Why do horses toss their heads?

Horses may toss their heads for a variety of reasons, and it is important to identify the underlying cause in order to address the behavior effectively.

Why do horses toss their heads?

Here are some common reasons why horses may toss their heads:

  1. Pain or discomfort: Horses may toss their heads if they are experiencing pain or discomfort, such as from an ill-fitting saddle or bit. In these cases, the horse may be trying to alleviate pressure or discomfort in their mouth or back.
  2. Behavioral issues: Some horses may toss their heads as a response to training or handling issues. For example, if a rider has heavy hands or is pulling on the reins too hard, the horse may toss their head in an attempt to evade the pressure.
  3. Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as dental problems or ear infections, may cause a horse to toss their head. These conditions can cause pain or discomfort, which the horse may try to alleviate by shaking their head.
  4. Fly or insect irritation: Horses may toss their heads in response to flies or other insects that are irritating them. This behavior is often accompanied by other signs of irritation, such as tail swishing and skin twitching.
  5. Excitement or energy: Some horses may toss their heads as a response to excitement or high energy levels. This behavior may be more common in young or inexperienced horses.

It is important to address the underlying cause of the behavior in order to effectively address head tossing. For example, if the behavior is caused by an ill-fitting saddle, adjusting the saddle or using a different saddle may be necessary. If the behavior is caused by a training or handling issue, working with a qualified trainer may be helpful.

In some cases, head tossing may be a normal behavior for a particular horse and may not require intervention. However, if the behavior is persistent or interfering with the horse’s comfort or performance, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified equine veterinarian or trainer.

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