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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2011
    Posts
    64

    Default Bridling a young horse

    I am starting to put a bridle on my young mare but she obviously doesn't like it. I have started putting applesauce on it the past couple times but the minute I go to remove the halter and put on the bridle she starts backing up and putting her head to the side in hopes I can't get to her. We haven't had any traumatic events happen while bridling and I am always patient with putting the bit in. When I do get her head around she isn't really bad about putting the bit in but I do not want it to be a bad experience. I am not sure if I need to give her more time but I don't want this to become a habit either. I am hesitant to give her treats by hand because I don't want her to become mouthy.

    She is two years old and I have probably put the bit in a total of 10 to 15 times. I am confident the bit fits and she is fine when the bridle is on.

    Any tips you guys have for young horses I would really appreciate it!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    10,991

    Default

    Put the bridle on any way you can and then give her a cookie. In a week's time she'll put it on for you.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 24, 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    5,352

    Default

    I often start mine with a cookie in the hand that the bridle isn't in. So I hold the bridle up with the bit touching the teeth with my right hand and then hold a cookie just below the bit in my left hand. They're usually looking for the bit after the first few times and I remove the cookie element as soon as they do.
    __________________________________
    Forever exiled in the NW.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 14, 2011
    Location
    racetrack
    Posts
    1,441

    Default

    Have her wolf teeth been pulled yet?

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 3, 2002
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    819

    Default

    Put her in a stall and position her back towards a corner where she can't back up. Make sure you teach her "head down" or she may start throwing her head up to avoid the bit. Also make sure it's a very gentle baby type bit like a softish happy mouth. I used to know a trainer that put all young ones in a stall w/bridle and bit on and leave them there for several hours every day til it was normal for them.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 30, 2002
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    908

    Default

    I searched the forum the other day for tips because my gelding is hard to bridle. Someone suggested wrapping a fruit roll-up around the bit. I haven't tried it yet, but that's definitely my next trick.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 15, 2007
    Location
    (throw dart at map) NC!
    Posts
    4,465

    Default

    I suggest starting with just a bit and a headstall. I then recommend putting the loosely fitting halter over that and then leading her around by the halter. The halter should be really familiar and comforting at this point. I would be standing at her poll, facing totally in the direction she is facing to take the halter off and put it around her neck (not attached to crossties unless everything is breakaway - alternatively, take the halter off and keep a draped lead rope over the neck in case she tries to walk off). I would then put the headstall and bit on, and then put the halter over that. She's less likely to back up if you are at her shoulder and simply step backwards with her if she does step backwards. Then move on like you would with her in her halter - all of the familiar things she is used to. Good treats include carrots and sugar cubes. Sugar cubes are good because they melt without chewing (instant gratification at the bit). I would not add reins or extra buckles until the mare is confident with the bit and is ready to progress to the next stage (bit pressure). Alternatively, put the bridle on over her halter a few times. That might help her "get" that it's not a big deal. Alternatively, a finger or baby carrot in the side of the mouth can get her to open her mouth for the bit. I think one can play with the mouth without creating a mouthy horse.
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2011
    Posts
    1,188

    Default

    I was taught by an old-timer trainer years ago to teach the horse to drop the head first by gentle pressure on the poll. When first bridling, leave the halter on, loosen the bridle enough so that you can get it over and the keepers free to adjust when it is on. Place your right hand, between the ears and hand the crown piece with your left hand to your right hand (that way, you can use your right hand to control the height of the head with your hand on the poll between the ears), then feed the bit to the horse with your left thumb in the corner of the mouth and when they open and take the bit in, raise your right hand and place the crown first over the outside ear then the inside ear. Holding the cheek piece a little away to keep the bit up in the mouth while you adjust the height of the bridle on the horse. Sounds complicated, but it is better than approaching their face with a bunch of leather and the chance that they can pull their head away and get the bridle off and pull backward. When removing, right hand between ears on poll, slide crown piece forward and let the horse drop the bit out. That's my 2 cents. When horse gets used to this, do it without the halter on underneath.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 10, 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    136

    Default bridling young horse

    I'd definitely work on lowering head with light poll pressure before struggling with the bridle. (clicker training is great for this if you are into it). My mare preferred molasses to applesauce, but it sure is messier. A piece of apple is easier for an inexperienced horse to chew with a bit in than carrot.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 4, 2012
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    1,054

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fairtheewell View Post
    I was taught by an old-timer trainer years ago to teach the horse to drop the head first by gentle pressure on the poll. When first bridling, leave the halter on, loosen the bridle enough so that you can get it over and the keepers free to adjust when it is on. Place your right hand, between the ears and hand the crown piece with your left hand to your right hand (that way, you can use your right hand to control the height of the head with your hand on the poll between the ears), then feed the bit to the horse with your left thumb in the corner of the mouth and when they open and take the bit in, raise your right hand and place the crown first over the outside ear then the inside ear. Holding the cheek piece a little away to keep the bit up in the mouth while you adjust the height of the bridle on the horse. Sounds complicated, but it is better than approaching their face with a bunch of leather and the chance that they can pull their head away and get the bridle off and pull backward. When removing, right hand between ears on poll, slide crown piece forward and let the horse drop the bit out. That's my 2 cents. When horse gets used to this, do it without the halter on underneath.
    This is how I was taught, as well. With the addition of a cookie as soon as you get the bit in their mouth. You need to leave the halter on at first so you can still control the horse's head.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2012
    Posts
    210

    Default

    Treats are your best friend when teaching a horse to bridle. Your horse will not likely get mouthy if the treats are associated with the bit. It is so important that this is always a pleasant experience for the horse, you are beginning it's career with bits right now and a comfortable foundation is a must.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2001
    Posts
    8,772

    Default Pretty simple

    I use 2 things when teaching a youngster about wearing a bit;
    a bradoon strap and Karo syrup.

    I put the bit on the bradoon strap and cover it in syrup. Then I just put it on over the halter so I don't have to deal with issues like you are dealing with and the horse develops a positive association with the bit before you have to with co-ordinating getting the bridle on.
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2010
    Location
    Redlands, CA
    Posts
    38

    Default

    My current girl has been more difficult than any other. She drops her nose into a halter easily enough, but we got to the point where I'd walk in with a bridle, and her head would go up. I tried treats, but honestly, she would hold the treat in her mouth for a moment and then drop it-more like she would spit it out. I tried molasses (yuck), rubbing apples or carrots on the bit-nothing worked. Before it became a big issue, I ordered a 'halter bridle'-the kind endurance riders use. Now, the halter part of the new bridle is just another halter, she drops her nose right in and then I attach the lead to the halter bridle. The bit is then added on the right hand side so that I can bring it around with one hand and hold it against her teeth, a little pressure and she opens her mouth, I slip in the bit and attach the cheek piece. I'll admit, the first few times was a battle of wills, but I just out waited her-she'd get bored and open her mouth (at first just a little-little scratch for that). As soon as she'd comply, I'd take her out for a quick walk or give her a good wither scratch. Now I ask her to take the bit before we do anything, and then reward her by doing something she enjoys; walking the barn area, grooming, a little easy round pen work-whatever. Eventually, we'll transition back to a regular bridle, when the bit is no longer an issue. Oh, and she loves the Happy Mouth Good luck-you'll win in the end!



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2006
    Location
    Southern Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,219

    Default

    I've always had great success with the halter and cookie method. I use a rope halter because it fits under the bridle better. I do the first few in a stall. They all know a head lower cue and a relax cue before we start. I also teach them to have the head stall put on properly without the but several times so they are used to where my hands will be and the browband and crown being pulled around their ears. I leave the halter on and use my head lower cue. I hold the bit and a cookie in my left hand. I hold the bridle over the nose like I do when they are trained. I hold the cookie and bit in my hand and slip in the bit as they eat the cookie. Then I leave the bit/bridle on for a good half hour to an hour and hang out with them until they stop fussing and forget about it. I've never had one make a fuss or become a problem. I do this the first few times we bridle, then I save the cookie for a reward after the bridle is all on and then I fade it out. Good luck!
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
    Location
    Montreal, Qc
    Posts
    2,916

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Clayfields View Post
    and hold it against her teeth, a little pressure and she opens her mouth, I slip in the bit
    This is IMMHO wrong. The bit should never touch the teeth. Ever. Try rubbing/putting pressure on your teeth with a piece of metal (that is probably why Clayfield's horse prefer the Happymouth made of plastic).

    If you want your horse to happily open its mouth, use your thumb on the corner of the mouth or to touch/rub the palate or the bar softly. Learning to drop the poll is also a good skill that may be used at other time in the training program. I teach it in conjunction with the cue "head down". My braider loves it.


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  16. #16
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2012
    Location
    Muskoka, Ontario CANADA
    Posts
    235

    Default

    I use fruit roll ups Works great!!
    www.muskokalakesconnemaras.com
    Wonderful ponies for family or show!


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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2003
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    6,098

    Default

    My usual procedure is to use a halter that buckles. Unbuckle the halter and rebuckle it up high around the horse's neck. This seems to automatically get them to keep their heads down. I usually tie the horse by the neck halter (either in the stall or on the cross ties--depending on the horse.) For me, this halter around the neck is really the key. I am 4' 11" so I would have a difficult time if the horse raised his head even a little bit. I have had this work even after an owner had tried and failed to bit the horse and the horse was already defensive.

    The first few times I coat the bit with molasses. I use a headstall that the bit clips on to (although buckles are not bad.) It is easy to put the head stall on with the bit hanging off one side, then reach under the horse's head and bring the bit around in front of his mouth, put some finger pressure on the bars of the mouth and slide the bit in and clip it. Then I usually give them a lump of sugar with the bit in.

    I gradually put less molasses on the bit and finally just give the lump of sugar when the bit is in. After a couple of times, I've had horses salivating when the bridle comes out. A few have even opened their mouths when they saw me coming with it. Too funny.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18

    Default

    i too have not used treats to teach a horse to bridle, and i too do not touch the teeth with the bit, i gently slide my thumb in the bar and teach the horse to open its mouth, then i put the bit in place without allowing it to clang on her/ his teeth



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct. 27, 2009
    Posts
    1,626

    Default

    I don't use treats either. I start with a cavesson, bit attached on one side and unbuckled on the side where I'm standing. Teach them to open the mouth with pressure on the bar, then gently slide the bit in and buckle the unfastened side. Then I turn them out for a an hour or two in the paddock. They'll fuss for awhile but quickly get over it. Do this until they've settled about putting it on, shouldn't take many sessions.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2010
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    525

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chisamba View Post
    i too have not used treats to teach a horse to bridle, and i too do not touch the teeth with the bit, i gently slide my thumb in the bar and teach the horse to open its mouth, then i put the bit in place without allowing it to clang on her/ his teeth
    This is how I do it. Also, remember when removing the bridle to not let the bit hit the horses teeth. Pull the bridle over his ears and hold it up until he drops it from his mouth. I have dealt with several bad bridlers that I totally understand why they are bad when I see their owner rip the bit from their mouth.


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