Originally Posted by Whispering Silver View Post
My friend has a horse who has the habit of throwing his head around when you go any faster than a walk with him. He doesnt throw it up, but pulls it down and in, towards his knees and tosses it from side to side in trot, canter, etc.
sounds like rooting. This is what a horse will do to try and escape pressure that doesn't give him any relief otherwise.
For example, at anything faster than a walk, some riders tend to hang on the reins too much, and this puts too much pressure in the horse's mouth. It's constant persistant pressure....just annoying the heck out of the horse....because he's traveling faster but there's no relief from the pressure,...so what can he do? He can try and find his own relief by trying his best to pull away from it (rooting) or head tossing.
I help at a riding school so am used to riding all sorts of horses with many different habits. But Rooney just freaks me out. Im normally a confident rider, even though I haven't been riding long. But im scared of going any faster than a slow trot with him, I just like having a 'solid' neck in front of me, as soon as this mental barrier is taken away I think im going to fall and all confidence barriers are gone.
I would definitely get a pro trainer to help you out then.
Rooney is a welsh cob, about 14hh, about 10 yrs old. Ridden in an english saddle and bridle, with a dutch gag bit, reins on the second ring. No noseband. The bridle fits him properly and doesnt seem to bother him. So I can't think of an explanation for this head shaking.
I believe that a lot of times, when beginner riders ride English, they tend to take up too much rein, there's no give in the reins at all or much....and this pressure is amplified with the gag bit. So, the little cob has no other choice but to pull hard against the pressure to find a release that he's not getting from the rider.
Ideal: the rider would have sensitive hands, to feel Rooney's mouth enough not to use too much pressure...and the rider would use more leg and less hands (pressure wise) to drive him into the bit, so he doesn't try to evade it and the light hands of the rider will help Rooney not need to try and find his own release.
Also, I'd chuck the gag bit and go with a simpler, more milder bit...a smooth bar snaffle bit (no shanks) and retrain the riders to use the reins with not so much hard pressure. And to use their legs more to drive Rooney into the bit. Rule of thumb: the order of pressure and communication is: seat, legs, then hands.
He also seems to 'skip' trot a lot, when walking he plods, ask him to trot and if you are not careful he thunders into an over-excited canter.... with bucking. Hence the fact I like to keep him tightly reined at a slow trot. I really dread going outside the field with him and as a result have never done so.
The "tightly reined" part is what causes these problems in the first place. It's actually the opposite that you and anyone who rides him needs to do....1. Use a plain easy snaffle, 2. Retrain Rooney to give to pressure instead of his blowing through it.
Think of a race horse. That's how Rooney's being trained by heavy handed riding....to blow through the bit. When a race horse runs, the jockey has the reins tight and the horse is running through the bit. At the last stretch, the jockey let's some slack into the rein, so the horse learns that less pressure in his mouth means run faster. More pressure means run but not quite the blast off for the finish.
Rooney's being trained/treated the same way.
He has no idea how to give to pressure anymore. That's why he's also a plug at the walk. He might of been kicked too many times (never kick, always squeeze) and so desensitized somewhat to leg cues. Then he is told to go faster, but he's heavy handedly reined in with a gag bit that's got more grab action = he blows through the pressure easily.
I'd suggest the following:
1. Get a trainer to retrain him and to show you how to ride him in a way that you can keep the "new" training in Rooney
2. Ride him one rein only as if he were a green broke horse....so, before he's ridden in lessons, he should be taught to go forward again with leg cues, and stopped via the one rein stop at the walk and trot (spiral down) and spiral down from the lope.....ideal is....go forward, sit down and say whoa, then pick up one rein and then bend him around and then disengage his hip (back feet cross to stop the forward motion)....til he's stopping when you sit down and you start to pick up a rein. One side then the other. A good trainer can demostrate this.
3. Serpentines to where he's curving his body around the rider's leg, and relaxing his body, giving to pressure
4. Then he can be used again for lessons or whatever he's used for.
Good luck and I hope this helps some.