All my horses are drawn to the bridle when I saddle them. The way a horse takes a bridle and snaffle can tell a lot about its attitude to work. The mouth is the most sensitive place of a horse, so exposure to it allows us to communicate with it at the most subtle level. When I saddle horses, I always pay attention to how they agree to take the bridle. If the horse is embarrassed, I ask myself: what could the horse be offended at the last training session? Is there any source of physical discomfort? Maybe I’m in a hurry in something, and the horse feels the pressure? Ideally, I want my horses to willingly take a snaffle and gladly take the bridle.
As with all trainings, I believe that if you introduce the element of the game into a lesson, you will be more interested in the horse’s work. And if I want the horse to have positive associations with putting on the bridle, I don’t want the horse to expect a food reward whenever I put the bridle on it. I achieve my goal with what I call The Bridle Game (Bridle Game), a step-by-step process that actually matters more than just putting the bridle on a horse.
How to play The Bridle Game:
Show the horse a cube of sugar or a small piece of other treats, then show it the snaffle. Repeat this, drawing the horse’s attention and encouraging it to show curiosity. You can put a bridle on a horse, allowing it to simultaneously take the snaffle and sugar from your hand.
The next day, repeat – show the sugar and snaffle. Now treat the horse if, seeing the sugar, the horse will reach for the snaffle or touch it. Then retreat from the game and do not wear a bridle. (It’s better to play at a time when you don’t really plan to wear a bridle for work. The idea is that your goal is not to put a bridle on a horse, but to attract and interest it).
Again, at another time or the next day, show the horse sugar and snaffle. When the horse touches or takes the snaffle, remove the bridle and give sugar.
You can put the bridle on and take it off, wait a couple of minutes and repeat.
The game will be exciting and fun when you leave, holding the bridle, and the horse will follow you, trying to take the snaffle!
You need to play at a time when you are not going to drive. The main thing for you is that the horse wants to take a snaffle and wants you to put a bridle on it. In the end, over time, I no longer have to keep the treat ready when I decide to wear a bridle on a horse. I seek that, seeing me with a bridle, the horse lowers its head down and reaches for the snaffle. In some cases, it will receive a treat in this case, and in some cases it will not. But I will know when the training was hard for the horse, by the way it gives up the bridle the next day. In such a situation, she seems to be saying: “I don’t know if I want to take a snaffle.” This is part of the journey to the goal. This is a feedback. For me, taking a bridle by a horse is not necessarily the “work of the horse” that it should do. I worry about her response, which tells me how the previous day affected her mental and emotional mood.
I always have a plan for what I will do with the horse at the next training session. But I am always ready to move away from him and do what best suits the physical, psychological and emotional state of the horse. The interaction and willingness of the horse to cooperate during the saddle will give us a hint about how the horse feels at a particular moment.