Naughty pony that bolts in hand (not under saddle)
Ok - drafty type large pony, very stoic dude. Good riding, TERRIBLE in-hand.
He's been here about 3 weeks now and the first day we realized his imperfection - he bolts off in hand. Where does he bolt to? Just far enough to be rid of you and eat grass. :-P
He isn't hot. He isn't nervous. He isn't high energy. He has a big head and bigger neck and I'm guessing he has an opinion of what he'd rather be doing.
Stiff rope halter with knots, check. Chain under the chin, check. Dressage whip, check. 20 years experience handling boarded horses, check.
He still gets away from us. He's give a few of us some rope burns and he drug my SO across the barn yard. :-\ Funny thing is, as soon as you let go he gets just far enough away, eats grass and you can walk right up and catch him and do whatever it was you were doing with him.
The other day I had him in the barn aisle way and I stopped to talk to someone. Well he bolted and went 2 stalls down and just stood there. :-\
He has no sensitivity to the whip (not on his legs, chest, side, or bonking him on the bridge of the nose with the handle) and very little to the rope halter and chain combo. We've got the chain running like arabian show people do (hooked back to itself). I know we all wear gloves now. :-\
SO - we dug up this really stiff thin rawhide side pull with huge rings and put the chain under that. I think he feels it... I think.
So we have been working him in hand and while doing exercises that may trigger him we've also gotten a lunge line and a 2nd person tethered so he doesn't get that gratification of getting loose. So I guess that is a start.
He is almost impossible to lunge, he has no respect for a whip and just has no gumption to get moving. Not even in a round pen.
He doesn't pull back when tied or anything like that. He is, however, obnoxious at feeding time.
So, I know 3 weeks isn't enough time to turn the tide (his previous owner, a teenageer, had him for 5 years so who knowls when this started and how long he's been doing it). I'm just digging around for any tips or exercises, BESIDES befriending a VERY BIG MAN to lead him around.
I knew a 17 hh warmblood jus tthe same. The ban staff would not handle him.
The trick for him was to grab him the split second he thought of taking off -before he could get going, but that took timing.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
This guy is SO "Thelwel Cartoon" it isn't funny. He just doesn't care about anything.
So we were talking at the barn about this just brain storming.
Someone came up with the idea of treat based clicker training to make him WANT to stay with you. And I can see it work, but I can also see him totally mauling you for food. I mean, he is bad at feeding time.
Someone else said *aheim* "Too bad you couldn't put the dog's shock collar on him".
Someone else said to put a grazing muzzle on him so there was no reward when he gets loose.
I had a QHXMustang gelding who figured this out. He'd do it at the barn or if you got off out in the hinterlands to look at something, he'd leave.
The only thing which got his attention was a long lunge line clipped to one shank, forget the halter, needed some bite. He bolted one time and I the split reins slipped from my hands but I still had hold of the lunge line. He played it all the way out and you could see a big ?? over his head. I set him down on his rear as hard as I could and then, from the distance of the end of the lunge, I jerked him and made him run backward as far as I thought I still had the upper hand. Then I reeled him in, grabbed the reins and walked around. He didn't try it again. Not quite the same situ you are talking about but maybe this will spark an idea.
A trick I found that worked with a horse who tried to run off in hand (not as bad as this though...) was to run the chain through the halter, through the mouth, hook to the ring where you attach the lead rope (not the lead rope itself). Not pretty, but it got his attention. But he was very respectful of the bit u/s, so if this pony isn't, then my suggestion won't do much. Good luck!
I had a mustang mare that loved to pull the same stuff. One time my husband had her and she bolted, but she was on a hill. When my husband set his feet, she pulled her own feet out from under her and rolled down the hill. I don't recommend this, but she never bolted again!
You mention you used a "stiff rope halter", not all stiff rope halters are the same...... this is not an ad...however- I've had a couple BIG, STRONG, in hand bolters who absolutely respected the authentic Clinton Anderson rope halter. It is thin and very stiff and nose knots in just the right spots to hit the nerves. If someone's thinkin about being naughty or won't pay attention, on goes this halter and it's "Yes Maam, Whatever You Say". Like they're ready to salute. It's amazing the difference. They even make ugly faces when they see it coming. lol.
Like everybody else said...it's hard when they realize they're bigger than you and don't really have to listen if they don't want to.
I know a couple drafty types who've never been entirely trained out of this problem after it became an engrained (from earlier owners) habit.
The trick is to be on top of things. This isn't a horse you can just sort of mosey around with. You've got to be on your toes all the time in hand so you can catch things before they escalate (like somebody else said, it takes timing) and never let him have even a little bit of leeway. He stays right at your shoulder (don't let him even think about getting in front of you even a little), he stops precisely when you stop, walks on when you do, etcetcetc.
It's harder if he's not responsive to the 'normal' cues, whip, whatever. You might have to change things up a bit and see what works for him. You might have to reward him with a treat for even the smallest movement in the direction you want when on the longe or whatever so he gets the idea that it's a good idea to do what you say because he gets what he wants (food) for it.
Though really, at some point, I'd only give him treats when he does something seriously worth it and otherwise not give him any treats whatsoever so they become particularly high value when you do give them out.
Will he free longe in a round pen? Have you actually smacked him with the lunge whip or just smacked it behind his butt? Have you tried the "shaking a plastic bag on the end of the whip" method? Sometimes that can shake them up a bit.
I don't know, just my thoughts off the top of my head on the matter.
The chiffney bit worked with a horse that did that on the lunge - and the handler had all the length of the lunge to pull him sideways.
Does he do it loading?? 'cause you have him then - wrap the rope around the trailer post and he will run into himself as he takes off...and I would not feel sorry for him at this point. He does know better but also is testing.
Also, they remember forever - the good training and the bad - so he will pull this again with anybody he thinks he can...even if he is good as gold with you.
And I would always have the equipment on him, do . not . trust . him!
Isn't it amazing how insensitive these sensitive creatures an be? A flick of a finger can get them moving, or they can pull your arms out.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
Lunge line with chain over the nose so he does not ever get the satisfaction of getting loose. And a good pop when he pulls the stunt. In the event he gets away a bit, I don't think there is anything wrong with pulling him off his feet if you have the opportunity to do so without hurting him - i.e. if you can pull from the side with just the right timing it is often relatively easy on them versus hauling on them if they are bolting straight away, although even in that case if it were me I would be prepared for them to hit the end of the line so to speak. Or try to move fast enough so they weren't headed directly away and then give them a bit of 'feedback'. He needs to know who has the upper hand and perhaps even have a surprise or two to demonstrate this to him. He is exhibiting dangerous behaviors so I personally would take the slight risk of hurting him now to save him or you more serious injury later.
Oh, SPS, I have that exact horse in Morgan pony form. He learned that if he can throw his shoulder into the lead rope, the person on the other end doesn't have a prayer of holding on. The pony is 27 and still can pull that move. People laugh at me when I say "make sure he wears his stud chain and you really need to watch him, he'll take off". "This little 27 year old pony??? Ha, no way." Then they laugh even harder when he's galloping back to his stall or to his nearest BFF or the nearest patch of grass.
Several years back, I was out of town and I let my trainer's daughter ride my horse. Old pony pulled his magic, and trainer (father) got super pissed (rightfully so). Trainer went to teach the pony a lesson, pony pulled the exact same thing on the trainer. So my version of "very big man friend" didn't work a lick.
I don't have much to tell you. I knew what situations prompted the move (e.g. if he was separated from his buddy) and either avoided them or put myself on high alert. I learned how to recognize the look in the pony's eye and his demeanor right before he took off. It's subtle, but once you see it, it's easily recognizable. Then he'd get a pop with the chain. But as I said, I've had this horse for 20 years. He knows I'll beat him into oblivion if he tries it with me. That being said, he'll still catch me off guard every now and again and book it. I try to find silver linings; at least neither of our horses run away. It could be worse!
A pony at a barn I used to work at did the exact same thing. The barn manager put a chain over his nose and popped him when he tried bolting, then made him back up, move his feet, etc until she regained his attention/respect. It took a few sessions but he eventually stopped. However, he had to have a chain over his nose at all times or he would try to bolt again.
Maybe try putting the chain over his nose instead of his chin? If that doesn't work go with a chiffney or something similar as others have suggested.
Stud chain twisted around the halter over the nose and up the right side clipped high. It gives you more leverage than just clipping the chain straight across. If that doesn't work then loosen the chain and slip it in his mouth. This worked well for one that was a little nutso on stall rest.
A boarder brought us a big dink of a warmblood gelding who had no respect for anyone on the ground, particularly if there was a trailer involved. A Chiffney bit and a good sense of timing were magic with him; it might be worth trying on your pony as well.
Agree with Woodsperson. Chain through the left side of the halter, over the nose, back through the right side, under the jaw and clipped to the upper ring. Getting your entire face popped with the chain earns more respect then just over/under the nose.
Do you have the option of containing him in one space for a period of time?
If he's an a$$ to handle, he frankly doesn't deserve a stall all that much. Leave him in a small pen (round pen is great if possible)and don't even attach yourself to him at first. Leave a halter on in case you NEED to catch him, but otherwise, forget about the rope for now. The horse has no respect for people, so by attaching yourself to him you're just putting yourself in danger.
Teach him to move out of your space. If you ask him to move forward, you ask once, nicely, how you want your cue to be at some point in the future. Then tap him with the whip only as hard as you need to to get his attention. And when he ignores that, crack him with it. Hard. Hard enough to ENSURE you get a response. Yes, you are hurting him, but he needs to learn to respect people and their space before he gets seriously hurt or hurts someone else. Preferably with a voice cue, in the same even tone. Don't do it in anger, just that firm, tough love voice you'd use on a bratty child.
It'll take him a few tries, but he should figure out that if he moves when you ask nice, he doesn't get the not nice whacking. Get him moving his feet, sideways, backwards, forwards. Then get him stopping, using "whoa" and release of pressure (and possibly a fence panel).
He needs to learn that moving off is your idea, and your idea only.
Then add a lead, with a chain shank over the nose. Use a fairly short line, so if you have to drop it he won't get tangled. If he tries to bull through you, pop the chain and crack him wherever you need to to stop him. If he gets away from you, make him work. Not running, but backwards and side to side. Because if he has to consistently work when he gets away, instead of getting to chill out and eat, leaving becomes a lot less appealing. Grab him and try again, until he stops getting away.
Then work in a slightly bigger, but still enclosed space. Work your way up. Make sure you have others handle him at each step, so he learns it isn't just you that's in charge.
I would always handle this horse with a chain, and probably a whip.
Good luck, however you go about it. This is just what I would do. It's not the most pleasant method, but its not going to be very nice when the tasty bit of grass is at the side of the road and he gets slammed, either.