How to Bridle a Grumpy Horse

Some horses hate to have the bit put into their mouth. Here's some advice on how to get it done.


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    In all fairness to your horse, it is essential that you have a veterinarian rule out sharp teeth and abscess before you try to tackle a bridling problem. Many horses avoid the bit because their teeth and mouth hurt. Often, getting this fixed solves the problem overnight. It is only kind to give your horse the benefit of the doubt. If your horse has never had his or her teeth "floated"(filed smooth), assume this is the problem.
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    Your horse should be haltered and tied before attempting to put the bridle on.
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    If you don't ride with the halter on under the bridle, then take the halter off and buckle it around the neck.
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    Make sure your horse is tied fairly short. Too loose and they have too much room to avoid you. However, you don't want to snub the horse so that it can't move at all. For many horses, this will increase their hatred of the bridling process. You want it just loose enough that they can't lift their head out of your reach.
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    Hold the bridle in your left hand, and reach over the horse's head with your right so that your hand is sticking between its ears. Hand the top of the bridle to your right hand, and take the bit in your left hand. Use your right hand only to hold the bridle's weight. Offer the bit to your horse like it's a carrot on your palm. If the horse doesn't take the bit, then use your thumb to rub its gums. Keep gentle pressure against the teeth, but be sure not to knock the bit against their teeth - this is quite painful!


  • Rub your bit in peppermint oil. This will last for months, and your horse will soon love the bit! Or, hold a treat on the bit and let your horse see it. While he slips the treat into his mouth, quickly (carefully - you don't want to hurt the horse) slip the bit into his mouth and buckle the bridle.
  • Make sure the bit isn't too hot or too cold. If it's summer, keep the bit from sitting in the direct sun. If it's winter, warm the bit up by rubbing it between your hands before asking the horse to take it.
  • Putting a bit of honey on the bit occasionally can be a nice treat, and food-oriented horses will soon look forward to taking the bit!
  • Also, a copper bit tastes better than a regular one and is said to encourage salivation, giving the horse a softer, more accepting mouth.
  • And most importantly, please, please, PLEASE! Be gentle and patient. Otherwise, you can be bit. And that hurts.


  • If your horse consistently gives you trouble while biting, there are other issues involved. Have the vet check the teeth to see if the bit is causing your horse pain.
  • Be careful that you don't get bitten while working near the horse's head.
  • Love your horse because if he loves you he will most likely take the bit nicely. If you abuse your horse he won't take the bit, as if your mom hit you you would not take candy from her...... right?
  • Try sticking your thumb in the horse's mouth at the back where the bit will eventually sit.
  • Be cautious when taking the halter on or off: many horses will take advantage of you and start grazing, making it really hard to get his head back up.

Article Info

Categories: Tack (Saddles and Bridles)