Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Hatton Vale, QLD, Australia
so sorry in advance but I think this might be a long reply lol
There are still heaps of things you can do without and round yard.
FIRST things I do with any unhandled or pushy horses is establish the fact that if I say something they must listen. It starts with the basics of leading. Lead your filly along beside you. When I say beside I mean at your shoulder, not in front and not behind but WITH you. A second or so before you want to stop say 'whoah' and apply a little pressure to bring her to stop. If she keeps walking pull her back and back her up a few steps and try again. Repeat until as soon as you stop, she does.
Always make sure when you are doing this though that you are in total control and get on top of any 'wrong' behaviour immediately. If you whoah and she doesnt don't take a few seconds to gather yourself together and then back her up. If she doesnt stop you straight away want to start backing her up. I usually add a growl to it if I have to back them up and a little of girly voice praise when they get it right.
Its a tiny start but I've found it a valuable tool in starting to teach the process to a young, stubborn mind. Keep at it. She might not do it straight away, in fact she is quite likely to fight the backing up as to them backing up in itself is accepting the humans dominance but she WILL do it eventually.
Another thing I do first is teach them to give at the poll. Do this while she has a halter on. Apply small downward pressure on the halter and say 'head down' at the same time. Reward the tiniest movement downwards of the head with instant release of pressure. Once she has the idea of 'head down' by applying pressure to the halter, start to get her used to putting her head down by adding a tiny bit of pressure to her poll. Eventually you can just touch the poll and her head will go down. I've found teaching a horse to relax and bring its head down can be useful I many young horse type situations. Nearly all my horses will drop their head if you apply even one fingers worth of pressure on the poll. This is great for horses who like to put their head in the air when bridling ;)
And the final part of the first stage is teaching them about personal space. Im very particular about my horses understanding that there is a bubble around me and unless I invite them in they stay out of my bubble. There is nothing worse than a pushy, in your face horse who doesnt understand that its ok to have some distance between the two of you. I do this in two parts: a) teach the horse even when standing on a lead line with you that he must stay a certain distance from you. If she encroaches on your space push her back to where you want her to be. Do it over and over and eventually she will get bored and stay where you put her and b) similar to teaching her to give to the pressure with the 'head down' command, you also want to be able to guide any part of her body away from you by giving to any pressure you put on. For example, when teaching a young horse about coming through a gate and then turning while I do the gate back up, I apply an on and off pressure to the hip are and say 'bum round' until they move away, then release the pressure and so on. Do this with the shoulder, the hip and even the sides where you would apply pressure via leg aids (this helps further down the track as well.)
Eventually you want her so that wherever you apply pressure AND add a command, she will move away. Once she has all these things figured out she will be a much better mannered horse.
Spending the time it takes to perfect these things will help you and your filly forge a bond. This in turn may well help with the catching issues. I have a 2 year old qh filly here who I had major issues catching before I started doing all the above mentioned things. Now, she comes to me ;)
Hope that helps :)
"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"