Head Tossing/Shaking - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-15-2011, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Alberta
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Head Tossing/Shaking

I'm looking for opinions on a new thing my mare has started doing the past two rides.

For a quick run down on the mare: 6 years old, same bit for the past 4 years. Very, very not confident. Also has a fear of ground poles, or anything on the ground for that matter. But mostly ground poles, long story.
Recently switched boarding barns and she apparently loves it. We spent a little time going over the ground basics because of terrible help when she balked at the trailer to load her. Lets just say I had to tell off a guy and it took two days to get anywhere near the trailer after his "help".

So now I can turn her loose in the arena and do free-lunging and she will actually prefer to go over the ground poles and through the different patterns on the ground with them set up for trail practice. So clearly her confidence is increasing.

Now the past two rides she has taken to shaking her head. Shestill shoves her own head in the bridle while bridling, no shaking while standing still, while turning or while stopping. She likes to walk with her head by her knees when she just wants to plod along.
So I hold a set length of rein where its lose when her poll is level with her withers when I want a working horse. I let her hang her head and stretch out during the cool down. And every time she drops her head that low I nudge her up back to work. But now instead of pulling her head down she shakes her head. Her pulling was never really pulling either, just slowly trying to sink her head lower and lower.

I had someone tell me to pop the reins real quick when she does it, but it doesn't work with my logic. I want her head still, so why do something that normally cues her to move her head somewhere?

And do you think its just some attitude coming out now that she is more confident? Because she does it where the reins are loose, and never while stopping or turning, I don't think its a tooth or discomfort issue. Its more when I ask her to walk out.

What would you do in this situation?

DieselPony is offline  
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-15-2011, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Waxhaw, NC
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My suggestion would be the same way you "bump" her when she puts her head down, bump her to stop shaking her head. The idea is, if she is actively moving FORWARD, she wont be able to do this. Same reason when you bump her while dragging her head down ,she pops back into work.
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-15-2011, 03:37 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Germany- but not German =D
Posts: 5,151
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Firstly, dentist, saddle, and back checked. Eliminate ANY pain.

Secondly, is it tiredness? Is she working in an outline for a long period of time? If she is, she may need a break.

If you've ruled out all those, and its out of a mini temper tantrum, send her forwards, don't give her anything to fight against. I ride English, and I don't know how different Western is, but if my mare shakes because she's trying to escape something, she's either unsure, or being a baggage. If she carries on, I'll send her forwards, give and take with my outside rein so she has nothing to pull against and let her figure it out on her own.

Teeth check, back check, saddle check. Very important :)
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-17-2011, 02:13 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Corpus Christi, TX
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Could be allergies. Bit could be pinching (if it's a western bit, sometimes the part where the mouthpiece meets the shank can wear out and cause pinching over time).
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-17-2011, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Alberta
Posts: 335
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Its an eggbutt snaffle, no shanks yet.

I've checked her over, saddle is still pretty new and fitted to her and I checked her teeth. Doesn't appear to be sore at all but I'll get a second opinion.

I haven't been asking her to be in a frame for very long, and for the most part I can tell when she is going to fall apart and I'll move into something else quickly. She doesn't appear to be tired. In fact the past couple rides all she has wanted to do was trot around like a maniac.

Allergies I doubt, she's never had allergies to anything but penicillin before and her pen has been covered in snow. Same type of hay as always.
But I'll keep it in mind as well.

But thanks for the ideas and I'll get a second opinion on the teeth, back, saddle, etc.
DieselPony is offline  

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