Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Schooling-on the bit


Dear Emma,

Six months ago I bought a 7-yo gelding. Very kind in temper but at time of purchase not well kept - unmuscled, stiff, unkempt hoofs and teeth etc. The former owner was well intended but evidently had neither the means nor the knowledge/support to keep him well.

I have had him seen to by dentist, farrier, vet and chiropractor and worked him back to a good shape and health and he is a real darling. One problem has come up that I would like advice on:

The horse is easy to tack up and takes his bit nicely, but when riding, he resists contact (and I am almost too light on my hand, according to my instructor). Have tried a normal thick jointed snaffle, a rubber french link, straight flexibit - but he still wants to put his head up. He has no problem flexing his neck; i do the "carrot yoga" with him from the ground. I have been advised to try a rubber bit and will today put a basic jointed rubber snaffle on to test.

My gut instinct, as there seem to be no physical discomfort, would be to lunge him with (fairly loose) bungees to encourage him to lower his head and use the right neck and back muscles - am I on the right track?

My aim with him is to go to local, unaffiliated show classes for the fun.

Thank you for your help,

Hi Nina..sorry for the delay in replying!  Had to get my PC repaired.

I'd say that if he's not got any physical issues, which you have eliminated, then it's just training with this lad.  Sounds like he's got used to the idea of being a gentleman of leisure, and now doesn't fancy working for you.  Loose bungees are a useful tool as is a Pessoa, but don't over use them.  Also longreining, working long and low to encourage him to drop his head.  To get the flexion started, I'd be tempted to use a pelham..I know it sounds harsh, but if you have soft hands, then that or a hanging cheek snaffle...they are great at encouraging flexion from the poll.  My gelding has the softest mouth ever and he's ridden in a hanging cheek french link copper and sweet iron gentle and encourages them to mouth the bit as well.

Good luck, if you have any other queries, I can be reached on my personal email,  

please don't hesitate to contact me of you need any further help/advice.

Emma xx

Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Emma Dickinson-Gater


Anything about Showing, english style, dress, ringcraft. Difficulties with Arabians, rearing, schooling issues.


I have over 20 years experience in the showring, and have broken and schooled on all my own horses. I have schooled on many horses that have been classed as difficult to handle, or dangerous to ride. These horses havre gone on to be calm, well mannered, and are successful in showing homes, and as happy hackers.

BHS stage 1 and 2. Experienced in breaking and schooling young horses.

©2016 All rights reserved.