Ground work - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-10-2010, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: iowa
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Ground work

Hi all Im new here. Hopefully someone here can help me with an issue I am having. I rescued a 1 1/2 year old quarter horse/pony mix filly and her dam late last year. They came to me underweight and full of burrs. Neither one had ever been handled. I have started ground work on both of them and things are going well. The problem I am having is with the filly. I have gained her trust and can halter and lead her. But I have to turn my rope halter inside out to do it! Every time I approach her on her left side she spins with me to keep me on her right side. When leading I have to stay on the right of her or she gets very distressed. I am not sure if this is a training issue and I need to send her away and try again/desensitize in some way or if she might be blind on that side . The eye looks fine and has no discharge. Suggestions?
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-10-2010, 04:04 PM
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I'd try to stand on her left side once you halter her and once she gives you just one split second of calm, move to her right where she is comfortable. Highly praise her then. or try feeding her treats from that side. It's all about making it an enjoyable experiance for her. That's just what I'd do, there is probably much better ways to do it!

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post #3 of 5 Old 06-10-2010, 04:21 PM
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I would halter her however she's comfortable. Then stand on her 'bad' side and pet her a couple of times on her shoulder, then retreat. Just pet and back away a step or so.
She could have some sort of vision issue, but you never know until you had a vet look at her. Either way if she does have vision issues, you can work through that, with patience and consistency.
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post #4 of 5 Old 06-10-2010, 04:32 PM
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I think that you can do some home desensitizing, but I'd definitely get the help of a trainer to really instruct you once things get farther along.

Put on her halter on her right side so that you can keep her with you, and it might be helpful to get a very long lead or a lunge rope (a 22ft line should be great). You can also use this method to teach her how to tie, once you get to that stage, as long as you have a tie blocker ring.

Start by just standing on her left side, letting her run out on the lead line until she feels comfortable with the space between you, then gradually bring her back in, making sure you stay on her left side. Eventually you should be able to touch her, and then brush her, etc, and all the while just work on leading her from her left side versus her right. Don't get aggravated or aggressive with her, talk in nice soothing tones and if you get frustrated just stop, because it won't help her feel comfortable with you.

However, also make sure you rule out any vision problems before thinking its a training problem. We have an old TB who's blind in his left eye. If you just try to lead him from the left, he's pushy and rude. If you talk to him while you lead him from the left, he's a little better, but he still kind of walks ahead of you. If you lead him from the right where he can see you, he walks very nicely and on pace with you.
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-10-2010, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: iowa
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Thank you for the input so far. I have never experienced something like this. I wanted to get her used to the (scary lol) flat halter today with all its noise. And it was hard, not because she was scared of it but because of that left side... I ended up buckling it standing on her right where I had to do it by feel rather than sight. Obviously I cant move forward in her training until this is addressed. I am not sure of the root cause of her anxiety. The vet was out for a check up and vaccinations about 2 weeks ago and said she was in good health. But maybe I do need him to come back out and check her eye just to be sure.

Thanks Justsam. Tomorrow I will try to focus on her left side and hope to make progress. I have a 20 ft lead to send her out on. I never get aggressive or frustrated with her. She is trying so hard and has come so far that I don't think I could ever be mad at her. I was just getting worried that it might be her vision.
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