free advice

Hi Folks,

Horse Problems Advice is free and here to help all. We have always sought to assist those wanting to be successful in the Industry and will continue with this new Site

No matter the issue, we should have no difficulty in immediately assisting You.

A combined 60 Years of experience, Thousands of Horses, and over 50,000 Humans give us some clues.

email Linda on
and John on

Remember……Your Horse is depending upon You.

Kind Regards


other pages down the bottom

Natural Horsemanship

Hi, I purchased your horsemanship DVD -brilliant stuff thanks.
I have a question – when I lead Lights’ out into the paddock to play the yo-yo game his personal space is a bit too close for my liking. Any suggestions? I do t think I am correcting him in the right way. 
Thanks a million in advance Take care

Hi Simone, thanks very much.

The first tip I would give you is that you should never train a Horse in a PADDOCK and in particular, never the Paddock of the Horse. That is their place of rest. To introduce the Yo-Yo Game, do it in a mundane area, out the front of the stable, in the car park, round pen, and so on.

If you want personal help if stuck, just book a lesson on Zoom.


Weaving and the Off the Track Thoroughbred

Hi Mr. HP,

I definitely would like to order a saddle, I just haven’t gotten around to measuring her whither yet. And, I think I need help with all the saddle style choices too, lol!
By the way, I have been watching and reading the information on your website, it is very comprehensive, I very much like your teaching/training style and I would like to thank you for the info on the one-rein-stop. 

Yesterday, I rode my just-turned-7-year-old OTTT mare on a shortish trail ride (luckily I borrowed a friend’s stock saddle). I hadn’t ridden her for nearly 4 weeks, as I had been resting her after she had an accident and wounded herself from some dodgy fencing (at a previous agister’s property). I had lunged her beforehand, but I think she has just come into season because the further away we got from the yards where the geldings were, the skittyer she became, until partway down the bottom of the bush paddock, she started jigging and carrying on like a pork chop. 

So, when I felt her wanting to rear etc etc, I was able to utilise what I had read and watched on your website regarding the one-rein-stop and successfully disengaged her hind legs and prevented her from rearing and pig rooting etc. I was able to eventually calm her down so I could safely jump off, walk her a bit and hop back on for a relatively non-eventful, safe ride home. The very experienced horse lady I was riding with said I did extremely well to control her and stay on her back… I was very proud of myself and it was a great learning experience.

The funny thing is, having ridden a lot as a child and a teenager and then, after a 30 year hiatus, pick up regular lessons again, never once was I taught the one-rein-stop! So, thank you, thank you, you saved me from a nasty fall and expensive chiropractor fees!

With that being said, I have had my mare (Catie) for nearly 3 x months. Before me, she had been on a property for about 3.5 years (post-racing – she only had 3 x barrier races) with lots of other horses and was only being ridden on the odd trail ride. She was sold to me as a gentle and quiet mare that would suit my requirements in a trail horse (I’d like to do some low-level dressage on her as well). For the first month that I had her, she was on a friend’s property in Braidwood with 3 x other horses. She continued to be calm and quiet and I had no problems with her on trail rides.

However, when I brought her to the agistment paddock in Canberra, she had to spend the first 24hours in quarantine (after being wormed) before she was allowed to join the other agisted horses in her new group paddock (I don’t stable her at night). Unfortunately, the quarantine yard was away from any of the other horses, she couldn’t see them and she soon became quite anxious and by the morning she had worked herself up so much that she had triggered a significant weaving response that had not been displayed before. 

After the quarantine, her weaving response continued whenever I took her away from her herd, was left in a yard by herself, or had to be tied up to groom, tack-up, or be fed. (She had to be tied because there were no yards next to the group paddock she was agisted in, only a single tie-up rail)… the weaving would often only start when she had nothing to do. Unfortunately, after her injury, I tried to stable her (vet recommended to), but the extent of her weaving vice made myself and the other stabled horse owners worried and I had to return her to the group paddock.Not long after moving her to Canberra, she also started showing evasion behaviour when led or ridden away from the group paddock, which I was starting to get under control until the accident happened.

I have since moved Catie and for the past 10 days, she has been back at her former owner’s property to spell while her wounds heal and, aside from her performance yesterday, has started to calm down, is being yarded regularly with other horses and is weaving very little.

I will be moving her to a new agistment paddock next week, where the arena, round-yard, holding yards and all the action happen at the paddock where she will be agisted in, which I hope will prevent her from reverting back to her weaving vice.
Catie is a lovely horse and I would really love to help her become confident and less anxious, for both her safety and mine.

My question to you….as I would like to start her from scratch again with some solid groundwork and riding skills, with the limited information I have given you, are you able to offer me remote coaching and training, and/or provide me with the appropriate video tutorials to follow, please?

If it is easier to talk to me (and you have time), please call me

I look forward to your response.
Kind regards,


HI Dimity, quite some story but not unusual of course. I have met it and seen it many times 🙁 Unfortunately, even if they only have Barrier Trials, they still inherit all the bad spin offs from the bad habits in the Racing Industry. That is why 100% of them have Ulcers!!!!!
Weaving is a psychological issue and extremely difficult to stop. It requires the use of Leg Restraints Training first and then the use of it to shut down the habit, but in a reward and relief manner, with proper training and relief for a job well done. Only then can You stop the Mental side of it. It can be done but requires an Owner who is committed and vigilant. Regards

Do I need a base on my Arena? 10/9/21

Thanks Julian

I have seen a number of serious problems where Geo F a bric has been used.

Your decision as to whether the clay will be fine as the base will depend upon whether Toes or Hoofs get through your Sand and dig into the Clay. Who knows??? Always a Gamble.

Therefore, do a small test piece and ride Dressage or what ever you do there, across the Test piece, with the Sand at the exact thickness your whole arena is going to be. Then examine. Only then make a decision.


Thanks for the compliment.


He has bucked me off twice in the last 2 rides!

My 6 yr old gelding has bucked me off twice out of the last 3 rides, and I can’t figure out what’s going on with him. It’s new behaviour for him. I can’t find any apparent soreness, and have been using the same saddle on him for the past three seasons.He has been fantastic for the past four months, mustering, and guiding trail rides. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, Alida

Hi Alida….no good!

Very difficult to get to the bottom of this without seeing the Horse but I will suggest a few things, so that You may attempt to get to the bottom of Him sooner, rather than later. Remember, the Horse never lies.

  • I presume You are attempting to shut the Horse down, to stop the Buck, not subscribed to the view that You can stop a Horse Bucking with 2 Reins. You can’t.
  • Have You checked the Horse for Ulcers or done it for Sand?
  • Has it got a top Lateral Mouth and ‘Áir Brakes‘?
  • Eliminate the Veterinary first – Teeth as well.
  • and perhaps you need to ride with this for a while, to gain success again.


Will the O’Leary Buck Stopper save me? 13/8/21

Hi Linda and John 
I saw on ur website Re the above item. I have a horse that I’ve had for 2 years and have not ridden him due to his poor hooves which cause him to limp. I now have boots fir him and want to ride him but as I’ve never ridden him I feel a bit apprehensive! Would this appliance be ok to use even if I don’t know if he’ll buck me off? He’s a thoroughbred and 20 yo but when he gets excited with the other horses he will buck and carry on so I do know he can buck so I want to be sure that with this appliance he wouldn’t think abt it. I do lunging etc but still not sure of myself!
If u could let me know if this would give me some sort of security please!
Kind rgds Jenny 

Hi Jeanette,

This is a massive subject and very difficult to handle appropriately via an email. Of course I could Mentor you through this,

Ask Yourself these questions.

  • are you trained to auto and by default, go to the ONE REIN STOP, not 2 Reins, should a Horse threaten You, or are you Pony Club trained where we grab 2 Reins?
  • Have you tested the Lateral Mouth of the Horse and the front Mouth?

I have met a lot of these Horses of course and yes, they can “jump around” as they say, but most of them are not Bucking as such, although I don’t doubt You.

The key to all Young/Green/Problem Horses, is to have AIR BRAKES on them and do not tolerate any of such behavior. Take Your own Life into Your Hands, not the Horse… so many do.

That is what allows me to ride Horses that are started in 2 Hours or 40 Minutes in the case of this Young Warmblood (more dangerous than Thoroughbreds)


the 9th ride on this 18 Hand Warmblood that came to us Bucking.

So here is the Buck Stopper Sample Vid

and with Purchase, there comes a long Video on using it.

So……I recommend that you don’t take chances and that you have PRIOR PREPARATION. Lunging is a meaningless thing.

If you want to properly do this, get back to me


He shys so violently, I come off.

  Over 45 years I’ve retrained dozens of ex-racehorses who’ve been fearful & shied/reared to avoid but have always came good due my leadership in saddle. I now have 1/4 horse frightened of any sudden movements x humans/birds in grass etc. Can spin on a dime in a nano second & toss me off due centrifugal force 🙁 Tried bagging him down every day for weeks – no improvement. Dunno if he has mental issues or just conning me. Prefer thoroughbreds as at least they shy in slow motion

Hi Cheryl

First up, one has to always “eliminate the Veterinary” Ulcers cause this behavior and so does problems with eye site.

“Bagging Down” is generally for unbroken Horses only. I have never met  a seasoned Horse that needed that system and besides, if one did do it, only a couple of Days should produce a result and never “Weeks”.

So if all the Veterinary was proven to be correct, then what? Now You have me thinking laterally. The “Art of the Problem Horse Trainer”

  • Ride in the same areas, with a lead horse, with the afflicted Horse as the follower. Observe, experiment.
  • Hook the said Horse to Your Roping Horse and ride in the same areas, replicating the triggers. What happens. It can’t ‘shy away’ for it will hit the end of the rope, thus not achieving “evasion” The key to fixing all ‘Evasions’ is to shut them down. What else could I do….invent??????
  • Put a set of Blinkers on the Horse and experiment.

So in essence, there is an answer for every affliction of every Horse. We just have to find it. Think outside the square and always keep the open mind.

Finally, if you are coming off the horse, could that be half the problem?? Horses often get deep psychological problems when People are dislodged. If he was not a Buck Jumper and half trustworthy and my Age was diminishing me, I would fit a Velcro strap to go over each one for my thighs, so I didn’t come off 😁

Hope that helps. It’s never about the Breed. Just the Horse.



Extended Reins for the ‘Green Horse’

The other question I had was whether your extended English reins would be suitable for 15.3 beast such as ours ??? He doesn’t have a particular long neck, but I know that young / green horses should not be subjected to short reins.   Obviously, we are trying to preserve the horse’s mouth as best we can, but I am aware that our hands will never be as good as a professional’s – so every little bit helps.

Getting technical Stuart, it is a fact that no standard English Reins from the Shops, give the freedom to be able to provide the ‘Green Horse‘ with the crucial sophisticated training messages and to not ruin it’s new Mouth in the process. Well spotted!!!

I feel in Danger when riding out (26/3/21)

I have a horse who is 16 ex-galloping Beautiful temperament Down side suffers severe anxiety when i take him out on his own. While he has improved in the 4 years I have had him. I would love to be able to ride on my own down the rode in a safe way. He jig jogs or cat leaps in the air. I have always got off when feeling unsafe because most times he will stop for me on voice command. I am 70 yrs old so falling off is not an option for me. Is it possible to get rid of the anxiety. I have done agility, no problems. Taught him to lead, follow lunge on voice command. Stop when leading the same way. Thank you for any suggestions. Beth

Hi Beth,

Well congratulations on your training achievements with this Horse and for saving it’s Life, both of which you should feel proud of, however, as I warn in my Thoroughbred Article for which I get regularly bashed 😁 you can only do so much and when it comes to this particular problem, you are dealing with a high end psychological issue, far beyond the reach of most.

Add to that Your Age and one must examine the suitability of the Horse for the Rider and clearly, this Horse does not suit you, neither for quality of Life or for Danger to your well being.

Of course You and I know that getting off them can never achieve improvement in Training but I can well understand. You need to look no further for a reason to change Horses, that simply that.

Just briefly, for I could write a book on it, You can only fix these Horses by getting them to go on a complete “Pleasure Rein” when walking and with complete Dressage when trotting and Cantering. There are no in-betweens and there can be zero incidents of breaking the Rule. If You can achieve that, they cannot be fixed.

Remember Beth…..”Life is not a Dress Rehearsal”

Best of Luck

Can’t Put a Bit in the Mouth (14/3/21)

   Just wanted to ask you about one horse I have that WILL NOT let me put anything in his mouth. I think it results from when I wormed him a few months ago... not sure, but he puts his head so high I can’t reach, turns his head well away and when I try to get his head down he starts to try and rear. I’ve tried clicker training him to let me touch his mouth . But it is so slow! I cannot get a bit anywhere near his mouth. Do you have any suggestions?
   Thanks, jo

That’s an easy one Jo. Just go to this. Fixes them all. Regards



Hi John 
The problem I’m having is that Poet does the following 
Leans back and drops his rump down due to him sliding his hind legs under him slightly. This causes him to rub hair out on the top center of his tail. I have tried bandaging and using tail wraps for protection but these slide off dew to him leaning back. 
I crawl around corners and use the weight of the float to slow me down before using breaks and taking off again slowly. 
He was travelling in a float with very deep bays where he had too much room in front of him and I tried him in a friend’s angle load float where he nearly went down in the float due to her ridiculous theory that if they scramble you just drive faster.  I was so pissed off. He kicked in the bottom of her swing-out tack box trying to stand up! She also went around corners too fast and braked too hard. ( She Hates people like me who slow down too far out from the intersection or crawl around the corners 🤷‍♀️)
I’ve tried traveling with him without the center divider to find his happy place to stand.  This is dangerous as he pulls back when tied up and I don’t want this to happen while traveling or when lowering the tailgate 
I’ve tried traveling him on the other side and centre divider pushed to the side  

I currently travel him with a thick cushion behind his rump but he still will jam his bump back and rub his tail. 
I do use barn doors due to dirt being sucked into the float when traveling down dirt roads. I feel that being an older float these and the doors rattle too much and therefore would like some advice on how to solve this problem. 
For all of these reasons, I thought that the features of a JR Traveller float with adjustable chest bars and also rump bars that are adjustable and set 10cm (not enough for Poet I feel) so tails are not jammed against breaching gates or tailgate. The angled wall is 25cm wider at the bottom to allow for the hind legs to spread. 
With the photos that I’ve attached would it be a solution to do an angled wall out 25cm where his hind legs usually spread wide? This would be an area behind the mudguards 
Should I get modifications done so I can get rocker-roller suspensions? 
I’m happy to raise the roof and put in more window area. I had the side window in the door broken and Poet would stick his entire head out happily as I traveled along 🤷‍♀️
I can’t think of anything else at the moment or when the problem first occurred. 
He is happy to go on the float and comes out of the float calmly 
Am I better off getting a chassis and frame made to my specks and building my float? 
Please I need help, I can’t bear to travel him anymore but I want to go out and enjoy my riding while I still can 😫

Appols, if there are delays in email streams, I delete all from my mind as I get messages all day every day, and lose track. I remember the story now.

It has always been my approach, that rather than try and fix or change the Float design first, it is better and far more cost-effective, to attempt to re-educate the Horse to not do the negative things, first and see how that goes.

You have one major problem with this Horse. The fact that it doesn’t tie up and so it is that my endless words about proper Horse Starting, always come ‘back to roost’ when Horses get let down by their ‘foundation stones’

So I advise, that You go back to basics first and fix the tying up. Here are the tools that You should utilize.

Only then will You have the Tools upon the Horse, to be able to utilize, to make a difference, and to NEGATE the evasions which are causing the physical and psychological damages.

I won’t comment on the Nut Case 😁


The Jig Jogging Horse

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Horseproblems

Just want to start by saying that I am a big fan and I was able to break in my Anglo mare with a lot of help from you guys.

To the problem:

My horse is a 7-year-old Anglo and still quite green (she has been broken since she was 4 years old but unfortunately she does not get worked regularly as I am 4 hours from her), but from day dot up until our last couple of rides, she has progressed amazingly, never gave me any curry and has shown to be a calm and relaxed individual.  I have always felt confident and safe with her.

As most young horses do, when we would head for home whilst out on a ride, she tried jig jogging, but with your method of stopping immediately, rein back, throw the reins away, I was always able to get her to cut it out after two or three attempts and she would walk home.

On our last 2 outings, she has decided to try something new.  She starts jig jogging, I gather up my reins and halt and once I put the pressure on the reins for the greenback, she is putting her head down and pig rooting/bucking/rearing.  I can feel what is happening beneath me.  She is saying “I want to go forward but the reins are saying NO, so I am just going to have a tantrum and try to get you off.”

In both instances, I jumped off as soon as we had 4 feet on the ground.  I don’t feel confident with my ability that I will manage to stay on and ride her through it, and if I do fall, or if she bolts, because we ride along the road, it could end up very messy for both of us.

I am going up to see her this coming weekend and was wondering if you had any advice for me.  Have you ever had a horse take it to this next level?  I am not sure what to do to stop this new behavior and don’t want to take her out until I have a plan of action.  I am worried that I have already ruined her.

Thank you in advance.

Kind regards


Hi Sue. Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, the Horse has taken it to the next level and so must You, but not without some protection guarantee though. First up though, there is a slight technical glitch that You have with my system there. Instead of picking up the Reins and simply reining back 2 or 3 steps, you are saying You are briefly halting. You mustn’t Halt. Just pick up the Reins, take the Contact and Rein back, throwing them away again on the instant and daring the Horse to jog again. However, now the threats.

The Horse has well arrived at ‘Discipline’ time, as most do in varying degrees. The Moment she starts to even flicker the Ear, You will go One Rein Stop and be carrying a Dressage Whip. Have it in the Hand You always use as your preferred One Rein Stop Hand (for you will have Your Monkey strap for the other Hand. You only need ONE REIN so drop the other one and grab Your Monkey Strap. On the instance, One Rein Stop and the moment the Head is around at Your Boot, go flick flick flick, behind the Leg, on the Flanks or Rump, dis-engaging the Hind Quarters and you can even add a little Verbal to it….like….”Cut it out”

You have to commit and don’t be soft about it. The more aggressive You are, the less chance of Bucking attempts there will be. Shock Tactics. Then simply go on and repeat.

Best of Luck and Regards




What’s the best treatment for horses with ulcers or likely to have ulcers? Anne Handyside – Queensland

Get rid of the Sand first. Watch this –

Then, unfortunately, you have to buy the 14-day treatment from the Vet. Ulcerguard and the others. After that, ensure the Horse has a relaxed Life, which means NOT Pleasure Riding with a Contact and NOT leading Horses “by the Beard“, tugging, pulling, pushing, and generally terrorizing them every waking minute of their handling.


Kissing Spine

hi there. So I have an OTTB I got her when she was 2 and she never raced. I worked with her slowly and it was rough but she was going well. then one day we were having problems holding only our right lead behind. since then it has been all downhill. she is five now and she still has problems with the lead and she does not want to use her hind end at all. she was diagnosed with a kissing spine and treated with shockwaves and injections but her behavior has only gotten worse. What do I do?

Hi Breanna

Bad Luck. Not good. Unusual for one not Raced but I am interested in your Riding style for we have found that ‘Incorrect Riding’ if riding ‘English’ ( On the Bit), directly deteriorates the Sacroiliac Region of the Horse, as well as also causes ‘Kissing Spine’.

I can also tell You that some vets here, are now successfully shaving Bone, rather than the treatments You mentioned, however…..

So You have 2 options. Investigate with other Vets, if they do perform that operation in your District or, put the Horse into our

program, which can successfully turn some of these Horses around. We have some secrets that the vets don’t know about and we thank the Thousands of Horses through our Hands, for those.

Our view on these things is that you have to ‘bite the bullet’ and fix the Horse or retire it. Good for the Horse and the Bank Account.

I’ll talk more via email


Dangerously fearful of the Rug – 24/11/20

Hi John, Just wondering if you can help me.  I have a 5-year-old thoroughbred, with an extremely bad rug issue. If a rug breaks and flaps on him he takes off, jumps the fence, and gallops away. He has done this twice now and galloped up the road. His flight response is next level. I have been trying to de-sensitize him with groundwork every day. I throw towels over him, chaff bags, etc. He ties up solid and I do this with his too. He will accept it but is not happy about it. Every time I put a rug on him I halter him and do it in hand. My problem is if a rug breaks on him and is hanging on him he will just take flight. I have taken all rugs off him now, but I plan to event him and I will need to rug him in the future. He is fine to put the rug on if I am holding him. I can’t put him in with another horse in case they play and the rug breaks. I live in a very cold part of Victoria where it snows in Winter, so will need to rug him in Winter. Can you recommend a video of yours or have you got any advice that I can do that I am not doing?  He is a lovely horse to ride and under saddle. Thanks in advance. Kind Regards, Leah 

Hi Leah,

This is a psychological issue, similar to ‘Mounting issues” (which featured on my Blog Tonight, with a Video)

You simply have to stop “the flight response’ and the only way to truly do that is through the training of the use of ‘Leg Restraints’ then only, can the Horse start to disbelieve its propaganda, which is what spurs these adverse reactions,

For the full info on this subject, please go here:


Unless You can gradually up the pressure to normal rugging, without the Horse being successful in any evasion, it won’t improve.





Just a few questions regarding arenas….. we have clay soil that is resulting in major soft spots. Will using lime on top stabilise this? I
Notice you did mention limestone is this the same thing?


No Fallyn, it won’t. You HAVE to have a base.

Leading Problem and more

Hi John,

I’m wanting your help with a horse I’ve recently purchased who does not respect me.

She is a 3.5-year-old mare, I bought her off a capable amateur who had her broken in not long ago.

She was going fine with me but started bad behavior after a while lunging her (in the round pen, with a halter, lunge rien, and lunge her). One day, she turned in to face me and refused to move.

I got ——— out to help a few times because I understood that this behavior could escalate. He taught me to ——- and said no more lunging for a short time. He also taught me long reining. She was doing fine until she started the same habit of turning into the center of the round yard again.

She then developed this habit of Stopping and refusing to move when being led and under saddle. I could get her moving with a pull & release on the ground and with a few taps of dressage whip under saddle.

I’ve stopped long-reigning her as it puts me in a vulnerable position. A few weeks ago she spooked at another horse while I was leading her and ran forward & kicked me in the thighs with both feet. Bad behavior, as I am sure she knew where I was.

Yesterday, I took her from her herd to feed her and while leading her, she started bucking, spinning in circles, brushing past me as her herd and the adjoining herd were racing around their paddocks. I got another person to lead her back to the paddock instead of to the feed shed where I had been trying to take her because it was clear that she did not respect me and this situation was dangerous.

I will not be riding until I trust that she respects me. She’s been fine to ride, occasionally she’ll spook but I push her through it. Although I think her lack of respect could translate to worse behavior under saddle.

I’m based in Brisbane and need some help to get her to respect me. Whereabouts are you based? I appreciate you offering training advice online however we both need in-person training.

Kind regards

Hi Jemima,

There are probably 2 things going on here. A touch of “Learned Helplessness” and/or, You needed a few more systems in Your Closet.

I asked You Yesterday, how You lead Your Horses and You sent me a Photo, showing You leading in a commendable way, with the Horse a couple of meters out the back…BUT……I note that You have a Leather or Webbing Halter, as well as the ‘Fairy Floss’ Pony Club Lead Rope and of course, across my career, basically 100% of all so-called problem Horses that have come through my Hands, have been wearing the same. So the first advice is to change the equipment. Pull and release do not work with such equipment anyhow.

Apart from that, 2 other things can help You at the instant and I recommend these because of the tyranny of distance here but knowing that You, the Owner, need some short-term effective weaponry.

  • You should add Leg Restraints Training to the package of training, instantly raising You the Ladder of respect without even trying and removing some of the flight response and shenanigans
  • Throw in my system of join-up, which will also grant You instant and major respect benefits, for now, and the future if a reminder is needed…and
  • Do avail Yourself of the Natural Horsemanship wide body of Tools, as found here, with REAL HORSES.

In virtually all of these cases, there is some degree of confusion happening and the Horse Communicating because of frustration. You simply need more Tools.

Biting the Baroque Horse 30/9/20

Hi John, I’ve used your mouthing method for quite a few horses over the years very successfully. I am currently mouthing my young pure Spanish Andalusian gelding just turned 4 years old. So far he’s proving to be lovely to work with & responsive. I’d be interested to know if you’ve done any work with Andalusians & how you’ve found them. He appears to be happy enough with the FM bit for the mouthing process, but what choice of bit would you recommend for his further training under saddle? Andalusians have thick tongues & low palates (refer website Bit Bank Australia ‘Bitting the Baroque Horse’. Just want to do the right thing for my horse. Regards Wendy.

Hi Wendy. Good to hear You have gone well. Indeed, my Bits are leading the Market for these Horses and for the reasons that you explain and for one other reason (which I can’t talk about here because of intercultural property theft)

The important thing is to not remove the Starting Bit, until the Horse is established, right through the ‘Green Horse’ stage. If an English Discipline Horse’ then, change to your preferred Snaffle Bit, but again, on the Green Horse, it is essential to wear a Chin Strap, to stop ‘learned resistance’ and bad experience and pain, due to the Bit sliding through the Mouth in times of spooky things.


and, that You don’t ever attempt putting them ‘On the Bit’ until they are established and not Green.


Unhappy with the Bit


Good Morning,

I was hoping to get some advice with regard to your Horse Starting Bits if possible.

My gelding is telling me that he is not at all enjoying having a bit in his mouth. He tries to avoid me placing it into his mouth, and once in, he is very busy with it and constantly puts his tongue over the top of the bit.

I know that he is telling me that he is uncomfortable and is doing what he can to avoid any pressure. I have tried numerous bits and bridles in an attempt to help him become more comfortable and relaxed, without success. I even recently paid $200+ on a bit that I was told would help to resolve the issue. It didn’t. Silly me. (I even contacted the local SA company I purchased from to advise that the issue was still there – to which I was directed to buy another very expensive bit from them).  

I know there could be several reasons why he is unhappy and I know you couldn’t possibly know the answer from reading an email – but for some context:

The majority of my riding is trail riding, and I ride on a completely loose pleasure rein. I also ride with a market Harborough so if I do have cause to take up contact, it is soft and I am not accidentally yanking on his mouth in any way.  

I have recently had a vet check, his teeth done, bodywork, farrier, and saddle fit – no issues were found and he is in good health and sound.

He was started under saddle approx. 12 months ago, and he has always done this. I watched when he had a bit placed into his mouth for the very first time, and he immediately placed his tongue over the top of the bit. Even though he gets very busy with the bit-in – he is still very good at riding. He does not bolt/rear/buck/head shake/try to get above the bit… he just plays with it constantly and puts his tongue over and back, over and back. The only thing I have tried which helped was to use a grackle bridle, with the chin strap to hold the bit firmly in his mouth. But this annoys him and he tries to rub the chin strap off. I am loathe to use something that ‘forces’ him not to play with the bit – that doesn’t solve the issue, and I would really like to find a solution where he is comfortable and happy.  

In light of the above, I was wondering whether your horse starting bit might be worth a try. Would it be beneficial for him even though he has already started? I am willing to try anything and everything that will help him to feel calm, confident, and happy.

I am also curious about your thoughts on bitless bridles.

Thank you for your time.

Kind Regards,


Hi Dana.

Unlike most Bit Companies on the Planet, we don’t try and sell Bits, indeed, I cut the price of them in half for the Industry for they were and are still being ripped off. You should send a LETTER OF DEMAND to that Bit Company for the Bit is “not suitable for the Purpose” They will then refund you.

Now we have not ever met such problems with our Bits but that doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to Your Horse.


Are You in South Australia?
Was the Horse started with a Bit or a Rope Halter?
Have You had the Horse assessed by a Trainer of Note and Maturity?
Did the Vet SCOPE the Horse and if not, why not? I hope they didn’t just take your money like the Bit Company 🙁

So you get no guarantees from me but lots of help 🙂 If in SA, bring the Horse down here for a 1 hour assessment.

it is possible that the Horse wasn’t started correctly and never was shown how to handle a Bit and why. Let us know more


Hi John,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my email! I appreciate it. 😊

To answer your questions:

Are You in South Australia?

Yes – I am located in the Riverland.

Was the Horse started with a Bit or a Rope Halter?

Well, now that you mention it – yes he was started in a rope halter to begin with and was ridden bitless in a rope halter for a short time. He was also ridden in a bosal. When the bit was introduced, it was placed into his mouth and a single strap behind his ears held it in place, with no reins attached to it. After some time, a bridle and bit was introduced.  

Have You had the Horse assessed by a Trainer of Note and Maturity?

My horse was started here locally in the Riverland by a Trainer who starts horses using natural horsemanship techniques. He also spent some time with a professional Trainer in Mount Barker. Both of these were in 2019 – he has not been assessed by a Trainer since then.

Did the Vet SCOPE the Horse and if not, why not? I hope they didn’t just take your money like the Bit Company

I had Adelaide Plains Equine Clinic come and have a look at him when they were visiting the area. I was interested in them having a look at his underflank area as he tends to be quite sensitive down there – picking up his legs and swishing his tail when doing up rug leg straps, or any time you have your hand underneath near his appendage. He also had quite runny stools at the time (not diarrhea but very soft) and I was concerned about either sand in his gut, or maybe even ulcers. The vet checked him over paying particular attention to his underflank area – watched him move at all gaits in both directions and checked for soundness. Checked his stool for sand – none was present.

The vet stated that he did not have any medical issues that he could determine or feel and that he was more than likely quite sensitive and “ticklish” in this area. I was advised to put him on a course of grit bix (which I did) which might help to clear up any sand if there was some there, and if the problem continued to let them know. I also gave him a course on Equishure (hindgut supplement). His manure has firmed up since then – but on occasion still finds a loose one. I also have been spending quite some time working on his ‘ticklish’ area and can now rub around that area, and he also less frequently picks his legs up when doing up rug straps… but he doesn’t always love that and we all know horses are very tolerant of the things we do that can bother them. I also had two different bodyworkers take a look at him too to check for any muscular issues/soreness…  but nothing of note.

The Vet did not scope. That wasn’t mentioned. Do you think it would be worthwhile? Do you think ulcers could be an issue? The vet stated he appeared to be in very good health and condition.

I appreciate you not just referring me to buy your bit, and attempting to find out why this might be happening… although I am still keen to purchase one of yours.

I also had a read of the question underneath mine about your thoughts on bitless bridles… and I can see that something like that would not be appropriate for my horse at this time.

I hope the above helps… you mentioned bringing him to you for a 1-hour assessment – I am interested in knowing more details about that if possible.

Thank you again so much for your time, it is appreciated. And I also just want to say – I am so sorry that you and Linda have had a terrible week… I just read your blog; when it rains, it pours! ☹  I am also horrified at the abhorrent treatment and behavior you have been subjected to by some… Human beings can be real a-holes. ☹

Looking forward to hearing back from you.


I suspected as much. This is not unusual for Horses that are started Bitless. Think about it, what must they think when one gets put in their Mouth later, without any learning of what it means or how to use it?

I have had several Horses through my Hands this Year, started with Rope Halters, and the maximum Mouth Ranking that any of them had was a 6/10 and most of them Bucked off their Owner.


Testing Horse manure is meaningless.


Did the Vet check for a Bean? Perhaps not?

Anyhow, such Horses require re-mouthing with my system, to give them half a chance at understanding the future.


Bitless Bridles

Dear John Hope, you’re both well. Busy training our youngsters using your methods of course. But have an acquaintance who is trying to convince me to train using a bit less bridle. Mouthing our youngsters using your method and your equipment is going brilliantly as usual. I tried searching on your website but cannot find your views on using bitless bridles. Please can you give me your opinion and perhaps publish your views? Also, try to locate all your peer reviews. Where are they on your site? I found them most valuable. Best regards Rosemary Howe & Charley Barber

Hi Folks, hope you are both well. I must write an article on this one. Bitless Bridles are fine on the completely foolproof mature Horse that is proven, been there done that, and with little risk. Those who think that Bitless can suit ‘Breakers’ are dreaming. It is a major risk management danger, they do not and cannot put a good Mouth on a Horse and accidents abound out there.

This Year, I have had 2 dangerous Warmbloods through my Hands, both broken in with a ‘Rope Halter Man” and both having Bucked off their Owners. One of them, worth probably $50,000, is now in the Rodeo and worth $300 at his next transaction.

So on “Old Dobbin”, whatever floats your Boat’, ‘Hell I can even do better than that 🙂

Mega Bitless 🙂

Exotic Horse Bits

Hi John

I’m after a little bitting advice.
My Welsh D is currently using a Neue Schule Turtle Tactio (size L).
I find he leans quite a lot and chews the bit quite a lot.
I was wondering if the HP Lip relief barrel loose ring snaffle would be a good alternative.
He has a fat tongue and fleshy lips. Ideally size, he should be in an XL NS Turtle Tactio but they cost a fortune. I thought a 5.5 HP lip relief barrel loose ring snaffle.

I did consider the 3 ring barrel but it’s probably too much for him.

Best wishes

I won’t even go and consult the “Spin Doctors” description of the oh so impressive Human influence description of the Wonder Bits with the name 🙂

Put simply, they have “paralysis of the analysis”.  The Horse tells all. and I have not met a horse that complains about mine.

Either the loose ring snaffle or the egg butt but it is little about what is on the outside of the face, it’s about what is on the inside of the Mouth that counts Kristy.

I cut the price of Bits in half in this Country as they were all ripping you off.

Remember, if You have a Bit made by God when you change, it will take a few rides for the Horse to realize and get your confidence back…..and…….

No Bit can be good with BAD HANDS and there are plenty of those around in the Ënglish Disciplines”

If You ride “English” and the Horse is at all “above the Bit” and not “round”, resistance will cause problems with the Bit…..therefore, there are only 2 ways to ride, complete correct Olympic Dressage or on a COMPLETE Pleasure Rein.



The Green Horse (13/7/20)

Thanks! We have become a little unstuck getting my pony to go forward in the other direction… the change of seeing the rider in the other eye has resulted in a bit of a show

need to have my jockey work on her one-rein stop and ask a bit better on the right rein.


Get out of the Round Pen Ash. It and the Arena, are Your enemy. The maximum times one should ride in the Round Pen is 2 and the Arena 1 (following a Seasoned Horse) Then, get out into “The Wild Blue Yonder” for that is Your Heaven!!!!

1st ride out

The Standardbred

Hi 1f44b

I’d like your input thanks 1f60a

My new Standy is an absolute gentleman Still waiting for his teeth to be done so have not had a bit in his mouth yet hopefully they get done tomorrow.. there’s a waiting list up here …

From your experience if you saw a horse free lunging with only a rope halter & a rope attached that is loopy & the horse had the head in a “ collected position ‘ would you be thinking the horse has had side reins on before ??
He does not do this when he is in the paddock or free lunging only when lunging with a rope attached

Then he will do this head twist to open the mouth & the tongue will fly out .. I spoke to a lady who owned him briefly she said he did this when she first got him on the lunge

he finished racing in November last year …
He does not do this in the stable or paddock or any other time .. & it’s only for a brief moment then he relaxes ..
all I can think of is he is remembering the pain of the mouth from sharp teeth as it is so similar to a horse reacting to pain from a sharp tooth but there is not a bit in his mouth
I am getting the horse Physio to him tomorrow for a massage

Any ideas as to why he may be doing this
To me, it’s a psychological reaction to something
I’m just not sure what

Hi there,

The first thing that comes to mind, is that we should test all Horses, in every way, before Purchase.

This Breed often has tongue issues or other idiosyncrasies. These can be caused by ‘memories of the past’, like being held at 80kg in the Mouth and perhaps Bits that are old fashioned.

Tongue Ties, and as You know, breathing difficulties, and so on.

as always……LISTEN TO THE HORSES…….start working with Him and he will tell You all. Then simply adjust training as per the advice of the Horse 🙂


I do notice that unlike the thoroughbred when the TB gets a startle, they stay startled for some time, especially the ex-racers
This guy comes back very quickly .. he’s starting to get a more happy look about him .. he always looks happy to see me so I’m doing something right
1f923 1f923

Well done

Worked out what was causing the boy to twist his head & throw the tongue out on the lounge line .. a very unbalanced mouth causing a ramp-up on his back molar creating a very very sharp point that enough pressure from the rope halter was causing discomfort. That explains why he was only doing so with the halter on & not in the paddock or free lunging .. caused by poor dental maintenance.. all sorted now

That didn’t take long. Well done!!!!! Bravo……”Listen to the Horses”

Leg Restraints Training

Hi 1f44b

I’d like your input thanks 1f60a

My new Standy is an absolute gentleman Still waiting for his teeth to be done so have not had a bit in his mouth yet hopefully they get done tomorrow.. there’s a waiting list up here …

From your experience if you saw a horse free lunging with only a rope halter & a rope attached that is loopy & the horse had the head in a “ collected position ‘ would you be thinking the horse has had side reins on before ??
He does not do this when he is in the paddock or free lunging only when lunging with a rope attached

Then he will do this head twist to open the mouth & the tongue will fly out .. I spoke to a lady who owned him briefly she said he did this when she first got him on the lunge

he finished racing in November last year …
He does not do this in the stable or paddock or any other time .. & it’s only for a brief moment then he relaxes ..
all I can think of is he is remembering the pain of the mouth from sharp teeth as it is so similar to a horse reacting to pain from a sharp tooth but there is not a bit in his mouth
I am getting the horse Physio to him tomorrow for a massage

Any ideas as to why he may be doing this
To me, it’s a psychological reaction to something
I’m just not sure what

Hello John,

I recently had cause to defend your DVDs on Leg restraints when I joined a conversation led by “a drip under extreme pressure” who bought the set.

What he said was not important you will have heard all that before. What is important is that after I questioned him I realized that many wanna-be weekend breakers would behave similarly. Despite your repeated attempts to explain the process requiring a build-up and desensitization to the main events such as rear leg strap conditioning for the kicker just for one example. This idiot like many misses that very important part of the process.

In appreciation of the many times you have assisted with your advice as I try to build a business here, I would like to suggest you make this more obvious. After all, as you would well know many inexperienced and egotistical horse people share this selfish approach to training, so much so that reading the horse is always secondary. The idiot had a very nervous horse and went straight at it triggering a kicking/fighting fest that was so unnecessary.

All the best to you and Linda,
Mark Briffa
Horse sense 101

Hi Mark,

Well, you know and I know that You can’t change idiots. There is only so much one can do. I do plenty in my writings and teachings relating to potential dangers whilst Leg Restraints Training

Indeed, I have never had even Hair off a Horse, across Thousands of Horses, let alone Skin Off.

So thanks for your advice. I will go and check the Page out and see if I can do anything. Regards

Bucked off…again 🙂


“Never lean down to put your foot in the stirrup, on a Breaker ” 

apart from the fact that it is dangerous because you are already disorientated.
How come You let Him have his Face then….so he could Buck?? What’s his Lateral Mouth like??? You got  “Air Brakes”?
Watch this
It is surprising how many “Green Horses” don’t ever experience being pushed down on the Neck and Buck. I have met several of them.
Yes, the Buck Stopper works.
Have you got any Video of the Trainer riding this Horse??? or are you riding it????
You need this by the sound of it.
To do this, video it, and show me……
Talk later

30th April, 2020

Hi John

Just need a bit of advice if you have time. I have been given an off-the-track racehorse which I rode in a round yard before agreeing to have him. The bridle used had a dexter ring bit which I know nothing about. I’ve tried to research on the internet but most are promoting this equipment rather than explaining the need for it. I note the horse was tongue-tied when raced but I suspect this means he could be difficult to manage if he gets his tongue over the bit, thus the need for the ring bit. I did ask about the choice of this equipment and the tongue tie and was told he has a soft pallet ever that means.

I intend to do some work on his mouth and responsiveness before committing myself to the great open spaces.

Any suggestions or things to keep in mind would be gratefully received.

I have your DVD on remouthing which I intend to watch again.

Bush horsewoman.

Hi Kylie,

The Off the Track Thoroughbred required much support, both physically and mentally. Almost all have Ulcers, Teeth sometimes haven’t been done, Sand Treatment never done, and Worming, so you will save a lot of time if You give the Horse a full service 🙂

With regards to the Bit, the only true expert on this is the Horse. All You can do is to keep it simple and experiment. Stay away from exotic descriptions and Bits, like one I was reading about this Week “Happy Mouth” because whenever You read such descriptions, You know You are dealing with ‘Spin Doctors’ who only think about the $$$. I use a simple FM but as You also need to RE-MOUTH all of them (like I did this week) you should perhaps go for this

You can remove the Plastic if You want, for later use on other Horses You have the FM Bit ( which you always should have on these Horses, especially when You are introducing them to the scarey World on the Trail (which almost all have never seen)

Having my re-mouthing DVDs, You would know about all of the other Ridden Natural Horsemanship systems, to keep Ulcers at Bay. These Horses need much love, much encouragement and much reward and indeed, the last thing they need is the controls as taught via Pony Club or other British systems, for they ALL cause Mental and Veterinary negatives. Watch this from Last Week………

Behind the Leg

2nd May

Hi John,   Firstly thank you for all the wonderful information you provide online.   I have a stock horse who seems to be sound and reasonably willing when I ride on the road or a bush track. However, if I ride him in an arena I feel that I need too much leg and whip to maintain a forward walk or trot. The canter is not too bad.   He is barefoot and sometimes seems a bit tender-footed on stony ground, especially in wet weather. The arena I ride on has a good sandy surface that is not too deep, but he is very reluctant to maintain a good forward pace.   I often wonder if he is sore or if the saddle is uncomfortable on him. I have had him to a body worker many times, but it does not seem to affect his way of going. His conformation is not so good and he rarely stands square. He is a bit camped out in front and sickle-hocked. (See photo) In the photo I took yesterday he looks to me like his front feet are sore, yet he happily gave me a strong canter up a steep hill when I rode him. Today I rode in the arena and even with the whip I could not get an active trot.   If you have any suggestions I would be very grateful.   Many thanks, Robyn

HI Robyn,

This is the type of issue that one would need to see Video of but in the Photo, I notice a couple of things worth investigation.

You have different angles on the front Hooves and that should be looked at.


and, the Horse wants to ‘stretch out’ to relieve something, but I don’t know if this is before work or after. Check the stance both prior to and after work. If there is an issue, it could be Sacroiliac


The other thing, of course, is what system of Riding is being used for this Horse. Watch the Video above to hear a reference to that. You will see this Horse also not forward and this is normally a reflection of the difference between the Dressage Riding styles of predominant Australian Riders where they continually support Horses, pushing at every stride and working hard to achieve forward, versus the European (and my Wife) whereby the Legs just hang down the side of the Horse, doing nothing unless they need to send a signal and then doing nothing again. With regards to using the whip, again, if the system used with that whip is that of a niggle rather than a DEMAND, then whips and spurs also do not work. Horses aren’t silly 🙂

Further, what style of Flatwork do you ride? Look at the above Video and reflect. Unless Horses doing ‘Flatwork’ are traveling PROPERLY, technically PROPERLY, they cannot be forward. You could avail yourself of a one-off assessment via Video Link, with Mrs. HP.

Think about all of that.


Arena Advice

Good morning!

I’ve read all your advice on arena bases, and I’m not sure if you answer questions like this, but I’d be very grateful for your thoughts. We have a part of our property that is lower than the surrounding area and gets very wet from water running down the slope. Currently, it’s useless for 6 months of the year. We’ve only just bought the property and the previous owner said that in winter a water course develops across the low spots. We’re wondering if you think we could make use of that area which is hopeless for horses by putting down a very thick rock base over that area (e.g. 450 mm) to create a raised arena (higher than the surrounding area) or whether that is just stupidity.

Thanks and regards

Maggie Bruce

Hi Maggie,

Yes, that is precisely your only option. You can use the material “as rough as guts” and cheap or free if you want, remembering that it is only up on the top 100mm or so that you will cover it with your sub-base of the 20mm rubble or fines or whatever you choose.

I once did a completely successful arena and beneath that are rocks the size of Mini Minors 🙂

There is only one proviso to this. Should that low spot turn out to be an actual SPRING, where Water rises to the surface from the Aquifer, then you may be in trouble no matter what you choose to do but it doesn’t sound like it.

Best of Luck.

You’re amazing- thank you!!!!!!!! We’re gonna do it i reckon 👍
Best regards

Sand Colic

Hello John, I hope you and Linda are keeping well and safe down there in beautiful Victor Harbor!

I have a question regarding your sand colic recipe.

My daughter’s paint mare has had intermittent diarrhea for a few weeks, I treated her with psyllium with limited results.

At 5 pm last night, I gave her your recipe (that was fun! 😉) and was astounded that at 8 pm and overnight she was back to normal manures!

However today the diarrhea has returned. I am hoping this is a normal part of the clearing process.

I will follow up with another treatment in 2 weeks unless there is something else you suggest.

Thank you 🙂


Hi Jess. We have never seen any success with Psillium and have never seen any studies to prove it.

This is not unusual and would indicate that the horse has much more Sand. I suspect that You squirted it down the throat, with Wormers, making a big mess of yourself and probably wasting some I would suggest that you stomach tube the Horse with it next time.

Check also for Ulcers. Watch this……..

however long-term Sand causes much damage and that can’t be repaired overnight of course.

Do the Horse again in 14 Days and preferably via a Vet. They will most shy away but tell them that both Morphetville and Roseworthy Hospitals here, last year, secretly used it on Horses they couldn’t save and then did 🙂 Regards
60 years and counting

Unsound Horse

Good evening Mr and Mrs HP
I have purchased some of your videos and find them amazing. The approach of inside led to outside rein is how my boy was started and how I have continued to work with him.  I have an issue with my STB horse which I think may be more physiological than behavioral and would appreciate some general advice. 
He is progressively becoming less willing to move forward and has lately developed a lateral 2-beat walk as well as 4-beat canter disuniting etc. He hasn’t always been like this and has never raced. I feel like when we began to insist on more roundedness and less above the bit, things did get lots harder for him as the resistance appeared.  He is a Stock Horse x STB and is 5 years old. I have recently had out the chiropractor who said he was out in his poll (RHS), withers bilaterally, mid-back, and SI Joint (RHS).  The body massage lady also mentioned needs to build up his hind with lots of hills and poles and he is a very reactive front end. I followed the advice provided by the experts and after his chiro session gave him 3 days off then lunged gently for 3 days then rode today. Lunging I did notice he seemed to be able to better maintain a 4-beat walk, but canter was still a bit all over the place (generally better though). 
The ride today was just awful; walk 2 beats, canter everywhere, heavy on the fore, and just hard work. My biggest concern is that he is in pain or has something physically wrong as he has the loveliest nature and is so willing to please ordinarily. He wasn’t naughty just hasn’t been himself under saddle for about 3 months and his gaits are getting worse and worse. 
I am happy to consider vet, etc, but don’t even know what to ask them to check out. Do I get X-rays, ultrasounds, spell him for a bit, and continue with chiro? I ask because I respect your knowledge of STB and also the wisdom that comes from your experience with horses over many years. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  
regards Meagan

Hi Megan,

This sounds like a difficult case and one that we would not refer to second-level practitioners.

Indeed, when it comes to investigation of any unknown affliction, we only use the Vets’. The Physio and so on, do a good job but are not geared for diagnosis, and remember, they have zero chance of finding Bone Chips and so on.

Having said that, the reason why we started offering this service…..

because if You can lead the vets to the general area, first up, You save a lot of money. You may consider that.

Regarding your particular Horse, as I said, this may not be straightforward forward but nothing beats a Video, like this that we found Yesterday, for a Client who has spent Thousands.

Horse Problems advice page 2 – Horseproblems Australia

2 thoughts on “Horse Problems Advice

  1. Thank you John for your insight. This horse has had sacroiliac issues in the past. Unfortunately, the gentleman who normally treats him is not working during Covid 19.
    Thank you also for the offer of an assessment with Mrs HP. I am not very good with technology. Perhaps she could guide me through the process in an email.

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