Discipline? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 05-20-2011, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Hi you all! Well, as some of you know, I bought Yapa 3 weeks ago, the 8 yr old mare I have been leasing for 4 months, approx. I am completely new to riding, I started taking lessons a year ago, although I had already had some instruction approx. 6 yrs ago. That said, I have the following doubt: Yapa has always been a bit grouchy, not enjoying much petting or grooming. However, that has changed a lot since I began interacting with her every day when I started leasing her. But, two weeks ago, approx, she started being grouchy again, she pins back her ears real low every time I ask her to canter and very often when I ask her to trot. My teacher says I should slap her neck whenever she does that, because she mainly does it with me. She says Yapa is realizing that I tend to 'spoil' her and that she senses she can get away with her bad manners with me... I don't feel very comfortable hitting or slapping her, I know it sounds naive... but, as a dog trainer who works with positive reinforcement, it is hard for me to do that. So, how do you 'discipline' your horses? Is my teacher right? Should I do that? Thanks for your advice!
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post #2 of 21 Old 05-20-2011, 08:57 PM
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Sometimes. But my first rule is that we are always the cause or there is some health issue. I do not allow my young students to correct bad behavior supply because your timing is off. It is hard enough to remember the twenty other things that you are learning and then to get the horse at the right moment for it to be a true correction and not just and after thought that dose no good.
I would start with trying to brake down everything you are doing before the bad behavior begins see if you are causing it. Also look your horse over really good and your tack see if something is there.

live for the moment.
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post #3 of 21 Old 05-20-2011, 10:03 PM
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There is a difference between 'spoiled' and 'sour' under saddle.

She sounds more 'sour' than spoiled to me. Does she get any time being ridden out in fields or on trails? Constant ring work and lessons with inept riders pulling and balancing with the reins and constantly thumping a horse in the ribs will make many lesson horses get 'sour'.

Spoiled to me is a horse that rears, kicks up, stalls out, bucks, runs to the gate, etc. If this horse is just ring sour, scolding her will be much less effective than taking her out and working her hard doing many different things.

As far as pinning her ears when you are on the ground. Yes, get after her HARD and then just go back to grooming like nothing ever happened. You should not allow a horse to lay its ears back on the ground as that is a direct threat.
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post #4 of 21 Old 05-20-2011, 10:13 PM
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Notice the surroundings, seasons, time, even days that she tends to pin her ears more. There's a mare at the barn I go to who pins her ears ALOT when being risen when she is in season. ( horse term for in heat) she also pins her ears more when there are guy horses around. (geldings or stallions) I think she tries to "impress them" by showing she can be mean. If it's food time andshe is getting hungry she might start to get grouchy and pin her ears as well. I do agree with a slap on the neck, but only if what shes doing is a threat to your others and is not caused by how you are riding/ handeling her.

Some say I don't have a life.
I smile. I have a heartbeat and hoofbeats.
So therefore I have a great life. -me
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post #5 of 21 Old 05-21-2011, 03:17 AM
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If i understand correctly you said it only happened with you riding? Or at least mostly with you? IF other people ride her regularly and she doesn't do this with them then maybe she does have a problem with you...like the being spoiled thing. If you ride her in diff. tack or do other stuff than the rest of the riders i would investigate this further. However, if your trainer has known this horse for a long time, then she might me right. I hate hitting horses too, but sometimes you need to in order to avoid dangerous situations. Remember that horses communicate with body language, which means they get angry at each other too.... a horse kick will hurt far more that a slap from you.... it's mostly about the instant shock than the pain anyways. I used to ride a horse that i spoiled (badbad... he was way too cute) and he started bucking EVERY time i asked to canter... finally i whacked him with a dressage whip and it got better. Just be careful that the situation doesn't get worse! Good Luck!
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post #6 of 21 Old 05-21-2011, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by marybonus View Post
But, two weeks ago, approx, she started being grouchy again, she pins back her ears real low every time I ask her to canter and very often when I ask her to trot.
Is this (ears) all she does (i.e. does she trot/canter OK for you) ? If so, I would just ignore it. Horses will put their ears back for a variety of reasons.

With regard to positive v. negative reinforcement, you need to keep in mind how horses interact in a herd. Safety and food are the two most important things to a horse. In a herd, positive reinforcement exists, but it is 'passive'. When the lead horse allows a 'well mannered' horse to 'enjoy' the safety of the herd and graze, etc. together, that is their positive reinforcement. When a herd member behaves badly, the lead horse will provide the negative reinforcement.. a bite, kick, and/or running off the other horse. We don't bite or kick very well, so the slap/crop/elbow/sharp words/etc are our substitutes when necessary.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #7 of 21 Old 05-21-2011, 09:05 AM
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If a horse pins it's ears while being groomed the first question is am I being too rough? Is the brush too scratchy? Different horses have different sensitivites. If it continues I will hold a treat in front of the horse and make it stretch it's neck forward and only when it's ears are forward does it get the treat. By doing this every time you groom you will soon notice a positive change in her. BTW, after you've groomed her surprise her an take her for a walk and allow her to nibble grass. She may be associating the grooming with "Ohh, more arena time." So take her for walks and maybe a soft brush and hoofpick and just enjoy some time together. Rather than smack a horse which destroys trust, I prefer to make changes. If it works for the horse then it works for me.
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post #8 of 21 Old 05-21-2011, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Thank you all! I really appreciate your replies. Reading your answers helped me analyze the situation more and made me come to some conclusions. The time when this bahaviour began being more noticeable roughly coincides with the moment when I bought her and began riding her more often, which leads me to believe that it might have to do with boredom or having become somewhat tired of going to the ring everyday. Prior to my buying her I had been the only person riding her, and my trainer, occasionally, because I was leasing her. Now I am the only one who rides her, together with my trainer, again, occasionally. Painthorsemare: As for how she trots and canter after pinning her ears back, she sometimes tosses her head up, or looks at me, it is then that I try to correct her, sometimes only with my voice. Getting her to canter when she is in that mood is sometimes not easy, she will bring her head up, cutting impulsion, then we get into a vicious circle: me trying to force her, she getting more angry, etc....
I have been going to just 'visit' her, so that she does not associate me with going to the ring, and I have also been going trail riding, where she behaves wonderfully. She relaxes and seems to enjoy the ride. As for grooming, I always take her for walks, not riding her, so that she can eat and I can just be with her. I began doing some clicker training with her, to see if that helps. I agree that if it is that she has become sour, hitting her will only make it worse. Today we just went for a short trail ride and then I groomed her and massaged her back, and then we just stayed in the grass together enjoying the beautiful, and, unusually, warm weather (considering it's winter here). She seemed to enjoy it and I looooooved connecting with her like that again! I'll keep you posted!
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post #9 of 21 Old 05-22-2011, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Cherie. Thank you for you response. What do you mean exactly by 'getting after on her HARD'? Do you mean slapping her?, sometimes I just grab her nose and say NO! very firmly. Is that ok? I'm sorry if the question sounds silly, but I am new to the horse world!
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post #10 of 21 Old 05-30-2011, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Hello again. Hope you read this, otherwise I'll start another thread. Things seem to be getting worse. Yapa seems to be angry all the time. My trainer and some assistants told me that I am pampering her too much and that she has realized that i am beginning to feel insecure, so she can get away with anything around me. I have been grabbing her mouth when she pins her ears or gives me those evil looks. She has not tried to bite or anything, at least yet. But yesterday she refused to canter and made some hopping movements (don't know how to explain it) to avoid it. I don't know what to do. I love grooming her and walking with her. I guess I am nost sure what it is pampering too much. I am working with my trainer on all these issues, but I would love to hear what you have to say about it. Namely: what is too much pampering? What would you say are the basic do's and dont's of good horsemanship? How do you make sure your horse sees you as a leader? Could lunging my mare help me communicate better with her and establish myself as a stringer leader? Thanks!
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