Head-tossing solution was under their nose

Appalachian Trail performs bravely at the Hagyard Mid-South Horse Trials in his special bridle.

Appalachian Trail performs bravely at the Hagyard Mid-South Horse Trials in his special bridle.

Sometimes less really is more.

So, what got the beautiful gray gelding to stop tossing his head and balking at the bit and bridle was not a new gadget, but in fact the removal of the very one he’d been wearing for years.

Specifically: the noseband.

After 10 months spent trying in vain to figure out just what was making Stakes Placed OTTB Appalachian Trail toss his head, and after ruling out pain, ulcers, and dental problems, owner Sarah Choate of Columbus, Ohio was at the end of her rope. That’s when her trainer suggested removing the noseband of Appy’s bridle.

Appalachian Trail
Barn: Appy
Sire: Monashee Mountain
Dam: Crafty Gal, by Crafty Prospector
Foal date: April 16, 2006
Earnings: $94,000 in 14 starts; stakes placed
“It worked!” Choate says. “Before this, we’d tried different nosebands, a hackamore, and he wasn’t responding to anything.”

Choate purchased Appalachian Trail in August 2013 due to a partiality to grays, and an instant attraction to his fluid way of going and keen jumping abilities.

Despite the head tossing and bit champing, and over her mother’s concern that the horse was “all over the place” when Choate tried to work him on the ground, something just clicked with the pair. And though stymied by the noseband issue for 10 months, after the adjustment was made, a new horse emerged.

The pair gets a few double-takes in the ring. But the proof is in the ribbons.

The pair gets a few double-takes in the ring. But the proof is in the ribbons.

Appalachian Trail soon learned to frame up like a show horse, and began to have much more success in his ground lessons, Choate says. “After we figured out the noseband, the next biggest challenge was keeping him focused on me in the ring. Once I do that, he’s really quite lovely,” she says. “He’s really a nice mover and we’ve been able to improve so much. His canter transitions used to be horrendous when we first started—he used to have his head up in the air and go running into the canter. Now we’re picking it up right away, and he’s on the bit!”

And on Cross Country, the beautiful gray is in his element. “The first time I took him out, I was super nervous, but he just locked onto those fences and said to me, ‘All right Mom. I see the distance. We’re good! We’re going!’ And, I never felt him hesitate once. He’s always bold and forward.”

The horse in the western bridle, minus the noseband, is making up for lost time in his Eventing career. With three successful Novice events under his belt, the pair has been competitive at local Training events, including Richland Park Horse Trial in Michigan, where they placed 9th in Open Training and the placed 10th at the Jump Start Horse Trials at the Kentucky Horse Park last September.

“The plan now for him is to see how the first few shows go and we’d like to try for a long format, if all goes well, and possibly move up to Preliminary by the end of the season,” Choate says. “The biggest positive about him is that he’s a real, genuine horse. I can always tell what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling—he never tries to hide anything from me.” Including, of course, his dislike of the annoying noseband!

5 responses to “Head-tossing solution was under their nose”

  1. allyson

    Thank you so much for posting this. . You solved my horses issue. . I have been trying to figure it out for over a year! !

  2. Chronicles of the Brown Horse: Week 9 | kellyatthecoast
  3. Janet Schultz

    Good job!

  4. Jocelyn

    How did you have this approved by the ground jury? I went through something similar with my horse and was told by the GJ and TD since it is against USEF rules, I couldn’t compete with out a nose band. Please let me know, I prefer to ride without one in general!

Leave a Reply