Head Tossing and Mouthy with the Bit
My horse has always tossed his head after fences when he got strong and wanted to evade the bit. It had gotten better, however, now he tosses his head on the way to the fences, and when I put my leg on him to push him into the bit he starts bouncing and tosses his head more. Tried a running martingale and it just pissed him off and he started rearing. We have tried numerous bits and nothing seems to settle him. We have tried a hackamore but that seems to be too much. Today he only settled down after I really got into him, before that he was going sideways or standing up then throwing his head. Are there any exercises that help head tossers? Or has anyone found a bit that mouthy horses seem to like? It's becoming very difficult to jump him as his head is everywhere and he isn't paying attention unless we have a ten minute fight where to put his head. He is 10, so not a baby. Trying to get the chiro out to see if it is his back, even though he isn't sore.
I'm afraid he needs to have his flat training revisited. IMO you should spend the rest of the cold weather season working on the flat and asking for perfect manners. Ride lots and lots of half-halts. A good exercise on the flat is walk to sitting trot to posting trot, half-halt to a walk, drive forward to a posting trot. You can interchange the exericse to drive forward to the canter, then half-half trot, half-halt walk, and repeat. I would do lots of transitions and ride spirals where you ride a circle and make it smaller and smaller then ride it larger and larger until it's the original size. Switch reins and repeat.
Work him on the ground, too--perhaps teach him to sidepass on the ground and then work on it under saddle. Don't forget to PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE. I heard this expressed on "Dressage Symposium" this fall (RFD-tv series), suggesting that we punish much more than express our pleasure to our horses.
Pretty much ANY obedience exercises will help your horse bc his problem is disobedience under saddle. The exercises will help him to focus on YOU and your cues without resorting to overriding with spurs and a whip. I think he's too sensitive, judging from your description, and you do NOT want to have a physical battle with him. Iinstead, you need to outTHINK him. =D
The only bit that I can suggest is to ride with a full-cheek snaffle. You probably already own one--if not, every farm supply store sells them for about $20, not a big $investment. If he gets stiff necked he'll still turn with this bit.
He is pretty solid on the flat now, I will definitely try all of the exercises to make it even better :-). He is sensitive and too smart for his own good sometimes. I will have to really make sure he is on my aides and listening to me more. Thanks!
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Looking forward to hearing about much improvement in him when the 2012 show season starts!! **hugs**
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