Young horse rooting solution

I’m training a large quarter pony to be a bomb proof children’s mount. For only a few months under saddle, she’s coming along nicely. However, she now started “rooting” (attempting to yank the bit out of my hands). It is a particular problem fox hunting and less so doing arena work. I have very soft hands and have yet to really ask for contact, so I don’t think it’s related to my position. I think it is more a trick up her sleeve. She started the behavior at the halt, but is starting to do it in every gait. Obviously this a huge obstacle in making her kid safe. Does anyone have a recommendation to curb this budding habit? I have her in simple tack (no flash or martingale) with a rubber mouth snaffle. Thank you!!

When my horse does this, he gets a sharp boot forward (double leg pony club kick) along with a drop in contact.

I find horses do this when they are uncomfortable. Check teeth and saddle fit. Also check for neck pain. Chiropractic adjustment or acupuncture may be in order.

yank her teeth out.

flame suit on

Seriously, the minute she does this, take one hand and yank sharply upward. This is her way of getting what she wants. It can be a pony thing but I’ve had others try it. Usually, it is not at all set unless they get away with it a few times. It sounds like it has “worked” for her enough times that it has become habit.

To make her kid safe…yes, you need to punish this habit. I typical hold a bridge in reins so whenever she does it…it doesn’t work at all (and she just pulls against herself). And I would kick hard and swift several times then make her work hard. Unfortunately though…since she has this trick…she may always have it a bit.

All of the above are good counter measures. I lift the reins a bit and kick on if it’s not nasty and more about stretching over the top line. If it’s truly rooting, they get a bump and a kick. Have found it’s a nasty habit some ponies get into when they realize the little kids don’t have the strength to wrestle them back up. Do check reins/grazing reins prevent this? I would think they would adjusted right.

[QUOTE=Winding Down;8563370]yank her teeth out.

flame suit on

Seriously, the minute she does this, take one hand and yank sharply upward. This is her way of getting what she wants. It can be a pony thing but I’ve had others try it. Usually, it is not at all set unless they get away with it a few times. It sounds like it has “worked” for her enough times that it has become habit.[/QUOTE]

With my mare this method would just make her root harder.

The method that broke my horse of the habit was, just as the others have said, to kick her forward. In her case I don’t change my hands at all, I just boot her forward.

^^This.

The above method only worked after I fixed her saddle fit issues. And I can judge the fit of a new saddle pretty easily now because she will go back to rooting if she is not happy with the fit.

I’ve seen a mild form of this from simple tired muscles, during rehab. May or may not be an evasion now, but it likely starts from being uncomfortable in one way or another.

[QUOTE=Stitch In Time;8563882]With my mare this method would just make her root harder.

The method that broke my horse of the habit was, just as the others have said, to kick her forward. In her case I don’t change my hands at all, I just boot her forward.
[/QUOTE]

I have had horses/ponies do this while standing. Kicking forward works sometimes, and sometimes not. The last one I had did this during checks whilst hunting. She could literally yank you right over her withers.

Now that I think of it, when i corrected, I did give (and in other cases, have given) a swift kick on the opposite side of the “yank”

[QUOTE=Winding Down;8564491]I have had horses/ponies do this while standing. Kicking forward works sometimes, and sometimes not. The last one I had did this during checks whilst hunting. She could literally yank you right over her withers.

Now that I think of it, when i corrected, I did give (and in other cases, have given) a swift kick on the opposite side of the “yank”[/QUOTE]

I could see how a horse that is rooting hard enough to pull you out of the tack would need a stronger correction. My mare never rooted that hard, and she’s also pretty sensitive, so booting her forward was very effective in my case. Rooting is a pet peeve of mine, my shoulders end up really sore when I ride a horse that is constantly trying to yank the reins out of my hands.

While I agree that rooting can be a sign of saddle fit discomfort in horses, it is a notorious pony evasion tatic. Have seen it many, many times. In fact, my daughter rode a pony for family on Saturday who’s pony has started doing this with his tiny rider in order to be able to leave the ring as he pleases. When my daughter was smaller, we too had a pony who pulled this tactic when he decided he was done working. I’ve found that young horses will do it to stretch while they are gaining strength and balance but saddle fit is good. Certainly, it’s worth assessing saddle fit, teeth and any soreness issues when it occurs, but it might just be Naughty Pony Syndrome.