Category: Dressage Training

Fixing A Head Tilt

HorseHealthAndTraining.com - Fixing a head tiltWhen you ask your horse to turn, does he tilt his head instead of bending through the poll, so that one ear is lower than the other?

Three-time Olympian dressage coach, Jane Savoie, has some exercises for you to try that encourage the horse to soften through the poll:

If your horse tilts his head and carries one ear lower than the other, chances are he’s stiff at the poll. You might see first see this on circles or the lateral work with a bend such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half pass.

Here’s an exercise you can do to supple your horse’s poll.

  • Start in the halt on the rail so you can check that you’re keeping your horse’s body absolutely straight. If he’s straight, his body is parallel to the rail from nose to tail.
  • When you start to supple the poll, keep his neck parallel to the rail. The most common mistake is to bend the neck. Your horse can bend his neck and still stay locked in his poll.
  • Use an indirect rein to move his face only one inch to the left and one inch to the right so you can just see his inside or outside eye and/or nostril (this is also sometimes called position left and position right, flexion and counter-flexion, or +1 and -1).
  • Remember, when you use an indirect rein, keep your fingers softly closed around the reins. Then, turn your wrist quickly and smoothly as if you’re locking or unlocking a door, turning the ignition key (right hand) to start your car, or scooping a spoonful of sugar out of a bowl.
  • Don’t vibrate the reins while suppling the poll. That will just flex your horse’s jaw and close the angle at his throatlatch.
  • When turning your wrist, keep your hands (Read more here …)

Did you find her suggestions helpful?  Let us know in the comments below.  If you know someone who is having this problem with their horse, feel free to share this article with them.

Want to know more?  Check out her Happy Horse Home Study Course.