Let’s say that your horse grabs the halter in his mouth as you go to put it on. As soon as he grabs it, instead of trying to pull it out of his mouth, stand beside him and tug one end of the halter up in his mouth and then the other end to make him feel uncomfortable. When you do that, the horse might throw his head up in the air, but you’ll continue to tug up on the halter. You’re not really hurting him, but you are making him feel uncomfortable. Do that for ten seconds and then let the horse lower his head and spit the halter out of his mouth. Then dare him again by waving the halter in front of his nose. If he grabs it, repeat the process. You’ll only have to do that two or three times, and pretty soon, those horses wise up and want no part of grabbing a hold of the halter.
The same theory applies to the Handy Stick. If your horse grabs a hold of the stick, stand in front of him and start pushing it in and out of his mouth like it’s a toothbrush. Don’t ram it in and out of his mouth so hard that it hurts him, just quickly slide it in and out of his mouth to make him feel uncomfortable. He might stick his head up in the air, or even back up—just follow him and continue to move the stick in his mouth. After ten to fifteen seconds, pull the stick out and leave the horse alone. Usually, the horse will lower his head and lick his lips as soon as the stick is pulled out.
Then bait him again by waving the end of the stick around the end of his nose. In most cases, the horse will grab it again, and when he does you’ll repeat the same steps. It usually takes three times for a horse to actually start to understand the lesson. By the third or fourth time, your horse will not want to grab a hold of that stick because every time he grabs a hold of it, you make him feel uncomfortable. You’re saying to the horse, “Hey, if you want to chew the stick, you can chew it, but you’re going to feel uncomfortable.”
You might be thinking, “Well Clinton, isn’t that going to make the horse head shy or not want to accept the bit?”
No, because you’re only making him feel uncomfortable when he gets mouthy. You’re not physically putting the halter or stick in his mouth and then roughing him up. He’s choosing to take the bait and be mouthy. As long as you use common sense and only make him feel uncomfortable when he grabs a hold of the object, you don’t have to worry about him getting head shy or not accepting the bit.