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how to bridle a horse that simply refuses one

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  • how to bridle a horse that simply refuses one

    it's not the bit. No problem with the bit at all.

    I've tried from the left, the right: I've taken it apart and built it directly onto her head. I've tried a one-eared western bridle and a bosal. She simply refuses. She will back up and eventually rear up.

    the thing is, I can handle her ears when grooming. well, any other time really. In fact, she enjoys getting her ears rubbed. will close her eyes and sigh. She will drop her head down and leave it there when I touch her poll.

    she hasn't had a bad experience. she doesn't have ticks in there, or trauma.

    any ideas are welcome. I have an extensive library and not one book addresses this issue, I've tried everything I know how to do and I'm just stumped. I'm afraid using a twitch will make things worse
    Last edited by Lambie Boat; Apr. 26, 2008, 07:52 AM. Reason: spel

  • #2
    How about buying a halter bridle for now,you know the ones trail riders use?I have one that is nice quality leather.Leave the halter/headstall part on (leather one only at turnout),then all you have to do is clip the bit and cheekpieces,and reins on.Mine has the snaps that attach to the cheek rings.While you're using this,slowly get your horse used to the "motions" of bridling.Perhaps she had a traumatic event when someone else bridled her,too bad she can't tell you what's up.I certainly realize you can't use this for showing,only training,but it's a start!


    • Original Poster

      that's brilliant! where do I get one? (I tied the bit to her halter with baling twine. no problem at all with the bit)


      • #4
        time for the dentist to have a look

        My current horse was a different problem until the equine dentist detected a cracked root. although if it is not the bit just the ears then some other issue?
        more hay, less grain


        • #5
          Originally posted by feisomeday View Post
          that's brilliant! where do I get one? (I tied the bit to her halter with baling twine. no problem at all with the bit)

          I think there are some links to endurance gear sites on the Trail Riding/Endurance forum. Or you could google endurance/trail riding tack.
          I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


          • #6
            Originally posted by feisomeday View Post
            that's brilliant! where do I get one? (I tied the bit to her halter with baling twine. no problem at all with the bit)
            I have this one, made by Tucker, which is leather and high quality.


            There are a lot of synthetic halter/bridles out there that are more affordable too.

            I like it, though it took me a while to get the hang of how to put the bit in and the do the two snaps.
            "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
            <>< I.I.


            • #7
              Just went through this with my husband's QH. Smart as a whip. He started to resist bridling. First with my husband. Trainer worked with husband and they got past it. As time went on he got worse - giving me a hard time (and I can bridle anything). Clenching teeth, raising head, you name it. Teeth are fine, no physical issues. Just being, as the saying goes, common.

              Back to the drawing board. Every day we practiced. Get it on, lots of "good boy" and a couple of hay stretcher pellets. Take it off, put it on. No riding. By day three this horse was dropping his head and opening his mouth as soon as he saw the bridle.

              I am not crazy over using food as a motivation, but in this case it worked. And he does not get a treat every time, believe me. But he now associates the bridle with something something pleasant.


              • #8
                This one is nylon and comes in colors... but its very reasonable http://www.statelinetack.com/itemdy0...LT735316%20BLK
                Jessi Pizzurro ~~ Pennyroyal Stables
                Racehorses, OTTBs ~~ 330 383 1281
                Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. -- John Wayne


                • #9
                  Provided there's no physical problem, schedule a four-hour block of times and then do the following:

                  1. Take horse in halter to round pen or lunging area.

                  2. Attempt to put bridle on horse. Do not get upset or try to force anything, just give it a try the way you would a normal horse. If the horse tosses his head or evades, don't get angry.

                  3. If horse says no, make horse canter/lope in circles, either on lunge or round pen. (Round pen is better.)

                  4. After a few minutes, ask horse to halt, bring horse to center of circle, attempt to bridle.

                  5. If horse says no, send horse back out on the circle. Don't bug the horse, just try once and if the horse does anything untoward, send him back out on the circle.

                  6. Continue until horse decides he/she would rather have bridle on than canter in circles. When you have the bridle on, praise horse and go home.

                  7. The next day, do the same thing. And so on.

                  8. When the horse is readily taking the bridle almost immediately, start offering the bridle while standing outside of but facing the round pen. In other words, it's either the bridle or the round pen.

                  9. When the horse is confirmed with the bridle outside of the round pen, try adding the bridle at home.

                  A smart horse will progress quickly this way. With my mare, the first day was 2.5 hours, the 2nd was 1.5, 3rd day was 20 minutes, on the 4th day she wanted the bridle the very second we got in the round pen. End of problem.


                  • #10
                    Well, every horse and situation is different, but let me tell you what worked for my former horse who was hard to bridle (and tall!).
                    After ruling out any physical problems, I got a length of fairly thin cotton rope. Then I constructed a "war bridle" as I had been taught by an old horseman. Basically it worked like a stabelizer or "Be Nice" halter. I made a small loop in the end with a bowline knot. That end was hanging down on his left side with the line going over the poll. The line is then looped or tied like a cavesson and the end goes through the first loop. Now you can gently tug on the end of the line and create poll pressure. I tried it on him and used short tugs to get him to realize that he could drop his head down to relieve the uncomfortable feeling. Then I would adjust the bridle a little more loosely and bridle him right over. You use gentle tugs on the rope to keep the head down. It took a while at first, but rapidly improved.The rope can then be removed and the bridle adjusted.
                    My horse was not as violent as yours seems to be. Just tall and determined I have also seen this done with a chest rope to prevent the backing up and rearing. It would be really handy to have two people involved for a while to make the process as efficient and successful as possible.
                    Oh, and I am also a fan of a little treat following each bridling!


                    • #11
                      This happened with a friends mare.
                      She did the same thing. You know what it was? Pain. She would associate bridling with riding which = pain. She had a bad back and her spine was slowly fusing together and a noticeable bump started to appear. So obviously it hurt to be ridden so she would evade the bridle at all costs. Have you had this horse fully vetted lately? Sorry if you already mentioned that you did I kind of just skimmed through.


                      • Original Poster

                        this horse has not been ridden yet. and she just had her teeth done 2 weeks ago.

                        good training ideas all. thank you. I will try them.


                        • #13
                          I had this problem when I was breaking my mare. When I would try to put the bridle on she would run backwards, and occassionally try to flip over. It was kind of scary and didn't make sense. She was a wierdo/psycho/on a war path to try to break in general, she is a doll now... In retrospect, I think it was because she was not handled much as a youngster, and is WAY TOO SMART for her own good. I will tell you what I did...

                          First, I got frustrated, and just started riding her in a rope halter for a while because she needed to get broke, and I was sick of fighting with her. And I would occassionally go back to try the bridle again. After all, learning to yield to pressure instead of a piece of metal in the mouth never hurts.

                          What finally worked with the bridle was a combination of things, all added together (all done inside stall):
                          1. Teaching her that there was a peppermint on the other side of the bit.
                          2. Teaching her to drop her head when I applied poll pressure (this worked marginally, but it added to the grand scheme). I taught her in general, if I place my hand on the back of your head and put some pressure, and you do not drop your head, I will pinch harder and harder until you do. (big wide, like spread your thumb and middle finger as far apart as you can pinch). You will get some head flinging and fighting, but just hold on for dear life and don't give up.
                          3. Concentrating on keeping myself calm, and not frustrated. I would plan extra time for bridling. I would stand in her stall, put the reins around her neck, untie her, and put the bit to where she started to lose her mind, and I would quietly back around the stall with her trying to keep it where it upset her... She was DETERMINED... And I would just quietly follow her, smiling, because I knew I wasn't going to give up and that she would *eventually* get bored. When she'd stop, I'd try again. And so on and so forth. Eventually it just wasn't worth it to her to run away from me.

                          Good luck! Hope something someone has suggested will work. At least you have lots of tricks up your sleeve now.


                          • #14
                            Check teeth again!

                            I had my vet out to do teeth on my ol gal a couple of months ago. I just had a master dentist "check" her. I don't know if the vet helped or hurt her more.

                            The lesson I learned:

                            It doesn't hurt to get a second opinion. If issue still present, recheck those teeth. You might be surprised.

                            (Of course, if someone told me to get those teeth checked again, I would more than likely say "NO"!!!!! I have learned that lesson in my own backyard. More than once lately have I learned to always check and check again.)
                            Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                            Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


                            • #15
                              simple put a bigger brow band on the bridle and tack up in the normal way


                              • #16
                                If she's had no traumatic incidents, she's trying to tell you something. In this case I'd go for the treats when she achieves something. The halter does not bother her? The poll can be very sensitive, hence the success of war bridles, but she doesn't need to be punished. Hmmm - thinking....
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                • #17
                                  I had this problem, man did I have this problem! She's four, just being started. Her phobia started after the time I was removing the bridle. She threw her head up and clanked her teeth pretty badly. After that, forget it, she wasn't having anything to do with the bridle. Just in case, I also got any teeth issues out of the way. Had her teeth floated and pulled. The the trainer she's working now, left her halter on the first time he tried bridling her. He put her in a corner of her stall and stood to one side, with his hand over her nose, the bridle gathered in that hand. He pulled the bridle up with the other hand. She threw her head, but not too violently because he was attached to her. She even lifted him off the ground a little. But he got it on. When he takes it off, he did the same thing in reverse, very slowly, keeping her head still, being sure not to clank her teeth. She's not yet perfect, but she is so much better.

                                  Did she ever get her teeth clanked when the bridle came off? That seems to be a common problem that causes them to have a bridling phobia.


                                  • #18
                                    This is my job

                                    I'm 6' tall with loong arms- I can reach up and touch the ceiling without even going up on my toes. Sometimes I have to stand on a block but most horses just give up and let me bridle them pretty much right away.

                                    I'm also available for de-worming at very reasonable costs


                                    • #19
                                      If all fails, you could always ride in a Merotish Bit.
                                      That's a bit without headstall nor bridle attached. Horses head is left completely free.

                                      For a picture.
                                      2nd row of pictures, click on 3rd picture.

                                      I'll see if I can find some more pictures.
                                      aha some more :
                                      http://www.emielvoest.nl/hst/e05v30a...1?OpenDocument (the headstall is added here, but not needed, you can fix the bit by the chinstrap only.

                                      Of course ideally you get the horse to accept the bridle. There is an international showjumper going round in it and they say the horse would literally flip over backwards when trying to bridle.
                                      I've got this particular bit, but my horse didn't care for it all that much.
                                      Last edited by Lieslot; Apr. 26, 2008, 08:00 PM. Reason: added more


                                      • #20
                                        BINGO!! LOOK at this!!
                                        I copied this from a dutch horseBB.
                                        (not sure this is allowed, -mods-?)
                                        Scroll all the way down for ridden pictures, 2nd last post - bottom of webpage.
                                        Bit no headstall, no bridle & showjumping!
                                        This horse cannot stand 'any' pressure behind the ears.