Q: My horse is constantly throwing his head up in the air whenever I approach his head. This makes it difficult to bridle and halter him, its even hard to groom him at times. How can I fix this?
A:Your horse is head shy. Many horses who have been abused by previous owners or hit on the head are head shy. A horse that is head shy can be very dangerous. It can lead to rearing and striking. Although this may not always be something related to abuse. Your horse could very well be in pain and throwing his head up is a way for him to try and alleviate the pain. You should look all over his head and make sure that he doesn't have any sores around his face under his head, or around his ears. If you can not find anything it would be wise to have your Vet come and check him out to make absolutely sure pain is not involved. After eliminating the factor of pain, the training starts. Start by some simple petting. Start on his neck and move closer to the head and then back down his neck again, each time you do this go a little bit closer to his head and back again. After doing this a few times your horse will associate you touching his head with a good thing. Once he is ok with you petting his head move up to his ears and rub his ears and back down his neck. Once you start to bridle him make sure that the bridle fits him properly and that the bit you are using is not pinching his mouth, or that its too tight. Once your horse is bridled with the bit in his mouth you should only see 2-3 wrinkles in the corner of his mouth. Anything more can be causing him pain and could eventually cause your horse to have a condition called Hard Mouth. This may take time to cure but it is possible, its going to take time and patience on any horse that is head shy to get him completely cured of it, consistency and patience is the key.