Difficulty with a fearful mare (leaving her field) - Page 4 - The Horse Forum

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post #31 of 32 Old 07-09-2012, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Saddlebag - You are absolutely correct, I got her at 7 years old with no history except for the place I got her from, where she was kept outside 24/7 with only a two walled shed with a roof. She learned to love her stall quickly in the small 2 stall barn. I think you're right, she likes to be in a secure place - but the big barn is scary.

You're also right it's a nasty habit of mine to be rubbing her and chatting at her all the time.
I do use scratching as more positive reinforcement, not so much as a 'good job' though. I use it more so she connects things she once thought were scary with things that bring her pleasure. For instance - she was horrified of my white bedding bags, but sometimes I need to add bedding while she's in her stall. So I turned it into a game, when the bedding bag was touching her she would get a good belly rub. Now when she sees me coming with a bedding bag she comes running. :P

I agree with the smile part - I find laughing and smiling a lot seriously helps the situation - lets the nerves out!

And Luv- I try to avoid using treats as anything other than a random gift she gets every once in a while for no reason. When there's food around she gets so distracted by trying to get food we don't get anything accomplished. BUT in a couple weeks when I need to get her on a trailer we will be using food and her best pony friend who loads real well to bribe her on. I don't have a trailer to train her the right way to be comfortable with one. But I also believe trailering may be one thing she actually knows how to do - she was born in Canada (as far as I know) and trucked auction to auction her whole life.

Thanks so much everyone!

Last edited by PunksTank; 07-09-2012 at 09:18 PM.
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post #32 of 32 Old 07-12-2012, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Update - me and Tank made it to our riding ring today! Now knowing exactly what she's afraid of I've worked with her one by one with each of the objects in front of the barn and got her accustomed to all of them mixing and matching, she now happily walks by each of them without a concern.
She is still a bit concerned about walking down into the woods toward the round pen though. The woods are overgrown and the path is narrow were I staying here I'd take the time to clear it but I'll be leaving in a few weeks. Any ideas how to help a horse not be so afraid of narrow places though?
She is still clearly nervous about going through narrow gates too. We've practiced walking in and out of a few different types of narrow gates numerous times. We've gotten to the point where I step through, then she follows, she kind of jigs through it, but never goes further than where she should to line back up with my hand on the lead. But when she gets through she quickly turns her head back to look at the gate like as if it were some monster that just spared her this time. To be clear she doesn't pull on the lead to look at the gate, simply looks behind her as we walk away from it.

You guys rock, thanks for all your creativity!
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