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Ground manners

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  • Ground manners

    Hi - Does anyone have any ground exercises they can recommend for re establishing your dominance? My gelding was sick for the past 6 weeks so I was being very nice to him letting him get away with things and now that he's better he thinks he's the leader. He's also been very grumpy about his blankets, he almost kicked me in the head the other day! I started making him stand and wait for his feed and I'm being more assertive during blanket changes, on the cross ties and while leading ect. but what other things can I do daily on the ground to show him I'm the boss? Any tips would be great, thanks!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Wyleed View Post
    Hi - Does anyone have any ground exercises they can recommend for re establishing your dominance? My gelding was sick for the past 6 weeks so I was being very nice to him letting him get away with things and now that he's better he thinks he's the leader. He's also been very grumpy about his blankets, he almost kicked me in the head the other day! I started making him stand and wait for his feed and I'm being more assertive during blanket changes, on the cross ties and while leading ect. but what other things can I do daily on the ground to show him I'm the boss? Any tips would be great, thanks!
    Watch Clinton Anderson. Not only is he entertaining but very easy to follow. Really worked well for both my OTTB and Perch/TB cross. They are super respectful and easy to handle. As a bonus, they have really learned to think BEFORE they react. I really love his methods. Good luck!

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    • #3
      Making him wait for his feed is good. In my barn, I make the horses back up when I enter the stall and they are not allowed to approach the grain or hay until I am outside. As long as I am in the stall, everything in it belongs to me.

      If he is being pushy when you lead, a good dose of "instant manners" (otherwise known as a stud chain) can go a long way to improving the situation. I have a six year old gelding here, born and raised on the farm who occasionally needs this. One or two days of the chain and it's like "oh yeah. I forgot you ARE the one in charge here".

      If he's trying to kick you, definitely keep safety in mind at all times. Make sure he is on a lead shank when you are blanketing him so that he can't turn his butt towards you at all. Carry a crop and if he lifts a leg as though he's threatening, give him a resounding "NO", letting him know with your voice that it's not acceptable. If he does it again, use the crop and give him a good whop. I'm not ever one for "beating" a horse, but you always have to remember that horses are herd animals with a definite pecking order within that herd and the way that dominance is established is by first threatening (ears laid back, sometimes a squeal). If the lesser horse doesn't listen, the pinned ears are followed up by a bite or kick. Your voice first, followed by the crop replaces the natural face-making, biting and kicking that you see in a herd.

      Just keep insisting that YOU are alpha and he'll soon become your respectful pal again.

      BTW, I too like CA. His theory of "ask, tell, spank" is VERY effective. That's what horses do to each other. The dominant horse will move to the hay pile to drive the lower horse off. (ask) If the lower horse doesn't move right away, the dominant horse will pin his ears, snake his head, etc. (tell) If the lower horse still doesn't move, the dominant horse will reinforce the rules with a swift bite or kick. (spank)
      IF YOU THINK YOUR BRAIN IS NOT WORTH PROTECTING WITH A HELMET, YOU'RE PROBABLY RIGHT!

      Damrock Farm

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      • #4
        If you're making him wait for his feed just because, that's not addressing the issue. If he's good with his feed, reward that behavior by giving him his food. Obviously, if he's being aggressive at feeding, you DO need to wait until he becomes pleasant.

        Deal with unwanted behaviors on the spot - if he's kicking out at blankets, don't assume it's just because he's decided to be nasty - if he didn't used to do this, and now does, there may be a very valid reason. It doesn't make it excusable to kick at you, so definitely reprimand for that, but if this is a change in behavior, find out why. The shedding Winter coat with a shorter Summer hair under it may make a blanket a bit uncomfortable, for example.

        You don't really have to actively work him to get the respect back but use every interaction with him to work on things. When you're leading him, make sure he keeps up with you, not lagging, not dragging you ahead, not crowding your space. You can take a few extra minutes in the coming and going to ask him to halt, back up a few steps, move his shoulders over, move his hind end over, just a few things and quit on a good note.

        If you don't HAVE to cross tie him, just hold his lead while you work on him. Not being tied gives you a lot more room for immediate reprimand for something worthy of it that he may do, such as trying to bite or kick you. Nothing worse than not being able to lay on some serious discipline for those 2 things for fear of him breaking cross ties or something.

        Don't think of this as being the boss - that's not often a good image to have. But you are alpha, you are the leader, but you SHOULD also be fair and kind. "I am the boss of you", and "I'll boss you around" - those people are not always fair or kind. I have an alpha horse (my mare) and a boss horse (gelding). The mare is the one the others look to for coming in for breakfast - if she doesn't, the others rarely will (and boss gelding never will). If she wants to move the boys to another part of the pasture, she gently herds them. But the boss gelding will come across the pasture to demand someone move out of the space he is now claiming, and he's very pushy shovey about it, not very polite.
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks for all of the advice, he is a very sensitive gelding and has always been a bit grumpy about his blankets, he doesn't like them because they sometimes have static cling and shock him or occasionally I'm sure they pinch him a bit, but he doesn't have any rubs so I think he's just being his sensitive self. He had Lyme recently & ulcers so he might have been very soar at one point and now associates the blankets with pain? He can also be pushy during feeding time so I decided to just be more assertive all around now that he's feeling better. I am not sure if he kicked me on purpose or if I startled him and he was just doing what instinct told him to do but either way I guess it can't hurt to reinforce good manners. I think I became a bit too trusting around his hind end just because he's typically respectful of humans and I've always been able to tack him up in his stall and do blanket changes with out having to put a halter and lead on him, so really it's my own fault for walking up behind him to fix his sheet assuming he would just stand there like he normally does. He is a pushy guy though & very opinionated. I have started making him wait for food and stand still during his blanket changes with out a lead or anything on him (I just make sure I'm ready to jump out of the way if he decides not to listen and be a beast) but so far it seems to be working well. I make him stop whatever he's doing and stand still until I'm done, if he moves or pins his ears ect. I yell sharply until he stops and stands still again. The leading work is a good idea too, I will start with that today, he does sometimes lag behind me or get pushy and try to rub his head on me while we are walking. I think he just assumes I'm his groom/care taker and not his leader I will see if I can get my hands on a book or DVD, the ask, tell spank theory makes a lot of sense to me!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Wyleed View Post
            Thanks for all of the advice, he is a very sensitive gelding and has always been a bit grumpy about his blankets, he doesn't like them because they sometimes have static cling and shock him or occasionally I'm sure they pinch him a bit, but he doesn't have any rubs so I think he's just being his sensitive self. He had Lyme recently & ulcers so he might have been very soar at one point and now associates the blankets with pain? He can also be pushy during feeding time so I decided to just be more assertive all around now that he's feeling better. I am not sure if he kicked me on purpose or if I startled him and he was just doing what instinct told him to do but either way I guess it can't hurt to reinforce good manners. I think I became a bit too trusting around his hind end just because he's typically respectful of humans and I've always been able to tack him up in his stall and do blanket changes with out having to put a halter and lead on him, so really it's my own fault for walking up behind him to fix his sheet assuming he would just stand there like he normally does. He is a pushy guy though & very opinionated. I have started making him wait for food and stand still during his blanket changes with out a lead or anything on him (I just make sure I'm ready to jump out of the way if he decides not to listen and be a beast) but so far it seems to be working well. I make him stop whatever he's doing and stand still until I'm done, if he moves or pins his ears ect. I yell sharply until he stops and stands still again. The leading work is a good idea too, I will start with that today, he does sometimes lag behind me or get pushy and try to rub his head on me while we are walking. I think he just assumes I'm his groom/care taker and not his leader I will see if I can get my hands on a book or DVD, the ask, tell spank theory makes a lot of sense to me!
            LEAD SHANK. ALL the time. Being ready to "jump out of the way" won't get you anywhere. Just yelling sometimes won't be enough, and you'll need that shank to be able to correct him.

            When he goes to rub his head on you, a well-placed elbow sure changes their mind quickly. Also carry a lunge or dressage whip and lightly tap him on the hindquarters if he tries to lag.
            runnjump86 Instagram

            Horse Junkies United guest blogger

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks runNJump, I will give him the elbow if he rubs on me and start tapping him when he lags behind!

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Last night a friend I used to ride with weekly trailered over to ride with us, my gelding was terrible! I have been riding alone 80 percent of the time over the winter and he does get a little up when I do ride during a lesson or with another horse in the ring, but I can usually correct it with some half halts and a loud "knock it off!" but last night he was half rearing/half bucking and trying to bolt/throw me over and over. It was really frustrating because I was doing everything I could to stay on so I couldn't get after him with a hard tap behind the leg or on the top of his head when he tried to rear. I ended up bringing him into another ring and chasing him around. He galloped around bucking like a mad man and then when I brought him back to the other ring I got back on. He was better but at that point my friend was just walking her horse cooling him out so we trotted and cantered by them and ended the ride because he was finally behaving. He used to live in a herd with this horse and was very attached to him at one point. I was hoping that time apart would make the issue better but it appears to have made it worse. I have been told that I need to gain respect back on the ground in order to be the leader again under saddle. He should be paying attention to me and want to be with me and not the other horse working in the ring. Any additional suggestions on herd bound behavior/ gaining respect back would be appreciated.

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