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Tennessee Walker tosses his head a lot

My horse is a Tennessee Walker. she is 4 years old. I have had her for 1 year. My problem is she throws her head when riding. Almost rearing up. I broke my back falling off her when she did it last fall. She continues to toss her head when riding and sometimes lunging. We do groundwork at least 4 days a week. I walk her out on trails with lead rope to give her just a nice walk together 2 times a week. she is turned out each day for two hours in the morning. I have tried a few different snaffle bits. Even try with just her halter and reins. Still looking for a way to stop her from throwing her head up. Please help.

Terra D.

Hi Terra,

This is an awful habit for sure. Snaking the head and head tossing are often traits of Arabians. Certainly the first thing to look at is pain anywhere (mouth, teeth, gums, neck, poll, back, all over). So have a vet and equine chiropractor check the horse thoroughly. Once you can rule out any possibilities of pain, then it is a habitual behavior issue. Could have started when the horse was very young via improper handling (being pulled on). I would suggest getting rid of the bridle and bit for a while. Lunge only in a halter or lungeing caveson. No bits. No riding for a little while too. I suggest first getting so the behavior stops completely when she is handled on the ground. Then I would begin to ride only in either a rope halter and lead rope or a bit-less bridle and ride in a very small space like a round pen or very small paddock. I would ride slowly and only do very gradual speed transitions up to a quiet trot and down to a walk. I would do this a lot. If you see the head tossing subsides you know you are on the right track. This will be a slow and gradual process No quick fix here and donít push for one as it wonít work. If the head tossing really improves consider a bit-less bridle of some sort. There are many. You can actually develop a wonderful stop w/o anything. But it requires time, patience and skill. Either way, consider going very slow and gradually building the movement if the head tossing subsides. If it does not, call the vet back again as I do believe it is either direct pain or anticipated pain. Both can cause the issue. Is is possible to try a martingale or tie down. But I rather you resolve the issue without that sort of restraint.

Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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