One of my lesson horses has/had this problem and I've worked with him over 7 or 8 years to try to cure it. After I bought him, I found out that a previous "trainer" had habitually grabbed his right ear, twisted it all the way around and used it as a twitch to drag his head down for clipping. At first, even touching that ear would cause him to throw his head up to the ceiling and sometimes even rear.
Over the years, he got better and better with patient handling-sometimes I would spend a quiet 20 minutes at a time just handling his face and sneaking up to the ear. He did get much better over time but occasionally something will remind him and set him off. I suspect that horses that are abused never completely forget but with work you can get them to trust you most of the time. I just step away, get my little 1' stepstool out and start again. They sell these little fold aluminum stepstools and they work great for a horse that uses that high headed avoidance technique.
The way I bridle every horse is; face the same direction as the horse, tuck my shoulder up under the throat
, holding the crown (top) in my right hand
. My right arm stays lined up with the right side of the face so that I can control/push the off side of the his face or neck. The left hand controls the bit and lower part of the bridle.
Hold the bridle up slightly on the right and put the lower/bit area of it over the nose and under the jaw. Smooth, slow but very deliberate movements
. Bring the bit gently up to the mouth from under the jaw while moving the crown up slightly at the same time. Ask the horse to open his mouth (stick your finger in the side of the mouth and tickle a little if you have to) and slide the bit in while matching the movement up
with your right hand holding the crown. If the horse tries to move away from you, your right forearm can stop that movement
and if he puts his head up, just follow that movement up with both hands. Once you have the bit in his mouth you can do the ears one by one. With practice, you will be able to do this while still facing forward.
When you are first doing this, you will feel like a real klutz but with practice
you will find that you can bridle just about any horse, even the worst ones. And don't be afraid to have one of these little stepstools handy-horses love to take advantage of us short people!