Endurance Riders

Endurance and Long Distance Equine Disciplines

I have taken an 11-year "vacation" in Alaska, allowing my husband to teach in other cultures and pursue his love of hunting and fishing. We are retired and returning to Washington, and I am starting a new 7-year old part-Arab to try to resume my endurance riding addiction.

Now that I have begun to condition her, I have noticed that she has started a behavior that I had noticed in other horses as their conditioning began. After trotting a few miles, she begins to bob her head or stretch her neck down, not like a lameness bobbing on every stride, but a slowish lowering of the head that lasts about 2 strides, and she repeats this until something distracts her.

I thought it would be interesting to throw this out for discussion and see if others had noticed this in any of their horses, what they think might be the reason for it, and what they do about it, if anything. I don't remember which specific horses did it, or whether or when it stopped spontaneously.....only that Oh! I remember other of my horses doing this!

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Going through the EXACT same thing right now. At first I thought she was sniffing the ground, but then it started to be more random...she also shakes her head around.  I have noticed that if I ride completely western (one hand/no pressure) she will do it much less often so i figure its something she is going through while she gets used to the feel of the bit and the reins??

Hmmm. I don't think I notice any difference with one hand or two, contact or no contact. I seldom have to check her speed. My theory has been that she is fatigued, and is stretching her neck...? Wanted to see if others had noticed this or had theories.

I, too, experience this behavior in all my horses.  No matter what type of bit, snaffles more so than curbs, tho.  After researching "going bitless",  I now feel it has to do with packing bits...period!  The curb offers some relief to the toungue, so horse can swallow, and , maybe, breathe, too.  They drop their head, grazing reflex, to breathe.  You know, lowered head equals "relaxing" and breathing...I am training Mariah to go bitless and shoeless to hit endurance trails.  And this is something to pay attention to.  Wonder if some of this is horse stretching spine and back muscles?  Self adjusting chiropractic?  And with us on board, too.

Beth in SE Georgia, where we are finally getting a little very-much-needed rain!

All of my horses who have done it have been wearing a mechanical hackamore, although this mare, Delta, did start it while she was still in the snaffle.  I vote for the horse stretching spine and back muscles theory, I think.

I wonder if it has to do with a)relieving pressure from bit Or hackamore, b)lower head to quiet/comfort zone (ie it is ok to graze now as the predators are gone) c) to get a deep breath and Calm (aka lion didn't get us or human! too so I live to see another day)  I watch my loves stretch and yawn every morning.  They do the arch the neck out in front like a dressage horse and stretch a rear leg straight out backwards then shake like a dog!  I do yoga to get this done :-)  But, if you look at videos and still shots, you will notice stiffness and lots of resistance of our horse buddies fighting bits and hackamores(mechanical).  I don't feel I would enjoy these aparatus sp? confineing me while asked to run a marathon in the hills or deep sand...I have trained and ridden with bosals, snaffles, and curbs.  In looking back over 20+ years of long distance trail riding, I want to give bitless a go with my new girl :-)  She will not carry a bit, gets tongue over every one and I really don't want to force the issue.  If I can train her to go on seat, hands, balance ( the way every advanced trainer tells us, anyway), I shouldn't Need a bit.

Wish us luck ....and courage :-)

Beth and Sweet Mare Mariah

Camp Kittie Grizzly

Good luck, and courage! I'm sure you will get it done!

Thank you,  Karen :-)  Are you training Delta to get on trails?  I, too, have not competed for 10 years to the date St. Patricks Day .  Life issues...

But I am so excited about Mariah and getting back out there to ride, not just visit...

Best of wishes to you and Delta (keep us informed!)

Hope hubby is finding good fishing and hunting back in Washington...gorgeous trees and cliffs!

Beth and Mariah and kittie Grizzly


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