I can hold my horse's mouth easily, but putting the bridle on is a nightmare. What should I do? | Steady Horse Training

I can hold my horse’s mouth easily, but putting the bridle on is a nightmare. What should I do?

 In Blog, Ground Work, Tricks

Note: The following excerpt is the transcript from a question I answered from my Facebook Live made in the Steady Horse Facebook Group on 5/29/19. Watch the video or read the text below to learn the answer to the question.

So this is an incredibly common issue that people have with their head shy horses.

I see a lot of people, instead of correcting the problem, go either bitless or bridleless. There’s nothing wrong with that.

You know, you can ride a horse really well either/or, but you definitely want to work your horse through that problem too. They won’t open that mouth for you because it’s just one more way to introduce softness into horse.

 Think about it. The mouth is a very vulnerable place.

You don’t just let anybody go and stick their fingers in your mouth. The same is true with horses. Even with horses, you don’t see them sticking their hooves in other horses mouth. You’ve got to be sure you’re very respectful with that mouth.


Just like with everything else, you gotta be super gradual. And if I have a horse that’s really bad about that bit, the first thing I might start with is a soft rope, seeing if I can get them to put the soft rope in their mouth. Once they put it in there and they accept it, immediately remove it rather than love on them. Let them know that they did a good job and that you appreciate that.

We have a lot of times we ask so much of our horses, we take so much for granted. We don’t realize how much heart and effort and soul they pour out in order to please us and to work with us. So it’s very important to make sure that as we’re working with them,  we are affirming them.


Make sure that you’re gradual with the process. I would start with a soft rope. Then work at just putting that rope over his ears, making sure that you can put that rope on his ears and then take it off  and rub that rope all over him. Then do the same thing with the bridle. Start with just hooking the bridle over his ears. Put the bit in his mouth and make sure that he’s good with that. Then go to just put in a bit in his mouth. You see what I’m saying here is break it down into the  smallest steps that he possibly can in order to build his confidence. When you’re part of building his confidence, you’re not just teaching how to bridle, but also teaching him that he can trust you, and that is more important than any other thing that you could ask your horse to do.


So take it nice and slow. Make sure you reward any slight amount of progress. Don’t focus on getting them to just open their mouth to slide that bit in, get the ears underneath the brow. That’s not the goal. The goal is for your horse to link, sync, and bond with you, to trust you. So move step by step.

If you’re patient, you’ll get there.


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