agh, this is getting ridiculous! please help! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-21-2009, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Ontario, Canada
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agh, this is getting ridiculous! please help!

I've been having trouble getting the bridle on Jubilee. When I first got her she accepted it quite happily, but now it seems to be getting worse and worse. At first she'd just close her teeth and all I'd have to do is wriggle my finger in her mouth and she'd open. Now she moves around and holds her head up high, sometimes moving backwards. Aghhh.... its quite frustrating. It takes me 10 minutes just to get it on! She isn't pushy or frantic about it, just doesn't want to put it on. Tonight I decided to try giving her a treat as she put the bridle on, but this was NOT helpful and I'm not doing it again. It just made her agitated and sort of nippy. The food didn't coax her into the bridle, it totally distracted her from the bridle. Grrrr..... What do I do?? It's easier when I have another person to help me, but I think it might just all stem from disrespect. She should be holding her head down and still for me to easily slip it on.

Any and all suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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post #2 of 11 Old 04-21-2009, 09:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
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i had the same problem but it use to take me hrs aaaa lol i always use the tumb where the big goes and slide it in when she opens her mouth. also have ur right hand go under her neck and hold the bridle above the head while use ure left to put the bit in. Lunging helps alot to keep up with it and dont give in. Good luck. u can also try bit wipes that are sented and taste like apple ect u can pick them up at ur local tack store i belive or online if they dont carry them.
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-21-2009, 09:52 PM
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I had the same problem with my gelding when I got him, he was owned by a kid and had too many bad experiences of being banged in the mouth. He is 16.1 and I am only 5ft so once he threw his head I had nothing. I would snake my right arm up his mane and between his ears to help keep his head low enough and then gently slip the bit in when he would open his mouth (sometimes I had to use the thumb), after a while I could put his bridle on 1,2,3. Good luck!
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-21-2009, 10:21 PM
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Have you checked her teeth just to make sure that is not the problem? If its not that, then I bet that she has associated the bit with work and is just trying to avoid it. My best solution when this happens is just to put them in a small pen and when you go to bridle them, just let them back up and put their head up and do whatever they want to try and just stick with them keeping the bridle where it is. When she relaxes, her feet stop moving, and she drops her head (even a little, of course), then take the bridle away and scratch her for a minute. Then start again and keep doing that until she calmly takes the bit and bridle then end the session for the day and give her a good scratching in the place that she likes. I hope that helps cause that is no fun to fight with your horse over such a simple thing. Good luck. :)

ETA: Also make sure that you are not bumping her teeth with the bit or poking her in the eye with the end of the browband, or bending her ears in an uncomfortable way. :)
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-21-2009, 10:25 PM
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I was going to suggest using a hand full of grain which is what I had done with one of my horses.. but since food won't work... try loosening the bridle as far as it will go so it is already on her head... and you can still manuever the bit around her mouth... try putting the bit in with the bridle on her head using the thumb and holding your arm over her neck... maybe try to cross tie her... but tie her head down.. not like extremely low.. but low enough that she can't fling her head up...

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post #6 of 11 Old 04-22-2009, 01:32 AM
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1. be sure that her teeth have been floated within the past year. pain associated with the bit hitting any teeth that need filing down or sharp teeth hurting her tongue or the inside of her cheek can cause a horse to refuse the bit.

2. be sure you are not causing it by banging her teeth at all when bitting up or taking the bit out. if the bit hits the teeth it's going to cause refusal because it hurts.

3. be sure that when you ride, you're not pulling on her mouth a lot. horses soon figure out the cause of their discomfort or pain and they refuse to take it anymore. So, if you're heavy handed, this can also be a reason why she's refusing (if you can check off all the other possibilities). for example, a horse might suddenly be hard to catch if the saddle doesn't really fit and is causing pain/discomfort. The problem isn't that the horse is hard to catch, but that the saddle doesn't fit. Fix the saddle issue and the catching issue goes away.

4. did you really take the time before to of trained her to take the bit? lots of times, when horses take the bit but aren't really taught to...they get to a point where they say, no. and since they don't have any real training....they just flat refuse. It's like a horse that's always trailer loaded without officially being taught to...and one day decides not to...the owner is perplexed and frustrated, but the horse refuses simply because the horse doesn't really know (like if a horse is bothered by something else...for that reason, the horse might just refuse).
Training to a horse means they do what you ask even when they don't want to...they do it because they know it's what's expected of them. A cue. they do it because they trust that they will be rewarded with a release of pressure (once the bit is in the mouth, you stop fussing over it. that's the horse's release of pressure for that lesson).

How to fix it: (using loads of approach and retreat)

1) teach your horse to drop her head on command. Once you can ask her with minimal pressure (be able to put your hand on her neck and she drops her head easily and keeps it down for a few seconds)

when you can do that then add:

2) be able to cup her mouth with your hand as if you had a bit. you may need to start by being able to rub her face all over with your hands.

3) be able to stick your thumb into her mouth...over the bars (no teeth area) and she opens her mouth wide enough for a bit every single time.

4) using a lead line. put a loop in a lead line and pretend that is your bridle and bring it down between her ears and use the loop part of the loop to be your pretend bit. this way, you can practice bitting up the horse as many times as necessary without using a real bit and you don't risk smacking her teeth with the bit if she raises or throws her head.

5) only when you can go through each of these steps without skipping and if she raises her head at any time, go right back to step one and on from there. don't rush. ..... only when you can do all of em and she takes the pretend bit, then replace that with the real thing.

6) be sure to reward the slightest try, so if that means being able to hold the bridle over her face (between her ears) without her moving her head, then take it away and reward her with leaving her alone for a moment then build on that til you can actually go through all of the steps above and get her bitted up. Always be sure to ask her to open her mouth wide enough to take the bit. (use your index finger to raise her upper lip and your thumb to open her mouth)

Don't use food! I've got a client who never officially taught her horse to take the bit, but instead would put molasses on it and now guess what? the horse is starting to refuse the bit and the owner sometimes has accidentily banged her teeth. So....a real cue must be taught to the horse if you want your horse to accept the bit every time without issue.

If a horse knows what's expected of him or her, they'll do it. If they're being taught to do it in a fair way. That is, no banging the teeth and no force, no hurry up and get the bit in before she raises her head...... But step by step....let her get comfy with the cue....and be consistent in how you handle it from now on and she'll always take the bit.

Also, when you remove the bit, always put your left hand over her nose to point it downward and let her spit out the bit so this way, you don't bang her teeth by taking the bit out and she raises her head....

Last edited by Calamity Jane; 04-22-2009 at 01:39 AM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-22-2009, 07:01 AM
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I agree with getting her teeth checked. But then when you go to put it on, grab the middle of the bridle (all of it) with your right hand, and then reach your arm around her head and hold the bridle and the brisge of her nose ...all with your right hand. That will help you be able to control where her head is as well as hold on to the bridle. Then use your thumb/finger to open her mouth and slide the bit in. If she throws her head up, you will be able to pull it back down with your right hand. I know we all make it sound so easy, but I know how difficult they can be ...and they can manage to make themselves SO TALL somtimes!! Good luck!
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-22-2009, 07:50 AM
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JR, did you try to ride her in sidepull or halter? If not I'd suggest to try. If she'll be perfect for that then something wrong with her teeth or/and bit. If she'll do the same thing for the sidepull there is a good possibility she just doesn't want to work and smart enough to understand that bridle == work. If it's the 2nd case, then you probably will just have to fight with her for while till she'll realize she'll be worked anyway.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-22-2009, 08:45 PM
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Oh, I feel your pain! I hate when horses do that. I've found that it helps to puth the reins over their neck, right behind the ears. It gives you control over the head. If she backs, don't fight it. Let her back untill she hits something. Most horses I've found don't like to back into things
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-23-2009, 01:26 PM
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CJ saved me a whole lot of typing.LOL

#1 the horse must always drop it's head when asked to. As soon as the head goes back up no matter what your doing, you start again. If they get away with fighting each time your putting on a bridle, deworming or medicating it's going to be a problem forever.

I would also practice flexing/bending the head on the ground, this teaches them to relax the neck muscles.
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