My daughter just recently got a new pony. He is a great guy, but has this habit of putting his head down suddenly and pulling her forward. Our trainer is out of town, so I cant get her help at the moment. Any advice? She doesnt ride with a tight rein and Ive had her try making them really loose, but he still does it. He's being ridden in a D ring snaffle.
Well I'm far from a "hunter" per say, but my advice would be: Leg leg leg! Ride him forward into the contact. You definitely don't want to be pulling back on him (not that it sounds from your description like she is), but sometimes that's a reaction. If he pulls, maintain your contact, but ride him forward up "into your hands"... (the idea of riding the horse from back to front etc.)
Hopefully someone more eloquent than I can explain this better. :-)
I've ridden some lesson string-type horses that tried to snatch the reins or dive-bomb the ground with their heads just as a bad habit they'd picked up - they knew if they dove their heads down, the rider would get unseated and the horse would get to goof off.
If "bad habit" is the only cause of the behavior, what I've found very effective is to put on breastplate (a standing martingale works okay, too, or a hunk of mane if necessary) and hold on to the item in question as well as the reins. So dear daughter would be holding on to something solid in the pony's neck area in addition to the reins, making her hands stay steady and motionless (and hopefully allowing her body to do the same!). That way if the pony tries to dive forward, he ends up catching himself and DD stays nice and balanced. Personally I would only do this at the walk, though, and only once or twice to see if the behavior improves once Saintly Pony realizes he can't get away with it anymore - if there is a cause for the behavior other than just bratty-pony-itis, fixing the reins/hands like this could make the pony even madder, and escalate the bad behavior. So you do need to be careful. If DD is doing something to make the pony mad, you don't want to make matters any worse.
How long is the trainer gone? Can you just wait to ride the pony till he/she gets back in town?
I third the grazing reins, if your daughter is not strong enough or aware enough to ward of being yanked forward. Once he has been allow to do that to her, he will keep doing it til corrected.
Grazing reins attach to the bit, go up through a crownpiece that has rings on the sides (the rings are places at the sides of the juncture of crown and browband) and then run to the dee rings on the saddle. They act like a driving overcheck to keep the horse from getting it's head down. One can also fasion grazing reins from baling twine in a pinch....it's a great old Pony Club trick to help those kids whose ponies take advantage of them.
Helping the kid is the most important thing so riding on a loose rein and using the grazing reins is the immediate fix.
In defense of the horse - I have a horse like that - well, one of my students does - his history is of being ridden first in a gag when someone started him and I have had him on a simple snaffle and had his teeth done every year - the new owner (I bought him to get him away from the last owner and then trained him further and sold him to a client/rider) - she is 11 but got him when she was barely ten and I spent this year re-teaching her nto to yank and to help offset board - she lets me use him for lessons - he is great with little kids. I am one of those instructors who makes kids ride off their seat and leg and use little rein but they all cant help it - they still have to turn the horse and will sometimes bang the mouth even with the reins pretty long. For safety reasons, I cant put them on no reins..... though in the roundpen I can.... I am on a tangent...
But point is - he stretches to the ground because he is used to his mouth getting some abuse. This is why we all Hail the Lesson Ponies and they get a special place in Heaven. It makes teaching difficult though so it has to be stopped but I still want to defend that they are not doing ti because they are just nasty little brats - ahorse is just a horse and does what he feels he needs to do to protect himself (and sometimes - a lot of times - inertly wants to do as little as he has to but that is just nature I think - we have to teach and ask them to work for that hour - it really still comes back to the horse's leader - US the riders.... again - Hail the Lesson Ponies because the beginner riders are stinky leaders!).
I've met very few ponies who don't do this once in a while. All of my ponies live in grazing reins everywhere but in the show ring. The young ones wear them so they never learn to do it and the old ones to prevent them from doing it. It's an awful habit and ponies pick it up easily because the kids are too weak to do anything about it. Have you ever watched the lineup in a short stirrup class? Every pony stands there pulling the reins while every horse stands there like an angel. Ponies are just stinkers. www.justforponies.com has grazing reins and they are very fast about shipping. You can make one in the meantime out of bailing twine.