View Full Version : How to get a horses head UP??

florida foxhunter
Jul. 1, 2009, 09:43 PM
I know the first thing I'll be told is to use more leg and push leg to hand......but this is a sensitive horse who may have had a back injury......standing, or running free, his head is held beautifully. WIth a rider, however, he always wants to root down. WE've been riding in a snaffle (he's a 'TB and wants to get quicker when you use your leg too) so I was wondering if a different style bit would "elevate" him??? He tends to over flex too when he roots down.........so we don't need more bending at the poll necessairly.......He does do better when the rider artificially lifts their hands more than good equitation would expect.

Jul. 1, 2009, 11:35 PM
The Dr. Bristol bit was designed for horses who root and pull down. I've never had it NOT work on horse who wants to get too low. And it does so without additional aids from the rider.

Next suggestion: A Rubber Gag snaffle. (The kind with the rope cheekpieces so the whole bit slides up and down.) The mouthpiece itself will not be harsh on your sensitive horse, but the action will certainly make him think twice about rooting or dragging you down.

I would definitely NOT suggest a 3-ring Elevator type bit, though, as you have already mentioned that he tends to overflex.

As a correction, there is nothing wrong with the rider raising their hands when the horse gets too low or overflexes. It just looks a bit odd if they're doing it that way all the time.
Also, the horse will get to the point where they won't carry themselves correctly any other way.

Good luck.

Jul. 2, 2009, 10:01 AM
You may also want to try a segunda. I've found that to be a great bit for horses that root down, and it's kosher for the hunter ring (if that's where you'll be showing). Good luck!

Jul. 2, 2009, 10:14 AM
Probably not want you want to hear...
But if he has had a back injury... I'd really work VERY closely with a vet and saddle fitter in order to make sure that their is nothing pinching or pressing on where he is very sensitive...
Horses can do 2 things when their backs are in pain:
Or a) run around with heads up... buck, etc.
b) try to stretch down all the time in order to help alleviate the pain...
Sounds like that could be what is going on with this one....
One the other hand, I don't believe any kind of elevator or gag bit will help you as the motion of these bits is made to put more pressure on the poll by giving you more leverage, which in your case will only get his head lower.
If you have had the vet-saddle fitter conversation...
tons of transitions should help him come off his front end... as well as a lot of serpentines, circles, etc.
Good luck

Jul. 2, 2009, 11:31 AM
I'm in this battle right now with my current horse. It's a huge pain. He used to evade the bit by acting like a giraffe, now he puts his nose to his chest. Only at the canter when he gets a little 'up'. It makes jumping and changes impossible, not to mention looking foolish since it looks like I'm asking him to rollkur or something :no:

What has helped me was advice from a friend to pick up ONE hand to bring his head up. As soon as he does that I release it and go back to a normal position. I may try a different bit (he is currently in a waterford full cheek). It's extremely frustrating, no doubt.

florida foxhunter
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:42 AM
I've had the chiropractor out, but not a saddle fitter.....I have used different saddles on him.......will have to check that out.........
liked the one hand lifted idea.......will try that too!

Jul. 2, 2009, 11:45 AM
I too am in this battle with my new mare! Nothing like the feeling of having an overflexed tank in your hands is there? :lol: I found the Dr. Bristol did NOTHING but make her mad, and I know that a lot of it is my response to her overbending. I pull.........sigh.........letting go is a hard hard thing to do when you feel like they are just going to bend & run faster!!

Tiffani B
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:52 AM
A gag snaffle DOES raise a horses' head. It is commonly used in Saddle Seat to get the horse up and to stop them from hanging on the bit.

I often school in one if I have a horse who roots in the bridle. You use one hand to raise their head and then release as reward. Eventually the horse learns to stay lighter on the bit and to raise up when asked. It doesn't take long, and you can go back to your normal snaffle, with maybe occasional reminders with the gag.

I prefer to use a Bradshaw gag (http://fennells.com/store/products.asp?h1=371&i=289&buy=371&Table=Products&css=&i1=Horse+Equipment&r1=154&i2=Bridlework&r2=289&i3=&r3=365&sdk=Show+Bridles), which easily allows you to change out the bit. Since the action of a gag bit is different on the horses' mouth than a normal pull, oftentimes they don't like their "normal" bit and it helps to be able to change it.

Jul. 2, 2009, 12:04 PM
I'm not a huge fan on lungeing... but I think when you're bringing a horse back from a back injury, it can be very helpful IF it is done right.

The basic problem I think you have is this: The horse's back is (due to injury) still sore, or at the very least, underdeveloped. The only way you're going to get him to properly elevate his front end, is if he steps under FURTHER with the hind leg. He doesn't want to do that because his back is tight/sore (thus, the rooting).

If you REALLY know how to lunge (I mean get the horse working forward, connected, and THROUGH (with his back lifted)), I think lunging could be great. It may be that he's not ready yet to lift and stretch his back with the weight of a rider in the tack. Lungeing WITH side reins can help you get him some necessary physical therapy in an easier environment for him.

I'd consider doing it for several weeks... but again, only do it if you know what you're doing. Having the horse spin in circles out of balance will do nothing for him, and might just further exacerbate the back problems.

Jul. 2, 2009, 06:59 PM
Tiffany B thanks for the link!! I've never seen one of those before!
What a wonderful thing. Just think of all the different mouthpieces you could use.
Awesome, thanks!

Tiffani B
Jul. 2, 2009, 08:37 PM
No problem! It's named after the inventor, Garland Bradshaw, one of the ASB world's greatest trainers. I use one on my boy sometimes depending on his mood. :cool: