ground work ideas! help - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-13-2012, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Exclamation ground work ideas! help

okay i have two questions first is rather crazy to me.. my horse poncho is a WONDERFUL horse.. WHEN being riden.. for the most part. things on the ground flying;;; say like a bag stuckk to the fence doesnt scare him. but if its something like a flag or something coming from the side it FREAKS him out... only when im NOT on him. I can have him in a halter.. and i have a flag on a pole thingy and if i go to touch him with it He jumps sideways over and over.... what ground work can i do to get him to be GROUND PROOf..l...

another is for my gelding Sunny... He is complete opposite... he isnt scared of the flag me on him or not. and i can throw a rope off him ( the whhhoosshh) noice dont scare him.. BBBUUUUTTT! if there is a piece of WOOD on the ground in our path he thinks its going to maul him! even ant hills scare him

what can i do << read about Sunny and I. Our journey
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-13-2012, 01:51 PM
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When you work with the first horse, and you "flag" him, and he starts to run away from the flag, what do you do? Do you stop? Do you take the flag away?
If so, then you are teaching him to spook from it, Because he got relief from it by spooking away from it.

To desensitize him to it, you need to have him in a small area, on a line that is about 12 to 15 feet long and hold him close enough to you that you can keep the flag on or close to his flank, but long enough that he can move around you as much as needs to. YOu bring the flag up to his flank and even if he runs from it, you keep the flag on him. But, watch for signs that he'd like to stop for even a sec. If he slows or turns to look at the flag, give him a little relief.
The idea is anything that is him standing or thinking about standing and just being with the flag earns him relief from the flag. Everything else , such as him ruinning away from it, does not earn any relief. you just stay really calm but have the flag follow him and stay on his flank. Do not up the pressure, but don't take it away until he makes a change.

I suspect that horse number one has issues in general about things on his flanks. Can you take your coat off, while in the saddle, and swing it around, brush it against his flanks and such, without him spooking? If he is touchy about hthis,, then working on it is important to improve his riding safety.

Horse number two, I think may be a horse that worries more about his footing. I would do work with him having him walk on all kinds of different surfaces. If he is not a greedy or mouthy horse, you can give treats after he walks across tarps, piles of woodchips, sand, puddles, over poles, across a bridge, . . you name it.
It's not a bad thing to have a horse who is careful about their footing. I am just guessing that this might be what's going on in the horse's mind. Total speculation.
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-13-2012, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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no i dont take the flag away i keep it going until he stops.. i think your ideas would help alot thanks:) << read about Sunny and I. Our journey
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-14-2012, 09:22 AM
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In many cases people inadvertently train horses to react like this by soothing/petting the horse after a reaction. This works for a fearful toddler but a horse sees it as a reward. One of my horses had a huge issue with plastic bags, tarps. I indulged him in a little clicker training for about a week that had nothing to do with plastic. When I did, the bag was tied to the end of the dressage whip. When he touched it, as he'd learned that touching a target brought a food reward, he was clicked and rewarded. I moved back a few steps and he sought out the bag. Again c/t. I touched his legs c/t, his shoulders ct. I stepped away and slapped the ground with it from side to side over my head while facing him. No reaction, c't. There was no way I could get a reaction even when the bag was tied to the end of the lunge whip and it waved way above his back, c/t. When trained this way, food becomes a great motivator.
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