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Ground work for the "sporadic, reactive, should-know-better-at-this-age" horse?

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  • Ground work for the "sporadic, reactive, should-know-better-at-this-age" horse?

    Where to start with Jay..

    Jay is a 14 year old OTTB that I've had since he was 5. He's always been "unique". He was a terrible cribber, head shaker, had horrible kissing spines, and is all around a nervous, stressed out horse.

    I competed him until I realized the kissing spines (oh that's why you're taking off with me all the time and refusing to go down drops x-country..) and since then he's been my lawn mower.

    I adore the horse but he can be very temperamental.

    I guess I could say he's gotten "better". He used to colic ALL the time (even with gastro gaurd, mushed senior feed, EVERYTHING), and was impossible to keep weight on or be content.

    He's been turn out at home with me for the last 6 years and with 24/7 turn out, his mini donk buddy who never leaves him, and 10lbs of feed a day, he gets by.

    I completely admit that I don't spend enough time with him. I feed him everyday and make sure he's healthy, but I don't handle him much. He trots down to the barn to eat. I put his bucket on the ground (which him promptly knocks over and eats off the ground), and then I leave.

    Now that my show horse is home, I've been spending more time at the barn. I brush juice and ride him and all that stuff. I want to be more involved with Jay so I've started with him too.

    it hasn't be going well.

    I attempted to brush him last week and we broke the bailing twine tie 5 times before I gave up and just let him stand in the field to brush him. My lovely farrier almost killed him because he was so bad getting his feet trimmed today. I tried to do some ground work with him and when I was practicing leading him in and out of their run in (which he spends all day in under his fan all summer..) he would spin around and drag me out. He's impossible to man-handle. I had a trainer try to "force" him into a trailer, which resulted in him dragging the lady backwards until he smashed into her truck..

    I refuse for him to be a menace to society any longer!

    I've never been that into ground work, but I think that will help (especially since I don't ride his crazy @ss!).

    Where can I find some good resources. I goolged some things but I got a lot of lunging articles that wasn't really what I wanted.

    Any tips or ideas??

    Thanks!!

    Just to put a face with a name... Jay memories and a current picture:

    Jay Pictures

    ***btw, he's up to date on all vet care and has been assessed for his gastro problems with in the year. He has a lot of scar tissue from an interior enteritis years ago which makes it hard to absorb his nutrients***
    Last edited by Meredith Clark; May. 13, 2013, 11:45 PM.
    http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

  • #2
    Get a trainer to show you how to correctly use a chain over his nose. Each time he runs you over, gets loose, etc is reinforcing the bad behavior.

    *Note-You do not attach cross ties/standing tie to a chain over the nose.

    Comment


    • #3
      Good for you for keeping him and giving him a good life! Sounds like he needs a refresher in plain old manners. I'm no trainer but have done a lot of ground work with my mare.
      My Ottb used to be obnoxious at times, and got the chain over her nose when leading, and consistent handling at all times.
      She also thoroughly enjoyed carrot stretches, which I started on my chiro's recommendation, but then became a game and pass time between us. She loved it because it kept her thinking and the stretches felt good. (I swear I could turn this horse into a circus horse!)
      She does not have the best conformation and had hip problems when I bought her at the track (hence the chiro work) and is also narrow behind. She was bad for the farrier at first, until we realized that she needed support when having her hind feet done. So we'd place her with the opposite hip against the wall, and she could lean against it for support - problem solved. Now, all I have to do is put a hand on her hip when I see she's iffy.

      You can do so much with ground work, but you have to be consistent and insist on good manners even then.

      I would start with yielding to pression such as 1/4 turn on the forehand, to 1/2 turn, turn on the haunches, backing up and moving forward towards you a certain amount of steps... I used baby carrots for praise. Now I can do all of that at liberty. Mare LOVES the games and the attention.

      She was never bad in cross ties or regular ties, but if she had been, I would probably have tried to teach her to ground tie.
      Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        I know how to correctly use a chain over a nose, and I know it works very well for some horses, especially OTTBs. I have a OTTB who knows the min. that chain goes over his nose he better shape up.. but with Jay, it just makes him more upset. He's sort of a "you get more flies with honey" type of horse.

        Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
        Get a trainer to show you how to correctly use a chain over his nose. Each time he runs you over, gets loose, etc is reinforcing the bad behavior.

        *Note-You do not attach cross ties/standing tie to a chain over the nose.
        http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by sophie View Post
          Good for you for keeping him and giving him a good life! Sounds like he needs a refresher in plain old manners. I
          Thank you! When I get a horse it's mine for life, for better or for worse!! (except for Woody who is at a therapeutic riding facility)

          I really do adore Jay, and he's been through a lot, and has many medical issues that he can't control. I just want him to be more polite. God forbid I die, who would be willing to take his crazy butt!!
          http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

          Comment


          • #6
            I would recommend Parelli ground work (this is in hand work, the Parellis do liberty work but that is later, the do not use round pen)

            Parelli sometimes gets a bad rap but that seems to be people who know nothing about it. What it is is at basic level is very simple, easy to use ground work. I am not a Parelli "fanatic" but have found it extremely beneficial with two difficult horses, one who stood in a field 12 years with almost no handling.

            Start with "The seven games". They can be looked up on the internet, lots of free information on them. You can also buy the Basic DVD on ebay and re sell it later for same price you bought it for (that is what I did). The equipment is a rope halter, carrot stick, and lead line that they make the line is fantastic, heavier and thicker than normal with a quick release snap and yet velvet soft in the hand. Have someone show you how to tie on the rope halter if you have never used one. The work is basic, about moving their feet, side pass, backing up, and respecting your space, but they teach it in a specific and easy to understand manner, and one can learn the basics in several days and be working with the horse. Results are almost immediate, within even one or two sessions with horse there is positive change.

            You can also find a Parelli or general Natural Horseman instructor and work with them, well worth it and tremendous fun as well.

            Best of luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Countrywood View Post
              I would recommend Parelli ground work (this is in hand work, the Parellis do liberty work but that is later, the do not use round pen)

              Parelli sometimes gets a bad rap but that seems to be people who know nothing about it. What it is is at basic level is very simple, easy to use ground work. I am not a Parelli "fanatic" but have found it extremely beneficial with two difficult horses, one who stood in a field 12 years with almost no handling.

              Start with "The seven games". They can be looked up on the internet, lots of free information on them. You can also buy the Basic DVD on ebay and re sell it later for same price you bought it for (that is what I did). The equipment is a rope halter, carrot stick, and lead line that they make the line is fantastic, heavier and thicker than normal with a quick release snap and yet velvet soft in the hand. Have someone show you how to tie on the rope halter if you have never used one. The work is basic, about moving their feet, side pass, backing up, and respecting your space, but they teach it in a specific and easy to understand manner, and one can learn the basics in several days and be working with the horse. Results are almost immediate, within even one or two sessions with horse there is positive change.

              You can also find a Parelli or general Natural Horseman instructor and work with them, well worth it and tremendous fun as well.

              Best of luck!
              Right, just remember the Barney and other videos.
              If that is where your PP trainer wants to go with your horse, think if it is worth it.
              It never hurts to learn something new, just be sure you apply it with some sensible standards behind it.
              Who knows, it may work to get a handle on your horse.
              Then, some horses are a bit "special" all their lives, it is just who they are and all you can do is manage around their problems as those, as you know, are inconsistent.
              I think it is worrisome that the farrier had such trouble with him, that sure needs to be addressed promptly.
              You can live with a difficult horse to handle, but when others are involved, then we have to reassess the situation again, as you are doing.

              Changing his management to working with him regularly and establish a new routine will definitely help with such horses, changes their focus and gets their brain engaged more.

              I do agree that having a trainer work with him and see where that goes may help you decide where to go from here in how to handle him.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm confused. I read that you're tying a horse with no manners with bailing twine. Five times?

                Having one that sounds only half as bad as yours (and she's bad but can be quickly recalibrated) I'd leave him alone in the field and ace him for the blacksmith. My semi-feral wench - either you beat the crap out of the stall wall when she's in it for a minute or so or back her up the length of the barn. The blacksmith aces her and life's good for all involved.
                Visit my Spoonflower shop

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I put a little bit of bailing twine on the ring and then tie the lead rope to that when I tie him. That way if he pulls back he doesn't break the break away halter, or worse pull out the post!

                  I don't want to just "leave him alone in the field", he needs to know how to act appropriately. If I ever had to move or he had to go into a boarding situation for some reason, some of his behaviors would not be tolerated.

                  I wouldn't mind acing him for a while with the farrier, because I need the farrier to be safe, but that is not a long term solution for me, especially since he's known how to stand for years, and nothing traumatic has happened to change that.

                  Originally posted by red mares View Post
                  I'm confused. I read that you're tying a horse with no manners with bailing twine. Five times?

                  Having one that sounds only half as bad as yours (and she's bad but can be quickly recalibrated) I'd leave him alone in the field and ace him for the blacksmith. My semi-feral wench - either you beat the crap out of the stall wall when she's in it for a minute or so or back her up the length of the barn. The blacksmith aces her and life's good for all involved.
                  http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think groundwork is a great idea! I started doing a lot of groundwork with my reactive should've-known-better horse (whom I also ride) a year or so ago and it has vastly improved both his ground manners and his reactivity. Plus I just like him a whole lot better than I used to.

                    Here's the caveat, though. Groundwork, at least for me, was no easier than learning to ride. So I would advise you to find a trainer to work with you and your horse. It's not really something you can learn from a DVD. Or at least I couldn't. I'm not much of a visual learner, for one thing. But for another - so much of groundwork is timing and feel and focus that I really think most people need a live person giving feedback, especially at the beginning.

                    I'd recommend finding a trainer who does NOT ascribe to one of the "methods" - e.g. Parelli, Clinton Anderson, etc. - but who incorporates different ideas from lots of sources into her own program. I found mine by googling trainers in my area and finding one who actually offered groundwork classes. Then I asked around about her, and went to see some horses she'd worked with.

                    It's awfully easy to run into charlatans or well-meaning folks who just wind up doing more harm than good.

                    But yes, I think groundwork is a wonderful idea for your horse.
                    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Have used clicked training to good effect. Mine went from getting stressed when just locking his feet out to happily lifting each foot up ready for me.
                      Also made him keen to participate in tribe work sessions instead of regarding them with great suspicion .Google offers great advice on initial target training.once you have that in place use it to teach to trips to finger tip pressure, to train to tie, stand etc. I also click when I see him getting scared to distract him, often works to calm him down. Also introduce scary thing and click reward so he associates it with good thing.
                      I use it to get a calm training session out of him, my emphasis on encouraging calmness and him wanting to co operate, goes so much further than bullying him into anything.good luck

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sorry many typos in my post. I'm on a phone. Locking should be picking, trips is yield, tribes is ground.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Alexie View Post
                          Have used clicked training to good effect. Mine went from getting stressed when just locking his feet out to happily lifting each foot up ready for me.
                          Also made him keen to participate in tribe work sessions instead of regarding them with great suspicion .Google offers great advice on initial target training.once you have that in place use it to teach to trips to finger tip pressure, to train to tie, stand etc. I also click when I see him getting scared to distract him, often works to calm him down. Also introduce scary thing and click reward so he associates it with good thing.
                          I incorporate clicker-based target training into my groundwork. A good on-line resource is http://on-target-training.com/. I went to a couple of Shawna's clinics in Southern Pines, and so did my trainer.

                          I also still use negative reinforcement (by which I mean, taking away something unpleasant, like halter pressure) but like you I find the addition of a positive reinforcer improves my horse's willingness to work. Plus, it gives you a way to say "yes" in addition to "no."

                          OP, would food rewards work for your horse, with his digestive issues? If so, I found clicker training was easier for me to learn to do correctly than more traditional "give to pressure" groundwork. I still had to watch a real person do it a bunch of times and ask lots of questions. The beginning is the important part to get right - teaching the "keep your big self out of my space or you get no treats" part - for reasons of self-preservation.
                          I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Evaluating a ground work trainer is similar to evaluating a riding instructor...there are good are good and bad ones in each disclipline. That said , I am not a fan of Clint Anderson, imo, his methods are on the harsh side.

                            There is a lot of similarity between all the systems, Linda Tellington Jones, John Lyons, Parelli etc...they all work on cues, personal space boundaries, moving the horses feet, creating a bond and respect, etc.

                            I had a negative view of Parelli till I actually did it and then I had a positive view. Not everything they teach is gold, however they do break things down into teachable steps for both horse and rider.

                            Ground work in itself is enjoyable and can be, like any aspect of horsemanship, challenging and rewarding , frustrating, etc. Unless done horribly wrong, even a little bit of it helps the horse and like anything else, the more you put in, the more you get out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I also think its so cool you have given this boy a home!

                              But, it sounds like you want a relationship with him, a safe one, and that at the moment he is not really safe, so I like that you are considering groundwork!

                              I am NOT a groundwork guru by any means! I am NOT a trainer so can only share what has worked with my guys (and completely agree about finding a trainer who perhaps pulls from many approaches!)

                              It sounds like, fundamentally, your boy does not know how to give to pressure. Hence he does not tie!

                              If it were me, I would start with leading - him learning how to give to pressure - i.,e., escape the pressure by giving in to it. He should go forward because THAT is the answer to the question, not because you will beat the crap out of him! (I know you would'nt but there are those who mistake instilling great fear as "training") I would work with starting and stopping (also so he focuses on MOI). I would ask him to lower his head and as soon as he does, even a teeny tiny bit, I would give, so again, he gets that to escape pressure, he gives. You might even run the lead line over his head and gentle put on the pressure, so he will again get that he escapes that pressure by giving in.

                              Then stop when he licks his lips and seems to be thinking!

                              So leading, backing, responding to pressure (and that can be "space" pressure, ie the pressure I create by moving into his space) giving his head when he feels pressure, and probably help him learn to disengage his hips(getting him to bend his head around on both sides (again giving in to pressure) then with his hind feet learning to step through (away from me). I want to "own" those hips, both on the ground and when I'm up!

                              Eventually, I might work on tying depending on how he was doing. They really, really need to get that giving into pressure thing. I have also faced my horse, and thrown the lead line up over his head either around the horn of my saddle or his withers, and gently pulled. To "answer the question" he has to "let go of me" with his eyes to follow the pressure as he circles around to follow the pull of hte rope and picks me up again.

                              But,I am reminded what you said about the chain, you have to establish that YOU are alpha. Must do that. He must get that you are NOT to be loved on with his head, not to be run over, or dissed in any way. He must move for YOU not the other way around (I have had to remind my older sweet guy about that this that he is NOT to invade my space ever uninvited - not by beating him but by giving him pressure which he does understand). some people use a small flexible pointer thing to "extend their size" and touch the horse, again to remind him or her that THEY, the people, must be recognized as dominant.

                              Anyway, I have found tht working with someone who really knows what they are doing has helped tremendously and has totally transformred my relationships with my horses. As I said, there are people here who have tremendous ground work advice which I am looking forward to reading, such a great subject!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I can come up and give you a hand after Preakness if you want. In the meantime I would treat him for a week for ulcers and test for lyme.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                                  I can come up and give you a hand after Preakness if you want. In the meantime I would treat him for a week for ulcers and test for lyme.
                                  Can't beat that offer!

                                  Never hurts to have a second and third set of eyes on a problem.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I like these exercises. They are simple but not easy, ideal for worriers because its all low key and doesn't involve punishment, but also fosters focus and a willingness to cooperate because each one sets the horse up for success in problem solving. Good luck.

                                    http://www.lesliedesmond.com/index.php?id=124
                                    http://www.lesliedesmond.com/index.php?id=113

                                    Again, some seem almost too simple but you'd be surprised how effective they are when done properly.
                                    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      You said he knows better.

                                      He likely does. He has your number. Big difference in trying to bully him into a trailer and asking him to lead in to the barn and stand quietly.

                                      Put the chain over his nose. If you aren't willing to do that, then put a wiffle ball bat in your left hand.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Was his name at the track also Jay, as in Jaybird?

                                        That is a nickname horses with the attention span of a gnat were called at times.
                                        Until they matured.
                                        Some never did.

                                        Seriously, it is annoying to have a horse that you have to keep repeating the same lessons over and over.
                                        If what you are doing is not working, do get a trainer to work with him for a while and, once he is paying attention, work at keeping it.

                                        If you don't really have time now for that, paying a trainer for help is good all around, for you and the horse.

                                        I would see what Laurierace can come up with, once she can vet the situation.
                                        That was very of her nice to offer to bring both your heads together on this.

                                        Comment

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