Tossing head - bit or saddle? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 08-04-2020, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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Tossing head - bit or saddle?

I ride a horse who's slightly green- broke to ride, but doesnt know a whole lot. She recently started throwing her head while I ride and wondering about all the possibilities? She mostly only tosses her head when I ask her to stand still and she tosses her head both bitless and with a bit. The saddle I use isnt the best fit for her, i know this, but i use a fairly cushioned half-pad and I'm not sure I can afford to get a fitter out right now. I was thinking about trying to get on bareback (with a pad) and seeing if she'll feel better without the saddle. Thoughts?
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post #2 of 6 Old 08-04-2020, 10:13 AM
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Facial pain (dental , sinus), back pain, lameness, rough handling through the reins, size or type of bit or where pressure and amount of pressure (no release or slow release from bitless) occurs... Lack of training and not broke as well as you think. Could be very green and unsure.

All sorts of reasons. Most typical I would say is the rider and level of training in combination.
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post #3 of 6 Old 08-04-2020, 02:50 PM
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Head tossing/shaking can be caused by a lot of different things. It could be musculoskeletal pain (i.e. poorly fitting saddle, lameness, back pain, etc.), mouth/tooth pain, or allergies. However, with the horse being green, it's possible that it is simply a training issue. Another possibility is headshaking syndrome, which is caused by hypersensitivity of a horse's trigeminal facial nerve, but this is less common in mares and would persist even while the horse is at rest. You should probably try to rule out physiological causes before attempting to address it as a training issue.
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-04-2020, 02:57 PM
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If she's tossing her head when asked to stand still, I would say anxiety. At least, that's been my experience.

But by all means try bareback as well. If it works, and you don't mind riding that way, then it's an easy solution.
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Last edited by ACinATX; 08-04-2020 at 03:12 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-04-2020, 03:38 PM
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It sounds that you are describing a horse that is feeling irritable. She doesn't want to stand, or perhaps turn when you ask, or ?

You can check her back by palpating it to see if she reacts. I kind of think she is expressing impatience and irritation, that may have to do with her needing a big gallop, or her just not liking how you use your hands, or ?

Seriously, a video of your two riding would be very helpful.
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-05-2020, 10:49 AM
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Most likely pain-related/discomfort.

Could be an ill-fitting saddle, or she could have some back issues, causing pain in her neck. Could be sore, usually head-tossing is signaling discomfort. If you do ride bareback, make sure you give her enough support. I ride in the Barefoot Physio bareback pad. Lots of padding & also comes with shims.

Since she's green, it could also mean she just doesn't understand what is being asked. But I would rule out pain before anything else.

Ride more, worry less.
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