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My 13 yo gelding is throwing his head every chance he gets!
Got him about a month ago and just got all tack right and tried to put the bit in and did that upset him!!
Once in after about 15 minutes, he did fine with a tie down.
Last nite, I tied him up to measure for a jacket...put the harness on and grabbed it to move him...started throwing his head again!! I put the lead rope on him and it was ok then.
Any ideas before this gets too bad?
I won't ride much in winter and I don't want this behavior to stick all winter and be worse by spring.
Any daily work I can do to help him and I?
 

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What bit are you using on him? What did the prior owner use? Does he have any dental issues, ie. wolf teeth? Does he have a fat tongue/low palate? Does he toss his head when the bit is engaged or when the reins are loose, or both?
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Same bit as previous owner, yes.
He has the problem when I went to pull his head down to put it in. Instead of dropping his head he tosses it. Teeth were floated about 5 mths ago or so.
 

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May not be his mouth, might be mites or ticks in his ears. Will he let you fool with his ears?

I do not think there is enough information given to form an opinion so am throwing these ideas out there.
 

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My mare won't drop her head if I am pulling on it, I put my arm over her head and reach between the ears with one hand on the headstall and my other hand holding the bit, and she reaches out and picks the bit up in her mouth.

Maybe try a different technique when bitting the horse up.
 

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It could be that someone has clunked him in the teeth with the bit often enough that he associates it with pain. There are many ways to make this more comfortable for him I would suggest these two- never clunk him with the bit, and carefully try to bit him a couple times a day until he realizes you aren't going to clunk him in the teeth. I'd give him a treat and a scritch when he accepts the bit.

Does he toss his head while riding? Or is the tie down so tight he can't move his head?

Most head tossing is pain related.
 

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I'm curious about a few things. You shouldn't need to pull your horse's head down so I'm wondering if you've been taught how to do this correctly.

I'm also concerned that the bit itself doesn't fit properly or the headstall isn't adjusted correctly and the bit may be hanging or pulling.

My last thought is that perhaps you're trying to force the bit into your horse's mouth or possibly scraped the teeth with the bit.
 

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Remember to take care when removing the bridle as well. Are you really cranking the tie-down up short? That can cause neck issues. If you know the teeth are good the next step to try might be a chiropractor.
 

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Or the horse is just being a butt head. :)

My TB mare would hold her head up straight to avoid being bridled and ridden. She just didn't really want to have to work....(had been retired already). Lots of lesson horses do this too, as an avoidance strategy...and it works well for people that are not confident.

In that situation, what usually works best is quiet confidence and patience. When the horse realizes that they are not going to get out of work by being a jerk, they typically give in - and each time afterwards, give in more quickly. (Which is why the poor lesson kids struggle, and then the trainer finally comes to help them and the horse is perfect...the horse knows the game is over.)

Assuming nothing is wrong with the horse (which we can't really know from the internet), I'd suspect it is testing to see whether you are really going to make it behave or not. And that's a fight you have to win (quietly and calmly, of course).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
He tosses his head when riding yes that's why he's always used the tie down. I don't pull his head down to put on the bridle I do have to have him drop it, I have been taught correctly. BUT I what I am concerned with is him being a bully about it.
I put the harness on him and went to leas him just a few feet with my hand and he didn't like that and was throwing his head. I do believe he is just being a bully about it. This is the action I though maybe I could help him correct, calmly of course.
I've never clanked his teeth with the bit but previous owners I'm not sure of. I think he knows he can bully me and this is the action I need advice on. Could of been clearer.
 

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You might experiment with a bitless bridle to see if it is a bitting issue or he is just being a jerk. If he was ridden with a tie down before you got him, then his original equipment may have never fit him comfortably, or the previous owners had very heavy hands. Really look into the physical issues before you assume he is being a bully or a jerk. You'd hate to find out you were being a jerk to him by using something that causes him pain.

Maybe I'm a bit tired this morning and missed something - does he keep his head down for putting the bridle on and off? Does he throw his head when you lead with a halter, or only when you pull on the reins to lead him or use them when you ride him?

If he's only tossing when the reins are pulled, I'd really look into a different bit or bridle, because that really sounds like a pain issue. And, yes, it could be trained into him by previous mishandling and then you'll want to retrain him once you are sure he is comfortable. It's possible for a horse to toss their head because their back is sore, that's why it was suggested to look into chiropractic.

Maybe a picture of him bridled up (close up) and of him with the whole set up, including the tie down would help us to see if there is an obvious problem that could be easily fixed. Even if there is, it may take a while for him to change behavior.
 

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Adding to the comments of others here, I have a couple of horses that absolutely don't tolerate poll pressure. That means when I ask them to drop their heads for anything, I have to teach them how to drop without using any pressure on the poll. A treat in hand that is only given when the horse complies is one way to train that high head out of them, or a light bump on the nose with a knotted halter and a "drop it" works. I have tall TB mares as well as another poster had mentioned, mine can be boogers about dropping their heads, but a piece of cookie stops all nonsense and even with a bit in their mouth I do treat them to the reward if they complied.

I would try a softer bit if the head tossing is an issue under saddle. I hate seeing a horse in a tie down, there is usually a reason for the behavior and lots of times riders will just throw a tie down on without really investigating the cause. I have a TB mare that tosses her head as soon as she thinks she is going to be ridden. She only started that behavior when my former trainer put her adult daughter on the mare, the girl had heavy hands and my mare hated being ridden/handled by her. Now that she is home again (I saw the issue and pulled her out of there), she is better, but still has a little attitude when being saddled. She will get over it.

As to your horse, I don't know, it is impossible to tell online! But maybe you could have a friend watch and see if there is anything your horse is doing under saddle that you, being in the saddle, may not be seeing?
 

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Head tossing is usually head pain. If you can find someone who does TTouch that would help. Might try gentle massage beginning with the ears and coming down. There are books available to help you. As long as there is head tossing I’d use a figure 8 bridle. There is a learning curve to getting them on, so be patient. You’ll need the head down though, so first work on training him to drop his head and reward with carrot. Once he’s trained, start working him to put the bridle on. Just a couple seconds, then take off and give treat. A couple seconds, give treat. Give treat again, remove. Positive association and training. As time marches on, you should be able to move the treat further and further back until you don’t treat until you walk to the saddle up place, then after putting the saddle on. It’s not ideal, but you are working with someone else’s mistakes.
 
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Given the fact that the horse has been used with a tie down, leads me to believe that there could be other underlying issues and I would be extremely cautious about using a bitless bridle and if it is something you do want to try, I would consider trying in an arena or very controlled environment.

It wouldn't be the first horse I've seen that had his head tied down because it has a tendency to run away if it's head is freed. Ultimately, that's a training issue but experimenting with an unknown like that should be done with extreme caution.

Head tossing can be a pain issue but it can also be a habit or a conformation issue but refusing to lower a head is bad manners as well.

It sounds like the previous owner has used the same or similar bit and just because they've been using it doesn't mean it is an ideal fit but it might be a good idea to find a tack shop that has a bit specialist on hand that can guide you.

When I bridle a horse, I expect to be able to rest my wrist over the poll and they should drop their head but if they don't, I'm not afraid to apply a bit of pressure with my thumb and middle finger, which should cause the horse to lower it's head.

Some horses will simply test a new owner too so don't be afraid to be a bit firm but do make sure that there isn't a problem with wolf teeth or bridle or bit fit. If you can eliminate the problems (it could also just be a bad habit), you can gradually start easing up on the tie down as well and see if you can eventually eliminate it.
 

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There are a million horse/people combos in the world so a million different possibilities.

I have never had a trained horse who came with that problem so my experience might not be of use.

I do have a horse now who tosses her head as a frustration reaction. It is not a deliberate evasion as she does it in the field too when no one is around. I got her before she was three so I know it is not some ingrained bad habit caused by poor training. It's just her. But she lets it go when I ask as she's basically a very cooperative soul- just a bit impatient. I just redirect her brain away from the frustration and she let's it go.

I've also noticed this is a stronger tendency in some breeds like arabs.

The reason I mention it is not that it must be tolerated because it's not deliberate but that some different action than worrying about the bit must be thought about if that is the reason.

Basically, I'd try one thing for a while, giving it time to see if it makes a difference then try the next if it doesn't. It may be as simple a solution as telling him to knock it off especially while he's being lead.
 
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Life is short; sell this horse and get yourself a good one you can enjoy

I guess I'd tend to agree that it may have been worth a second thought to buy a head-tosser in the first place. If a horse needs a tie-down, there's something lacking in his training, or something wrong physically. Bad teeth, bad back, bad saddle, ill-fitting bit, stiff rider, bad hands...eliminate these possibilities first.

Then go back to a snaffle (or even a bosal) in the round pen or corral and do lots of "low and slow" until he calmly accepts the bit and begins to trust your hands. Drops his head and raises (unhollows) his back. This could take months if he is confirmed and messed up physically. He needs to rebuild muscle in the right places to be able to work correctly. Then VERY slowly move up the ladder of his re-education.
 

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Do you know for a fact that the teeth were floated 5 months ago or are you taking the previous owner's word for it? I tend to think it's a pain issue. How are things now?
 
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