Belligerant two-year-old - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 15 Old 03-18-2009, 12:12 AM
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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.
'Good old time out' is generally thought of as after the event punishment, which as I explained, doesn't work with horses. If it were possible to tie him in such a way as to make his behaviour uncomfortable every time, untying him the instant he stands, this sort of tactic could help.
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post #12 of 15 Old 03-18-2009, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by RubaiyateBandit View Post
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...
I don't believe horses 'rear out of nowhere'. There is some reason behind it, that you just haven't figured out yet. You have described in your original post, the times that he was standing quietly - albeit short times! You need to catch these instances & reward them. The more you do it, the more & longer practice he'll get at 'the right' thing. I agree that if he's not rearing but is demonstrating some other undesirable behaviour that you shouldn't positively reinforce him then.

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.
Yes, I agree, well timed pressure/release(negative reinforcement) is a great teacher. However it sounds like he needs more incentive in order to do as you ask without argument. Positive reinforcement(reward) is also important.

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.
I don't think the 'piss & vinegar' reason is helpful until after you have overcome the problems & can control his movement well. Regarding too spirited, perhaps he is in need of more exercise generally(as are most domestics), perhaps he's getting too high-energy feed?

But I fail to see how he is being rewarded for rearing. Please explain.
Did I say 'rewarded'? Sorry if I did. Probably not rewarded(positive reinforcement) but reinforced negatively. You ask him to backup, he doesn't want to, or doesn't feel it 'worked' for him, he rears, you stop asking for backwards - it worked. While as I said, I would try to work in a less confrontational manner to try to avoid the rearing, if/when it happens, I'd pretty much ignore it & just keep asking for backwards. As your method is pulling on the lead, you might want to teach him a different cue, so you can stay safely out of the way while keeping the pressure on.

And avoiding pushing him? He'll rear if I do absolutely anything that directs his movements.
Avoid pushing him *too far*. I suspect he doesn't actually rear for absolutely anything, just that the 'good bits' may be short lived so you miss them. You explained that he gave you a bit of backwards, before you asked for more & he reared. You need to catch the bit of 'good' behaviour he gave you & reinforce it a lot more, make it count, so he wants to repeat it.

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
Perhaps ears scratches, whatever, just don't cut it for him, or perhaps they're too delayed to be connected with his behaviour? I like to use a 'bridging signal'(such as in 'clicker training') to buy me more time between behaviour & reinforcement, as it's not always possible to reinforce in the instant.

Re food, it's not what you use to reward him(so long as it is effective), but what behaviour is getting reinforced at the time. As you pointed out above, he's often doing something else that doesn't deserve a reward. You're right not to want to reward it, but many people miss the details or correct timing & allow the horse to snatch the food, put his ears back, whatever. I think it's important to teach them to take food(or whatever) with 'good manners' first & foremost. If the horse never gets rewarded for being 'rude', he won't learn to be.

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.
What?? So IOW it sounds like perhaps there's only one good trainer in your area? I agree that you'd be better waiting for a good trainer than taking the horse to just anybody. Perhaps there's more options of good instructors in your area, that are happy to teach you how to deal with the horse yourself?

Hope this has helped you, & I haven't come to too many wrong or irrelevant conclusions based on your post. Cheers!
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post #13 of 15 Old 03-18-2009, 08:41 AM
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loosie: when i said "good ole time out" i use that to teach patience with my horses and it works wonders, not as a "after the incident" punishment. this can be done before you ride, after you ride, or on a day where you don't ride at all. Some people tie a innertube of a tire to a rope so there is some give when they fight or use a safty snap or tie. To me a horse needs to know how to stand tied, wether it be for 5 minutes or 1 hr. This also helps them learn they aren't the boss.

I still go by the 5 second rule, if you catch them in the act you have 5 seconds to discipline them, after that they have no clue what your getting after them for.

Last edited by toosleepy; 03-18-2009 at 08:44 AM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 03-18-2009, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by toosleepy View Post
loosie: when i said "good ole time out" i use that to teach patience with my horses and it works wonders, not as a "after the incident" punishment. this can be done before you ride, after you ride,
Great - you're not one of those who does that sort of thing as punishment I agree that(so long as the experience doesn't stress them out - they've been prepared for it) the more experience being tied & having to stand around, the better generally.

I still go by the 5 second rule, if you catch them in the act you have 5 seconds to discipline them, after that they have no clue what your getting after them for.
Actually, dogs and many other animals have the cognitive ability to connect events with 'consequences' that may have happened that long ago. But it has been demonstrated that horses have lost the plot by about 3 seconds. Not sure how you understand it, but this theory has become a bit confused with many people. They think they have that long after the event, when that should be a 'worst case scenario'. The reinforcement/punishment should happen *at the time of* the behaviour and not happen/continue past 3 seconds at the latest.
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post #15 of 15 Old 03-18-2009, 11:11 PM
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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, and when I try to correct him, he just starts rearing.
A horse that rears up has sticky feet. work on your go forward (think forward) cue. Meaning, if he's thinking up, it's cause he's being a horse...reacting to whatever (doesn't matter) and nature says go up. So, just teach him instead to think forward. Work on teaching him to go forward at all gaits on command.

Bare with me, there's more....this is just step one for a horse that rears....

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.
this is why backing a horse that you want to stand still isnt' a fool proof plan. It might work with some horses, might not with others. I'd forget about backing him especially in the form of punishment.

Instead teach him to stand still. Stop his feet.

Hold the lead closest to the halter in your left hand (you're standing at his left), be sure to take it with about a foot or so of distance between your hand and the halter snap.

Take out the slack. Point it at the hip. Lock it there, don't pull. Don't jerk. Just lock your hand there.

With your right hand, twirl the end of the lead line at the hip (counter clockwise) twirl it with gusto to make the line whirl. Anything less is too weak.

When he moves his hip over (no forward movement), he'll cross his back feet, and his front end will stop.

This is a cue for him to stand still. Because you are stopping forward movement. You are disengaging his hip. You are taking his balance and redirecting his movement. You are preventing a rear up. you are also in charge of the hips which is the main engine of the horse's body. Control the hip on the ground and in the saddle and you've got full charge of the horse. Don't, and you have problems.

Soon as he plants his front feet (his front foot closest to you...the left, if you're standing at his left) will plant and pivot as you drive the hip away. When this happens and his back feet cross and his hip moves over, give him a release of pressure. Meaning, stop all twirling and put the lead down.

Let him rest for a moment. And go back to grooming. He moves his feet, repeat the whole thing. Repeat til he decides that moving = work and you direct his feet. And standing still is easiest = release of pressure.

He will do whatever gives him a release of pressure. that's all he knows. If you train him this way, you'll teach him where to find the release: By standing still.

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
Stop thinking about punishment. Don't pull his head ever. Anytime you pull on a lead line, you're pulling on a rein, you're teaching him to resent and to ignore pressure, to be heavy.

Instead, you've got the right idea about putting his head down. BUT do it like this:

If he rears up, wait til he comes back down. leave him alone when he rears. he's reacting, not thinking. when he comes down, move his hips like I mentioned above and then apply slight downward pressure (take out the slack, don't pull) on the lead just below the snap.

If he ignores that, rock his head gently side to side.

If he raises his head, go with it, but don't add more pressure.

Soon as he drops his head even one inch, LET GO.

Repeat til he's dropping his head to the dirt every time you start to take out the slack on the line.

He'll learn there's a release down there, not up (rear). And he'll choose not to rear up anymore, but instead to relax and keep his head even with the withers or if you ask...lower. This is a calm down/head down cue.

. 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.
All the stuff that you did is teaching him to resent pressure and to think of it as a pain in the butt, not something he cares to figure out. So, if you turn it around now, you won't let this escalate to even more.

Above all, keep your emotions out of it. If you're angry, your negative emotions will show through your actions and he'll go right into defense (rear up, pull away, maybe push into you)....

Really practice the hip exercise. both sides. This will teach him to bend his body, relax his neck, relax to pressure. And he'll stop all the negative stuff. It's not a cure all, but it does set you and him both up for success. It's a great start.

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.
he's not playing. He's telling you that he's not afraid of you and he doesn't think much of how you are handling things. You don't want him to be afraid, you want him to know what you want and to not push against or pull away from pressure, but to give/relax to it.

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.
Don't use hobbles. Or try to force him to submit by restricting him, instead learn how to use pressure properly and more so, the release.

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.
This is exactly why punishment doesn't work. forget about correcting him and instead teach him what you do want him to do, stop wasting your time and energy on what you don't want him to do.

Instead of "no no no no no no no no"
tell him: do this. get the release here. do that. get the release there.
He's just confused and frustrated with how you are handling him and so he goes to instinct. He's being normal. So, you've got to teach him that if he responds to training (relax and give to pressure) he'll get the release of pressure he wants and he'll get it without the stress of rearing and all that stuff....then and only then, will he choose to listen to training.

Hope this helps
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