Bridling a problem horse! Please help!

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Bridling a problem horse! Please help!

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  • Horse throws head up when bridle is put on
  • Horse throws head when bridling

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    02-23-2012, 01:45 AM
Bridling a problem horse! Please help!

Okay, so I have a project horse that was given to me recently. She is a 10 year old (ish) black Thoroughbred mare. She is the sweetest horse in the world and while she is green and a little spooky, she doesn't seem to have too many huge problems...BESIDES BRIDLING!! The first time I rode her she was fine and took the bit after a couple seconds of struggling. Now she acts like she thinks someone might kills her!
I googled...and researched...and googled...and googled more...
And it looked like maybe she might have been associating the bridle with pain, and needed to have her teeth floated. Then today we learned that she is fine with the is when you are doing anything around her ears.
Thing is...she's alright when you put the halter on.

I don't know if she might be hurt...have something in her ears...or have been abused...but I want to help her get past this. I spend HOURS sitting with her calming her down...wear her out before I try to bridle her, and do everything extremely slowly.
She backs up and throws her head up. She locks up and freezes and acts like she is going to rear.

Once its on...shes generally fine. She throws her head A LOT while we ride...but she's green with no's kind of a given.

Any ideas to help her work through this fear, or things to check for or have a vet check for?
PLEASE PLEASE HELP! She's going to get sold if I can't help her.
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    02-23-2012, 01:55 AM
Okay, well first off, stop making a big deal about it. The more time you spend letting him look at it the more scared he is going to be.

Take a moment with your hand, rub her on the neck where she is comfortable, then run your hand briefly over her ear, then go RIGHT back to rubbing her neck. Do it fast but nonchalant, like it's nothing. Do it quick enough and she won't even recognize what happened. After she gets comfortable with that, do it and linger a little longer, then a little longer, little longer, so on and so forth.

You can find some of this from Clinton Anderson's show in Las Vegas. He did this excersize with her and he can probably explain it better. I can see if I can find a video for you and then post it.
    02-23-2012, 01:59 AM
I really really am not trying to sound like a **** here...but believe me...I've tried doing it fast and it has resulted in a broken finger, my shoulder being pulled out of the socket and various other injuries to her from backing up into objects. Plus I work a lot of natural horsemanship with her and don't intend to force her to do something if there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed first...hence why I posted this.
    02-23-2012, 02:10 AM
You wanted my suggestion and you got it. If you want to hear something else, please wait for another poster and maybe try stating what you have already tried in the original thread or politely first. I had no way of knowing you had already tried that.
    02-23-2012, 02:27 AM
Originally Posted by MissTwoPoint    
I really really am not trying to sound like a **** here...
^^^read the above...
    02-23-2012, 02:35 AM
Originally Posted by MissTwoPoint    
I really really am not trying to sound like a **** here.

Neither was I?
    02-23-2012, 02:51 AM
She likely throws her head up because she just doesn't want to be bridled, but obviously there could be other pain factors you should rule out. Did she just start throwing her head when being bridled or has she always avoided it? It's likely going to take a long time to fix. You might want to buy a thin rope halter to help keep her head down if she's really bad. Make sure you have your arm over her poll with the bridle in that hand and put pressure on her poll if she starts to put her head up. As soon as she goes down again release the pressure. With my mare for a long time I had to push down on the poll with my forearm and have one hand on the leadrope just in case she really threw her head back. If you make her feel adequate downward pressure every time she tries to get away from the bit she will eventually learn to keep her head down

My mare used to do this. She wasn't afraid, was never abused, she just learned that she could avoid the bridle if she gave enough effort.
    02-23-2012, 03:03 AM
Sadly I don't know if its a long term thing or not...she was bought to be a racer then the owner left her at the ranch and stopped paying board she became property of the ranch owner...who never saw the man take her out or anything. =/
I've tried keeping her head down with treats, nylon halter...etc...and to no avail. =/
I'll definitely try the pressure on the poll though again...she usually throws her head up before you can even though up there is whats been a massive problem lately...anywhere from her eyes up to middle neck she won't let you touch besides putting a halter on....which has to be done super fast and sneaky
    02-23-2012, 03:22 AM
Green Broke
I agree with SorrelHorse.. and keep on at it. Doing it a few times won't help, or tie a wash cloth to the end of a whip and use it.

Has she had her ears checked to make sure there aren't any growths, lice, fungal infection etc going on in there?
    02-23-2012, 03:23 AM

Ive found that thin rope halters are a lot more useful in keeping their head down than the nylon ones. The nylon ones are thick and comfortable and the horses can brace against the pressure more comfortably than the rope. I would look into getting one to practice with if I were you. I find them very helpful! You will probably have a long road ahead of repetition regardless

My mare was horrible for bridling AND unbridling. Now she is perfectly fine bridling but still has problems unbridling. If I get lazy and stop setting aside to practice every day she stops improving and sometimes gets worse. You have to be patient and motivated to work on this.

Maybe take a short break from riding and focus on groundwork, try to make her a little more comfortable with her ears, and most importantly teach her to keep her head down when you put pressure on the halter. If she improves there working on bridling again would be a fresher start.

Man, when I write bridling so much I forget how to spell it lol.


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