Getting the ground manner's back, looking for tips - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-15-2011, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Michigan
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Getting the ground manner's back, looking for tips

So a little back story, At the end of March I moved my gelding to a new barn to work with a trainer I liked. Up until that point I had done most of my training myself. My gelding is a very friendly and passive TB, so getting good ground manners out of him was not hard. He was already easy to handle and respectful, would ground tie, everything. We didn't really use crossties. Then, while at this new barn, he kind of changed a bit. I found out that the care and atmosphere of this barn really wasn't what I had expected. It just didn't work for my horse. They didn't feed enough, the turnout was about non-exisitant, the trainer was great, but my horse never really acclimated to the barn. He was edgy and spooky, sometimes depressed and lethargic, then when he went lame with a hoof issue, dropped weight, and other health issues, I pulled him out 3 months later. It just wasn't working for him.

I am very happy with where I am now. But, its like we are starting over with ground manners. He is a bully, pushes against the cross ties, ground tying isn't even an option. He spooks on the cross ties, he will walk off when you unhook him to bridle him, won't stand at the mounting block. Its just aweful!! Where did my horse go!?!?

I am looking for tips on bringing him back....

How do I get him to stop dancing on the cross ties?
Stand still for bridling?
Stop at the cross ties when I ask instead of walking through them?
Spook prevention?

Like I said, he has always been friendly and mild mannered so training for respect was always easy. I have had him for 4 years and he has never acted like this. Should I proceed with caution given that he may be a little tramatized with all the moving?

Thanks in advance for your help!!
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-15-2011, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Firstly don't worry too much such behaviour is to be expected given what you say has happened the last 4 months.

Stressful environments, dietary restriction, dietary change, turnout change etc all impact to make a horse exhibit unwanted behaviours.

It is important to be clear with the horse but also fair and understanding. I find in general it takes around 3 months to truly see a horse settled into a new location. Obviously it's different for all, but that's a guideline.

So first question, are you confident there is no pain? For example give the changes, weight loss etc is there any possibility of gastric ulcers for example?

Secondly are you confident his diet is now stabilising? For example magnesium is not per se a calmer, however if a horse has a deficit then it is likely to exhibit more nervous behaviour (similar to humans with an iron deficit)

Once you are happy with this questions then it is a case of being a leader to your horse. He may have been chilled in the past, but right now something has changed and he's not so confident. You can step up to provide some security and also do exercises with him to re-develop his own confidence.

You say you have had him for 4 years. What did you do to develop his manners before this? How did you teach him?
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-15-2011, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Michigan
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He was VERY unhappy at the barn we just left. Regardless of the lameness issues and other problems we were experiencing, I could see all over his face that he was unhappy. The training was good, but what good is training if your horse is miserable, you know?

When we moved there in March, he had a small gas colic. By the time the vet came out, it was almost non-exisitant. He has done that one other time in the past a few years ago. Other than that, I have no reason to suspect and ulcer. But, he is off the track. It might be possible the stress has aggrevated something. I will consider this for sure.

He might still have some pain in his feet. He was having an issue with his hoof when we left there. Vet came out twice and could only speculate on a few things after the x-rays reveiled nothing. There is a chance he might be a little sore still. But he is way better than he was a couple weeks ago.

I hope the diet is finally working itself out. The last barn fed a restricted diet because they fed alfalpha and it was expensive. I don't like an all alfapha diet so I was 50/50 that with Timothy I purchased myself. The grain they fed was to low in fat, only 4% so I would purchase my own much higher quality grain and 50/50 that as well. The new barn feeds Safe Choice, which is of a higher protien than the Tribute/Alliance mix he was on, so we are weaning him over slowly. The big difference here is turnout. The new barn I am at turns out on grass all day or night, depending. I worked him up in incriments to the grass. So that should be good.

When I bought him 4 years ago, he was so mild mannered already, ground manners were a dream. He only ever needed simple reminding. When I taught him to ground tie I would just stop him, tell him to stand, and when he stepped out of place I would put his feet back into the spot they were, give the lead line a little tug or two, and say "stand." Only took a couple of times before he got it. Now, when I would him out of the stall, he won't even stop. He will drag me down the isle. I have turn circle after circle and get the cross ties on him. And at that point he tap dances the whole time. He spooked at a cat last night. A CAT! He loves cats!!!

Its all very strange.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-16-2011, 03:06 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Ummm I'd consider the change in diet. Rascal was recently put back on senior food for the protein boost. MAN did he get jumpy! He was like a big bundle of nerves. Vet said cut him to half rations (no heavy working right now) and go from there. It helped tremendously!

I miss you Rascal. Every day, all day.
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-17-2011, 05:18 PM
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-20-2011, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Michigan
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Man, sorry I haven't been around to keep the thread updated! This really escalated over the last few days...

Given the change in diet and the change in barns, it seemed likely that he could have an ulcer. Over the 5 days his spooking has gotten out of control. Almost violent. He would rear on the cross ties and panic on the cross ties. He would toss his head wildly and slide all over the concrete. He spooked so hard once, his shoes sparked on the cement. And on top of all this, he stopped eating all of his grain at night. Night time is the only time I can get there, so thats the only time I noticed he was leaving grain.

So I spoke with the vet and we are just going to treat him for an ulcer. It seems treating for the ulcer is cheaper than diagnosing it. You wouldn't think so given 28 days of Gastro-Guard or whatever is 40 a pop!!! Currently I am treating his symptoms with Cimetidine till the Gastro stuff comes in.

But, with that said, lets pretend for a second its not an ulcer and he is just being a complete jerk because his buds are all outside in the pasture and he is not....
How do I calm him? Make him realize he needs to work before he goes out? I don't want to smack him and make it worse. I also don't want to give in to these tantrums. Suggestions?
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