if he doesn't steer he also doesn't have much speed control either. Again I strongly suggest getting a trainer's help - but you teach him each skill the same basic way. Apply gentle pressure, slowly increase pressure until he moves away, when he moves away he should be immediately praised by a release of pressure and something that feels good like a pat or scratch, whatever he likes.
He should be able to effectively move his hind end away, his front end, back up, lead, put his head down and eventually lunge.

If he drives I'd practice his steering while ground driving him before I ever got on.

Good luck :)
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-28-2012, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by whispering willow View Post
but his riding skills however were just terrible! he didn't know what right or left was. My question is how can I get him to learn his rights and lefts? And he seems to have a nasty habit of bobbing his head and nearly hits you in the head? Is that normal if he hasn't had much experience? is there any way to stop this behavior?
For example, if you were never taught how to throw a spiral quartback pass to your wide reciever in a football game, would you be able to just throw on some pads, just out onto the field, and do that?

Of course not.

So you can't expect this horse who has not been trained to ride, to know how to ride.

Based on your wording and how you are asking this question and such, I would strongly recommend you send him to a trainer. If you don't even know how to train a horse to turn left or turn right (very, very basic), and I do not advise you to try to learn over the internet.

There an old saying that goes:

A green rider combined with a green horse will result in the horse and/or rider getting injured. Not a good combination.

It is not a negative thing that you don't know how to deal with a green, untrained horse. But it is important to know your boundaries and be realistic. If nothing else, ask the trainer you send him to if you can sit in on some of the sessions? You'll be watching a professional work with him and picking up some tips along the way.

But I would advise getting this horse to a trainer who knows what they are doing. It's only fair to the horse.
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-28-2012, 04:21 PM
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Personally I prefer having the trainer come to the person. Clearly they want to learn, having asked on a forum about it. I find it much better for a trainer to teach the actual rider of the horse how to work with the horse. Better than sending them away, being told they can be ridden, then getting on and getting floored.
People don't communicate the same ways. It's best for the trainer to teach the rider how to ride the horse, if the horse doesn't know how to be ridden (like in this case) have a trainer work with the rider to train both horse and rider together. Not to sound mooshy but that's what builds the bond between horse + rider. It's also what ensures that the rider won't turn around and ruin all the trainers work by riding poorly.

Find a trainer to come to you and teach you. Listen carefully to everything they say - if they're a moron you'll quickly realize - but continue to listen, because then you've still learned what not to do. Personally I've talked to and worked with more trainers than I can count and have learned invaluable lessons in how to handle difficult situations and how NOT to handle them. Either way - if you want to learn about training there's only one way to learn - doing it, and doing it safely by having educated help.

Good luck :)
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-28-2012, 09:19 PM
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He may not know how to give to the bit. This starts with groundwork, teaching him to bend his neck and bring his nose to his shoulder, not the point of shoulder, the flat area. It will start with mere inches and he may resist. Hold the rein steady until he relaxes then release it. This requires patience on your part, a lot of it. Try to do this three days in a row and the daily repetition is helpful. You will learn that one day he is a little resistant to the left, then another it's the right. Just work that side a little more. Don't ride him until he's doing this well. Then spend 10 min in the saddle doing it to loosen him up.
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 11:30 AM
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Horses toss their heads for a number of reasons, such as bitting, saddle fit, insects, even improper rein aids. If you can rule out his bit and tack fit, then I would look at how you're asking. If he doesn't know what you're wanting him to do he's going to tell you in the only way he can.

Example: When we first got Nelly, who came backed only a few times, we had a trainer come out to look at her. She ruled out our tack fit, and then tried to ride her. She got on a very green horse with spurs and tried to ask her to do things she didn't know, like cantering, lead changes and such. Nelly tried to tell her that she didn't understand by trying to throw her. Our trainer said she was just asking Nelly to do more than she knew, then proceeded to ask again. This story ends with Nelly rearing up and throwing the trainer off her back.

If Walker has never been broke to ride properly, odds are he's trying to tell you he doesn't understand. Get help from a trainer or someone who has experience working with green horses, like the others suggested.

Thank you for feeding us years of lies. Thank you for the wars you left us to fight. Thank you for the world you ruined overnight. But we'll be fine, yeah we'll be fine.
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 07:09 PM
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It is hard to tell what constitutes head bobbing in your eyes. If he is simply "new" to a bridle - I would expect any horse to play, even a tiny bit, to determine their degrees of freedom. If it is beyond that - I would look in this mouth. I would have a vet confirm that he has no dental issues - most of which are very easily addressed but can cause discomfort to certian bits - and can cause "bobbing". I personally owned a mare that had a past facial injury which I was aware of - but that was not obviouse to the casual observer. She could not tolerate any nose pressure at all, or else she would - bob her head and lose all concentration (e.g., wouldn't respond to left or right leg cues). The vet said it was due to nerve damage. Easily avoided...I just rode her w a one ear bit hanger and a roller snaffle.

Otherwise, a lot of of the track horses also go pretty much one direction - straight. Barrels, tires, what-not give them a visible and "tangible objects" to bend around when training toward softness and turning.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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