Originally Posted by BreakableRider View Post
Forget she's been abused and live with her in the present, horses can move on very quickly if their handler lets them. I also do not believe at all that older horses are any more difficult to start, the majority of my clients have older horses that need started or restarted. Recently I
Personally? In my training program I refuse to use side reins, very VERY few people can get a horse working correctly in them and those that can, can do the same or better in the saddle. Forget vertical flexion, that shouldn't come until down the line when she is better broke, whether she is going to be ridden western or english. She doesn't have the topline muscle to hold herself properly and doesn't know whats being asked. Many people end up creating a horse that is backed off the bridle and just creates a headset, which is much harder to untrain than just teaching contact in the first place.
She needs to go back to the basics with getting vertical flexion and getting broke through her whole body. The better broke she is, the more the head will come into the right position.
Quite often head tossing is also from the riders hands, very often it is because the riders hands are too soft. What happens there is that the rider doesn't fully take the slack out of the rein and the rein kind of flutters, moving more than needed in the horses mouth and it can be quite irritating. If you have her in a loose ring snaffle i'd also consider switching it. Ride in your bit then a more stable cheekpiece for the 2nd half of the ride and compare. Many horses don't like the 'noise' that a loose ring creates because it isn't stable.
Next, she shouldn't be ridden bareback at this point, you said yourself she had no topline. Some horses can deal with some discomfort and other are pansy's. You can't change that now of course, but don't ride her bareback for a while yet, even with a bareback pad, your weight is still in the same small area vs being distributed by a saddle. Next time it happens, don't handle it the way you did before. Bucking is often a refusal to go forward, so stopping a horse is the last thing you want to do. It's cause is usually confusion, pain, fear or just loss of balance.
Since I strongly suspect it was pain causing the buck, I wouldn't have disciplined it at all, just ridden through it then ridden just a teeny bit more at just a walk, then stop and dismount to end on a good note.
In situations where it's attitude I bend the horse down, slide my leg back to disengage the hindquarters then use a dressage whip, tapping until I can get the hindquarters disengaging with some energy. This is to turn that attitude of 'no' back to a yes, putting pressure on the horse in a safe place. When I have my yes and the horse is moving around with some energy I turn loose of their head and calmly ask again for whatever it was that previously got a 'no'.
If it is fear, loss of balance or confusion, again, it was my fault as a rider and I need to back up a few steps.
I have not ridden in a bridle yet. I will be as soon as I have enough time to work through problems if they come up. I was only using the side reins so she gets the feel of pressure on her mouth, and so she starts giving to it. I don't want to hop on and just have a battle with her. On my 3 yr old, before I lunged with sidereins, and all he would do undersaddle is fight fight fight with no give. As soon as I lunged with side reins, just once, he would give to pressure so easily. Yes, he fought against them for the first 10 minutes of lunging, but after he was giving to the bit. It solved the undersaddle problems. I do not do the sidereins tight, just enough to give contact.
I've only ridden with a rope halter so far, and she would head toss when I would ask her to turn, only on the first ride. I always kept the reins with a small amount of slack, but not enought to flap around. I will start her in a D-ring and go from there.
She was bucking when I pushed her into the trot and she didn't want to, or when I would down transition. I didn't stop when she started bucking, I rode it out and pushed her forward.
I won't be riding bareback until she has a good topline, and then I will try it again.
Hopefully I will have time after school today to work with her. I have 't been able to ride due to school work and volunteering. Last night was the first time I have ridden in 2 weeks, and it was at 11:00.. In the dark, bareback, on my gelding.