You and Your Horse

Finding your own way with horses

The Cavesson – Part 3

Posted by in All, Lungeing

The Cavesson – Part 3

In the first part of this series I introduced you to the sort of cavesson which I use for lungeing (see too the Lungeing Course). This type of cavesson offers what I need for my work: a reliable and precise, but also pain free aid with which I can achieve correct positioning of the poll.

The heavy fixed cavesson is something to which many horses are unaccustomed at first. It is therefore important to take enough time to get the horse used to it.

It is best not to strap the cavesson on tightly straight away and get to work with it immediately. Put it on gently to start with and lead the horse about a bit or take it somewhere to graze. Explain the positioning aids calmly, without using force and with a lot of patience and praise.

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Be clear about your own feelings about the cavesson – when you see it as an instrument of torture yourself your horse will sense this and ask itself whether something is wrong.

Rewarding titbits and the cavesson

When the cavesson is properly tightened the horse is not able to chew large titbits properly (e.g. a piece of carrot). Remember to loosen the cavesson again when you want to offer a larger reward.

You could also offer, as I do, a few oats. A horse can manage those even when the cavesson is done up.

Chewing and licking while working

And don’t worry: a horse can chew and lick while it is working even with the noseband fully done up!

Although the full range of movement of the jaw is restricted there is enough play in it anyway thanks to the “give” in the inner padding. My horses often show a line of fine foam on their lips – this shows that the mouth is working.

If the horse resists the cavesson

Normally horses get used to the cavesson very quickly, if one takes the time to introduce them to the new piece of equipment. I only rarely experience resistance to it (at least with this sort of cavesson). If, however, a horse shows definite signs of trying to resist the cavesson (it will not let the cavesson be put on, it shakes its head, or behaves rebelliously once it is on), you should check on the following:

  • are its teeth OK?
  • does it have sinus trouble?
  • is it experiencing pain at the place where the facial nerves emerge?

In most cases you will find that there is an underlying reason for resistance to the cavesson. Try to cure the cause and give the horse the time it needs to realise that the cavesson does not hurt and is not “bad” in any way. It will pay off, as with a cavesson like this you have a really excellent piece of equipment for lungeing work.

(Translated by Katy Schütte)

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