Advice for training a young pony - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for training a young pony

Hello guys! I have a mini since june(i guess he was born somewhere aroung april-may) and he was pretty sweet and calm but yesterday he jumped on me with his front feet and bit my arm(not too serious but pretty). I have read a little bit about horse training and personal space so i always tried to keep him at a distance(he would come to me and try to bite my toes or clothing). The problem with him is that i do not have any companions for him. He is all alone and i am the one that plays with him and keeps him company (i spend about 3-4 hours a day with him at leats, plus several "visits" to check if he needs anything). I tried to do with him a little bit of training on personal space and i also tried to "dominate" him by making him leave certain places when i was around, but he wouldnt move even if i would go straight at him. How would you advise me to proceed with teaching him some basic manners?
PS: i will not use a whip to smack him, i will not even slap him so please do not tell me to do that. Thanks alot guys!
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post #2 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 04:57 PM
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He bit you and purposely attempted (and succeeded) to hurt you with NO reason. WHY would you not reprimand him by smacking him back? If he was my mini he would have been kicked into tomorrow.

I doubt you're going to listen to me, but please try to consider what I say. I have a miniature horse who is much like your colt right now. She bit, kicked, lunged at people, bared her teeth, ran into people, etc., She was a holy terror. I dealt with her for over a year trying to sweet talk her into doing things because I thought she was a 'poor baby' due to her past, and earned multiple bites and kicks for doing it. Each bite I got was worse than the other. I actually have a few scars on my arm from her. Then I realized something. If I am part of her herd, and I am the herd leader that she needs to trust and RESPECT, I have to use her language to earn that. Horse language is physical. Now I didn't march out there while she was munching hay and start beating her to a pulp, but I got tougher. If she shoved me, I shoved back twice as hard. If she tried to bite me, I elbowed her in the face and chased her backwards. If she even gave me a pissy face and acted like she was about to bite, she'd get sent backwards hard and FAST with a good smack on the chest. Horses in a herd, especially the 'alpha' horse, use kicks, bites, and body movement to teach the others who is in charge. Once you have established that you will NOT take that kind of crap from your colt, you won't have to hit him again. It just takes one well timed smack. You won't hurt him, he weighs as much as or more than you do. My mini mare is only 34" tall and 225lbs and can EASILY out-strength me at any time. I'm not going to damage her with a good smack or a kick.


For the record, my demon spawn of a filly (who was one at the time) is now five years old and a very well behaved cart horse. She hasn't tried to bite me in two years, hasn't tried to kick in even longer. And in return, I haven't hit her in that amount of time either. She knows I'm in charge and she likes me for it. She holds no resentment.

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Last edited by Endiku; 09-01-2013 at 05:05 PM.
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post #3 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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that is exactly how i feel about my lttle guy He was a sweety, wouldnt even dare to push me, but little by little he started pushing me, then trying to bite my toes, 1-2 back kick bluffs, a real one and then the front lunge and bite. when the bite happened i was kneeling, trying to secure his fence(he is running loose in my backyard) and he came at me from behind. He is about 5 months old so i figured that this is about the time he starts to become a true male, so i understand why he did that but still...i just cant hit him, he is still a child(or youngling-not sure what to call him) after all.
*how should i go about making him respect me and recognize me as the "herd leader"?
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post #4 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 05:48 PM
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He's a weanling at 5 months old, and more than old enough to learn proper manners. This is the age when foals learn how to behave with their herd mates. It is a VERY bad idea to have him without any other horses, and his behavior reflects this. In a herd situation, a young horse will nip and play with the other young horses, but if he tries to roughhouse with an adult that doesn't want to play, the adult will reprimand him with first pinned ears as a warning, then a kick if the foal doesn't listen. They may not kick as hard as they would with another adult horse, but they will kick because the foal MUST LEARN that he can not just do as he pleases.

Your foal is not going to learn that, so you must teach him. If he tries to bite you, smack him on the nose. You don't have to full out whack him so hard that he falls, just a firm smack and a 'NO!' or 'AH!'. He will quickly learn that this is NOT acceptable and stop testing you, and eventually you'll just be able to say 'No!' without the smack for him to stop immediately, because he'll know you mean business.

He is testing you. If you let him get away with this now, as he gets older he'll establish dominance over you and you'll really be in trouble. Its cute right now, but when he is 200 lbs or more, it won't be cute at all for him to kick you, bite you, or push you around. However, if you tell him with a good smack that 'NO you can NOT bite me', he will realize you are in charge. Once he has accepted you as the rightful leader he will be happy to exist beneath you without any hard feelings. All throughout his young years (and often adult years) he will continue to challenge you, and you MUST win. Living with a horse, big or small, that does not respect you and considers you to be 'beneath him' is a horrible way to live, and he WILL hurt you, if not kill you.


What do you mean a 'true male?' he's trying to figure out if he can be on top of the pecking order in your herd of two right now, and he would do that whether he was a male or female. It is in a horse's instincts to need an order, and if you are not willing to be the leader, he will happily take that role himself.

Make sure you geld him as soon as his man jewels drop as well. That will help contain his behavior. Stallions are even more dominant and mouthy than geldings usually, and you have to be VERY firm with them to get anywhere. That is not for beginners.
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post #5 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Ok so maybe a few smacks wont do that much bad after all. And what about the time when he is not rude? Should i play the "thats my spot" game with him and shoo him from place to place sometime?(thats what i saw in a Missy Wryn video on youtube about training horses) I will try to spend more time with him the next days, after i take the hay home to dry.
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post #6 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 06:04 PM
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I really do think it will help. I promise that you will not hurt him terribly, and he will be much better for it ^_^ Just make sure your timing is correct. You must smack him within 2-3 seconds of him doing it for him to realize WHY he is being smacked.

When he is not being rude, no I would not play "that's my spot" with him just yet. For now, work on basic things such as leading, backing up if you ask him, picking up his feet, and NEVER biting or kicking. Once he has all of those down you can work on him yielding to pressure that you put on him and 'pushing' him out of your space with your body language. HOWEVER, do realize that being rude is more than just him biting or kicking. Him trying to knock in to you, crowd you when you're feeding him, forcing you to scratch him, barging past you when going out of a gate, not getting out of the way if you need to squeeze past him, etc., are all 'rude' and should be corrected, and THAT is when you tell him "HEY. I did not say you could go there!" with your body and your voice, and make him get back out of the way.

I do not condone walking over to him in his pen and waving your arms at him to get him to go away just because though.
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post #7 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 06:05 PM
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The more i read the more nervous i get... This is a foal. Not an adult horse that knows what its been taught. I know your trying your hardest, but this foal just might end up a problem horse (er, mini) because this animal is not a dog that you can just cuddle with for a couple hours, and then let be. This horse needs training. I dont think you are nearly expierienced enough to take on the resposibility of a youngling. And the internet wont give you expieience. I know im not helping in the slightest, but i just wanted to throw this out there.

Eta; horses are heard animals, and they need a companion, whether its a goat or a dog, you cant be with it 24/7 and it gets lonely.

Last edited by Stirrup; 09-01-2013 at 06:08 PM.
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post #8 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 06:05 PM
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Endiku is right--under no circumstances is it acceptable for a horse of ANY age to deliberately try (and succeed!) in hurting you. Put him in his place, and teach him some respect. You are not going to hurt him with just your hand, but it will get the point across.
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post #9 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Zexious View Post
Endiku is right--under no circumstances is it acceptable for a horse of ANY age to deliberately try (and succeed!) in hurting you. Put him in his place, and teach him some respect. You are not going to hurt him with just your hand, but it will get the point across.
I second this. Endiku is definitely right. The nipping and bad behavior will only get worse as he gets bigger and stronger if this is not approached correctly. This guy definitely needs some rules and boundaries. Good Luck. You have some good advice, now the goal is to follow it. :)
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post #10 of 46 Old 09-01-2013, 06:37 PM
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Horses almost always have reason for doing anything they do.

You should really focus on teaching him to respect you in order to earn your respect. Make sure to do lots of groundwork with him as well.

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