Video: Fix Head Tossing with John Lyons


Q: My horse tosses his head constantly. I had the veterinarian out, and she says his teeth are fine. I even asked a trainer to help me find a comfortable bit and adjust my horse’s headstall, but he still tosses his head. Help!

A: Watch John Lyons’ video to learn his tried and tested method for reforming a head tosser.



  1. Once again, John Lyons always makes sense. It is a breath of fresh air to learn from someone who’s methods work every time and do nothing but bond horse and rider. A true blessing!

  2. John Is one of the easiest and uncomplicated trainers out there. I always love the directness and quickness of his videos. He really knows how to get to the point. He makes it all so simple. I like his non onsense approach to training horses.

  3. I haven’t tried any of this yet, but I hope it works. My horse, Apache, constantly throws his head back, not side to side, so that may or may not work. I’ll try it soon and comment back how it worked! Thanks!!!

  4. Well i ride Derssage and when my horse tosses her head what i do is sponge and move her foward and it helps alot try it

  5. This was surprisingly very easy to understand.I loved it.I hope everyone can see what a great horse person John Lyons is.
    Horse Lover

  6. Thanks. I needed that, but I would like to have seen more of the head tossing to better understand what the horse is doing. My horse keep extend his head down to the ground pulling and I saw the horse in the video do just a litte bit of that and I was wondering, if that would be handled the same way?

  7. Another way to stop head tossing is to release pressure on the horse! I did that with my horse and she stopped imedatly. Also your horses teeth may need to be floated.

  8. That was a good short little film. THat film is going to help me a lot because my horse Gabe will toss his head when ever you get on his back. My dad tried to make him stop tossing his head but it wouldn’t work. So thanks for letting me watch that film.

  9. For some reason it wont let me view any of the videos.. i wanted to see it cause my pony tosses her head alot.. thts all i can say!

  10. I have horse that throws head when riding! I hate it! At the canter i have his ears in face, with a perfectly normal contact on my reins. Video was so-so fr a horse tht tosses head at standstill and balking but not when you’re moving forward!

  11. I have seen a horse named bell at rochester hills throw her head and eventuly it got worse and threw my freind off but now most of the people riding her titend the reins.Now the horse is less green!!But good video you were right!dont let the horse have control!

  12. OMG!!!! JL video on horsechannel! So exciting. This was a great little segment. I just love Johns teaching methods so easy for the green rider to underastand. As a professional trainer I still find lots of great advice here on the horsechannel.

  13. I hope this will help our 10 yr old daughter with her stubborn 16 yr old gelding. I had her back him every time he started tossing & that did seem to help but I also think he needs more to do! We’ll give it a try & let you know! Thanks!

  14. The horses showed in the video were all head tossers that tossed from side to side like they were avoiding something or upset about something but my friends horse will sit there and toss his head up and down for no reason. when he does it she loses control of him at all gates. She has tried tightening her grip on him and several other techniques but has finally given up and just lets him do it. What could be causing this “fit” as we call it?

  15. i do not agree with this training method most horses toss their heads to avoid contact. Some horses are so bad that if you pick up contact and hold it until the horse gives (which a stubborn horse will not) it gets worse to the point of rearing. I would think the first step would be to have the teeth examined by the vet. Second change your bit and very possible style or riding they might just hate the job you are making them do.

  16. My horse “shakes” her head instead of tosing, to get the bridle of.
    She did that 3 times. Now I’m pulling her head to one side as soon she starts to shake. It is a little better, but it will take a long time, it seens, to get her to stop that. And it is so annoying since I have to pay atention to her all the time and can’t enjoy the trails…

  17. Oh my pony and my horse have these problems. My horse used to throw her head up and down. I would take her in the arena or meadow and just walk. I would stop frequently and let her throw her head and then move on about three feet and stop let her throw her head and do it over and over again until she got tired. She hasn’t thrown her head since. My pony throws her head side to side. We work her in the arena for and hour before we go trail riding and if she shakes her head she either goes is tight circles or i do what John Lyons said to do. My horse is cured but the pony is not 100% but she is getting there.

  18. We purchased our horse on 12/31/07. He was great through the winter. When the days got longer and the temperatures rose, he started to shake his head, sometimes so violently, I felt he was off balance and so was I. I did a lot of research. Many people said it was a behavior issue, but I KNEW this was not the case. I gathered as much info as I could and found that there is something called “photo headshaking syndrome”. A Guardian mask helps when riding him but does not eliminate the problem. I’m sure it’s not behavioral because when he is in his stall, turns to look out, his head reacts and he rubs his nose on the stall. I do not want to give him drugs so I am now trying a homeopathic remedy for him.

  19. Please tell me why I can’t open the video. I need to see this video. I just purchased a horse and he tosses. I want to keep him but can’t tolerate this problem,
    Thanks, Pat

  20. I enjoyed the video! I have a mare that tossed her head & I had her vet checked & she had a fractured coffin bone. she never limped, but she would just through head really bad.

  21. i think that is a good idea and i use it but when i do he starts to buck.
    I too think the bitt is hurting his mouth what do i do. the lady that i got ja-ja from hade him on a broken bitt i have not been able to find another one. i can’t even ride him. help!

  22. No help for me, my horse tosses his head when I lead him as well as ride him. A real bad habbit I would like him to stop. he also tosses his head in the round pen.

  23. Head tossing can also be Head Shaking Syndrome which is a medical problem and not a behavioral problem. I have a 14 yr old Quarter Horse the gets Head Shaking Syndrome in the spring and fall only, which leads me to believe it is allergy related. Vets don’t really know what causes Head Shaking Syndrome and the only thing that I have found to help it (and I have tried EVERYTHING!) is to put him on Dexamethasone for a period of time in the spring and fall.
    Please try to make sure that a horse does not have Head Shaking Syndrome, which he can’t help, before deciding he is just tossing his head to be a pain.

  24. The video’s are good, but the constant stopping & starting is disruptive and takes much longer to watch the video.
    Thank You

  25. Thank you Mr. Lyons!
    I am working with a very intelligent, opinionated TWH mare. When she is good, she is super to ride, when she is bad, she is really bad, tossing her head, moving her body every which way. Trying to figure out what to do I did almost the same as the video shows. And always ask the horse to move forward, which will help. It really works!

  26. thank you so so much! my horse has been tossing his head when I ask for a lope. this helped and I am so thankful you had made this video!

  27. sometimes head tossing can be caused by problems/sensitivity in the ears or the eyes. riding outside with a mask, there are some very thin ones, can help. the horse might be allergic to something and breathing whatever the allergens are, mine had over a hundred apparently, can cause this. there are allergy shots that can take care of the problem.

  28. This is helpful, but I’m wondering what you would recommend to also keep him from head tossing when not under saddle. He tosses his head in the cross ties and when being lead. – Thomas Zayatz

  29. Never got to see it. Tried every way I could to see it. Even sent the link to myself at another address. No luck. And the head tossing goes on. 🙁

  30. Same here! I really wish that I could see it because my friends horse tosses her head and I was going to show her this vid! But oh well:(

  31. There is new research on this topic indicating that head shaking can be related to pain in the trigenial nerve. If it only occurs in the sunlight when the horse is asked to work or exert himself, then it may be caused by this nerve irritation. He may seek shade in the paddock and have a reaction to light when coming out of the barn. Reearch this on medical sites (like AAEP) and find a vet who stays current on new research. NEVER ASK A TRAINER FOR A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS!! Trainers are not trained to give medical diagnosis. Even the vets get it wrong a lot of the time.

  32. Cannot get on my horse due to him steping away, I have to use a stool due to a knee problemn if some one holds him I am ok. Help thanks WWU

  33. thanks for the info will need to try on one of my guys he doesn’t toss he shakes his head up and down so will have to see if this will work for him

  34. this will give me something to start with when my gelding starts head tossing. I am considering a martingale so he doesn’t decide to buck. He’s 9yr old and greenbroke. I’m a one legged man who can’t seem to keep up with training horses anymore (&57 yr.old), this is gonna take some time, I fear. Thoughts? Just keep riding him, more is better, I think. My daughter thinks this horse will get unruly and I’ll get hurt. hmmm

  35. My 5 year old Ten. Walker ha started doing this. However, the other day I tried Calm before I rode him and he started throwing his head anyway. So I had a friend just come and sit in the center of the round pen that I ride in. Well that made a considerable difference and it lessened. He has blue eyes so I though it might be the light but having that person in the pen made the biggest difference. What do you think about that? What advise would you give ?

  36. Question.. While on the ground weather it be lunging with outside sliding side rein and lung line from saddle threw bit and to me my horse doesn’t toss her head nore wile long lining, But only under saddle will she toss her head. She goes from round supple and threw from her haunches and correct liffting her belly and back as well as her forehand and then all the sudden it goes to hell in a handbasket. As quick as it comes it goes. I’ve been an asistant trainer at a pertformance horse ranch starting both dressage and reiners and from there on to training for myself, i’ve started many many horses and NEVER had this happen to me. I’ve tryed all the tricks and still nothing. Her teath, saddle fit, etc… are all good. What might I be missing or is it the horse? She’s a hot blooded Arabian Sport Horse that has a big gass pedel and a bit of an issue with fight or flyght. I feed her with praise and reward wile never asking to much of her in fear that i’ll reverse my training. I’ve ran out of ideas from all the above and more even chainging her bit. Can you think of a solution? please respond ide love to resolve this issue

  37. Riding my friend’s thoroughbred mare. Got on when she was rather wound up, had scared her young rider (in fact she was pretty excited even on the ground before riding) she settled down with me but was tossing her head a lot and very much on her toes. I found that if I stroked/ rubbed her mane she’d stop head tossing, obviously not practical to do that for the whole time! She also stopped when trotting. I’m guessing it’s just frustration, but I’ll try your technique next time thank you.


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