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Head tossing...not accepting bit


Recently, I was given two older Arab mares. I have always had Quarter Horses that I bought fully trained. These Arabs were pets and not ever ridden. The woman told me that they were both broke to ride, but when I went to bridle the younger one she fought me and once I got her bridled tossed her head quite a bit. The bit they told me to use was a pretty severe curb bit. I think this was too harsh for her. Now that they are mine to train, how should I go about re-training her to accept the bit (without fearing the pain)?? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks, Sarah

RESPONSE

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for your care and concern for your new horses. I advocate snaffle bits are they are the least severe for your horse. I would take the horses back to the basics of their training. If you have a small paddock or round pen, begin to lunge the horses to get them to stop on command. Once they lunge and stop well, ride in the paddock in a rope halter (preferably a rope training halter), with a lead rope tied up like a rein, and begin to retain the horses to stop on voice command and light lifting of the lead rope. This works and will retrain your horses for a light stop. It means not riding the trails for a while. But it will pay off big time in the future.

So many folks email me with questions about how to get their horses to stop better, to accept a bridle, to correct head tossing, etc. Usually they think they need heavier restraint, tie downs and severe bits etc. Actually, what is called for is to get the horse used to stopping without a bit in his mouth (i.e. with halter and lead rope). Then I suggest going to a snaffle. Many folks just keep riding in a halter and lead rope as they can tell their horses love it, the horse stops easily and the horse's general attitude is quite nice around head gear and its mouth.

Thanks for your question and good luck. Please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

P.S. I forgot to mention that you should have a veterinarian check your horses mouth before you try anything else to be certain there is no problem with the horse’s teeth making it uncomfortable or in pain. Ruling out that the horse needs dental work should always be the first thing looked at when evaluating a bridling problem. I am sorry I didn't mention this sooner.

Please do this soon. Sincerely, Franklin

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