Head Shy Mare And Taking the Bit - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-13-2012, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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Question Head Shy Mare And Taking the Bit

my mare is very head shy like she dont like anything going over her head like the rein or halter, also she doesnt take the bit easily at all she pulls her head back and trying to always aviod what should i do?

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-18-2012, 01:47 PM
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You need to work with her ground manners. Spend some time with a rope halter on her. Crouch down on the ground and click for her to come join you...gently put pressure on the halter, and keep it constant for as long as it takes for her to drop her head. It has to be a rope halter...the plain ones just dont work as well. As SOON as she drops her head, just a little, release all pressure and praise her. Repeat until her nose is low to the ground; then stand up slowly and pet her a lot. Slowly work your way to her head and ears, rubbing (not patting) gently and talking to her. If she jerks her head up, ask her to put it down again the same way, and repeat until she will let you gently handle her head an ears. It may take a few days or even weeks. When you tie her, always tie to baling twine so if she pulls she can get free without hurting herself. When you bridle her, do it slowly and gently, and untie her from the fence first. It is ok to keep the halter around her neck, just hold the end of the lead rope instead of leaving it tied, so if she freaks and backs up, she won't encounter resistance and become even more afraid. It can help to get a blocker tie ring, which is basically half a snaffle bit that you run the lead rope through instead of tying, so if she pulls, she gets a little bit of release instead of complete resistance, which can scare horses who aren't properly trained to handle it. Treats help, to get her head down and to reward her when she doesn't fight you. Make sure flies aren't eating at her ears and face, which will make her even more sensitive; you should buy a good fly mask with ear covers. Above all, be gentle and firm but patient to gain her trust. Spend lots of time just grooming her and loving on her. Natural Horsemanship can help immensely with trust related issues like this; I highly recommend Monty Roberts. Look him up on YouTube/Google, his book is called The Man Who Listens To Horses. Good luck!
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-19-2012, 02:37 AM
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I would not advise crouching down in front of any horse. Good way to get hurt.

To get horse to lower head, run hand up until at poll and lightly apply pressure while telling horse to "drop your head" and when horse does even slightly, then release pressure.

And make sure you aren't trying to bridle with curb too tight, or running part of it into horse's eyes. Or jamming bit into mouth. Also make sure bit is wide enough, as I've seen people cramming pony bits into a horse's mouth and wondering why horse wasn't happy.

Headstall could also need to be let out, browband could be too narrow, horse could have ticks in ears, or fly bites on head/ears/poll. Bridle could be ill fitting and when pressure is applied to reins, bit could be moving cheekpieces into eyes.

It could also be you are too timid about putting reins over head, or are causing discomfort in some way, or just plan taking too long.

You may be approaching horse wrong when bridling and haltering, by coming at horse from front, instead of by shoulder, and under throatlatch. Could have been horse has had ears shoved into headstall, and has learned to avoid that.

If you are one to always be petting horse on face, quit it and see if that helps. Some horses are less in favor of that than others.

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-19-2012, 05:55 PM
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Yes, don't crouch down in front of the horse; crouch (don't kneel or sit) alongside, unless the horse is very high strung. Then you would have to stand, but crouching works better because the horse is more willing to "follow" you down. I agree with above comments too; don't ever clip your horse's muzzle or eye whiskers, as this can make them very nervous because they can't sense what's going on. Also, if you pet the face, rub between the eyes and stroke cheeks; don't pat or rub muzzle. The muzzle is very tempting an soft, but that's because it is used for sensing and feeling, and most horses really don't appreciate being tickled there.
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