Difficulty with a fearful mare (leaving her field) - Page 2

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Difficulty with a fearful mare (leaving her field)

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    07-08-2012, 09:17 PM
It sounds like you have consulted with more than one trainer regarding this horse. What do they say about the cause of her behavior?
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    07-08-2012, 09:32 PM
I'll try tomorrow if I have time (in the process of moving). I've tried two methods (both suggested to me by trainers) and essentially what happens is...
Method 1: being nice and going slow,
I take her out on the lead and let her eat grass, walking her a few steps at a time further away from her gate. At this point she becomes consumed by the food and has forgotten I exist (which is why I don't prefer this method). When the neighboring construction company makes a noise, or when she notices something she didn't before she throws her head up. She turns into a rock and starts breathing heavy and frantic. Now I've learned that getting her to put her head down makes her more comfortable. I get her head down and she relaxes. We repeat this process multiple times over about 10-20 minutes then I lead her back into her field and let her go. We've reached the point where she will not bolt, she has 'spooked in place' where she just jumps and her whole body rattles, but she doesn't move. Once her head is down she's calm again, temporarily.

Method 2: Keep her busy.
I take her out of her field and in the driveway I make her work, I yield her hind end, I make her back up, I make her yield her front end, I make her put her head down and back up some more. I repeat these things up and down the driveway. The entire time her body is tense and her eyes and ears are twitching all around - to the scary world then back at me, back and forth frantically. I keep working her until she is calm. Always, when doing this she responds well to my commands until, again, something makes a noise or she notices something she didn't before and Boom she explodes. Now she explodes in place as she's learned not to bolt, but it's enough to rattle me. I make her put her head down and then continue working her. If her work outside wasn't entirely positive then when I bring her back in to her field I make her work more, busier more difficult work. I want to make being outside the field less difficult than being inside the field. "Make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy" sort of mentality.

She listens well for as long as she can until her nerves just get the best of her. But at least now she's being safe about how she spooks.
    07-08-2012, 09:42 PM
Yes Draft, I've consulted numerous trainers across the north east, people who work at draft rescues and people who have experience with never-halter broke PMU foals.
There was one fantastic trainer who gave me the two methods I just explained. Which work, slowly and cautiously.
I've had trainers come and help me with her, one I believe may be why she's so afraid still, he forced her out with a chain over her nose and dragged her down to the woods out back (where the round pen is) and put her in, finally she was so scared she broke out and ran all the way back to her stall.
Every trainer I've talked to - besides the last idiot I mentioned - has told me it's fear. There's a nice cowboy who's helping at our rescue who worked with her in and out of her field, but was only able to come one day. He knew it was fear too, but we don't know what caused it, he just did what I've already been doing, making her work outside. But even he couldn't make her go further than she was comfortable and even he couldn't get her to stop being so afraid.

He's the one who's going to be trucking her for me to our new place, which I'm not concerned about as this seems to be the one thing she came to me knowing. Having been trucked from Canada and auctioned numerous times she really knows how to get on and off a truck. Especially if her pony friend goes on first.

Everyone seems to agree it's definitely fear, not disobedience. But she has made great progress, rather than bolting off she 'spooks in place' and when she does move she moves away from me (rather than hiding in my pocket like she used to). Rather than being so overwhelmed with her fear she still tries her hardest to do what I ask when even when she's afraid. So I am proud of her, but I love her and don't want her to be afraid.

I'm really open to any training ideas (outside of real violence, obviously), I'm thinking maybe ponying her or taking her out while someone else leads her pony friend (a safe distance) nearby may help too. Thank you all for your constructive help :)
    07-08-2012, 10:47 PM
Green Broke
I vote for being a brat on the horse.

She has learned that you are not the leader, she may give in to you in a more enclosed area, but get outside that? She is running the show. And you don't seem to want to understand that.

I guarantee you, if you were truly the leader here, she would be fine. You aren't, so she isn't. This horse has no respect for you at all basically, and all you are doing with her is making it worse.

And have to wonder about the "trainers" too, if all they see if a "fearful" horse, and not a brat. It may also be too, that they think horse is spoiled, but know that isn't what you want to hear, or that you argue with them, so they don't say what they think.

If you can't afford a trainer, then get rid of this horse, as she has got you buffaloed, and you will shortly not be able to do anything at all with her. And if your handling has caused much of this, which I feel like it has, then don't get another horse, as it will end up like this too.

Your horse handling skills are lacking, and this horse is showing that clearly.
    07-08-2012, 10:52 PM
So what can I do to be more of a leader? How can I be more assertive and make her respect me?
    07-08-2012, 10:53 PM
You're essentially saying "you're a crappy horse person so give up now" - I'd like to learn what I can do to better myself in the situation, how can I become the leader that she needs?

And I have hired trainers who haven't helped -
I don't want to send her away because I want to learn what the trainer is doing, besides even if she's good there - or with that person, she probably wouldn't be for me. Like you say, it's me - not her. So what do I need to do?
    07-08-2012, 11:05 PM
When I ride my friends horse he will sometimes get scared and what not and I will talk to him and pet him on his neck to let him know it 's ok . Maybe you could also put some treats in your pocket and lead her around outside the pasture and talk to her ? That is what I would do and see if it works , maybe she is just not used to the area outside of her pasture and feels like it's not safe? I am somewhat new to this so don't know if this helps or if it's right , but I am sure as long as you keep on working with her she'll come around. Learning is about trial and error and sometimes we make a lot of mistakes before we find what really works!
Horseychick94 and PunksTank like this.
    07-08-2012, 11:13 PM
You're sweet calm - that was my first approach. I don't use treats with this horse as she gets distracted and can't focus on what we're working on. But I generally try to be reassuring, which is what everyone else is telling me I'm doing wrong.
I do think it's fear, but perhaps rather than being sweet and reassuring to help her overcome her fear- maybe I need to try and be a firm strong leader for her to be less afraid, knowing I'll protect her. I'm not sure how to do that though. I've done everything I know how to do and more that people have taught me to do.
I'm hoping the clean slate of our new home will help us both get out of our issues with this driveway. I think often when I take her out I'm anticipating her being afraid - this probably doesn't make her feel more comfortable.

Thank you for your vote of confidence, I'm not ready to give up on my horse or myself. We may never be trail bums but we will make it :)
    07-08-2012, 11:37 PM
Yea if you are anticipating of it I don't think that is helping much lol...Before I rode my horses I got for the first time (took me a month and a half !) I had walked them all around the property and got them used to the everything . I even got Cash and would have him walk over logs and what nots while I had him on the lead rope . I think that helps with trust issues. IMO if a horse trusts you than shouldn't the horse feel safe? Another thing if you are wanting to be harder or what not on her maybe work her butt off in the pasture , make it as horrible as possible ! Than when she gets out of the pasture make it fun ?
    07-08-2012, 11:44 PM
Ya, if you read my past posts in response to what others say - that is kinda exactly what I do :P I work her alot in her field, yielding all parts of her, walking and jogging over poles (in hand). She's very respectful, but I don't think she trusts my opinion enough to believe me when I say she doesn't need to be afraid. And I don't know how to better make her trust me. I'm going to try again tomorrow - in a better state of mind. We'll see.

fear, riding, spooking, training advice

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