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[RC] Head dipping - sshorses

Hi all. I'm new to this forum so let me introduce myself. I'm a married 45 year old mother of 2 and live in MN. I own a 12 year old bay arab/saddlebred mare named Reba and we've mostly done competitive trail rides the past 2-3 years but this year I'll give LDs a shot. I'll be doing a 30 mile this weekend.

Anyways my question is about a behavior my horse started doing when I began competing on her. She does this head-dipping behavior (not head bobbing). As we're trotting down the trail, she'll dip her head down towards the ground over and over again. It's not on any particular foot landing like head bobbing will be.  At times it will progress to her trying to switch from trotting to cantering. She's done this behavior off and on for a couple years now. I'm not sure if I should ignore it or make her slow down to a walk when she does it. When I have slowed her to walk, it doesn't seem to resolve the problem because the minute I start trotting her again, she continues with the head dipping.  I've replaced almost all my tack -- gotten a Wintec endurance saddle, switched to a hackamore, and use a Skito Dryback saddlepad. The only thing I haven't replaced is myself!


The vets have not been able to identify the problem. Has anyone else had a similar problem like this with their horse? It could be a hoof soreness issue and it did seem to decrease once I put hoof boots on her.  I have been riding her barefoot because the trails we ride on are 99% dirt/grass trails.  I was planning on using the boots only when we competed or were riding on more rocky terrain.  But I think I'll use them more often now.  If it doesn't get better with the boots, I think I'll try a chiropracter or massage.  And if that doesn't work, I'll probably have to switch to some other discipline like dressage.  Thanks!!