Come a little closer so i can take your head off - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 04-18-2010, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Come a little closer so i can take your head off

I have been asked to work with a horse that wont let people touch her. I have dealt with several abuse cases and aggresive horses.

So the scoop on the horse.

A middle aged mare. Came from auction and was seen beaten out of the trailer and all the way up the aisle to the ring. They rescued her in hopes to save her. Once they got her home she was aggressive and turned her rump and started kicking with both hinds. Only one person is able to go into her stall now and clean it if they are slow. She has a severe eye injury that they can not take care of because no one has been able to touch this horse.

So my real question is. When a horse turns it's butt on you to kick it usually pins its ears or gets wild eyed in fear. This horse keeps her ears up and swings her head around to see if you leave after the butt swing. Then she starts kicking. All the while the ears are up. If you snap your fingers and say hey firmly she stops and faces you. She also licks and chews with her butt to you.

To me this means the horse is doing this to hurt me. Or anyone that gets close. The owners have told me that several certified john lyons trainers have tried to work with this horse and said it is fear that she is doing it out of.

So my question is. Is it fear? Or is it to hurt?

I believe its on purpose to make you leave and when i called her bluff she backed down. Also this girl stands in the furthest corner from you as soon as you get near her stall let alone lean on the gate. She stands in the middle when you enter.
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-18-2010, 11:40 PM
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im guessing both, she got hurt when people were near her, so shes scared to get hurt again, in response she has began defending herself by kicking, and has realized people go away and dont touch her when she kicks. I would just show her that people can be nice to be around, and feed her plenty of treats and give her love! good luck! :)

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-18-2010, 11:54 PM
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I agree with Ridergirl, but what I don't get is why people take the horses that will take a very long, slow, time to work with that are agressive, rather than the calmer, nicer ones that are going to slaughter instead. Wy rescue the ones like her, when you could rescue others with better manners and temperaments, for the same price?
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-19-2010, 12:45 AM
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We have a mare JUST like this at my barn. Came to us as a completely (obviously) unhandled, although supposedly broke to ride 4 year old who had never been separated from her mother. They were out in a pasture together, and the dam had basically had foals at her side her whole life, so she's a real "mothery" type--she puts up with baby behavior, but disciplines when neccessary, versus a real lead mare who wouldn't put up with any of this girls crap.

Long story short, we separated mom and baby and what was once an aggressive, bossy, pushy mare is now an aggressive, bossy, unconfident mare--she's a fully grown horse with a yearling brain. While we have to be VERY firm with her and even the slightest turn of her butt to us gets a reprimand, she's doing well. Its obviously taking time, but she is well worth the effort--she's a very smart girl, and gorgeous too!

Obviously this girl is just putting on a show since she did back down when you pushed back, but I would be prepared for possibly a bigger show down when she decides to push BACK. Just spend lots of time doing absolutely nothing except sitting by a pile of hay, and wait for her to come around!

Last edited by justsambam08; 04-19-2010 at 12:49 AM.
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-19-2010, 10:05 AM
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I agree with ridergirl also. I would take things extremely slow, feed her slow and stand by her stall so you are in her view the whole time. Give her lots of treats and love (as much love as you can give w/o her trying to hurt you). As for the bad injury...I'm not sure, but if it's life threatening, I would get someone out there ASAP to give her a little bit of a tranquilizer or something so it can be taken care of, and while thats being done, she can also be looked over closely to make sure she's in good health other than the injury(s). Good Luck to you!

- If today was your last day, and tomorrow was too late, could you say goodbye to yesterday?
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-19-2010, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys that is what i figured. When she does turn her rump i snap my fingers and raise my voice. Any other time i am quiet.

But i am trying to explain to the owners that if they keep going in there they are goin to get hurt till i can get her to understand and settle down. They think she is doing this completely out of fear. And that she wont hurt them.

I used to take throw away horses like her when i was running a rescue but i had a high turn around rate. But i never did go to an auction and buy them they were all owner surrenders. I had turned several throw away crazy horses into great riding horses.
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-19-2010, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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I maybe for got to mention i have only touched her barely on the nose and that was because she was reaching for grain.

They say they are trying to get a tranq gun but if i can work with her and get a halter and gain her trust i will be able to do sedation.
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-19-2010, 02:24 PM
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I personally like to have a horse like this in a small paddock rather than a stall. Usually about an acre or so preferrably with a shelter. In a stall, she is going to be extremely defensive because she is trapped, she has no way out. Their defensive mechanisms are fight or flight, if she can't run, she's going to fight.

The way a horses mind works, she doesn't set out with the intention to do you harm. She is looking out for her own skin, and people have never shown her that they are worth having around. It is fear related, but remember, we don't settle a horses fear by giving them affection, we settle a horses fear by showing them leadership.

A larger space is better for this because it allows the horse to work through all of their defensive patterns. If you are limited to just a stall, then the best thing you can do is get as closely as you safely can with a chair and hang out. A tricky thing is that you can't want her to come to you. Wanting is neediness, which is a weakness that isn't a quality of the leader of the herd, and one of the hardest things that I see working against people that are working with rescue horses.

If you can get her to a small paddock, there are several different options that you have. If she is current on vaccinations (seems like she would need something going through an auction), then turn her out with a friendly "ol reliable" lead horse. I have several horses that I use to train other horses. For this horse, you need something firm, yet carefree, without fear of humans. Remember, an injured horse will need a stronger leader than a healthy horse, as the injured one will test the leader that much more. A good horse will train another to your standards as far as manners go, it will also start to make the new horse curious about your relationship with their new leader.

If no other horse meets the requirements or you need to keep her alone, then you will become that other horse. This can sometimes take a while, but to truly make this mare workable, you need to really catch her, not just halter her. If you need to get her sooner to treat the eye, you may want to ask your vet about some sedatives for her feed. I am currently working with one mare that came in with a bad skin condition that she would not allow to be touched. She has been treated almost completely with antibiotics and is now being retrained to allow touch to that area of her body.

I don't care how fearful a horse is, I will never hesitate to defend myself against aggressive behavior. This will help her to trust you sooner. Don't beat the snot out of her, but definately defend yourself. Once she realizes you are not aggressively persuing her, she will start seeing you as a herd member that needs a rank in the herd. If she's in an open space, just be a presence, walk when she walks, gently push her if she stops until she gives you her attention. Once you have her attention, stop. Approach when you lose it again, stop when she looks at you.

You are dealing with a lot of problems here, just try and think more like a horse and less like a person. I can see where your biggest issue will come with treating the eye. Refer to a vet about the importance of it and definately treat accordingly. You can always take your time later. Remember that being patient is the fastest way to get there with a horse like this.

Thunderhooves - my best horses are the ones that were smart enough to realize that people weren't offering them a good deal. These horses love to communicate when they realize you are listening, they have a strong sense of self preservation and seem to hold out physically longer than the sweet ones that "quietly go lame". Of course, many people take on a horse like this without proper experience or guidance because they think they can "love it back to life". I have a barn full of horses that were smart enough to ask people "why?" and fight back when they didn't like the answer. They turn into the best horses when they are working with you willingly.
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-19-2010, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Yes flitter bug that is what i do but my problem are the owners. I just need reassurance that i was in the right mind set. They wont even let her in a bigger stall she is in a 12x8. I wanted her in the round pen so i could do more approach and retreat. More approach but reward with retreat.

I have told them no one to enter the stall. I will do all cleaning an care. She did go to the gate when i left the other day and watched me leave. I would like to use my mare as her trainer but they dont want her out of the stall and my mare is a big girl.

And when you say defend how do you do it? I step into her, snap my fingers and give a firm hey. I do that as soon as she swings her butt to let her know i wont take to that. I know using vocal isnt being a horse but by that point she isnt listening to body language she goes into fight mode.

She isnt the first i have done this with my mare that i have now used to do frontal attacks when you stepped in the paddock. Feet and teeth. After 2 months she stopped attacking me and after 4 months or so from day one she would let me touch her. After 3 years anyone can handle her and load her. I have used her for training abused and frightened horses. As she is very willing to be in my pocket and get my attention. So i like to put them together so the other can see i am ok.
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-20-2010, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by thunderhooves View Post
I agree with Ridergirl, but what I don't get is why people take the horses that will take a very long, slow, time to work with that are agressive, rather than the calmer, nicer ones that are going to slaughter instead. Wy rescue the ones like her, when you could rescue others with better manners and temperaments, for the same price?
Well, for me...I have the skills that might turn a horse like this around; now, with this particular instance, it sounds like these owners don't have that knowledge and skill, but it sounds like they are willing to get the trainers necessary to turn her around, so really, why not? If she can be turned around, why not atleast try? I think everyone deserves a chance, especially those who have been tossed around and taken for granted...human and animals alike.

To the OP, I would want to actually see the horse in action to make my actual opinion on sounds like blatant disrespect, but it certainly could be a trained response due to the treatment she's received; it could be fear related, and it might not all depends on how dominant of a horse she proves to be. I would certainly get this horse in a round pen and get her feet moving, and help her learn that I control her feet, and her responses to me, and then base my conclusions for her behaviors off of a few good works...then figure out whether she is 'fixable' or not.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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