head tossing horse

       The Horse Forum > Riding Horses > Trail Riding

head tossing horse

This is a discussion on head tossing horse within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse is having issues tossing head going down hill
  • Why does my mare get all antsy and tosses her head going down hill on trail ride

LinkBack Thread Tools
    07-18-2012, 04:03 PM
head tossing horse

I have a five year old mare that is goofy about going down steep hills. At first she was just a little antsy when we first started down, but it's getting worse. Our trails have some very steep hills with small loose rocks on them. For several months now, she has been tossing her head most of the way down the hill and keeps trying to break into a trot. I always lean back as far as possible going down hill. I've tried zigzagging. She is shod, and I've talked to my farrier and vet, neither can find anything wrong with her. She has also started tossing her head whenever she trots or canters, even on the flat. I have always used a Dr. Cook's bitless bridle, and like I said, these problems just cropped up a few months ago. Any ideas as to what might cause this, or how I can stop it?
Sponsored Links
    07-18-2012, 07:19 PM
My horse loves to go faster down hills. I guess it is the gravity. It can create a problem because footing is an issue on some of our trails. She argued with me to start with. She finally tripped and almost fell and now she is doing better. I have never had much luck with bitless bridles. I got head tossing when I used them on my former horse. He did much better with a low port curb. My horse now does ok in either a snaffle or a low port curb.
    07-18-2012, 07:26 PM
Green Broke
Head tossing is most often caused by a discomfort in the mouth or face. I understand you are probably trying to hold her in at a walk but I would make sure you are aware of your hands when you are trotting or cantering. A change in head gear may help. It's worth a try atleast. Start with maybe a halter or even a snaffle.
One thing that worked well for my mare was riding with a buddy and making her go behind that horse. This way she had to go slow because there were horses in front of her.
    07-19-2012, 12:08 AM
Green Broke
Typically head tossing is due to discomfort and the trick is figuring out what is casuing that discomfort. Since it is happening more and more in different situations it's probably what causes both my boys to toss their heads. They absolutely hate their foretop wrapping around their ears as we ride. To prevent it from happening we toss in a braid before mounting or tuck it into their bridle.

Since you mention it just started over the last couple months, it could also be from bugs as that's when the season started for most of us. Use some sort of bug wipe around your horses face and don't forget to get some inside her ears as a lot of gnats like to go there.

I've also seen a few horses toss their heads like that when being irritated in a different area so don't fully concentrate on her head area. I'm thinking specifically of a mare my mom owned who couldn't stand being bit on her belly by flies. In the pasture she would kick and bite at them but when being rode she couldn't so tossed her head in frustration.
    07-19-2012, 12:15 AM
Green Broke
Could be a saddle fit problem too.
    07-19-2012, 10:55 AM
I second saddle fit. Traveling downhill the saddle might be shifting forward and interfering with shoulders. Pain or even discomfort will cause lots of issues that we can mistake for "being a brat" when we should really be listening to them. It also coud be that leaning "way" back might be driving the cantle of the saddle into the loins causing her to be rushing.
    07-19-2012, 11:08 AM
Green Broke
She could be trying to keep from falling too, and is using the head to throw balance differently.

You could be in her mouth, saddle could be hurting her, could be her legs aren't up to this too.

Could be other areas of spine are hurting as she tries to get down hill without hurting herself or you.
    07-20-2012, 11:39 AM
Originally Posted by trailhorserider    
Could be a saddle fit problem too.
I've run into this. All horses want to speed up down hill, but a slipping or ill fitting saddle that slides and rolls can really annoy them.
    07-20-2012, 11:59 AM
Green Broke
It sounds like a discomfort thing if you ask me. Either some type of changes in the fore such as navicular or ringbone that are so minute that the vet can't really detect them or maybe something more.

The gradually worsening head tossing on the flat sounds like whatever it is, it's gradually getting worse. You may have to dissect the problem. Do your horse's stools look normal? Is he eating or has he been slowly eating less feed? Is his coat getting a dull look to it? Is there a slight temperament change? Is there maybe a problem picking up correct leads? Is he fine at a walk but then starts head tossing at a trot or canter? Is he more sensitive in the flanks lately?

If you can answer yes to some of these, you may want to consider ulcers. It's one of the most misdiagnosed problem in horses, or commonly not considered. I only mention it because some of your horse's behaviors sounds like when Cinny first started having problems.... and they gradually got worse and worse to the point that people thought my horse needed to go back to a trainer because of his behavior. It is something completely fixable and worth asking your vet about.
    07-20-2012, 12:25 PM
Super Moderator
head shaking

We have a mare that often does this on the flat at the trot as you say yours does as well as going downhills though I can't say she is any worse doing that or that she tries to rush down them. She gets irritated by her mane or forelock touching her ears and is funny about having her ears handled so we got them checked out under sedation but nothing wrong but tying them away from her ears does help a lot We have changed her into a bitless to see if that made a difference but can't see that it does, she checks out fine with the vet and is perfectly healthy, we've had her 7 years now and still a mystery why she does it. She improves with regular work to the point of not doing it at all which is why we weren't aware of the problem when we bought her as it only surfaced after she had time off the first winter. She can also be very slightly cold backed after she has a break from work but nothing scarey. I'll be interested to read all opinions and ideas on this thread

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
horse wont stop tossing head rednecklove Horse Riding 16 05-11-2012 08:27 AM
Head tossing horseluver250 Horse Training 5 09-11-2011 10:28 AM
Crooked Horse/Head tossing Stella English Riding 6 04-30-2011 12:46 AM
Head Tossing char1y Horse Health 12 08-26-2010 02:07 PM
head tossing Snapple122 Horse Talk 2 08-19-2008 03:57 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0