Bridling a difficult horse?
I've been riding a 9 year old appy mare who is pretty green, and she does not take the bit well and is especially hard to unbridle after we are done working.
She was started a few years ago in a side pull and went (and still goes) really well in it. However, she is cutting horse bred and she's a fast mare who I'd like to eventually be able to go in a curb when I put her on cows and start doing speed events.
She had double wolf teeth removed as a yearling, and ever since then she's been bad about anything involving her mouth. It's very difficult to look in her mouth and she's almost impossible to worm.
So would it be best to put her in a bosal for now or is there some way to make it easier to bridle her?
When I go to bridle, she will HAUL back on the lead rope and plant her butt to get away. After she's figured out she can't break away, she'll stick her head way up in the air and I'll bring it down with some gentle pressure on her poll, but as soon as my hand moves towards her head again with the bridle she fights me again.
I generally just try to get the bridle up to her face as fast as possible, because once it's near her face I have no problem getting her to take the bit or putting it on her ears.
However, taking the bit off is a nightmare. She will wait till I get the head stall off both ears and then rip her head away from me and sometime rear up.
She was checked by the vet last year and he said her teeth were ok. I've run my hands along her cheeks and no points, she eats everything and doesn't drop any feed. Of course I know she could still have some issues, and I'll work on having her checked again ASAP.
I've been riding her in a copper roller D ring snaffle, and a normal western bridle. She responds well to the bit, but I use mostly seat aides.
Is there anything I can do to help her feel more at east with bridling? I (and my halters) would appreciate it. I've tried molasses and honey on the bit and it helps a little.
Here's a c&p of my standard advice (it somewhat applies to your situation):
"Stay with the horse and become a student of his body language. Don't become angry, impatient, frustrated, or frightened. It's all matter of fact. Unclip his halter from the lead rope and put his halter around his neck for a handle, if needed. Put the bit up by his mouth. If he clenches his teeth, yes, put your thumb or finger in the toothless gum region on his lower jaw, pressing down with firm pressure, as needed. If he raises his head, runs backwards, whatever--do not back off, and do not force the bit. Just stay with him. Keep the bit/bridle in the exact same position relative to his head throughout his entire display. Don't back off, but don't move forward, either, until he realizes that his antics are futile. Repeat as needed, gradually increasing the "pressure" of the stimulus (position of the bit) until he gives in.
(This is presuming there is no underlying physical issues, like horrible dental hooks, or a injury on his head, etc.)"
As for unbridling, that's going to be harder. I suggest just going very, very slowly about it. If she starts to jerk away, stay with her and try to hold the bit in her mouth or slip the headstall back over her ear. If you can at all avoid it, try not to take the bit out of her mouth until she is standing calmly.
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