grumpiness... needs sorting out!!

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grumpiness... needs sorting out!!

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    06-16-2011, 10:52 AM
grumpiness... needs sorting out!!

I apologise now if this becomes an essay/rambles.. Il try not too.
I have just got my (hopfully) forever horse on loan.. he's a 16.1hh 10yr old italian sports horse geldinhg. He was a stallion in italy thrn gelded and moved to become a riding horse but he was too much for the lady so she just gave up on him and neglecred him. Then his current owner found him and bought him bk to the uk where after a while he went on loan to a big equine college..
Anyway, he has become unhappy and whilst perfect to ride he's very grumpy to handle especially tacking up and has bitten.
So iv now got him on permanent loan and will possibly buy in future.
Just lookong for peoples opinions on how to gain his trust and stop the biting. He has a big girth scare so obvioisly he associates that with pain but I wonder if it still hurts him? Also does anyone know anything about his breed? Iv never heard of an italian sports horse..thanks guys :)
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    06-16-2011, 03:58 PM
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You have this backwards.

Just lookong for peoples opinions on how to gain his trust and stop the biting.
You need to stop the biting and the disrespect in order to gain his truse. He only trusts (really wrong word here) those that he respects. He holds all others in great disdain.

I would also expect this horse to have other respect issues. He needs to think you are going to eat him alive -- eat him up and spit him out in little pieces. Then, he will respect you and stop acting sour and mad.

They are just like spoiled tantrum throwing little children. Have you ever seen one of those that is happy? They are all mad and miserable and got that way the same way this horse did.

He laid his ears back at someone and they backed up and stopped putting any pressure on him. In other words, HE WON! [You know -- like the tantrum throwing child that Mama lets get what he wants so he will be quiet.]

The next time he laid his ears back and the person did not back off quickly enough for him, so he bit them or threatened to bite them and they backed off.

I am afraid he has been more effective at training people to back off than his handlers have been at training him to have good manners. That is how most horses get mean. Some are just like him. Others get so mean that they are not worth the time, effort or money to fix the problems. [This is how an awful lot of horses end up in the slaughter pens.]

I would groom and saddle him without putting him in cross-ties. I would just hold the end of the lead-rope and I would have a dressage whip stuck in my back jean pocket. The instant he laid his ears back, I would grab the whip and swat him 2 or 3 time across his chest while yelling a sharp "Ah!" at him. Then, back him up sharply (about 50 feet or more). Then lead him back up to where you started and begin grooming and saddleing again. If he lays his ears back again, go after him again only harder this time. [He is not made of china and will not break.] When his ears come up and he starts watching you and keeps them up, just lead him back and start grooming / saddleing him again like nothing happened. DO NOT pet and treat him because he did the right thing. He is not a dog. You will only confuse him. The only reward he needs is for you to NOT punish him. A horse will do anything he is capable of doing for you if you stop putting pressure and negative reiforcement on him. When he does not give you dirty looks, does not push his nose out toward you, does not shake his head at you, does not lay his ears back and he acts happy does not do anything wrong, you know you have gained his respect as HIS herd leader.

It is very important that every horse have good manners; but it is even more important for a huge Warmblood to be well-mannered.
    06-16-2011, 08:22 PM
Great post Cherie!
    06-16-2011, 11:29 PM
I agree...most folks have the whole trust thing backwards...respect MUST come first, trust comes through respect, respect doesn't come through trust. Even a horse who is extremely fearful (my mare for example, when I got her in 09), will become more a more trusting partner, if you establish yourself as a leader he can rely on; while I took my time in some areas with Flicka, I did not skirt around the bush and ***** foot around her. She quickly realized she could rely on my leadership, and began to trust me...I'm still about the only human she really trusts, but I'm also the only one who regularly works her, which is important for the horse.

Cherie has great incite, and is likely spot on for this horse's wouldn't hurt to have a vet look him over, but most likely, he is just bluffing everyone over, because everyone has let him get away with it, and when they don't "listen" to him, he escalates until they do. It's time to take the ball away from his court, and put it back into yours. Regardless of the cause, his behavior is dangerous, and needs to be modified.

If Cherie's idea doesn't work for this horse, still leave the horse out of the cross ties, and everytime he goes to be unruly, make his feet move...NOW! Get him out of your space, and make him stay there for a while... I find that with alot of unruly horses, the harder you make it for them TO be unruly, the quicker you make your take your tack out to an area you can lunge, or even round pen him, and when he wants to get fussy, well then by all means, make those feet move, and make them move quickly, and for quite a while...he will figure it out fairly quickly that standing quietly, is really the best option he has; horses are, after all, quite lazy, so he will want to seek out that 'easy answer'. Make sure you do alot of direction changes, so he doesn't just get bored, and not pay attention to you...make the work you are having him do, still be your idea.

For when you are grooming or tacking him up, keep your lead rope elbow raised slightly, so if you feel him starting to shift toward you, all you have to do is lift, and you allow him to 'run' into your elbow (or you can have the crop there as well, and have it ready to whap his cheek). He WILL NOT become head shy, since he's not going to realise where it came from, or what really happened...just that he all of a sudden 'hit a wall'...then you can proceed to continue to move him out of your space if he continues to shift into you. My guess is that he doesn't "just" use his head, but shoulders into people as well. Start teaching him shoulder and hip yielding, along with other ground work basics, to further educate him in ground manners..."just" fixing the biting habit, isn't going to make him a more respectful need to work all the other areas as well, and my guess is that he probably has other areas that are shifty as well.
    06-17-2011, 08:36 PM
Okay maybe I didnt explain very well....he has a massive girth scar and many scars all over him and an indent in his head where some1 hit hin with something very solid so hr was abused, quite badly from what owner saif.
Iv watched him been tacked up and it looked defensive 2 me.... every time she touched a place he wasnt happy about-eg girth. He turned around or swung head.
I agree he's ob learnt that doing that makes people leave him alone and this needs 2 be corrected but I don't think hitting him with a whip will help! Moving him is a good idea as I use that technique when trailering... any other opinions? Anyone know anything about breed?
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    06-17-2011, 09:15 PM
Originally Posted by SarahRicoh    
okay maybe I didnt explain very well....he has a massive girth scar and many scars all over him and an indent in his head where some1 hit hin with something very solid so hr was abused, quite badly from what owner saif.
Iv watched him been tacked up and it looked defensive 2 me.... every time she touched a place he wasnt happy about-eg girth. He turned around or swung head.
I agree he's ob learnt that doing that makes people leave him alone and this needs 2 be corrected but I don't think hitting him with a whip will help! Moving him is a good idea as I use that technique when trailering... any other opinions? Anyone know anything about breed?
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The more you continue to make excuses for him, the worse he's going to get. Maybe he was abused in the past, but he's not now. Animals are very good at living in the present. Take it into consideration when handling him, but the more you treat him like a normal horse, the more normal he will be.
    06-17-2011, 10:03 PM
Since he was a stallion for a long time those scars could have been from fighting. Don't assume it's abuse caused by peoople. As for the biting, stallions are more inclined to bite people altho many geldings do it to. Hitting this horse is likely the last thing he needs as he may just turn on you. You need to establish ground rules, literally from the ground. Use your lunge whip and point it toward his hip and make small circles with the tip. Don't touch him with it, just ask him to move his hip, even a wee step. You may need to tip his nose a little to the inside. Keep working at this until he is fairly responsive and you can drive his hips a full circle on both sides. His legs aren't designed for lateral movement so it's tiring. Make sure you stay out of his mouth. Any time you don't like his behaviour, move his hips. Keep in mind a horse needs about 3 tries before he catches on that his behaviour results in tiring movement.
    06-17-2011, 10:21 PM
He has been abused... I know that. Not making excuses just think that hitting hims last thing he needs like some1 said...
He has had no consistency at college so im gna set some groundrules and work on respect/groundwork....
If any1s looked in2 monty roberts what do you think on distractibility?
Eg. He goes 2 bite so I gently bump his leg with my foot causing him to stop and look down.. Distracted from biting! Thanks for your opinions guys
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    06-17-2011, 10:21 PM
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I have handled many abused horses. I bought several just to get them out of their situation when I was training for the public. Some of these I have seen abused with my own eyes. Others were from firsthand accounts and not from someone 'thinking' they were abused. I know they were abused.

You know what worked to re-train them? Treat them just like any other horse. I found that when I ignored what I knew of their history, they trained just like any other horse. Some were pretty neurotic for a while and ducked and dodged every quick move -- so I just made more quick moves until they figured out it was OK. If they ducked or dodged, I made really big move until the instant they quit and them immediately backed up and ignored them.

As has been said many times -- horses live in the present and not in the past. The past shapes their responses for some time and the more quickly you address these, the more quickly they go away. I have always 'hunted' every horse's problems and got to them as quickly as possible. It has always seemed to work very well.

I took one Morgan / TB cross that I watched being abused many times by a big, loud-mouthed drunk cowboy/ roper that beat him up (sometimes with an old scoop shovel handle and sometimes with the rope he was using) every time he roped and missed the steer's horns. The horse would panic when he picked up the shovel handle and finally flipped up-side-down on the idiot. He was going to unsaddle him and shoot him right there. Several guys got hold of him and stopped him from going to his pick-up to get a gun and I came up and gave him a $100.00 for the horse and took him home from the practice roping where all of this was happening. He turned into one of the best lesson horses ever and I sold him to a big H/J stable East of Denver. They used him for over-fence lessons for years. I did not treat him any differently than any other horse.

The other thing I learned early on is that rewarding with treats and with lavish petting and praise for ordinary good behavior is not only useless, it actually confuses a horse and makes it take much longer to train it. I did this early in my training career, and found it counterproductive. I found that the release of pressure or the stopping of all rein and leg contact was the only reward any horse needed. A horse will do more for you when you reward him by getting out of his face and out of his ribs when he does the desired 'right thing' than he does for all of the praise and petting and treats in the world.

Whatever I write in this forum is 100% from personal experience and not from some ideal of what I 'think' will work or how I 'think' horses should think. I find that most people make them way too complex and try to give them either human-like or dog-like emotions, intelligence and/or responses. This just is NOT how they think. They think like a horse and not anything else that I know of. I have trained a few cow (including to ride) and they train much like horses but are smarter -- at least the ones I trained. Mules do not train like horses nor do donkeys. They are both smarter and have more reasoning power than horses.
    06-17-2011, 10:25 PM
Fair enough cherie. I value your opinion. His owner is 1 that uses treats as a bribe/praise and I agree this has not helped and the hand feeding treats can't help the biting?
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