|Florida, almost 5 year old Paso Fino with
Professional Training ridden in a flat straight bar bit and a mcclellan
saddle in round pen, ring, miles of trails by intermediate rider.
Question: I am trying to get my gelding to bend, just a little at the poll so he doesn't travel with his nose so high.This gelding was in training for show, with great bloodlines, conformation. He would never "give" to the bit, and always goes with his nose up. The trainers tried several bits, and normal training methods of bosal work, flexing etc. with no success. He would resist and fight.
I took him and began working him totally without resistance. He does not fight the flat bar bit and gaits very well. I ride him miles and miles, training for endurance, competitive. He was stalled for two years while in training and hates being in a stall. He behaves much better under saddle if he has pasture all the time, so he has been out for almost two years. He is a much happier horse in general.
The last two months, I have tried two different bits, with very gentle
hands, to try to get him to give just a little at the poll. He has
a fit and misbehaves. When he goes in gait
I sincerely appreciate any input or suggestions.
From Panelist Liz
If all in well I would then look at the structure of the horse and ask myself is he put together to collect like you want. Is the neck too short and thick . Is he to thick in the throat latch to break and collect there like you want. The Paso Fino having a neck that is set higher from the shoulder can make the flexing difficult if he is to short and thick in the neck.
If this is not the case I would start working this horse at the dog
walk, really slow and let him walk with his head down and if he won't put
it there start to massage the top line of the neck pushing down on
the neck while massaging it while you are on him. As he learns to
When he does start to carry his head lower and relaxed start asking
for him to bring in his nose. Not with steady pull but keep your hands
lower so the head does not come up instantly and lightly bump each hand
(left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand rhythm) at a time if you
can get him to bring his face in slowly when he does release the pressure
and tell him good boy. If he gets tense take him back to a slow relaxed
dog walk and start again. This is time consuming work but the pay off can
be big. As he gets it at the slower speeds then work to the faster ones.
While doing this kind of work I would avoid
The goal is not to collect from the head being at maximum up and then in but bringing the head from down, then in and then up while still in and collected.
From Panelist Jonathan
Sounds like this is just one of those high set horses that is doing what is "normal" for him . I think your attitude and subsequent approach is comendable . My feeling is you are on the right track and what ever is his best , you will get it . I can believe you about the variety of bits he has been exposed to but I think the key is length of exposure . I would look into a hackamore with a very gentle nose band . You'll find them very user friendly when training for endurance if he likes to snack at the rest stops . Or , if you want to stay in his mouth and work the nose aswell , Myler has a wonderfull bit/hack combo . It has a copper inlaid smooth bar that swivels at a slite roller port .
Whether you choose one of these or some other remember to introduce
a new bit slowly . Let him stand tied with a halter over his bridle untill
he stops fussing , or even better , bit him up and take him for a long
walk . I believe a horse can never have enough ground
From Panelist Erica
Have you tried John Lyons' method of giving to the bit? I find it works
very well, and you can practice it with either a halter or a bridle on.
Starting out with small baby gives and working your way up to raising the
withers. You simply repeat over and over again, taking the slack out of
the rein (one side only) and waiting for the horse to move it's jaw in
the direction of the active rein - then releasing, count two seconds and
repeat. You can use
I think that he may well have a more sensitive mouth and a jointed mouthpiece simply bothers him too much. Perhaps when thinking about changing bits, be sure to try ones with a mullen mouth (straight unbroken mouth). Also, with giving to the bit, you should use a snaffle bit and not any type of leverage bits (including Tom Thumbs and Kimberwicks).
From Panelist Stella
It may be that you asked for too much to soon with the other bits. I
switching, its best to allow a few sessions for them to explore the bit
and use gently, without asking for more flexion right away - let the bit
do the work. The nature of some of the spoons and ports is such that the
horse will gradually learn to flex as he adjusts to the change of how the
mouthpiece operates, and finds the most comfortable position for him.Both
bits may have
Its not only the mouthpiece that can illicit changes in flexion from
the poll, but also the upper shank portion; the adjustment of the curb
chain controls this. A tighter curb chain will lesson the degree of pressure
of the bridle to the poll; you may want to try loosening the curb chain
a notch or 2 to increase poll pressure and decrease chin pressure. How
quickly the bridle engages to the poll, and if it does at all, also depends
on the shape
From Panelst Carol
Thanks for your letter. Your horse sounds like a candidate for
chiropractic evaluation. When you have
Carol Camp Tosh
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