Sometimes, there are several ways to get something done, and more than one of them would work.
But when it comes to bridling your horse, there is actually one PROPER way to do it.
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To begin with, this will be much easier if your horse is already good at lowering his head — we have videos and articles about getting a horse good at that.
The next step would be to work on the mouth.
You can use a soft lead rope for this, and even put some jelly on the lead rope for an extra incentive.
Start by rubbing around the mouth with the lead rope.
If the horse raises his head, just go with him and hang in there.
If he’s been taught to lower his head already, you can get it back down pretty easily.
Put a finger/thumb in the corner of his mouth to encourage his jaw to break loose and the mouth to open.
Then lay the lead rope in the crease of his lips while using finger/thumb again until he opens his mouth.
Lift the soft rope into his mouth in the position where the bit will lie.
Hold it a few seconds and then let it fall out. Repeat this until he seems comfortable with it.
Now it’s time for the bridle. Put the reins over his neck and your left hand on the crownpiece (the top of the bridle).
Don’t try to put the bit in his mouth, but lift the bridle up until the crownpiece is near his ears, his nose is through the bridle opening, and the bit is BEHIND his jaw (under his chin).
You can use your right hand to keep the bridle open while you’re doing this.
Then drape your right arm over his poll between his ears and take the crownpiece in your right hand, leaving your left hand free.
Your right hand has become your ‘working’ hand.
Your left hand is the ‘guide’ hand.
Use your left hand to spread the bit and your pinky finger to open the curb strap.
Lower the bridle, use your thumb to encourage his mouth to open, and GENTLY pull the bit into his mouth BY raising your right (working) hand so that the bit simply floats into his mouth.
NEVER force the bit into his mouth or let it bang on his teeth.
Finish by pulling the crown piece over his ears and buckling the throatlatch.
When you unbridle, you can teach the horse to be patient by moving the crownpiece back and forth some before you actually lift it off his ears.
Keep the entire weight of the bit suspended by your holding the crownpiece.
Never let the bit ‘fall’ out of his mouth.
Allow it to float out of his mouth by lowering your right hand that is holding the crownpiece.
A horse that is bridled properly will never have a reason to fight against it.