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Okay....Today I went to help my friend who was having difficulty bridling her new horse. He is refusing to allow you to pull the headstall over his ears, and is beginning to refuse the bit. Today, he broke 2 halters, a leadrope and just about yanked the fence post out of the ground...all while we were trying to bridle him. so here is the history of the problem....at some point the horse has had a bad infection in both ears. I also believe after spending the afternoon with him that he is very fearful of someone hurting his ears....he is a sweet horse and is fearful not just being a butt.. So my question is does anyone have any suggestions on how to build up his trust in allowing you to touch his ears?
I am by no means an expert. But have seen this used several times. I would try petting his head starting from the nose and working your way up until he starts to spook a bit and just keep doing that until he doesn't spook any more, and then pet him elseware of give him a treat (some people prefer not to use treats is up to you) then try again at the head, trying just slightly farther. I would then try the same approach from the neck as well. Dont expect to get to far the first few days, and make sure that hes is comfortable with each new level before trying to go higher. Hes turned a fear into a habit. They say for people that it takes 14 days to break a habit of start a new one so i would say it would take a fearful horse a little longer. Does that help?
I would say do lots of ground work. If you have a round pen do round penning ( But make sure you understand how to do it) One example of how to do it would be get your horse moving at a jog along the rail (Don't let him turn around unless he turns towards the centre.. then he isn't turning his attention off you) Keep him moving untill you notice he is licking his lips and wants to come to you.. If he stops and looks at you this is a GOOD THING. Go and praise him and play some join up. He should follow you. It doesn't much matter if the jogging isn't doing the trick you can pick it up to a lope. Don't make him run too much though, that partially defeats your purpose and winds up the horse. Be gentle, be kind and be patient. I have had numerous horses come to me with problems bridaling. Don't try to force the bridal on him if it bothers him. Help him work through it. That is really what the horse will appreciate and be searching for. Understanding and someone to give him some guidance. And definately do as Laura said with the starting at the nose and working the way up. Ever hear of Ray Hunt or Parelli? Look them up, My favorite is Ray Hunt and there is lots that can help you there. Anything you do on the ground with your horse will be transferred to many different situations such as bridaling. Only thing is.... You CANNOT set a time limit on these things, the horse will let you know when he is ready to progress.. if you don't rush it you will get a solid horse.
"If you go at the horse like you've got 15 minutes it will take all day, If you go at the horse like you've got all day it will take 15 minutes" ~ Ray Hunt.