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Pawing in the crossties, how to stop it?

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  • Pawing in the crossties, how to stop it?

    I have a 5 yr old appendix qh who loves to paw in the crossties. I have tried smacking her shoulder and that works while I am grooming/saddling her (she doesn't do it anymore). When I walk away she paws and paws I yell at her to stop and she just keeps it up. How do I get this annoying behavior to stop??? I've tried to leave her tied for a lengthy time to see if she would stop on her own but she can go on forever.

    Please Help!!

  • #2
    I had a horse that pawed EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME! (when people were around). Her first rider would shove baby carrots up her smooch which started the behavior and then reinforced it. Lovely eh?

    I owned her for 8 years and by year 6 had the pawing down by--mmm--80%.

    One of the do's that was done: My farrier gave me a horse shoe that I would slip on her leg mid cannon bone, I would slide it down over her ankle and it would rest on her pastern. When she would paw it would clank her foot.

    Sneaking up behind them with a ----- helps too. But you didn't hear that from me.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

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    • #3
      I hope I don't regret this answer...

      Originally posted by purplnurpl View Post
      I had a horse that pawed EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME! (when people were around). Her first rider would shove baby carrots up her smooch which started the behavior and then reinforced it. Lovely eh?

      I owned her for 8 years and by year 6 had the pawing down by--mmm--80%.

      One of the do's that was done: My farrier gave me a horse shoe that I would slip on her leg mid cannon bone, I would slide it down over her ankle and it would rest on her pastern. When she would paw it would clank her foot.

      Sneaking up behind them with a ----- helps too. But you didn't hear that from me.
      I agree with both of purple's statements. First, it is horse specific. A lot of my young Perchs paw, but the simple tricks of hiding and when they paw, flick them with a buggy whip works pretty well for when they paw to seek your attention as you leave them alone. A few "training sessions," and it is cured. But that is the easy type of pawing. It works for most pawers and we have had a number come into our barn for training. We did have one big guy (18 hands, 2400 pounds) that came to us as a bully and a dangerous pawer for training. For that guy (and this was a most unually case), I used a hog paddle (think coke can with pennies in it attached to a stick), to hit the ground in front of him when he pawed near me. That stopped the behavior cold as no had ever told this guy "NO" before and followed it up with action. But so often, it is the draft bullies that we get for training (most spoiled from a weanling, now all grown up buttheads). With the owner, candies in hand, telling me: "Honest, he is just misunderstood, he really LOVES people!" But usually just being firm, and not tolerating it. For us, pawing is more of an issue because of the size of our horse's feet (especially shod). I have a friend in MD, who literally had her face taken off by a Percheron pawing in crossties. It is a serious issue.

      I love the horse shoe around the foot idea!

      We do have a VERY nervous and alpha Hanoverian, if you snuck up on him and flicked him with a buggy whip, you could remove your and his carcass from the roof! He paws out of nervousness (when someone new is near the crossties, for instance) or impatience. He and a big name trainer went around and around fighting for two years. I think he won, as he acted out big time when we got him and he most definitely had behavioral issues. As in psycho-killer issues. Time (a year) has cured him of the impatience but we just let the other stuff (nervousness) go. Ergo: we pretty much completely ignore it or give a gentle warning "stop that." He never, ever tries to paw us (now) and it is a very deliberate paw: "see I am upset, I don't like this, I don't like this." And the script that runs through his head continues, until either you manage to reassure him or something new happens. After almost a year, 95% of his pawing is gone but I don't think the behavior will ever be extinguished. With some horses that have severe behavioral issues, if you get them as adults, you have to live with certain things. That said, he is the first horse, out of many many horses, that we just tolerate pawing with. It generally is something that should be stopped. But there are those for which pawing is the least of your worries...and yes, this horse is not longer out to kill us (fear driven behavior combined with getting away with it for years) and has been transformed. Mostly through understanding and kindness and my husband having an ability to work around a horse with such severe angrer issues without getting angry himself and not be scared of such as horse.

      Sometimes, knowing which battles are worth fighting about and when to fight about them is half the battle.
      Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IZPHDzgX3s

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      • #4
        My horse will stand crosstied for ages all by himself, but when I am grooming him or there are people present, he paws and walks to get attention.
        Now and then, I bang on the walls with a whip and pretend I'm going to kill him. So, when I take out the whip, and drop it on the floor next to me, he knows he'd better knock it off.

        Of course, when he was a baby, I had a second handler stand at his head with him on a lead rope, and correct him when he walked or pawed so he knows what is acceptable.

        If they paw when they are alone, it's likely seperation anxiety, and strict discipline won't cure that. Time and patience will serve better.
        ::I do not understand your specific kind of crazy, but I do admire your total commitment to it::

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        • #5
          hobbles?

          Hobbling is a specialized kind of training but it would work in your case. You need to learn how to teach it properly and this is separate from cross-tying! But it may work especially well if your horse is smart enough to quit when supervised but behave like an ass on his own.

          You will need to create some ritual that goes along with hobbling that you can also use without the hobbles, like a lead rope thrown over his shoulder.

          I also like the idea of making kick-chains for him. Nothing quite so annoying as a charm-bracelet that bangs you in the pastern when you paw! But again, I think you ought to think of some other ritual that goes along with this so that you don't need to put on a specialized piece of equipment every time you would like this horse to wait for a few minutes in cross ties.

          Best of luck, and don't think you will have to put up with this forever. It just takes some creativity and understanding of how his mind works in order to create a solution that convinces him that pawing sucks.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

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          • #6
            Different approaches work with different horses but here is what worked with my mare who pawed constantly both when I was there and she was impatient/wanting attention and when I left her on the x-ties for any reason:
            First- I had everything I needed right there to groom and tack her up before I put her on the cross-ties- that way, while I was trying to break this habit, she would not have the opportunity to paw while I was not there to respond and learn that she was not reprimanded when I was not there. For her, stopping the habit while I was there translated into stopping it all the time since during the teaching period, she had no opportunity to do it while I was gone. If I forgot something and needed to leave her either somone else manned the whip or she went back in her stall while I went to get it.
            Second- I carried a dressage whip in my hand at all times while she was in the x-ties and never got out of range with it.
            Third- No matter what I was doing, I had the whip positioned so I could use it and continue to do whatever I was doing without stopping.
            Fourth- every time she lifted her leg to paw, she got a tap on the knee with the whip- just a light tap was all it took and she would put her leg down. She got absloutely no other response from me at all and I never stopped what I was doing so she never got the reward of any attention whether it was negative attention or not and was not even sure the reprimand was coming from me.
            Did this for about a week and she stopped. For a while, she stopped pawing but would pick up her leg as if she was about to paw but without actually putting it down to paw which I ignored and that eventually stopped as well. I am sure this would not work with all horses, but sure worked quickly with mine.
            There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              you have all given me a lot of ideas, thank you!! I believe she does it for attention because she will paw with those ears straight up as if to say "please come fuss with me!!"

              Comment


              • #8
                I've found that with horses that are goofy in crossties, teaching them to ground tie works. They learn NOT TO MOVE THEIR FEET.

                Too often crossties are misused in that the handlers let the horses move all over, dance around, etc. With ground tying, both you and the horse has to pay a bit more attention.
                We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My husband's horse likes to paw while he's crosstied and we've tried to correct him, but it doesn't seem to be working too well. He just turned 18 two weeks ago, so at this point I'm not sure we'll be able to rid him of the habit....

                  One thing my husband did do which has helped some is to put a stall mat under the cross ties, so when he paws, he's pawing on the mat. Apparently not being able to hear the pawing noise since it's muffled by the mat isn't as much fun

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by qhgal View Post
                    I believe she does it for attention because she will paw with those ears straight up as if to say "please come fuss with me!!"
                    Ignore her. She will escallate the behaviour. Continue to ignore her. Don't go anywhere near her until she's standing quietly. No voice reprimands, nothing. Ignore completely. When she's quiet, groom and praise, etc. I'll bet that within 2 weeks, the undesirable behaviour is nearly gone. At least that's what worked for my pawing mare.
                    My Equestrian Art Photography page

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                    • #11
                      Mine paws in the cross-ties when I'm there. Will stand quietly when I'm not (even with the farrier). She seems to just get anxious to get the tacking up business over with and onto the ride. It's not all the time, but when it starts, I just get her tacked up quickly and go ride her. When we're done riding and I'm untacking, she almost never paws -- unless I go all beauty salon on her and then she'll paw when her patience runs out. She's an alpha mare, if that's any indication . . .

                      I've found if I take her in the ring to roll or to lunge before tacking up, she paws less.
                      I also found flower essences like Rescue Remedy help.

                      Generally, though, I ignore it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The best fix is to not leave a horse on the cross-ties unattended. Then you can always stop the pawing. This is the safest option, and in general, a really good rule.
                        \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by draftdriver View Post
                          Ignore her. She will escallate the behaviour. Continue to ignore her. Don't go anywhere near her until she's standing quietly. No voice reprimands, nothing. Ignore completely. When she's quiet, groom and praise, etc. I'll bet that within 2 weeks, the undesirable behaviour is nearly gone. At least that's what worked for my pawing mare.
                          I did try this but I don't think I allowed enough time for it to work. You are right as she did get worse the more I ignored her! maybe will give it another shot.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There is a downside to the 'ignore' approach, if you are at a boarding stable and the owner doesn't necessarily want a hole dug to China in the aisle.

                            My appendix started to do that, as a 3 yo. I had a cache of tiny pebbles in the tack room, and when he started to paw, I'd just chuck one at his shoulder while telling him to cut it out. They do get amazed when you can seemingly operate by remote control. He stands quietly now, even when he's seen me add his little handful of hay pellets to his feed bin as the post-ride treat. He knows he'll get it sooner if he stands stock still. If I had a bad case, I might consider parking in the aisle, say 10 feet in front of the horse, in a comfy chair with a book, and a water pistol to squirt as soon as pawing commences.

                            Whichever approach, the key is that the horse must be standing still before taken off the crossties. Often our subconscious has us rush through things to get the horse off, which only reinforces for the horse that pawing = getting my way.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My QH was awful for awhile and will still try it if hes anxious (like in the trailer)
                              He's also the type where you have to switch it up because everything turns into a game.
                              Like when he went through a mouthy stage, he was forever trying to grab my clothes. I'd smack him. So he'd do it again, only really gently. I'd smack him. So then he'd do it and back away quickly. I'd walk over and smack him. He still makes mouthy motions at me when I'm not looking, seeing just how close he can get. He still gets smacked when I notice. He pretends I've really hurt him. Its a giant game with him.
                              So..long story short, when he started pawing, I was not interested in playing another game. He's also really smart, so I dont think hobbles, etc, would have worked. He just would have waited till he didnt have them on. So I started tying him while I was doing chores, working with my other horse, whatever. To a big tree in the back field, within sight, but all by himself Totally ignored him. I let him off when I was done whatever it was I was doing, provided he was quiet. Easiest 'training' I've ever done. It didnt take him long to figure out pawing is work, and doesnt get attention, and doesnt even turn into a game. Therefore its no fun and not worthwhile.
                              We're working on the trailer thing now. Since its all relatively new, and he's anxious, hes reverted to pawing in there. Which sadly for him means we ignore him till he quits.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My horse has had crosstie pawing issues too. He is better, but still needs reminders - he is a "tester" ( Can I do it now? How about this way?) His pawing is out of impatience and general antsiness.
                                Sort of funny sidebar: Barn put mats down in crosstie area. Horse discovered a new game. He will reach one foot forward until he can place his foot just past the front edge of the mat. Then he will hook his very-expensive-bar-shoes on the edge and pull back, bending the mat upsward. Now he has a cool toy that he can boing! boing! boing! up and down Well, it's not pawing!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Doesn't it bug you when they paw around supper time. I can't go out and feed for fear of reinforcing the behaviour, so they sometimes have to keep waiting. Not that they are hungry with all the hay they get.
                                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                                    Doesn't it bug you when they paw around supper time. I can't go out and feed for fear of reinforcing the behaviour, so they sometimes have to keep waiting. Not that they are hungry with all the hay they get.
                                    Off subject, but for a while last winter, I had a bad case of viral behavior of horses standing in their manger, hanging their heads out the window and pawing for their dinner and breakfast. rrrrr. One bad girl started the trick and soon, all my youngsters were doing it. They finally figured out that it didn't work and they don't do it anymore but for one month last year, I was ready to bar-b-que some of my youngsters!
                                    Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF
                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IZPHDzgX3s

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