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Head Slinging


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#1 Magnum Girl

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 01:18 PM

I just got a 5 year old gelding from a friend of mine, she was on her way to the auction with him because she just didn't have enough time. She told me that he rode good, but had "head issues", I figured headshy, tosses it when you get in his mouth, type thing. But this boy has something else going on here.

He'll toss his head around at liberty a bit, but does it much more when undersaddle. As I'm only keeping him for a little over 2 weeks right now, I'm not going to have a vet check done on him to rule out pain, but I do intend to see if I can find any spots personally. I will also check his teeth while I'm at it and see what is there. So for right now, I'm looking for cheap/cost free solutions to try on him.

I rode him in just a regular eggbutt snaffle. The bridle didn't fit real well since it was my geldings, so I'm going to try my english bridle today with a "reiner snaffle" (think snaffle with short shanks), this bridle also has a flash cavesson (?) on it.. So no idea that the bit will work with the bridle, but I didn't want to lose my bit when I switched by bridle, lol.

So the problems starts when I get on, I always ask for him to flex first. Flexes to the right, no problems. When he flexes to the left though, he'll swing his head up and across his body so that his nose comes up almost level with my right shoulder. And he'll just sit there and do it constantly. I kept the pressure in his mouth until he flexed calmly and then released. By the end of the ride, he was only slinging it once or twice before he'd be calm about it.

And then he does "stuff" when we're moving as well. If I direct rein him to the left, he does the across the body head sling once or twice. He also wants to drop his head completely to the ground at the trot, and when gently asked to bring it he'll swing his head up as fast as he can and carry it high for a few strides before trying to drop it again. At the lope, he'll just sling it to his right side and up. He's worse about it when your in his mouth, but he's still pretty green (in my book) so I'm constantly (very softly) in his mouth for speed control.

The girl I've got him from said that they tried cracking the egg on his head as well as just swatting it with a crop whenever he did it and that neither helped. The only thing that has really made a difference is a tie-down, which I hate using. I was thinking a lot of ground work with side reins or something? I don't know, what would you guys suggest? Feel free to flame but remember, he's not my horse and I don't want to invest any more money into him than I have too until I decide what to do with him. If I can figure out some solution to this head thing, there is a very good chance I will keep him, in which case he will get a complete work up...

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#2 Bumper

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 02:20 PM

My opinion? this horse is in pain, something is out in his neck and/or shoulder and his teeth are probably bad. The fact that he can't flex to the left pretty much confirms this (to me anyway).

The only thing breaking an egg over his head did was create a mess. I hate this "method" of fixing a problem. If we have a crick in our neck and can't turn it one direction, breaking an egg over OUR head sure doesn't fix it. Same with using the crop. The fact that he does this at liberty is a big red flag that says "I'M HURTING!!"

If i were you i'd get the vet to do his teeth and then find a good chiropractor and get him adjusted. Then you can think about selling him.

Goodluck!

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#3 manesntails

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 02:33 PM

First thing I would look at is If he has had a bitset put in his teeth and if there are any wolf teeth. In my 4yo, who I was told by the vet, had no wolf teeth at 2 and 3yo.; the wolf teeth were under the skin and right up against his tooth. One wolf tooth was coming straight down and the other was growing out to the side. He didn't turn as good to the left but flexed well both ways. Removed the wolf teeth and he's even now.

If you can flex him and he's resistant to the right but slings to the left I'd check his alignment in his neck. He could have a vertabae out of alignment. Horses being horses can throw a neck vertabrae out just horsin' around.

My QH does the Dominant head throw ALOT when at liberty but never under saddle.

Hope you get it figured out and this helps you some happy0203.gif








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#4 Willy ShoMaker

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 03:01 PM

I agree with Bumper.....It's probably a teeth or other pain issue. My gelding will let you know immediately when something is bothering him. He will toss his head around at liberty to "loosen" up his neck muscles as he tends to be very tight in the muscles behind his poll. Also, my horse has had his TMJ out of place and the chiropractor had to adjust it. He also hates feeling claustrophobic with a flash on the bridle. Since I removed it, he is going so much better. Each horse is different, and some will let you know immediately what it is that is bothering them, if you will listen closely. Sometimes they make it easier to figure out the problem. Good luck...sounds like this horse would have ended up God knows where if you hadn't taken him. twitch.gif


#5 historyrider

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 03:26 PM


I do see where you are coming from with this request MG but pain is a possibility. Have you tried flexing him from the ground wearing just a halter? That might help to show you if there is a mouth issue. If he's better just ride him in the halter. At least you might take "pain" out of the equation.

Many of the "responses" to rein pressure you have described are typical of a horse who is giving himself relief from rein pressure or pain. If he's not in pain then what's left is a training issue and you will need to begin to show him where to go to find relief and be consistent about it. I would begin laterally flexing and do one rein stop training with him before I started asking for anything with two reins. It's just to easy for him to over power you and try to run through your hands. By teaching him to be soft and give to the pressure to the side, you can later take up on one side but then add the other and help him learn to come back to you and soften but you must reward his slightest tries in the correct direction. Be very quick to pitch the reins away and reward him for giving to you. This means you are going to have to practice riding with a loose rein. No contact for speed control as that is just going to confuse him. Make this lesson very simple and start with just one rein at a time in that snaffle bit or the halter or perhaps a bitless bridle.

Good luck with him. He really just might be confused from inconsistent riding but pain will sure make for a sorry relationship.


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#6 Magnum Girl

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 10:46 PM

I checked his teeth today before I rode, they look great. Felt them, no sharp edges or anything. I also poked and prodded and pushed and pulled all over his neck, shoulders, and back. Never got any sort of reaction out of him whatsoever.

I watched him really close at liberty and he swung his head to the outside of the circle. When I switched the directions of his circle, he kept swinging it to the outside. So, saddled him up and put him in the english bridle, it's smaller, so it fit him much better than my western one. Put it on the 'snaffle setting' and he started the head thing with the flexing. Then while I was working with him, I just got the feeling that he was pulling away from the bit. Like as soon as I put pressure on the bit the would bring his head around to the other side and just pull against me. So, I moved the reins down to the shanks and tried again. He pulled against it a little less but was still trying.

When he started the actual slinging I gave a sharp jerk on the rein opposite the way he was slinging and he would stop. Did that about three times and by the end of our 45 minute ride he was flexing both directions, stopping (we really didn't have that down AT ALL) as well as backing up off a light cue (definatly didn't have that down!). I'm starting to think it has a lot to do with bad training and blatant disrespect for the bit...

Magnum [2005 APHA]

Uh Oh [2012 AQHA]

Dixie [Catahoula/Pit]

Vegas [Catahoula]

Hank [Catahoula]
Miley [Catahoula]


My board buddy family: FarmGirl-824, QH_LUV_R, J.R.&Gin, crazychicken, and all of their crazy families too!!


#7 kitten-kat

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 06:21 AM

I was wondering if you have ever used a german martingale or a draw rein, sounds like this horse could use them, and they really do if used properly in the right hands work wonders for spoiled horses who dont really listen to the bit properly.. plus it takes the guessing game out of head set, and if worked with proper releases and encouragements horses tend not to need them long before they figure things out.. and it seems more consisitant to me. I myself have both as both have different application, but simular useage and result.. not the same mind you..but simular. maybe anyway one of these might work for your boy.. worked wonders for my moms boy!

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#8 historyrider

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 08:09 AM

That all sounds pretty encouraging MG. I would still like to see you try and work without the extra leverage but his response to your last session does lean me toward poor training. If he slings his head again next time try to simply "hold" with steady pressure instead of the "jerk" method. If I believe a horse knows the right answer but is still leaning on steady pressure, then I might use some driving pressure and bump him off to make that leaning more uncomfortable. He has probably taught himself to sling his head to pull some rein through his other riders hands and thus give himself relief from that pressure. If you can take up softly and learn to ask softly at first for everything but hold steady until he gives and comes toward the pressure, he should realize how easy it is to listen to those soft cues first. Don't get frustrated if he makes mistakes. He's probably developed this bad habit over years of rough or inconsistent riding so just start to turn things around for the better and help him learn to be soft by asking soft. Keep using your seat and legs and even your focus to help guide him and try and be less rein dependant with him.

Keep us informed as you work with him.


William (historyrider)


#9 Mudder

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 10:43 AM

If he flexes good one way, but slings his head the other, he has a pain issue. I'm guessing his poll/neck is out of line. That will cause a horse to fling their head around. Is he just bringing his nose around or his whole head? If it's just the nose, you got a poll/neck issue. He's probably got a nasty headache too. Do some very light massaging around the poll area, his ears front and back. If he's still slinging his head or won't let you touch it, there's your answer.
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#10 manesntails

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 12:09 PM

I agree 100% with Mudder.. also, you said you checked his teeth but wolf teeth are not always visible. Some horses' wolf teeth are very tiny and under the skin and don't erupt.

In my horse I couldn't feel them but my vet did and had to make a small incision to get them out. They were RAZOR sharp pointy little teeth about the size of kitten's canines. So, don't count that out until the vet does do a check for them. happy0203.gif








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---In the quiet light of the stable, you hear a muffled snort, the stomp of a hoof, a friendly nicker. Gentle eyes inquire:............................................. ..................................................."Got Carrots?"


I'm IN with the "IN-CROWD"
"Fight nonsense with nonsense, it works everytime~!!!"
I am living proof that God made some people just for the "Hades" of it..
now don't that sound dumb?
Give them what they want until they don't want it any more.....
Skrew you~!! I crap brilliance.

#11 Bumper

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 02:32 PM

Please...get this horse checked out before you try to "train" the issue away! Everything he's telling you says "i'm in pain!!!"

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#12 Magnum Girl

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 09:50 PM

I just worked with him on the ground tonight. Checked his teeth again and pressed hard and in every direction all over his gums where the wolf teeth would go if they were coming in, never a flinch. Looked at his pre-molars and molars again and didn't see any sharp edges. Stuck my hand in there and didn't feel any either. Got my thumb bit good though duh.gif

He's slinging his entire head a liberty, to the outside. Worked on just flexing in the halter as well. He flexed his head to each side about once and then decided he'd had enough. Then it was a fight to get any flex out of him. He never tossed it but was braced against the halter.

Finished with more poking and prodding, ecspecially around his poll area vs. yesterday's shoulder area. Still no reaction out of him what-so-ever. Standing around bored out of his mind.

Magnum [2005 APHA]

Uh Oh [2012 AQHA]

Dixie [Catahoula/Pit]

Vegas [Catahoula]

Hank [Catahoula]
Miley [Catahoula]


My board buddy family: FarmGirl-824, QH_LUV_R, J.R.&Gin, crazychicken, and all of their crazy families too!!


#13 Willy ShoMaker

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 03:49 PM

Magnum, even though you palpated the horse around the neck/poll area and he didn't flinch, that doesn't mean he may not be hurting. As I said previously, my horse is very tight in the muscles in that area. When I ask him to lower his head - with the halter on - and massage behind his ears at the top of his neck, he will tell me that it feels good and that the area is uncomfortable by the expressions I am able to read on his face. When he feels relief from my massaging, he will extend his head and neck downward, relax and sometimes extends his upper lip out. When I work him after doing this massage, he won't "sling" his head around. So, try it and see if this helps. huggy.gif

#14 Merry

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 04:50 PM

There is a kind of chronic head shaking syndrome you may want to check for also, just in case:

http://www.jadwin.net/horse/


#15 dondie

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:46 PM

QUOTE (Merry @ Oct 15 2008, 02:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There is a kind of chronic head shaking syndrome you may want to check for also, just in case:

http://www.jadwin.net/horse/

I was thinking the same thing.
Or some sort of neurological damage caused by the after effects of a virus, high fever or injury to the head and neck.
Get the vet........
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#16 Beckham03

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:40 AM

I was thinking the idiopathic head tossing too. I used to work with a horse with this and it was annoying as crap. He did it worse in the summer, beyond that, he was a really cool horse. We made him a net that fit on his bridle and covered his nose and that helped. I would still check with the vet to rule out other issues first:-)
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