Helping a Head shy horse? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 19 Old 12-26-2012, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Great ^^ I will have to read up and pull my clicker out and give it a try :3

thanks <3
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post #12 of 19 Old 12-26-2012, 12:47 AM
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Personally, I'd keep a halter on him until the need for daily vetting is over…
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post #13 of 19 Old 12-26-2012, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by FaydesMom View Post
Normally I would agree, but not with head shying. If you keep the pressure on when he gets nervous, you will have to follow his movement with your hands towards his face, which will just reaffirm his thought that hands are "coming at him". That's why I said to move back to less sensitive areas BEFORE he has a chance to get upset.
I do get what you are saying. Too often people do that naturally and end up with the horse getting worse. "Oh no! My horse is freaking so I better back off."

The only way I can see what you say working is if you were able to remove your hand the instant before he reacts. Not exactly easy to do unless you have some experience.

Understandably, my suggestion isn't exactly easy either since it goes against our natural instinct. You don't need to keep your hand in the exact spot but just try to keep it close and not take it away. You need to keep in mind, don't give up on the horse. Keep going until the horse gives in, unless it becomes dangerous.

When you follow his movements but are watching his feet, you can maintain a steady distance but not really be pressuring his face.

I'm a CA fan. He has a video of him doing this. He starts flicking his fingers toward the horses face that is headshy. As he gets close enough that the horse moves, he follows keeping that distance. Once the horse stands, he stops flicking and walks away from the horse leading it back to where they started. Within a little bit, he's able to touch the horses face without the horse reacting. I've done this with a horse that was hard to catch and halter because of being headshy.

Just like any training, what works for one person may not work for the next. Same with horses. If your way works for you, great. I just think it would be easy to make the problem worse. .
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post #14 of 19 Old 12-26-2012, 01:21 AM
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In my opinion

I tend to agree with usandpets to a point…he needs to learn that it's not going to hurt and it doesn't bother him as much as he thinks it does, but I don't think that's the problem. He's over reacting. Placing a hand on the bridge of the nose and applying pressure is a cue to back and if you keep it there while the horse is backing, an over reactive horse will rear. I think this horse is backing in anticipation of pressure rather than actual pressure. That said, I don't know what she's doing or where she's placing her hands "on his face". I'm not there. Either way, the horse is learning to successfully argue with her, and that's not good. Nor does he "get" that the jolly ball is a reward for doing anything…he thinks she's just giving it to him.
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Last edited by Horse Poor; 12-26-2012 at 01:29 AM.
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post #15 of 19 Old 12-26-2012, 07:30 AM
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What helped a bit with my head shy horse was to make her initiate me touching her face. I wanted my hand on her face to be associated with something good. This is a low rank mare who was getting pushed away from her grain. So, in order to get her grain I took her out of the pasture and would pet her head when she ate. She was really leary at first and we had a mexican stand off of sorts. I had to put the grain at my feet at first so that she would eat it. She did not want her head near me. Then I would gradually move so I was holding the grain bucket and she had to let me stroke her face while she ate. This took a few weeks and as I said this is a low rank mare who has no food aggression issues so it all sort of worked out, but its not the solution for everyone. Then we had grooming time and I would rub her face and her ears quickly (like its no big deal) and go back to grooming her sides. She has gotten much better but as others have said patience, patience and more patience.
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-26-2012, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by FaydesMom View Post
Normally I would agree, but not with head shying. If you keep the pressure on when he gets nervous, you will have to follow his movement with your hands towards his face, which will just reaffirm his thought that hands are "coming at him". That's why I said to move back to less sensitive areas BEFORE he has a chance to get upset.
I agree with usandpets as well. I don't want to move my hands away when he starts to get nervous, as that will reward him for being nervous. And I don't want to not make him nervous at all, because then I'll never get anywhere near his head.

An issue like this is very dependant upon TIMING. You should be pressuring his "comfort zone" a little bit (its the only way to make progress) but you need to be aware that you don't push a little bit too much and make the horse freak. There's a really fine line between those two reactions from the horse, and it takes experience to understand that line.

You also want to keep your entire body "casual". If you are standing three feet away from him and reaching .... that's like a predator. If you are holding the lead rope in a death grip really close to the halter .... that's like a predator. You want your body to convey that this is no big deal, just a run of the mill, and be relaxed. Of course, you do want to stand at the horse's side (not in front of them) for your own safety.

And patience, patience, patience!! Rub/brush his neck and slowly more toward his head. Watch him. The very instant he flares his nose, raises his head, twitches his ears, quits blinking, etc means that he is nervous and you have entered a pressure zone. HOLD. Do not move any farther, but do not back off. The very instant you see any sign of relaxation like licking lips, lowering head, blinking, a "sigh", or anything, move your hand back into a very safe zone to rub him.

You don't need to drill him on it for 45 min a day, but you do need to be very consistent. Work on it for a few minutes every day, on both sides evenly.

I also wouldn't let anyone else handle him but you right now, because you are very aware of his problem and are gonig to be working to fix it. Someone else can come in there and set back your progress.

He's had this issue smoldering for a long time. It'll probably take a long time to fix it and it may never go away completely. But he certainly should be capable of accepting a head touch.

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post #17 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 12:30 AM
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My filly use to be the same way, she didn't like anybody touching her face, or putting the halter on. All I did was, once you get the halter on, constantly touch his face, until he stands quietly and lets you. Then take the halter, take it off half way, and slide it back on. Do that several times until he lets you.
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 12:39 PM
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CA also talked once about head shy and said to rub the horse all over and "just happen" to touch the face and ears, quickly, and move on to other parts. He said don't be sneaky or worse, don't focus on the head. Just incidentally touch the head and ears, and move on. You can increase the amount of time touching the head as the horse relaxes more over time.
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 12:42 PM
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I agree that clicker is the best option for this situation because it will be quicker. I would add that multiple short sessions are best. Do ct for 5 minutes, then go clean a stall for 15, then ct for 5 more, then clean another stall, then ct for 5 and so on
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