February 10, 2021 – Ask Monty Newsletter
Question: Is your horse avoiding you?
I have a pure-bred Arabian gelding that dislikes head collars and bridles and I would like some advice on what I can try to resolve this issue.
Assuming that this question is predicated on the actions of the horse refusing to accept the head collars [halter] or the bit and bridle, please accept my invitation to go on the MontyRobertsUniversity.com and view the videos provided there on this very subject. It is my hope that one of those contains the story of a horse being brought to me by the actor Robert Mitchum, quite a famous movie star of the 1940s and 1950s. I acted as a child stunt person for many of his films and he bought property quite close to Flag Is Up Farms.
It was about 1976 when he came with his wife on a Saturday afternoon. Mr. Mitchum told in great detail a story about a horse that he owned which no one could bridle for two years. He claimed to have some accomplished people working for him but said that the horse had to wear a halter 24/7 and putting a bit in his mouth and bridle over his ears was virtually impossible. Bob inquired as to our training fees at the time. Being quite close with his money, Mitchum’s eyes opened wide and he said with a forceful voice, “I am not paying that kind of money. I’ll get rid of him.”
I wanted to please Mr. Mitchum, so I invited him to come to the round pen where I said I would put the horse one week later. I told Bob that I would send the horse around the pen at a canter. At the appropriate time I would invite the horse to come in where I would stand holding the bit and bridle away from my body. I explained that if I could not get a halter on him or the bit and bridle in less than five minutes I would keep the horse for an additional month fee-free.
If Bob’s horse however, would come off the wall, come to me in the center of the pen, reach down and put the bit on himself and then allow me to slide the bridle over his ears, then Bob would have to pay me double my fee. Mr. Mitchum had a good laugh but then in a loud voice said “I am going to get five free weeks of training here, no doubt about that.” I knew Mr. Mitchum appreciated good Scotch Whiskey. Together we went to my home and Bob had more than one large Scotch. Mrs. Mitchum drove him home with the agreement that they would be back in seven days.
Admitting this was a very difficult horse, I spent about an hour per day with him for the seven days. The Mitchums returned on the following Saturday. I allowed his horse to canter the circumference of the Round Pen for 4-5 laps and then invited him to come in to me. Holding the bit and bridle out in front of me, our subject horse moved close to me and reached down, opened his mouth, putting it on the bit.
While he was savoring a tiny bit of honey on the mouthpiece, I slid the bridle over his ears with no effort at all. I have to say that Mr. Mitchum was very troubled but reached in his pocket and handed me my doubled fee. It was a lot of fun and I knew he could afford the trick I played on him. If you should decide to view the lessons on bridling the difficult horse, you will learn every aspect of the work I did. You will be able to do it too!
See this video lesson: https://montyrobertsuniversity.com/training/2031188623
Read the full newsletter: Is your horse avoiding you?