Want my horse to lower head for bridle/halter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 10-18-2008, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Arrow Want my horse to lower head for bridle/halter

We got our 7 year old QH gelding 2 weeks ago...would like suggestions on how to train him to lower his head for taking halter/bridle. He does not like having his face touched and tosses his head up high, just wondered how I can get him to routinely lower head for bridle (he's 15.3h, it's a long reach up there!) We used to have a 16H horse who would lower his head when you touched him between ears- what a help~ Thanks!

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post #2 of 18 Old 10-18-2008, 05:15 PM
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The mare I just had was 16.1 and hated her head touched as well.

Something I was taught to do, was work with him/her in a roundpen first. I was told its also a "join-up" activity. I wouldn't know, I dont know much about that area.

But stand at their shoulder, facing the same way they are, your body facing forward towards their head. I had put her on just a long cotton lounge line, and just let it fall to the ground and laid out, so A) you dont have to try to hold them as well and B) if they spook or try to get away, all you have to do is grab it. And its long enough and laid out so if they are to get tangled they can get out of it without harm.
(Which I was told is also a good thing to do with horses, because if you want them to get used to things on/around their feet & legs. And also will desensitize them if for any reason you need to put hobbles on them or something

But anyhow:
Raise your right hand up (or do the opposite if you are leg handed) and put it right behind their ears, right behind their poll. And don't "press down" per say, but put pressure on the area.
She freaked out at first, and didn't like it, but once she lowered her head to the ground, I let up. Then gave her a minute to process what I just did, and that I let go after she responded.

Do this again & again & again & again. Its all repitition. The more I did it, she realized that when she put her head down I let up, so she'd keep her head down longer so I wouldn't do it again.

It worked GREAT for when I went to bridle her and halter her after that. MUCH easier.

Hope it helps/works for you!
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post #3 of 18 Old 10-18-2008, 08:24 PM
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Before you try and get him to lower his head you should try and get him fully desensitized to being touched all over his head without pulling away.

Then put one hand on his poll and hold the lead with the other hand. Put pressure on the lead and the poll and when he so much as lowers the slightest release all pressure. Eventually use less lead pressure and only poll pressure.
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post #4 of 18 Old 10-18-2008, 08:31 PM
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Good topic. When I first bought my boy, you could not even get close enough to him to even catch him. Worked with now to the point where he will put his head in the halter. With him it was a trust issue. He had never been worked with and he simply didn't know any better. There was nothing special I really did to teach him that.
Keep in mind this horse is new to you, and you are new to the horse. I would give it more time for the 2 of you to settle to each other. Keep in mind that you simply don't know what this horse has been thru as far as handling of the head goes. A child might have owned this horse at one point and completely shredded that poor horse's head. There are just to many possibilities.

I simply suggest for you to take extra care in being VERY gentle and making it as pleasant as you can whenever you do halter or bridle your new horse. Re-teach him, that eh, it can be a very pleasant and non stressful action to go thru. Take our time, you have ample time to settle to each other.

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post #5 of 18 Old 10-19-2008, 09:29 AM
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To teach mine I put a lead rope over his neck first (near the poll) and put pressure to have him lower his head and then released as soon as he gave in. I did this over and over and once he started doing that nicely I now put my right arm between his ears and thread the halter or bridle on that way to remind him to keep his head down as once in a while he will "forget" and that reminds him. It has worked well for me. Also because thats the most comfortable way for me to put it on. I have good control of the bit that way (I hold the bit with my left hand). Good Luck!

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post #6 of 18 Old 10-19-2008, 02:23 PM
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I work on this in the stall, all I do is stand next to my mare like I was haltering.
I dont use a halter or lead rope I put my hand on the poll and apply the pressure and once she lowers her neck I release and repeat. I do this all the time if were just standing there chillin I have her lower her head or in ground work, cross ties...ect.

Then with the Haltering since she all ready knows how to lower her head. I start to put the halter on (strap on poll) and instead of having me put it on all they way I wait untill she searches for it or puts her noes in the halter. If she dosent put her nose in it right away since my hand is already holding on to the strap over the poll I can ask for the drop. But ofcouse you have to hold the halter open so your horse can actually putt his nose into the halter. Thats how I do it, hope it can help.

We had this one old gelding he would run up to you and nose around the halter till he got it on, he was some times quite pushy if you didnt have the halter all ready!

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post #7 of 18 Old 10-20-2008, 10:23 AM
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hmmm im not sure. my standardbred is 16.3 and has a naturally high headset, but he always bows his head down and opens his mouth for the bit. He does this out of niceness i guess lol cuz he was untrained when i got him

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post #8 of 18 Old 10-20-2008, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by RusticWildFire View Post
To teach mine I put a lead rope over his neck first (near the poll) and put pressure to have him lower his head and then released as soon as he gave in. I did this over and over and once he started doing that nicely I now put my right arm between his ears and thread the halter or bridle on that way to remind him to keep his head down as once in a while he will "forget" and that reminds him. It has worked well for me. Also because thats the most comfortable way for me to put it on. I have good control of the bit that way (I hold the bit with my left hand). Good Luck!

I basically use the leadrope method first. Toss the lead over the horse's neck then adjust it so that it goes over the poll area. I then will make a circle with Dumas (Twister was born with his head down) Just to let him know that I've in fact caught him. I find that making a small circle helps to get his mind off of the actual haltering. Once the halter is over his nose it's all over but the cryin' at that point. I flip the poll strap up and over and buckle away. Caught horse. LOL...

Brideling him is about the same. We have to tie Dumas to bridle. He would flip out if we didn't. Once he is tied we just go slow and steady to keep him calm. I use honey on the bit to help bribe the bit as a good thing with him. I have also held a cookie in my hand along with the bit and it's a one shot deal that way...Anything I can do to make it seem like it was Dumas' idea to accept the bridle.

Now once Dumas is bridled he's in work mode and I can easily get him to lower his head and even take the halter off from underneath. ( I usually just leave the halter on tho.) Some horses just don't like it. Others (Twister) could care less.

But back to you're original question. John Lyons has some great pointers on training cues. Lowering his head is a cue that you teach your horse. It's usually taught with pressure on the poll that is released as soon as the horse lowers it's head. It takes time but it well worth it. You can teach your horse to lower it's head as low as you need him to. I just haven't been really consistant with Dumas....I did do this with Twister (mostly because Twister is shorter and not head shy...he picked up the cue right away) Dumas is just harder to reach his poll and get him to drop that noggin. I have had success with the John Lyon's method with Dumas... I just haven't polished it off yet...

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

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Last edited by Dumas'_Grrrl; 10-20-2008 at 12:02 PM.
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post #9 of 18 Old 10-20-2008, 06:16 PM
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I know people are against using treats. I give Vida a horse cookie when she get the bit. I've done it since I've owned her (2 years) Its one of the only times she gets a cookie.
She will take the bit without it, although she gives me a wheres my cookie look
I made this video today. Hope it helps you.

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post #10 of 18 Old 10-20-2008, 06:27 PM
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LOL Vida, you are too funny! Loved your commentary :)
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