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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Lost confidence

I recently had an incident while bridling a horse, at the barn where my daughter and I have an open lease. The incident caused the horse to freak out and rear at the tie. The problem is that ever since that happened, I have anxiety about the thought of putting on a bridle. I have done it hundreds of times and have been trained properly. A lot of the horses at this barn are head shy and hate to have their ears touched. As soon as I try to lift the crown over their ears, their head goes right up and they shake and the bit falls out. Then I get nervous and they know it! Due to the fact that we are leasing, we don€št have a close bond established with any of the horses. I don€št want to stress the horses out, I only want to help them relax and lower their head (I am a 5€š1€° woman). I have totally lost my confidence in bridling. What can I do to gain my confidence back at bridling, as my nerves are a mess?

Thank you ~ Jen

Hi Jen,

I would suggest getting comfortable handling the horse's mouth first and also asking for the horse to lower his head. The fact that most of the horses at this barn are head shy tells me that there is no good handler there to assist the humans and the horses with much other than 'humans riding horses.' What is missing here is solid info about the horse itself and techniques for establishing trust and respect with the horses. This is beyond the human activity of riding, grooming and saddling horses. This is the norm at most English barns that I encounter. It is a sad commentary on traditional English barns.

Once you can ask the horse to lower his head (read about this technique in the archives of the Help Center in my website) and he does so readily, begin to handle his mouth. Stick your finger where the bit goes (there are no teeth there) and let your horse get used to that. Also, you can put your finger in along his left cheek. You can also gently rub the gum behind his upper lip. All these things can be done safely with a horse's mouth, if done properly. Maybe someone there might know how to do this and can show you. But they may not want to take the time for you. When he does lower his head after you have practiced handling his mouth, you will be able to handle his mouth while his head is down. Once you have ask for a head down and handle his mouth with his head down, you should be able to bridle the horse easily. Try not to hit the horse's teeth with the bit. Have the development of trust and respect become your agenda, beyond riding. Learning the ground skills with a horse and the development of trust is how a good and trusting relationship is formed with an equine. The riding should be the icing on the cake of your relationship.

Perhaps you are at the wrong barn......Good Luck and let me know how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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