ridecamp@endurance.net: stretching neck & head while trotting

stretching neck & head while trotting

Glenda R. Snodgrass (grs@theneteffect.com)
Mon, 8 Dec 1997 12:43:17 -0600 (CST)

Lakota has picked up a new habit over the last couple of months that has
me completely mystified. I've never seen another horse do this, and no
one at my barn has either.

It happens most often while trotting, though he sometimes does it at a
walk or canter. He will stretch his head out and down, nose out, as if he
were stretching his neck (or maybe sniffing the ground like my dog does :)
-- stretch, release, stretch, release. It's not at all the
head-down-ready-to-buck position, which is nose tucked in and neck arched
(believe me, I've seen him in that position more than once :) -- it's much
more extended, stretched straight out and slightly down, very relaxed.

He first started doing it about 2 months ago, only after an hour or so of
heavy work, so I thought maybe he was literally stretching, in which case
it's a good thing for him to do and I should allow it. However, he's
gotten to where he does it quite often now, and frankly it's a bit
irritating, because I have to constantly adjust my arms to accomodate his
constantly moving mouth :)

My second thought was maybe it was an indication of some type of pain,
but I've no idea what. I haven't changed any tack during this time; in
fact, we've had the same saddle & pad since I bought him, and it seems to
fit him just fine. There's no back soreness after a ride when I run my
fingers down his back -- vet at Long Leaf found no back soreness after
that ride either. Also, he's not swishing his tail or pinning his ears
back or baring his teeth -- no other indication of discomfort or
displeasure. I've tried both loose reins and more contact on the bit, but
that doesn't affect the 'stretching' at all.

So now I'm wondering whether it's just a nervous tic of some sort that he
has acquired to make our rides more interesting <g>, in which case I can
make him stop it.

Has anyone else ever seen this, or have any ideas about what could be the
cause? As always, all advice greatly appreciated.

Glenda & Lakota (25 down, 1000s to go!)

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