So after a very long time I have deduced that Clem's head issues are simply what she does to express she's sick of working and wants to be done. After having her teeth done, tack checked, etc - after a particularly long groundwork session in nothing but a rope halter and leadrope she started up. She'll pull her head all the way to the ground (which either pulls the reins from me in saddle or yanks me out of my seat) and then sometimes ends with a little toss. It's especially bad in saddle after riding for a longer time - I won't go into the entire story because that would be long, and many of you have heard it already.
Now. Recently, since I won't ride again until she gets her feet done, we've been working on her dropping her head when I put downward pressure on the rope and say "Head." She's getting quite good at it. I've also noticed that when she starts with her head scooping, doing that same thing - pressure on the halter and the 'head' command - is quite successful with getting her to bring her head back up into position.
So, I have a few ideas as to how to help this in-saddle (because believe me I have tried SO MANY things to get her to stop and it's certainly not getting me anywhere.) They all center around nose pressure, since she's responded very well to it. The first idea is using a loose tie down. I know the stigma behind them, but I thought that if I had it loose enough that she can move her head around but not stretch it down, it would simulate the pressure on the noseband, and I could throw in the vocal cue.
The second idea that NBEventer gave me is to use a Kineton noseband. These look fantastic - but are SO expensive. They are adjustable so I could use primarily bit, but if she starts up a bit more rein pressure would make it so some of that pressure is put on the noseband if she ignores the bit.
The third idea is switching to a hackamore. I really do like the conrtol the bit gives me, but there are hacks that operate entirely on nose pressure. I really like the control a bit gives, but would be willing to try one.
My last idea was a combination bit. I will be the first to say I really don't know much about them, other than it's sort of a combo between a bit and a hack. So, if there's major problems with them, let me know.
I'd love to try the Kineton, but it's really a bit more than I can afford unless I have a strong feeling that it will help. I thought I would ask (I'm sorry, you're all probably sick of hearing about her head tossing) to see if anybody has any experience in a similar situation. And, if not, what the people who know more than me about horses (most of you, haha) think. I do see that all of this could be seen as a 'band aid' to the problem, but it's been two years now and it's been ongoing - if she reacts well to nose pressure, then I'll find a way that uses nose pressure to stop it! I feel like once I get it under control with whatever nose method I could gradually transfer that back to a standard bridle and bit somehow.
Really I'd love to just try all of them - but I can't afford that, and I don't know anybody I could borrow any of this from. So I'd like to get a few recommendations before spending the money on one of them!