View Full Version : help weird head thing going on

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:33 AM
I won't see my trainer for two weeks and am having a problem with my mare.

She is doing this odd thing with her head , I thought maybe it was something I was doing until I lunged her in side reins and this continued. She is tipping her nose in the direction of the rein with each step. When I ride and I can see this from the top she actually moves her head in a circular motion. It's hard to describe but what is happening is she is loosing contact with the bit.This starts about 20 minutes into work.

She also came to me with what looks like a weird adhesion at C-3 , that I have been working on ( massaging).

I watched the video of former rider and could not see anything going on. She also does this after about 20 minutes into our ride. Last night after lunging 15 minutes it started and then when I got on her she was already doing it. Usually I get about a 20 minute ride before this starts.

As far as training she is 8 and had a few years off having a baby and is still green. We are only doing walk/ trot and lots of transitions change of directions.
I have had her teeth done and recently purchased a saddle she loves. Also she is sound and recently had her hocks inj. Had the trainer check the bit and she suggested a smaller size, which I switched too. But she is still doing this. She is fairly new to me and this is something she came to me with. My trainer hasn't seen this as we only did a little ground work with her and I have only had one lesson with her.
The only time I have been able to stop this is to actually hold both reins and have her a little more in my hand , with her head bent a little to the side. Ears flat and straight of course. Almost like I would be traveling on a circle but continuing straight. But I don't want to be doing this if its not correct. It does stop her from doing the head twirl. I ride her in only a cavesson, trainer wants a flash I just need to find one for her. Also she was lunged with the side reins not too tight, still had nose slightly infront of vertical. I was thinking I might try tightening the side reins. Any suggestions? Thanks for your time in advance

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:42 AM
Go back to the old bit and see if it stops.

Teeth if all else fails it might be worth another look to see if there's a rouge sharp.

If you do massage you can check her topline for any discomfort in her neck, withers, or back.

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:45 AM
What happens when you drop her entirely? Does she do it when she's turned out and totally free?

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:48 AM
She did this with the old bit too. I first tried her in a 5 1/4 " thought too small and then went to a 5 3/4 " and now a 5 1/2" . She was violent to bridle when I first started to ride her. I stopped and waited for the dentist, who said her teeth were in good shape.
Checked topline and back and she seems comfortable.

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:51 AM
Sounds like she is not supple on the bit. Is she longed in side reins? Are the side reins adjusted so that her shoulder movement loosens and tightens them with each stride? That might start the head movement.

More likely it is just something in the riding that needs change. No obvious physical problems? Why does a sound horse get hock injections? What type of injections?

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:55 AM
She does stop this when I drop her.

She doesn't move outside too much. Esp if she sees me she will just stand at the gate wanting to come in. She will just walk back and forth, I never see her trot outside. This is only at the trot, never at the walk and its rhythmical with the trot.
This reminds me of a horse that was hobbled to its hocks like what was done years ago in the western pleasure ring. I have never encountered this and don't know what to think.
This seems really mechanical to me.

Jul. 30, 2009, 08:05 AM
I had maybe 10-12 rides on her when she came up lame on one hind. Had vet out who did H/A injections on both hocks. She was sound for about a week and was lame again. Vet came out and told me to put hind shoes on her as the lame leg went sound upon blocking and then the sound leg was lame. She is a big horse and he said she needed more support behind. Hind shoes and now she is sound and comfortable.
I have only lunged her once in side reins and that was yesterday to see if she is doing this head thing without me being on her back and the answer is yes, this happens with or without me. It also happens at the same time about 15 -20 minutes into the workout.

slc, You are right in saying she isn't supple. I do a ton of serpentine's at the walk, shallow to steep in an effort to try and get her supple. She was started late and hasn't had too much riding. I am not sure what you mean by her shoulder loosing and tightening, what should I look for? Her stride is staying the same, the only thing changing is her head she isn't staying true to the contact she uses her head in a circular motion.
I did have the side reins so that she had her nose infront of the vertical,maybe I should try them a hole tighter

Jul. 30, 2009, 08:27 AM
I'd try a chiro adjustment as if she's out somewhere she could be doing that to make things feel better. Also - dentist may have just worked on her - but have you looked inside her mouth with a flashlight to see if you see anything in the back? Not all dentists do a through job and missing the back teeth is an easy thing to do (although since it only happens at the trot it's probably not teeth).

Jul. 30, 2009, 08:38 AM
Thanks Sandy,

I am trying to get a chiro here, I also have a pony that is suspect of having SI problems. It's really sad when nobody wants to come out for only two animals....
I did think that maybe something might have been missed with the dentist. But for me its the same problem, dentists won't come out without a barn full to do. Maybe I can have the vet check her mouth out next time he is out.

Jul. 30, 2009, 09:52 AM

You may want to try some leg yields. It sounds like it might be a throughness problem. Leg yeild head to wall a couple of strides, then straight. Also you can try to leg yield away from the wall and then back to it. All of these motions only need to be a couple of strides in each direction. This is help guide the connection to stop that tilting. Good luck!

Jul. 30, 2009, 10:14 AM
Thanks Julie,
So far that is the only thing that has stopped her from doing this. I only do it a few strides, I read my OP and realized that I neglected to say I was pushing her laterally at the same time bending her head. Although I think I have her head and neck a little more bent than in a normal leg yield and I think it worries me that might be the incorrect thing to do , although it does stop her.
Thanks so much !
If it ever stops raining today, I will get to try doing a leg yield as suggested

Jul. 30, 2009, 11:27 AM
Has she been checked for neurological issues? Worst case scenario, of course< and I hope it isn't something like Wobbler's.

Could be overall weakness? dittos on the chiro exam.

Jul. 30, 2009, 11:34 AM
I had her vetted when I bought her the end of March.

After having lost one to EPM, another to a west nile vacc reaction and the last one retiring after having allergies and photic headshaking, I would be out of horses if anything like that developed, I love this mare and God forbid anything like that happens!
I am going to email chiro again to see if he will be out this way. I want him to see her and my pony.

Jul. 30, 2009, 12:40 PM
so maybe the side reins are too low and her shoulders are pulling the side reins back and forth?

Side reins should go about where your knee would go.

when you ride her are you pulling back and forth to "supple" her? the fact that you can put the reins in one hand and it doesn't happen leads me t believe it is caused by your hand and the side reins.

try riding a couple rides with reins in one hand the entire time. or, bridge the reins, or put a "bucking strap" on the front of the saddle and put the reins under that and ride normally - this will keep you from going back forth with your hands.

Jul. 30, 2009, 01:00 PM
Oh, good! I'm relieved your PPE covered that awful possibility.

Try riding the horse more energetically forward (that's not to say fast) into contact. I like the ideas of LY and head to wall, then straight. My gelding does this head wobble thing if he is just lollygagging along. Feel for totally even contact in each hand. If she's avoiding contact on one side, LY her into that rein. You can even do it on a large circle with her head facing into the center of the circle. Do it at the walk, when you feel her really yield her shoulder & ribs to you, then trot forward out of the LY on circle.

The serpentines are a great idea to loosen the horse in the base of neck, shoulders & ribs, too. As you ride them, observe whether or not she really bends around your inside leg. If not, you will have to increase her sensitivity to that leg. Horses can throw their shoulders/ribs against the rider's inside leg, cheating on the bend.

Again, LY is your friend. Make sure she is honest in her movement from the leg.

Jul. 30, 2009, 07:27 PM
Yes I am an idiot the side reins were too low yesterday, duh. I had another friend watching me ride and she said my hands aren't moving. She thinks she gets bored after 15 minutes.
I will try putting the reins in one hand and getting a bucking strap which is what my trainer would like me to put on the saddle anyway. I will try to hold that just to see if it helps. I am never the type to supple like that with my hands. That is why I tried lunging her to see if she did it without me and she does.
Tomorrow I will lunge her with the side reins put on higher up, thanks so much!

Jul. 30, 2009, 08:17 PM
great! let us know how it goes.

as for you, maybe it isnt your hands? you might be moving your entire arm - i have seen that happen.

i dont buy that the horse is bored and thus doing this. that just doesn't make sense. *something* is aking her to move her head back and forth.

i cant remember if you said she was green or not... but it also might be something she learned at some point in her past.

also, re the bucking strap - if you put the reins thru the strap and then hold on the them as per usual this also helps stabilize the reins (or bridge etc) and will also give you information.

Jul. 31, 2009, 05:02 AM
Sometimes head issues are related to the hind end.

Is the horse stepping through equally with each hind?

Jul. 31, 2009, 05:13 AM
echo ego-- cant do bends and circles unless you straight and forwards
iw ould take her out of a ring or round pen and work on an a square areana which you can mark out easily enough with cones for corner tyres or bag of flour
40x80 then work the horse using the width and lengthen of the school so she can shorten and lenghtening her striding which in turn will help her with her balance issues
as she will be more even and able to get her hocks underenath her better

circles for unfit horses or horse that are young only adds extra strains and stress on undelveoped legs mussles and back mussles -
try changing tatics -- of your schooling when doig flat work build her up with shortening and lengthen using the half halt stride in between each transistion
go to my helpful links pages in sticky above for helpful hints
and rad all of page one includng links -- as its all relevant also has explaination of how to do the half halt stride if you dont know how to

Aug. 1, 2009, 11:59 AM
Extra wiggle in the head means not enough wiggle through the body. Forget about her face for now and focus on suppling her rib cage.
Carrot stretches, serpentines on a hill, spirals, chiro and or acupuncture will help.

Aug. 1, 2009, 10:34 PM
Usually when a horse does this IME there is too much "bending" with the inside hand, not enough support on the outside rein, and not enough emphasis on keeping the horse bending thru the ribcage. I fix those horses by first just keeping them straight on my outside rein, then once they will just step thru to that w/both hind legs I begin asking them to bend around my inside leg. Anytime they get squirelly w/their head I straighten on the outside and soften my inside rein..

the horse has to take the bit out and chase after it when it drops. when it will do that, then you can go on.

Hampton Bay
Aug. 1, 2009, 10:56 PM
My mare does this occasionally as well, when she is trying to avoid truly being thru and bending her ribcage. One thing that helps is to warm her up on a long rein in a very active trot, and then move into a long-rein canter with me in a half seat. She can get herself loosened up much more easily this way, so the work becomes a bit easier for her.

Is there a reason you're not cantering this mare at all? Sometimes a good canter, even if you just give them their heads and let them go, really helps to loosen up the muscles that trotting doesn't help with.