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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know there's quite a few posts on here about head tossing, but this one is different. I've been doing the whole riding/training/finishing thing for 20+ years (not professionally, well kinda). I've never had one this difficult.

Horse is my new Mystery Mare. @ 8-9 yrs, ranch trained (very cowy), hates to let you catch her (working on that), hates being in a barn, VERY head shy (getting much better), and very inconsistant with her temperment. After working with the head shy thing since Oct, I can go a few weeks with it not being a serious issue anymore, then suddenly it's like I never worked with her before. My guess is she wasn't treated well, and someone ripped the h*** out of her mouth and head.

Previous owner rode in a tom thumb (I HATE THEM!). She is constantly tossing her head, when theres contact with the reins & when there's not. I put her in the round pen with the saddle & bridle (w/ the training snaffle) & some sandbags (about 3/4 my weight) on the saddle. Happy as a clam, no head tossing. I hop back on, drop the reins, and walk/trot = Metalica concert worthy head banging.

teeth floated & checked - check
no visible signs of past injuries/bruising - check
no signs of pain/stiffness on ground - check

Thought maybe vet missed something, so I put in a side pull. If she's doing what she wants no head tossing, second I take the wheel = head tossing. same thing with a bit. (there's my clue to lack of respect).

I don't ride on the bit, I prefer to use legs & hips, but she gets so focused on fighting whatever it is that she thinks is going on with her face that I can't even get her to focus on the rest of what's going on. I was hoping that by moving her strictly off my legs, she'd relax in the face by realising I wasn't going to rip her mouth apart. No such luck:?

Any suggestions? I've never had one this determined to fight the bit. Usually, I can come up with something to get them to realize I'm not the bad guy. Not so much this time.:evil: Like I said before, I've been doing this for awhile. By no means am I saying that I'm one of those who thinks they know it all, but I'm definatly WAAAY beyond the know-nothing. That's why I'm so stumped:oops::evil::oops:
 

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Does she give into pressure? Can you move her hind quarters independently with very little pressure? Have u done round pen work with her? What I would do is start completly from the beginning with her. Take her back to basic ground manners. If she's headshy still, then she isn't mentally balanced enough to be attempting to ride her. You'll just be taking steps backwards.
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Habit. Habit. Habit! The other thing you probably have going is a horse that hates tongue pressure.

I would try two things.

First, go to a bit with a solid mouth but swivel short shank cheeks and tongue relief. I have one with a big thick Mullen mouth and about 3 inch 'tear-drop' shanks. Mine is an old Trammel, but I know there are others now. The Mullen mouth gives a lot of tongue relief and the big (probably 3/4 inch) mouth is real mild.

This short shank bit can be used with a running martingale and rides as good two handed as it does with one.

I also have a Greg Dutton bit with a medium port that has a curve going forward, too so that it does not ride on a horse's tongue.

Then, I would make a set of draw-reins out of 1/4 inch nylon cord. I have a continuous piece about 12 or 14 feet long and usually snap it into the western center girth dee-ring instead of the side girth rings. I just ride 90% of the time with the regular reins and only pick up the draw rein when the horse goes to fighting its head. By the end of 30 days, I would hardly ever have to pick up the draw-reins but they were there. If the horse wanted to fight, I could suck his head down and drive him forward and he got so appreciative of a loose rein that he really shaped right up.

This is one of those times that using our hands, seat and a snaffle just never gets the job done. Old head fighting habits, like other spoiled horse problems, can require a different way to fix it. The different feel of the solid mouth with the draw-reins used as a tool to fix a specific problem, is really effective. If you only pick up the draw reins when you need them, they do not become dependent on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Habit. Habit. Habit! The other thing you probably have going is a horse that hates tongue pressure.

I would try two things.

First, go to a bit with a solid mouth but swivel short shank cheeks and tongue relief. I have one with a big thick Mullen mouth and about 3 inch 'tear-drop' shanks. Mine is an old Trammel, but I know there are others now. The Mullen mouth gives a lot of tongue relief and the big (probably 3/4 inch) mouth is real mild.

This short shank bit can be used with a running martingale and rides as good two handed as it does with one.

I also have a Greg Dutton bit with a medium port that has a curve going forward, too so that it does not ride on a horse's tongue.

Then, I would make a set of draw-reins out of 1/4 inch nylon cord. I have a continuous piece about 12 or 14 feet long and usually snap it into the western center girth dee-ring instead of the side girth rings. I just ride 90% of the time with the regular reins and only pick up the draw rein when the horse goes to fighting its head. By the end of 30 days, I would hardly ever have to pick up the draw-reins but they were there. If the horse wanted to fight, I could suck his head down and drive him forward and he got so appreciative of a loose rein that he really shaped right up.

This is one of those times that using our hands, seat and a snaffle just never gets the job done. Old head fighting habits, like other spoiled horse problems, can require a different way to fix it. The different feel of the solid mouth with the draw-reins used as a tool to fix a specific problem, is really effective. If you only pick up the draw reins when you need them, they do not become dependent on them.
Interesting suggestion about the draw reins. I made mine 15 yrs ago with 1/4" cotton line, much softer in the hands, LOL

The shank that I tried on her was a straight mouth w/ a swivel/ roller. I don't have any w/ a decent port. YAY bit shopping in my future!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Does she give into pressure? Can you move her hind quarters independently with very little pressure? Have u done round pen work with her? What I would do is start completly from the beginning with her. Take her back to basic ground manners. If she's headshy still, then she isn't mentally balanced enough to be attempting to ride her. You'll just be taking steps backwards.
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Depends on her mood:? I've been doing round pen work when the footing allows (it's either icey or soupy). She's actually fairly responsive to body language on the ground in the round pen, surprisingly respectful al things considered. I'm working with her on giving into pressure on the ground, and she's getting better slowly. I do A LOT of pressure/release with her and she fights it. I don't think there was any positive reenforcement in her past. So that whole concept is foreign to her. She has it in her head that she must resist any attempts to help her:-(
 

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Draw reins are the last thing I would try with this horse. They would probably restrain her enough that she would feel the need to rear and possibly go over backwards. The bits I would try would be a soft rubber mullen mouth (the really flexible black ones, not a happy mouth) and a waterford, both in snaffle form. It sounds to me like she has some pretty nasty palate bruising and needs a bit which will not put pressure on it. And please don't put draw reins on her!
Good luck!
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Although not an expert, have to agree with anebel on the draw reins.

I was taught you never put draw reins on a horse that is 'funny' with its head.. they're more inclined to worsen, and or panic and do some crazy things. You don't want to secure/fix the head, you want to fix the problem..

Just another thought.. have you had her ears checked for mites etc?

Or is there a chance you can turn her out, if there is bruising to her mouth, for a week-10 days or so, so she can just mooch, be a horse, heal, and then crack on?

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Draw reins are the last thing I would try with this horse. They would probably restrain her enough that she would feel the need to rear and possibly go over backwards. The bits I would try would be a soft rubber mullen mouth (the really flexible black ones, not a happy mouth) and a waterford, both in snaffle form. It sounds to me like she has some pretty nasty palate bruising and needs a bit which will not put pressure on it. And please don't put draw reins on her!
Good luck!
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I was never planning on it with her, them or side reins. I don't plan on using her for anything that they would be useful for. I only ever used them with the show horses that weren't quite getting the concept of going on the bit.

She's not the type of horse that those type of aides would be beneficial. The ONLY thing that I might put on her would be a tie-down. And that's WAAAYYY in the future IF I end up using her as a barrel horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Although not an expert, have to agree with anebel on the draw reins.

I was taught you never put draw reins on a horse that is 'funny' with its head.. they're more inclined to worsen, and or panic and do some crazy things. You don't want to secure/fix the head, you want to fix the problem..

Just another thought.. have you had her ears checked for mites etc?

Or is there a chance you can turn her out, if there is bruising to her mouth, for a week-10 days or so, so she can just mooch, be a horse, heal, and then crack on?

Good luck!
Honestly haven't thought about the ears, good call (bad busysmurf!!:evil:)

The previous owner hadn't ridden her in 4 months when I picked her up, and who knows before that. I picked her up in Oct. and have only been on her 3-4 times since then. I've been focusing on the groundwork / head thing and some round pen work with the bridle on but no contact on the reins.
 

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Draw reins are the last thing I would try with this horse. They would probably restrain her enough that she would feel the need to rear and possibly go over backwards.
VERY much agree on NO draw reins. If she is fussing with just your hands that can give and take, she is really going to fight the restriction.

How "trained" is she? Some horses do not do the schooling, putzy, circle 'crap'. Unless they have a job, they see no need to be under saddle. Have you tried 'doing' anything with her? Trail obstacles, pole pattern - anything to get her mind off of the rider? You said she is cowy - how does she do in the pen?
 

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Honestly haven't thought about the ears, good call (bad busysmurf!!:evil:)

The previous owner hadn't ridden her in 4 months when I picked her up, and who knows before that. I picked her up in Oct. and have only been on her 3-4 times since then. I've been focusing on the groundwork / head thing and some round pen work with the bridle on but no contact on the reins.

No, not bad.. sometimes you just need an outside view.. that may explain her funny behaviour.. eliminate that, and you may get closer to the reason.. when she had her teeth floated, did they give you any instructions of when she next needs them, or if she had any feed packing etc and needs her mouth washing out? Did they mention and bruising?

Was she sedated too? Another thought I've just had is a possible cracked tooth.. I have a friend who is an equine dentist, and he's said sometimes cracked teeth aren't noticed straight away, and the tooth can cause agony, and pain.. might even be dead, and the horse will eat fine, but putting a bit/bridle on is a no go.. just passing info on.. might be worth getting a second opinion on her teeth, IMO.. and sedation so they can have a good look...

Good luck!
 

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Something simple to try is a nose net, it is not restricting or tying a horse down but it discourages head shaking.
Net Relief® Muzzle Net | Offers relief from headshaking symptoms | Equilibrium Products - In Harmony With Horses
Hunter, that's an awesome thing (I use one on my qh Apr - Nov), but I doubt it helps with OP's issues (which doesn't sound like a head shaking syndrome).

BTW, for those interested in the net I got it here Cashel Quiet Ride Nose Net @ Adams Horse and Pet Supply like 10 times cheaper then in Dover or SmartPack.
 

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OP, I'd put a rope halter on and work A LOT on giving to the poll pressure, bending, moving hinds, etc. on ground. If she fights a particular element try something else right away to still keep her busy. I'm sure she'll give up sooner or later. :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
VERY much agree on NO draw reins. If she is fussing with just your hands that can give and take, she is really going to fight the restriction.

How "trained" is she? Some horses do not do the schooling, putzy, circle 'crap'. Unless they have a job, they see no need to be under saddle. Have you tried 'doing' anything with her? Trail obstacles, pole pattern - anything to get her mind off of the rider? You said she is cowy - how does she do in the pen?
She is on them suckers like my kids with the candy jar!! I have her at a dairy farm, so I can't exactly put her in with the cows (I'd get yelled at, LOL), but the cow field is next to hers so I see her following them on her own. Other than that I haven't worked her on that stuff. Same with me, in the round pen we play games on the ground where I have her follow me/move with my body language. And she is right there with every step (she's not "on-top" of me in my space, she's the correct distance away showing respect).

The few times I've hopped on, it's been lots of serpentines, small circles, big circles, leg yields. MY attention span doesn't handle going around and around and around...:lol: I've been trying to get her to focus more on the task at hand than what's in her mouth. She's a mix of having more advanced skills and missing some basics. OBVIOUSLY, I know the basics need to come first. Thus the bit question. She's farily solid on her skills up to that point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
No, not bad.. sometimes you just need an outside view.. that may explain her funny behaviour.. eliminate that, and you may get closer to the reason.. when she had her teeth floated, did they give you any instructions of when she next needs them, or if she had any feed packing etc and needs her mouth washing out? Did they mention and bruising?

Was she sedated too? Another thought I've just had is a possible cracked tooth.. I have a friend who is an equine dentist, and he's said sometimes cracked teeth aren't noticed straight away, and the tooth can cause agony, and pain.. might even be dead, and the horse will eat fine, but putting a bit/bridle on is a no go.. just passing info on.. might be worth getting a second opinion on her teeth, IMO.. and sedation so they can have a good look...

Good luck!
Oh yes there was sedation involved, LOL I wasn't about to twitch her or chain her! We're working on "I'm the happy fairy, you love me lots:lol:" Twitching & chain = "I'm the troll" to her:lol:

Teeth looked good, maybe need them done next year. Hardly had to do anything this year (she had them done last year). The thing that I wonder about with the cracked tooth is she's fine with the bit when no one is on her, and when she's deciding where she's going and at what pace. But I'll definatly keep that in mind.
 

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....or, dare I say it..

SHE'S A MARE aha

Not helpful, I know.. my next horse is going to be a gelding. fosho.

Good luck.. going to hang around and see what some solutions are, and what happens :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
....or, dare I say it..

SHE'S A MARE aha

Not helpful, I know.. my next horse is going to be a gelding. fosho.

Good luck.. going to hang around and see what some solutions are, and what happens :D
I KNEW I STUCK W/ GELDINGS FOR A REASON:rofl: Then again, Odie has such a thick head & is soo stubborn (typical man:wink:)
 

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I would ditch the bit completely and just ride her with a halter and some clip on reigns and see if that helps. If she doesn't do it it is definitely a reaction to your bit...if she does do it I would say it is just a vice, something she has picked up in the past and noone bother to correct it...like cribbing, stall weaving, pawing, and ect...just a little something she picked up to relieve anxiety. We had QH mare who did this that was an ex racer...she did it because she wan't to run...it was her way of saying I am done poking round lets go...after many hours of that not working she just gave up on it...try riding her with just a halter and see what happens.
 
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