Dropping the Head

Whenever I bridle or halter my horse, I ask them to drop their head and flex it to the side.  This makes it much easier for me to bridle or halter my horse.  Now I could get my bridle on even if my horse wouldn’t drop his head for me, but honestly I like to make my job as easy as possible.  Why should I have to work so hard on getting the bridle on when it’s so much easier for my horse to just hold his head a little lower for me.  Pictured to the right is my daughter, Minandah, preparing to bridle Dollar.  Mirandah isn’t a real tall gal.  She’s only around 4 foot 11, but notice how Dollar has his head lowered for her.  This is how I like all  my horses to position their head when being bridled.  Getting your horse to do this begins with teaching them to drop their head.

To start with let’s talk about where to place your hands when training your horse to drop his head.  I take my right hand and place my fingers on the horse’s pole.  They will be applying pressure in the same place your halter or bridle will sit behind your horse’s ears.  My left hand will be on my horses nose with my thumb on one side and fingers on the other.  Now we have our hands in the correct position, let’s get started.  You will start by applying downward pressure with both hands.  Don’t try to pull your horse’s head down.  Just hold steady pressure downward.  At first your horse will probably try to lift his head or move away.  It is important that you do not stop applying pressure if he does this.  Just continue to hold steady pressure until your horse makes an effort to lower his head.  The second he lowers his head any amount release all downward pressure.  Let him rest a couple seconds and think about what happened.  Then resume applying downward pressure.  When he lowers his head slightly release.  Continue to repeat this until he lets you lower his head to the ground.  The time range of this exercise depends on the horse.  Some horses figure it out right away, while others take a little longer.  Just don’t try to rush it.  One day you may only get your horse to lower his head about half way down.  Just come back the next day and work on it some more.   Eventually your horse will figure out what you are wanting.

Not only do I find this head lowering exercise good for training your horse to lower his head while being bridled, but it also helps get him in the right frame of mind for more training.  Since we are applying pressure then releasing when he does what we want (moving away from pressure), we are building a base for other training that we will be doing.  Pretty much any training I do with my horse involves applying and releasing pressure.  Once your horse understands that when you apply pressure you want him to move away from it, his training will go a lot faster.