So check the teeth
check the back and the fit of the saddle.
ask someone to check the fit of the bit (always try to use a mild bit)
are your hands soft or harsh?
and learn about 'collection'.
Teeth- yes, they are due to be done (will be in Jan) but aren't terrible.
Saddle- wintec/CAIR with an appropriate gullet per their measuring devise. Sweat patterns, feeling, etc seem to indicate it fits properly, though obviously it's not as nice as a custom fitted, higher quality saddle would be. No signs of pain, soreness or back issues on palpation.
Bit- french link snaffle, properly sized
My hands need work. While my hands are not harsh, they are way too busy and I know I confuse him, especially given his western training. I do not think I pull on his mouth overly hard, but I definitely do it more often and with less clear release than I should.
Collection is something that I understand only on a mental level at this point. I am working with a trainer, who is having me try a training fork, but want to learn enough so that we do not become reliant on gadgets or crutches.
Originally Posted by ConfusciusWasAGreatTeachr View Post
Me personally I wouldn't want to make or force his head down with anything. Instead I'd be more focused on why he does it in the first place.
I agree- I would rather figure out WHY his head is up, address it, and then teach him to keep it down. I know he spent the last two years being ridden at a place that routinely uses tie-downs. I don't know how much that may or may not have contributed. He is not looking for buddies or trying to escape... whenever he thinks I MIGHT cue him in some way, his head goes up. He is not a pushy horse, he is almost painfully anxious to try to do whatever he thinks I might want him to do.
The first thing I'd do is to do groundwork with him - and myself! - that would help him to become relaxed. ... Also, lots of relationship building to let her trust me and feel comfortable around me in all situations.
How long do we need to work together to get this magical relaxation and head drop? He will lick and chew while trotting around naked in the roundpen with his lower lip bobbing, but his head is still up in the air... I think a lack of relaxation definitely plays a role at times, but I also think part of it is his habit. The rare times that his head does drop is usually because he's irritated and tossing it down, not because he's loose and calm.
We generally work together very well. He'll let me do anything to him while standing calmly, is good for everything. I know... practice, practice, practice. But practice just make permanent... and I don't want to further solidify an undesirable habit.