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Stiff Necked = Hard Mouth

Posted by Woodchuck on November 14, 2002

In Reply to: Stiff Necked posted by R. Berg on November 13, 2002

: : In usage, stiff necked seems to mean stubborn, but why?

: From driving horses; a horse that won't turn its head in response to a tug on the rein is hard to direct. An obsolete meaning of "stiff-necked" describes such a horse (Oxford English Dictionary).

The current term for a horse that does not respond to rein aids is "hard mouthed" reflecting our changing ideas about humane treatment of animals.

A rider/driver who is heavy handed on the reins or uses particularly harsh bits will destroy the horse's mouth senstitivity. Unfortunately, these people often compensate by tugging even harder on progressively more severe bits.

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