Just got a Quarter Horse mare, and she absolutely refuses the bridle. We did manage to put a hackamore on her, but even that was a fight? She rode ok, no buck, but didn't act like she knew much at all. Must have had some issue with a bridle before, but don't know about her background at all. How can I work with her to bridle her?
A difficult to bridle horse usually hasn't been taught a gentle bridling technique. First, the horse must be taught to confidently lower her head on cue. To teach this, outfit her in a rope halter and lead rope. Place your hand on the halter knot, directly below her chin, then apply slight pressure. The instant that she drops her head, even a fraction of an inch, release the pressure. It is important to note here that horses move into the release, therefore if you use accurate timing this lesson is a snap. However, if you do not release when your horse is trying, she will learn to pull her head up to get away from the pressure. Be patient. Work with her until she will lower her head all the way to the ground with light pressure from the lead rope, this should not take more than a few lessons. Then teach her to drop her head with the pressure of your hand behind her ears. You can also apply pressure to the lead with your other hand until she understands to lower her head.
When she confidently drops her head on cue, teach her to open her mouth when you place your thumb in the corner. Again, do this exercise in the halter. Lower her head to bridling level, place your thumb in the corner of her mouth. When she opens, remove your thumb. Practice until she is nice and relaxed with opening her mouth on cue.
By breaking these steps of bridling into small lessons, we teach her how to behave without the fear of the bridle.
Now your mare should cooperate during the bridling process.
Thank You and Happy Trails!