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Ask Sharon


Randy from Nebraska, writes:

Dear Sharon,

I have problems with my eight year-old Quarter Horse wanting to through his head back at me. I think it might be the bit. Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Randy,

Before you focus on the bit, I advise that you check your horse’s teeth! An eight year-old should have his teeth checked by a responsible and trained equine dentist or veterinarian at least once a year. Actually, I have even heard of riders who are on a strict dental schedule who continued to have problems until they changed dentists and discovered problems that had not been identified! Sometimes, a horse that drops a lot of feed, a horse that has bad breath odor, or a horse, as in your case, that is hard to bridle could very seriously be in pain.

After you have completely ruled out the possibility of dental unsoundness, then begin to focus in on your training techniques, the effectiveness of your hands and your choice of bits. Your bit may be worn or pinching. Check out the corners of your horse’s mouth to see if there are any red marks or “strawberries.”

Make sure the adjustment of the curb is not too tight and that your bit is set correctly in your horse’s mouth. Sometimes taking your bridle up one or two holes helps the problem. Reinsman makes my bits and three that I would have you look at would be the Tender Touch Bit #730, Short Lifter #713 and the Pelham #707. If your horse is dentally unsound, you may try the Hackamore #709 until you can get the problem resolved.

Going back to foundation work may be necessary. My training snaffle of choice would be the Reinsman #744, Sweet Six complemented with a German Martingale. The martingale will help limit your horses “escape” routes.

Your horse should spend some time in the round pen to help him accept his bit or bridle change. There is a section in The A.R.T. of Barrel Racing that talks about changing bridles and the use of the round pen for transition exercises.

I hope this gives you some options that will help you resolve the head throwing issue. If it is a soundness issue, consult with Dr. David Hayes, who has been my consulting veterinarian, dentist, and body worker for 30 years.

Ride safe and smart,