Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Horse Training: Head bobbing horse no longer!

One day I was called by a man who had owned horses his entire life. It seemed he had a horse that was a head-bobber. The more and the longer he would ride this horse the more violent became his head throwing.  He said he'd tried many various bits and he and no one else could figure-out what to do. I made an appointment to go see him and the horse.

The horse's name is Red, a 16h sorrel gelding.  From what I was told this horse is wonderful in just about every way except for the head throwing deal.  As I groomed and saddled him he was a perfect gentleman. I did a little ground-work to loosen him up and then I mounted.  The horse didn't throw his head at all, not even one time for the entire fifteen minutes I rode him. 

My intuition whispered into my ear and told me to asked the owner of the horse if he would mount so that I could watch him ride. As he rode it was as plain as the nose on ones face that he was holding onto the horses face which means he was constantly pulling on the reins and on the horses head. I asked the owner to let go of the horse's face and to put some slack in the reins because this was obviously the problem. The horse was constantly trying to tell the owner, first in subtle ways and then in not so subtle ways, to let go of his face.

The owner asked me how he should control the horse if he didn't have a tight hold on the horse's face. It appeared that he had been taught that by having a tight hold on the horse's face that he had brakes or more control over the horse.No wonder the horse kept saying let go of my head and it will be fine.

Anyway, the man realized, after a few lessons, that he didn't have to hold tightly onto his horse's face and that he only needed to contact the horse's face when he wanted to communicate with him and that then the contact should be soft and simple.  The horse stopped throwing his head and I'm pretty sure it was a good day for him and the horse's owner became a better rider. A rider's hands are his most important riding aid, and the softer the hands the softer (and usually happier) the horse. It was a good day all around!

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