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can I improve a horses trot who "wags" their head?

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  • can I improve a horses trot who "wags" their head?

    I have a young mare who is not really upset by anything... she is dressage bred and I think could be quite lovely but her natural way of trotting leaves a little to be desired.

    She "wags" her head back and forth slightly with every stride. I have started her (she is three) on the longe and with side reins and she is exceptionally receptive and willing. When I can get her to stretch down she moves more correctly, so I am going to be putting her in vienna reins instead of side reins which will hopefully stop exacerbating the back and forth motion, but I was wondering if there was a way to help correct this before she is backed so she doesn't think that way of moving is "correct" when she has contact with a rider. I'm hoping the vienna reins will provide less direct and forceful contact and will allow her to stretch more.

    Just wasn't sure if anyone else had experienced this and if there was a way to help her out, rider free.

  • #2
    With my older gentleman, the wagging was a laziness issue. He was just avoiding contact. But he was older and weak behind. Could it just be an age and strength issue with her? Can a three-year-old unbacked horse carry herself?
    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

    A helmet saved my life.


    • Original Poster

      That, I think follows exactly what my train of thought was too.

      I should add that when I have her free schooling out in the field and she lifts her frame, all of a sudden the waggle goes away.

      She is incredibly balanced for a three year old, but no, I doubt that after a few weeks on the longe she can carry herself (nor does she really feel she has to or feel she needs to "avoid" the contact, she is amazingly easy to work with)

      I have kept the side reins longer to just be a light contact as I don't want her to learn the waggle as a habitual thing. But it is good to hear that someone else with a similar type of horse (laid back) saw the same issue.

      eta: clarify on her contact, it is very very light, enough where she is encouraged to seek the contact, but not holding her head down in any way. I HATE backing babies that have no idea what the contact is and avoid it right from the get go by going backwards. Nor do I like sending them away when they haven't had some education with the bridle (and I don't long rein). Thus, for the next couple weeks she is being taught voice commands on the lunge, saddling, bridling, lunging with stirrups down, and lunging with side reins to prep her for being backed by a trainer (not me) to expedite the process so I don't spend another grand with someone teaching her what I could!!


      • #4
        i too an not a fan of sidereins for a youngster. they can learn stretching down without them.

        i did use them with my 3 yo a couple times before backing him - but they were long.... mostly just to get him used to the idea of the bit.

        i would not use side reins right now, and be sure you have her forward. if she is forward enough she should stabilize some, but she is young and weak so i would not worry too much.

        our protocol is get them knowing voice commands, desensitized to saddle/bridle, etc then get on and do work on the lunge with a rider just sitting there.... over time horse will learn how to balance, bend etc and from that contact will emerge.

        i also would not spend a ton of time on such a greenie with long and low. instead i would allow horse to [put its neck where it needs to to balance etc. once they are bending the head neck will go where needed.


        • #5
          If the side reins are set too low (lower than the bit to point of hip) the use of the horse's shoulders will impact the mouth and act on the bars. The horse must be asked to stay active/up/open in the throat latch) with the support of the whip when on the lunge, and vibrations of the line on the caveson. It is also helpful if the horse is kept 'in position' with the inside s.r. a hole shorter. When under saddle, again up/open/and lightly 'in position'. Asking the horse to chew fdo should also be lightly in position and is a TEST of the correct working posture of the horse.
          I.D.E.A. yoda


          • #6
            Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
            If the side reins are set too low (lower than the bit to point of hip) the use of the horse's shoulders will impact the mouth and act on the bars. The horse must be asked to stay active/up/open in the throat latch) with the support of the whip when on the lunge, and vibrations of the line on the caveson. It is also helpful if the horse is kept 'in position' with the inside s.r. a hole shorter. When under saddle, again up/open/and lightly 'in position'. Asking the horse to chew fdo should also be lightly in position and is a TEST of the correct working posture of the horse.
            chaque pas est fait ensemble