Health and safety (specifically arm over horse's head)

bonnysmum

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Hi all

After an "incident" the other week I've become rather a lot more conscious of the potential dangers around horses, not that I wasn't before, and it's got me thinking about a few things. I'm particularly curious about bridling. Initially when I first learned to put on a head collar I was always told that you never put your arm over a horse's head, and I certainly now fully understand the potential power of a horse's head movements... But after struggling a lot with the method I was shown for putting on a bridle, namely arm under and around the muzzle, I found a second recommended method where you rest your arm on the horse's poll to keep their head lowered.

This works a lot better for me, and it's even in the pony club handbook as one of the two methods, but how does that sit with the rule to never put your arm over a horse's head? Is that discredited now? And yet horses can whip their heads up & back and do serious damage? What do others think about this and other commonly cited health & safety principles?
 

bonnysmum

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I use both methods and tbh I'm not sure how much harm you could come to by putting an arm over the head/neck, if they whip their head up you can always let go, surely? I suppose having a bit flying around might be an issue, but that would be with the hand over the nose method too.
Well that's good to hear as I was starting to worry I was being crazily reckless or something. Anyone know why I was originally told that in respect of the head collar?
 

SpeedyPony

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Well that's good to hear as I was starting to worry I was being crazily reckless or something. Anyone know why I was originally told that in respect of the head collar?
I can't really see any reason why, unless it was in case the horse took off in the field and they thought someone might panic and cling on?
 

Keith_Beef

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I'm trying to image how the bit might start flying around... Surely your left hand takes care of that?

I suppose a very sudden lift of the head could put strain on your Winnie and shoulder, but serious injury or dislocation would, I think, be a very, very slight risk.
 

SpeedyPony

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Thoug
I'm trying to image how the bit might start flying around... Surely your left hand takes care of that?

I suppose a very sudden lift of the head could put strain on your Winnie and shoulder, but serious injury or dislocation would, I think, be a very, very slight risk.
My thought was that if you let go the bridle is going to go flying, but the risk is very low, even then.
 

bonnysmum

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Well this is all good. I'm definitely a bit paranoid about everything right now 😂 but I will continue putting on the bridle using the only method my moody mare will accept!
 

Keith_Beef

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I'm trying to imagine how the bit might start flying around... Surely your left hand takes care of that?

I suppose a very sudden lift of the head could put strain on your elbow and shoulder, but serious injury or dislocation would, I think, be a very, very slight risk.
 
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Auslander

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Headpiece held in right hand, right hand passed over the poll, left hand holding bit as usual. Saves stooping to bridle small ponies!
Ahh - gotcha! I probably do that with the minis without realising - but my horse is 17hh, so it's not physically possible to do it that way!
 

scats

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Am I the only one who can’t picture this? My arm goes under the neck and to the bridle that way? Do you mean for putting ears through?
Millie puts her head in it and opens her mouth for me, she’s a good egg.
 

bonnysmum

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Am I the only one who can’t picture this? My arm goes under the neck and to the bridle that way? Do you mean for putting ears through?
Millie puts her head in it and opens her mouth for me, she’s a good egg.
If I hold the bridle in my right hand with my arm underneath her nose it just encourages her to become a giraffe and I really struggle from that point on. So instead I hold the head piece in my right hand with my arm resting on her poll and it seems to help.
 

Pearlsasinger

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Am I the only one who can’t picture this? My arm goes under the neck and to the bridle that way? Do you mean for putting ears through?
Millie puts her head in it and opens her mouth for me, she’s a good egg.

No you're not. I can't understand why anyone would want to tie themselves in knots to put a bridle on.

OP when you put your arm under the head, the idea is that you put that (right) hand over the horse's nose, so that it doesn't lift its head up, then with your left hand put the bridle, with the cheek pieces held together into the right hand, use your left thumb to open the horse's mouth and guide the bit into position, then keeping your right hand over the nose, use your left hand to put the headpiece over the ears - no need at all to put your arm over the horse's neck.

Make sure that you are standing to the left of the horse's head, facing forwards, I do see a lot of people making the mistake of standing facing the horse and trying to put the bridle on, which is always awkward for all concerned.
 

bonnysmum

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No you're not. I can't understand why anyone would want to tie themselves in knots to put a bridle on.

OP when you put your arm under the head, the idea is that you put that (right) hand over the horse's nose, so that it doesn't lift its head up, then with your left hand put the bridle, with the cheek pieces held together into the right hand, use your left thumb to open the horse's mouth and guide the bit into position, then keeping your right hand over the nose, use your left hand to put the headpiece over the ears - no need at all to put your arm over the horse's neck.

Make sure that you are standing to the left of the horse's head, facing forwards, I do see a lot of people making the mistake of standing facing the horse and trying to put the bridle on, which is always awkward for all concerned.
So what you describe is exactly what ties me in knots! Arm on poll = job done in a jiffy.
 

Pearlsasinger

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So what you describe is exactly what ties me in knots! Arm on poll = job done in a jiffy.

But how do you put the bit in? I can imagine having the bridle flapping over the horse's face if you put your arm over the poll - do you put your hand between the ears or down the right hand side of the head? What would you do with a bigger horse?
 

OrangeAndLemon

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It's great, I've trained all mine to do it as I'm small 🤣
Me too. I'm average height but my horse is huge so I hold the bit out, he takes it politely and puts his head down so i can slip one ear in, walk around and do the other ear. He gets a piece of carrot and while he's munching I do up the noseband. I wont get it too tight due to the happy munching.
 

bonnysmum

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My left hand guides the bit in, thumb used to open the mouth, while my right hand holds the head piece between the ears and moves it upwards. This pony (14.2hh) is ex RS and seems to associate the more traditional method with her old job. The moment I go under and round her nose her head goes up & I've lost. No doubt more practice will help me not get everything in a mess at that point, but if she prefers the other way then that's good with me. Luckily I don't have to put a bridle on a bigger horse!
 

Elf On A Shelf

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Wow! You have made me think about how I actually put a bridle on because it is something I do subconsciously without thinking as it is such a normal thing for me!

But yes I put my right arm under the jaw, round the nose and hold the bridle just under the browband whilst my left hand shoves the bit in their gob. Some horses put their heads up before you can get anything over their heads so I lasso them with the reins over the nose and pull it back down 😂

The Shetlands are always hand over head because I am not sitting on the floor to put a bridle on.
 

little_critter

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Right hand over head/between ears. Left hand holds and guides the bit in. I'm tall though, and I do see how shorter people/taller horses can't use this method. I find I have more control with my hand over the poll than just over the nose, plus the top of the bridle is then where you need it, not bunched up on the nose
This is the method I mostly use. You hold the headpiece in your right hand in front of the horses head. Cradle the bit in your left hand. Both hands move to lift the bit to the horses lips, at this point the headpiece is probably level with the eyes. Use left thumb to ask horse to open its mouth and as the bit goes in the mouth the whole bridle moves up and your right hand takes up the slack. Then left hand joins right hand to pop ears through the headpiece.

Alternatively, my boy can get fussy if I try to take the lead with bridling (either method). So sometimes I hold the bridle in front of him with as many straps and reins held out of the way as possible and he grabs the bit (well, he grabs whatever he can get his chops round…hence holding straps and reins out of the way).
 

Labaire

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Depends on height of mount-my two at 13 and 13.3h then right hand over poll, hold bit with left hand, they take bit and then bridle on-both actually just put their heads through themselves. RS horses then right hand under and round on nose.
 

Gloi

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Normally right hand under and onto nose holding bridle unless it is the Shetland.

Only exception was one I had once that reared if you put hand on nose or tried to get bit in normally. He eventually came good but for ages i needed to take the bit off, put the bridle on , then slide the bit through from the side of his mouth. He'd been twitched while still feral and hadn't forgotten.
 

TPO

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The arm under and gathering bridle on nose then putting bit in before putting over the ears is the english/bhs way

Hand between ears and use left hand to guide bit before slipping whole bridle on is western way. It is how all the Australians bridle. Teaching a horse to release and lower their head in a halter is part of the basic training so head down to bridle is the norm.

The latter way seems to be getting more popular. To me it's much less faff than all the hand swapping in the bhs way
 

Pearlsasinger

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The arm under and gathering bridle on nose then putting bit in before putting over the ears is the english/bhs way

Hand between ears and use left hand to guide bit before slipping whole bridle on is western way. It is how all the Australians bridle. Teaching a horse to release and lower their head in a halter is part of the basic training so head down to bridle is the norm.

The latter way seems to be getting more popular. To me it's much less faff than all the hand swapping in the bhs way

I would be worried about poking the horse in the eye with various pieces of leather, doing it the Australian way. I also think that horses should be trained to bring their heads down to be bridled.
 

TPO

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I would be worried about poking the horse in the eye with various pieces of leather, doing it the Australian way. I also think that horses should be trained to bring their heads down to be bridled.
It's a lot less faffy and less potential for eye poking or ear pulling than the BHS way IMO

However each to their own!
 
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