Difficulty with a fearful mare (leaving her field) - Page 3

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Difficulty with a fearful mare (leaving her field)

This is a discussion on Difficulty with a fearful mare (leaving her field) within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    07-08-2012, 11:48 PM
I say it will just take time ...have you ever took her on a trail or anything ? Somewhere away from your house?
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    07-08-2012, 11:53 PM
I'm no expert but here's my thought.

I feel like your slightly 'wrong' on your approach to wanting her totally focused on you and not distracted. If you keep a horse busy and they forget to be afraid that learned behavior of fear turns into something else entirely. So my suggestion is simple. Get off the 'its gotta be memememe' horse and get her comfortable and distracted by food and constantly having 'fun' going out.. associating going out with yum yums and rubs and grooming and whatever it is you know she likes... and once she gets to that stage then start bringing her back to focus entirely on you and what you are wanting.

I'm all for this 'be the leader' deal, but I also think its a bit bunk that if you are THE leader that the horse will forget all about their fears because you aren't afraid. I mean, honestly, they aren't that stupid.

Get her over being afraid of being 'out of her field' first then worry about having her listen and respect you all the time. A distracted horse that's afraid isn't going to listen to anyone really, not until the thing or series of events that's making them afraid goes away or they discover that fearful things aren't enough to be worried about.

How is she on the ground in her comfort area with things like bags on sticks, giant plastic balls, tarps being dragged on the ground? Will she let a big scary tarp chase her around tied to her saddle or does she freak with that too? You might want to let us know how she behaves with that?

I've seen some really great trainers turn the bravest horses in the world into quiverying babies by simply puffing large plastic containers of baby powder at them (cause baby powder clouds are horse eating clouds right?) or by just putting a chair in the arena and lifting it up oddly in a non-traditional use. You might just want to go back to basics and see how she's doing on these things before moving on to bigger scarier out of the pasture things.
Horseychick94 and PunksTank like this.
    07-09-2012, 12:04 AM
Centaur can I like what you said twice? I love this approach - I will try this tomorrow. She is completely bombproof in her field. Plastic bags all types of tack, I haven't tried powder, but I have done bicycles and chairs and blocks and anything I bring into her field she's comfortable with (after lots of work).

What you said is how I got her comfortable with me to begin with and how I got her comfortable being in a stall (she had never had one before me). Her belly is always very itchy and she nearly falls over on herself with joy when I scratch her. I have tried letting her graze outside, but then her head is down and every once in a while she looks up and realizes how far she's grazed away from her gate and gets scared again. But when I tell her to put her head down she'll go back to grazing. I think grazing is doing the same thing as me bossing her around. Distracting her from her fear - not getting her over it.

I got her comfortable with all sorts of things that way - why not this?! I use my plastic bedding bags to scratch her belly, which is how she learned that plastic bags can be wonderful too.

Good idea! Thank you - tomorrow I'm going to take her out and groom/rub her in the driveway! Now I have a plan.
    07-09-2012, 08:34 PM
Centaur I wish I could hug you right now - today was fantastic!!
We made it all the way to the beginning of the woods on one end and all the way to the gate of the driveway on the other end. This has been truly the best day yet. I worked her quite a bit in her field then brought her out, walked her as far as she would comfortably go, when she started to get nervous I stopped and asked her to do a very simple task, like putting her head down or backing up a step or two, then I praised her like mad! I would spend a few minutes scratching her belly and rubbing her itchy spots. I just didn't want to praise her when she got scared, just wanted to make her think that those scary objects bring happy feelings. I've discovered it's really not walking up or down the driveway, she's just really afraid of the big barn. We could walk down the driveway when I was between her and the barn, but when we turned and she was between me and the barn she would look over at the barn and walk forward and sideways into my space. This behavior was promptly corrected with backing up and practice moving away from me. Then we faced the barn and learned what each of the 'scary' objects were. There is a pile of stuff, we have a pretty water garden with model horses and colorful decorations, there's one of the kid's bikes and a some chairs and benches. All of which seemed to really make her nervous. So we spent some time learning what they were and that when she was close to those things she would get rubs.

Today was seriously successful <3 so much higher hopes for when we move too! I don't think there will be any really scary things outside in her new home - so I'll be able to work on her not being afraid of things one at a time, rather than bombarding her with junk.

Some pics: the first you can see she's a bit nervous, the second picture is just after, I asked her to put her head down and instantly she was calm!

Horseychick94 likes this.
    07-09-2012, 08:43 PM
I am so happy that you had progress ! I knew it would happen !! Keep it up!
    07-09-2012, 08:46 PM
Yes I'm so thrilled we are going to practice this every day in hopes of making it down to the round pen. :)
    07-09-2012, 09:15 PM
I'm in my phone but I just let out a big old cheer for you. I know you two will work this out together if you keep at it. Thanks for helping me with my issue too...late last night we ground drove Cat with a stranger and she walked off a few steps under saddle as well with no human on the ground. It was a start!

I'm a firm believer our horses teach us as much as we teach them. Tank is a lucky girl to have you and you her.
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    07-09-2012, 09:26 PM
<3 you guys are sweet! I'm so glad your horse is doing well too! Even tiny steps are a big deal.
Have to agree - every horse at our rescue has taught me quite a bit :)
    07-09-2012, 09:52 PM
Punk, she may see the barn as a trap whereas we see it as a safe secure place. She's probably spent most of her life n a pasture. If you stall her for the night be sure to close the doors. In her mind open doors mean predators can get her. Those stall bars mean nothing to her. If she can see thro them she can be attacked. When you work with her try not to touch her, not petting, scratching or loving. It isn't necessary nor constructive. It's the release of pressure that offers the reward. Just for hellery try not talking to her as well and plaster a big smile on your face. It will make you feel happy.
    07-09-2012, 09:53 PM
I'm not a trainer so this might not work. Can you take your mare out and maybe feed her out there maybe move the feed farther and farther every day. I know someone who got there horse in a trailer with that method. Put their horses grain in the trailer. It worked for them.

fear, riding, spooking, training advice

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