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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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getting my gelding on the bit

I was hoping that you may have some creative ideas on getting an older horse to start going on the bit. He likes to put his head up in the air and is developing an ew neck.

Thanks Arlette

Hi Arlette,

There is a technique to ask a horse to lower his head and keep it there. First thing to do is to have his mouth checked for dental problems. Once that is ruled out as interfering with the horse's natural movement, you can address the behavioral issue.

Please look up (using the 'search feature in my help center') about asking a horse to lower it's head with a halter. This way I do not have to spend a lot of time retyping things I have typed numerous times before. Practice this a lot. Next thing is to be able to ask the horse to lower his head with you in the saddle. Basically you do not pull the rein at all, but rather just put a tiny bit of weight on it (even just on one side). The horse will look to find a release from the little bit of weight on his mouth and eventually try lowering his head. As soon as he lowers his head or even tries to lower his head, release all weight on the bit instantly. That is his reward for lowering his head.

Practice this a lot. You should be able to ask the horse to pretty much put his nose on the ground this way and keep it there if you want.

I also strongly suggest you ride the horse in a rope halter and lead rope a bit in a paddock. This way you will see if he is reacting to the bit in a negative way. You should be able to ride him gently in a paddock with the lead rope tied up as a rein to the rope halter. If he keeps his head down, you may have too severe a bit on him. I teach people to not depend so much on the bit, but rather ride from their seat and legs more. How are your riding skills? Do you think that a more severe bit helps to control a horse? Or is it a skilled rider that 'dances' appropriately with a horse irregardless of the bit? Horse evade the bit for a niumber of reasons, usually dental problems, too severe a bit in unskilled hard hands, poor horsemanship (rider balancing themselves using the reins), no seat, no proper use of legs and other human error. It really is so much more about the humans abilities and attitudes, than it is about the horse.

Anyway, let me know you thoughts on this. Also, have a vet check his mouth and try riding in a rope halter and practice the head down moves. Keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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