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Sharpie 07-05-2012 01:10 PM

Head Tossing
Any suggestions for working on head tossing in a horse? Jayne does it whenever he's being pissy and doesn't want to do what you're asking him or is frustrated. No buck or rear, just head tossing/bobbing. He's always done it as long as I known him- it was one of the reasons he was sold to me. They rode him in a tie-down, and all that did was teach him he could only do it so high or low, not actually resolve the issue at all. He also does it while standing tied sometimes with or without pawing.

For me, he'll do it WHILE doing whatever it is that I'm asking that he doesn't like or doesn't really understand/know well, and it doesn't really bother me all that much since he's still doing what I want with his feet. Pain is unlikely since he's done it bareback, in different saddles, etc, and it only comes up when he's showing some attitude. If I smack him on the side of the neck or otherwise correct him, he'll stop for a while, so it's not been something I've really worked to correct on a regular basis.

BUT I know some other people see it as a serious problem, and I suppose if I was interested in showing, it would be. Any safe ways to correct it? Any ways to correct it so he's less likely to try it with other riders?

Spirit Lifter 07-05-2012 02:00 PM

This is what I posted for barrelbeginner.

There is a way to break him of it. It seems mean to me though. The local horse dealer here would tie your horses reins criss cross under your horses belly and tie the ends to the horn just so the horses head stays down. Not too tight but so that the horse can't pop his head up. Then he would lunge him in the walk, trot and canter. The horse learns the only release on the bit is when he keeps his head down.

I've seen him do it. I go over there and watch him and his crew fix bad habits so they can resell horses. This particular day, the horse learned it in a very short time.

I'm NOT a trainer. Just passing on what I saw done to a horse to correct the head tossing. Don't know if it's good or bad to do.

Read more:

Sharpie 07-05-2012 02:14 PM

I've put him in a training Y, which is a similar idea, it attaches to the girth and the bit. When he's in it, there's no head tossing, though he will throw his head down occasionally as an alternative. The moment you take it off, back to the same ole' same ole.' He rode in it 100% of the time saddled for about three weeks. Not long enough?

I dunno... I have no problem with training tools or gadgets, per se, but I don't want a horse that relies on them, or 'reverts' when you take them off... because that's not really training the horse, just preventing them from showing the behavior. OTOH, letting him continue to practice this long established habit makes it even harder to get rid of than it already will be. I've pretty much ignored it since it is much better than it was when I bought him (no credit to me, I assure you), though only when I am riding him. Someone else hops on and it seems to get worse again.

Spirit Lifter 07-05-2012 02:35 PM

I don't know the answer. Riding in the saddle with a device seems to teach him what to do with the device as you said. My GUESS would be that he needs the groundwork training reinforcement before you transition him to a rider. He needs to relearn so to speak or unlearn this bad habit. Takes at least as much time to undo the problem to equal the amount of time he's been given to learn the wrong way. Let's see what other folks say.

Drifting 07-05-2012 02:48 PM

63 Attachment(s)
Does he do it bit-less too? Have you tried different bits?

Sharpie 07-05-2012 03:07 PM

I have tried some different bits- he was really bad about doing it when I rode him in a tom thumb (before I bought him), somewhat better in a hollow mouth snaffle (what I put him in right after I bought him), and much better in the french link he's in now (that I put him in about three months after purchase). I do think the bit changes helped, but I also think that part of it is a habit he has. I do ride him in his halter on a regular basis, but I cannot recall if he does it in the halter or not- Good Question! I will pay attention and see in the next couple of days. Maybe that will shed some light on things. I have never used a bitless bridle, sidepull, hackamore, or any of those other options with him.

Ray MacDonald 07-05-2012 03:24 PM

My gelding does that to. What I do is have contact with his mouth, like riding english, when he tosses his head I give a firm pull on the reins, not a jerk, just an increase of pressure from what you already had. At the same time give him a good bump and squeeze with your legs.

I started doing that and he has slowly been not doing it.

Sharpie 07-07-2012 03:47 PM

Went out on the trail today- he got impatient waiting for some of the slower walking horses and started tossing his head. I smacked him on the side of the neck, which resulted in him stopping for about 10 seconds with his head up and ears focused back on me. Then he tried it again, got smacked again, and just stood there sulking.

Don't know if that will help long term, be that did it for today. If that is all it takes, I'm going to feel downright silly for not doing it sooner. Haven't rode him in his halter yet to check that.

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