The vast majority of times, a horse is head shy because of something a human has done. It’s a learned response to a painful experience. Being smacked on the face, having an ear twitched, being hit over the head with a rope, whip or other object. Even a rider with rough hands once the bridle is on can make a horse head shy if the horse has made the connection between letting the bridle on and being jerked about in the mouth.
But as with any evasive behavior on the part of a horse, it is best to first rule out any physical problems. Why else would a horse be head shy? Well it can be a symptom of a badly fitting bridle. If the bridle is too tight, it presses on their poll and hurts. A badly fitting bit can be to blame. Or one that tastes horrid. How are his teeth? Are they due for filing? Do they have any spikey or sharp edges? Or any decay or abscesses? Now onto the eyes. Poor vision can make a horse head shy. They jump because they can’t see properly and it startles them. Remember too that the horse has a blind spot right in front of him. Always approach him from the side, never directly in front.
Onto the ears. Bites from flies, lice, ticks or other parasites in or on the ear can be painful. Warts can be too. And then there’s ear infections. Check the ears over thoroughly, especially if your horse seems to be more ‘ear shy’ than ‘head shy’. It is helpful to know if your horse has ever had any of the above. Sometimes just the memory of the bite or infection, even when it has cleared up, will keep a horse head shy.
And last of all, if none of the above fit, a chiropractic adjustment could be the solution. If the neck is out behind the ears, your horse may have a raging headache and quite rightly won’t want to be touched.
Wake up the horse whisperer in you, because there’s one in all of us.
About the Author
Phil is author of the comprehensive book ‘Horse Training Success’, full of answers to the most asked horse training questions. Stop by http://www.horsetrainingsuccess.com for a huge selection of information regarding common problems, training of horses, equine psychology, how to get the best behavior and so much more!