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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

My mare, who has been under saddle for about 6 years, recently started getting naughty about the bridle. She'll either shove her head into me or stick it way up in the air.

It's not a health issue, as everything was recently done/checked. It's purely a training evasion that I do not know how to fix!

So, how do you break a horse of bridle evasion?

Thanks!

Drew and Demi.
 

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When is she doing it?

If it is when you are bridling her, my first thought would be that for some reason she does not like the bit. She might want a different bit, or she might be having a tooth issue.

I would change to a different bit, see if it helps. I convinced a woman at our barn who was taking up to 15 mintues to bridle her horse to change bits. It took a few rides for her horse to get used to the new bit, but once he did, he LOVED that it had copper bands and sweet iron. He now loves to take his bit.

Or it could be pain associated with a bad tooth - does she have any 'ouchie' spots in her mouth? (Need a vet for that to be fully answered I am afraid)

Lastly, she might not like what she is doing as a job... she might want a change of pace for a while. IF you have been uptraining hard for something, she might be feeling burt out...

Hope something I have said helps! If not, I send sneak hugs in the general direction of your horse to see if that will help....:hug:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for the ideas.

I recently switched from a KK Training Snaffle to the same bit, but with a full cheek and a figure eight noseband. I thought this may be the issue but A) she goes much better in it under saddle and does not fuss after I put it on and B ) she started it with her old bridle.

She had an ouchie tooth (cracked!) that got taken care of before she started these problems. Which is why I am led to believe it is not dental. She's had extensive dental work done and is kept up with very regularly.

When I get ahold of her head (which usually only takes a minute or two, but it's still not as good as I'd like it) she accepts the bit perfectly fine. And does not fuss when the bridle is on. She just wants to put it off, it seems.

She's a puzzling little thing!
 

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It sounds like she is being a brat.

With it not being a ouchie problem, and that she seems to like the new bridle, this is what I would do.

Have you taught her to drop her head? It only takes a few sessions usuallly. I like to use light pressure on the pole to tell them to drop thier head. Once she will drop her nose to the ground with an ounce or two of pressure, then ask her to take the bit. When she tosses her head up, correct her (I usually growl at them), put her head back down all the way to the ground and repeat. Eventually she will get tired of having her head on the floor and will just take the bit.

It is a way to make avoiding the bit uncomforable (horses don't really like having thier noses on the ground unless there is food involved) without having to get confrontational about it.

There is a famous horse trainer - and for some unknown reason his name is completely escaping me at this moment - who says that a misbehavior is just an opportunity to do more work!
 

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my sister's mare started having bridling problems. She was never being ridden so my sister gave her to me. I took her on a test ride and tack up and bridling was perfect. When the ride was over I started pulling off the headstall and as soon as i got it past her ears her head shot up in the air and she darted back 5 feet. the bit was dangling from her mouth and she was really panicked. Next few times that I bridled her we had this problem. What I think is that at some point my sister had ripped the bit out of her mouth and had banged her teeth. So, in anticipation of her teeth hurting she would throw her head up, but in doing so she would actually get the bit hung up on her teeth and made the problem worse. This mare had no idea how to drop the bit out and was scared when it moved in her mouth.

Very soon after she stopped letting me put the bridle on at all. did giraffe neck, looked at the ceiling, moved her head from side to side.... she just didn't want to deal with it. I know she was avoiding the bit because she wanted to avoid the fiasco in taking it off. I got her teeth checked out by the vet. (The vet bridled and unbridled her and checked the fit and everything) He told me she definitely is just psyching herself out.

I bought a rope halter, taught her to give to poll pressure and used it as an aid in keeping her head down while i bridled her. I also would use the same poll pressure when I had to take the bit off teaching her to keep her head down and open her mouth to let the bit out. She made really great improvements but it was still slow.

Recently i bought a new bit. This one has a dog bone mouth piece instead of the nutcracker she had on her old snaffle. She seems to really prefer this. She has a low palette so i'm pretty sure her original snaffle was bothering her as well. Now she's perfect about taking the bit and has not needed for me to put pressure on the halter. She drops it out relaxed when i take it off too. I still have been using a halter just in case, but I don't think I will need to for much longer.

If i were you I would definitely use a halter to work on bridling but I would also look into trying different bits for her if possible. One of my mares seems to really love her bit sometimes. She has her head down looking for it before I'm even ready to slip it on, it would make it easy on both of you if your horse is comfortable with their bit.

If you dont want to ride with the halter underneath smrobs made this really good video

 

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Have you considered reward? Do you like to do something because someone is MAKING you or because there's something in it for you. I frequently use a tiny treat or 'carrot nickel'. Amazingly, I can barely get the bridle in my hand before the horses are trying to put the bit in their mouths.
There is also a product out there that is like those breath sheets you put on your tongue and they wrap around the bit and taste like apples.
 

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Subbing. Yesterday My boy got his tomb thumb stuck in his mouth for a minute and it must have hurt him :( as soon as I saw it we took it off, re-bridled him and he fought us but that was becase he was scared it was gonna hurt again. as soon as we got it on he was fine. but then in the afternoon we went riding and i went to take it off he put his head up when i took the bridle off but the bit was still in his mouth and he panicked and backed up really quick and was panicking and my mate helped me settle him and put the bridle on and again and show him it was okay. Im hoping hes okay today when we put it on, so im going to put him in the round yard to do it and take our time with it. btw gonna get his teeth done soon just in case but hes showing no symptoms of teeth hurting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thank you everyone for taking the time to post!

yadlims, yes, i agree that she is being a brat! I am just trying to figure out why she is bratty about this in particular! Thank you for the suggestion of the poll pressure. I have seen it done and will try it on her today when I go out.

attackship, that video was very informative. Thanks for the link!

Looking at Lauren Woodard's post made me think....her previous owner would CONSTANTLY give the horses a peppermint when they take the bit to avoid this problem altogether. (Never stop giving them rewards, they never develop bridle issues?) They never got nippy or anything. Perhaps I just need to try rewards first?
 

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I would check to make sure the figure-8 isn't rubbing or is fitting correctly. Most people I see with figure 8's do not fit them correctly and they can pinch (especially with a full cheek, which I assume has keepers and is in a fixed position) pretty bad. My gelding got rubbed from a Figure 8 once really bad (and I feel so bad about it, he didn't have it on because he needed it, but because I lent out his bridle and wanted to ride him so I used my mare's bridle, which had the figure 8), the piece over his mouth rubbed his chin and lip raw one day, I figured since he didn't "need it", I kept it loose. It was also too big for both horses so never quite had the right adjustment.

Same horse also does not go well in full-cheek bits, period. Doesn't matter the mouth pieces, for some reason he hates them.

Right now both of my horses practically bridle themselves, they both dive into them. lol, they both like their jobs though and are ridden consistently and fairly with well-fitting tack and are comfortable. In fact, it is a challenge to put on my mare's sidepull, because she tries to put the nose piece in her mouth before I pull it up past her lips.
 

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PS, I wanted to add also, to make sure the bit is fitting correctly. Measure his mouth for bit size. My mare goes in a 5.25" and is a 15.3hh girl. My gelding is 14.3hh and goes in a SIX INCH bit, yes 6". His head is short and wide. He has an oversize browband, oversize cavesson, cob crown piece, PONY cheek piece, 6" bit and horse sized reins. I have to hope both of his jerry rigged bridles last his entire life because I hate searching for matching pieces of every different size bridle that exists!
 

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When I got my mare, she was very hard to bridle. She's about 16.2hh and I'm barely 5'4, so when she stuck her head in the air... I practically had to climb her to get the bridle on. With her, it wasn't a pain thing - it was a 'I've been on vacation for 10 years and I don't feel like working". So I took her back to basics. I re-trained her to give to pressure and lower her head when I held the bridle up. I discovered (by accident) that she would lower her head when I told her to 'watch her feet', so I started using that command. It took just a single afternoon, but now she keeps her head within my reach when it comes time to bridle. If I tell her to watch her feet, her head drops to my shoulder height.
 

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So... my opinion on treating a horse, ie peppermint for takign the bit. If it works, and both you and the horse are happy with it, DO IT.

I have no qualms about giving food rewards, especially if it stops problems. I espeicially do this with young horses, who need to know RIGHT NOW that this particular thing was good. (Yes, I clicker train.... horror!!! But instead of using an actual clicker, I use the word GOOD. It works great.)

Sometimes, applying somethign yummy on the bit helps too.... I like molassas.
 
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