Dropping head and pulling at reins

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Dropping head and pulling at reins

Post by eeyore818 on Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:55 pm

Hi...I have a TWH that I got last Fall. Sarge is 12 and had been basically left out in a pasture for a year and not ridden much. He was a bit thin so we spent the winter trying to get some weight on him. We did ride occasionally and did some ground work too. He is very willing,calm,cooperative and has good ground manners. We are now starting to ride regularly and I notice he will drop his head and pull at the reins as soon as we start any faster than a walk...any suggestions?
Thanks in advance!

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Dropping Head and pulling at reins

Post by Nancy Faulconer on Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:55 pm

That sounds like a behavior that he used in his past that got him a release from rein pressure. So my answer is simple: Keep the pressure on. When he raises his head back up to a normal level, then put a release in the rein. That does not mean you have to throw away all contact. Just make the wrong thing uncomfortable and the right thing comfortable. Be patient and consistent and you will reprogram his behavior.
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Re: Dropping head and pulling at reins

Post by Ed Dabney on Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:02 am

First I would have him treated by a genuine Equine Dentist to make sure the behavior is not being caused by pain in his mouth. Next I would have him examined by an Equine Osteopath or Equine Chiropractor to determine if there is a spinal misalignment or vertebrae blockage that could also be causing him to seek relief by dropping his head. Once medical or pain issues are treated or ruled out then you can address the issue from a training standpoint.
When your horse drops his head and pulls at the bit, instantly close one hand and let him run into one side of the bit. This will turn his head laterally and result in him coming off the bit. This method is most effective if you ride with a simple snaffle bit. If you hold or pull with both hands your horse will have a very satisfying solid bar of the bit to push against. Holding only one rein gives him nothing to brace against. Don't get in a pulling fight with him. He can pull harder than you. Use biomechanics and body positioning to discourage his pulling habits. He'll have a hard time continuing to pull against the bit and reins if his head is turned off to one side. Make sure you instantly release your hold as soon as he comes up off the bit. Do not continue to pull his head up after he has already come up off the bit. As in the old saying, "Ride with iron hands in velvet gloves", offer your horse soft hands as long as he carries himself correctly but one hand becomes iron as soon as he tries to pull the reins.
Enjoy the journey,
Ed
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Re: Dropping head and pulling at reins

Post by Chelsie Kallestad on Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:37 pm

Hello, I am new to the Forum.
What Ed said is spot on! Have him checked out by all those people. If there is no problem do exactly as he said, great advice. The only thing I would add to that is that you might want to play around with the right kind of bits. He might not like the bit you are using. I like the Myler Comfort Snaffles Level 1.
Keep us up dated,
Chelsie Kallestad
www.chelsienaturalhorsemanship.com
928-713-3468
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