head throwing - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-24-2009, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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head throwing

Hello, my name is Mike and I live in a small ranching area in south central Idaho. I have recently picked up a 4 yr old mare that the previous owners had said would be a good horse for my youngest daughter since I didn'l feel comfortable putting her on a ranch horse (she's 10) The problem I have is when you try to bridle her she is notorious for throwing her head and trying to back out. I have used cottom ropes behind her and pinching her neck to lower her head, a rope behind her shoulders, between her legs to her head stall and she stills fights. Looking for some help here. Other than that she has a great disposition and will let my daughter do anything with her. I even have a fight putting on a bosel...Anything will help since she does seem like a good horse for her and like everywhere, budgets are tight...Thank you
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-24-2009, 02:51 PM
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A 4yrold mare for your 10yrold daughter? I hope your daughter is very experienced.

Anyway, sounds like a fear response. Is the mare generally head shy or only when you try to put on a headstall? Does she react the same to a halter?

If she is head shy in general, you need to start with making her comfortable with having her head handled. Little bits for little times, lots of praise.

If she only reacts like this when being bridled, it could be that she has been hurt by the bridle either when being tacked up or the bridles doesn't (or previously didn't) fit and causes her pain. Forcing her with ropes and pinching her aren't likely to work if she is having a pain issue. It will only reinforce what she is already expecting. So, if this is the case, check her out for sensitive areas and deal with any as needed. Then try putting on headstalls without making her put her head into the tack -- open the buckles and wrap the headstall on instead. Slowly. I would not ride her every time you put on the bridle to try to also determine if this is just a bridle issue or a riding issue.

Remember, pain could be in her mouth too. -- soft tissue and/or teeth.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-24-2009, 04:17 PM
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Hahaha I answered this in the same post somewhere else.

She sounds like a very green horse. I went through this with my 3 year old when
I was starting him. First things first.....LOSE THE ROPES. You can't force the horse to take the bit, if you do, it's just going to cause further behavioral issues and make a very unhappy horse. Unless this horse is extremely trained, not sure if a 10 year old should be on a (what sounds like) green horse. Sorry if I am misinterpreting your situation. How new is she to you and your family??? Can you touch her all over and does she trust you to do so?

So what you'll what to do is keep a rope halter on the horse with a lead line. Start from scratch....Show the horse the bridle...if she flinches or jerks up, you're going to have to get her used to even seeing the thing. Once she is ok with that, you can start by touching her face and neck with the bridle, rubbing it on her and showing her it isn't going to bite. If she doesn't toss her head with that then you can start putting your hand on top between her ears and holding it there, touching her, bending her ears and so forth. You only move on to the next if the horse is not showing any anxiety with the previous step. What I did with my 3 year old, was keep a horse cookie pressed between my hand and the bit and allow him to smell it. Then I would bring my hand on top of his head to help remind him to keep it down. Hold the bit inside your hand with the outside fingers and the cookie laying flat inbetween the bit and your hand. When they go for the cookie, slip it in without hitting the bit against her teeth. It's very important that you don't bang it going in or out. Hope this helps. There are other ways to do it, but this is one of the SHORT STORY versions. I would put more details in, but have to get back to work sorry! __________________
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-24-2009, 04:34 PM
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I am currently having the same problem with my gelding (if you read the thread I did Won't Lower Head For Bit) you can hopefully find some answers. My horse also has an extremely good disposition. That's what he was bred for. He doesn't act up for the halter, he doesn't act up with my hand over his face, and he didn't act up when he realized I was putting the headstall on, and the bit wasn't going to enter his mouth.

My horse is green broke, but that's not the problem, as he doesn't care about what I do to his ears, poll, anything like that. The people I got him from, must have done something to him to make hate the bit.

But she does lower head for your hand on her poll, and the halter? Becuase if not, she probably just needs work in all those areas. Try with just the headstall, it could be bothering her.

But I agree, lose the ropes. You don't need ropes to get a horses respect, which is a lot of the problem too. Go to this website Natural Horse Supply and look at their articles on horse training. That's what I used to get my gelding to lower his head to my hand, and halter.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-24-2009, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Actually..she's closer to five and my daughter can ride her everywhere, bareback saddled...whichever, but only in the halter. We have even worked some cows on her like that..but you may be right..she may have been abused around her head..dont think teeth are an issue because she fights a bosel also. One thing that puzzles me the most is when you have nothing in your hands, you can put your hands all over her head, ears etc...Maybe it has to be back to square 1???
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-24-2009, 06:32 PM
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Firs try taking bitt off bridle and putting bridle on/taking bridle off MANY times. Give her a cookie when you do it. Repeat until she expects the cookie and doesn't mind the bridle going over her ears (some horses have sensitive eyes/ears the the bridle going over their eyes or ears cause the problem. If so start by buckling / unbuckling the bridle behind the head. When she gets used to that then start over the ears being careful not to go too fast towards the eyes nor to harshly over the ears.

Next have bittattached to ONE side of bridle, put birdle on (bit NOT yet in mouth) and give her a cookie. Put your finger back where the bit would go, when she opens her mouth give her another cookie. Take fingers out of her mouth and repeat - this time when she opens her mouth for the cookie slide the bit in her mouth along with the cookie. Then attach the bit.

Soon you can slide bit into her mouth attached on both sides of the bridle with a cookie, then soon without the cookie and a pat on her neck instead.

Mares especially LOVE when you tell then good girl - so when she does ANYTHING right tell her good girl, then keep moving forward til you're where you want to be and she hears GOOD GIRL all the time.
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