Wow! Thanks for all the responses! Haven't been home all day, so this is my first chance to respond.
Originally Posted by thesilverspear View Post
Do you have a rope halter? If so, does he drop his head and give when you put gentle pressure on the noseband? I taught my horses (draft crosses, but I imagine less "bullish" ones than your guy) to at first drop their noses to soft pressure and then to back up. Which also sets them up for reinbacking from a soft feel. Once they back from pressure on the noseband, which is a good way to start as it's more sensitive than you prodding their chest, I add other "back" commands that I might use, such as a wiggly lead rope, me poking their chest, or ideally, me stepping into their space with a certain amount of energy and saying "back."
Another method that feels a bit rough but if that's what you need, it might work, is to stand back from the horse and snap the rope, kind of like Linda Parelli was doing in that awful video that was posted here a while ago. Except you don't have a metal clip to hit the horse in the face and as soon as he takes a step back, stop and tell him he's a good boy. Rinse, repeat, 'till he's backing off you gently bobbing the rope, rather than snapping it.
We had a rope halter, but it's too small for him now (through the nose). He listened okay with the rope halter, so I'm hopefully going to either get a custom made one (if I can find someone around me who does them) or figure out how to make my own.
The snapping method is similar to what my friend that I used to work with called shanking. He ignores it when I try to shank him (it's just a quick snap down on the lead rope to put pressure on the noseband).
As far as getting him soft...my old gelding was soft when he'd back up for me. Aires is definitely the nose in the air, stiff body belligerent teenager when I ask him to back.
I missed the last paragraph of your post, this thread has gotten to be mostly about backing some how.
Yes, I love your ideas about setting up obstacles for him to deal with when you are lounging. When lounging it is really easy for a horse to just zoom around in circles without really thinking, putting things in their way makes them take more time, use their brains, and think about what they are doing with those feet. For building respect I also like setting up trail courses and taking my horse through them in hand, so my horse learns to really listen to my ground cues in a variety of different tasks.
The trail course is nothing for Aires. The very first time I led him around (the day I signed the papers on him), I took him in the arena and wove the poles, walked around the barrels and even went over the bridge. He will walk onto the bridge, stop on the bridge and stand, stop halfway on or halfway off the bridge, cross the bridge width-wise, and stop on the bridge halfway width-wise (so either his front feet or back feet are on it, while the other set is off).
But anyways, its like a complete turn around since we have started to do that. I also just watched a Clinton Anderson episode the other day, where this woman's mare kicked out at them all the time when picking the back feet. Every time that the horse would kick out at him, he would make the horse move. Seemed to make sense, and the horse figured out that it was more worth giving in and letting him pick her feet than it was to run around.
Unfortunately, Aires won't even let me THINK about touching his feet if he isn't tied and unless he's not tied, I can't react fast enough to make him move his feet when he is bad about kicking. One thing I have noticed, though, is that it is really only his left rear that he is bad about (and has always been bad about). I mentioned it to the trainer and she thinks there might be something wrong with one of his other hooves/legs and it hurts him to put pressure on whichever foot it is when I ask him to lift his left rear. So, she wants me to check his right front for heat or a pulse to see if that could be the problem.
I have a different mind about drafts, having two Percherons, they can back and there is nothing wrong with teaching them too, nor do they have issues or troubles because they are drafts. We work with ours every day, pick up hooves, stand politely, walk at our shoulder, give to pressure, etc. I have gotten my fair share of compliments at shows while in a line up during a halter class, while everyone else's draft was acting the fool, Smoke would drop her head, stand near me and square up, if she set a foot wrong all I have to do is touch her with two fingers and tell her "back". It is patience, calmness, and persistence.
When we first got Trixie, she had issues with lifting her back hooves, she is lazy. She can if she wishes to and when our farrier is here doing either mare, they are expected to keep their hooves up till he lets them down, and yes, when he shoes their front then trims the back, it can take over an hour. She had an abscess in the hind hoof one time that needed tending and packing, I had asked her 3 times to lift and hold the hoof up, I know it was tender but after the 3rd time of slamming it down but adding a kick I handed my husband a crop and told him, she does it again, slap her hard and make it count. Once was all it took, she got the message loud and clear along with a growl.
I have the same attitude you do toward drafts, GreySorrel. That's why I said that he doesn't get any more excuses. I expect him to be able to do everything (on the ground) that a light riding horse can do.
I think when I work with his feet, I'm going to keep the crop around my wrist. That way, if he tries to kick, he'll get a whallop from that instead of my hand and it'll get the point across faster.
Thanks for all the suggestions and encouragement, everybody! We're going back to basic training tomorrow! I'll keep everyone updated on how we do.