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CowGirlSoap
Nov. 27, 2007, 09:57 PM
I am new here... though I read the forums regularly, I haven't really posted anything. But now I have something that I could use some varied opinions on (PLEASE help me!:~)

Just to give some background- I grew up riding as a "back yard western rider". No real training until I was 19... I started taking riding lessons in western pleasure, competetive trail and a few english lessons thrown in. I decided I'd like to be a trainer and I apprenticed with a trainer for a while. (Not at a show level, but I loved starting green horses.)

To pay the bills I worked at halter breeding facilities with some of the most idiotic, hot blooded, over fed, stalled horses I've ever known (including a few stallions that tried to kill people on a regular basis). I mostly did exercising, some grooming working with the show horses on setting up, etc.

I have had "project horses" all my life and have always enjoyed the challenge and relationship that develops... but I always drew a firm line with them and it was my way or no way at all.

Then I met the man that is now my husband, we had some kids and I was away from horses for about 6 years. But I hadn't really spent any time in the saddle for about 8.

Fast forward to now- In the past year my kids are now old enough to stay with a sitter and I decided it was either medication or I needed to get back into horses. My sanity requires equine time.

I am finding that a lot has changed for me during my time away. I am much more considerate of my horses... their feelings about things, where their mind is. I am also more keenly aware of the fact that they could kill me if they had the whim.

One of my new loves is a 5 year old percheron x gelding. He's about as mellow as they come. I've been riding him for the last 2 months and he's doing great. Learning to yeild his head nicely, has a great whoa, backs with a light hand and is learning to pivot on the forehand. I've trotted him under saddle regularly and he's only offered the tiniest buck once, when he didn't want to work harder :~)

I've been taking him out on trails with another horse about twice a week and everyone else thinks he's the biggest angel. I, however, seem to always be waiting for a bolt or some sort of fit. I am trying to remain relaxed and breathe out any anxiety I feel and I have finally started to feel more at ease on his back. I know I've only had him for 2 months and we're still getting to know each other (I went through the same thing with my VERY broke arab mare and it took about the same amount of time for me to feel like I had a good feel for her personality and what she would do in different situations).

BUT, just as I start to feel confident (as they always do) he brings me back to earth. When I took him out last week, we didn't get more than a mile away from the trail head. He just kept refusing. Now it's normal for him to balk a bit, stop and look at something that might be scarey... take in some strange sounds, etc. He doesn't freak out, just stops and takes it in and we move on once I feel his body soften and his neck relaxes again.

This time, though, I thought for sure there must be a problem. I thought maybe he had to pee (he hasn't quite gotten used to peeing under saddle yet and often holds it until the very last minute) or that the saddle was pinching somewhere- I figured there had to be a reason. I tried to keep him moving by getting him going sideways a bit and doing some small, walking circles. Every time I tried to get him going down the trail again he stopped. I tried getting off and walking... he still stopped and refused to go on.

So, we decided to head back to the trailer as there must be something wrong. That little turd was just fine on the way back! So we stopped after a hundred yards and turned around again. Stop. Again. I took him to a clearing and did a bunch of ground work (I felt like he was being lazy and I'd make him work one way or the other). He did some lovely cantering on the lunge and was very respectfull. When I finally felt like I had his mind, I took him in the direction he didn't want to go... but only for a short while and then I'd turn him. Then we'd go down that way again, but I kept turning him before it was his idea to stop.

It was a small success, but I took it and we headed back for the trailer, taking a slightly different route than the one we came.

What the heck?! I have never had a horse do this before and I'm a little stumped. He's the biggest sweetie pie, and I joke that he is not a horse but half dog, half mule. His mule side was out in teams! I know I have confidence issues in the saddle and am more comfortable on the ground... Is this seeping through to him and he doesn't trust me to protect him out on the trail? I guess he could have simply been not in the mood to go out and testing me to see how much control he could have...

Should I have stayed on for the exercises I did? Even when he "acts out" it isn't anything I couldn't sit through. I know this in my head, but my butt tells me to bail every time things get out of my comfort zone. How do I know when I should be stretching my comfort zone and when it's the smart move to get off?

And have any of you ever dealt with a horse that refused to even follow another horse down the trail? How do I convince him it is the fun and engaging thing to do, lol? (By the way, even the slightest bit of frustration or "punishment" that I might start to show turns him from the thinking/mellow guy and flips his off switch, so I can't just make him do it).

Any and all advice and suggestions would be appreciated.

A friend recommended *That Winning Feeling!: Program Your Mind for Peak Performance* and said that it has a great chapter on addressing fears. (I am now awaiting it's arrival from Amazon, lol) and I borrowed the Parelli level 2 dvd series... Any other books/dvd recommendations?

I am taking him out again tomorrow morning... and hoping the balk doesn't even surface.

Thanks & Blessings,
Jenni

prudence
Nov. 27, 2007, 10:20 PM
Well, for what it's worth, here is my advice. Your problem is a little weird and could pass like a ship in the night. But if he doesn't you might try this.

When he stops going down the trail, hop off and lead him after the other horse. You might need to ride with a dressage whip that you can use to suggest he keep going when you are on the ground. Do not make a big deal out of it though, just show him that you keep going. Eventually I would hope he would stop that behavior - sounds like something temporary/testing to me. I don't think this is the battle you should pick with him, since you are a bit afraid and he is a bit unsure.

Good luck to you!

HappyHoppingHaffy
Nov. 27, 2007, 10:32 PM
He sounds like he's a pretty smart guy! IMHO, he has your number.
I think you're on the right track; patience and persistance. I'm certain others will give you better advice than I can, but I'd say stick to it and keep challenging him and yourself.
And, I've heard of a lot of new mothers (well mothers in the saddle after having babies) have this "survival instinct". You're not just taking care of yourself anymore! I've been told it subsides over time.
Whenever I'm having a tough go at it I just always think to myself, "Rome wasn't built in a day". For some reason it makes me feel better!
Good luck!

Jess!
Nov. 27, 2007, 10:33 PM
The first thing I do when one of my horses refuses to go forward because they "just don't feel like it" is I turn them around and back them up. And I keep backing them until they don't want to anymore, and then I'll back them a few more steps. Makes them realize it's better to go forward than it is to back up. [However, I had one mare that would back forever - she loved it. Crazy horse.]

Anyways, sometimes they get a bee in their bonnet and decide to be complete and utter brats and test you. I think what you did worked, maybe if he does it next time try the backing? It's worth a shot.

I hope it was a one time thing and next time he's fine :)

prudence
Nov. 27, 2007, 10:51 PM
Backing sounds like a fine idea!

CowGirlSoap
Nov. 28, 2007, 12:19 AM
Oh thank you so much for the encouragement and suggestions! I hope that tomorrow goes smoothly, but I feel that I have more tools in my tool box now, in case we have a repeat. I really like the backing idea because then he doesn't learn that I just get off every time he refuses to move forward (which is what I was afraid I may have taught him at first the last time).

This new survival instinct is taking some getting used to- but I wear a helmet for the first time in my life, and I look back and can't believe the things I rode out instead of just getting off. I'm glad that I have it, but I'm looking forward to hopefully getting it to lighten up a bit :~)

Jenni

ChocoMare
Nov. 28, 2007, 06:42 AM
This may sound crazy but the one time I could NOT get my Percheron mare forward was because a critter had died in the underbrush. I could not see it the first day. We circled. I tapped/whacked with a crop, etc. etc. etc. alllll the things we know to "do" to make them go forward. Finally she was doing little rears and I didn't want to push it anymore and get dumped.

Two days later we went back to the same spot. I acted like nothing had happened the day before, anticipating/expecting in my mind that she'd go forward or we'd work on her Issue. That's when my nose caught it....that very distinct smell of decaying critter. :dead: The mare didn't like it either, so we did avoid that spot for about two weeks (it was summer time).

Finally went back and she walked past it like it was nothing...just another part of the trail like any other part. Have never had another instance of refusal again.

Auventera Two
Nov. 28, 2007, 07:05 AM
I went through this with my Arab for a little while. We were going along lickety split, and she'd slam on the breaks, swell up to 3 times her size, plant the feet and flat refuse to budge. And we'd sit there for 10-15 minutes!

My friend gave me a John Lyons DVD and he addresses this problem quite thoroughly. I followed his technique and it really worked.

Basically this is a trust/dominance issue. Horse either doesn't trust that you know what you're talking about, or he just doesn't want to allow you to be the leader. Point his nose at where you want to go, keep steady legs on, keep his head straight, and cluck or tell him "WALK" until he moves even the slightest muscle. He doesn't have to actually walk forward, but if he leans forward, or even takes a step backwards, stop your cues, scratch his withers with your fingers and rest for a minute. Then start again. If you have to keep this lesson up for an hour, you do it. You're rewarding any movement in response to your cues. Forweard, back, sideways, leaning, anything. Horses naturally want to go forward. It's embedded in their DNA. It's not normal for them to want to stop and let the herd leave them for no reason. So JL says this problem is really easy to solve for that reason alone.

I had to do this twice with my Arab before the problem resolved and never came back again. That gentle but firm consistency of you NOT backing down gets it through to them that we CAN and we WILL do this. And you do it calmly, safely, and effectively. There's no yelling, hitting, crying, screaming, or getting mad. You just determine that you're going to devote the time to this lesson.

It helped that the girls I rode with knew I was working on a young horse and were willing to ease through all these bumps in the road with me.

Huntertwo
Nov. 28, 2007, 07:51 AM
First of all, that is great that you kept him going until it was your idea to turn around. I never let my mare make the decisions.

2 months is a very short time for both of you to get used to each other. My mare is good, but in the first year we were still getting used to each other.

Perhaps there was something truly frightening him that you didn't see.
Do you ride in hunting areas? I know the hunters put out different scents to attract the deer, maybe he smelled it? :confused:

I would just keep trying and make him go a few more feet everyday. When my mare balks, I really use my hips strongly to keep her going.

Singing believe it or not helps..lol I must have sung for a year...:lol: It keeps you from tensing up and help your horse concentrate on you.

Good luck.

jeano
Nov. 28, 2007, 08:47 AM
I'm with ChocoMare--this could have been something close by the trail that bothered him and told him it was NOT SAFE to proceed. Had this happen once with the Incredibly Brave Horses who were very good at dealing with the unexpected--loose cows, trains, trucks on train tracks (the contraptions with the set of flanged wheels that whiz along at warp speed) people butchering pigs, goats, dogs, gigantic horse eating saws clearing powerlines, you name it, those horses coped. However, one time one particular dirt road turned into the entrance to the Pit Of Hell as far as they were concerned. To me and my riding buddy, no dectable odor, sound, object nothing except peaceful woods. Not too hot, not buggy, NOTHING we could find. But both horses balked and when we tried to insist they became extremely fearful, sweating, trembling, and very clearly saying to us If We Go On We Will All Die a Horrible Death. So we rode elsewhere. A week or so later they had no objection to going down the same road.

Being as how we are waaaaay out in the sticks and in the Deep South it was possible that there was indeed something large, dead, or predatory/dangerous in those woods that the heese could detect. (We even took a truck out later and did a little patrolling further down the road to see if we could find the booger--nothing.) We surmised it could have been wild pigs close by or an alligator or possibly misplaced aliens trying to get to Roswell NM.

jazzrider
Nov. 28, 2007, 08:55 AM
Long ago I leased a mare who did the same thing when we rode out alone. I know you're not sure if it was fear or attitude -- but you definately handled it well. With the mare it was attitude, and backing up didn't work (because she was happy to back up towards home!). We tried schooling and going back and forth, but it was difficult because we were on a wooded trail without much room. In the end I won the test by just making her stand still for about a 1/2 hour, pointed down the trail away from the barn. I essentially bored her into going out on trail alone with me. :lol: Each time it took a little less time, until she just gave it up. She would try to refuse or walk slow until we got to the "stand still spot," and then she would throw in the towel and enjoy the ride. :yes:

I agree with Huntertwo, two months is a short time together. Building trust takes time.

CowGirlSoap
Nov. 29, 2007, 12:13 AM
Well, today we had a GREAT ride! He did a brief refusal at the very beginning of the ride... I squeezed- nothing. I squeezed again, a little firmer- nothing. I squeezed with a bump of my heels- he looked back at the trailer. So, I flopped my leggs around all loose and wierd and it irritated him enough that he decided he rather go for a walk.

Now, I chose this "tool" from the tool box because I spent the last few days with him on a line and trying to figure out his triggers a bit more. He doesn't respond at all to more pressure (a spanking won't convince him to cooperate, but may incite a buck, for example).

He was definitely just testing.

The only time I've ever been thrown off a horse was due to a whiff of a dead cow in the sun... so I can relate to that critter in the bush! Pete (my balker) didn't have any sign of fear- I try to respect that as much as I can. Either they know something I don't and there really IS a death monster in the bushes or they just need help to feel more confident in me and themselves/surroundings. That's why his initial refusal had me thinking it was a comfort issue at first... Nope, it's just him being a baby and seeing how far he can get with mom and the "No I won't".

We had such a great ride today and as we approached the trailer, he wanted to turn onto another trail! He had a good day!

Thanks for the support and suggestions! It helped so much!!! (Especially with my confidence).

Jenni

Jess!
Nov. 29, 2007, 07:26 AM
I'm so glad to hear that!!

ChocoMare
Nov. 29, 2007, 07:33 AM
Yay! :cool:

gieriscm
Nov. 29, 2007, 08:15 AM
My OTTB was very barn sour for a while. I got him over it by keeping his trail rides fairly easy and relaxed, mainly w-t work on the buckle, and when we got back to the barn or trailer, I schooled him in dressage. He soon learned to appreciate trail rides since he quickly realized that going home didn't mean food and relaxation, it meant more work for him.

Another tactic I used, especially during the summer when the last place I wanted to be was riding 15 and 20 meter circles in the arena, was to ride him past the barn a little ways, and then I'd get off and lead him home.

Auventera Two
Nov. 29, 2007, 08:36 AM
My OTTB was very barn sour for a while. I got him over it by keeping his trail rides fairly easy and relaxed, mainly w-t work on the buckle, and when we got back to the barn or trailer, I schooled him in dressage. He soon learned to appreciate trail rides since he quickly realized that going home didn't mean food and relaxation, it meant more work for him.

Good tactic! I've used it a few times before too. :yes:

Huntertwo
Nov. 29, 2007, 10:12 AM
Great news... Crafty little guy ;)

sublimequine
Nov. 29, 2007, 10:42 AM
Glad it's working out better for you, sounds like he was maybe just testing the waters. ;)

I can also relate to the folks mentioning them stopping and absolutely refusing to go forward due to honest circumstances. This happened to me once. I was riding an EXTREMELY experienced, very very seasoned, old-pro trail horse. He looooved trail, and was very forward out there. We were riding right after a light snowfall, so everything was covered with just enough snow to make everything white. We were riding along this kinda back trail, not gravel, just grass. Going along just fine, then all of a sudden.. my guy SLAMS on the brakes. Plants four feet firmly into the ground, and just says, "Nope, not goin ANY further, thank you." I (foolishly) thought he was just being a brat, and kicked and circled and did everything I could think of to get him to walk on. I could've set his tail on fire, he was NOT gonna take one more step forward.

Finally, I got off.. took a step forward, then realized there was a GIGANTIC SHEET OF SOLID ICE under the snow, all the way across the entire path, and probably about 30 feet long. :eek:

Yep, another case of dumb rider, smart horse. I guess he didn't feel like going ice skating that day. :D

ruffiannyc
Nov. 29, 2007, 11:16 AM
re: ice skating

And good thing he refused so you both didn't go slipping and sliding over the ice! :yes:

sublimequine
Nov. 29, 2007, 11:19 AM
re: ice skating

And good thing he refused so you both didn't go slipping and sliding over the ice! :yes:

Yep. That horse got me out of trouble a LOT on trail. He was amazing. He still is! 27 now, and very happily retired. :sadsmile:

pandorasboxx
Nov. 29, 2007, 11:25 AM
Going along just fine, then all of a sudden.. my guy SLAMS on the brakes. Plants four feet firmly into the ground, and just says, "Nope, not goin ANY further, thank you." I (foolishly) thought he was just being a brat, and kicked and circled and did everything I could think of to get him to walk on. I could've set his tail on fire, he was NOT gonna take one more step forward.

Finally, I got off.. took a step forward, then realized there was a GIGANTIC SHEET OF SOLID ICE under the snow, all the way across the entire path, and probably about 30 feet long. :eek:

Yep, another case of dumb rider, smart horse. I guess he didn't feel like going ice skating that day. :D

Been there done that.

Dismounted and lead my horse off trail down a hill to get water from a stream on a very very hot day. (Poor trail planning on my part.) As we neared the stream, she refused to go further. I cajoled and pulled, trying to get her just a few more feet to the sandy "beach" of the stream. Finally she obeyed me. And damned if she didn't sink right up to her knees in soft sand!

I immediately dropped the reins and she leaped out to safety. I still haven't forgiven myself as it took a couple of years to get the mare to really trust me. Dumbass owner!

lyhood@cabrillo.edu
Nov. 29, 2007, 01:21 PM
My experience has been that there was something that had him worried, you just couldn't see or hear it. Given the other responses, there are many things that they sense that we don't. I've found that sometimes just waiting it out (allow for up to 20 minutes) can make a difference if there is a bobcat or something hiding in the bushes. On the other hand, we had an area of trail that went past an isolated residence. 3 of the four horses would NOT go past the garden area. We had to get off and lead them past. Years later I met the person who had lived there and they told me they put out Lion scent that they got from the zoo to keep the deer away from their garden. Not sure how well it worked on the deer, but it sure worked on the horses.
Lyn & Whisky

Huntertwo
Nov. 29, 2007, 01:52 PM
Been there done that.

Dismounted and lead my horse off trail down a hill to get water from a stream on a very very hot day. (Poor trail planning on my part.) As we neared the stream, she refused to go further. I cajoled and pulled, trying to get her just a few more feet to the sandy "beach" of the stream. Finally she obeyed me. And damned if she didn't sink right up to her knees in soft sand!

I immediately dropped the reins and she leaped out to safety. I still haven't forgiven myself as it took a couple of years to get the mare to really trust me. Dumbass owner!


Been there, done that too. Then feel guilty as heck afterwards. In my own case, I've tried to build up her trust then feel like crap afterwards that I let her down.

Lion scent! I'd be hitting the hills too! :yes:

arena run
Nov. 29, 2007, 07:27 PM
Well, today we had a GREAT ride! He did a brief refusal at the very beginning of the ride... I squeezed- nothing. I squeezed again, a little firmer- nothing. I squeezed with a bump of my heels- he looked back at the trailer. So, I flopped my leggs around all loose and wierd and it irritated him enough that he decided he rather go for a walk.

Now, I chose this "tool" from the tool box because I spent the last few days with him on a line and trying to figure out his triggers a bit more. He doesn't respond at all to more pressure (a spanking won't convince him to cooperate, but may incite a buck, for example).

He was definitely just testing.... ...Jenni

Having lots of tools is a great thing. :D Horses are projects under construction and anyone who's ever done a project knows the project determines which tool you need.

Your post did make me think of one thing though... that comment about a spanking inciting a buck. I know it's not a good thing to push until the horse is so mad or upset that learning can't happen but I also think it is a GOOD thing to push them past their 'mad' threshold in order to widen it a bit. If popping him makes him mad and he bucks... pop him til he starts moving again. To not pop a horse to make him move forward for the simple reason that he might buck seems a bit 'pandering' to me. NOT that you're a 'pandering' owner... it just seems, the way you described it, that this particular horse needs to know the boundaries and that bucking, balking, turning around, and stuff won't be tolerated. (??) sylvia



Been there, done that too. Then feel guilty as heck afterwards. In my own case, I've tried to build up her trust then feel like crap afterwards that I let her down.

Lion scent! I'd be hitting the hills too! :yes:

:) I've got a horse that was like that several years ago. He would NOT cross water -- no way no how. We worked on it for weeks and weeks and months and months. Had been doing great and even could walk up to ponds and drink! (HUGE stride forward)

So, we're at this pond and it only 10 feet or so across the pond at this end (think of a 'finger' of water). I ask him to step in and he says, "Uhhh, no.... ?" :)

I say, "Oh yesssss we are!" And he does.

Little did I realize that the pond had been dug out and the other side was at least 2'straight up to get out. My 11yo daughter was riding double w/me and as Dancer attempts to get out the other side he tries and fails and then just stands there. Mamie (daughter) slides off his rump and crawls out and dancer tries a time or two more to get out. I am finally able to climb off onto the bank and sort of help pull him out w/the reins... gave him something to brace on I suppose.

Anywho... he FINALLY clambers out and stands there, dripping water and muddy up to his knees w/this expression that says, "I done TOLD you about that Evil Water....!!!!!!"

This was actually the start of him really beginning to trust me though. I suppose he faced his biggest fear and lived through it so... he was more willing to try for me after that. ?? Go figure. ;) sylvia

Huntertwo
Nov. 29, 2007, 09:17 PM
Fourhmom, It really makes me wonder, do they just have better vision than us or a better intuition and listen to it?

Scary story, glad you all got out unscathed.:yes:

arena run
Nov. 29, 2007, 10:41 PM
I think much better intuition. It's like I read in a book... we're scared things might hurt us. Horses are scared things will KILL and EAT them. :) Now that's something to give one pause to consider their course of action for sure! lol sylvia

CowGirlSoap
Nov. 30, 2007, 12:39 AM
I know it's not a good thing to push until the horse is so mad or upset that learning can't happen but I also think it is a GOOD thing to push them past their 'mad' threshold in order to widen it a bit. If popping him makes him mad and he bucks... pop him til he starts moving again. To not pop a horse to make him move forward for the simple reason that he might buck seems a bit 'pandering' to me.


I just got off the phone with a friend a few hours ago and we talked about this idea... funny you should mention it. Maybe I should start a new topic, but since we've been going here, I'll just post it in this thread.


What are your thoughts on helping a horse learn to manage stress? The stress could be me asking them to do something they don't want to do. It could be that I, as the alpha "bite" them when they don't listen (like a swat to the rump) or it could just be the excitement of anticipation of doing something new.

I ask because this gelding's response to little to no pressure is the most willing I've EVER experienced. He would try to climb a tree if I suggested it/asked politely. But if he feels too much pressure, he just kind of shuts down. If the pressure persists, he may get a little flighty or give a little buck.

I am currently watching the Parelli level 2 series and they have some interesting insights... Some of which I thought were interesting, but not convinced that it would work. However, the suggestions and techniques they give seem to be working fantastically with him. Will these types of techniques actually build confidence and help him to deal with and manage stresses better over the long term? Have any of you experienced that?

Jenni

911Cowgirl
Dec. 12, 2007, 09:05 PM
In addition to Parelli and Lyons look into Clinton Anderson. He recommends that in working with your horse (any age/type of riding) that you put lots of miles on their feet, have wet saddle blankets and consistent training. If your boy gives a slight buck or kickout when instructed to do something, move his feet out, make him turn circles at a trot, switch sides and do the same thing again, if he drops out of the gait that you have him at (he calls it squeeze, cluck and then spank to get him back) get him back up to it and have him work till you let him back to the walk. He also recommends the one rein stop and flexing at the stop to help keep limber. I don't know if any one in your area has access to any of his DVD's but I have seen him in person twice and he has done some amazing things. I know that I am condensing a lot of his thinking and may be missing something but look into his training methods as an addidtional tool in your kit.

Suzanna

Fabulous
Dec. 13, 2007, 07:36 PM
CGS ~ I've found that managing stress falls into a combination of three basic categories.
Horses with ulcer issues
Horses who are afraid to make a mistake (typical type A personality)
Horses who don't trust the person working with them

You need to diagnose the reason for the stress in order to address it. I've found that as long as it's not physical you can overcome these problems by expanding the horse's comfort zone. If the horse is afraid of making a mistake then you don't correct the mistake but only reward the results. Say your horse rushes when he picks up the wrong lead. Quietly stop the canter, relax the horse (maybe do another exercise he is confident with) then ask for the canter again. Repeat until the horse responds correctly then make a big deal over his accomplishment. Eventually the horse begins to anticipate the reward (not dread the consequence). If the horse doesn't trust you then work on his dependence in your judgment. Set up easy to negotiate obstacles (say a tarp on the ground or putting on a rain coat). Slowly work through them and then increase the difficulty of the obstacles. The horse will gradually learn that following your lead is alright and his comfort zone will grow.

MassageLady
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:56 PM
It doesn't sound to me like this horse is under any stress or has any real issues, except for the fact that there was something there that he was afraid of!:yes: If he goes along nicely all other times, maybe you should learn to trust HIM and when he does this..say, ok something's there that I can't see-let's sit here for a moment and see if it goes away-if not, see if he'll go another direction, if so, he's WATCHING OUT FOR YOU. What a great horse!:yes:

CowGirlSoap
Jan. 5, 2008, 03:49 AM
Wow- so much great insight! Since this instance, I have learned a lot about my guy and, since I am up late with my sick kids, I thought I'd post an update.

I have learned that my perchie "shuts down" as a spook. If he doesn't know how to deal with something, he doesn't freak out and get jittery, but his eyes kind of get glassy and he stops paying attention, stops moving... stops everything.

I've had one other time on the trail since then that he started the same thing. Yes- he probably had a legitimate concern with something on the trail. We ride where there are literally coyotes that trot up behind us and there is the scent of mountain lions and bob cats on the trails. That fact hasn't changed, but now I have some tools to regain his attention. Then, he is listening to me and, I continue to listen to him... communication remains open and we can make progress one way or the other.

I have also learned that when he IS just testing my authority, trying to forcefully make him do something is worthless, but I can EASILY irritate him into doing what I want, lol. Like if we are doing something boring like circles (that I know it's not the most fun, but we need to work on something) and he refuses, I can just wiggle my legs around and he doesn't like it so he decides to move out. Squeezing harder and kicking doesn't help at all... but boy he sure hates "dangely" legs!

Also, because we touched on this before, I have worked with him through his "mad point". It wasn't like I was antagonizing him, but I chose to continue to ask him to do as I requested, without getting emotional or upping my energy- but still asking him to do it even though he didn't want to. He threw a fit, but it pretty much equalled a temper tantrum of a kid and now he seems to understand that I'm not going to get mad and freak out, but I do insist that he do what I ask. I am very glad that I now know more about what he will do and his reactions to this kind of pressure.

Thanks so much for the support and ideas- it made a world of difference for me~

Jenni

carp
Jan. 6, 2008, 12:02 PM
My armchair quarterbacking. It sounds like you are accustomed to working with a lot of hot horses. Now you have a draft cross. It sounds like part of your trouble is that the draft temperament is throwing your timing off a bit. You are used to a sensitive horse's instant and explosive reaction-shoot first, ask questions later. Instead you are getting the draft horse pause while he thumbs through his internal manual and reads the page on the appropriate response to something. I could see how this difference would be a little unnerving-you subconsciously think the crisis is over because a hot horse would already have exploded if it was going to do anything at all, and then he bestirs himself to react after you have let down your guard.

arena run
Jan. 6, 2008, 04:02 PM
Carp, I really like your response here. It's like, even though someone might know the type of horse they're used to dealing with and they have success in training that type horse, doesn't mean they have every horse-training situation under control.

And it's ok to be wrong or confused and most especially it's ok to admit that you might be wrong or confused. :) Just becasue some thing works for you and YOUR horse doesn't mean it will work for someone else and THEIR horse. And even more... just because it's worked for you and your horse BEFORE doesnt' mean it will work for you and your horse NOW (considering you might have a different horse or different breed).

This isn't directed at you, CowGirlSoap, just some musings sparked by Carp's post.

And it's really appropriate to me right now 'cause I've got one of those 'hot'-ish horses. Emotional was what she was tagged one time and it really, really fits her.

AND... on top of that -- I've got a coming 2yo molly and I get to swap training modes between the two of them. ;) Someone w/more insight than me described their reaction time as being 'a union meeting between the horse side and the donkey side'. :)

I'm glad your gelding and you finding that 'same page' as you both are thumbing through your mutual training book. sylvia

CowGirlSoap
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:05 PM
My armchair quarterbacking. It sounds like you are accustomed to working with a lot of hot horses. Now you have a draft cross. It sounds like part of your trouble is that the draft temperament is throwing your timing off a bit. You are used to a sensitive horse's instant and explosive reaction-shoot first, ask questions later. Instead you are getting the draft horse pause while he thumbs through his internal manual and reads the page on the appropriate response to something. I could see how this difference would be a little unnerving-you subconsciously think the crisis is over because a hot horse would already have exploded if it was going to do anything at all, and then he bestirs himself to react after you have let down your guard.


OH MY GOSH!!! That is EXACTLY it! Unnerving. I have always worked with hot to very-hot horses (a lot of them halter horses who were surely not bred for their brains, over fed and stalled!) and this draft personality has really brought me back to square one. I was really thankful to have the help of the other trainer that day... She kept asking me, "are you o.k. with me doing this?" Boy, one thing I'm not is too proud to ask for help! :~) I will readily admit when I have come to the end of my own knowledge and this gelding has had me doing that on more than one occassion.

It's funny how you hit that right on the head... I would be out working with him and talking to a friend- someone would practically be dragging behind their crazy horse and I would tell her "now THAT I know how to deal with". It was the quiet calmness that I thought would one day turn into a maniac as soon as I thought we were done.

Jenni