Quirks or bad manners? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quirks or bad manners?

Hi guys!

Just one to pick your brains! I bought Duffy in June, and basically treated her as an unbroke camelhorse, which turned out to be best as when she did things she'd previously learnt, it was great for our progression.
Her manners were bad, but with firm and stern correction, I don't feel we have any more issues, a kid could lead her no problems.

However, at 18.1hh I sometimes struggle to put a bridle on her. I don't know how much she has been trained, and I honestly think she doesn't know what is the correct way, and I don't know how to help! She doesn't lift her head up, but she doesn't bring it down. I have trained her with a knotted head collar with 'down' and she does it very well when I put a headcollar on her, but not with the bridle.. do I need to take a step back in my training and reinforce this firmly so with my vocals she brings her head down?

Also, I like to have her stand and wait, she must learn to be patient with everything going on around, tractors other horses, dog walkers, mopeds going past, and if I groom her with a leadrope loose, and after she's tacked up, she does this little head twist thing that looks like she's nodding. I don't know if this is a funny quirk of hers, or if its her being dominant. And if it is, how do I get her out of it??


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post #2 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 09:05 AM
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hey duffy - for lowering her head... i would continue practicing with her so when you say down or something she drops her head. thats what i did with my gelding and will do with the new guy... i also when doing the bridle introduction to lower head i will feed treats at first to signal the head lowering to get it to position for me. it has worked so far but there could be better ways ;)

as for the head shake i think its just a quirk... my guy after all tacked will shake his head 3 times. and i tried to correct it for months but i just take it as he is ready to go and wait until he stops. after 5 minutes of nothing then i bring him to the mounting block to start the ride.

good luck duffy if what i said doesn't sound helpful well then this is just a bump lol
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post #3 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 09:18 AM
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You should teach her to lower her head by putting pressure between her ears until she lowers even the slightest bit then release. And do it until all u have to do it touch her there and she lowers. Also once you've got her lowering her head make her turn her head to you while bridling and putting a halter on. If she turns her head away pull it back . When she keeps it there for a little then gently push her head away. That's the que that's she can relax now. Keep doing that until she will leave her head there until you release.
My not is to the point when I grab the halter/bridle and stand next to him he automatically brings his head down and around towards me. It makes bridling much easier.
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post #4 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks kait18!

She's the first horse I've ever had that I've done the training with, Doey, Josie and Belle came fully trained haha!

I think thats the way forward with getting her to lower her head. I want her to listen better vocally rather than just pressure release... she now listens to walk, trot, canter, slooww and forwards in a gait and halt on a lunge so I don't think it'll be too difficult if I keep on top of it!
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post #5 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks amschrader!

Sounds like a plan :)
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post #6 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 09:44 AM
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I have a draft mare who will put her head in a halter... But will not for the bridle (if I really push it she will try backing up, lifting her head etc)... We had her checked out, completely by the vet and no physical reason for it.... To see if it would make a difference I tried a bitless bridle. The first few times were the same, then she started dropping her head for it. The behavior popped up after nearly 2 years of bridling without issue.

My assumption is, while I have been the only person to bridle her whole life and I am sure the bit never hit her, she has a strong dislike for the bit. We have tried any number of different ones now, and same deal with all of them... Take the bit off and she seems OK about it. Very puzzling, and we are still working at it... But generally just use the bitless bridle for actual riding, as she goes very well in it (better than with a bit) and her anxiety is lower. (my hope is, over time, she will become more comfortable with the whole process and this issue will disappear)
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post #7 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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I thought about that, but as soon as its on she drops her head, and she is so light in the hands to work, and so willing to work I personally don't think its a dislike to bits.

But definately something to think about! She had the dentist out about 3 weeks ago, so that side of things is all fine, and the bit is a nice chunky french link which she slobbers all over!
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post #8 of 12 Old 11-17-2011, 11:26 AM
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My mare will drop her head after the bridle is on, and go very light in hand. If someone does not have VERY soft hands while using a bit she gets upset... Tension, head tossing, travelling too low, or travelling too high. With a soft hand she is much better... But not nearly as relaxed as she goes without the bit at all.

Remember too that evasion doesn't have to be "up high" a horse can evade by getting too low. (or any other way they stumble across that avoids whatever it is they are uncomfortable with)

I bought a horse a few years ago that would drop her head to my toes when I asked her to lower for the bridle. It wasn't that she was giving me her head at all... She was still trying to avoid the issue, she just was approaching it differently. She has since realized there is nothing truly bad about it, and doesn't do it anymore for bridling, but she will occasionally drop too low while riding when she doesn't want to lift her back properly... To some it appears as though she is stretching, but if you really watch her you can see she is still inverted and not using herself as well as she should.

Green horses can keep us on our toes when it comes to thinking up new, inventive ways to get around, over or through issues LOL
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post #9 of 12 Old 11-18-2011, 12:55 AM
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I taught Sky to relax his head and lower it by applying as much pressure as he braces against my hand. So if he was bracing very hard, I matched that pressure by pushing down on his pole and nose (where a noseband falls) and when he began to brace less, I pushed down less (matching the pressure.. this is very important!) and eventually all I have to do is stroke his neck and he lowers his head, or sometimes nothing at all.. he just learned that down is nicer than up.

It helps to work on putting a bridle on without the bit at first.. just work on the idea of a nice lowered head, slip the bridle on, praise.. and then work up to accepting the bit whilst on the bridle.

Sometimes horses have their heads up because they anticipate the bit clanging against their teeth which really hurts.. so be careful not to just shove it in their mouths while they are partially open.. you have to slip it in with the right timing.

Also make sure that jaw is fully released and loose so there isn't any tension.

If your horse backs up while you try to put the bridle on, even after having her head lowered, bring it right back to where she was (if she backed 3 steps, move her forward 3 steps) and try again. It works, trust me.

Good luck though Duffy :)
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post #10 of 12 Old 11-18-2011, 01:16 AM
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I ride a 17 hand part draft horse sometimes. He is fair to bridle, not great, but not bad. His owner can do it much better than I, but she has a lifetime relationship. But anyway, along with asking him to lower his head, I also ask him to bend it around toward his shoulder.
So I stand by his left shoulder, reach around with my right hand and on the right side of his nose, ask him to both lower his head and curl around me (kind of tucking me against his shoulder , thoug of course, he isn't pushin me) . Then I put the bridle up over his nose with the right hand and hold the bit with a small treat next to it in my left hand and put it up to his mouth. He takes in the bit and the treat in one gulp and I then lift the bridel up with the right hand, come around to the front of his face and finish it up and over his ears.

But then, he's ONLY 17 hh!
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