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2Mares
Feb. 8, 2008, 12:06 PM
Anyone have any tips for how to get a hot horse to walk through areas the horse is refusing to go through? I thought I'd get some suggestions since spring is right around the corner. In the past, the reaction is to stop, rear, and spin. Following on a horse's rear (a good steady eddie, rarely works). Any suggestions?

katarine
Feb. 8, 2008, 12:18 PM
have you tried confidence building obstacles in the safety of an arena first?

walk over tarps, drag a bag or rope or somesuch..(some horses get stupid the first time they snag a vine in their tail and take it with them)...

So if trailing behind a stead eddie first hasn't/doesn't help...sounds like a dominant/strong sort of personality that doesn't trust letting others tell him it's ok (the steady eddie). doesn't mean he's bad in any way at all, just not insecure/herd bound enough to grasp at another horse's tailfeathers and take their word for it, in a way.

SO- have you done arena-weirdness to help them understand they can get through things they don't understand in general, if they'll just try?

second tip- approach and retreat/avoid on your schedule, not his..by this I mean that one step just before the horse says no say turn left and go walk around that tree over there instead. Say move your haunches over we're not stepping into that booger anyway. absolutely do not PRESS them to advance- you pretend with all your might that the booger doesn't exist, and doing so takes away the trap of your legs/seat/hands/everything saying go, go into the booger, goo noooowwww which just makes them rear and zoink out. in time you'll get more advancing steps before he says NO. In time he'll just go on and you just go on and pet him and keep moving. Time is irrelevant. If you don't plan on taking forever to get it done and done right, you've already set him up to worry and get 'through it' or rear. I just hate to do that if I can avoid it which unless my fannie's on fire and my elbows are catching, I can.

feedback?

Lynnaya
Feb. 8, 2008, 12:41 PM
I agree with your first reply. I have a barn-buddy that had a very hot standardbred/arab mare and she would do the same types of things you're describing. When we started doing the above mentioned "tricks" with her she got a lot more confident and nothing seemed to bother her. Try the tarps, ropes, flashing lights, noisy plastic bags, feed bags, rattling cans etc in the arena/round pen and then move from there to the trail. Your horse should gain a lot of confidence in you and him/herself.

BoomerButt
Feb. 8, 2008, 12:44 PM
have you tried confidence building obstacles in the safety of an arena first?

walk over tarps, drag a bag or rope or somesuch..(some horses get stupid the first time they snag a vine in their tail and take it with them)...

So if trailing behind a stead eddie first hasn't/doesn't help...sounds like a dominant/strong sort of personality that doesn't trust letting others tell him it's ok (the steady eddie). doesn't mean he's bad in any way at all, just not insecure/herd bound enough to grasp at another horse's tailfeathers and take their word for it, in a way.

SO- have you done arena-weirdness to help them understand they can get through things they don't understand in general, if they'll just try?

second tip- approach and retreat/avoid on your schedule, not his..by this I mean that one step just before the horse says no say turn left and go walk around that tree over there instead. Say move your haunches over we're not stepping into that booger anyway. absolutely do not PRESS them to advance- you pretend with all your might that the booger doesn't exist, and doing so takes away the trap of your legs/seat/hands/everything saying go, go into the booger, goo noooowwww which just makes them rear and zoink out. in time you'll get more advancing steps before he says NO. In time he'll just go on and you just go on and pet him and keep moving. Time is irrelevant. If you don't plan on taking forever to get it done and done right, you've already set him up to worry and get 'through it' or rear. I just hate to do that if I can avoid it which unless my fannie's on fire and my elbows are catching, I can.

feedback?


I totally agree!!! One other thing that has helped me with trail horses that I have had to break of this is stay relaxed. If he feels you get all tense because you know he is gonna act like a turd, he will act like a turd. Sometimes, if I give them there head and let them take there own time they will sniff and take a step and sniff and so on. If they decide not to go over, take them somewhere else for a few seconds and bring them right back. I agree with never pushing them. All you gonna get is hurt if you do this. Just take your time and try a few different approaches. I actually had to back one of my horses into a little stream because they refused to go forward, he wanted to go backwards. I said ok fine, turned him around and backed him until his feet were in the water, then turned him and asked him to move forward. He did that very well. And it only took one time of doing that for him to see that yes we are going through this stream whether he liked it or not. I just had to find a way to make it ok with him. And backing worked.

2Mares
Feb. 8, 2008, 01:25 PM
Yes, I have done lots of confidence building stuff in the arena first. I realize that not following a lead horse isn't necessarily a bad thing, just wanted to mention it was attempted. Rearing is this mare's MO. If she doesn't want to do something, up she goes. In an arena or when I'm jumping, it's rarely an issue because she's realized it gets her nowhere. I know kicking/whipping will get me nowhere but hurt. I want to start trail riding this mare more and I wanted to have my plan of action.

Great ideas! Katarine, that's what I do when she spooks at something in the arena. I do bending and leg yielding near the "spooky" item and sooner or later it is no longer a big deal. So basically I need to do the same type of thing, just make sure I have tons of time. For now I'll have to make sure I only take her on trail rides when I have a long time to ride in case I run into trouble. I'll have to do some more confidence building stuff too since it's been since last summer. Can't hurt! Thanks.

katarine
Feb. 8, 2008, 02:17 PM
2mares I rode in an indoor trail competition a few weeks ago and there were many very good trail horses that flunked out bad: they were used to 'normal' stuff being in a normal place- a creek on a trail, fine. a square chunk of water in an arena? no way Jose ;) I think we did well for two reasons- a reasonable horse LOL but also a horse that has learned to trust me when I ask him to do something- and sometimes I ask him to do weird stuff- and I often intentionally do things on the trail to ask him to think, and too trust me- whether it's hopping a log in a particular place, or pausing in a creek, circling a wonky spot...anything- I really 'ride' him on the trail and it made a world of difference in his ability deal mentally with the indoor trail...

This mare being a rearer- well this is potentially a great way to build her overall confidence- she's too independent minded to trust you not to put her in a bad spot. So take that weakness and build some trust :) tarps, hula hoops on the ground, walk over a piece of marine-grade plywood, drag stuff, carry a bucket of cans from horseback, etc, deal with noisy stuff...it can end up being a lot of fun :)

PS if she's spooky about something you can make mobile, like a piece of plastic or tarp...drag it in front of her while you lead her on a long line. Now don't get killed doing this LOL but it does wonders for their confidence to follow something they are worried about...they are 'chasing' it :)

gabz
Feb. 8, 2008, 07:23 PM
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a horse that has learned to trust me when I ask him to do something

Yup....

If she is a stalled horse, you can also hang strange things in her stall... put treats in them, leave a ball in there... or, I have dribbled a soccer ball, with my feet, when my horse is grazing in a round pen. He'll stop eating and face me... I go VERY easily about it.. nothing wild and when I see he's gone back to eating.. I quit. Repeat several times during a week. Until I can dribble the soccer ball and even gently kick it towards him and touch him with it. Same with pool noodles, umbrellas, slickers, tarps, nerf balls, hula hoops, ropes, etc. Wave them around when you are far away... give the horse a bucket of grain, or a flake of extra tasty hay. in an arena or round pen where no one else can distract. just ignore the horse (watch from the corner of your eye) and do things with all the scary stuff... watch the horse... if he/she's tense.. back off/slow down... TALK TALK TALK to the horse while you are doing these things. When the horse is willing to ignore you and your shenanigans and return to the feed ... then that says the horse is accepting what you are doing.

When horse is okay with ground stuff.. then do it while on a lead. Then, do it under saddle.

Believe it or not... New horse on my place, I was walking down the hill with the huge, monster snow blower... new horse was near the gate... he backed up a bit... I started talking to him so that he knew it was ME with something else, I saw him relax a tiny bit... I kept coming with the blower... kept talking... eventually, he stands there while I blast snow at him... (but he won't pick up his feet without a LOT of cajoling).

Look up Mark Rashid "Considering the Horse" or "A good Horse is Never a Bad Color" books or Nancy Harm's book(s).

tpup
Feb. 8, 2008, 07:45 PM
I just went through this with my horse. My new, calm, quiet steady eddie horse turned out to be barn sour and would refuse to go forward, stop, spin, back up and do tiny rears in the same place on our way out to the field and trails. (new barn, new owner, new fields and trails...) My trainer was absolutely invaluable in helping me. Our approach was first of all, to get me to RELAX. Sing, deep breathe, do anything to relax....and look up and forward. Look where you want to go (look PAST the stream, tarp or scary thing).

My problem was my horse "learned" to back me up into things when I asked for forward - fences, trees, bushes. It was very frustrating. My trainer worked with me for several days straight and the following really worked.

Horse walks forward and starts his "tantrum." I do a one rein stop in the opposite direction he is trying to go. Then immediately yield his hindquarters using pressure with my boot heel on his hind, and backing up with crop if I need it (we use a dressage whip which he respects more). Yield hindquarters several turns - make him WORK. Around and around we go until I feel him bracing less. Then release and immediately ask for forward good and strong. When he trots forward, release ALL pressure and RELAX. When he has another tantrum, same thing. One rein stop - sometimes I hold him there and let him "relax" there for a moment. Yield hindquarters several times around...then release when he is facing down the trail again and forward we go. It took several tries and several days in a row of work, but after a few days, low and behold, he trots happily where we are going with no resistance.

I REALLY have to keep my own tension in check. I would tense up and I know he felt my tension. I had to really develop a "been there done that" attitude...be confident (think Cesar Milan, dog whisperer guy...and act like Cleopatra on your horse!) It REALLY worked. I was overjoyed when we could finally get out to the field with no resistance. I can't say my guy is spooky - he could care less about deer jumping out, loud sounds, birds swooshing up, but he definitely picks up on very bit of my tension....he's been a tremendous trainer for me, actually :) He was definitely testing me but we forged ahead.

On the way home from any rides outside the rings, we walk, stop and back up many, many times. It's a long, arduous ride home but he has to learn we go home on my terms. I do let him trot happily sometimes, but we still stop and back up several times.

CosMonster
Feb. 11, 2008, 03:13 PM
Just a note on what gabz said...I don't think this is what she (he?) was advocating, but I've seen a lot of people tying plastic bags and whatnot all over their horses stalls to "desensitize" them (I think it's some kind of NH thing). IME, the calm ones don't care but the hotter ones end up fried. I don't like that practice as I think it's really important that a horse has a safe place and down time, especially a TB or Arab type personality.

IME, the concern is less about desensitizing (although that does help--the more they see and experience, the less spooky they'll be) and more about building trust with your horse. I think if you are consistent, stay calm, and create a lot of small, slightly scary situations that you can get your horse through safely (as in, "oh, wow Mom, that bridge didn't eat me! You're right!"), you'll find those problems go away.

I think few hot horses ever reach the bombproof stage, but they can learn to manage their fear and be safe, sane and reliable. It takes a lot of time and patience, though.

Auventera Two
Feb. 11, 2008, 05:01 PM
I agree with everything Katarine said, but also CosMonster. A horse needs down time. A quiet place where they can be free of drama, scary things, and worry. Hanging stuff all over the stall might be effective, but it might make a hot/fearful horse even worse.

As for the rearing, I learned the disengage the hindquarters thing. The horse physically CANNOT rear if his hind legs are crossing over each other. The horse follows it's shoulder - not its head. move the shoulder and the rib cage, and swing that ass over when you feel her get light in the front end.

My endurance horse is a real gem but I went through rough patches with her. On a few ocassions she got light up front. Didn't full rear, but sure thought about it. I feel that I stopped that habit before it ever formed by disengaging her butt every time she thought about getting light.

katarine
Feb. 11, 2008, 08:06 PM
I'm helping a girl with her uber spooky TWH. He's on full turnout, no grain, grass and grass hay only...he's used to being 'ridden and put away' in other words, not a lot of mental support. Vet says his vision his fine and his eyes are large and well placed on his head.

he's such a love but he's soooo spooky. I have about a 12' piece of black plastic sewer/drain pipe in my arena as a trail obstacle. NO way no how would he step over it...at one point I had him on a long line so he could flee if he needed to when I rolled it away from him...but when I did he literally squatted to his elbows, no lie. Funniest thing I've seen in a while, poor guy.

Now I DID rub him alllll over with two empty shavings bags..after I'd lunged him to take the fresh off, AND let him follow them on the ground while I dragged them on a line from my 3 YO's back. Yes, 3 YO... I rubbed him all over with them, everywhere, briskly...then took them away and did something else...brought 'em back, tied them on his saddle, lunged him some more...then took them away and went on a little ride.

My point is you "can" tie junk to a hot horse but take it AWAY, calmly and like it's nothing...before they blow up. IF they blow up you misread the animal in question.

He's going to get better but it's going to take time, and educating his owner about baby steps, but not taking BS either...she's got to press the point a TINY bit to see if he'll push through, or is actually truly worried. a gentle request will answer that question.

gabz
Feb. 11, 2008, 08:47 PM
Just a note on what gabz said...I don't think this is what she was advocating, but I've seen a lot of people tying plastic bags and whatnot all over their horses stalls to "desensitize" them (I think it's some kind of NH thing). IME, the calm ones don't care but the hotter ones end up fried. I don't like that practice as I think it's really important that a horse has a safe place and down time, especially a TB or Arab type personality.

IME, the concern is less about desensitizing (although that does help--the more they see and experience, the less spooky they'll be) and more about building trust with your horse. I think if you are consistent, stay calm, and create a lot of small, slightly scary situations that you can get your horse through safely (as in, "oh, wow Mom, that bridge didn't eat me! You're right!"), you'll find those problems go away.

I think few hot horses ever reach the bombproof stage, but they can learn to manage their fear and be safe, sane and reliable. It takes a lot of time and patience, though.

Yes. the horse needs "down time" ... I'm not saying make their stall look like a carnival booth... My horse had trouble with the plastic grocery bags... so, I started by putting pieces of apple in one and holding it while he nosed around with it. Then, I put one in his stall (supervised) with pieces of apple in it. He got over the rustly noise of the bag because he was the one making it rustle and he could make it stop anytime he wanted to.
When I say "talk talk talk" to the horse - that's part of it. Not just put a bunch of junk around and go home. It's about them learning to trust you. If you tell them it's okay and help them work through it - that's what it is about.

Okay... I wasn't gonna go here... The horse I'm talking about had a trust issue.... and a trainer tried to help him BEFORE I bought him. She tied her son's jacket around his head and rode him around an arena like that, while a tractor was running and moving around. She wanted to teach the horse to trust the rider. Did it work? Hell no. In fact, after that and a few other "tricks" this nice horse was getting ready to go to an auction where he may have gone to a good family or he might have gone to another "trainer". I bought him and he learned to trust. And other horses trust him too. He's the "steady eddie" that other horses follow.

arena run
Feb. 12, 2008, 01:22 AM
I somwehat agree w/gabz and cosmonster (althought the NH comment was unnecessary)...

...It's not 'what' you do so much as how you do it.

Also, I usually start my scard ones and young ones and buddy sour ones out on trail walks in hand. If something scary happens (like a ditch or, heaven forbid, the end of the driveway) I can do whatever I need to do and not add my own tensness to the equation. I progress to long-lining them for trail 'walks' and then we do the trail rides under saddle. Even for broke horses this is my MO until they are confident and comfortable enough for me to feel like climbing on. If we find something scary under saddle I already have some familiarity in place and I will even get off (!!) and lead them over the scary thing until they calm down - at which point we do it under saddle.

I have had a great deal of success w/this method. the horses learn that I'm not going to take 'no' as an answer and they also grow confidence in themselves and in me. They know I'm not going to push them past their comfort level - but that comfort level is fully expected to continue to expand. :)

Just a 'time' note here -- if it takes 3 years to achieve this then I am willing to wait the 3 years.... and I do have one rearer who DID take 3 years, plus. sylvia

2Mares
Feb. 13, 2008, 12:41 PM
Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. She already has a couple noisy toys in her stall, but she doesn't really need anything else in her stall. I spent a ton of time desensitizing her after she ran me over when a car door slammed shut. Then the first time she saw a radio across from her stall, her eyes were as big as saucers and she looked like she was about to jump through her stall gate. She was very hot to lead, but now I call her my QH on a lead because she's much more relaxed. It built up a lot of trust between us to the point that she got her blanket caught on her water bucket and no one could get in her stall to unhook her because she was freaking out. Luckily, I got there at that time. Once she saw me she was like oh mom's here, was calm as could be and let me get her blanket unhooked and off of her.

Plastic bags just get my horse to come to you since I always bring their treats in plastic bags. None of my horses are scared of that, just likely to get a muzzle nudging you or hear my appy mare's cute little nicker.

So since I have a lot of trust on the ground, I took Katarine's suggestion and started to do some arena work. I put out a small tarp, roughly 8x8, folded in half so about 4x8. I put her on a lounge line and the first day I got her to walk over that. Lots of praise and no rushing. Second day did the same, then unfolded it so she'd have to have all 4 on at once. Third day, (today), I walked her over the 8x8 tarp then got on her and walked over it without a problem. I'll continue to do stuff like this, introduce it on the lounge then riding until I am able to build up to just introducing it when I am aboard. She's been wonderful so far.

fourh mom-Getting off on a trail is not an option with this mare especially if it is something she refuses to cross. Horses are way too prone to jumping over scarey things and landing right where you are standing.

Thanks everyone!

katarine
Feb. 13, 2008, 04:59 PM
you can also consider driving her from the ground over scary things. Glad she's doing well. now go rattle some pie plates while she walks over the tarp ;)

I teach my horses to hop over things on a lead line/long line, using a driving posture/body placement more toward their hip think airs above the ground and where those handler's stand...some places I can't ride over a big log for example, due to low branches overhead- and i'd rather them get there first, then I'll climb over it after them. Much safer. Climb on and go.

Keep on thinking about boogery things. Pool noodles are great- they flop around, scatter in the wind, etc. excellent. My arena looks like a playground some days ;)