Belligerant two-year-old - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Belligerant two-year-old

My gelding, Dante, just has no patience.
He'll rarely stand still for anything longer than a few minutes, and when I try to correct him, he just starts rearing.
An example: Today, I was brushing him out. He was content playing with his lead rope for awhile, and then he just started moving around. Swinging his back end away from me, or reaching around to nuzzle at me or something. I untied him and signaled for him to back up by tugging back on his leadrope, (this is what I've always done with 2-Pak and Bandit to get them to stand still), and he took a few steps backward, stopped, and tossed his head about before turning to face me. I moved to make him back up again, and he reared up. I pulled him down, then pulled his head all the way to the ground, letting him stand like that. When he stayed calm and still, I rewarded him and went to continue grooming him, his lead still in hand. Awhile later, he repeated the entire episode, and I began to lunge him rather than continue grooming. He refused to go at anything slower than a trot, and then suddenly just stopped and tried to walk away. I brought him back and tried to get him going again, and he reared. The rest of the attempted lunging session pretty much went that way.

He never actually pins his ears or starts flicking his tail or acts in any way agressive. He just seems to think he's playing.

Is there anything I'm doing wrong, or should be doing? Is there anything I can do to get him to stop rearing long enough to at least attempt to lunge him? I considered using hobbles, but I'm not sure if that would help at all.
Any suggestions would be helpful. His rearing issue has been going on for nearly a year, and I'm consistantly correcting him, and rewarding him for standing calmly.

If I can, I'll try to get a video of him being lunged.
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 01:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubaiyateBandit View Post
My gelding, Dante, just has no patience.
He'll rarely stand still for anything longer than a few minutes,
Mate! You want to try dealing with a human 2yo - I dream of getting a few minutes in one go! But seriously, patience is not something that comes easy to most animals & has to be *taught* gradually. You need to do this by positively reinforcing(rewarding) whatever you do get, lots of repetition & only asking for more when he's reliable at the level he's at now.

Quote:
I untied him and signaled for him to back up by tugging back on his leadrope, (this is what I've always done with 2-Pak and Bandit to get them to stand still), and he took a few steps backward, stopped, and tossed his head about before turning to face me. I moved to make him back up again, and he reared up.
I'm interested to know how you reinforced him for doing the right thing(backing up)? Perhaps the head tossing was just fidgetting, perhaps it was him 'giving you the finger', perhaps it was his frustration & confusion that his early(right) response wasn't reinforced, particularly in light of the last sentence.

"Awhile later, he repeated the entire episode, and I began to lunge him rather than continue grooming. He refused to go at anything slower than a trot, and then suddenly just stopped and tried to walk away. I brought him back and tried to get him going again, and he reared."

Were you lunging him as punishment? If so, there's no point. Reinforcement or punishment must happen instantaneously with the behaviour you want to effect. Even a few seconds will mean the horse cannot associate the cause with the 'effect'. Again, you need to reward whatever you get *instantly* and work gradually from there, to teach him what's right about his behaviour & encourage him to repeat it.

Without knowing how you have trained him, how you have prepared him for lunging, knowing what you're doing, I can't do more than guess why he did that when being lunged. It does sound like he may be a rather 'dominant' type personality tho, so I'd try to avoid getting into any battles with him for a start.

Quote:
His rearing issue has been going on for nearly a year, and I'm consistantly correcting him, and rewarding him for standing calmly.
So he's obviously well practiced at being reinforced for the behaviour, so I'd expect it to take some time & effort to eliminate & it'll likely get worse before it stops. Even well timed punishment isn't all that effective and is often misunderstood & feared. I would therefore try hard to avoid pushing him so far as to cause him to rear. I would teach him more gradually & less confrontationally. I would ensure he was getting lots of *well timed* positive reinforcement(reward, Good Stuff) and making sure it was effective enough(for eg. Patting & praise is generally a very weak reward, if at all) to motivate him to want to do as you ask.
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 03:19 AM
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Two year olds can be difficult, and constant lunging for 'punishment' can be hell on their joints.

Your best bet is to send him to a competent trainer.

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post #4 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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But his major issue is that he will rear out of nowhere. It's hard to praise him for not rearing, because whenever I work with him, he's either rearing or he's doing something else that doesn't deserve a reward... like nipping or crowding (both are behaviors that I'm somewhat slowly weaning him off of, and so far, he is at least getting better about not doing them.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
I'm interested to know how you reinforced him for doing the right thing(backing up)? Perhaps the head tossing was just fidgetting, perhaps it was him 'giving you the finger', perhaps it was his frustration & confusion that his early(right) response wasn't reinforced, particularly in light of the last sentence.
Well, reinforcing the backing up... I tug back on his halter and then let the lead rope go slack when he starts stepping backward. The whole pressure and release training seems to work well with him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Were you lunging him as punishment? If so, there's no point. Reinforcement or punishment must happen instantaneously with the behaviour you want to effect. Even a few seconds will mean the horse cannot associate the cause with the 'effect'. Again, you need to reward whatever you get *instantly* and work gradually from there, to teach him what's right about his behaviour & encourage him to repeat it.
At this point, I've already figured out that lunging couldn't be a punishment for him. It's more of an attempt at running some piss and vinegar out of him anymore, because some days it just seems he's too spirited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
So he's obviously well practiced at being reinforced for the behaviour, so I'd expect it to take some time & effort to eliminate & it'll likely get worse before it stops. Even well timed punishment isn't all that effective and is often misunderstood & feared. I would therefore try hard to avoid pushing him so far as to cause him to rear. I would teach him more gradually & less confrontationally. I would ensure he was getting lots of *well timed* positive reinforcement(reward, Good Stuff) and making sure it was effective enough(for eg. Patting & praise is generally a very weak reward, if at all) to motivate him to want to do as you ask.
But I fail to see how he is being rewarded for rearing. Please explain.
And avoiding pushing him? He'll rear if I do absolutely anything that directs his movements.
When he is behaving, I'll scratch his ears and pet him and whatnot, but I rather hold issue with constant food rewards. Every other horse I've seen that was constantly rewarded with food just ended up pushy and nippy, and since I'm making some headway with teaching him to not be like that, I'd rather not give him reason to revert.

I am considering a professional trainer, but the trainer we usually use isn't taking horses right now, and I won't find a different one, because he's the only one in the area I've found that will let me sit through the training sessions and explain to me exactly what and why he's doing something.
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 12:12 PM
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have you ever thought of doing a good ole time out? Tie him in his stall or to the wall in the arena and just let him have his little hissy fit, untie him when he's good. Just make sure you have a quick release snap or tie incase he gets in trouble. I feel this way he is the one that is disciplining himself and will learn patience
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 06:55 PM
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[quote=loosie;271538]
I'm interested to know how you reinforced him for doing the right thing(backing up)? Perhaps the head tossing was just fidgetting, perhaps it was him 'giving you the finger', perhaps it was his frustration & confusion that his early(right) response wasn't reinforced, particularly in light of the last sentence.

OMG! I thought T was showing me a little attitude when she tosses her head at me, but "giving me the finger"! I'll never look at that head toss the same again!

Thanks for the chuckle.
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 07:08 PM
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I think you need someone to actually see what is going on to give you good honest advise. I can't imagine that his rearing is just for fun. Sorry nothing to report here.

Katie
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 08:14 PM
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Hi. I too had a p!ssy 2 year old. Got worse when he had a go at my standie too. I took some advice from a trusted local trainer who said, at two and a half, he could do with breaking. My ground work was simply not enough for him. I was reluctant at first, youngster, fragile bones and the rest, but honestly, gentle breaking with a good honest cowboy, and he's a different pony. Still can't put the two geldings in together but at least I feel safer around him.
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-17-2009, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toosleepy View Post
have you ever thought of doing a good ole time out? Tie him in his stall or to the wall in the arena and just let him have his little hissy fit, untie him when he's good. Just make sure you have a quick release snap or tie incase he gets in trouble. I feel this way he is the one that is disciplining himself and will learn patience
I guess I've never thought of that... we don't have stables, but I suppose I can just leave him tied to the arena. It seems to make sense, anyway. I'll try it next time I work him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by offinthedistance View Post
Hi. I too had a p!ssy 2 year old. Got worse when he had a go at my standie too. I took some advice from a trusted local trainer who said, at two and a half, he could do with breaking. My ground work was simply not enough for him. I was reluctant at first, youngster, fragile bones and the rest, but honestly, gentle breaking with a good honest cowboy, and he's a different pony. Still can't put the two geldings in together but at least I feel safer around him.
Well, he's a pony, and I was never planning on breaking him to saddle. I was going to break him to harness, but I'm not sure I want to attempt harness training if he's going to rear and bounce around.
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-18-2009, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkamile View Post
OMG! I thought T was showing me a little attitude when she tosses her head at me, but "giving me the finger"! I'll never look at that head toss the same again!

Thanks for the chuckle.
Ha ha! I said 'perhaps' tho - not necessarily, tho in OP's situation, I'm guessing...
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