I've had my mare (5 yo Paint) for right around a month now. When I first got her, we started with a snaffle bit and I was riding her English (she had been trained Western, but I hadn't invested in a Western Saddle yet). Anyhow, she seemed fine with the saddle, but was driving me crazy with the bit - she kept getting her tongue above it, etc. Even though she had that annoying habit, she was doing really well with all the basics - bending, figure eights, transitioning from walk to trot, etc.
Someone suggested that I switch to a Tom Thumb w/ a roller to help with the bit issue - so I invested in one. That same weekend (yes, I realize this was a huge mistake now) I also borrowed a friend's saddle to try out on her (they were offering to sell it to me, so I took it on a trial basis). Right away the first time she was tacked up in the new saddle and bit, she was refusing to cooperate with me. She did not want to walk on (was basically refusing to move, period). After maybe 15-20 min, she improved a small amount - and I wanted to end on a good note, so I left it at that. The next day, I tacked her up again and she was easier to get moving, but would not trot in the ring. We decided to go on a small trail ride (about an hour) when I noticed her starting to toss her head. At first it wasn't anything major - I honestly thought it was because of flies bothering her. By the end of the ride it was to the point where it felt like she was trying to hit me with her head to get me off her back (it was inches from my face). We'd go 10 feet and then she'd stop and toss her head, (etc).
I figured at this point, that the saddle must have been fitting her incorrectly, and that she had some minor back soreness (in total that saddle was on her 2 hours tops). I gave her a few days off, and tried yet another saddle (synthetic Western). She had improved in one sense - and was cooperating when I asked for a trot or for her to canter - but will not stop with the head tossing. So I figured maybe it was the bit. Went out and bought another snaffle b/c I read online that a full cheek snaffle is the best bet with a horse who tosses their head.
She's been ridden 2x now in the new bit and I'm at a loss for what to do b/c she's still head tossing. It is not as severe as it was last week (though I haven't taken her back out on the trails), but it's a major annoyance and is extremely distracting. When she has a bit in her mouth she seems to constantly try to resist it and fight it - I don't know how else to describe it.
On the ground we've made so much progress - she went from being completely pushy and having no manners to being a pleasure to be around, she comes when I call her name, doesn't give any issue when being caught/haltered, walks gently on a lead, stands politely to be groomed, etc. I wish I felt the same when I was on her back. I'm wondering if part of it is her sensing my nervous energy because everytime I get on her now, I am anticipating her acting up. I've spent the last week trying to look up options online for how to correct this before it turns into something I can't easily fix. Any suggestions? Thank you!