Through the magic of Giddyupflix, I recently watched Deb Bennett's conformation video and was reminded of something I only learned last summer. Did you know that there is a trigger point at the base of a horse's neck that delivers a surge of hormones depending on the horse's head position? When the head is down in grazing position the trigger point isn't pushed and the horse gets a surge of calming, feel good endorphins. If the head pops up, as in the appearance of a predator, the trigger point prompts a rush of adrenaline through the body to prepare it for the fight or flight response.
Now take a look at this neck, what does it tell you about the temperment of my mare? From the muscling on the underside of it you can tell that she spends an awful lot of time with her head cranked way up in the air. You can tell she's getting pumped with A LOT of adrenaline A LOT of the time which must contribute 100% to why she's been so difficult.
She's got massive knots on the underside of her neck from holding her head so high. I've been working on massaging them to loosen them up and see if I can get her neck a little more supple but it's going to take more than massage to get her to keep her head down. While I was traipsing around on the internet I found this article, "Head Down - Calm Down," clicker training to teach your horse how to lower its head and relax. Perfect- that's exactly what Gwen needs.
I started with her tonight. I brought her out into the aisle, stood next to her and pressed down on her poll. As soon as she lowered her head, I clicked and gave her a treat. That girl is so quick, she learned to lower her head to a very light touch in less than 10 minutes. Of course we're going to keep this up. I can see a lot of good coming out of teaching her this!