Bridling a youngster- how to do it right?
Hi guys! Well, after months of ups and downs, I really had a good session today with my now 16 month old gelding. I picked his feet, brushed him, saddled him while he was loose in the round pen, walked and trotted him on a lunge line, etc. Basically everything but actually ride him. But we do have a hang-up that seems to be getting worse instead of better. Bridling!
When he was a weanling I would bridle him with a snaffle just to get used to it and he did awesome. He actually liked taking the bit in his mouth (he was very mouthy, and still is). So putting a bridle on his was no big deal. He would grab for the bit. But he would also grab his halter. It took me months to get him not to grab the halter in his mouth. And I admit I popped him in the mouth a few times for grabbing the halter (he wouldn't let me put it over his nose, it had to go IN his mouth.)
So I finally broke him of that and he halters like a normal horse. But, you guessed it, now he doesn't want to take the bit. I realize I screwed up and it would have been better for him to grab the halter than refuse the bit, but now that I am in this predicament, what can I do?
I started putting jam on the bit and that worked for a little while, but today I had a heck of a time getting the bridle on him. I ended up putting some grain in my hand with the bit, and then basically tried to get it in his mouth while he was getting the grain. He starts out with his head nice and low but when he knows I am trying to slip the bit it, his head goes up. So yes, he will lower his head, but not keep it there to bridle.
I realize this is a bad thing because not only does he not take the bit, but I am probably causing him some discomfort with the bit against his teeth while trying to get the bit in while he swings his head around.
I would love to fix this sooner than later because I don't want this to be a life-long problem. I don't want to force him to take the bit and have this problem haunt me for the next 30 years. Help please?