Bitting issues in spring

Joined
11 May 2016
Messages
6
Recently my horse has been very strong and excited, even rearing at times, when jumping. We think iris because of the sprig grass as he is never usually like this. He has barely any grass (he is an extremely good doer) yet I still have barely any brakes in a Dutch gag on the 3rd ring. Is there anything I could do to solve this issue? Should I try a stronger bit or stick with the one I have and see if he gets better? Should I try a Waterford as he can lean on my hands?
 

Kat

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 January 2008
Messages
12,807
Location
Derbyshire
What is he doing when he feels strong? I would be VERY cautious about using a stronger bit on a horse that is rearing in case it makes it worse. Normally a horse rearing is not moving forward rather than being too forward.

As it is a temporary issue while the grass is flushing rather than bitting up I would cut out hard feed, reduce time out, muzzle and work the horse harder. Lunge before you ride if necessary, go for long hacks, time your schooling sessions and make sure you are doing plenty of trot and canter so that the horse doesn't have excess energy.

When the horse threatens to rear send it forward and make it work. Lots of circles and loose forward lateral work until it is calm. Go into your jumping field and just school until the horse is calm even if it means not jumping on grass for a while.

When you come to jump if the horse starts to get strong do some circles and figures to get it listening between jumps. Plan exercises with lots of shapes and transitions rather than single jumps on long approaches.
 

Shay

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 August 2008
Messages
7,341
Rearing happens when the horse's energy has nowhere else to go. They can't go forward - so they go up. Unfortunately your increased bitting has probably caused or at least contributed to the situation. I would go back to your original bit - or if that was the original take the reins back to the 2nd ring. Check your noseband isn't too tight and have a vet check the teeth in case there are any sharp points.

As kat has said - cut out hard feed. Restricting turnout is a mixed response as, although it reduces grass intake it can also make them more restless being confined. A muzzle or a bare paddock may help.

Hopefully just allowing a bit more forward - rather than upward - motion and confirming here is no other pain will stop the behaviour. But if not (some horses once they learn this get in the habit of doing it) you need ridden solutions too. Really gentle hands, soft contact. Nothing to cause him to react and go up. Learn when he is going to do it and react by keeping him moving forward. Disengage the shoulders - he has to be in a straight line to rear. Fighting with a horse that rears puts you - and him - in danger.
 
Joined
11 May 2016
Messages
6
What is he doing when he feels strong? I would be VERY cautious about using a stronger bit on a horse that is rearing in case it makes it worse. Normally a horse rearing is not moving forward rather than being too forward.

As it is a temporary issue while the grass is flushing rather than bitting up I would cut out hard feed, reduce time out, muzzle and work the horse harder. Lunge before you ride if necessary, go for long hacks, time your schooling sessions and make sure you are doing plenty of trot and canter so that the horse doesn't have excess energy.

When the horse threatens to rear send it forward and make it work. Lots of circles and loose forward lateral work until it is calm. Go into your jumping field and just school until the horse is calm even if it means not jumping on grass for a while.

When you come to jump if the horse starts to get strong do some circles and figures to get it listening between jumps. Plan exercises with lots of shapes and transitions rather than single jumps on long approaches.
Thank you for the advice. He doesn’t have any hard feed as he is such a good doer, and can’t be muzzled due to his very sensitive skin. I work him for an hour 4 days a week (if I do any more he gets very sour) and as we don’t have an arena I do flatwork in the field in the same place as jumping and he’s fine in a loose ring snaffle. I do lots of different things when jumping.
We have tried a different mouth piece instead of a stronger bit as he was pulling on my arms but we’ve only used it once so far so I can’t say the outcome yet xx
 

Kat

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 January 2008
Messages
12,807
Location
Derbyshire
4 days is very little work for a horse that is eating rich spring grass. He is getting a load of high energy food and needs to work off the energy. Can you alternate schooling with hacking so he doesn't get sour or do some interval training or polework so you can do six days?
 

wkiwi

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 March 2015
Messages
838
Location
Wales
If he's fine on the flat in the same area as the jumps then it is not the grass protein that is an issue, it is something that has gone wrong with the horse's jumping training. You should be able to do jump schooling at home in the same bit as you do flat schooling.
It could be one of many things (hard to diagnose on a forum) but going back a few steps never hurts to help diagnose what has gone wrong. E.g. can he canter calmly around a course of poles on the ground without rushing? Does he trot a small course obediently on a long rein? Does he respond to all your aids when you just work around the jumps without jumping and does he get excited if you just pop over one small fence and then return to schooling?
Of course, changing the bit might help in the short term, but only until the next thing that gets him excited or anxious in which case he will ignore you again. There are so many training things it could be and even if grass protein was part of the issue a horse should lose its manners just because it is asked to jump something.
 
Joined
11 May 2016
Messages
6
4 days is very little work for a horse that is eating rich spring grass. He is getting a load of high energy food and needs to work off the energy. Can you alternate schooling with hacking so he doesn't get sour or do some interval training or polework so you can do six days?
We can’t go hacking very often due to our other horses hay fever, and we can’t leave the other horse on its own unless we actually travel somewhere. We’ve tried but he ended up knocking our fencing down. We have tried working him more but he then gets sour and won’t let you catch him. He is a lot better now anyway, and has calmed down so we are back with original bitting etc. Thank you for your advice though xx
 
Joined
11 May 2016
Messages
6
If he's fine on the flat in the same area as the jumps then it is not the grass protein that is an issue, it is something that has gone wrong with the horse's jumping training. You should be able to do jump schooling at home in the same bit as you do flat schooling.
It could be one of many things (hard to diagnose on a forum) but going back a few steps never hurts to help diagnose what has gone wrong. E.g. can he canter calmly around a course of poles on the ground without rushing? Does he trot a small course obediently on a long rein? Does he respond to all your aids when you just work around the jumps without jumping and does he get excited if you just pop over one small fence and then return to schooling?
Of course, changing the bit might help in the short term, but only until the next thing that gets him excited or anxious in which case he will ignore you again. There are so many training things it could be and even if grass protein was part of the issue a horse should lose its manners just because it is asked to jump something.
He is absolutely fine doing all of that, it was just when he got to jumping bigger jumps. However, we have sorted out the issue and he is fine now, but thank you xx
 
Top