Issues From The Saddle: My Pony Keeps Her Head Up

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Question Category: Issues from the Saddle

Question: My pony keeps her head up. When I first got her she was so nervous about the bit and the rider and we use a loose ring snaffle and she has put her head down some. But she still keeps her head up more then I’d like it to be. She’s has a particularly wide back and we finally found a saddle to fit her so I’m pretty certain it’s not the saddle. I also ride her bareback where she has the same problem. Have any suggestions? She’s doing a lot better on the cantering.

Thanks 🙂 April

Answer: April,
Horses usually keep their head up to try and get away from pressure on their mouth. Horses must first be trained to respond properly to the bit, it is not something they do naturally, we have to teach them to “give” to the bit. We do this by applying light pressure to the bit through the reins (whatever amount of pressure it takes to make the horse notice and start looking for a way out of the pressure) and then watch the horse’s head VERY closely. At the first instance the head drops a fraction of an inch, release the rein and rub the horse on the neck. Soon he will learn that when he drops his head, the pressure goes away. It is best to use one rein to so this, not two. Pulling on two reins at the same time will make a horse lock his jaw and stiffen his neck. There is a Q&A on my website about why one rein works better than two. Once your pony knows how to give to pressure on the bit, it is your job to make sure he finds a small release every time he does the right thing. Most people make the mistake of continuing to put pressure on the horse’s mouth once he has done the right thing and so the horse starts fighting the bit. He must have an incentive to drop his head and his incentive is the release of pressure.

Good luck with your pony.
Julie Goodnight

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