Suddenly Refusing the Bridle
I have a almost 5 year old Percheron that I have been riding since this past October. I have NEVER had a problem putting the bridle on him, until 2 weeks ago. Now he throws his head way in the air and clenches his teeth together. I have been tying his head low so I can bridle him, and once it's on, he is fine.
He had his teeth checked in September and he was fine then. Never a problem when I am riding him, well not with his head anyway. He responds very well to the bit, I am using a single jointed snaffle, which he chews on constantly, but always has.
Oh, the biggest problem, is that he is 19 hands so when he throws his head up, it is WAY UP THERE! :?
As young as he is he may have some tooth movement. I would have his teeth checked again, refusing the bridle is a clear sign of needing dental work. If his teeth are fine, try a double jointed snaffle.
Why don't you teach him to drop his head? With a horse of that size, I feel that is pretty much a necessity for anything (haltering, bridling, trimming a bridle path, brushing the mane, etc). Do you know how to teach a horse to drop its head? If not, I can post details.
You *may* need to have his teeth checked again. Some horses need it done every 6 months; others only need it once a year.
What happens when you take the bridle OFF? Does the bit bang on his teeth as its coming out? Be very careful that it doesn't.
With both bridling and unbridling, be very careful you aren't bending his ears in weird ways or anything like that.
Anything that YOU do when bridling or unbridling that causes pain or discomfort (ex: bit hitting teeth on the way out) can cause him to not want to put that bit back in his mouth again. So just be careful of your actions too.
In addition to what's been said, he may not like the bit. My gelding HATES a single-jointed snaffle. He chews constantly and will give you the evil eye when you try to bridle him. Switch to a double-jointed (French link) snaffle and he's quiet, no chewing, and actually reaches for the bit when you bridle him.
Are you using a loose ring, eggbutt, D ring? That can make a difference, too.
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Thanks all. While I didn't say, he is trained to drop his head for me, this is just a very new behavior. The vet will be out next Wednesday to check his mouth again, and I will not ride him until then.
DraftyAires I will try the French Link snaffle after the vet to see if that helps.
I will keep you posted!
Have you changed the adjustment on your bridle? I have recently been riding with a family which rides together, and all have problems with bridling. Most with problems putting in the bit, and even problems dropping the bit when unbridling. I found that all of these horses were being ridden with bridles adjusted very tight at the poll. One horse was sold because she couldn't be touched at the poll. A simple loosening of the cheek pieces has solved many problems. The bridle simply needs to be tight enough to not bang on the teeth. There should only be pressure from the bit when you are asking with your hands, that way you can relieve the pressure when you get a positive result.
Have you checked the bit seat for inflammation?
My one horse had suddenly become really bad at bridleing... Got her teeth done and she know takes the bit without a problem at all. She would fling her head up in the air and there was no way you were getting that bridle on.
I might guess that he doesn't like the bit. My mare has started closing her mouth and putting her head up for her western bit, but still puts her head down and reaches for the double jointed snaffle in her dressage bridle. I was pretty surprised, but she knows what bits she doesn't like by sight. Did you maybe accidentally bang your guy in the mouth or something? Something about that bit must be uncomfortable now. Having the vet check his teeth and make sure nothing in his mouth is inflamed is also a good idea. If the vet does not find anything, maybe try a different bit. He will have to relearn that the bit isn't there to hurt him.
I had one that did that. Turned out she had an abrasion on her poll, I believe from scratching on a tree.
Sometimes the obvious things are the most elusive. Feel around his face ears etc and see if there's a sore place somewhere that makes bridling uncomfortable. Since it's now fly season, bug bites can cause a problem. I know that I get them in the most inconvenient places.
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