Any quick tips to lessen/stop jigging immediately? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Any quick tips to lessen/stop jigging immediately?

My 3 year old mare is going to her 3rd-year keuring (it's a big show where they judge conformation and movement of her breed) next fall, and I'm so afraid that she's going to act up. I've gotten her to the point where she handles well, and anyone can handle her most of the time. I say "most of the time" because today she decided to be a bit of a brat and wanted to start jigging while in hand. Her jigging has always been based on anxiety, and usually emerges at new places. I think that, this time, her jigging was just caused by lack of exercise over the weekend, and a nice cool day.

I would take her to the keuring site to get her familiar with the grounds, but it's 5 hours away, and I'm sure she'd forget it all anyway. All we can do is get there ahead of time and try to familiarize her to the environment quickly.

My problem is this: She's come a LONG way, has matured a lot, and usually acts like a saint. But I'm very afraid that she'll act up and possibly get herself or another horse hurt, as well as make herself look like an unhandled 3-year-old. (You wouldn't believe how many people choose to halter break their horses only a couple of months before this event!) There will be many other horses at the event, and trailers are going to be coming and going. I wish I could take her somewhere to get her used to a bustling environment, but I don't think that will be possible since my mother's trailer is 3 hours away.

Anyone have any helpful tips to get a horse to calm down quickly and quietly without making a scene? I always try to act as big and confident as possible while telling her to knock it off, then relax and exhale dramatically a few times. Sometimes it does the trick, but it might not. I need something else to try for the "just in case it doesn't work" moments!

And if I were able to take her to a county fair in the area, or some kind of event, what would you do to get her used to the hustle and bustle? Keep her around the edges of the event? Keep her tied to a trailer? Lunge her before taking her near the other horses? She does well around other horses, typically. Her meeting and greeting is usually limited to a squeal.

I haven't had to do this kind of training with a young horse before, and I don't want to do too much, too fast! Any advice would be much appreciated!
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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I suspect your worrying about a future date is affecting her behaviour. Do you ever take a chair and a magazine and just be near her? Become the most familiar thing she knows to ease her concerns at the show. Try to sit with her daily, even outside her stall.
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 12:48 PM
Green Broke
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first, calm yourself down. if you are calm, she likely will be too.

try a syringe full of omega alphas 'calm' before you need to show, and rub lavender oil on your hands and her muzzle. all natural ways to keep calm.
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post #4 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 01:07 PM
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I recommend SmartCalm ultra pellets which calms the horse by using all natural ingredients.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 01:42 PM
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If you are calm then so will she be. Ensure that you are in command, and if she starts to jog correct quickly and continue as if nothing has happened.

Do not get to close to any other horse and you will not be hurt.

Relax and enjoy, the judges know they are youngsters and do make allowances.

Good luck!
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 01:48 PM
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You need to look into Clinton Anderson's method. He has a saying:
"Give your horse a heart attack (every day)."
You can expose your horse to little things that spook her. For example, when I grain my 3--they're in the back yard--I bang on the metal fence with my coffee can. My 7yo QH gelding spooked when I did it close to him, so I kept banging on the fence until he relaxed. You never know what will spook your horse, but jigging usually means she is nervous. An older horse that knows her job might jig, too, but for other reasons. The last time that I took "Corporal" (Arabian, 1982-2009, RIP) to a National CW Reenactment, our commander had literally NOTHING for us to do. Corporal jigged for 30 minutes straight, waiting for us to be told to run messages...which we never did. He looked great, though, to the crowd!

A Jack and Three Queens, the latest book by James C. Dedman,
Hope that you fall in love with "Trot", like I did!
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-17-2013, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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I spend probably about 3 hours (or more) a day with her on any given day, although this may be spread even throughout the day or lumped together. She's my hobby, my night life, my party life, my social life... etc, etc! Basically I have nothing else to do, so I go out there to just "hang out"!
She does look to me for assurance- that I've noticed- and knows not to act up. I always mask any fear or anxiety I have with bucket loads of confidence. (The "fake it til you make it" approach.) Usually her anxiety sessions are short-lived, as I get her attention back on me by growing big and getting growly, then get calm and tell her she's being ridiculous. Usually after about 3 times of doing this, coupled with backing her up, lowering her head, and possibly looking at her sternly, she calms down.

I guess the main problem I'm having right now is getting her to act out enough to practice correcting the issue! Lol! Not a bad problem to have, but still!

She is actually very good (about not spooking) for her age. I've exposed her to many things, and we also board near a road with heavy traffic, and train tracks. She's used to all of it, although I'm always making her "get over it" if something does happen to pop out. Typically she investigates before bolting and if she spooks when she's in hand, her reaction time is slower, so I can correct her before she does decide to jump. At the trainer's, he warned me to put her back in her stall when he took the tarp off of my cart (he was going to practice with her). We walked right up to the tarp, and I flapped it right in her face. She popped her head up in surprise once, then proceeded to try and chew on it. Plastic bags that are waved around are immediately inspected for goodies, too. (Which is funny, because I never give her treats, so I don't know why she's associating that with food!) My Mom tried sacking her out with a Funyun's bag... Instead of running away, she came running up and tried one..

I could try the lavender oil. I've heard of such things working, but I've never tried them.

Some horses at this keuring are compliments to the breed, but out of control. Their owners don't ever handle them (because that's what hired help is for, lol!), and they don't know their own horses. I want her to be the most well-behaved horse there, if possible. What she may lack in conformation and movement can be made up for in behavior. After all, it's just a pretty horse in a pasture if they're too wild to handle!
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post #8 of 10 Old 06-18-2013, 01:05 PM
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Circle her in small circles when she jigs. Allow her to move forward when she does as she's told.
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post #9 of 10 Old 06-18-2013, 03:44 PM
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Can you get her to lower her head? That will relax her. I would make her back up calmly as soon as she starts the jigging, so you are walking along, she starts to jig, you just switch gears to reverse 3 or 4 steps, then back forward. No fuss, just go backwards.

She will get the message.

Good Luck!!

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post #10 of 10 Old 06-18-2013, 09:29 PM
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Puts me in mind of this -

"The groom should have standing orders to take his charge through crowds, and to make him familiar with all sorts of sights and noises; and if the colt shows sign of apprehension at them, (9) he must teach him—not by cruel, but by gentle handling—that they are not really formidable.

9) Or, "is disposed to shy."

-Xenophon, "On Horsemanship".

The way I interpret that means that when your horse is afraid of things, you're not. Soon, neither is she. Regular exposure to the world in as many different scenarios as possible will make her braver, but moreover she'll know you and you'll know her. You'll KNOW that you can handle anything that comes up because you've done it before. That's how you get that advantage over the other competitors who don't handle their own horses!
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