Horse dropping nose to ground when asked to trot
I'm brand new to the forum and seeking some advice. I'm a fairly green horse owner - rode a bunch as a kid at relatives farm, but never owned my own horse. We've had a horse for about 2 years now.
My horse is a 12 year old Gelding who is athletic and a very nice mover. We've been doing some light riding this year as he needs to be worked up slowly each Spring. We think he was mistreated for most of his life. He's super spooky to new people, headshy and needs a really quiet existence - otherwise under saddle he's usually flawless and really likes to work.
But, the other night, out of the blue, while we were trotting he started to drop his head a bit. As we continued to ride it got lower and lower until he was dragging his nose on the ground.
I got off and lunged him without the bridle and he did the same thing, only he seemed as though he couldn't even bring himself out of a walk. As soon as I began to cluck him up, his head would drop way down.
I took the saddle off and tried lunging again and the same thing. He's been doing this now for about 3 days, but I haven't rode as I am worried something is bothering or hurting him.
There has been no change in tack and he does not show any lameness or stiffness. Just the behavior. And, it's not an aggressive lowering of the head, like he's going to buck or anything.
The only thing I can think of is that his hooves aren't in great shape and I've been waiting for the farrier to show up for a good week. But, his hooves have been left for much longer than this - and he's never been bothered.
Anyone familiar with this behavior or have any advice on what may be bothering him?
I'd be inclined to think this horse is testing you to see what he can get away with, if he is not limping or exhibiting signs of soreness.
May also be contemplating rolling, bucking or just has found new way to have one on.
Does he do this when he is in field, or at play, or only when you are working with him in some fashion?
If it is ALL the time? Something may be wrong, if it is not, then you are being played like a fish.
And by babying him along, worrying about his prior life, you may have taught him to do this too, not literally, but figuratively by not demanding much of him, or expecting it.
Video would help here.
One of my geldings does this. Whether hes ridden of lunged, he'll lower his head and nearly drag his muzzle on the ground. He doesnt place a foot wrong, the sweetest boy. Tack fits properly. Its just...him. Its his way of stretching his neck and lifting his back.
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@Palomine Thank you for the advice, but it's not like that at all. There's no buck or attitude attached to it. He doesn't even pull at the bit when doing it. @ClaPorte432 Thank you for the reply. . . it's wierd because he's never done this before - do you think it could be age. .or WEATHER related? It's been sooo HOT and HUMID here - he's well hydrated but it's uncomfortably hot although I've been waiting until later in the day when it tends to cool off a bit to work with him.
He is stretching his back. Lots of horses do this.. and if you are training a horse you often encourage it.
What discipline are you riding?
You are likley riding with your reins too loose unless you are not going for something specific (like stretching and ecncouraging him to lower his head and use his ring of muscles to raise his back). You are likely not pushing him forward into the bit and asking him to use his ring of muscles.. shifting his weight off his forehand to his hind quarters. He may have been taught to do this on a loose rein at some point in his training.
A horse that CAN do this when you are riding means you do not have him on the bit and he is not really working. Shorten your reins and push him forward with your legs and he can't do this.
If he does this lunging when you first start out, that is good (he is warming up and stretching). After 10 minutes put loose side reins on him and continue to lunge him.. he won't be able to get his nose on the ground. Lunge him in a proper lunging cavesson.. not just the lunge line hooked to one side of the bit (NEVER!) or to the near halter ring.
Of course this response is assuming his tack fits correctly and he is not over loaded.
quickly enter western pleasure events and listen to the praise of your training regimen! lol kidding Just keep pulling his head up when he does it, if he fights the bit then you gotta work that out. Just make sure that everything your horse does while you are aboard is your idea not his..
Could you try grass reins?
I went to a horse camp once, and they took us on a trail ride, and the mare I rode had grass reins, I think they were more of a saftey precaution than anything, because then I and the others were young beginners, but anyway, it was thin cord rope clipped to the snaffle ring, and ran through a ring in where the browband and crownpiece meet, and wrapped around the horn- of course, if you ride english, you can tie them to the breastplate ring. I've heard of them to keep a greedy pony from eating grass, or to keep a naughty horse from lowering his head too far below his withers to buck.
It may work, but like most training aids of this type, it's probably only temporary and it's best to do it right.
I have a horse that does this too.
I stopped worrying about it and used it to my advantage, he is stretching. He only does it during warming up and as soon as I pick him up he knows its time to go to work.
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