Horses with his kind of personality are VERY mouthy. They investigate everything with their mouths. My warmblood is mouthy, he likes to chew the lead rope, pick up things and fling them about, pull things over.....and he loves food! He also has a very busy mind, always plotting and trying to be a step ahead of me. So I always have interesting and challenging things for him to do to exercise his mind. For these kinds of horses exercise for the mind is far more important than exercise for his body. These horses NEED mental stimulation otherwise the negative behavior will be worse. I do not view mouthiness as a problem. It's just who the horse is. And if I tell him off for being who he is how can he ever trust or respect me? I have to respect who he is innately BUT channel that energy into something constructive. Teach him to pick up things for you. Put that curiosity and natural talent he is showing you to good use. Be creative. Like with my warmblood, he is getting the hang now of handing me my grooming bag. And he is also very animated with his front legs, naturally, so I took that talent and gave it a job. He's doing a beginner version of the spanish walk now and he LOVES it! Take what the horse naturally has and is giving to you and put it to good use, don't supress it.
Yep, he sure does love food... he's a fatty! I don't mind his general mouthiness, just nipping, which he has now quit. I love the sound of the spanish walk/picking up tricks you are doing with your warmblood, sounds awesome :]
Okay, a couple things might be going on here. One, this horse has a lot of energy and he isn't able to use it. Meaning you are asking him to go slower when really he needs to move his feet. Instead of bolting, etc. his displaced behavior comes out in his head. So, if you feel frisky enough, when he gets excited take that energy and USE IT! Say, "You want to move? Me too!" Let him move out, give him something to do with that energy though. Do lots of patterns, changes of direction, etc. to get his mind. There is a difference between exhuberant and impulsive. So make sure that he is only exhuberant, not impulsive. If he is impulsive put him on a circle until he relaxes. Second, the bit might be a big cause of the head flipping. For a horse with his personality, they usually like a bit that has maximum tongue relief. Thet feel less trapped in the front end. Are you familiar with Myler bits? If not I would look into those with maximum tongue relief. Horses with this kind of personality can exhibit signs like head tossing, opening their mouths, chomping on the bit, reefing on the reins, tongue over the bit, etc. if they don't have enough tongue relief. One last thing. When you stop your horse, try this technique. Pick up contact and stop your body first. Then take one rein and lift it STRAIGHT UP, like an elevator. Do not pull back. With your other rein, have a steady yet light contact. When your horse stops release the reins. So one rein goes up, the other stays. This is called a suspension rein because it will help lift the horse's front end and put him on his butt. Also, this will feel better to the horse because you aren't pulling on him, you are lifting him. When he flips his head when you try to stop him, that is him telling you "No! I don't want to and get out of my mouth!" I say "I don't want to" because it sounds like he has a lot of energy and wants to use it. Now, if he doesn't stop, with your lifted rein you can bounce the rein up and down to create rhythmic pressure to back up your steady pressure. Don't yank or jerk, just boucne the rein a little to say "Hey, listen up." Reward the slightest try. Remember you are teaching him. I LOVE this technique, I use it on both my horses and every horse I ride. It really gets the horse soft and soon they let go of a lot of brace in their jaw because they know I'm not going to pull on them. When you pull on your horse you create instant brace and you invite a fight. This is exactly what we want to prevent.
In regards to the lots of energy thing, he is like an energiser bunny, he is never tired. However, If he feels like he wants to use it, I usually let him. I must say, I like going fast as much as he does :] We do lots fo sporting/mounted games, so we are often going fast through patterns etc. When he gets bored with one pattern, i'll thinkof a new way to ride it, for example at the moment i'm teaching him a race we know very well, 3 mug, but inside out. It saves time in a competition, and is very different so he really has to think about it. Between competitions we trail ride for fitness, and we will often bend through trees, jump logs, and we do race a bit :] So I don't think it's misplaced energy.
When I ask him to stop, I normally keep one rein firm and pull release with the other, I never straight pull as he just goes beauty! And pulls right back, lol. If he knows we are going to stop, for examply a certain spot in a race, he stops without the head flip. I think it is more when he thinks he knows better, 'mum, were not supposed to stop here!' is when he gets the flip happening.
I do know of myler bits, I used one on my old horse who had huge bit problems, pulling, lugging and tavelling with his mouth open. I haven't tried one on Wildey because apart from the head flip he goes evry well in his current bit, however it may be worth a try. I might have to wait till after christmas though, i'm broke and they are pricey!