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Head tossing

(23 Posts)
sprinkles77 Sun 19-Jun-11 21:28:07

I hack out a thoroughbred mare once a week. She gets ridden or lead from a ridden horse most days and plays horseball at least once a week in season. She gets no schooling. She is very difficult to keep on the bit, and hates heavy contact on her mouth. She's a bit better in canter and fine galloping. Probably due to the horseball. She's 9ish and ridden in a jointed snaffle, flash and running martingale. She's not mine so I can't change the tack. We hack in company and I probably could find 5 mins to school her in the paddock before we go out. There's no way she will tolerate the sawing at her mouth that I've seen some people do. If I do some tight circles she's ok for the first 10 minutes. She's a typical TB x-racer: not much schooling, spooky, best in company. But generally a lovely ride.

HerMajestiesSecretCervix Sun 19-Jun-11 21:34:37

Have you tried a nose net? My TB mare was an appalling headshaker and I was at the end of my tether when someone suggested an equinet. It made a huge difference, not a 100 % cure but probably 98 %.

Disasterpiece Sun 19-Jun-11 21:58:37

Try taking the flash off and changing her bit.

A flash would drive me crazy and if she doesnt like contact in her mouth and has people riding her very heavy handed then maybe try something really, really soft.

I know you say you cant change her tack but i think if you are riding her then you have the right to keep her happy and settled.

Riding on the bit and riding circles should all be done with your seat and legs so shouldnt be a problem for her mouth.

sprinkles77 Sun 19-Jun-11 22:45:57

Thanks. I go really light on her mouth and ride her with lots of leg (she's not really that forward going naturally). Like this she's pretty chilled out but starts chucking her head about if I pick up more contact. I'm sure I can take the flash off, owner won't mind that. She's got a sort of white plastic bit a bit like [ this]. herMaj is [ this] the equinet? how does it work?

sprinkles77 Sun 19-Jun-11 22:48:03


Disasterpiece Sun 19-Jun-11 23:04:43

That type of bit is nice and soft.

Generally the thicker the mouthpiece the better.

A straight bar might be even better to be honest as they dont give that harsh nutcracker action on their jaw.

something like this Maybe someone could lend you one to try out.

MitchiestInge Sun 19-Jun-11 23:08:53

I've got two head shakers and use these but it is seasonal - pollen, dust, flies. They don't do it in winter.

I couldn't find the net you linked to.

sprinkles77 Sun 19-Jun-11 23:11:42

Thanks. the owner has loads of tack so I might well find something like that if I rummage. TBH I had been thinking about a hackamore to get off her mouth completely but owner hasn't got one. What do you think? Do they need to be sized? I might see if I can get one off ebay if taking the flash off and swapping the bit doesn't help. It's a tiny private yard, just the owners horses, so no other liveries to borrow stuff from!

Disasterpiece Mon 20-Jun-11 11:09:43

Sorry Ive never used a bitless bridle so couldnt really advise.

the net that mitchiest linked to is really good, I think it will probably be the one you meant too.

HerMajestiesSecretCervix Mon 20-Jun-11 18:35:34

The net mitchy has linked to is the one I use for dMare. It made all the difference.

marge2 Mon 20-Jun-11 19:33:15

Whatever you do I would definitely clear it with the owner first. I had a loaner who changed the bit without consulting me. I was really annoyed. She was going really well in the bit I had her in. When I got her back she had started to lean on the bit and was really heavy in the hand. (I also spotted she had had MY saddle post marked embossed with HER postcode WTFFFFFF.)

sprinkles77 Mon 20-Jun-11 20:31:22

That's cheeky! I only ride her once a week, so provided I change the tack back before I hang it up I'm sure her owner won't mind. It's about her going better for me really. If it works then he'll be quite happy, he's not adverse to changing the tack around if it's not working. He knows the head tossing is a problem and had remarked that she does it marginally less for me than for her regular rider. The interesting thing is that I have lead her out riding other horses, when she is in her usual bridle with a roller and side reins, and she doesn't do it, despite having no input from seat or leg!

Disasterpiece Mon 20-Jun-11 20:40:57

I doubt you have the side reins too tight so i wonder why she doesnt do it when shes lead?

Is her back ok? Saddle fits well? Just wondering if she is uncomfortable and you are lighter than her other rider?

sprinkles77 Mon 20-Jun-11 21:06:00

Hmm, that's a possibility, I should imagine I am at least 3 stone lighter than both her owner and her other rider. Have you seen horseball? The riders are hanging off the horses at all sorts of angles, I wonder if that could make her back sore, but then she should have been better in the winter when she wasn't playing, and she wasn't. I really don't know about the saddle, I'm pretty certain that it's an expensive one (all leather special horse ball one, the owner has a special cover for it, which he insists we put on when it goes away, which for him says something!), though price means nothing! I guess the other possibility is teeth, though she gets through her feed without any problem, and kept good condition over the winter even turned out all day.
I think I will start by taking the flash off and getting her a net and take it from there. Thanks for the tips, will let you know how we get on.

Disasterpiece Mon 20-Jun-11 21:26:40

Good idea, just try each thing one at a time to eliminate problems.

Fingers crossed just the net will solve it for her.

Jesus christ just google imaged horse ball - I dont like the look if it at all.

sprinkles77 Mon 20-Jun-11 22:09:06

Bizarrely she's really good at it, chases the ball down the field. She's nearly 17hh, so I'm glad it's not me hanging off her trying to get a ball off the floor!

Disasterpiece Mon 20-Jun-11 22:24:36

shock I dont like the idea of someone hanging off the side of a 17hander to reach the floor.

Must be terrible for their backs and mouths. sad

sprinkles77 Mon 20-Jun-11 22:48:07

half the time they're not holding the reins, so their mouth are OK, all this owner's horses have quite soft mouths and good brakes. I think you're not allowed to use bits with cheek pieces (curbs and gags and things) in part to protect their mouths. There is also a pick up strap that binds the stirrups under the horses' tummies and gives the rider something extra to grab onto. Not my cup of tea! God knows about their backs: they wear breast plates to keep the saddles straight.

AlpinePony Tue 21-Jun-11 10:59:40

Hackamores are one-size'ish' but it's very important to get any form of bless fitted correctly. There are 'experts' everywhere of course, but if you can find one who actually uses them;better!

I've just gone over to a bless (Dr cook) with my mare and she's going much better now. The snaffle was always a fight and she leant on the curb rein of a pelham.

There is some evidence to suggest that head shaking is a result of a trapped nerve causing temporary paralysis across the face due to a bit.

I was really nervous about going bless and I'm not yet convinced (or skilled enough) to get 100% precision in her movement, but she has stopped fighting me which is good.

I'm shocked you say people saw at her mouth. Wankers. sad

AlpinePony Tue 21-Jun-11 11:00:20

Bless = bitless!

sprinkles77 Tue 21-Jun-11 20:44:17

I rode a previous horse in a head collar when he had his wolf teeth out, and never went back to the bridle, but it was just off road hacking, and he was a very different beast. This mare is no dressage horse, just hacking and horseball, can't get much precision out of her the way she is, so would love to try her bitless. The sawing thing is I think a stupid, ill advised attempt to fight back with her, which is futile because in a battle of strength mare will win every time. Or maybe a really kak handed attempt at "give and take". The owner did give the culprit a bollocking when he caught him and this does seem to have coincided with some improvement.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Tue 21-Jun-11 22:16:41

We've been bitless on several different horses and ponies. It's great, the brakes are usually good, steering can sometimes be a bit vague. There are 3 main types, hackamore, which I feel really need an experienced hand, dr Cooks and scawbrig. Both the latter are quite harmless, the scawbrig does it's job without poll pressure, dr cooks works from the headpiece. They are very good for small mouthed ponies and bit leaners. I think if she doesn't head toss without a rider, I'd be suggesting a visit from the dentist, and then Possibly an osteopath. It sounds like the head shaking is a symptom.

Stinkyminkymoo Wed 22-Jun-11 21:50:42

I too would suggest a visit from the dentist. After that I would try lots off different bits to see what she finds comfortable or not. This could be different metals, lozenges and thickness of the bit.

"Generally the thicker the mouthpiece the better." this is only the case if a horse has a large mouth. My horse is an Anglo-Arab and has a small mouth so a small bit (a bradoon in fact) which is kinder for him.

I hope you find a solution.

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