Head tossing at a lope - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 02-05-2011, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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Head tossing at a lope

Abby's previous owner told me that it takes a bit of pushing to get her to lope, which I was okay with at the time. By accident, I thought her hip was out of place when I touched her hip one day and she threw a bucking fit. Turns out she had only been kicked there, as that spot was fine later, but I called the vet/equine chiro and turns out her hip was out.

After that, she loped fine undersaddle. Except once it got cold, I had no where to ride except a small roundpen because she was 30 minutes away and by the time I got there after class, it was dark.

Shortly later, she got ulcers, so she wasn't ridden much in December. She was also moved closer to me where there is an arena. The arena isn't heated, so I haven't ridden much lately either due to that.

Sorry for the back story, but this is what's up:
I can get her to lope if I just let her go in the arena and slap the leadrope on my hand or coat, except she lowers her head like she's going to buck and then shakes it around. She does this on a lunge line also.

Any suggestions as to why?
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-05-2011, 05:00 AM
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If the ulcers are not a real issue (being treated) then she may just be lazy. The head shaking is a way of expressing her irritation at the whole thing. I would push her through it if you think you can without her bucking. get her to really move out and keep her cantering for awhile . hopefully, she would get past her irritation and just go forward. Once she has done this several times and knows that head tossing will not buffalo you, I think she might not do it, or just the littlest amount. Some mares just have to express their opinion.
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post #3 of 4 Old 02-05-2011, 09:01 AM
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This is a sign of resistance. As the trainer you need to find out WHY the horse is resisting. Resistance can come from numerous sources such as equipment, pain, unsure of what you are asking, or habitual bad handling which creates a habit in the horse.

I never think, "Oh the horse simply does not want to." SOMETIMES that is true but more often than not it is something else. I may have brought the horse along too quickly for his physical skill level or it may be that the horse is unbalanced.

I would start, if you can, with the horse in a free pen. No lines, no halter.. just you and a whip the 'naked' horse. Work the horse at a walk and trot around the perimeter and really observe the horse. Is he balanced? Is he acting comfortable? Let him lounge along out there and look at him moving.. and look for any resistance at all in those two giats.

Ask for the canter/lope and then see if he tosses his head. Just watch. If he is tossing his head you are left with ony two possible causes.. Physical Illness/Discomfort or lack of physical ability at this point in training OR habit.

IF there is no head tossing, put the bridle you ride in on the horse (NO reins) and repeat. If there was no head tossing, then it is not the bridle itself. Next saddle him up (no reins still) and repeat. If he tosses his head now, then you know it has to do with the saddle or the cinche.

IF he is still not tossing his head, add LOOSE side reins and repeat.... IF this illicits a head toss, you have isolated it to pressure on the bit and this may be due to bit fit OR due to the horse not ready or a horse that was never taught about giving to a bit request.

NOW, if that happens you need to 1.) check his mouth for ulcers or teeth issue and 2.) check the fit of the bit.

At this point, you have narrowed the issue to either a physical issue OR the horse is NOT READY PHYSICALLY to canter/lope with restriction. Yet. It still MIGHT be a habit issue, but at this point it is usually a balance and lack of developing the right muscles issue.

IF in all this free work, the horse never tosses his head then it is likely you as the rider who is the issue. You are either asking for too much too soon with this horse (he is not balanced and able to shift his weight and carry you at the same time) OR it is your position OR it MIGHT be a habit.

IME it is usually that the horse is not ready for what you are asking coupled with poor riding position.

The point is that before you push him and perhaps end up with bucking or a much worse resistance expression than head tossing (such as rearing), see if you can isolate the problem thru a process of elimination.

When you are doing the free work, you may have to do it over a few days so you are working with a fresh horse.

Approach the problem analytically and hopefually you will find the reason and then you can work on the fixing of the behavior. IME Reistance is most often found in a horse being asked for too much too soon with out a proper training foundation.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer

Last edited by Elana; 02-05-2011 at 09:09 AM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 02-07-2011, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Location: North Dakota
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She's just resisting to be a mare and because she thinks she can. False.

I lunged her today at a trot, which she decided was enough to stop and throw a fit every other minute. She's smart, I'll give her that, but she's not sneaky. I could see on her face when she was going to stop suddenly. I kept her moving and eventually she gave in and behaved fine.

I let her go off the line and slapped the lunge whip on the ground. She took off around the arena without resisting. She let out a couple of bucks too. She's so much fun to watch. She didn't throw her head around like she did before.

By the time she was done running loping, and even galloping for a few seconds, she was soaked in sweat and looked like she had fun.

Thank you.
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