How to Stop Your Horse from Bracing Against You While You Ride

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Whether test riding horses for sale or schooling your own horse, you will probably encounter a horse that braces against you at some point during your riding career. A horse that braces up in his head and neck is not only unsightly, it makes for an uncomfortable ride for both you and the horse. These tips can help you to solve the issue.

Check for Pain

Bracing in a horse can be an indication that the horse is in pain during the ride. Before you approach the bracing as a training issue, thoroughly evaluate the horse to make sure that he is not in pain. Palpate the horse’s back for signs of soreness, and check to make sure that the saddle fits well.

When you’re checking the horse over, don’t forget to check his mouth, too. Look for signs that your horse’s teeth may need to be floated, and if you’re not sure what to look for, then have your vet out to check your horse. A horse suffering from mouth pain will likely brace against any movement in the bit.

Use a Milder Bit

This may seem counterintuitive, but if a horse braces up against you during a ride, then try riding the horse with a milder bit. If you are using a bit which is either too large for the horse’s mouth, or which puts unnecessary or constant pressure on the horse’s tongue, this can make for an uncomfortable ride. Try using a bit with a smaller port, or one which creates less tongue pressure to see if this helps encourage the horse to soften.

Soften Yourself

If the problems persist, then evaluate your riding. Are you remaining soft in your hands and arms, or are you locking your elbows and bracing in your own hands? If you lock up and brace, then your horse is certain to brace against you, so focus on keeping your joints soft and mobile, and creating a soft feel through the reins as you ride.

Introduce Rein Movement

If the horse still braces against you while you maintain a soft feel, then introduce subtle movement of the reins to encourage him to soften down. As you ride, imagine squeezing a sponge gently in each hand. With this visualization, squeeze each rein gently, one at a time, then stop. This subtle movement is often enough to encourage your horse to soften and give to the rein. Don’t overdo it with this movement; only exert occasional squeezes when the horse braces against one rein or another.

When a horse braces against you, generally it indicates that something is amiss. If you can’t find the cause yourself, then be sure to enlist the help of a trainer.

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