Some major problems bridling young horse? (Please help??) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 04-11-2010, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Some major problems bridling young horse? (Please help??)

Long story short.
4 y/o unraced tb. Spoiled by previous owners. We're having to reteach him literally everything, and most of his training is going pretty well.
Ground manners still aren't the best, but that's not today's issue.
My trainer can bridle him, and I'm supposed to practice doing it when it's not a lesson day. Getting it on is also kind of necessary, because we're doing lots of in-hand stuff and lunge work.

I cannot bridle him at all. I can approach him properly, hold his head properly, but the moment I bring the bridle near his face, he throws his head up, right over me, and books it to the corner of his stall, dragging me along with him. I'm not physically strong enough to hold him down when he decides he wants to leave.

Right now it takes a lot of physical strength to hold his head down and get the bridle on. I have to put it on over his halter, and physically pin him down. Either that, or chase him around for ages and try to grab his head. I'm finding this method very stressful for both of us.

Could someone give me some advice on how to slowly get to the point where I can go over to him to put his bridle on, and he'll just hold his head steady and not give me any crap? He's very unwilling, and it'd be great if he'd cooperate.

It's driving me nuts, and I get really frustrated.
He has some gaps in his training, so I don't know how far I'll have to break this down.

My trainer is a lot stronger than me, so he can hold him still enough to put it on, but I'd like to do it without resistance.
Once the bit's in his mouth, he's fine. As fine as he gets, anyways. He'll calmly let me do up the straps and lead him out, etc.
emilieg is offline  
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post #2 of 28 Old 04-11-2010, 11:17 PM
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I dont have any solutions for you, but my 12 y/o OTTB does the same thing...I'll be following this thread closely!
justsambam08 is offline  
post #3 of 28 Old 04-11-2010, 11:24 PM
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Catch him in a halter first. Get him nice and calm and rub his face. Rub and pat his face all over and just make sure he's fine with you doing that.
Then undo the halter, put the throatlatch around his neck, and do it up so you have some control on him and then grab the bridle.

A method I use to bridle Ricky who is my young horse is to hold both the cheek pieces together in my right hand, go under his face, put your right hand on his face and and use your left hand to put the bit in. Don't worry about holding the browband, its easier to just hold the cheek pieces and use your left hand to insert the bit. The good thing about this is that your left hand is free to put the bit in or grab the lead rope attached to the halter around his neck.

Be confident in your approach and don't take any crap from him. As a young horse, its important that you establish good foundations with him.
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post #4 of 28 Old 04-11-2010, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by emilieg View Post
Right now it takes a lot of physical strength to hold his head down and get the bridle on. I have to put it on over his halter, and physically pin him down. Either that, or chase him around for ages and try to grab his head. I'm finding this method very stressful for both of us.
You're right, this is not going to work at all. I have an OTTB who is much older but had big time bridling issues when I first got him. There is no way a human can manhandle a big horse into doing what we want!

You will get some great advice from others, no doubt but my two cents is to work on ground manners and trust with this guy. He is young and as you mention, has lots of holes in his training. For this problem specifically, I would start with getting him to drop his head to pressure at the poll. How I fixed this with my guy (a treat *****) was to put my head on top of his head (or pull straight and steadily down with a lead if he was particularly snarky) and completely release all tension the second he dropped his head a bit. Then he'd get a treat if he kept his head lowered, even if slightly.

We practiced this all the time throughout our ground work sessions. Within a few weeks we had moved up to bridling, slowly introducing the bridle, releasing pressure for him just not even throwing his head when I came near with it. It was a lot of baby steps for sure but within 5 months I could hold the bridle out in front of him and have him willingly put his head in and take the bit. Good luck to you!
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post #5 of 28 Old 04-11-2010, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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He's fine with my touching and holding his face, until the bridle comes into play.
My biggest issue is that he's highly intelligent, and so if there's a way around it, he'll find it. I do pretty much what you're describing, but he jerks his head up really high, and physically keeps me from doing it in general.

Even with a halter on, and somebody holding him down, I still have trouble putting his bridle on. That's why I'm wondering if there's a way to make him more willing :)

This isn't a horse I can win any sort of physical battle with I guess.
emilieg is offline  
post #6 of 28 Old 04-11-2010, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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He doesn't give to pressure at his poll at all. Is this something that will help with the bridling then? I've been trying to work on that, but he doesn't exactly cooperate there either.
emilieg is offline  
post #7 of 28 Old 04-12-2010, 09:06 AM
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Giving to pressure at the poll definitely helped me. I mean, my horse is still quite stubborn opening her mouth for the bit, and you have to jab a finger in her gums, but whenever she tries to throw her head up now, I make her put it down again, and she does.
ilyTango is offline  
post #8 of 28 Old 04-12-2010, 09:29 AM
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I agree with others. If he's been slammed in the mouth or just figured out if he chucks his head around he doesn't have to work then you need to treat him like a baby ;)

I would step way back and not worry about the bridle at all for a bit. Tealamutt gave a really good course of action but before you even bring in the bridle I would get him to drop his head into a halter. It's a good step in between just putting his head down for you and the bridle. You can also hold the halter up with one hand and hold a treat right threw where his muzzle goes and let him feel something being slid up his face while he enjoys a treat.

~Horses aren't a hobby, they are a lifestyle.

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post #9 of 28 Old 04-12-2010, 09:40 AM
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I know a lot of folks don't believe in giving cookies, and I really don't either but this is one of those times I think it helps.
I hold a cookie in the bit hand and hold it down at the level I want her mouth then slip the bit in then the cookie. While she is munching, I slip the headstall over her ears.
I made a video a long time ago, I'll find it and post.

Here it is, I should have buckled the throat latch before the reins. I just noticed that

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France

Last edited by Vidaloco; 04-12-2010 at 09:44 AM.
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post #10 of 28 Old 04-12-2010, 10:00 AM
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Quote : "It is really driving me nuts and I get really frustrated."
and just maybe you get a little angry and irritable - that is a No No.

The use of the head collar should help you get him to accept the leather.
A bridle is merely a head collar with a bit.

A thin rope head collar will work on the poll - and if he doesn't respond then you are not applying enough pressure. But you have to be very careful in the use of a device working on the poll because if you subject him to pain then he has good reason to avoid any head collar or bridle set

The metal bit may bang his teeth - so use a bridle set with a soft vulcanite bit as a practice tool.

Some horses don't automatically respect a human even if you are the owner and the more intelligent creature. Respect has to be gained with some horses.

As for the previous owners being soft - well the damage has been done. You can't take away all of those memories especially if the horse is intelligent and a little willful. Why do you think they sold him on?

When catching a horse in the paddock I find a head collar with a clip which runs under the throat helps. And I always take a horse biscuit to give the horse when she has accepted the head collar.

But the most important thing is quiet, gentle, firm, persistence. No anger, no shouting, no irritability.

If you can't fit the bridle to a submissive horse then the pair of you are lost.

Go back and try again.

PS A horse dentist is the best teacher for overcoming bridle fitting problems.
When did you last have the horse's teeth done?
xxBarry Godden is offline  

bridle , teach , training , young

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