Halter Breaking a Filly that Shuts Down - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
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Question Halter Breaking a Filly that Shuts Down

One of my friends has a filly that has yet to be halter broken. She's been handled since birth and hasn't had any bad experiences... until they tried to halter break her.

Basically she flipped out as soon as she felt any pressure. Ended up almost breaking one of her legs. Then she shut down completely. Apparently her eyes glazed over, she dropped her head down to the ground, and wouldn't move at all.

Second attempt about a week later was about the same. The girl had a farrier out (who has experience with this sort of thing) and the filly did the same thing, although I believe she shut down faster this time. They left the halter on her in hopes that she would become used to it and it wouldn't cause such a problem.

At this point the filly has lost all of her friendlieness/curiousity and really wants nothing to do with anyone. Friend asked for help so I went out. What I suggested (and we did) is taking it ultra ultra slow. We went out with some oats and started working on her letting us touch her body. Then we worked up to touching her face and then the halter. Towards the end I got her to start giving her head when I put a small amount of pressure on the halter (she started to pull back at first, but she calmed down). At last I got her to take a step with pressure. I was also calling her to come to me and rewarding with oats/scratches, hoping that it will help in the future.

Soo.... Does anyone have any suggestions? I don't know if what I did has any chance of working in the long run. I've never had a foal so I've never had to halter train and I don't want to cause more problems for this horse. My friend is out of ideas, her other foals have all been easy as pie to train for everything, so she's stumped.
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 11:54 AM
Green Broke
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Take your time and continue to work around her head. Put the halter on and pull little by little. Maybe even start with a lead rope around her neck and pull her side to side gently. She now has a fear with being pulled because of what she went thru. So start very gentle and make the sessions very short. Also instead of pulling on her halter use a butt rope to encourage her forward. Very gentle. Some babies just a harder to halter break than others. Make sure she isn't sore on her poll.
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post #3 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 12:18 PM
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I watched Tommy Garland on RFD work with some babies... And I really liked the way he did it. It's a different approach than the pressure release.
It's easier in a stall or small pen/round pen.
I tried to find a video, but couldn't so I'll explain as best as I can. It helped me with an untouched 14 month old.

He used (and I did too) a rope halter.... but anyways instead of pulling to get them to take a step forward, you stand at their side. Gently pull to the side and use the end of your rope to ask them to yield their hindquarters. It helps unlock their feet when they just wanna pull back on you. I did this on both sides. Then I started with the typical pull forward and release with a step way.
I feel like I didn't explain that well... sorry if you don't understand. I wish I could find a video.
Is there a round pen to work in?
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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There is a round pen available. She isn't weaned yet, but the mother is very patient and doesn't mind the filly being worked with. I'll pass these suggestions on to my friend.
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 04:44 PM
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That's pretty much how I have halter broken several foals. Take them in small circles in both directions to begin with. I don't normally use a rope to get them to disengage hindquarters though. I touch them on the hip. Especially with a skittish filly like this I wouldn't start swinging ropes until she has halter training down.
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post #6 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Have you guys seen a young horse just shut down like that? I haven't actually seen her do this, but my friend is pretty knowledgeble and not an overreactive type.
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 05:39 PM
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Yes i saw a weanling shut down while tied (it was her 2nd halter experiene) lol she pretty much dropped & lay there just like she was dead until we took the halter off & she still wouldnt get up!
But i would use the butt rope as well & if she wont come forward, pull her to the side. SHe will have to move or else fall down ;)
What i did with my filly was leave the halter on (keep an eye on her) & dont actually pull her around, just get her tamed again, go out & fiddle with it, adjust it, even take it off & on until she doesn't associate it will anything bad(pulling/leading).
Another thing would be to have someone walk the mother away. The baby should want to follow & you can teach her to lead that way (i've also heard of people tying the baby to the mother lol)

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 06:39 PM
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MN...that's a new one for me. I've halter broken LOTS of foals/yearlings and none have ever acted like that. Very odd.

I'm halter breaking my foals right now and in just a matter of days they are doing very well. Following me around, standing tied, rub them all over, and I can even pick each leg up of the filly. I used the pull to the side method like everyone else stated. This way, they can't get their legs locked and refuse to move.

"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #9 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hopefully that will work for us too. I think we need to get her beyond her distrust of people/halters now though too. We'll see how she goes on Wednesday. I told my friend I'd come by MWF about 8 am and we'd work with her for a little bit each time. I'll let you know what happens
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-20-2010, 08:32 PM
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I second what Imagine said...I NEVER immediately ask for 'foward' movement. Get her bending, sideways, ask her to move her hips one way and the other, teach her to yield her shoulders...basically you are going to help her unstick her feet without ever actually 'asking her to walk foward' in the traditional way. I also use a rope halter.

You could also always use the old standby "butt rope" to help her figure out what you are asking for as well, but make sure it is separate from your lead that's on the halter.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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