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I am having trouble finding a bit for my horse. I just bought a 5 year old Thoroughbreed Mare. At the canter she does this weird thing with her head, where she lifts it and turns it in. I had this very good trainer watch me and she said it was nothing with my seat, balance, or inter-ference. I know I have soft hands so I know i'm not hanging on her. Her teeth have been done recently and I've been working on leg yeilds with her for bending and balance. I just can't seem to find a bit. I've been riding her in a snaffle, I've tried some others but can't fine the one thats for her... I used to use a rubber bit on my first horse, also a mare who needed soft hands.. But before I went out and bought one I wanted to know if there was any others I should concider.
The first thing that popped in my head...
Have you lunged her? Does she do it then too? No side reins. No bridle. Just lunged in a halter or free lunge? If she does it with no bit in her mouth, it won't matter what bit you buy. And this goes right along with John's suggestion...probably a pain issue.
I actualy found a bit that works sooo good, its a rubber bit with 3 joints, and I now use a figure eight flash... problem solved =)) ..its enough to control her to the jumps and she seems to like it !!
If you aren't doing dressage then I would suggest the peewee bit. You would have to check with you local showing associations to see if it is legal because it is relatively new, but this could really help you. My horse constantly threw his head with his old bit and tried to avoid it like the plague (he didn't like the nut-cracker action of the snaffle), and when I put this bit in he loved it! They have a website if you google it. It is made with sweet iron so they love it, and when you aren't pulling on it it stays quiet in the mouth so they don't mind having it in their mouth. Light hands are also good with this bit because you don't need a lot of strength.
My horse did something similar too. It turned out that he had a sore inside his cheek, so that should be looked at. I also switched to a Myler bit... which I love, even on horses without mouthy problems. But I do agree with John McGraw. It could also be a problem with pain in your horse's back. When your horse lifts her head, it lowers the back muscles and it could be a way of the horse trying to relieve that pain. I would definitely get that checked out. Afterwards, doing alot of trotting, brief rounding of the horse's frame, and working up and down hills, will help strengthen your horse's back. Even if it isn't causing your current issue, a healthy top line on a horse will make for a better performance.
my 3 year old thoroghbred mare started doing the same thing recently, so i started riding her in a happy mouth french link and bungee neck stretchers. they work wonders! also lunging in side reins helps with balance and suppleness at the canter.
Like John said, she may be sore. Our mare, Mary, has a tendency to throw her head too, so I changed the bit to a full cheek snaffle and started to flexing exercises with her. She's a lot better now.
But with my horse, Flicka, Flicka used to act the same with her bit, so I put her in a bosal, it's kinda like a haacamore.
Hope everything works out!!!!
she may be sore or it maybe a size issue. it doesn't happen often but we have two horses at our equestrian center that are picky about the size and thickness of the bit. one of them we found only responded to larger bits the other just wouldn't respond at all so we finally had 2 switch him to a haccamore. their riders both had perfect seats and just had their teeth done. pretty much the same senario. but we had them looked at and they weren't sore after all. they were just picky. like i said it is rare but if nothing else works i would look into it
Just a question... did she race? I had a TB that did the same thing. He was off the track. He worked out of it after I had him a little while... she may just be avoiding the bit. I'd go with something softer (though single jointed snaffles are not exactly harsh)... try a french link, peanut, or a kk link. When she does the head thing add pressure with your calves, but don't mess with her face too much, or it'll just exaggerate the problem. I'd say it's a pain thing, but you've had her assesed by your vet and a knowledgable trainer. Hope I was helpful! Good Luck!
I forgot to add that I seriously urge you to avoid side reins (or any variation) all together. There have been way too many horses messed up by people who were not knowledgable enough to use those contraptions. Less is more when working with horses.
My horse used to pull his head up like that as well. What helped him and I was the Baucher bit. Its a great bit because it allows for the horse to easily bend from their pole - seems like that's what your horse is missing. I would also suggest doing some massage work on her neck and pole to see if there are any sore spots. I would highly suggest NOT using bungees. This will only make your horse pull her head up more often when you change back to the regular reins. Hope this helps.
My TB mare is off the track. She had a hard mouth, couldnt bend to the right, but she was very willing.
I found that if I used any "metal" bits she would "react" to the metal. I have very soft hands, but she still did not appreciate the metal. I started using the black rubber covered bits. She responded beautifully to them. I know they race a lot of horses in D Ring Snaffles. What has worked for me (may or may not work for your horse) is the rubber pelham snaffle and the rubber kimberwick straight bar with a small port.
OMG Courtney, I think we have the same horse LOL, my horse doesnt bend to the right at ALL, well shes gotten a little better, but yea, she hateddd the metal that what I have her in right now is a jointed rubber bit.. I will deffinetly try those bits your reccomended, thank you so so much!!
I ride a quarter horse mare, and she's always hated a bit. I started her with a Tom Thumb snaffle, but she would always chew on and bite the shanks. I switched to an O-ring snaffle, which worked for a while, but she was constantly trying to spit it out, and simply fighting it. I finally switched to a hackamore, which seems to be working. It's a bit of an adjustment, since a bit asks a horse to bend at the poll, while I hack asks her to bend at the withers, but she's doing very well. I don't know what discipline you're riding, but if a hackamore is acceptable, then I would give it a try! Hope this has been helpful.
Also, Micmar makes a wonderful line of bits for every problem in every discipline. They can solve almost any problem. They're kind of pricey, which is why I don't use one right now, but they really do work wonders.
Try a Jeremiah Watt Snaffle with a d-ring or egg butt so it doesn't pinch but it doesn't sound like the bit really. It sounds like a learned issue. Go to the Peter Campbell Yahoo group and I will bet you on that message board Peter's wife, Trina will be able to tell you the trouble and how to help the horse make a change. www.willingpartners.com Peter lived and studied with the one and only Tom Dorrance (original horsewhisperer). I have seen him get horses to come around and relax like no other teacher.
Think of thickness of a bit like this. which feels better in your mouth a pencil or a big fat sharpie marker? Which would allow you to relax your lips and mouth. Softness comes from the heart, not from the hands.
try a running matingal they keep ur horse's head sown. i had an arabian/quarter horse pony and he always use to trow his head, almost nooling me out. they're not hard to use and don't hurt the horse. it worked wonderfully for me. but if ur horse is off the track and young she might work out of it with more excirse or turnout. but ask ur trainer about the running martingal. i recomend it becasue it alous more movement then standaed but keeps the head down.
have you ever concidered a hackamore (also known as a bitless bridle i believe)? my horse was also very troublesome with the bit so we put him in a hackmore.
its worth a try.
they work just as well as bits and my horse stops just fine with the hackamore.
he is also fond to soft hands so thats why i thought maybe the hackmore would be for you.
hope this helped!
I had that issue. With one it was because I wasnt riding him straight evenly form both legs with the same pressure on both reins. make sure your not pulling too much on one rein (other than when youre turning) and if they still do it, id suggest a kimberwick, or if their head keeps getting thrown up try a running martigale, b/c this causes them to put there head down. Hope everything works out!
If your horse is off the track and she's turns her head in to the left, it's most likely because racehorses always turn left when running. I've ridden and seen a few Thoroughbreds do this. I also suggest trying a martingale, and maybe a gag bit(not as bad as it sounds) it can be double or single rein. My teacher and I used one on a gelding in school and he seemed to listen a lot better.
Well first and foremost welcome to the crazy thoroughbred mare club :) My advice...She probably is sore. I would take the others advice and have your Vet or a Equine Chiropractor take a look at her. For bits, I train with the John Lyons method and his/my recommendation is to use a Full cheek snaffle with a cooper inlay. Just my opionion though...
My horse used to do that all the time. All you need to do is either get a bit less bridal, or like others said, get a vet (not your trainer) to check your horses back. Since you don't know, give her like a week/ month vacation.
I would have your horse vet checked and rule out any pain or medical issues. Try to decipher whether your horses behaviour is bit related or behaviour related. Snaffle bits can pinch the horses tongue and or lips when twisted at certain angles and this could be all that's happening... you horse may be trying to reposition the bit in it's mouth. If you know your horse well, you should be able to tell by the expression on his face, is he giving you grief because he doesn't want to do what you're asking... or does it look like he's aggravated by the bit/bridle. You can try the 'pinchless bit' ... I think it's pinchlessbit dot com. I use a tom thumb on my mare and she goes along really well with it... although I have not had the problem you're having, a plain snaffle bit isn't enough control for me to keep her in line (behavior wise).
My OTTB did this for the longest time. He had nothing medicaly wrong with him. Try larger, hollow bits like a simple loose-ring snaffle. Or if she needs something a little stronger try a french-link loose-ring snaffle.
I have worked with a lot of thoroughbreds because my aunt is a jockey, and as I watch her in the mornings excercising them, I noticed that a lot of the horses do that at a trot or slow canter. I asked her trainer what they were doing and he said they are trying to take control and go faster. so I dont think it is a bit problem. She may just want to run.
My OTTB gelding did this as well. I found it was, like Abbi mentioned, that he was not accepting the bit and trying to take control. I've found regular riding, at least 3 days a week, helps calm him somewhat, although there is always that added bit of "lets go" when I first mount him. Working with many transitions, lateral work, circles, and leg yielding, has helped me alot in getting him into a more relaxed state of mind, accepting the bit, and coming into frame.
Try a mullen mouth happy bit.
It is used for younger horses, but almost every thoroughbred
I've tried with it accepts the bit.
But you might want to consider if your saddle fits properly,
it could be that it is blocking his/her shoulder making it difficult to canter, or painful.
If a snaffle doesn't work I use a low ported kimberwick. I've had a lot of horses with soft mouths and this isn't really harsh but it does provide more control. The port itself has a roller on it. Try this link Visit Link It's not the exact bit that I have used. The bit that I use, the port is more square and has a roller. But otherwise it's pretty much the same thing.
Well of course the first thing to rule out would be health issues. Like make sure that she moves comfortably in the canter without a rider and watch her neck and head movement, check her mouth and make sure that she is comfortable in that regard.
Its hard to say without having met you and your horse.,...so I dont want to sound like I know for sure but here's a thought. Actually, question first: is she heavy on the bit? Like is she trying to evade so that she can just go do her own thing?
Often its my opinion that if we are riding well what bit we are using shouldn't really make too much of a difference (with the exception of really harsh bits for very hard mouthed horses :S) We should be able to have control of the head and neck at all times just like we do of the body and hindquarters. You are probably already doing this (dont want to sound liek I think you are dumb :P but really I have no idea how advanced you are) but when she raises her head and snakes out to the side bring both legs against her to drive her forward into the bit and with slight seesaw motion (or pulsating pulls) on the rein to the outside of the bend in her neck, take her head back from her and correct her into a properly collected frame again. If it is becoming a battle remember that you are never going to be stronger pull for pull (and theres really no need to be yanking onour horses anyways :P ) and instead use your seat and legs to move her into your hands and bring her head down. She can pull back against a steady pull but if you kinda half halt on the rein on the inside of the bend of her neck to break her resistance you should be able to follow that immediately with a half halt on the other rein to reposition the head.
As far as bits go...unless your horse is out-muscling you I would suggest (haha...its all opinion anyway) staying in the neighborhood of a snaffle...I actually use a bit for my western horse called a colt breaker...Im sure it has a 'real' name but thats all anybody around here calls them. Its basically a jointed snaffle with a bit of leverage and a curb chain that can be adjusted. I REALLY like that one for training because if Im riding lightly its like a snaffle but if I need to prove to a young horse that no matter how much he fights me we really arent going to the pond/ back to the barn/ to the gate :P I can use a firmer hand and have that bit of extra persuasion while knowing that it is not a cruel bit.
yea I know what your saying, I actualy found out why shes doing it, the girl who had her before me was VERY rough on her mouth.. I'll be walking her in a loose rein and she'll start the head tossing thing, so its mental for her.. I've been riding her in a broken rubber with a figure 8 flash and its really been helping.. Shes just a baby TB off the track..
This problem could be related to several things some of which can not be solved by changing the bit. It is possible that since the horse is very young it could just have a playful manner or other reasoning for tossing its head. I had a horse that when we first bought him (6 year old) he was difficult to get round and to use his hind end correctly with his head in rhythm, its a bit hard to describe but we used a German martingale for a month or so and that seemed to have fixed the problem fairly well however my trainer and myself happen to have hands more on the softer side so it all depends on the rider and the horse.
I used to work with a horse like this. Maybe your horse's mouth is very sensitive, if she doesn't do it without the bridle, I would suggest trying many different techniques (bitless bridle, just use your legs to steer her, not your reins, etc.)
yea she is off track, but then a girl had her after that, when I bought her she wasnt trained AT ALL. She would bulge all over, she didnt know how to listen to the leg. We finaly got the bulging under control and are 1/2 way there with the leg =)