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SUNSH1N3L0V3R 10-28-2011 01:02 PM

Why does my 6yr toss his head when I apply direct contact with bit?
I just bought a very sweet, but green 6 yr QH/Appy gelding that opens his mouth and tosses his head any time I put direct pressure on both reins. The weird thing is, he is generally fine with direct rein on either side, but when it comes to pressure from both he tries to escape the bit. I am using a loose ring snaffle on him right now, so it's not like the bit is harsh. He is very willing and listens to everything I ask, he just is green and FULL of energy. He has GREAT forward movement and a nice natural headset and I don't want to ruin that, but when I need him to focus I would rather not have him tossing his head :)

We worked yesterday on a loose rein doing lots of circles and figure-eights, trying to get him to slow down and relax, loosen up and tire a little bit.. it worked well but OMG he has a LOT of energy. After 45 min of flatwork we were both dripping with sweat but he was still a happy little ball of energy.

Any ideas on the head tossing? Suggestions for bits and continued training?

He is on pasture and gets fed Purina Strategy which is 14% protein. A friend with a hotter TB told me to try switching to a grain with a 10-12% protein content.

Thanks for the help!!

Jake and Dai 10-28-2011 02:54 PM

Welcome to the forum! :)

The first impression I got from your description and probably one that others will ask is...

have you had his teeth check recently?

He could be reacting to pain.

mishap 10-28-2011 03:04 PM

I'd say pain.

mls 10-28-2011 03:37 PM


Originally Posted by SUNSH1N3L0V3R (Post 1214704)
I just bought a very sweet, but green 6 yr QH/Appy gelding
Any ideas on the head tossing? Suggestions for bits and continued training?

Just bought.

What was he ridden in before? Did he do the head toss thing when you tried him before you purchased him?

manca 10-28-2011 03:41 PM

And if it's not teeth in need of floating it could be the bit. Bit doesn't need to be harsh to cause pain. Maybe he needs a diferent bit, that fits him better. My mare was very unhappy with snaffle and now she does much better with french link.

I find this thread very informative:

(You have another sticky with western bits, if you ride western. Check the tack/equipment subforum)

Saddlebag 10-28-2011 03:55 PM

When you apply pressure with both reins he's bracing against that. Instead of even pressure, try opening your last two fingers on one hand and see how he is with that. It's a small give but nevertheless a give. If you play with the reins,ie opening and closing those fingers first on one hand then the other, you will begin to feel the difference and so will he.

ErikaLynn 10-28-2011 05:22 PM

What it sounds like to me is he's just being a brat and trying to avoid the bit. I say, keep the loose ring on him, and keep doing circles and making him relax like you're doing. Also open and closing your hands simultaneously around the reins, it's called tickling, will help him come down on the bit.

It will take a lot of time, be patient. Good luck.

amschrader87 10-28-2011 05:26 PM

Probably because he hasn't been taught properly how to give to pressure.

Corporal 10-28-2011 06:12 PM

IF it isn't his teeth, he hasn't learned to accept the bit. You may not know how many rides he has had or if the previous owner or trainer had soft hands or not. Hard hands can aggravate this. My 5yo QH was tossing his head last year--I adopted him from a rescue in March, 2010. I had a couple of rubber-mouthed mullen-mouth bits in my tack room, so I switched to that until about a month ago. The head tossing stopped. I'm not sure, but I suspect his wolf teeth were growing in. However, I have noticed that QH's and QH-types (which we know some Appy's are) tend to pick up this bad habit.
I am training another 5yo (KMHSA) who was rushing, to slow down. This is more important than the head tossing. If you know how to do a one-rein stop, I would school him to "shut him down" every time he picks up anything faster than a walk. This is working very well with my KMHSA, and if you're ever around these mountain horses, they like to rush and their owners usually let them. DH and I want him to "walk the first mile out". In our training sessions we have been walking him for over an hour at a time. He is getting much more relaxed. We ride him at the buckle of the reins, now. Last year DH taught him to neck rein. That's your next step, to stay off of his mouth. Also, incorporate your weight. Lean forward when you cue for the walk--We also say, "walk on." Lean back and audibly breathe out to slow down AND to halt.
After THAT, you will want to teach him the half-halt. From the half-halt, he will learn to soften to the bit.
Sorry about the lecture-length answer! Welcome to the forum, and gives us updates! =D

sadstory1 10-28-2011 06:38 PM

I agree about the dentist. sounds like wolf teeth to me.

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