How to correctly bridle a horse
Do you become frustrated when your horse sticks his nose up in the air, or pulls his head away when you're trying to bridle him? We've all been there at one point or another. There is an easy resolution to this maddening issue.
1. Teach your horse to lower his head (see my head drop exercise in my Groundwork Essentials Book or DVD).
2. Practice taking a halter on and off to teach your horse to lower his head.
3. Use the same head down cue (pressure over the poll) when you go to bridle your horse.
4. Place the bridle in your right hand and hold the bit in your left hand while putting the bridle in front of your horse's face.
5. Raise your right hand so the bit is at your horse's lips. Use your left thumb to push the curb strap out of the way.
6. Ask your horse to open his mouth and accept the bit. In the beginning, you can use a favorite treat to encourage your horse to open his mouth. You can also insert your left thumb into the corner of his mouth to get him to open his mouth.
7. Pull up with your right hand as your horse inserts the bit into his mouth.
8. Place the outer ear in the bridle first (push ear forward). Then place the ear closest to you in the bridle. Now adjust browband (if you have one) as necessary on your horse.
9. Fasten the throat latch.
Safety Tip: Tie or fasten your halter around your horse's neck while you bridle him. This way he's still attached to whatever he may be tied to (ground tying is acceptable as well). If your horse decides to walk off you can reach for the lead rope and ask him to return to you.
Troubleshooting: If your horse refuses to accept the bit, then check to see if your horse has a dental issue. Ensure the bit is the correct size for your horse's mouth. Ensure your horse likes the bit you are using, and it's not hurting him in any way. If you have ruled out all pain possibilities, then go back to teaching the head down cue and practicing with the halter. Or break the bridling process into smaller steps and quit just before the spot where your horse starts to refuse and build up slowly from that point.