3 yr old refusing to give to pressure
 
 

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3 yr old refusing to give to pressure

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  • Horse refuses to respond to the bit
  • Horse refuses to give to pressure on the bit

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    08-13-2012, 11:06 AM
  #1
Foal
3 yr old refusing to give to pressure

Hi, I visited a friend to see if I could help her with her horse....he is 3 yrs old....a bit of a bully, and refuses to give to pressure.

The bullying has been worked on and has definitely improved. The problem exists from the beginning of the ground work. He is reluctant to back up and lunge and give to pressure. The owner only gets him to move in the round pen with multiple cracks of the whip - and a few taps on his butt with the whip. This gets dangerous because he kicks out in frustration. While she does get him to move, I don't see how this is really doing any good, because he is still constantly trying to stop.

I realize this is a respect issue, but if being tough doesn't get his respect - where else can we start?

NOTES: * Have already tried all the "correct" methods of backing the horse..that's only helped enough to keep him from invading personal space. ** Several different experienced trainers / horseman have worked with him already - yet they see no progress, or steps backwards *** He is not necessarily trying to be "mean" when he kicks out, but certainly is NOT WILLING TO WORK.

ANY SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE WONDERFUL - NO SORE CRITICS PLEASE.
     
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    08-13-2012, 03:51 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
Quote:
NO SORE CRITICS PLEASE.
I do not know what a 'sore critic' is. I will offer my opinion (comes from 52 years of training horses). You can tell me if I am 'sore' or not.

Quote:
Have already tried all the "correct" methods of backing the horse.
You will have to tell me what the 'correct methods' are that you have tried to train this horse with. The only methods I consider to be 'correct' are methods that are 'effective'. When you take the pressure off before you get a very good response, then you are only training the horse to NOT back up. The method may be a good one, but its application may be very flawed.

I have not watched you, so I can only guess what is going on. I would 'guess' that it is one of two things or, more likely, a combination of the two:

1) The horse is very 'dull', un-responsive, a poor prospect for anything and will never have a good attitude or a pleasant trainable disposition. All horses are NOT created equal. Some are 1000X nicer and more willing and more responsive than those cloddy ones on the other end of the spectrum. This is not related to intelligence. It is strictly 'willingness' and what we call 'trainability'. It is why I still raise my own prospects at a cost of 30 or 40 times what I could buy prospects for right now. Dull and barely responsive horses can be trained, but they are not very 'forgiving', are not very pleasant and make a trainer work 10 times as hard for everything you get done with them and will NEVER be as a finished horse. A 'good' trainer can train 3 or 4 willing horses (and get better 'finished' horses) in less time and effort than it takes to train one un-willing prospect. They just have much more inherent resistance.

Or---

2) You have only put enough pressure on this horse to do what I call 'pecking' on a horse. When you 'peck' at a horse you only apply enough pressure to get a little bit of response and you actually strengthen that horse's resolve to NOT DO what you asked. This turns into defiance, meanness, disrespect and will eventually turn into aggression and complete obnoxious refusal to comply with anything you want him to do.

It would be my 'guess' that you have a little of both. You obviously have not put enough pressure on this horse to get a good response or he would be backing up every time you barely ask him to. On the other hand, he is probably not the best prospect in the world and not nearly as willing as a good prospect would be.

All 'effective' horse training is accomplished in this way:

1) You NEVER ask a horse to do anything that he is not ready and able to do. [This horse is obviously ready and able to 'back up' by lightly asking.]

2) You 'ask' the horse in a clear, concise manner that is not confusing or conflicted. You ask with a very 'light aid'.

3) You don't 'quit' or 'give up' when the horse has not done what you asked.

4) If he refuses, you use a stronger and less pleasant aid. You do whatever it takes to get the appropriate response.

5) You make him wish he had complied when you first asked him to do it.

6) You go back and ask with a very 'light aid' and quit (take all of the pressure off) when he has willingly complied to the 'light aid'.

'Pressure and release' only works when you use enough pressure and you release pressure ONLY when you get the correct response.

You can 'train' a horse to listen, respect and respond to a very light aid or 'cue'.

Or, you can train a horse to ignore you and 'blow you off' and he will soon be walking all over you or will get aggressive because you are only a irritant that is in his way.
     
    08-14-2012, 04:06 AM
  #3
Trained
^^ What she said. Except Cherie called it 'pecking' & I call it 'nagging'

You need to do whatever it takes to be effective with the horse. I think it's rarely necessary to take it to the level of seriously hurting a horse though, usually persistent strong discomfort is as high as it needs to go, if that. I'd also work on making stuff worthwhile to him too, using positive reinforcement for any 'good' behaviour along with the negative.

I also personally wouldn't worry about lunging & such until you've got the basics in order first. Eg lunging to me is for teaching & reinforcing behaviours at a distance, but I teach the horse to yield directly & up close before I increase distance. *Remember safety comes first & a horse like this one sounds can be extra dangerous.

Oh & I don't guess it's the issue here, but sometimes reluctance to back up or such can be due to a physical problem, so worth considering too.
     
    08-14-2012, 11:01 AM
  #4
Foal
Great Info!

Hi,

Thank you to both who replied with some help. No, niether of you were sore critics....I was worried from previous posts I had seen that people would be critical so I wanted them to steer clear from bothering to respond. I found your information very helpful. I think you are right about a little of techniques not being done totaly correct, and I will work on that. However, when you mentioned that some horses are just NOT willing and "untrainable" - it struck me as this could be the one I'm working with!

I have observed him to be smart, but also unwilling. I have made him very uncomfortable when trying to back him up, and certainly don't let off the pressure. I get one step back and release pressure and reward with "good boy" But.....then we try it again, and again, and again, and you never get to use any less pressure or any less effort. It's always a fight for just one step!

I have heard of someone sensitizing with a plastic bag on the end of whip (yes to sensitize rather than desensitize) - do you think this would be something worth trying?
     
    08-14-2012, 12:03 PM
  #5
Showing
Try a chain over his nose with a flat nylon halter then ask him to back by taking a pinch of skin on the point of his shoulder and rolling it between you thumb and forefinger. He will likely ignore it so use the lead to reinforce. One tug then release both if he even rocks back. Ask again. This time you may get a half hearted step with one leg. Immediately release both. He will pay more attention with the bite of the chain. With this first lesson quit when he moves two hinds. Do something else, take him for a walk. Unless you are in peril, don't yank on the chain. Don't worry about the front's just yet. A horse is backing up only when his hinds are moving. The difficulties in the pen could be confusing messages being given to the horse. There is more to it than just cracking the whip. Have her try following him. She should be a good 10' behind him and off to the inside a bit and point her whip toward the rail as tho creating a barrier behind him. If he will move at the walk, even a few steps with her clicking and wiggling the whip, that's a start. She is facing forward and this helps tell him where to go. She will just walk along with him to maintain her distance and the whip's position. The goal is to get him relaxed and not rebelling at the pressure.
     
    08-14-2012, 12:05 PM
  #6
Foal
I didn't read the other replies, but mine will be short.

If he is THAT reluctant to even back up - get a vet check. Check stifles, check hips, check hocks, check feet .. could very much be pain related.
loosie and GotaDunQH like this.
     
    08-14-2012, 03:53 PM
  #7
Weanling
Sounds like he has your number. You'll need to quit "nagging"...which is what you are doing, since you said you give him "a few taps on his butt with the whip."

Ask him politely to move, if he refuses to move NOW, you need to STING his butt like you're trying to draw blood!! Trust me, it won't take long before he wakes up and realizes you mean business when you ask, and you won't have to sting him with the whip. Then he'll willingly comply with your softest request because he knows that to ignore you will get him in trouble, not just "nagged" at.
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    08-14-2012, 09:16 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJack99    
Thank you to both who replied with some help. No, niether of you were sore critics....I was worried from previous posts I had seen that people would be critical so I wanted them to steer clear from bothering to
Ah but you can learn from 'critical' too - just don't take it personally & realise it could also be just different people's mannerisms & perceptions

Quote:
I have observed him to be smart, but also unwilling. I have made him very uncomfortable when trying to back him up, and certainly don't let off the pressure. I get one step back and release pressure and reward with "good boy"
Yes, some horses can be a real challenge. While you don't want to release the pressure if he's resisting, you do need to start with the smallest 'try' & I'd go further than Saddlebag's accepting moving his back feet & release the pressure the instant he even starts to lean backwards. Once he's worked out what it takes to get you to quit hassling, he'll get soft(assuming he's able) & then you can start to ask for gradually more.

I'd also actually positively reinforce(reward) him for 'right' behaviour, rather than just words. While negative reinforcement(release of pressure) is a really effective teacher, to get them to *willingly* join in your 'games' & do as you ask, positive reinforcement(giving something desireable) at the time of the 'good' behaviour is very effective. Show him there's something in it for him(aside from just cessation of unpleasantness).
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    08-14-2012, 09:53 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
What you are describing is 'pecking' and/or 'nagging' at its worst. Forget the petting and praise. It is only a distraction and rewards stopping backing up. If you pet, praise or 'treat' a horse after he has backed up, you are doing so after he has stopped and therefore you have just rewarded stopping backing up. This is why you are getting only one (barely) step and he quits. You have trained him to quit. I guarantee you that the only reward he needs is a lack of pressure. He will understand that and it will not back-fire on you as long and you stop putting pressure on him while he is backing nicely and not after he stops.

Personally, I hate whips. I have never found a need for them and have run into so many horses that have only been angered at whips and got either really pissed off at a person with one or they only mind when a whip is present or raised up. This comes from the temptation of people to threaten horses with a whip or wave them around or 'tap' a horse with one. It is just the worst way possible to peck on a horse.

I will tell you what I do to get respect from a belligerent horse on the ground. I put a stiff (harsh) rope halter on a horse with a very soft comfortable (to me) 12-14 foot lead-rope on it. I sensitize a horse to know that a 'smooch' means to move -- NOW! My body language tells the horse where to move to or from. I keep a folded up loop of baling wire neatly folded up in my back pocket. If you take a loop of baling wire and fold it in half, fold it again and twist it up, it should be about 16 - 18 inches long. Then, fold it in half again and it is a perfect pocket 'tool'.

I face the horse (my indication to a horse that says he should be paying attention) take the lead-rope, give a light jerk (not a steady pull) and smooch and say "Back!". My shoulders are up square, my head is up and I step boldly toward the horse. My body language says "Move!" I want the horse to back 8 or 10 steps at the least while I smooch and walk boldly toward him. [90% of the belligerent spoiled horses I used to get in backed up the first time I asked them to. There is that much difference in the response you get when YOU have the right demeanor and use the right body language and they know it.]

If he does not back right up, I quietly take out the baling wire, unfold the first fold, jerk the lead-rope 2 or 3 times hard and I whack his shoulder 5 or 6 times while I yell "Back!" at him. I will spank his shoulder until he backs up 20 steps or more. It works. He will listen. His ears will come up.

I find that it is wise to be in an arena or corral and to have a fence along the horse's right side. This give him fewer options to find the correct door. I close the door in front of him and to his left; The fence closes the door to his right; The only door left open to him is the one straight behind him.

After he back up, I DO NOT pet or praise him. When I quit jerking, spanking and scolding him, he got the only reward he really understands. I lead him forward a few steps, turn and face him again. His ears will be up and he will be watching me. Then, I walk toward him and smooch and 99 times out of 100, the horse will nicely back up -- period. If he doesn't back up, he is either a very dull and uncooperative horse or the handler did not spank him in a convincing way. It should never take more than once or twice at the most.

When a horse has nicely backed up 2 or 3 times, I ask the horse to move his shoulder to the right while I stand at a 45 degree angle facing his left shoulder. [This is the most difficult move to ask a belligerent spoiled horse to make. I just start out with the tough moves and all of the others will be easy.] I smooch, push 'lightly' on the halter to the right and take my other hand and push lightly on the horse's left shoulder asking him nicely to move over to the right. When he does not move (which he won't), you take the baling wire 'tool' and spank the left shoulder with it until he moves over 5 or 6 steps. It may not be pretty and it may not be real 'correct'. But it better be 'over'.

I do not what to get into a pushing match with a 1200# horse. A person will lose every time. You only teach a horse how strong he is when you go toe to toe with one. [What this particular horse has probably learned.] You can ONLY LOSE! I know I cannot push one back or over, but, I know I can make a horse WAN'T to step back or over. That is 'training'.

After a horse steps over with me getting after his shoulder, I will ask him to back up again and ask him to move over again. The back-up usually goes well. The 'move shoulder over' move may take 2 or 3 lessons because it is the most difficult move to get a horse to make. If I get a couple of steps without the 'tool', I call it good for the first lesson.

Tomorrow, I will ask the horse to back up 10 - 15 steps when I first put a halter on it. I do this every time I halter a stallion and every time I halter a belligerent spoiled horse of any kind. I want the first thing they do to be acknowledging that I am in charge and they are listening and responding correctly. I should not have to scold a horse again if I did it right the first time. I want a 'light', 'responsive', willing horse.

I will next ask the horse to do a 360 to the right. It will not be a 'showmanship pivot', but he better step to the right and not push back. Like backing, I just always turn horses to right about every time I change direction for any reason. It is just second nature for me to push a horse ahead of me instead of pulling a horse toward me when I turn. I hate it when a horse steps past me and starts to come around me to his left. I will jerk him and turn him 3 or 4 tight circles to the right. I do not care if it is a 20 year old trail string horse or a colt -- they all get turned to the right about 20 X for every time they get to go to the left.

Once the horse moves back nicely and moves over to the right willingly, the hip will move easily and the shoulders will move to the left much easier. I do not do much 'disengaging of the hips' because it is too easy to do and I want to spend more time and effort getting good shoulder control. It relates much more to under saddle training.

IF you have to get after a horse more than 2 or 3 times, you are not doing it hard enough to be effective. You are only 'desensitizing' it to your commands and teaching it to ignore you.

Many books and 'teachers' teach that you only put the smallest amount of pressure on a horse that it take to get the correct response. I think that is altogether wrong for all but the 'lightest' most willing 'feely' horses. I think you should ask a horse very lightly. If he can feel (and be irritated by a fly landing on him) he can feel you 'ask'. If he does not respond correctly (and he is green) ask a little more firmly. If he still does not respond correctly, make him wish he had responded the first time you asked him. This means you get after him 10X harder than you probably needed to to get a response. Then, you settle him down and ask again with the very lightest of aids. Hopefully, you have 'sensitized' him to listen to and respond to the imperceptible lightest request.

If you keep upping the pressure and gradually ask with more and more force until the horse finally responds, then you are teaching him to require that much pressure and you will never teach him to be 'light'.

I have found this to be the biggest single difference between effective good trainers and amateurs or trainer wannabes. Knowledgeable successful trainers apply much more force when a horse does not respond to an aid that the horse knows how to respond to. We are not talking about teaching new things here. We are talking about responding when asked to do something that the horse knows how to do. When the response is sluggish or sloppy, the trainer should make the horse wish he had done it right the first time. It is, again, a case of 'the best performance you will get out of a horse is the poorest performance you accept'.

You get a gold start if you waded through all of this.
Cherie
     
    08-15-2012, 07:53 AM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
If you pet, praise or 'treat' a horse after he has backed up, you are doing so after he has stopped and therefore you have just rewarded stopping backing up.
Yes! This is SO important & same for punishment or whatever feedback. Horses(all animals without a language to understand abstract concepts??) learn by instant association & don't 'get' consequences that aren't timely - at *worst*, within 1-2 seconds of the behaviour according to behavioural studies. I think it's a huge problem that people don't get this & therefore inadvertently reinforce/punish the 'wrong' behaviours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
We are not talking about teaching new things here. We are talking about responding when asked to do something that the horse knows how to do. When the response is sluggish or sloppy, the trainer should make the horse wish he had done it right the first time.
Another very important point IME. I think in a lot of instances, it is the case that the horse doesn't really 'know' what a handler assumes it 'should' & it was just never trained well in the first place. In that case, I think a slower, more patient approach is best, but recognising when a horse is not understanding vs when they're just 'trying you out' is a big thing.

Quote:
IF you have to get after a horse more than 2 or 3 times, you are not doing it hard enough to be effective. You are only 'desensitizing' it to your commands and teaching it to ignore you.
Yes, maybe hard enough, or clear enough, or there is a bigger competing motivation... Whatever the reason, I agree that if it doesn't work, it's most likely the handler not being effective enough. While I do agree with the principle 'as little as necessary' in training generally, when talking about punishment, I agree that it's a lot fairer as well as effective, that 'necessary' is enough to give the horse a serious 'wake up call'. I will still usually(unless safety's an issue) give the horse a 'chance' or 2, or 'warning' before 'coming down on them'.

Quote:
Many books and 'teachers' teach that you only put the smallest amount of pressure on a horse that it take to get the correct response. I think that is altogether wrong for all but the 'lightest' most willing 'feely' horses. I think you should ask a horse very lightly. If he can feel (and be irritated by a fly landing on him)
This bit I disagree with & I would use your example of a fly irritating a horse to show that you don't(generally) need anything like brute force to affect a horse's behaviour. I don't think I've been lucky to have only had & trained 'most willing feely' horses in the 15 or so years I've been training, but IME, they generally become soft & willing without heavy handling. But again, as I hope I explained, I do think it depends whether we're talking about teaching or punishing too.

Quote:
he can feel you 'ask'. If he does not respond correctly (and he is green) ask a little more firmly. If he still does not respond correctly, make him wish he had responded the first time you asked him.
This seems to be about teaching(green horse) rather than punishing one who is knowingly & willfully challenging you & in this case, in which case I wouldn't personally be so quick to punish the horse, but would also be looking at why he didn't respond - maybe the way I asked wasn't clear to him or some such.

Quote:
If you keep upping the pressure and gradually ask with more and more force until the horse finally responds, then you are teaching him to require that much pressure and you will never teach him to be 'light'.
Hmmm, yes & no, but more no IMO. But I think it does depends how it's done, how gradual the pressure is increased & such. As much to the point, when that pressure is released. I do find a lot of people with the gradual increase idea seem to get a bit stuck & come across to the horse a bit like "If you don't do this, I'll.... I'll... I'LL.... I'LL... oh, see, he just won't do it!"

Quote:
When I quit jerking, spanking and scolding him, he got the only reward he really understands.
Couldn't disagree with that one more & I personally wouldn't enjoy being with & training horses if it was all about force & coersion. I just don't understand where you get the idea that negative reinforcement & punishment is all they understand. If that were true, they'd also be the only animal under the sun to respond to only half the 'spectrum'.

So... I think so much of people's problems are about misunderstanding & perception, which is why I think(hope) conversations like this can be helpful. I hope to have given further understanding of the concepts(which I mostly agree) to OP & others, by shedding a different light. Hope I succeed in that & don't just make everyone more confused!
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