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Re: problem with bit(long)


I highly recommend the John Lyons methods of teaching.  He has one video that
is all about head shyness; it's the first in his second set of tapes.  I think
it's called ear clipping or something.  Even though I don't clip ears it has
great advice on how to teach your horse a cue to lower its head for bridle
path clipping or putting on the bridle,etc.  You essentially use pressure
(with your hand) on the poll to cue the horse to lower its head.  The trick is
lightly rest your hand there until you get even the tiniest movement downward
then stop pressure.  Keep doing this hundreds of times also knowing that if
the horse takes its head up you keep the pressure there but when it lowers
even that fraction of an inch, release pressure.  Don't wait until the horse
lowers it back to where you began, release when the motion is in the direction
you want (lower).  Then begin getting the small increments again.  Once the
horse KNOWS what this cue means you can introduce the bridle into the picture.
(The best advice JL gives is to break down a lesson plan into the smallest
possible steps.  The more steps the better.  Never start with your goal.)
Once your horse is responding 100% to the cue to drop her head, get your
bridle and hold the crownpiece in your right hand with that hand going over
her poll between her ears. (You are standing on her left side facing forward
or slightly toward her).  You can use the weight of that hand/wrist to ask to
drop her head if she starts to raise it.  Take your left hand and use the
fingers to push her lips apart and to insert a finger if she won't open up --
all the while you also have the bit cradled in that hand.  It sounds more
complicated than it is!  You use the RIGHT hand holding the crownpiece to pull
the bit in once she is accepting all this with her head DOWN.  Remember to go
slowly and don't bump any teeth.  Speaking of teeth -- be sure she isn't
having any wolf teeth problem or needing floating.

If you can visualize the steps outlined and get the bridle and practice
handling it as though you are putting it on it will help.  Don't forget about
the unbridling with the head down so the bit doesn't come sliding out too fast
and get caught on teeth.  It helps if you use the left hand to ask the horse
to tip its nose in slightly as the right hand is taking the crownpiece off.
If the horse raises its head as you are taking it off either ear then you need
to be dexterous enough to keep the tension (slack out of) the bridle until the
horse responds to the cue to lower head (pressure on the poll with

Borrow, rent or buy the tape I mentioned, if you can, as it gives GREAT advice
on handling the head.  I can't say enough wonderful thing about JL methods as
they are so well thought out and address the need to think things out, make a
lesson plan and break each lesson into smaller steps.  Then be consistent!  I
know I haven't done his method of bridling justice so get any or all of his
tapes so you can see for yourself what a wonderful job he does of explaining
what and especially WHY methods work.

Good luck and happy trails.

Melanie in AZ

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