Getting respect...

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Getting respect...

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        02-06-2009, 01:26 AM
    Super Moderator
    Getting respect...

    I had thought that I had been doing really good with Lacy like I felt like hse was finally listening to me and not walking all over me so much but yesterday when I went out to work with her she was really super disrespectful again and I realized that maybe I'm just getting used to her disrespect so I'm not so bothered or something. Some background: Lacy is my pretty dominant (it seems) 20 year old Arabian mare. She was pretty well gently abused by the people who owned her, her whole life, up until last July. The woman really babied her and let her get away with everything and her sons whipped her into submission when ever she spooked or refused to go somewhere. Because of that I don't want to be rough with her or push her around too much because I don't want her to just be scared of me. I just basically want her to trust me and like me. But I can't really tell when she's scared or being a snob because she's very adept at hiding when she's scared, she's basically totally dead or rearing and bucking, no middle ground... So I had thought we were doing really well and that she was respecting me on the ground because she's been doing pretty well in the ground pen at turning when I ask her to and she's stopped charging ahead of me when I'm leading her and she's been being pretty docile about being taken away from her buddies (she used to be pretty herd-bound) but now she can have them call to her and not call back, usually. But yesterday, one of my friends was there and I was lunging Lacy because she can't canter in the round pen and I'm trying to get her fit again for spring, and my friend said (after Lacy bucked close to me on the lunge, it probably doesn't help that she was definitely in heat) "she's not respecting you!" and told me to have her walk and stop turning and pull twice on the lunge line to get her to turn, stop and look at me to get her focus on me. So I was trying that but Lacy kept walking right up to me instead of stopping and my friend was like "she's totally in your bubble right now so she's not respecting you!" As a disclaimer, this friend really likes horses but she's not really trainer material BUT the point is that if she felt that Lacy wasn't respecting me, maybe Lacy really doesn't respect me and I'm just blind to it... It's amazing how horses can just mirror what we humans need to work on since I'm one of those people who gets walked over by people all the time but doesn't say anything about it until I blow up or just give up... Anyway, the the point of this story is: has anyone else experienced this? How did you fix it? What can I do that won't make Lacy dislike me (I'm sure she's pretty agnostic about me at the moment) but that will increase her respect for me? I've tried joining up with her but it didn't work... At least I don't think it did, she licked and chewed, her ear was in towards me too, but her head didn't go down and she came in towards me and followed me a bit but she didn't follow me after the second turn away from the gate. Sorry for the novel. But thanks for reading. =)
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        02-06-2009, 09:31 AM
    It sounds like she has a Dr. Jeykl, Mr. Hyde personality going on. And when you said "she is totally dead or rearing or bucking" is a red flag to me. If she's "totally dead" my suspicion is that to cope with the stress and unconfidence she has gone introverted. This is VERY dangerous because if the horse is pushed while in this state when they come out of it, it is not good at all. Whatever reaction they have is big. This kind of horse is hard to read because if you don't know what to look for, the horse appears quiet, calm, obedient....then all of a sudden something happens. But it's not "all of a sudden" the horse has just built up all that anxiety inside and when it becomes too much...boom.

    This is just my opinion but I think it would be a good idea to do some Parelli with her. That teaches trust and respect at the same time along with safety. They also have a "Horsenality" chart you can fill out on Lacy to see what you're dealing with and the strategies that will help you with her. That can be found on the Parelli website. That would for sure help you.
        02-06-2009, 03:27 PM
    Sorry about this but I think you might mean apathetic not agnostic when refering to your horse's attitude toward you. "Agnostic" is a noun (and occassionally an adjective) and refers to a person who is unsure of the existence of greater powers (God etc.) Again sorry but I had to bring it up.

    As far as your horse, if she is not respecting you then you do need to be firm with her. If you are worried about her history of abuse then you should just act accordingly. If you are consistent and fair in your discipline there shouldn't be an issue as it sounds like in her life before you she had two extremes of treatment. One being that she was babied and probably never discipline and the other very over the top discipline. If you stick to the middle ground and are firm but fair I don't think you'll have problems. I very much doubt she'll come to dislike you for being firm and fair.

    The dead periods and the extremely violent periods would worry me but I think you'll just have to work through it. When she is going through a dead period just make her look at you make her acknowledge you and then do whatever it is you were planning on doing. Everytime you notice that she is not focusing on you and just ignoring you get her to acknowledge you again. Maybe even reward her when she acknowledges you. As for the violent periods, they are something I would not tolerate as they are dangerous. Those are periods when very firm discipline is needed. If you do not feel like you would be able to enforce yourself while she is misbehaving in that manner I would suggest enrolling a trainer and getting help from a trainer.
        02-06-2009, 09:43 PM
    If this horse is indeed going introverted in this "dead" state, forcing her to look at the source of her anxiety (pressure from the handler) will blow her up. If she is going introverted you need to retreat retreat retreat and slow waaaaay down and help her gain confidence so that she CAN look at you. There is a huge difference between won't and can't. Introverted horses CAN'T look at you. It's too much pressure.
        02-06-2009, 10:17 PM
    Super Moderator
    That's alright onetoomany, that's probably what I meant. =) Also how do you advise I get her attention when she's not paying attention to me? Lots of bending? Turning? I will try that "horsenality" chart thingy. I'm not really a parelli person but maybe it'll help. The blow ups don't happen very often. They don't have any regularity either. It's only happened about 5 times when I was leading her (including when I first got her when she was on a super-duper energy high) and about once every few times I ride her (including mini rearing and major spooking). She's fine with looking at me... I think...but now that you mention it she does turn her head away when I come up to her after round-penning and lunging... Does that mean she's seriously messed up? Man, what have I gotten myself into?.... I do have a trainer and I am planning on starting to take lessons again, starting tomorrow, because I think Lacy and I could use some help...
        02-07-2009, 12:06 AM
    I honestly wouldn't even go so far as bending or turning, just take give a gentle pull on the side of her halter to get her to focus on you or some other such thing. Your horse isn't seriously messed up so don't worry so much. When I first got my forever mare she was very apathetic toward me as she had been shuffled around a lot and had couple of questionable owners in her past; four years later I now have a horse (hokey as it sounds) is a partner. Sure she isn't affectionate but that's fine with me. Just keep working with her and stick with it, this is one of those things that time and consistent handling will fix.

    If the blowing up incidents are mainly localized to spooking and little rears while riding it could be that she's just trying to get your goat. I've ridden a couple horses where their temper tantrum is popping and my own mare spooks when she gets bored. I rode another little mare tonight that was spooking just to be a snot. My best advice is to push through the "spooks" and circle in the spots that she does it. As for the popping, when she gets all four feet on the ground again push her forward and through it.

    Trainer and lessons never hurt and good for you for taking the extra steps! Good luck with your mare and don't get too discouraged!
        02-07-2009, 12:10 AM
    If she turns her head away from you as you approach she is telling you that you just hit the edge of her personal space and that she is not comfortable with you coming any closer. The pressure is too much. So when she turns her head away stop and relax. Wait until she looks at you before you advance. If she won't look at you turn sideways to her and even back away from her. When you get to her finally just rub her and hang for a little bit. You should look for her to lick and chew, sneeze, shake her head, blink a lot, etc.
        02-07-2009, 10:33 PM
    Super Moderator
    Thanks for all your help! =) I went out and saw her today and she actually did very well. We didn't work with my trainer because she wasn't available but even so Lacy did really well and she was really pretty calm about everything and she didn't fight with me so hard when I asked her to do things she didn't want to do, like turning away from her buddy. Thanks again!

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