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Riding a Jowl-Locker

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  • Riding a Jowl-Locker

    I have project gelding (I actually event) that i'm working with, green green green, but a nice little gelding. 14.3.

    ANYways, he is an absolute horrible jowl locker, and I cannot get around it. In general, he's a soft mouthed horse - but he keeps his jowl locked 80% of the time and it's driving me nuts. I've tried several different things to soften him, and let him chew the bit but to no avail. He's currently in a Full cheek snaffle with rollers, (mostly for jumping but I flat in it too, if I'm not in that then I'm in a plain loose-ring snaffle).

    The frustrating part is he is a Paso Fino (gaited) - but he has quite a nice trot and I've taught him to trot when I post/etc But, he's super sensitive to the leg because in general the Pasos are very, very sensitive and hot - and so when I try to "engage" him and push he goes back into gait. Now, he's gotten a bit better about this, now it's on to working inside leg-outside rein. Whoever started him taught him NOTHing of this, absolutely nothing. It's been a nightmare trying to untrain and retrain this.

    I'm just looking for suggestions. He goes in a plain noseband, too.
    I don't like to "bit up" a horse at first, before trying other things, but I've tried several and excuse me, I'm not a dressage queen at all, haha.
    Are there possibly any bits that could help *temporarily ? I'm at a loss.

    Oh, and his saddle fits, and he's been completely checked over by the vet, etc. Nothing to worry about there.

  • #2
    I like to use shoulder fore to counter shoulder fore. Start at the walk and ask him to bring his head in just a bit (so you can see his eye) then ask him to bring his head to the outside. If he locks up sponge the rein to get him soft again . Then do this exercise at the trot. Also before you start your ride have him bring his head all the way to your knee without taking forward steps. Do both to the left and the right.
    Good luck. I ride a short necked pony who was notorious for doing this. She has gotten tons better but it has taken time. Patience and consistency are your friends.

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      Make sure that you are not pulling on the reins, and do lots of lateral work and transitions. Soft hands through it all, and he will become softer with time, if you reward him immediately for small steps.
      Banter whenever you want to banter....canter whenever you want to canter.


      • #4
        A forward hand is the best fix.
        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


        • Original Poster

          Thanks guys. :]

          Yes, I am quite known for being too soft with my hands.

          I've just honestly never had one this bad, so I'm not sure exactly what 'next' steps to take. Thanks.


          • #6
            i would do a lot of in hand work... do turn on the forehand in hand, leg yields etc. the point is to see if you can get him to chew.

            on his back i would do similar: tun on the forehands in walk, leg yields head to wall then leg yield quarter line to wall etc. the leg yield should get him to give you "yes" response... aka come down into the bit.

            you need to make sure you keep him flexed and never allow him to get his neck straight as a straight neck is easy to lock. do a lot of easy work on circles too.

            take it slow and pay special attention to when he chews and try to replicate that.

            also, you might look up some videos of Oliveira and watch how he works horses. watching him was a huge lightbulb moment for me: re tight neck/jaw so maybe it will help you too? he is a master at lateral work for sure at that is what you need to work on - even if only at walk.


            • #7
              Hi. How old is the horse and when did he last have his teeth done by a good dentist? He sounds like how horses act when they have a bit of an over bite. Even if there is just a small amount, hooks can grow in the back molars on the bottom, that prevent a horse from rotating its jaw. if a horse can't rotate it's jaw it has a hard time lowering its head and giving to the bit.

              If he is able to lower head and seek but, other dental issues could be the cause of locking or in ability to rotate jaw - waves, transverse ridges, other.


              • #8
                Whenever I hear of a 'behavior' issue I like to rule out any physical ones first.

                An idea would be have his teeth checked? Make sure there is nothing going on with his neck; could he be locking up to protect himself? Vertebrae out? Muscle Spasm? How is his back? They are flight or fight animals...and will protect themselves..sometimes we can view that as being reluctant to work or disobediant when in fact they just hurt.

                Good Luck!!!!!
                Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakend. ~Anatole France~