How to teach horse to relax jaw & soften

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13 February 2010
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I think it's all in the hands, giving ang taking, and giving it time - Shy is just going really well, and he's 5 1/2 now - but I don't force it on him, just short periods at a time.

Hope that helps, tho i fear not ;)
 

Orangehorse

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The French method, re. Phillipe Karl. I can't go into long explanations, as I have no qualifications to do so, but it starts with flexions on the ground, so the horse learns to relax the jaw and the poll.
 

Wagtail

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I don't think this is something that can be explained in writing. Do you have an instructor? A good intructor should be able to get any horse to soften its jaw and flex at the poll within a few minutes. It is something that is best learned from observation and then getting on and doing it yourself, I find. When teaching clients I have found that if I get on, and if they have good observational skills that they understand far quicker than trying to shout instructions to them from the ground. All horses are different and so what works for one will not work for another. I use different methods on all of the horses here. Some are pretty much 'there' from the offset, some need a 'place and release' approach, others need the bit to be kept absolutely still in the mouth, others prefer some squeeze and release. But with all the methods, timing and 'feel' is absolutely essencial. This is something that develops with time. Some people never get it, others are quick to learn.

I notice from your user name that we are probably dealing with a cob here? Whilst the vast majority of cobs are fine working in an outline, there are some that are thick through the throat and find it harder than the average horse to flex at the poll. If you have one of those, then you have your work cut out. However, having said that, there has only ever been one horse that I was not able to get soft within the first session, and that was a cob.
 
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Thank you for taking the time to reply. :)

Yes I do have an instructor but it means boxing up to a local manege. I am planning on doing this soon, but was just interested to hear how others taught it.

He does have a thick throat and finds it difficult to flex at the poll. Some days I feel like we are getting somewhere, where as others he just likes trotting round with his head in the air and doesn't feel like he is really listening to me.
 
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Mongoose11

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Thank you for taking the time to reply. :)

Yes I do have an instructor but it means boxing up to a local manege. I am planning on doing this soon, but just thought I would get some tips on here too first.

He does have a thick throat and finds it difficult to flex at the poll. Some days I feel like we are getting somewhere, where as others he just likes trotting round with his head in the air and doesn't feel like he is really listening to what I am asking of him!
I found that giving my cob more to think and getting her much more forward was the key (squeezing her up into my hands was the way I thought about it). Weaving meant that she focussed on her movement and her instruction rather than trying to work against my hand.

I have no idea if that makes sense.....

She is thick in the throat too. Get a jump up in the school and she suddenly goes back to pokey nose though :)
 
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12 May 2008
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Find an instructor to help you!

This is a huge, huge subject, and a few words from any of the helpful folk here can't possibly go anywhere near enough detail to help you properly.

Honestly, to start with just 2 or 3 lessons with someone you admire, and who ideally can ride your horse too and show you, will be totally worth the investment :)
 

Palindrome

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Lateral work, get him to flex at the hip and he'll flex at the poll naturally. Just give a soft consistant contact and don't worry about the neck or head position. To start on the lateral work, go on a circle and use your legs to have haunches in or out. There is nothing to do with the hands.
You don't make the horse go in an outline, he'll put himself naturally into it when is hindlegs are engaged. If he throws his head in the air that's probably because he is weak and finds it hard, in this case half halt (pressure by tighening your fist then release, no need to pull) and then ask again lateral work. Give lots of breaks at the buckle and start every session with 5 full minutes on walk at the buckle as this is necessary for the horse to warm up his back muscles properly (even for a spooky/sharp horse as movement of the head in walk on long rein is needed for warm up).

Trying to pull in anyway will only make the horse more tense and going into a false outline.
 
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