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Horse behavior: fighting the bit, stopping and turning on the haunches

Hi Franklin,

I have a 4 year old mare that has been under the saddle for about a year now, I used a bosal on her for about 9 months then I moved up to a curb bit. She seems to be taking the bit ok but there are times where she fights me with the bit and is a little hard to stop? Is the bit to harsh for her or I need more bit?

The other problem I have with her is her stopping and turning; she'll stop when I want her too and turn when I want her too but she stops with her front legs (most of the time) and also when she turns she seems to be trying to use her front legs more than her hind legs; it makes the turns kind of clumsy, she trips over herself sometimes. Any ideas?

Thanks, Nolberto

Hi Nolberto,

First thing to always look at when encountering behavior as you describe is the horse's teeth. The horse may need dental care. Check with a vet before you do anything else. I do not know why you went to a curb bit when a snaffle is milder and tends to not produce the kind of 'fighting the bit' you are experiencing. Perhaps the horse never had a bit and you went right to a curb which is missing several steps in the horses training. Unless you area very accomplished and light handed rider, this alone will produce the behavior you are experiencing. I would remove the bit, ride in a rope halter and lead rope in a smaller area for a while until the horse really gets a light and responsive stop without the bit. Relying on the bit for stopping is abusive and low level riding. Horses do not need a bit to understand how and when to stop for their rider. It is generally the human who does not know how to stop the horse from their seat and body language. If you are grabbing your horse's mouth at all, you are probably the cause of the horse's behavior (assuming you have had the horse's mouth checked by a vet and all is OK there). Putting a light stop on the horse without a bit, when done correctly, will encourage the horse to stop really well and it will begin to tuck its hind quarters underneith itself when it does stop. Lean back slightly and put a bit more weight on the horse's back when you ask for a stop. Use a very soft verbal "HO!" as well.

To begin to get a horse to move off of its hind quarters I suggest working the horse along a fence line. Beginning at a walk, move on down the fence line, stop, back a couple of steps and ask the horse to turn into the fence to change directions. This is called a rollback. The horse steps back a few steps and then turns on its haunches, into the fence and ends up facing the opposite direction. Good Luck and thanks a lot for your question and please keep me posted as to how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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