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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Mares vs. gendings & curb strap head tossing

HI Franklin,

I am looking to buy a yearling. I am wanting a Tennessee Walking Horse for riding during field trials. When I was young I help train some horses at a farm where I boarded a horse of my own. My daughter is very good with our horses she is now joining a drill team and a horse judging team. She want to train a young horse. We have a trainer near by that has offered to help her. So I am going to buy a yearling. She wants a filly and I want a gelding. I understand geldings are usually a little easier and mares can be a problem when trail riding if they are in season. I would like your opinion on mare or gelding for first horse to train from the start. Also for riding with other horses, mare or gelding?

One other question on are 8 year old TB gelding. He does not like a curb chain he is fine and seems to handle ok with out it, but many have told me we really don't have any control without the curb chain. When the curb chain is on he throws his head like crazy. Leather is a bit better but he still throws his head. Should I do something to get him used to a curb chain or just ride without it.

Thanks, Kelly

Hi Kelly,

I have to tell to you that you are the first person to make a donation to my Help Center services. That request has been up for a couple of months now. You are the very first person to help and I am very grateful. I have offered this service for nearly five years now. It has always been free. I sure appreciate your thoughtfulness. I hope I can offer good assistance here.

The mare Vs gelding opinions are ancient. Horses truely are as individual and distinct as humans. If it is safe to generalize about humans, it may be safe to do so about horses. I used to think geldings were easier all around. I ran a dude string at my ranch on Maui for 25 years and had more geldings than mares. The mares led the group though. They were the true leaders. The geldings sort of followed along. You don't say how old your daughter is. She sounds talented and not without experience. If she is exceptionally good with horses, a mare can be bonded like no other to a good handler. To a sensitive and precise trainer and rider, a mare can win and will try to win very hard. Consider what the next 10 years might be for your daughter and this horse. Ask your daughter to think of that time frame as a reasonable committment and what she can see herself doing with this horse. What would be her goals? Showing, trail riding, eventing....take a look at that as well. If your daughter is really as dedicated as she sounds from your email, she could probably do well with the right mare. A lifelong friend. If your daughter would do better with a few less challenges in relationship, or perhaps a bit fewer day-to-day changes, a gelding may be just fine. I have known some top mares. Wonderful horses. I would trust kids on them any time. I can say the same for many geldings as well. Would it be fare to limit your opportunities because of your gender? The are some terrific horses of both sexes. Discover what a really good horse should look and feel like, both genders. Make a more informed decision. See as many different horses as possible. Take your time.

Something under the chin of a horse with a curb bit in place, is essential for the bit to work properly. You could try going back to a snaffle for a while. No curb strap would be used. Only a keeper strap. Generally, it is the hands of the human that are the problem. This is probably what created the situation you are currently in with this horse. Leverage - curb bits always use something under the chin. If it has shanks it will have something under the chin. The release of pressure on a horses mouth at the correct time is essential for the horse to understand requests made with the help of a bit. A bit is a tool and only as good as the hands/human using it. A light touch is to be developed with all bits. Many horses are ruined by snaffles because folks tend to think because it is the mildest bit, they can pull on it. Nothing is furthur from the truth. Also, try taking the reins off the bit you are trying to use. Lunge the horse while it is saddled and carrying the bridle and bit without the reins attached. See if he throws his head or not. If the horse continues to toss it's head and then does not when you remove the bit, I would consider restarting the horse for bridle and bit. This means going back to the basics of the horse's initial trianing and redoing 'bitting.' It would take 6 to 8 weeks to do it right. If the horse carries the bridle and bit and does not toss it's head, the culprits are the rider's hands.

I would also suggest a dental inspection by a veterinarian. Please let me know how it all goes and if I can offer additional suggestions. Thank you again.....

Best wishes, Franklin

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