Difficult colt... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-10-2010, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Difficult colt...

I have a (approx) 2 year old colt that came to me as a rescue. When he came he had rain rot, terrible hooves, a giNORMOUS worm belly, and there was nothing else to him.

The first few days, he was calm. But after his first worming, and a few good meals, it soon became apparent he had been beat around a bit.

He was in a box stall and when you would enter the stall he'd bound straight into the air, kicking and farting all the while. All you had to do was open the door and he'd cower into the corner.

We are past most of that. I have tried to desensitize him to many things he finds scary, and he is starting to trust us. I think he likes my boyfriend more than he does me!

He is scheduled to be gelded and i hope this will help some of the issues.

I have exhausted all my ideas to no avail. I am persistant, but i'm losing my drive because it just feels like i'm... beating a dead horse (horrible pun) on some issues.

It came to the point where we tried a tie stall for a day. He reacts in a strange way to being tied. I think he had a bad experience. He will just wig out, and his legs will go in every direction, head as high as it can go, whites of his eyes showing. After a minute if you talk to him and pat him, he'll just relax and he's fine. This ONLY happens when you approach him when he's tied.

The tie stall idea didn't work any better, so he went back into a stall. He has gotten a lot better. You can open the door, he comes up to you. He's more curious and mischievous. But he won't let you get ahold of him until you spend 15 minutes coaxing. I had hoped we'd be a little better on that aspect right now, but we're not.

My biggest issue seems to be just normal antics for a colt that is 2. It's just amplified and complicated because he's so easily traumatized.

Yesterday, we went to go for our walk like we do every day. When you walk out of my barn, to the left is an electric fence. You have about 5 feet of room. Then about 10 feet ahead is more fence. He has never been pastured so he doesn't know about fences. Lately he has taken to getting antsy on the way out the barn. He tries to spin, jump, leap, bound, the whole bit. Bucking, farting, etc. lol I know he just needs to blow off steam, but heres my problem 1) it's dangerous. Yesterday - He almost hit the fence once when i lost control at his head when he spun around kicking, and he flew out of control. 2) I can't just put a chain over his nose and jerk him around. He responds WELL to a chain over his nose and seems to associate it correctly with behaving, but if you try to gain control that way, it just makes him worse. 3) I wasn't able to nip this in the bud as soon as it started, because i can't figure out how to handle him without making things worse. So it's just escalating. I try to immediately turn him when he starts to buck and leap, but if i move too fast he panics.

Once he gets over the idea of being out, he'll settle down to eat some grass or walk along nicely. He's not really afraid of much outside anymore, but he can easily be set off into a panic attack if he STARTS his antics and i whip him head around, or pull him into a circle. I did try once or twice to just yank down with the chain over his nose, the first time it caused him to go straight into the air and then we danced around in a bucking circle for a moment. The second time he anticipated it before I even did it!

Basically i am just having a hard time figuring out the correct way to be assertive and dominant without damaging his delicate sensibilities even more. I have a problem mare, that was extremely dangerous at a point in time. But i was not afraid to take a firm hand with her, and in this case i am.

Do i just try to suck it up and be more aggressive with it? Will he eventually realize that though i am in control and i'm not gonna take his crap, i'm not going to HURT him?

Also... this was supposed to be a rescue, but my boyfriend adores this horse. He is convinced that one day he is going to be able to ride him. He is a beginner rider. He is nervous. He wants to take part in Cosmo's rehab, but i think he fuels the problems.

At this point i seriously do not know. He is just so weird, there's no other way to put it. Once you get in his stall with him and get a hand on him, he's like a puppy in your hands. He loves having every inch of his face touched. But if you move away, and don't move like a sloth, he'll just flip out bucking and kicking and panicking!

One other problem. When i clean stalls, i either tie the horses in the grooming area, or just leave them in the stalls with me. Each stall has ties in it. Some of the horses i don't have to tie, some i do. With him, it's HARD to clean his stall. He doesn't act SCARED, he just tries to play thinking you weigh that much too. If you tie him though, he panics. He doesn't like to be tied and not be able to move away from the person cleaning/the poop rake. If you try tying him in the grooming area, he's okay, but then you have to deal with the panic attack when you approach him to take him back to his stall.

I am just... feeling exhausted with this. Maybe I am losing my confidence. Yesterday kind of scared me, if i hadn't let go of the lead near his head, and let him GO, i probably could have gotten hurt.

And to top everything off... I missed a step yesterday and twisted my ankle on the concrete garage and can barely walk today. It makes me nervous to know that I have to deal with him when i'm not 100% myself.

ETA: I think some of this will be more easily dealt with once he is gelded. As some of his problems escalate, i've noticed other things. He's curling his lips a lot when he sees other horses, and he's pawing a TON.

"Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole."

Last edited by Squeak; 04-10-2010 at 09:56 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-10-2010, 10:40 PM
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How much turnout does he get? A young horse has SOOOO much energy that it could really be just his energy getting the best of him. I personally would try to get him 24/7 turnout or at least half the day, everyday, and see if that helps. I'd bet that it would help quite a bit. =)

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post #3 of 4 Old 04-11-2010, 01:33 AM
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I totally second getting him out of that stall for a good chunk of the day; not only is that good for him physically, it will benefit him mentally as well.

For the 'freakish' episodes, one thing that I suggest is to stop ***** footing around; you are acting more like a predator (to an already suspicious) horse BY, in his mind, stalking about quietly. Make every move you make intentional, being careful to note where he is moving, and keeping your self situated to his shoulder; don't approach him head on, as this makes him more naturally afraid as well, because of the blindspot directly infront of his face...

I think round penning exercises, in which you both have to learn how to read each other's body language would be extremely beneficial to both of you. Not only can you gain respect, but he can learn to see you as a fair leader, not just someone who pets him and loves on him...he is desperately seeking a leader, so don't be afraid to become one. I have worked with horses like him, and I can assure you I don't treat them any differently than any other horse...I still escalate pressure as needed, in order to get messages across, because, let's face it, there's no way you can out muscle them, so not taking the responsibility to be a consistent leader to your horse, is extremely dangerous.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-11-2010, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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He will be turned out once he is gelded. The way we're set up here, I don't want to take any chances of him causing issues with my horses through the fence. I have 3 horses that are turned out all the time. Though we do have 3 separate areas, the one they are in is in the middle. The only thing i could do would be to move my 3 mares over to the far pasture for a few hours a day, and give him the small paddock up front. That way they are not nearby eachother and theres no risk of funny business through the fence. My problem mare hates everyone, including other horses that are not mares. She's fine with other mares. She tries to kick/bite him through the stall when i walk her past it.

Hmm... I'll have to see if we can do that. It would take some shuffling, and we might have to put in another gate to access the small paddock a little easier without going through other pastured areas. I'll talk to my guy about it.

He is scheduled to get gelded, but my preferred veterinarian can't do it for almost another month (he's having surgery himself). I might call and see about having somebody else do it because i need it done, I think it'll really help.

I am gonna take him on his daily walk today, despite my own lameness. We'll see how he does, i'm gonna try to take a much firmer hand with him. It's my only other option at this point. This walking stuff is very important since he IS inside so much. We walk and get him used to dogs, cats, parked vehicles, etc. I was hoping to also walk him down the road (we live on a very non-traveled gravel road) and really get him some exercise. I need to get it so he's not nearly having a coronary as soon as we exit the barn though!

I do not have a round pen at this time, but thought about starting to train him to lunge. I really want a roundpen, but we need to figure out where we could put one before i can get one.

I've only been working part time and could possibly lose my job due to the economy, so i guess i may end up with more time on my hands. Right now i'm trying to condition my problem mare, hoping now that she's a little older we can get her trained for trails (she has never been trail safe, but i need her to be since we're no longer competing) and I have a 4 year old i'm working every day. I think maybe lunging him will make the time spent more valuable so i don't start stressing out trying to work 3 horses every day by myself. If i end up without a job it won't be so bad.

Basically i think i just need encouragement. If he really wants to keep this horse, we need to establish ground manners and fast. There has not been a single day in the last 5 years where I didn't have some crazy insane thing going on with a horse. Quite frankly, i am tired. I am losing my drive. And maybe my confidence.

I have had days where i've thought about selling everything. For 8 years now i've had my problem mare. 8 years later she's still a problem. She acts like she's never been ridden in her life every spring and it takes months to calm her down under saddle. I thought age would bring change, but it's not looking like it! She has hormone issues which you may have heard me mention in other threads here.

At this point, i'm ready for a couple of old trail horses and be done with the rest. LOL

"Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole."
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