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Rules question - browbands? And ear-shy horses...

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  • Rules question - browbands? And ear-shy horses...

    I've looked at the rules, and I'm not seeing anything besides the bridles (with browbands) in the diagrams for nosebands. I'm going to assume that "bridle" automatically includes "browband", but am holding out some small hope...

    Is a browband required? I know, it's an odd question. I have a mare that appears to have been eared (among other things) pretty badly. It takes 15-30 minutes to (hopefully) get the bridle on, with much struggling and waving her head around (I've been knocked pretty good a couple times, always wearing a helmet). If I can take the browband off and unbuckle one cheekpiece, so it just goes over the crown like a halter, she's OK, however, there is no way for me to do this with a browband. To get a bridle with a browband on her involves much fighting, sweating and some acrobatics and keen timing on my part. Getting the bridle off is about the same - and please, don't dare try to put the reins over her head or reach up and touch her head while mounted.

    We've been working on it, and she's slowly (baby steps) getting better, but MAN somebody did a number on her. She will put her head down on command - but as soon as you get that bridle within about 6" of her ears, it goes back up. I'm made of patience, but I've even waited her out and she will.not.give.in. She's leery of people in general, seems to tolerate (if not enjoy) my presence but only within certain parameters. I attempted to stretch her front legs pre-ride last night and each time I tried to extend the leg, she yanked it away and skittered back, snorting at me like I had two heads.

    She's OK with fly masks and blankets going over her ears/head, and all her fly masks have ears. Hands, halters, and bridles are the issue. Previous owner admits that she was with a "bad" cowboy trainer for a while and doesn't really know what happened to her.

  • #2
    I totally understand where you are coming from. I had a TB that was the same way. I had to undo the cheek piece and the noseband to even get it anywhere near his head. His halter was the same way. Dont try to slip that over his ears.

    My crafty friend made me a browband with velcro as I was having trouble keeping him still while being around his ears to run the crownpiece through. You may want to try that?

    I would also like to know the rule on this. The woman who bought the horse does some pleasure riding and lower level hunters. Does not bother her too much. He was a doll under saddle but quite a chicken when it came to xc.
    I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

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    • #3
      I would think that by the time you are planning on competing this horse the situation would be much closer to a resolution....JMO

      Comment


      • #4
        My mule came to me ear shy, and it's hard folding up those big ears to stuff through a bridle anyway, so I had a bridle made for him with a buckle at the crown.

        So I just put the bit in his mouth, kinda pulled the whole bridle up his face, and then buckled it at his poll. It allowed him to wear a traditional English bridle without struggling with the ears.

        Of course, I continued to work with him and now can bridle him normally, but the buckle bridle was a solution for a few months.

        I had my local shoe cobbler make the alterations, cost maybe $20. (I bought a cheapie $5 bridle off ebay first for him to practice on.) Even with the language barrier, he did a great job.

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        • #5
          Do you use a bridle with a padded crownpiece? I've found this has made all the difference to my girl with sensitive ears. That, tincture of time (a good six months, maybe a year), lots of patience, very gentle, deliberate handling and lots of praise and kisses during the process.

          It's bizarre, but the kisses (trying to make bridling a pleasant event for her) and the padded crownspiece seemed to make the most difference. I can do almost anything around her ears now, including clipping them with scissors. She even asks for the insides to be scratched with a brush.

          So there's hope.

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          • #6
            I rode a mare who was ear shy-the easiest thing to do with her was to unbuckle the cavesson strap and cheekpiece from the crown piece and take them out of that side of the browband. You would then hand yourself the crown piece over the poll, put the browband in place and put the two straps through the browband, thus avoiding pulling anything over the ears. You then buckle the caveson and cheek piece back to the straps (you have to put the bit in their mouth as you are doing this obviously) and buckle everything up. It sounds like a lot of work but after doing it a few times it honestly maybe took an extra 30 seconds to how you put a bridle on a non-ear shy horse and it was so much easier than making everyone frustrated.

            It is so much easier to show someone than type out, so hopefully that made sense!

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by judybigredpony View Post
              I would think that by the time you are planning on competing this horse the situation would be much closer to a resolution....JMO
              The mare is 10yo...schooling First/some Second, I've taken her to one dressage show...and is now jumping baby 2'-2'3" fences. It's pretty evident that she was eared and, it seems likely, also beaten in the head.

              We're working on it, and will continue to do so...but I don't think this issue is ever going to "resolve". Lessen, yes, but not go away completely. She also has a strong dislike for male handlers and will shake during bathing, even if it's 80*.

              I was just curious if a browband IS actually required by the rules. Even with the unbuckling the cheekpiece, she's still very resistent.

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              • #8
                I recently saw a pony at an A show that only had the crown piece on. No noseband or brow band. Not sure what division he showed in though. I am sure it is fine in jumpers, we have all seen that GP video of the horse with just the bit and chin strap? Not sure about dressage or hunters though.

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                • #9
                  My crafty friend made me a browband with velcro
                  I had this done too. When my best boy was born, he was turned out in a foal halter. When his rescuers found him, the halter was still in there, somewhere. When I got him as a three year old "putting something over his head" was the last thing we would be able to work on ! He did his first couple of years in his build-on-his-head bridle before he was able to trust. Now he's 100%. Any good strap-repair person should be able to make you one and they work great.

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                  • #10
                    I also say get a browband that can either be velcroed or snapped close. I have heard of this for several other very head shy horses, and it always seemed to help considerably.
                    Amanda

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                      I also say get a browband that can either be velcroed or snapped close. I have heard of this for several other very head shy horses, and it always seemed to help considerably.
                      I'll look into it. I have enough extra headstalls floating around that it shouldn't be hard to work something up.

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                      • #12
                        Heinz, if your mare likes treats, you can clicker train her out of the terror. It'll take some time but not nearly as long as the "I promise to always be nice to you" route.

                        As for the rule, sorry, I don't have the answer. Janet?
                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by RiverBendPol View Post
                          Heinz, if your mare likes treats, you can clicker train her out of the terror. It'll take some time but not nearly as long as the "I promise to always be nice to you" route.

                          As for the rule, sorry, I don't have the answer. Janet?
                          She does like treats, although from what I've seen she doesn't value them at all during a bridling session (although I understand clicker training is a little different).

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                          • #14
                            I don't think you have to have one. I know I have seen someone competing without a noseband. Does the bridle stay put?

                            As for padding, I had a horse who appreciated the padding but I was cheap and didn't want to buy him a new bridle - bike shops carry tubes of squishy foam for handlebars - they work perfectly as crownpiece padding!

                            Poor girl.

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                            • #15
                              Is there any remote possibility she could have sponge/foam stuffed way down in an ear, of both ears? To find out might require some tq but this is much like a couple of horses I have heard of with forgotten sponges in ears. It's a horrible thought, I know.
                              And I love the velcro idea. And I have seen horses go w/o browbands.
                              Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                              Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The rules, as I read them, do not require a browband.

                                http://www.usef.org/documents/ruleBook/2012/13-EV.pdf

                                That said, it's likely you'll force the TD or judge to open the rulebook to be certain.
                                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
                                  Is there any remote possibility she could have sponge/foam stuffed way down in an ear, of both ears? To find out might require some tq but this is much like a couple of horses I have heard of with forgotten sponges in ears. It's a horrible thought, I know.
                                  And I love the velcro idea. And I have seen horses go w/o browbands.
                                  I wish! Vet checked them after he noticed she was so touchy.

                                  Bridle stays put just fine with no browband. I'll check with USEF, it would be nice to know if it's an option.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                    She does like treats, although from what I've seen she doesn't value them at all during a bridling session (although I understand clicker training is a little different).
                                    The clicker is really valuable for this kind of issue because it speaks directly to the 'lizard brain' where all your very fast, automatic, unconscious reactions are. It really matters that you use a clicker instead of your voice. Weird but true!
                                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                      Bridle stays put just fine with no browband. I'll check with USEF, it would be nice to know if it's an option.
                                      Please double check that it does stay put. I tried to ride my mare without a browband once, and discovered that when she flexed her neck in a particular way the tension would go out of the cheekpieces and the the headpiece would end up partway down her neck (cranking her head in that position)!

                                      Of course, I was already halfway out on the ride and it wasn't fun trying to make it home with the bridle somewhat in position. Once it happened the first time she got a bit jiggy, and the extra pressure on the reins from my hands also had the same result ... a joyful circle of cause and effect that was!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The clicker makes a small, sharp, INSTANT sound and then you follow it with a treat. You click when the animal does what you want it to do. I've trained dogs with the clicker and it is stunning how quickly they learn good behavior. When I got my 4 year old OTTB, he needed surgery followed by many oral meds for many days. He didn't approve and threw me around his room twice a day. I started some clicker work with him and after four 5-minute sessions with an empty dose syringe, he was putting his head down by me and waiting for the syringe to go into his mouth. It is really amazing. It also seems to be life-time lesson learning.

                                        For your mare, you'd start by clicking her when she touched something with her nose-just to let her know she did something you wanted and got a positive response from you for that action. This part takes time. Stand with her in her stall and wait till she does what you want-touch your foot or her feed bowl or your head-whatever you choose. Click-treat-wait for her to do it again-click-treat-wait for her to do it again. She will be surprised at the first click. Might even spook. Then she'll come back for more. Success 3 or 4 times and give it up till later in the day or even tomorrow. Once she 'gets it' you can SLOWLY you can start pushing a little. Reward her for allowing your hand on her nose, cheek, face, neck, higher on the neck, etc etc. Put your hand where she doesn't like it-not where she HATES it but just a place where she feels a bit squirmy. Hold it there until JUST before she moves. Click and treat, take hand away. The click has to be the INSTANT she does what you want. You can stretch out the time she holds the action by not clicking instantly but this comes a little later, when she is really confirmed. 5 minute sessions is plenty but you can do it 20 times a day. There are lots of clicker training books and lessons on line. It is really fun and will take away her terrified behavior. She may still be terrified but she'll behave the way you shape her.
                                        http://www.theclickercenter.com
                                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

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