3 Year Old - Likes to "Paw" Things - Any Solutions to Make Her Stop?
My young 3-year old who is almost 17 hands thinks she is a dog and has the habit of "pawing" things up to 2 feet in the air to get attention. She pulled a shoe this weekend over a water trough and is now lame - hoping it it nothing serious.
I am afraid she is going to break a leg. She is so overly friendly that she does this to get attention - she really is like a dog.
There are clicker training techniques that can be used for this - basically you put the behavior on a cue and then you never ask for it. It sounds weird but it can work extremely well. This kind of issue is covered pretty well in dog training recipes and there's no reason you can't use it with a horse.
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket
I take it your horsie paws even when no ones around? That's tough.
But I would start by any time you see her pawing, give her a quick whip on the offending leg with a crop. Typically it only takes a firm tap, (not a hard angry whap, which I don't advise) just something to get their attention. They generally understand and stop doing it.
I'd start in the stall and on cross ties. Once she stands quietly for one minute without pawing, give her a little treat reward so she knows standing quietly is good. Then slowly increase the times...two minutes....three minutes. She'll get the hang of it.
I had to do this with my mare that threatened to kick with a back leg whenever on cross ties. Believe me, that's when you need to use a crop hard!
If you come up with answer that works I would love to know about it.
I have a now 3 yo that I describe as approaching life feet/hoof/leg first. She walks up to things and sticks a hoof in them. Fence, gate, water trough, feed tub, jolly ball, puddle, anything. I have to hang her water buckets pretty high just so she does not stick her feet in them. She has stuck a hoof over the dutch door of her stall for no real reason (in other words, nothing is going on that would cause her to be upset, etc). I came home from work once and she had removed the open gate (it was not closed, it was open so they had access to the pasture, it opens flat against the fence) from its hinges using this lovely technique. Lots of stitches later and a new gate she still does it.
I have whacked her with a whip, I have chased her away, I have done just about everything. She still does it.
Sounds like your horse is wired just like mine. Mine is just overly friendly and sweet - but I am worried about breaking a leg. And mine is so big that picking a leg up and putting it over a dutch door would be easy for her.
Yeah, mine is nosey. I think that is part of the reason for her doing silly things. Mine is only 14.2h so getting her leg over her dutch door is work. She frequently goes for the 'how high can I go' affect when doing her hoof putting thing.
There was a horse at our barn who would kick her stall door in the evening to get people to give her hay. Drove most of us crazy - the ones who would give in and give her the hay were not the ones who used the crossties beside her stall! So we decided to substitute one behavior for another. When she kicked, we'd give her some unpleasant attention (ranged from growling to a swish (nearby, no contact) with a dressage whip) and if she nickered, which she would volunteer if she heard the hay rustle, we'd give her a handful of hay. She was a quick study and caught on fast. Nickering we can deal with and we do reward it, intermittently, with a handful of hay. Once in a blue moon she'll still kick the stall door and we'll ignore it if we can, or growl or swish as needed to remind her.
I'd try to teach your horse a really good "stand" command so you can praise her for something positive when she starts to paw for attention. I have no idea what you would do about pawing that's not attention-seeking...