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Ground Manners = Undersaddle Manners?

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  • #81
    Good ground work is the basis of good saddle work. Do the job right on the ground and the odds are firmly in your favor when it comes time to step in the leathers.

    I've started working with a coming four year old. He's not got a mean bone in his body, but as a foal folks thought is was cute to let him get "friendly." Well, it is cute in a 300 pound foal. I'ts less cute in a 1000 pound horse. So he's not allowed to constantly "be friendly." He's required to stand where he's put. He has to move left or right or back or front as required. I can touch him where ever and when ever I want; he can touch me if, but only if, I invite it. I have my crop in the top of my boot when we do ground stuff (including grooming) and he is learning to respect it, my space, my rules, etc. He's also coming on very nicely under saddle. It's all part of the same "package."

    Now, as a youngster, his attention span is limited, lots of stuff is new, and we're still working on using training to overcome his natural instincts. In short, he make a lot of mistakes. He's getting fewer and fewer "byes" on those mistakes.

    I think as a six year old he's gonna be a good one. But we've got some ground to cover, first.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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    • #82
      Originally posted by mayhew View Post
      So, to get him to respect me on the ground I have yelled and waved my hands when he is really pushy. I have even slapped his neck, and he comes back to me all excited like "yay, mom, hit me more, hit me harder!" Hitting this horse does nothing. Yelling at this horse does nothing. The whole twenty-seconds-of-hell thing? He LOVES it. What do I do?
      I have a warmblood gelding just like this but he only has personal space issues when he is loose in his paddock and I am cleaning. His favorite thing to do is to push the wheelbarrow over and then run away. I have found that a loud 'sssssssst' and a rock thrown at his rear half usually do the trick but of course this wouldn't work for you because your horse is in hand.

      My gelding is the same in hand as he is under saddle (when he was still being ridden) which is too lazy to get up to mischief punctuated by the occasional 'we are all going to die' spook. He used to be handled by his previous owner with a stud chain at all times but I find I rarely need it.

      The pony is really good in hand but is not much fun to ride at all.
      My blog: Crackerdog Farm

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      • #83
        Originally posted by mayhew View Post
        Thanks, ako, I think you're right. When he is nosing my hair I do think of a comment I saw here "a horse can take a finger or nose off in an instant." He would never mean to cause harm like that but he most certainly could by accident. You all have convinced me, things need to change. Now, whether that will translate to riding, I'm still not sure!
        I never, ever let my horses do any 'cuddling' type behavior with me.
        My blog: Crackerdog Farm

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        • #84
          Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
          Good ground work is the basis of good saddle work. Do the job right on the ground and the odds are firmly in your favor when it comes time to step in the leathers.

          I've started working with a coming four year old. He's not got a mean bone in his body, but as a foal folks thought is was cute to let him get "friendly." Well, it is cute in a 300 pound foal. I'ts less cute in a 1000 pound horse. So he's not allowed to constantly "be friendly." He's required to stand where he's put. He has to move left or right or back or front as required. I can touch him where ever and when ever I want; he can touch me if, but only if, I invite it. I have my crop in the top of my boot when we do ground stuff (including grooming) and he is learning to respect it, my space, my rules, etc. He's also coming on very nicely under saddle. It's all part of the same "package."

          Now, as a youngster, his attention span is limited, lots of stuff is new, and we're still working on using training to overcome his natural instincts. In short, he make a lot of mistakes. He's getting fewer and fewer "byes" on those mistakes.

          I think as a six year old he's gonna be a good one. But we've got some ground to cover, first.

          G.
          Yep, put the odds in my favor, not guarantee! And the "I'm the boss" lesson starts NOW. Even just grooming-they move for me, not vice versa. I also agree with glimmering that some horses really are just nutty, or great natural buckers, or whatever, and no amount of groundwork is really going to address it. But still, I like the odds in my favor. They weight a LOT more than I do and I need to feel safe!

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          • #85
            Originally posted by mayhew View Post
            FineAlready, he is not young at all. He is 14. He should be in the prime of his career, however he was sold through two board bill situations and I am bringing him back, and, to be quite honest, I baby him like he is a newborn. I'm a special ed teacher, so I apply the same methods to him that I do with my students. Ultimately, we get to the same result (in our case, 20 m circles at all gaits) but it takes A LOT longer to get there than it should.

            ETA: I get what you are saying about ten becoming fifteen, becoming twenty, becoming twenty-five. I am NOT willing to deal with that. In terms of groundwork, what did you do?
            I understand what you are saying there, but also consider that really, horses won't rationalize like humans do, even those that don't understand and/or communicate so well.

            What may help you is not how you treat kids or horses, but that you keep changing what you do to fit the situation and individual.
            Those skills you use there work for humans and all other animals.
            That at least is the way I learned to train horses and has worked wonderfully for my whole life.
            Treat a horse like the horse it is, as I am sure you already do.

            I had lately yet one more combination, an older horse that was wonderful to handle on the ground and good to ride, but if you kept him turned out, he became feral, watchy and shied from everything, even other horses.
            I saw him get scared of some noise and run off feed flat out running over another horse like it was not even there.
            When handled and ridden, that horse was handicapped program safe, the kind that would close his eyes and go sleep when being trimmed.
            On his own, without people to give him confidence, he was a big time wimp.

            There were people that could not catch him outside and he truly was scared, seemed to forget what humans were.
            That is the second such horse I have known from hundreds/thousands I have known.

            I think that horses, like people, come in all combinations of personalities and to figure them out is part of the fun of working with them.

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            • #86
              Mayhew, do you have a GOOD western trainer nearby? One who handles halter horses - but even more, one who deals with youth or amateurs who show showmanship? If so, take a couple lessons - with your horse. Perhaps trainer would let you work with one of his horses while s/he works with yours.

              Carol
              www.ayliprod.com
              Equine Photography in the Northeast

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              • #87
                My last horse had perfect ground manners. Vets loved him, the shoer loved him, he was always quiet and obedient. However, under saddle he had issues. He was started on the ground by one person, then under saddle by someone else (less competent). I think it just depends on who starts the horse.
                In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

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                • #88
                  I think it depends. My one horse is a saint undersaddle, on the ground he is a dingbat. Fine to lead, groom etc, not so hot for the farrier, and is a chronic weaver. He is very ocd and if you vary his on the ground routine he can get fruity. Under saddle, never..I think however, he may be the exception to the rule.

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                  • #89
                    I knew a gelding as a kid that we were all "afraid" of on the ground. He required you to catch him with a whip, head in a large bucket with grain to put lead on, and a neck rope tied to a TELEPHONE POLE!! He was absolutely HONEST under saddle, jumped anything and everything and make his rider look amazing!!!
                    Strange how much you've got to know Before you know how little you know. Anonymous

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                    • #90
                      I definitely think it correlates. I have a redhead TB mare and she will definitely test me. She was particularly grumpy when I rode yesterday. She was fine when I brought her in, but while I was tacking her up she was laying her ears back and biting the air when I would tighten the girth. She got a smack and a firm "knock it off" for this behavior. She was also acting grumpy at the mounting block. She got another smack and verbal reprimand for that. She did stand perfectly still though and once she started working, the ears went forward and we had pleasant. Every once in a while she gets a "leading lesson". This usually only occurs when she tries to forge ahead of me or snatch grass. The lesson consists of walk next to me at the speed I am and stop immediately when I ask. I may need to get after her and back her up a bit for the pulling ahead. Usually I have to do this a couple of times a year. Fot the most part though she stands tied at the trailer while she is groomed and tacked. I can go in the barn to add water to her beet pulp or talk to the barn manager and expect to find her still tied to the trailer when I come out. All the geldings were snorting and galloping around their field right next to the ring and where my trailer is parked and my mare stood there munching on her alfalfa forage.

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                      • #91
                        To me a horse is a whole animal. I don't like to see them "bifurcated" into "halter animals" and "saddle animals."

                        We once had a draft cross that was great under saddle and frankly dangerous on the ground. You had to move like you were swimming in cold molasses around her or she would JUMP. She was not a biter or kicker, only very shy about any sort of movement, particularly around her head (I think prior owners whipped up on her head pretty regularly). Of course what went on before, while a "nice to know," does not always help with the here and now. So our program was to mover very slowly, but steadily increasing, until we could get to "normal speed." It was not a quick project, but eventually we got most of the "jump" out of her. If she'd been aggressive in her fear I'd of likely gotten rid of her. I don't need that sort of aggravation.

                        Most really bad ground behavior I've ever seen is clearly the responsibility of the owner du jour. They accept it and work around it. That simply perpetuates it and can cause it to become much worse. Horses have differing temperaments. Some are more passive, some more aggressive. The smart owner figures out what kind of temperament they are dealing with and then uses techniques designed to give them, the human, the upper hand.

                        The owners of the worst behaved animals I've ever seen were those steeped in anthropomorphism. They were convinced that "love conquers all" and that if they just loved Old Clomper enough they would come around. The lucky ones never got badly hurt; not all were lucky.

                        IMO a horse is a complete animal. If they behave badly in one area but not in others then that's more serendipity than anything else.

                        G.
                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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