Unconventional bridling fix - The Horse Forum
  • 8 Post By Ratlady
  • 2 Post By loosie
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-24-2019, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Unconventional bridling fix

My horse had a very interesting (aka annoying) habit when bridling. I could NOT figure out why, but ever since I got him he would swing his head over towards me when pulling his second ear under the browband. It was driving me nuts because he wasn't ear shy, head shy, was fine with fingers in his mouth, took the bit great, yet he would still insist on bumping me in the chest with his big skull whenever I tried getting that second ear through.

I thought it was a very rude and strange evasion tactic. Whenever he did that, I'd send him off and throw his fat little butt in a circle on the lunge line. But after a few days of that, I noticed his bridling wasn't improving. Like, at all. The only thing that changed was that he expected to be sent off after he swung his head over to me when bridling...

I was at a total loss, so I talked to his old owner and asked what she did in that situation. Turns out, she taught him to do that! She's very short and that trick of his made it so she could halter him without a mounting block. I'm very tall so instead of his head coming down to my level, he just bumps into me which I mistranslated into disrespect.

So I switched gears to seeing if distracting him before he thought about swinging his head over would work over the long term. It would have to be timed perfectly so the distraction could last long enough to get the bridle on, but also allow me to work fast and reward him if he doesn't move his head. Now I know my fat boy loves his food, so my first instinct was to distract him with a treat.

What I did was wrap a bit of a fruit rollup around his bit like edible bit tape, and he was too engrossed by licking off all the yummy stuff to even consider "helping" me get the bridle on.

So today, I went to bridle him without any yummy stuff on his bit to see if my experiment worked. Lo and behold, he stood there like a statue, gently mouthing his bit. He didn't even consider turning his head to me! I'm hoping this will be all he needed to break that habit, but time will tell.

I love it when I can find nicer, reward based solutions to unwanted behaviors. And I'm glad I talked to his old owner. I really thought he was misbehaving, when in reality he was just doing what he had been taught to do.

He really liked his western dee snaffle before I wrapped it in candy, now he can hardly wait to get the bit in his mouth.
Ratlady is offline  
post #2 of 5 Old 06-24-2019, 08:17 PM
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Your solution is pretty cute. I'm really glad you were able to contact your horse's former owner.
boots is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 06-25-2019, 03:51 AM
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Great you got it worked out. Your tactic might work more than in the short term, but if the previous owner had this behaviour well established, I wouldn't expect it to be that easy to 'fix'. I'd expect him to 'revert'. If the problem is his nose swinging towards you, you could always teach him conflicting behaviour & reward that, such as his nose facing the other way.

Couple of thoughts on what you wrote that might help...
Originally Posted by Ratlady View Post
I thought it was a very rude and strange evasion tactic. Whenever he did that, I'd send him off and throw his fat little butt in a circle on the lunge line. But after a few days of that, I noticed his bridling wasn't improving.
If something seems 'rude', it's generally that they've either not been taught better 'manners', or - as in this case - they've actually been taught the 'rude' behaviour, inadvertently or otherwise. Therefore I wouldn't consider it 'disrespectful' & deserving of punishment, as a rule.

Horses learn from *instant* consequences. So he would only have learned this as an evasion, if it got him out of being bridled. And regardless whether it was an evasion, rudeness or otherwise, if you want to punish him for something, it must be done *instantly*, at the time of the 'misdemeanor'. By the time you 'send him off'(presumably also have to get the bridle on for that), that behaviour has long been & gone.

If you make him 'work' as punishment - be that lunging, backing up, whatever - & make it unpleasant for him, the thing associated with the unpleasantness is 'working'(& probably you too). Aside from other things explained here, I personally want to avoid turning 'work' into punishment, and instead do all I can to encourage the horse to enjoy the 'work' I ask of it, think of it instead as 'play'.
greentree and ACinATX like this.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
loosie is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 06-25-2019, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Kentucky
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Iím glad you solved it!

Agree with Lucy^^ Iím not sure how circling was going to fix a bridling problem....I would have backed up to before he swung his head, praised that, then growled at the swing, and repeated until the head swing stopped, then praised, treated, and maybe even quit for the day as reward.

I don't break horses, I FIX them!
greentree is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 06-25-2019, 08:19 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
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What a great idea!
txgirl is offline  

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