Horse afraid of calves - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-12-2012, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Horse afraid of calves

He's fine with the adult cows, but is terrified of the calves. If there is one behind him he freaks out. Walking into the herd he is fine, but the calves always go behind and follow us. When he sees them he runs sideways to get away from them. I was thinking about just leading him through the herd and letting him see that the calves won't hurt him. Any other ideas? I don't understand why he is afraid of them, he was pastured with them for 3 years and only recently moved to a dry lot because his pasture mate was getting too fat on grass.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-12-2012, 08:50 PM
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Well they're so small.. maybe they remind him of dogs or he's scared of hurting them?

Never know with horses, they are quite the characters.

If he's scared around calves, work him till he focuses on you. As soon as he focuses, stop working.

He'll learn in time that they aren't anything to fuss over.

Even if he is a cutting horse, yes he needs to be able to read the calf but he still needs to pay attention to you.

I am not a cutter, but I do know how to ride a horse and know that losing their focus is what causes the spook. If they focus on you, there isn't any way they can.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-12-2012, 09:07 PM
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At least calves are a different species - my gelding is petrified of miniature ponies. To the point that he will launch himself sideways, shake like a leaf, and bolt.

What helped him was to have me just sit squarely in the saddle, keep my legs on lightly, and juggle him between my aids - yield off my left leg, yield off my right leg, flex neck around to the right, to the left etc. Give him something to think about, move his feet sideways so he needs to concentrate.
He'll soon learn that they're nothing to fear.

~Horse & Hound Artistry~.

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post #4 of 6 Old 06-12-2012, 09:10 PM
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A calf is about the height of a large puma type cat and with his vision he's not taking any chances.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-12-2012, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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lol he is fine around dogs, just the calves. Only thing he spooks about, couldn't care less about anything else. I jiggle the reins to keep his mind on me, keep my legs on him and moving and sit square in the saddle. Guess it will just take time. He isn't a cutter, just supposed to be a ranch horse, check fence, help move cows...can't move cows if he is terrified of the calves lol
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-13-2012, 12:08 AM
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Put a calf in a pen by itself. Leave Mama in another pen. Then, take him and make him 'drive' the calf and do nothing but move toward it. Keep the calf in front of him and show him that he can drive it and control it.

When that calf stops moving, go get another one and drive it.

When I used to get in horses that were terrified of cattle, I took them to the local sale barn and drove cattle off of the scale to the buyer pens. About 6 hours of doing this at a big sale and the ears went back they wanted to drive the cattle.

I had a really nice cowhorse one time that started out great. At about our 5th or 6th show (we were leading the State Association in 'Working Cowhorse' at the time) they had a set of Holstein yearling steers (horrible cattle to work) and he had never seen a 'paint' cow. He trembled and shook and squated down while boxing it. People thought he was being a 'great' cutting horse and all he wanted to do was turn tail and run away. Going down the fence, he tried to turn it from 15 feet away (the closest I could get him to it). Everyone that had been clapping was laughing by then! When we circled the steer, he looked like the Indians circling the wagon-train. I could not melt and pour him on a paint cow at that point.

I finally bought 4 Holstein steers from a dairy and drove and drove and drove them and he finally got over it.

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