Head Tossing resulting in lack of confidence
   

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Head Tossing resulting in lack of confidence

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  • Head tossing in field
  • Horse skipping and head tossing

 
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    09-01-2009, 07:21 AM
  #1
Banned
Unhappy Head Tossing resulting in lack of confidence

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.

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.

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.

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 fat 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.

Please help!
     
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    09-01-2009, 09:23 AM
  #2
Started
Silver
The picture you paint of Rooney is disturbing. Welsh Cs are rumoured to be docile but mostly they are not. This chap needs by the sound of it, some reschooling. He will always need a firm, confident, capable, caring rider. A Section C is small but very agile and quite strong. He can be quite a handful, especially since they are a "streetwise" breed. Quote "over excited and bucking" You need to get him back under control and to keep him there. Otherwise you will get hurt.

Noone can really help you over the internet - you need hands on experience on the ground. You need some professional help.

Now that you are frightened of him, he has got you on the run. Rooney will sense your inner tensions and he will play up.
But he is not yours - your friend owns him. Where is your friend now?

If you dread going outside of the field, then don't go - for your sake and for Rooney's sake - until after he has had some remedial schooling.
By the sound of it, Rooney is a project for a professional trainer. He might well get worse, the longer he is allowed to get away with his little evasions.

By all means watch and learn from a professional but ask yourself honestly if you have the experience and knowledge to bring Rooney back onto the straight and narrow.

Please take care.

Barry G

PS I've been riding a long time - decades. Whenever, from time to time, I am asked to ride another horse, I always try to tack it up and watch the owner ride it before I put my foot in the stirrup iron. Sometimes I just stand back and say "No, I'm too old". I am never embarassed to say "No" because I know my limitations.
     
    09-01-2009, 06:01 PM
  #3
Trained
I agree with Barry here...this guy needs a trainer to help him learn how to properly give, and stay in a gait without all the antics. It sounds like he just knows how to evade any rein pressure, so he needs to go back to the basics, and learn how to properly yield to individual rein pressure without the fighting, then he can relearn how to give properly to 'both' reins.
     
    09-03-2009, 05:04 PM
  #4
Foal
Totally agree! This horse has got you right where he wants you and he will continue his antics until he either gets what he wants (not to have to work at all), or he gets some retraining. Funny how we love our horses for their smarts until they start using them for evil!! LOL Anyway, if you find a good trainer to work with you get a much-improved horse, and a bonus of learning new skills for your horse-handling repertoire! Best of luck!!!
     
    09-03-2009, 05:57 PM
  #5
Started
I would work up your confidence with him, does he do this on the lunge line? If he does it with the tack and the lunge line, but not the tack and the lunge line, I would presume it would be the tack, if he just always does it you got a problem. He may just really sense your fear and he could just be a jackass about it and scare you some more. I would do a lot of bending to get his head and I would piddle fart around with bits and find one that he really likes. You might need a bit with a roller to entertain his head tossing, you might need to crank his head down with draw reins. I would personally just try a ton of different things until I found something providing me with the superiority to get the horse to properly listen to me.
     
    09-03-2009, 06:42 PM
  #6
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whispering Silver    
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Please help!
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.
     
    09-04-2009, 09:32 AM
  #7
Banned
Thanks guys, really appreciate it.

Thing is im not heavy handed nor is my friend, we are both constantly told to shorten our reins when having lessons! So I don't know....
As for where Becky is now, she has gone to university.

He's a really docile animal. If im in the field he will follow me around and constantly nuzzle me. I wouldnt be afraid to take small children to see him, the problems are when he is being ridden.

We have tried freeschooling and he was fine for a period of about a month, the 1:1 suited him. But after about a month the head tossing, and bucking started again.

He lives out in a field with two other horses, One cob and one TB. Both are well behaved so it seems impossible that he has picked up any habits from them.

Sometimes he is a complete angel, admittedly he did 'try me out' the first time I rode him. But when he learnt I don't take any crap he was brilliant.

He isnt ridden in lessons anymore but his previous owner was a riding school and again he was a complete angel there. He has been with my friend for about 2/3yrs.

We are from the UK so he has never been ridden anything other than english.

If he knows we are going to do jumping he is perfectly behaved as he loves jumping, positivley springs over them! Should I try him on a circuit of warm up jumps before I try working him in future? My friend has tried this and sometimes it improves his behavior, others he just get over-excited.

?
     
    09-04-2009, 11:18 AM
  #8
Started
Silver,
My own horse snatches and reaches down. She seems to do it when she is hot and when she has salivated a lot. I have spoken with numerous professionals and so far the best suggestion has been that she is spitting out surplus spittle. But the her act of reaching down disturbs my seat and my equilibrium and it becomes after a time intolerable. One must look for a cause and a solution.

To buck the horse must reach down
If the horses reaches down and thereby acquires extra length of rein - then it is free to buck.
WHich is first the chicken or the egg?

Your is a difficult scenario. But over the internet it is virtually impossible to find the answer. Indeed the reaching now may have become a habit. An evasion perhaps because you are holding the reins too short.

The problem really needs a professional eye but even then a horse behaviourist rather than a riding instructor.

You gave the impression that you were relatively inexperienced and stated that this was not your horse. I was thinking that this was not your problem and perhaps you might be safer to walk away.

Section Cs are strong little street wise horses. Up the valleys of Wales there is a tradition of using them in rodeos as bucking bronco horses.
This chap might develop more evasions and you might get hurt one day.

To me I would want to know whether the horse was uncomfortable, mischievious, exhuberant or dangerous. Then I would consider whether I kept him.

You state that you are inexperienced - I was thinking that maybe this was best a situation that you walked away from. Even an experienced rider is not going to find the answers quickly.

Sorry but commmunication by internet has its limitations.

Barry G
     
    09-04-2009, 12:10 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
Your is a difficult scenario. But over the internet it is virtually impossible to find the answer. Indeed the reaching now may have become a habit. An evasion perhaps because you are holding the reins too short.

The problem really needs a professional eye but even then a horse behaviourist rather than a riding instructor.

You gave the impression that you were relatively inexperienced and stated that this was not your horse. I was thinking that this was not your problem and perhaps you might be safer to walk away.

Sorry but commmunication by internet has its limitations.

Barry G
I totally agree with Barry's statements above.

It's not going to be possible to really give you a spot on answer because we can't see you ride and can't see what you're missing.

What I will add is this....because you're always being told to shorten your reins, I still question this as being part of the problem. Horses, cobs, whatever, don't "root"/do what the cob is doing, just because....they do things like buck and such for a reason....good reason....to tell the rider that something is wrong and they are frustrated/in pain/or just don't understand something. There is a break down in the communication and it's up to the rider to figure out what it is and to fix it, not the horse.

That said...if you are determined to help this little fellow, then I'd strongly suggest pushing the owner to find a trainer to look into the issue and to fix it and to let you all know what the cause and the solution is.

I've found out that a riding instructor is not the same as a trainer. I have new clients who have a live in English riding instructor who doesn't know how to fix training issues.

What you have is a training issue and that requires a real trainer, not a riding istructor to fix it.

You mentioned that you're always told to shorten your reins, but you didn't mention what you were told to do with your seat and legs....do you apply seat and legs? Do you drive the horse into the bit? Do you always feel constant pressure on the reins? There's light contact then there's heavy contact....and I still suspect that this cob is getting heavy contact.

Heavy hands don't have to mean that you're pulling hard against the horse's mouth. Heavy can simply mean an ounce too much of pressure, especially when using a "severe" bit as a gag that has way more pressure action than a plain snaffle. This bit added with shortening the reins = trouble, in my opinion.
     
    09-05-2009, 08:44 AM
  #10
Started
Silver
There is one other thing which has been running thru my mind.
In Wales, especially up in the valleys, Welsh Sec Cs are used for rodeo work - if you have never seen it, then you'll never believe it happens. Young Welshmen jump up onto a wild unschooled pony which has been penned in a schute; they grab a handful of mane and the front door is opened. The horse comes out like a rocket: bucking and stomping as a thing possessed. The aim of the game is to stay on - no saddle, no bridle, just a handful of mane. The horses are not schooled to buck, this is them brought wild straight off the moors. The winner is the man (or woman) who stays on the longest. The losers are the ones who break a bone or two. The riders though rough and ready have courage and undoubted latent riding ability. After the rodeo the horses then go off to market and most wind up in butchers shops in France. This is raw countryside.

The ability to reach down and buck may well be an evasion or it could be an inherited resistance to mankind. Much depends on the ferocity of the reaching and bucking. If your chap did find his way to you from the rodeo, then it will be quite a job to cure him completely of the trait - especially if he is a bolshie little devil. These ponies live out, untended on a Welsh hillside - arguably as bleak as Dartmoor. They are hardy and tough. Some are lucky to make shelter in the winter of a tin shed in the back streets of Ebbw Vale. Ponies are part of Welsh Valley culture.
Tame ponies don't fit a Welshman's idea of a good pony.

If you locate a good C or D then they make great riding horses - no question. But you have to be very careful in the choosing.

The bigger Section Ds are mostly bred for a different market - riders and drivers. They are chosen for their trot - high, rythmic, bold - magical.
But their temperament can be fiery too, especially if they are cut late.
Watch them on stallion day at the Welsh show in Builth. The judge looks for "presence".

Delve into the pony's past. Where did he come from, what did he do,
How much schooling has he had? A Welsh passport is not always an accurate guide to the pony's full history.

Above all is the reaching and the bucking connected?

But it will do you no good to be overhorsed early in your riding career, especially in East Sussex. Your horse must be safe within the community.

I have owned two welsh cob section Ds - one was pretty and relatively safe, the other as scatty as they come but magnificent at trot. You can love them but much depends upon their genes and the handling at a young age. My Big Boy was special : Christopher was a nightmare.
Both were magnificent specimens of horse flesh. But neither was a novice ride.

As I said - you need professional help - a horse trainer not necessarily a rider trainer at this stage.

Barry G
     

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