View Full Version : Getting head down
8th Aug 2002, 09:29 AM
Any tips on how to stop pony sticking her head right up in the air? She does it when she starts getting excited (it only takes trotting!) and then I have little control. I have started to try and work her down on the bit, but it is difficult keeping her there as the head goes up again. She then gets very strong - especially if we are jumping
(Don't know how this thread got that title? Sorry Kedwards! - computer going crazy!!!)
8th Aug 2002, 09:50 AM
Try investing in some lessons to help both you and you pony. Also try lungin before riding to get rid of exburence.
Check that his bak is OK and that all tack fits well as you may be putting pressure on his back.
8th Aug 2002, 01:42 PM
That's okay, JenJane. I'm just glad you weren't really asking me that question! It's certainly beyond the kind of thing I'd be working on without guidance.
8th Aug 2002, 02:25 PM
Firstly have you checked her back is okay and that her saddle fits? If they are both fine then, depending on what she is doing exactly, you could think of trying a running martingale, but htis isn't really a solution.
I have just tried explaining how I have been taught to correct the problem over the years, but there are so many factors involved as to why your horse is doing it, I was finding it too complicated to explain in any kind of order so deleted it all.
Assuming the saddle and back are okay then this is a sign of an unbalanced horse and martingales and stronger bits aside (they don't really improve the situation) the real cure for this kind of action is short bursts of schooling, stopping once you have had a good response from her and before she starts to get too strong.
To improve the situation, you'll really need to work this through with an instructor over a period of weeks. This prblem involves not just her head, but her whole body. If she has not been worked like this before then the chances are she is stiff and also doesn't possess the muscles to keep up working in an outline.
If the back is stiff, then she won't engage her hind legs and she won't have the muscles developed in the right places to support the outline. In this case, asking for the round outline is difficult for the horse and her head will come up in an attempt to evade. As a tip (I realise this post isn't the most helpful!) work her in a long, low and relaxed outline during your warm up gradually building her up to correct outline and to get someone who can teach you how to build up the muscles and to correct the problem as it happens.
8th Aug 2002, 06:22 PM
I'd suggest that if it's at all possible, get someone from EE to check the BIT - yes the BIT, as well as saddle. If you cannot - try a PM to Sue Carnell - I don't think Sue would mind at all.
Hope all goes well.
8th Aug 2002, 06:29 PM
Do you like that title better? ;)
8th Aug 2002, 06:30 PM
Do you were a martingale. That helps many ponies come onto the bit. I find that running martingales were that good so always had to use a standing martingale. That really helped my pony as now we need no martingale even for XC.
8th Aug 2002, 07:20 PM
try riding with your reins really long, and using more seat and legs to turn her and stop (she could do it when i last rode her, but that was a while ago!). if there's no rein contact for her to pull against, she will probably drop her head and relax. if she does get overexcited, come back to walk and do something really dull until she relaxes again. this is stuff i used to work on when i used to teach lydia on her, and it did work after a lot of patience. she might be rushing from enthusiasm, in which case it will teach her patience, or it might be from anxiety thinking it's going to hurt, in which case doing little bits will help her get used to the idea that it doesn't hurt any more.
bit of background for other replies (since i'm on here more than jen!) jane (pony)has had a hard life. we got her, supposedly at 5, when she had had a foal by a tb stallion (she's 13hh) and been ridden and jumped in competition. at the time we thought she'd been brought on a bit fast, and then a year later the previous owner sent us her papers. she'd been barely 3 when we got her. the trauma of the big foal and the early riding left jane with enormous problems. she had issues with her pelvis from the foaling, and over time, became cold-backed to the point of rearing and panicking at the sight of a saddle. these problems came on slowly over about 3 years, and the first 3 chiropractors/physios who saw her found nothing wrong. vets never found anything either.
jen has had her physical problems sorted out, but jane is still very suspicious and anxious. and who can blame her. i rode her years ago when she first came, and used to teach the girl who had her on loan.
she's always been a whizzy type, unsure with hindsight whether it's real enthusiasm or anxiety-rushing to get it over with. the physical problems are sorted out, and tack is fine. i think it's mostly mental now - it hurt for a long time and she can't quite bring herself to believe it doesn't any more.
she's ridden in a snaffle and cavesson, no martingale. i wouldn't be inclined to put one on, although when lydia had one we lunged her in a chambon a few times, as lyd needed to learn to use one for her stage 3. she went very well in it, i tihnk it's on the hook behind the tackroom door. i'm down next weekend if oyu want to play with it after work.
8th Aug 2002, 09:06 PM
Check her bridle, maybe the bit is the wrong kind. Also, try letting your reins out a little more, and work a lot on the flat, doing lots of transitions and circles and figure eights, to get her to listen to you. If she gets excited too much, then you might want to longe her before you ride. I'd also suggest asking some professional advice from a trainer or riding instructor.
8th Aug 2002, 09:28 PM
Check the bit, saddle, and try just about what everyone has said here! :) But also check how the bridle is fitted. If the noseband is too loose then that could be what's causing the problem. :D
8th Aug 2002, 09:44 PM
hmm - not sure thats quite what I mean - but I'll explain..
if you've had everything checked and treated, now you need to help her understand that things are ok now. She will still 'expect' things to hurt, be scarey etc. So somehow you need to create a safe environment in which she can learn that its ok.
Suppling exercises, ground work, and lots of patience. I remember spending quite a while riding round just doing 10m circles every time the speed starting going up, with reins as loose at I could get them. Stroking and massaging the neck can help (while riding) - as long as there is no soreness in the neck !
It did work, and we could turn out a decent Pony Club dressage test in the end - enough to be in the second event team at area level :)
8th Aug 2002, 09:49 PM
and after all that, I didn't explain the title. The 'wall' is the wall of fear and anxiety in the horse's mind. Mind you it could also be the wall as in the stunt motorbikes do riding a vertical wall (or in a sphere)... as that what you can end up feeling like when they put on speed with head up !
9th Aug 2002, 03:22 AM
do check all gear, this is always a good start, I'd hesitate a long time before being tempted to start down the path of adding 'more gear' like martingales.
Teach her 'head down' BEFORE she gets excited - I've done this with my 'spooker' as a calming exercise, and posted a long explaination on one of the other forums (previous post (http://www.newrider.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=12694) )
Essentially, you teach head down with a halter using pressure\release. When that's established, teach a little patience and chill-out routine so that she will just stand with you onboard. If she's relaxed, she'll drop her head naturally and then you can begin to ask for 'head down' using very light movements with the bit (and the voice command that she knows from your halter training).
As she gets to know that 'head down' at stand is pretty cool (ie she's being praised for expending NO energy and horse's like that) then you start to ask at walk and then trot....
and then when she gets a little excited...etc etc It takes a while but it will work if you use praise and patience. :)
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