What are your tips for getting a horse who is super sensitive and strong in the mouth, more accepting in the contact/softer?

@lucybalmer You’ve made some great points thank you! Specifically, I’m speaking about a horse that isn’t mine. One I’m trying and might buy, but I’ve been asking about her past and her previous/current riders have used and changed multiple bits without actually educating her to what the pressure means. So I feel like she just didn’t get the time to get educated which is why I definitely agree with you! I’m asking this question just in case I get her and i have to work with her from the ground.

And for the head tossing- it isn’t consistent, and definitely not in pain. She goes from being on the bit and the minute I turn to the fence, she just keeps her head up and charges. I feel like that’s more of an excitement reaction more than pain but I definitely think I should play around with pressure and seeing if she understands it. Thanks for your advice!! I’ll let you know if I get her and how your methods work!
One thing to remember is that the horse does not and will not automatically understand the meaning of pressure in the mouth (bit) or on the face (hackamore/bitless options) and therefore it must be taught consistently. Gaps like this in training usually occur when horses are rushed through training and people automatically assume that the horse knows what he 'should' be doing when in fact the horse hasn't got a clue.
I believe your problem here, in fact, is that your horse does not understand correctly how to respond to the pressure you are applying to him using your reins. With horses, you always have to look at the CAUSE of the problem rather than trying to fix the problem itself. You can change bits and look into bitless options all you like, but if your horse does not understand how to respond to this pressure 'correctly' then changing his mouthpiece etc will only confuse and frustrate him.
An accepting horse knows how to respond to pressure. When you apply pressure to the reins your horse should respond 'softly' and swiftly, meaning you only need to touch the reins to achieve a response rather than using all of your muscle strength to try and direct/stop your horse.

It would be useful to see how sensitive your horse is to pressure on the ground first.
Begin by standing by your horse's shoulder. Lift one rein slightly and see if your horse gives you his head. If he does, drop the rein and reward him. If he doesn't, apply more pressure to the rein until he eventually flexes his head towards you and drop the rein as soon as he gives you his head. This is called flexing and not only relieves tension in the neck but it softens your horse to respond to the lightest of pressure, training him to be accepting and responsive.
Once you've got your horse soft on the ground, hop on their back and follow the same process using pressure and release. This method applies to both bitless and bitted horses.

- The head tossing you described in the comment is a pain response, so retraining her in a hackamore with short shanks or no shanks may eliminate this issue.

I hope this helps you. If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to pop over a message.
She’s very soft, almost behind the vertical occasionally, on the flat, but you can tel she’s not fully accepting. When jumping, just looking at the fence, she throws her head up and charges at the fence, even if Theres a pole in front. She is sensitive because you can’t be strong in the hand cause she gets offended easily, but she won’t sit back and add strides cause of it. She’s currently in a straight bar rubber Pelham but she’s been in multiple hackamore/hackabits/gags etc and neither have had a better or worse reaction. Any ideas ?
Join the fun and sign up to connect with our 200,000 members!
Signup
X