What to do about him tossing his head?

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What to do about him tossing his head?

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  • Saddle pinching head tossing in canter
  • Horse tosses his head when excited

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    02-01-2011, 07:46 AM
Green Broke
What to do about him tossing his head?

Well I think there are a few threads that are similar and I have kind of mentioned this in another thread but never really got a response. My horse tosses his head almost everytime he goes into a trot. It can range from just a slight up and down movement of his head to him shaking his head up, down and to the side for a couple of strides. It normally is rougher when he is more excited or if he is trying to get away with something. He still does it though when he is quiet and listening. He doesn't only do it under saddle he also does it out in the paddock. I've had his teeth checked and he had a few hooks but that was a few months ago. I thought maybe its just a habit he has picked up but im not sure I haven't ridden a horse that does this before. I would like it if I could somehow stop him from doing it because sometimes when he does it it can nearly rip the reins out of my hands (i don't think he is intending to do this though). Other times he gives you the impression he is about to buck when he does this though I was told he has never and would never buck under saddle. I've been trying to get a video of it but haven't been able to. Does anyone have any ideas.
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    02-01-2011, 07:56 AM
Green Broke
Have you ruled out pain?
    02-01-2011, 08:07 AM
Green Broke
I've checked is back and everything and he doesn't react as though in pain, his teeth have been checked the saddle seems to fit him quiet well. He doesn't appear to move stiffly or anything.
    02-01-2011, 08:41 AM
My new horse is doing the same thing, we are going to start addressing it in my lessons. I will post if I get any tips.
    02-01-2011, 09:10 AM
I would definitely get him at least flexion tested. My good friend's horse was doing the same thing and it was driving her crazy. He would toss his head in trot and canter almost continuously. She put him out to spell for a couple of months, brought him back in and sure enough, the head tossing has stopped. The vet said that it would have been pain that was causing the tossing, as the horse had injured it's hip months before and although not obviously lame, it was causing him some discomfort.

Also get an instructor or similar person to check that his bit is not pinching the corners of his mouth, and that his browband is not too small that it is pinching his ears. Do you know how to accurately check for saddle fit, or are you going by your own assumptions? If the saddle is slightly too narrow it can be pinching his shoulders and back, which restricts his movement and thus he physically cannot step out - hence the head tossing. If it is too wide it may be sliding over his back causing pain or pushing on his wither - again, head tossing. It may also be bridging, check under the flaps with the girth off and also done up, is there any space down the side of the saddle between his back and the panels?
    02-01-2011, 09:43 AM
Green Broke
With the saddle it doesn't appear slip and slide on him but it I have checked under the flaps (not with it done up i'll have to look at that). It doesn't appear to pinch his withers or anything. It doesn't sit along his back if that makes sense. At one point I did question it being a bit too narrow but I asked someone more experienced and they said the saddle was fine for him. So I'm not sure about that.

His bridle fits him fine just to be on the safe side I check it everytime. I don't think his bit pinches him but i'll check that when I go out with him next.
    02-01-2011, 09:49 AM
Super Moderator
I have a couple thoughts. First is always the teeth, which you said you had checked.

I would get them floated. You can get a bit seat put in, some people are highly against it and say that it screws up their mouth. I did it with my head tosser and it helped, the vet said it makes the bit more comfortable.

Another thing is I changed my bit to a french link, made a difference as well. He seems to like it better.

I also had his ears checked for mights and I did rule out pain, believe it or not, a poor fitting saddle can cause that type of issue and lastly... behavior. He could be trying to avoid the bit or the preasure....
    02-01-2011, 09:53 AM
Green Broke
He is definitely one to try and avoid contact and sometimes avoids the bit when being asked to stop.
    02-01-2011, 09:59 AM
My guy is also avoiding contact and does it when I ask him to stop.
    02-01-2011, 06:19 PM
What type of bit is he in? A plain, single jointed snaffle can have a 'nutcracker' effect on some horses. He may be a little low palated and thus when you ask for any contact on the reins, the snaffle is hitting him in the roof of the mouth.
Also take a look at your riding. I'd be interested to see a video, as you may well be causing the problem. If you are riding too heavy handed, or not maintaining an even contact with the bit he would be getting pretty irritated.

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