Need some support/advice about horse not taking bridle - The Horse Forum

 
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-08-2014, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Need some support/advice about horse not taking bridle

I have a 20 year old rescued saddlebred for 2 years now. Last year around this time she began to refuse taking her bridle. She throws her head up and down and all around when I try to bridle her. Silly me decided to switch to a bitless bridle. Before switching I tried all the various tips and tricks to work with her but with no progress. This year we are starting dressage and would love to take her to shows by myself but I don't want to if I can't bridle her. I just not sure where to go from here. I have had the vet check 3 times in the past 12 months about her mouth and says she has the perfect mouth and teeth for her age. I know I have made her this way by switching to a bitless bridle and giving in to her. I just don't know where to go from here. I have been working with her 4 days a week about it. I have a friend that comes and helps me sometimes and she can get her bridled after working with her a while and my trainer can too. I guess im just feeling defeated and down about it.
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-08-2014, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saddlebredjenn View Post
I have a 20 year old rescued saddlebred for 2 years now. Last year around this time she began to refuse taking her bridle. She throws her head up and down and all around when I try to bridle her. Silly me decided to switch to a bitless bridle. Before switching I tried all the various tips and tricks to work with her but with no progress. This year we are starting dressage and would love to take her to shows by myself but I don't want to if I can't bridle her. I just not sure where to go from here. I have had the vet check 3 times in the past 12 months about her mouth and says she has the perfect mouth and teeth for her age. I know I have made her this way by switching to a bitless bridle and giving in to her. I just don't know where to go from here. I have been working with her 4 days a week about it. I have a friend that comes and helps me sometimes and she can get her bridled after working with her a while and my trainer can too. I guess im just feeling defeated and down about it.
What worked for me on a mare just like this, but she would tear halters in half pulling away when tied and trying to bridle her, was teach to drop the head, by applying light pressure to the poll. And lunging. Desensitize to the bridle if she doesnt like it touching her. And when you get it on, half way take it out, do this a couple times but not completely. Then put it on. It also helps if you put molasses or something sweet on the bit, they learn the bit is nasty. Or hold a treat in your hand under the bit. Lots of patience.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-08-2014, 10:29 PM
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I'm assuming that the issue is putting the bit in and not the bridle itself? Otherwise, I would guess that you'd be having the same issues with a bitless bridle. Over the summer I worked with a TB that was super ear shy, but he would take the bit just fine. I wasn't tall enough to reach up and make it a quick task, and he would throw his head and shoot back if I touched near his ears. Taking the bridle apart on the left side, putting the bit in his mouth, and kind of tossing the right side over his head and then fastening it worked for me. We were taking it slow and making huge progress with it when I stopped working with him, but I sure wasn't going to let him get by with not having that bridle put on and not being ridden :P

It sounds like it's a bit issue, but I'd make sure. The way you manage it changes... if it's a bit issue then trying to desensitize her to having her poll touched won't really touch on the underlying issue. Obviously, my first guess would be to get her teeth looked at. My second guess would be that the bit of your choice is not working in some way.
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-09-2014, 04:48 AM
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When my horse went through the "I don't want to be bridled" phase he didn't want the bit and he was extremely headshy. I bought an halter-bridle so I could solve the problems separately, but I don't think you can use those in dressage and anyway it isn't really necessary if the horse doesn't have problems with the ears part.

For the bit, I just brought with me a ton of treats (my horse loves carrots) and started to give him one every time he approached the bit, and then when he started to chew on it, and so on. I didn't try to force the bit in his mouth, I wanted him to be cooperative.

As always when you are teaching something, you should repeat it many times. So if the horse takes the bit you don't just say "hurray" and get on and ride. You put the bit off, and on, and off many times so the horse understands what exactly you want.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-09-2014, 02:23 PM
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My horse is going through a difficult bridling phase right now. When I originally got him I rode him in a mechanical hackamore. He loved that thing and would practically put it on by himself. I decided to switch to a snaffle this winter and now after about three months of using it he's decided he wants nothing to do with it.

So when I go out to ride I realize that I may not do any actual riding. We may just spend all our time putting the bridle on. It took me 40 minutes of work a couple of weeks ago. But I wasn't about to give up, he has to know that he can't win that fight. It has gotten better since then but I still take his bridle off and on a few times to really get my point across before riding.
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-09-2014, 02:47 PM
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Maybe the thinking that you rescued this horse has impaired your ability to discipline it correctly. You are allowing it to control the situation.
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