Horse throwing head up - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Horse throwing head up

Hi everyone. I know this is a common problem, but those of you who remember know I asked some help with my gelding Kroon a week or so ago. I assumed his head throwing problem was just bit evasion 101, but it seems that might not be his only problem. Somebody suggested a Kimblewick and a BIG thank you to that person. We tried him in a slotted Kimblewick today out gathering cattle and his rider reports a big improvement. He now turns much better and has regained his brakes. (We put him in a port mouth pelham with rein connectors a week of so ago and his rider complained he had virtually no brakes and his steering as atrocious) BUT he is still throwing his head up. Before I make it off as just a bad habit and buy him a running martingale, what else can I try? He is also extremely bad about having his head handled, he absolutely Hates it when anybody touches his head for ANY reason. Any advice in regards to that will also be much appreciated.
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post #2 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 05:54 PM
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Before you do anything involving training or equipment, I would suggest you first have this horse's teeth checked by a good equine dentist. If a horse has a bad tooth, no amount of training to equipment changes with help head carriage or bit response.

Then, you should address the head-shy issues before you work on the bit responses and head carriage problems.

I will try to explain how to work on a head-shy horse when I get back in later tonight.


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post #3 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 06:17 PM
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I also would check teeth. If he's real sharp and shredding the Inside of his mouth, that could be a reason for being head shy also. I've seen horses that had badly cut the insides of their cheeks, and made touching it painfull to them. You can feel up inside the cheek, if you can't get him to open up for ya. Should be able to feel the sharp points or the cuts fairly easily.
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post #4 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 07:43 PM
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It's probably the teeth, like has been said.
If not, he's not liking that bit.
A kimberwicke is pretty strong. Why did you put him in it again? I don't recall.
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post #5 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 08:24 PM
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A stronger bit will work until it doesn't. I.e., it's not about the bit.

The horse doesn't trust that rider's not going to jab him in the mouth, or that the rider's going to give him release after a rein pressure, so he's anticipating.

Every time a jab or failure to release occurs, you're back 10 steps. Every time no jab & a full release occurs, you've got a small increase of trust & relaxation from the horse.

I'd take all bits out of his mouth, & ride him in a knotted halter with one rein in a pen to give him a head start on relaxation, AND give rider skill development. Let him walk where he wants & be a passenger only, as antidote to his upset. Then show him you're a trustworthy leader by using rein kindly.
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post #6 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 08:42 PM
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I will disagree with that. Some horses just like the feel of certain bits. Riding in a halter is ridiculous IMO. Halters are not riding tack.
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post #7 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 10:26 PM
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The Thoroughbred I work with kep throwing her head up in the trot, and ignoring the bit. Once we got her teeth done it all stopped.

My mare we haven't taken her to get her teeth done yet, but she throw her head while riding.
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post #8 of 45 Old 05-16-2013, 11:41 PM
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If and when your horse runs away with you, with a perfectly lovely curb in its mouth, to which he is not responding, you'll see that it's not about the bit.

When you've gained the mental/emotional partnership with your horse, a knotted halter is safe. If you've never gained that, any bit is safe until it isn't.

How do you think horsemen like Klaus Hempfling, the Knie Circus, & the Pignon brothers do incredible things with horses, without even a halter on?

Look on youtube to see these horsemen handling multiple horses in fenceless environments, (like the beach) with no bits, no reins, no halters.

Last edited by Northern; 05-16-2013 at 11:44 PM.
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post #9 of 45 Old 05-17-2013, 08:59 AM
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I do not think anyone is advocating a more 'harsh' bit. Everyone is just interested in the comfort of the horse. Many horses are more comfortable is one kind of bit over another. This has absolutely nothing to do with harshness. I see more people interest in making sure the horse's teeth are not causing pain when the bit is used.

As for riding and particularly training a horse in a halter -- I consider it a completely useless stunt done for self gratification and 'bragging rights' for those egotistical, mostly useless trainers that only want to brag on themselves with u-tube videos or do demonstrations where they can get more gratification from followers if not worshipers and disciples. Sorry -- I am not impressed.

I have been training horses for many years for others -- both for individual horse owners and for myself to produce marketable trained horses that are in great demand. My object is to produce well trained, well mannered horses that many can ride and enjoy. In all of these years I have not had one single person contact me that wanted a horse that could be safely and pleasantly ridden in a halter. Not one recreational or serious rider has listed that as their goal with their newly trained or purchased horse. If one did, I would tell them to look elsewhere.

I look at riding in a halter as a stunt -- like the sale-barn traders and jockeys that pull the bridle off and try to impress the dummies in the crowd with a horse riding around the sale ring with just a rein around his neck.

My goal has been to train horses to properly respond to a bit being properly used by the rider. The type of bit I use is determined by the horse's comfort and preference, the event or use the horse is going to be used for and the skill level and goals of the rider. I have encountered many riders that had poor hands (either harsh or moving around too much) and a poor skill level that I changed bits just to protect the horse's mouth and training. Changing to a halter would have just skinned up the horse's nose and jaw bones and taught it to fight the halter or run through it.
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post #10 of 45 Old 05-17-2013, 04:38 PM
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Changing bits doesn't always mean going to a harsher bit. As a horse gets farther in its training, there is a progression in bits.

Riding in a halter or bitless doesn't always lead to bragging or showing off. We ride our horses in halters and bits. I do have one horse that was trained with no bit ever. Do I brag about her or doing it? Sure, I'm proud of how she did and that I was able to do it. I didn't do it to show off but to see if I could do it.

Whether you use a bit, halter, a rope around the neck or nothing at all, it is never about "controlling" the horse. It is all about communicating with the horse. Changing a tool to communicate better is not wrong, as long as the horse gets better. If you have to keep changing the tool to keep communicating what the horse already understands, there is something wrong and you need to take a step back and correct the problem in training.

A horse tossing its head is evading the bit OR is telling you something is wrong. Definitely have the horse checked over by a vet first. If that goes ok, make sure the horse understands to give to pressure. If the horse has become stubborn about giving to pressure, it is likely that the horse isn't getting a release of pressure at the correct timing.
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