Disrespectful Pony (Long, My Apologies)
 
 

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Disrespectful Pony (Long, My Apologies)

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    05-12-2011, 11:45 PM
  #1
Weanling
Disrespectful Pony (Long, My Apologies)

I'm enjoying my new pony mare. She's 17 years old and a kind of "been-there, done-that" horse. She knows a lot (undersaddle-wise) and halters, ties, tacks etc great. BUT...I'm starting to have a problem.

This mare does not respect me. She is not blatantly disrespectful or aggressive or outwardly rude, but it's more disrespect that comes from years of being a child's pony-she'll haul you around and even work if you really make her, but she would rather do her own thing and is used to getting her way, and it has been the subject of a fair few disagreements between the two of us.

The thing is that I don't know how to make her respect me. I don't know if it's right or not, but I'll be honest and say that I'm very...bold, when it comes to my horse and any other horse I have to handle for an extensive amount of time. If the horse steps out of line, I'm going to correct it immediately. If it wants to be a prick, then yes, I will give it a smack. I always try to be as quiet as I can and not start fights, but I am not going to let a horse walk all over me. My other mare has been handled this way for several years and she is perfectly respectful and has impeccable manners.
The pony...is different. Just, for example, if I stand in front of her and tell her to back up, out of my space, she will be very slow about it or might not move at all. In which case I'll give her a few smacks on the chest with the lead rope to send her back. She'll go, usually almost bolting backwards, but it will be in a state of incredible alarm. Her head shoots up, her neck goes stiff and she gets that look on her face like: "You...you HIT me!" It's what I do for any other horse and they handle it fine, but when she does that, it makes me second guess myself and wonder: "Should I be doing this? Am I doing it right? Why is she so traumatized?"

We mostly trail ride, and on the trail you need a horse who respects you. Today we ran into trouble-it was a camper trailer or something parked at the end of a forest path, and she was TERRIFIED. Balked, would not go, I had to pull her in tiny circles to make her walk, even tried spinning and bolting a few times but I shut her down. I eventually got her up to it and made her do some calm, even circles before going away, but I went up that path last year with my other mare, who is years younger and has much less trail experience than her, and I never had a problem. Of course, it may just be that the other mare wasn't scared of it anyways, but the pony mare is slowly becoming more insecure, and she does not look to me for guidance.
My paint mare is quiet because she genuinely respects and trusts me, but this pony is quiet because she was trained that way. If it ever came down to it, a life-or-death situation, a pack of wolves advancing on us, even though the paint is a decade younger and has a fraction of the life experience the pony does, I would much rather be aboard the paint, because I know she's going to listen to me and trust me. I need the pony to trust me if we're going to keep riding alone and going new places, but I can't have her trust if I don't first get her respect.

Even in the pasture with the other horses, she's the low man on the totem pole, but she is really miserable about it. The other horses will move her off and she'll go, but her ears will be pinned, she has a sour look on her face, and sometimes she'll even flick a leg at them. If she's that miserable to other horses that boss her around, what will she be like for me?

How can I get her respect? What should I do? Should I treat her the way I do everyone else and take a "get over yourself" stance, or take a more "gentle" approach?
     
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    05-13-2011, 12:09 AM
  #2
Trained
Look up Clinton Anderson's "Lunging for respect."

Its easy and it'll work wonders.
     
    05-13-2011, 12:11 AM
  #3
Trained
If she is snubbing you, then do what you need to to get her to move out of your space, and then leave her alone to figure out for herself that you aren't really going to eat her.

Say I have a horse that likes to crowd me. I will ask with my body first, by walking toward him...if he doesn't respond to that I will shake the lead rope so he can feel a physical cue from the halter, and finally I will flick the lead at his chest. As soon as he backs up a step I relax my posture, and will calmly go up to him and pat him; if I am working with a handystick/carrotstick, I will rub him with that instead...but HE is not allowed to move toward me; whether I rub him with the stick, or choose to walk up to him to rub him, he stays put. If he moves foward, we start over.


When you encounter something she is afraid of, don't worry about making her walk up to it...just focus on refocusing her attention back on you; you did have part of the equation right by doing circles to keep her from bolting back home...now just think about doing that solely to get her mind back on you. Eventually you will be riding past your 'fearful object' but she won't even care, because 1) you have control of her feet 2) she is focused on you. If I am on a spooky horse, I don't worry about the object as much as what the horse's feet are doing, and are they doing that movement because I am asking him too, or because he is just skittering about being an idiot?

It sounds like this little horse could benefit from alot of groundwork and desensitization exercises to get the thinking side of her brain activated again. I second looking up some of CA's groundwork exercises, if you can...
     
    05-13-2011, 12:17 AM
  #4
Super Moderator
YOu sound like you have a lot of expereience, and probably more than myself, so odd for me to offer advice. Let's call it a different perspective.

I was reading your description and thinking about Mark Rashid's approach to leadership. He calls it "Passive leadership". He noticed that horses , thought they recognixze the leadership of the alpha horse as reinforced by violent measures, they also will follow the leadership of other horses that are usually midlevel in the herd, and are not dominant in any aggressice manner, but are attractive to the others in their calmness and self assurance. Horses follow these passive leaders because they feel good being with them, not because they are put in their place behind a leader (as the alpha would do).
It is kind of hard to explain, and it's not my theory, but I have seen this sort of thing operate in herd dynamics. Try reading "Horses Never Lie" by Mark Rashid.

The reason I wast hinking of this was that maybe the pony would have more affinity for you if you spent calm time with her. Is that wierd? I mean , I dont' mean like read to her or something new age. But hang out, take her for walks, teach her some tricks, play some games. Arrouse her curiosity?

As for her being afraid of the trailer, your forcing her to go all the way up to it does not build her confidence in either herself or you. I think you could move her toward it to the point where she is almost going to break and bolt and then you ask her to turn away and take the pressure off. Then you go back in a minute and try again. The idea being that you never push her beyond what she cannot stand, and you demonstrate that you will lead her away from the scary thing soon, so little by little she trusts that you are going to take off the pressure soon, but each time it gets a bit longer. Eventually, she makes the decision that it isn't that bad. But forcing her closer and closer I am not sure will build trust in you.
Again, this is just one perspective and might not be what works for you two.

Pony's aren't like horses. They are usually a lot smarter, so may not give themselves over to you so easily.
     
    05-13-2011, 10:35 AM
  #5
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by SorrelHorse    
Look up Clinton Anderson's "Lunging for respect."

Its easy and it'll work wonders.
Ok, I'll look into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2pride    
If she is snubbing you, then do what you need to to get her to move out of your space, and then leave her alone to figure out for herself that you aren't really going to eat her.

So basically, keep doing what I was doing before?

Say I have a horse that likes to crowd me. I will ask with my body first, by walking toward him...if he doesn't respond to that I will shake the lead rope so he can feel a physical cue from the halter, and finally I will flick the lead at his chest. As soon as he backs up a step I relax my posture, and will calmly go up to him and pat him; if I am working with a handystick/carrotstick, I will rub him with that instead...but HE is not allowed to move toward me; whether I rub him with the stick, or choose to walk up to him to rub him, he stays put. If he moves foward, we start over.

Yeah. The whole process is what I consistently do with the others.

When you encounter something she is afraid of, don't worry about making her walk up to it...just focus on refocusing her attention back on you; you did have part of the equation right by doing circles to keep her from bolting back home...now just think about doing that solely to get her mind back on you. Eventually you will be riding past your 'fearful object' but she won't even care, because 1) you have control of her feet 2) she is focused on you. If I am on a spooky horse, I don't worry about the object as much as what the horse's feet are doing, and are they doing that movement because I am asking him too, or because he is just skittering about being an idiot?

Ok, thanks for the tips. I'll remember this in the future.

It sounds like this little horse could benefit from alot of groundwork and desensitization exercises to get the thinking side of her brain activated again. I second looking up some of CA's groundwork exercises, if you can...
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
YOu sound like you have a lot of expereience, and probably more than myself, so odd for me to offer advice. Let's call it a different perspective.

I've only been riding a few years, so I'm really not that experienced.

I was reading your description and thinking about Mark Rashid's approach to leadership. He calls it "Passive leadership". He noticed that horses , thought they recognixze the leadership of the alpha horse as reinforced by violent measures, they also will follow the leadership of other horses that are usually midlevel in the herd, and are not dominant in any aggressice manner, but are attractive to the others in their calmness and self assurance. Horses follow these passive leaders because they feel good being with them, not because they are put in their place behind a leader (as the alpha would do).
It is kind of hard to explain, and it's not my theory, but I have seen this sort of thing operate in herd dynamics. Try reading "Horses Never Lie" by Mark Rashid.

The reason I wast hinking of this was that maybe the pony would have more affinity for you if you spent calm time with her. Is that wierd? I mean , I dont' mean like read to her or something new age. But hang out, take her for walks, teach her some tricks, play some games. Arrouse her curiosity?

The thing is, she doesn't seem to want to be a friendly, cuddly pony. The other horses will come over in the paddock and like pets and scratches and such, and she won't even look up when a person goes in. Unless, of course, you have treats. Then she takes a sudden interest in you, but I am not going to bribe her affection with treats. You'll take her for walks or grooming or whatever, and she just seems to tolerate it. She would like nothing more than to just be left alone.

As for her being afraid of the trailer, your forcing her to go all the way up to it does not build her confidence in either herself or you. I think you could move her toward it to the point where she is almost going to break and bolt and then you ask her to turn away and take the pressure off. Then you go back in a minute and try again. The idea being that you never push her beyond what she cannot stand, and you demonstrate that you will lead her away from the scary thing soon, so little by little she trusts that you are going to take off the pressure soon, but each time it gets a bit longer. Eventually, she makes the decision that it isn't that bad. But forcing her closer and closer I am not sure will build trust in you.
Again, this is just one perspective and might not be what works for you two.

It's worth a try. It also doesn't help that I've been tired and sick lately and was not in the mood to deal with her hijinks, but insisted on riding anyways :roll:. I was determined to get her up to it no matter how much she fought me, so I was in a more "Get up there, you are not running away from here, ya little [insert word here]" mood than an "easy, it's okay, just take your time" mood.

I slowly managed to push her closer and closer, and we sat there a while. As soon as she relaxed a little, I started doing medium-sized circles in front of the trailer. She kept trying to veer off, collapse the circle and run, but I just made her keep going until we got several calm, even rounds, then we went away. When she got a little excited going away, I kept circling her, making sure they were round and even until we continued on. It seemed to help, but the fact that she got so upset about it in the first place is what I don't like.

Pony's aren't like horses. They are usually a lot smarter, so may not give themselves over to you so easily.

Tell me about it! I like ponies because they're independent and generally less spooky (in my experience) than horses, but they are all too **** smart for their own good. I'm beginning to think that I will never buy another pony for as long as I live
     
    05-13-2011, 01:25 PM
  #6
Yearling
Horses and ponies are always different, you can't really compare them. They will not have the same response to certain things. I had a horse once that sounds very much like you pony. He had little respect for personal space and took any type of reprimand like I was beating him with a 2x4. One thing I can suggest is changing smacking to something else. If you want the horse to back up out of your space, open up your hand like you imagine claws coming out of your fingers and push on the chest, if there is no movement close your hand, grabbing up and skin/muscle, increase pressure until the pony moves. Its like they are getting bit from a dominate horse, some horses just react better to that. But also be warned, some horses react poorly and will try to bite in response, just watch the horse carefully.

To me the pony just sounds spoiled, and just keep doing what your doing. The same horse I mentioned above wasn't cuddly at all either, he didn't like being pet, was a grumpy low member of the herd, and just seemed sour. So I changed the way I worked with him. I stopped trying to love on him so much, and he started enjoying just my company more if I wasn't touching him all the time. I firmly let him know that I would not put up with ANY of his crap, and that Yes he had to do things that were scary to him but the calmer he was the less work he had to do. He started to learn to react in calm ways when scared, he still was spooky a lot but he dealed with it once he knew that is what I wanted was controllable calmness.
     
    05-14-2011, 08:47 AM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsesdontlie    
Horses and ponies are always different, you can't really compare them. They will not have the same response to certain things. I had a horse once that sounds very much like you pony. He had little respect for personal space and took any type of reprimand like I was beating him with a 2x4. One thing I can suggest is changing smacking to something else. If you want the horse to back up out of your space, open up your hand like you imagine claws coming out of your fingers and push on the chest, if there is no movement close your hand, grabbing up and skin/muscle, increase pressure until the pony moves. Its like they are getting bit from a dominate horse, some horses just react better to that. But also be warned, some horses react poorly and will try to bite in response, just watch the horse carefully.

To me the pony just sounds spoiled, and just keep doing what your doing. The same horse I mentioned above wasn't cuddly at all either, he didn't like being pet, was a grumpy low member of the herd, and just seemed sour. So I changed the way I worked with him. I stopped trying to love on him so much, and he started enjoying just my company more if I wasn't touching him all the time. I firmly let him know that I would not put up with ANY of his crap, and that Yes he had to do things that were scary to him but the calmer he was the less work he had to do. He started to learn to react in calm ways when scared, he still was spooky a lot but he dealed with it once he knew that is what I wanted was controllable calmness.
Thanks =)

I got her out yesterday just to do groundwork, and she responded really well and was quite quiet. I think I'll take every other day off riding to do groundwork, at least until I have most of these respect issues cleared up.
     

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