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does your horse toss his head under saddle

  • Hi Brenda,

    I have a lovely racking horse that came with, as one of your other writers put it, a lot of lies. I'm also an older rider, but I do not want to give up on my boy. His most serious problem is that he is head tosses. I have had my vet check his mouth and everything seems ok there. I have tried many bits including walking horse bits ( a couple) short shank quarter horse bit, short shank tom thumb , and I'm currently using a low port Kimberwick. Nothing seems to help.

    I cannot use a martingale because I trail ride some rough country in the Sierra Nevads. and a tie down interferes with the horses ability to traverse the trail. I also bought him a new saddle built on a Tennesee tree which seems to fit ok. I have some gait problems with him as he wants to trot instead of rack. I have used your tapes and they have really helped, so I have hope in that direction. I am looking forward to seeing more info on your new bit, but worry that I'll still have the same problem. Are there any strategies you can think of I can use or do you think there are horses that this is just part of their behavior and I should give up before I get hit in the head by his cute head? I have also wondered about those bitless bridles they are using for gaited horses,. (I met a lady with one on her Paso Fino and she seemed to be happy with it.) What is your opinion?

    I also want to thank you for writing your Heavenly Gaits book.It has been in my library for some time and it was the only thing I could find that had good information on the racking horse. I live in the foothills in central California and I have yet to meet a single person that has even heard of a racking horse. It's really funny to see the blank stare and hear, "what kind of horse?"

    Thank you for your help.

    Kathy Clair

    Hi Kathy,

    I'm suspecting that with some moderate changes, and patience, your problem won't be very hard to address.

    Head tossing is always rooted in discomfort somewhere in the horse's body; usually, but not always, in the mouth. So the place to start is to have an equine dentist check your horse's teeth and make any necessary adjustments.

    Next, I highly recommend that you check out our 2nd Generation Imus Comfort Gait Bit, as it will eliminate any chance of the bit being the source of your problem. The only way you'll hurt your horse with this bit is if you hit him over the head with it! :>) My opinion on bitless bridles has been formed based on feedback from dozens of customers who tried them, and ended up going back to a bit. The feedback has been that their horses worked fine alone or in a small group, but lacked good steering and brakes when with more than a few horses.
    While your Tennessean may be a good fit, it is built on a rigid tree. Invest in a flexible tree saddle (I suggest the Imus 4-Beat Gaited Saddle. You can learn all about it here)  . Sometimes a horse will toss its head in simple frustration every time a rigid tree 'bites' into their back at about the midpoint of their saddle gait. The fact that he prefers to trot would be a possible indication that this is a problem, as well.

    I'm betting that between the bit and a pad that permits greater flexibility, your horse is going to feel--and act--like a different horse altogether.
    Write and let me know how it turns out, as we love to hear follow-up stories. . .we're learning all the time, too.

    Many happy-and smooth-trails!