Frustrated new horse owner. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Frustrated new horse owner.

I have an 8.5 year old registered paint that I just got last weekend. He was doing great, but then yesterday he started to refuse going in the barn and backing up. When I tried pulling down to get him to stop it made him back up faster. He keeps looking at the grass like he wants to graze, but I am not about to let him until this habit is broken. Yesterday after riding which was a nightmare he broke off the cross ties. This morning when I went to bring him out, it took 20 minutes and a bag of treats to coax him to the paddock. He kept stopping and backing up, I would pull and reprimand and he would back up. His trial with me is up next week and I want to keep him, but this all has to stop. I am extremely frustrated. Please help. His previous owner never had a chain over his nose, but I intend to try that tonight, just a little worried what his reaction will be if he has never had it before or he will rear instead of going backwards with it.
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 08:12 AM
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I guess I'm a bit confused. What do you mean he refused to go in the barn? You were leading him? Broke off the cross ties? And why was riding a nightmare? How wide open is the barn doors and the paddock gate?

This is what I am thinking. He is in a new area. Very unsure of his surroundings. Insecure and possibly not feeling safe. Please don't use a chain on him. I believe that will only make his fears worse. You're adding pain to fear and he will fight you every step of the way. My other question is, are you confident in yourself to help him through this?

He sounds a little spoiled and clausterphobic to me. If he wants to back up while your leading him, let him. Then back him up more. Make backing up work for him. Pulling him is never going to work. He'll win. Just make him back up more with more force. Also, while he is being stubborn, try not to get frustrated. Stay calm and in control. I hope some of this makes sense. Good luck.
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post #3 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 08:32 AM
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First of all, I am going to say that if you are a new horse owner, this horse sounds a bit much for a beginner, though I do not know your actual experiences with horses as a whole or this horse, so I cannot really say.

As to his behavioral problem, I agree, he is probably a very nervous horse. It also sounds like you are frightening him when you are pulling on the line, and he reacts worse. When you pull on a headstall, pressure is applied to the poll- his reaction was probably to lift his head and back up, which is his attempt to escape the pressure, which is why we use the cues and tools we do when riding. Also, was he stalled at his old home, or pastured? What experiences has he had in both of these places? These questions could help you answer why he would be refusing to lead there.

As to trying to get him in the barn, number one, you must make the barn a pleasant experience- feed him there! Food has a major pull in a horsey mind. When he reacts as he does by backing up, there are three tacticts you can use:

1. Do as mentioned above, continue to make him back and make backing a chore. This could have the desired affect of making the backing stop, but not necessarily make him follow you into the barn.

2. When he starts to back, allow him to back a few paces and stand with him until he calms down, then attempt to continue walking a few places. Repeat. This will allow him time to think about what he is doing, but could take hours to complete a very small task. However, this can be a trust building exercise for the two of you, as he learns that you will not force him to do something scary, and that he can trust you to lead him places that he THINKS are scary and actually aren't.

3. Put him at the end of a long line, like a lunge line, and let him explore the area a bit. When he stops and stands by the front of the barn himself, let him stand there until he moves, then make him lunge a little, then ask him to whoa, and stand there on command. If he attempts to move, make him lunge a little- move his feet, and ask him again to stand there. When he becomes comfortable with standing there, you can attempt to walk him in. If he doesn't walk in with you, move his feet a little, and try again. This tactic allows the horse to scope out area and become comfortable with it himself first. It then associates stopping at the front of the barn with rest, and moving away from it as work. This exercise can, too, be very time consuming, but can also be very effective and quick, depending on how quickly your horse learns.

All horses learn differently, just as people do. Try these three different approaches, and see which one seems to work best for you and your horse, and then stick to it- training doesn't happen in a day, and consistancy is the key to making a horse comfortable with you, himself, and the overall process of learning.

Last edited by SAsamone; 05-23-2011 at 08:38 AM.
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post #4 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 08:38 AM
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You have received very good advice. You may also want to contact the owners & tell them of your problems. Maybe they could come out & watch you work with the horse & give you some pointers. They want this sale to work out also.
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 09:15 AM
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I agree, all good advice you have received! As someone mentioned above, have confidence in what you are doing... your new boy is probably worried about his new surroundings, and his new person, then starts to hesitate, feels you to start to worry, and you may be feeding off each other. Try to stay confident and be a reassuring, trusting partner to him.....
And I always try to keep in mind what I was told by my trainer/teacher... You can never be stronger than a horse, only smarter. :)
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post #6 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I am not a beginner. I have had horses for 24 years and have had thoroughbreds to older horses. I absolutely know better than to pull on him when he backs up, I allow him to back up and calm down. It's not a nervous thing with him because he will stand for a minute and then start "begging", by pawing at the ground. I asked his old owner and she said that she never had that problem, but she also would just throw a saddle on him and go, never brushed him, never gave him attention or treated him like anything but a quick hack horse. I think now that he is getting attention and being "spoiled" and has been grazed he thinks he should have it every day. I don't believe putting the chain over their nose is cruel in anyway. I did that tonight bringing him out of the paddock to the barn and he was perfectly fine, never made a wrong step. The problem I believe is he needs to know I am the boss and he can't push me around like he may have done his previous owner. Time is something that will help as well as working with him on his ground manners. Everything you have all suggested is stuff I have already done. I will keep you posted on his progress. Hopefully tomorrow morning when I take him out isn't a repeat of this morning. I definitely don't get nervous when he does it because he will sense that and it will never get better. He doesn't only back up going into the barn, but he also did it this morning going out of the barn to go into the paddock. He always eats in his stall in the barn so that is a positive thing. More to come tomorrow.Thanks again.
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post #7 of 24 Old 05-23-2011, 09:29 PM
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If you have him on trial, and you aren't getting along, then save yourself the heart ache and send him back. Unless you are so totally in love with him that you really want to make it work. In that case, see if the owner can come out and show you how they work with him.

But if there are red flags going up and the horse hasn't officially changed hands, then if it were me personally, I would send him back and find a horse that I didn't have issues with right off the bat. That is what trial periods are for, so you aren't stuck with a horse you can't enjoy.

Maybe I am just a wuss, but it sort of seams like a bad omen for the relationship when you haven't even had him 2 weeks and he isn't doing what you ask.
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post #8 of 24 Old 05-24-2011, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Trailhorserider-I agree. I have asked to see if we can extend the trial so that perhaps he will work out of it because I do want to keep him.

I thought this morning he would be better, but it was a struggle again. Same thing with the backing up. I tried to make that like work for him, but it didn't work he just kept backing up from that. He kept looking at the grass and bending that way because that's what he wants and I truly believe that's what it is. I don't know what to do and am growing more and more frustrated, but I know I can't. I have contacted the owner to see if she has any suggestions or if she will come out and see what he is doing. She is young and I feel that she is just telling me things that I would want to hear. I have also contacted the owner of the barn where he was at for the last year to see what her thoughts are as she is a great trainer. Thanks everyone.
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-24-2011, 09:03 AM
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Ok. So he likes to back up. Good for his butt muscles. Have you tried to back him into the barn? Just a question. I'm really trying to picture what he is doing. Is he pushing against you? His focus is obviously not on what you want him to do. So I am thinking (just thinking) you are not aggressive enough to make him focus on you. Tell me if I am wrong. Ok?
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-24-2011, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by hillcrestfarm View Post
He keeps looking at the grass like he wants to graze, but I am not about to let him until this habit is broken. .
From what you are posting, it sounds like he is either in a stall or in a paddock. Is there a reason he can't be turned out on pasture to graze? Keeping him off of grass as a "punishment" for a bad habit isn't going to fix your problems with him. Sounds to me like he just wants/needs to get out and be a horse. Turn him out for a few hours. Let him blow off some steam and relax in his new surroundings.
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backing up , new horse

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