Bridling a problem horse! Please help! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 02-23-2012, 10:21 AM
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Before I bridle a green horse I will spend time getting them used to having something running over their ears. Take the end of your lead shank and hold it like you would a bridle. As her to lower her head and put it over her ears like you would the bridle. This will help her to stop associating you touching her ears with the bridle.
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post #12 of 16 Old 02-23-2012, 11:03 AM
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There are two horses at the place I ride at that have problems with their ears (warts, I think). The way we bridle them is to unbuckle the noseband and one cheekpiece, so that the bridle can slip over their ears without brushing against them. After the bridle's on, the bit goes in, and all the buckles are done up again.

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post #13 of 16 Old 02-23-2012, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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We haven't had her ears checked yet...which is what I'm hoping to have a vet come out and do within the next few weeks. I literally disassembled my entire bridle yesterday and after piece by piece (a good 30 minutes of head tossing, backing and freaking out) she had a complete bridle on and was fine with it. =/
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post #14 of 16 Old 02-23-2012, 11:27 AM
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My draft mare has always had an issue with accepting the bridle. In her case it's because she's 17.2 hands, and I am a meesly 5'4, so It's quite easy for her to want to refuse the bridle. It's not because she's scared, or in pain. She is simply being defiant, and knows that the bridle means work.

Teach her to give into poll pressure. That is extremely important! It will help for worming, grooming, or even just to calm her down if she ever gets nervous, or excited. To teach her to give in all you need to do is find the hard bump between her ears. That is the poll. Pinch/squeeze the bump. She may resist and raise her head higher, but do NOT give in! Increase the pressure untill she drops it. Even if she just drops it an inch or so. Always reward her by releasing the pressure. It may take a while for her to learn to give into pressure, some horses learn it instantly.

I assume she probably has nothing wrong with her ears. A lot of horses dislike their ears being touched, simply because it's a senstive area. I have a mini who will not let anyone touch his ears at all. If you happen to touch them while haltering him he will thrash his head side to side. I had an Arabian who also had the same issue, and if the bridle or halter sat too close to his ears he would walk around with his head cocked to one side, ha. Had the vet check him, and found nothing wrong. It doesn't hurt to have them checked, but to me it sounds like normal behavior for a horse who doesn't like the ears touched.

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post #15 of 16 Old 02-23-2012, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by MissTwoPoint View Post
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.

I suggest to avoid injury to yourself, or the mare, work somewhere where it's clear of "objects" such as a pasture, round pen, or arena. That is important, especially if she is as unruly as you say she is.

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post #16 of 16 Old 02-23-2012, 05:15 PM
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From what you've said about her previous owner (whoever bought her for racing) or someone before that instilled a negative association with the bridle and ears. Some will grab and twist a horse's ear to get them to stop acting up or to stand still. Some horses bred and meant for athletic pursuits like racing that don't have the drive for it can learn that a bridle means hard work, punishment or pain, which they become fearful of. This could have been the case with her former owners, but there's no way to tell.

Working on getting her to lower her head away from poll pressure is a great way to help solve this. I worked with a big TB mare who hadn't been ridden in months and she had issues with being bridled. I used a rope halter and my forefinger and thumb to apply direct pressure to her poll. The moment she gave even an inch of downward motion, I removed my fingers and the pressure on the rope and backed off, giving her rubs and praise. Some days I would do it before working her, others when I was just bringing her in for grooming or some love so she didn't always associate lowering her head with work. After a week or two, she improved dramatically. She would lower her head as soon as I put my hand behind her ears on her poll. Which was nice because she was super tall!!

The mare I worked with had ear issues too - threw her head and got unruly if they got handled a lot. The rub - touch problem area - retreat method improved her greatly. It just took consistency and time. She's not going to want to have her ears massaged like a dog yet, but she's sure not a nose breaker anymore!

Everyone on here has given you great advice. Rope halter, poll pressure exercises, rub-retreat all just takes time, patience, and consistency. Good luck!!
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Last edited by ReiningGirl; 02-23-2012 at 05:18 PM.
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