New habit- leaning on the bit?

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New habit- leaning on the bit?

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    09-08-2011, 02:13 PM
New habit- leaning on the bit?

Lucky has developed a new and annoying habit(well new to me, I don't know if he's done it with others in the past). Its very possible I caused it. I'm willing to take the blame so long as I can get some advice on how to correct it. I'm sorry if this is long but I want to ty to fully explain.

He is leaning his head down and pulling until he is almost peanut rolling. Only while being ridden and generally at the trot. He isn't jerking his head, just slowly lowering it. Everything fits, health has been checked etc.

I am transitioning from western to english. He is used to English. I am not used to riding with contact so I tend to keep his rein loose(maybe too loose) but I am scared of hanging in his mouth and I am new-ish to posting so I don't want to be inadvertantly using the reins to balance. He sometimes does a little head shake right before he does it, usually the head shake accompanies an attempt to break into a canter and chase other horses.

He is a good horse and well trained. He will stop and just let the other horses pass if I tell him to but we have the moment where he shakes his head and tries to go after them. The pulling is getting to where its happening several times a ride. I think I am nagging instead of correcting it but am not sure exactly how to stop it.

My more experienced friend suggested popping him in the neck with a crop. I would prefer to avoid this as I don't want to ride with a crop all the time and I don't want him to only not do it when I have said crop. I want him to stop it altogether.

He doesn't stop or slow down when he does it. He just feels like he leans his head out and down. Any suggestions both on how to correct it and what I might be doing to cause it in the first place? Thanks!
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    09-08-2011, 02:28 PM
What bit do you use? I noticed they leaning is harder for some of them if you use loose rings. As for correcting when my qh tries doing it (she rides in eggbutt BTW) I give her a little "check" with fingers and if she ignores, put my leg on asking for more impulsion and ask for half-halt.
    09-08-2011, 02:34 PM
We ride in a d ring french link. I have been using finger checks to stop it and it worked immediately but he went right back to doing it shortly thereafter. Now he is ignoring the little check and to get his head back up I have to pull up/back more than when I ask him to "whoa". That's why I think the finger checks are more nagging than correcting? Maybe I am waiting too long to do the finger check? As in letting him stretch his head too far before I react?
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    09-08-2011, 02:39 PM
I'd suggest to try loose rings if you can borrow the bit. My paint used to lock on eggbutt, stopped it when I switched. Not saying it's a cure, but it may help.

Yes, I correct my qh right away when she tries to lean (she's lazy and sometime checks it out if she can over-smart me lol!). Check -> if no response -> leg on + half-halt. Because she knows it's a "no-no" often just check is enough for her to remind to stay with me.
    09-09-2011, 02:40 PM
Green Broke
Here is my 2cents.

Sounds like is is falling into your hands, on to the forehand, heavy on the bit, blahblahblah im sure your getting what I am saying.

From my experience this is very common is young ones first learning to "bridle up". Along with older horses who have gotten away with falling on the bit. Say you aim to pick up the reins and ride with contact. Your horse automatically falls into your hands, then you release so he has nothing to lean on. Fixes it right? Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. By releasing when your horse leans on the bit your actually reinforcing what he is doing is correct. A release of pressure is a reward to a horse, so in his mind, he is doing what you asked. He is not being bratty or spoiled, this is simply something he has learned or is learning. Which you need to correct this ASAP or it will turn into something that will take longer to fix. The second you feel him being heavy, correct it.

Imagine the bit as a wall and your hands are the wall. Drive him forward with your legs "into" that wall. You feel him lean lean lean on that bit, once you feel him finally give to the bit release. Forward motion is the key. By doing this your also helping teach him collection, self carriage, balance, head set, etc. Continue doing this, every time you pick up and he drops down. PUSH him into that bit or "wall" you have created with your hands. Get him to trot if you have to. Put those legs to good use. Do not pull back more, just hold. Once you feel him getting off the bit, release. Jerking or slapping with a crop can cause problems and confuse a horse.

Another thing that will help you alot is bending circles. Pull your horse's head about while pushing him forward (a fast walk or trot is ideal). "Feather" your fingers (open an close them quickly) while applying pressure to what ever side your bending. Once your horse brings his head to the position you want, release. If he moves his head, do the same and bring it back. He needs to know what you want and by releasing pressure your teaching him. Alternate directions doing a few circles each way. These need to be small circles. By doing this you are teaching your horse to be more light, to give to the pressure of the bit, helps with head set, balance. Its amazing how much bending will do. You need to bend him every day. If he really resists the pressure under saddle you need to work with him on the ground. Stand at the saddle and bend him around. ANY time he gives to that pressure you need to release, if he takes his head away just bring it back. If he moves around just stay with him at the saddle, he will eventually stop.

Try to get lighter and lighter with your cues. I understand at first it will take some muscle, but with every time try to get him to do what you want with softer and softer cues. Both on the ground and under saddle. These things I told you should really help his all around manners along with him falling onto the bit. I hope this helps, goodluck!
    09-09-2011, 07:02 PM
A video or at least some pictures would help.
    09-09-2011, 07:05 PM
I can try to get video but my boyfriend is an awful video taker. And I'm sadly incapable of being on him and on the ground lol I will take the boy to the barn tomorrow and see if he can get some pics or video.

Thanks, Delete. I will try to think "wall" ;)
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    09-09-2011, 08:18 PM
I like what Delete said, and I second her advice. I will add that if the horse is just learning to accept contact, I would not be so focussed on pushing him into the bit as a wall just yet.
You DO want to handle him leaning and barging downward by applying leg and getting him to jump forward, rather than trying to counter his lean by pulling him up. But the first few times you do this, do NOT have any wall there at all. You want his reaction to be a pure "go! And get your head up, now!" When he leaps forward, he will raise his head on his own. Let him do this without countering it and let him move forward a step or two with you doing NOTHING. This is his reward. Then you can gradually pick up contact and start to shape that forward , lifted energy that he has given you.

If fhe starts to sag down, you do the same. After a bit, he will be so ready to move forward when you just reach your leg back to aplly it, or put your whip out a bit so he sees it better, that his mind will change from "I think I'll leand down" to "oh-oh, she's going to goose me!" and he'll go forward promptly BEFORE he gets to a really far down leaning position.
Then is when you start to softly create the wall that Delete is talking about and take his forward movement, think of "catching" and holding it with bit as a wall, as she described.
    09-09-2011, 08:23 PM
Tiny, he's been shown in hunters and low level dressage in the past(previous owner). I am assuming that means he should be used to contact? Does the advice you gave still apply?
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    09-09-2011, 09:02 PM
He should be, but I'd still recommend following Delete and TinyLiny's advice since (a) you can show low level dressage and hunters and kind of get away with your horse not being correctly trained to use his hind end and be light up front. The show rings are full of heavy on their forehand horses "faking" it by just curling their necks up. That's not to say this is your horse, but the point is that the horse can still have shown those disciplines without being trained to use himself properly.

Or (b) the horse does, in theory, know how to carry himself correctly but he's testing you, seeing if he can get away with evading self-carriage, or he's falling on his forehand because you're out of balance. In which case the above advice still applies, but make sure you're not leaning forward, curling up, falling forward, falling to the side, or the myriad of things riders do which unbalances horses. :)
tinyliny likes this.

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