Hitting a brick wall :(

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Hitting a brick wall :(

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    05-03-2012, 12:48 PM
Hitting a brick wall :(

I'm convinced my horse is determined NOT to get over her fears. After 6 months of getting her not to be afraid of the halter (brushing her with it in my hands, putting it on & off, riding with one hanging off my saddle, etc.) she is once again petrified of it. Thankfully, I can still walk up to her as long as the halter is at my side and not moving.

When I picked her up in Oct., she had "overcome" her fear of fly-spray. Well that went out the window as well. She is not only afraid off the bottle itself (just sitting on the ground), she is afraid of it on my hands, and scared to death of the spray sound. The flies were so bad last night, she had no choice but to deal with it After a lovely & entertanaining (NOT!!!) hour and a half of trying to get the halter on, I took her into the arena, so hopefully she won't associate the halter with fly spray (yes, I know I'm dreaming).

I started by just spraying the air. That didn't go over well. To bad Then I started spraying her legs, she was shaking, but eventually she stood there...sort of. Next came her shoulder, pretty sure she broke all land speed records backing up. Then I started spraying her body. I'm such a meany!! The only way I can describe her reaction is she thought she was part armadillo. She curled up so much, she actually fell over. I let her get up, walked her around a bit then sprayed her again. This time she did tense up, but no armadillo. AND THAT WAS JUST ONE SIDE!!! Same reaction on the other side

I sprayed some on my hand to get her face, after hitting me in the face twice, all of the sudden she just put her face in my hands and let me rub it around....until I had to add more to my hand.

Everytime we ride, she freaks out at the ground poles (they haven't moved). So we work on overcoming that fear. By the end of the ride, it's as if they don't even exist...until next time.

I have a blue brush, I bring that sucker out, OMG it's going to eat her!! Except that it's her favorite she leans into that thing so much when I brush her face, and then she'll use it as a nose scratcher.

*palm hitting forehead, It's going to be a long summer
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    05-03-2012, 03:52 PM
Has she always been this spooky? That's really bizarre to be afraid of the fly spray bottle, even, and just the sight of the halter. Has she had some bad experiences prior to coming into your care?
    05-03-2012, 04:26 PM
You do have your hands full but keep doing what you are doing and one day (soon, but maybe not soon enough for you, so be patient), all this goofiness will stop. I bet you by the end of the summer if you keep working with her regularly & consistently, she will have a break through and trust you. I have seen a few horses like yours, always mares too, but once you got their confidence & trust, it's solid.
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    05-03-2012, 10:06 PM
From what I was told she was a ranch horse, and at some point wasn't treated very well (I don't know if it was by the rancher or someone else). I was told if I bring a rope by her there will be REAL fireworks!!! I'm tempted to try it...
I'll have to try and get a video of me working with her. It's odd!! By all appearances, if it's just me and no stimulus (brush, spray, etc.) she trusts me, very responsive to body language and any movements I make. I can run my hands over her body and she enjoys it. Once I have the halter on, it's the same thing. It's just getting the halter on
Because she seemed to be making progress (until recently), I started working her under saddle. She's quite a piece of work, lol. There are some advanced skills that she is quite good at. She knows how to half-halt, can leg yield on a diagonal, side passes, and turns on her forehand. Sorry, I canít remember the exact terms, itís been awhile since Iíve had to use dressage terms for what Iíve been doing, and I forget stuff, LOL. But overall, Iíd consider her green broke. There's not a good foundation. Sheís so set on whenever thereís any resistance on the reins, that means she canít go forward, even if Iím cuing her to. But stopping overall still an issue, she canít stop without throwing her head up even if thereís minimal rein contact.
Iíve never seen or heard of a horse that had such a definite fear of fly spray in any form. I know horses that donít like it (Odie), but heís not scared of it. He just thinks it tickles and doesnít like light touching. When I use detangler on her tail, it doesnít even register with her even if itís a spray. I can use the water hose on her legs and tail with minimal issues (she always tries to face me, but thereís no real fear response). Even when I shampoo her tail, itís not a huge deal.
Iím wondering what would happen if I slipped her some of my happy pills, hmmm
    05-03-2012, 10:38 PM
Busysmurf... that sounds a lot like my horse Sky.

When I got him, that is. Though he still is petrified of barrels or poles if I move them. If they stay where they are he is fine.. if they move he throws a huge fit (bolting, spooking, leaping, backing up, baulking) and we're working on it.

You just have to keep on going. You have to be calm, and reserved and act like you aren't doing anything. I mean stone cold emotions. So neutral neutrons are jealous.

When they are that wound up, you have to take your time. Try to do everything and relax before they hit their breaking point. No this does not teach them that the faster they throw a fit the quicker it all stops.

What helped my horse was rubbing and putting his stuff on me and then showing him with my body language and emotions how happy and how safe I felt. Then he'd sniff it and he'd be fine.

If you get frustrated.. it escalates really fast.

He was fine with flyspray but he did not like the hose. So I taught him to stand and enjoy being bathed (head not so much but he didn't fight to get away either) by glowing of happy safe vibes. I would hum happily and say "oh doesn't this feel great!" and he would relax and be okay with it.

I'm not saying this will work for you, but what I am saying is try a different approach.

When you said you sprayed the air and it didn't go over so well, did you keep spraying the air or did you just move to her legs?

Is it spray bottles in general or just the flyspray? If it's just flyspray maybe it burns, who knows. You'll have to figure that out.

Have you had her eyes checked too?
    05-03-2012, 11:14 PM
^^^Everything has been kept at an even tone with her, even to the point of softening my voice a little more than I think is good. I know patience and time is the only thing that will "fix" this, if it's fixable. It's just been awhile since I had to deal with horse with this many fears, and I was a lot younger then, LOL.

As far as the fly spray goes, when I sprayed the air, I did it in spurts until her body language said "I still don't like it, I'll bet you money it's going to eat me, but if you must go ahead. I'll just prove you wrong" = me spray her legs..."Oh wait, my legs are still there, I'm still alive, it won't eat my legs" Repeat with the rest of her body. The only armadillo area was her barrel, until I did her hind quarters. After her hindquarters I did that whole side of her body in one swipe, and she was tense but still.

When I did her face, I sprayed a bunch on my palm and wiped her head. I wiped my hand over her eye, and she lowered her head. *For some reason, I've discovered that if I run my palm over her eyes when she's excited, it instantly relaxes her for a few seconds. I just need to find a way to do that and at the same time move around her body, LOL*

I tried several different kinds/brands of fly spray. Aerosals, spray bottles, wipes, Absorbine, CV-80, other brands. Reaction is all the same.

A spray bottle with detangler, tense but no fireworks.

Like I said, palm slapping forehead, LOL This is not what I wanted when I meant when I said I wanted a "project"
    05-03-2012, 11:31 PM
Originally Posted by busysmurf    
Like I said, palm slapping forehead, LOL This is not what I wanted when I meant when I said I wanted a "project"
Yeah it sounds like you're on the right track. God gives you horses that test what you're weak in :P Patience is a huge one, and she'll teach it to you while you teach her that these foreign things are okay

She'll come around, just keep working on it with her. Any frustrated emotions will have you backtracking progress and make it even more frustrating than it is currently lol!
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    05-03-2012, 11:51 PM
My trainer has shown me how to do the fly spray desensitizing, but I have never had to deal with a serious issue as you describe. The one thing that she emphasizes is that the horse must know that it CAN move forward if it is worried. That's why she does not do this work with the horse tied. She keeps the horse on a long line, draped over her arm in such a way as to not catch her arm but so that she can reach it and grab and hold if necessary.

She will start putting the spray on and if the hrose freaks, she won't allow them to escape, but they CAN go around her, forward. She will continue to put the spray on in as much of intensity as the horse can handle and move forward. If the horse totally freaks, she will ease off just a bit, encourage forward movement, then bring the spray in again.
Eventually, many horses will come to a stop, but often they are so rigid with fear that if you put one miliounce more pressure on them than they can tolerate, they blow up. So, the idea is to continue some very slow and steady application of the scary stimiulus, and if the horse comes to a rigid halt, you ask the horse to move forward.

It seems contrary to what one sees in like Clinton Anderson teaching, but the idea is that to have the horse stand there , rigid, just taking it but really just about to go ballistic, is not what you want. YOu want the horse to be able to accept it, and if he can walk forward a bit, he will feel more comfortable, eventually actually accepting the stiumulus and being able to stop and stand.

I so wish I could video her doing this, it's so dependent on having good timing and feel, something I dont' have naturally.

Same approach with things like plastic bags, saddle pads etc.

Make sure the horse can accept the scary stiumules AND move forward at the same time.
    05-04-2012, 12:18 AM
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
It seems contrary to what one sees in like Clinton Anderson teaching, but the idea is that to have the horse stand there , rigid, just taking it but really just about to go ballistic, is not what you want.
Yes, this is exactly it.
    05-04-2012, 03:33 AM
Super Moderator
If you continually pacify these 'fears' then you are feeding into the animal continuing with the response.
With fear anything has to confront it. A horse that spooked at poles or the fly spray bottle would be firmly and fairly corrected with misbehaving - this would be either a jerk on the halter or a boot in the ribs, and made to accept that as leader, I would not tolerate them acting like idiots and, my being annoyed with them would be far worse than facing their fears.
Immediately they accept whatever, the pressure is taken off and reward in the way of a scratch or rub is given.
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