So this is a bit of an on-going saga. My best friend has a pony called Pepper. He has a lot of problems! I don’t think he has been treated very well in the past. It’s kind of hard to know where to start.
His biggest problem is the bit. I have a feeling that he has been horribly treated by one in the past… He has a scar and a chunk out of his lower lip that no-one knows the origins of. When you put a bit in this horses mouth, he just turns into this bundle of nerves. He brings his head up and back, braces against it, chews, sometimes shakes his head… of course there are moments when he relaxes but they are few and far between. He just works himself up into a nervous sweat, and sometimes has what we call ‘brain explosions’ where he just tunes out and almost has a fit, with all his legs moving in different directions, and his head bobbing and shaking. He is also extremely hard mouthed. She rides him in a snaffle as much as possible, but has to put him in a kimberwick (without slots) for mounted games/polocrosse etc. We have tried a million different bits to try and find something he is comfortable in. Single jointed, double jointed, mullen, rubber, copper, stainless, sweet iron… I think ported is the only thing we haven’t tried because we don’t have/have access to one. She has now started to ride him without a bit, as he is just getting harder and harder to pull up. She rides in a halter but has ordered a mechanical hack so that if he has one of his moments she has a bit of oomph to pull him up for her own safety. He is also ridden in a head check or rings all the time, otherwise it is just impossible to do anything.
Now… I know that head checks/rings aren’t ideal, are only quick fixes, etc. The thing is, we don’t know what the problem is to fix it. He has been chiropractored, massaged, lasered, teeth done, checked for pain, saddle fitted, feet done regularly… The only thing we can think of is a mental block.
It has kind of come to a head because at polocrosse on the weekend he bolted… She was pulling him up and he was flinging his legs around so much that he tripped and fell from full speed, and threw her. They both are ok, but it could have been SO much worse.
So, does anyone have ideas? He is incredibly strong, I’ll attach a picture so you can see how short and thick his neck is, and how he carries it. The problem is my friend isn’t much of a ground work/flatwork person. Well, she does flatwork, but she is different o me in that she doesn’t insist on things like bend, or straightness… I hate riding Pepper because 1. He is stiff as a board. Partly his conformation but partly his habit of bracing against the bit, he doesn’t have any bend in his body, ever. 2. He doesn’t travel between your leg and hand. He wobbles all over the place, shoots in front of your hand, blows out on corners, etc. Both things I HATE.
So yeah. Any advice is appreciated and will be suggested to my friend. We are pretty much willing to try anything to get him happy, comfortable and stoppable.