The Extreme Alpha Challenge!
How do I know if I successfully instilled leadership in this horses mind?
How long does it last?
Why would a horse (seemingly) randomly in the middle of an exercise "challenge" my authority?
Is it normal for a gelding to challenge me 8 different times/ways in a 20 min work period?
Do I have to be "on" 24/7 around this horse?
What do you do when your horse hardly lowers his head, licks and chews...
Horse Background: The horse is a recent purchase, a 5 yo QH/Arab gelding. He bites, doesn't like his hind feet picked up, barely tolerates grooming, and likes to show his hindquarters when we longe.
When I first got him, he attacked me in his stall, tried to kick me in the head, would run me over when I tried to lead him, wouldn't tie, wouldn't tolerate longing or grooming. Don't even think about touching his feet!
How I handle Him: I work Aries pretty much everyday for 15-20 min about the same time each day. Here is my routine, I spray him with fly spray, longe him, groom him, try to clean his feet, saddle him and carefully add my weight across the saddle while standing on a mounting block.
How he responds: He is finally used to being sprayed with fly spray! Success! Longing is a pain though, but he is getting better. I put the chain under his chin and we start walking clockwise when I say walk. Then, I ask for the trot. I point the longe line at his hind end and keep my left shoulder pointed in so I am behind his movement driving him forward. For some reason, randomly he will come to an abrupt stop, and face me. I don't think that it is anythig I am doing. I have a friend video tape and we both couldn't find anything. I have to flick the longe whip near him rather violently (making lots of noise with it and growl, WALK!) to get him to move out. I even have to shift my gaze and stand sideways before he will walk. Then, after a few rounds of successful trotting, and me saying, "gooood boooooyyy!" he will pull another trick! He stops and brings his hind quarters in toward me and his head faces out! I have been whipping his head around so that it is in the proper direction and I immediately make him trot in the same direction we started in. Once I get a few successful times around, I say, "Whoa!" (which he listens to quite well), and I get him to change directions. Couner clock wise he is an angel.
He does kick at me when he canters. I can see him shift his hind in at me...but he is too far to get me. Still...it is unnerving at times.
When we are done, I ask him to come to me in the middle. It takes him a minute. I bow down and avert my gaze and he comes in ...slowly... Then, I use the longe whip to do some desensitizing near the feet. I take the hoof pick out of my pocket and walk up and pick up his feet. I can clean most of them...but he tries very hard to not let me clean the right hind foot. He totters and rips it forcefully out of my hand. Other days, I can get a secure hold and clean it. When he tears it out of my hand I yell, NO and try again, but sometimes he gives a little kick and slams the foot down hard. I am afraid of getting hurt, because he came really close to kicking me in the head with that foot!
I worry that there might also be a foot issue. The farrier came in early July and said his feet are fine. The previous owner didn't tell me that they never cleaned their horses feet until they were brought to my property, from out of state. :( So, he rarely ever got his feet touched and he clearly doesn't like it. The farrier is back in two weeks...so I will have that foot looked at then for soreness...
Once I am done with the grooming, I put the saddle on him. (He was already broke, but the previous owner said the trainer only rode him 5 times.) He is fine about the saddle and tightening the girth. He also accepts me standing up over him and leaning on the saddle. I just talk to him and pet him. He will SOMETIMES take a deep breath when I am up there... mostly he just watches me and rarely does he walk away.
When He Challenges:
I am ashamed to admit that when he bites or attempts to bite, I smack him hard on his neck and yell, "NO!" really loud. All he does is calm down and let me do what I needed to do.
When he invades my space I sharply wrap the lead line with the shank and he draws back. If he doesn't have the lead rope I wave my hands in his face, give him an angry look and hiss. He stays away.
So, any advice you have for me on being Alpha, horse language that can tell me I just went down a peg on the pecking order, and what to do about the feet and so on...