A Few Bad Habits - Tips?
   

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A Few Bad Habits - Tips?

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    05-30-2011, 09:53 PM
  #1
Yearling
A Few Bad Habits - Tips?

My mare is a 9yo saddlebred cross who has a few bad habits she's picked up over the years. She was leased by a 12yo girl for 6 months and learned some very naughty ground manners, then I had her back and worked with her some before I joined a riding team where all members of our team rode her and she picked up a few other bad habits.

On the Ground:

- Wont stand patiently. She'll stand in a general area, but will paw, step/walk forward, sideways, and backward, toss her head, etc.
My method: Yank her lead rope, tell her firmly "WHOA" and make her stand still. Usually works for a little while, but a few seconds/minutes later she'll start up again. I have been making her stand when I say whoa and I will pat her or give her a little treat if I have one when she's good. She's gotten a lot better recently, but can still be a pig. (ESPECIALLY in the wash stall)

- When switching from halter to bridle or vice versa she will try to walk away and she'll try to rub up against me, move sideways, push around, etc. She'll put her head right in the bridle, mouth on bit, and when she decides its on, she'll start walking. And same when switching from bridle to halter, once its around her nose, she gets pushy.
My method: I usually smack her chest and make her back up quickly for about three steps, then tell her "whoa" and wait for her to stand quietly. Then, I take my time finishing up so she has to stand still longer

- When I go to mount up, or if she's tacked and I'm on the ground, she wants to walk circles around me. If I let her, she'd basically lunge herself at a walk around me forever. When I go to mount, she tries to take a few steps forward.
My method: tug her to a stop, use the word "whoa" and make her stand. Once I've gotten on and she tries to walk, I back the same number of steps then make her stand for a little while. Sometimes if she's extra ansy this can lead to a fight.

Undersaddle:

- Again, wont stand still in the beginning of ride. After some work, she stands fine, mostly. But ABSOLUTELY WONT stand when we're on a trail. She will prance, circle, paw, rear, everything, if you try and make her stand still.
My method: on the trail, I usually just put up with those theatrics and stay on long enough until we have to walk again. I don't really let her move around though, her tantrums are usually confined to a fixed spot. In the arena, I just work the energy out of her until she is quiet. But she could be as calm and quiet and slow and happy walking, trotting, cantering, etc. but as soon as you want her to stand, she turns into a hot head.

- Started rushing fences towards the gait, and lines in general. I also felt her balance to be a little iffy around the turns, so I worked on circles a LOT and now she's a lot slower and more controlled in between fences and lines.
My method: I've been trotting jumps and courses a LOT. I've made her take everything slow. I've also been breaking up lines - Jump the first of a line, then exit and take a diagnol then circle back and take the second of the line, for example. I've also been riding lines then stopping after the last jump. I'm trying to make her think rather than just run at whats in front of her.

- Spooking at new things or refusing a new/scary jump. When something is scary, she will turn her head at the poll (incredibly flexible) while her neck and nose are bent to the inside, her ears and eyes are fixed on said scary object. She'll also sidepass, counterbend, etc. in order to avoid or keep looking at whatever it is.
My method: For the refusing, I back her up quickly, then ask her to go over it. I don't give her a chance to stop and sniff jumps, I DON'T want her stopping at every new jump to sniff it. I want her to take every new jump in stride. Literally. With the spooking, I push her towards the thing with my inside leg and pull her head to bend to the inside so she isn't looking at it and keeps her attention on the task ahead. But she is a dramatic one.


My question is, given the circumstances, are my methods and solutions the right ones? If so, are there any ways to improve? And if not, what should I do differently? Maybe alternate methods? And are there any exercises that would help her?

Thanks if you read all that and double thanks if you reply! ;D
     
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    05-30-2011, 10:37 PM
  #2
Weanling
All those methods make sense to me, I think she just needs to be reminded of her manners and what makes her a good horsey. I'm sure she'll straighten back out soon.
     
    05-31-2011, 12:05 AM
  #3
Started
For the stuff on the ground, make her work. As an example, when you have some time to kill, get her in a halter and ask her to stand still. When she starts doing whatever she's doing, make her move her feet. Back, forward, and side to side. Do that for a minute or two, and then ask her to stand quietly. As soon as she starts to move, do it again. When she stands quietly for a little while, reward her. It may take a while, but she will learn that it's easier to stand quietly when asked than to act like a goober. This method also works for walking off when you're mounting.

You can do the same thing with the halter to bridle and bridle to halter problem. Just put an extra halter under the one she's wearing.

Hope this, or something else you read on here, helps.
     
    05-31-2011, 12:45 AM
  #4
Super Moderator
When she won't stand and you give her treats when she is still, this might work against you. It might set her anxiety level up again as she thinks about the treat (WANTING), , she then must move due to the anxiety, she responds to the rebuke and is given a treat for being briefly quiet. Seems like that cycle could become self perpetuating so that she is actually getting rewarded for bad behavior. I guess that depends on how long she is actually standing.

If you have her on a leadline, periodically as her to lower her head, all the way to the ground. Cowboys call that "putting your horse in the closet". The lowered head triggers a physical relaxation reflex. When she then raises her head, she may be calmer and then I would stroke her and praise her. Do this repeatedly.

Try when you do mount her that you pick up the reins fairly quickly (not harried, tho) and engage her into forward movement BEFORE she makes the decision to move off. You pick a place, then ride her there with purpose. You give her a purpose right off, rather than making her fight . This is kind of an experiment, but the idea is that she will learn that she doesn't have to wait long and that you have a job for her to do right off the bat.
This may or may not help.

As for the spooking, the only thing I disagree with is bending the horse away from the scary thing. Nor do I make them go up to it. If they spook by leaping forward or sideways, I keep their head turned toward the scary thing. They can look at it if they wish but not turn their back to it and try to bold away. Then I see if they can turn partway away from it and walk by, but if they try to turn fully away and run from it, I immediately turn their face back to it. I don't force them closer, but I don't allow them to flee either. Once they turn their back to it, it's as if I have joined them in flight.
This is what I was taught. I don't know if it's right or wrong.

I think you are right to make her go over the jumps without sniffing. It's a balanceing act between not allowing her time to think too much about those scary things, but if she is scared of something, not forcing her to ignore it.
IT's a trust thing.
     
    05-31-2011, 07:54 AM
  #5
Green Broke
As well as the great advice offered already, when mounting. Try to keep an even tension on the reins, and if she still spins, take more contact on the outside rein.
     
    05-31-2011, 09:00 AM
  #6
Green Broke
When mounting and the horse tries to move, I make them back up or yeild their fore quarters. Instead of holding tension on both reins to keep them from moving, I use one rein to bring their head a little to the side, similar to flexing but not as far to the side. If they start to circle, I'll hold it until they stop, then release. They learn that they get the release when they stop and stand. Also, it can help for your safety. If the horse is to move, it will move around you and not pull away where you end up with their butt pointing at you.

When you do get mounted, DO NOT ride off right away. Have the horse stand for 10, 20, or 30 seconds at least. I usually make the horse flex to both sides 5 or 6 times. It helps get the horse focused on you and not think about moving.

I agree with making the horse move when they won't stand still, either on the ground or under saddle. Make sure to let them rest but also let them commit to making the mistake of moving, at least four steps, before correcting.

Don't put up with her tantrums on the trail until it's time to go again. Correct her right then and there, everytime. If you are not consistent with correcting her, it does not work.
     
    05-31-2011, 09:22 AM
  #7
Yearling
Thanks everyone! These are some really great advice! I was thinking I'd have someone video tape her naughtyness next time I go to the barn and how I handle it. I'll definitely try some of these out!
     
    05-31-2011, 09:29 AM
  #8
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
As for the spooking, the only thing I disagree with is bending the horse away from the scary thing. Nor do I make them go up to it. If they spook by leaping forward or sideways, I keep their head turned toward the scary thing. They can look at it if they wish but not turn their back to it and try to bold away. Then I see if they can turn partway away from it and walk by, but if they try to turn fully away and run from it, I immediately turn their face back to it. I don't force them closer, but I don't allow them to flee either. Once they turn their back to it, it's as if I have joined them in flight.
This is what I was taught. I don't know if it's right or wrong.
The reason I don't agree with this is because if I were to be in a show, and she thought the audience was scary and looked at them, I'd be penalized for counterbending. If I teach her to look at scary things, she'll also be more inclined to stop and look at jumps. My old trainer said that if you teach them to ignore everything but you, you're good. For the most part she's really good about it.
     
    05-31-2011, 09:30 AM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
As for the spooking, the only thing I disagree with is bending the horse away from the scary thing. Nor do I make them go up to it. If they spook by leaping forward or sideways, I keep their head turned toward the scary thing. They can look at it if they wish but not turn their back to it and try to bold away. Then I see if they can turn partway away from it and walk by, but if they try to turn fully away and run from it, I immediately turn their face back to it. I don't force them closer, but I don't allow them to flee either. Once they turn their back to it, it's as if I have joined them in flight.
This is what I was taught. I don't know if it's right or wrong.
The reason I don't agree with this is because if I were to be in a show, and she thought the audience was scary and looked at them, I'd be penalized for counterbending. If I teach her to look at scary things, she'll also be more inclined to stop and look at jumps. My old trainer said that if you teach them to ignore everything but you, you're good. For the most part she's really good about it.
     

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