I have a 9 year old barrel horse named Vegas, he is a very high spirited barrel horse. We have problems with head tossing, and pulling of bit. Even with some training techinics my father gave me he still keeps it up. I cannot put a tie down on him to help him learn for 2 reasons. I avoid tie downs, they can slow you down not giving your horse his head in a race (which is just my opinion) and 2 he broke his nose when he was younger on some panels in a round pen being stupid, So anything that goes across his nose he hates due to the break. I have had a few people suggest martigales but I only use those for head set and training younger horses. Any suggestions?
Maybe he needs a different bit...or his teeth might be bothering him... have you had his teeth checked?
We have had his teeth checked, there are no hooks or anything, because I orignally thought it was bothering him. He rides in a simple short snaffle shank. I tried changing his bit several times, but never got the results that I had with the orignal bit I trained him in. At this point in time, I believe the head tossing has just purelly become a annoying habit for him.
I had an Arab like that..I had her completely checked out and she just liked tossing her head. We did a lot of lunging teaching her to lower her head at the trot and relax which helped a ton....I also sometimes used a running martingale which did work very well. I hate using "gadgets" but used correctly some of them can be helpful reminders for some horses....
'Snaffle' shank? Not only is the hinged mouth piece protruding into the roof of your horses mouth, commonly known as the 'nutcracker' effect, true to its design - your combining this with the leverage of a shank. No wonder your horse is tossing his head.
If you haven't already tried lunging Vegas with a loose ring snaffle, no shanks, and side reins attached to the bit and to a trainng surcingle or saddle that might help with his head tossing under saddle without the side reins. You might give some serious thought to taking Vegas back to some basic training using a running martingale.
To clarify, the short shank and broken mouthpiece should be ridden two-handed, not one-handed. Even the lightest hands might create a nutcracker effect. I"m guessing you're probably riding western /neck reining if you are doing barrels. You might try one of the Myler comfort snaffles with short shank or 2-3 rings - they don't "break" in the middle so you have the best of both - snaffle comfort and some tongue pressure from the short shank. My colt tossed his head and was really heavy on the bit with regular o-ring snaffles in training. The Myler 3-ring worked out perfectly for us and he's now softer and goes in a more rounded frame rather than trying to get away from the bit. We did not need to use tie downs or martingales; the Myler combo taught him to carry his head/neck in the right position without the restrictive aids.
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