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horse shy around mouth

This is a discussion on horse shy around mouth within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        01-13-2014, 07:51 AM
    Haven't read all replies, but no. 1 if you have a horse who is unhandled, don't go for the nose - or other 'difficult' bits. Yet, Sorral. Yes, I would call it 'pestering' if the horse & human are new to eachother and both inexperienced/uneducated. I'd develop your relationship & understanding with the horse a bit first. Not knowing anything about you OP, I'm guessing that you're inexperienced, so especially if you also have an uneducated horse, I suggest you find yourself a good trainer or someone experienced to help you.
    Yogiwick likes this.
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        01-13-2014, 12:22 PM
    Originally Posted by XxBabyGirlxX    
    I have a horse who has not had any experience with anything and I try to pet her muzzle and she throw her head and looks away.
    I think the key word here is pet. Usually, when I think of petting, I think of a horse that is free to move into or away from touch. That to me is different from handling, where we train the horse to stand still and calm and accept our touch for the purposes of grooming, tacking, and directing from the ground and the saddle.

    Therefore, what Palomine and Yogiwick were responding to is the OP's expectation that the horse would like to be petted on the head and muzzle. Just from the way the post is worded, I think the OP is new to horses and needs some very basic handling advice.

    First, to horses, reaching out and touching their head and muzzle is not pleasant. Only horses who have been handled a lot by people are comfortable with it. Horses approach each other at the withers. To start with your horse, reach toward the withers first to scratch softly and see how he/she responds to that. Don't overdo it. Stop and let the horse move away from your touch or stay there. Move away, looking down or away from the horse after a brief scratching and see if the horse follows you with his eye.

    To work on desensitizing the horse to touching the head and muzzle, I would start with the horse on halter and lead and practice the head down cue. Pull down on the lead and keep pulling gently until you feel the horse move its head down. As soon as you feel even the slightest movement (or even the thought of movement) down, release. Wait 5 seconds, then start the process again. As the horse improves, you can increase your expectations (how low, how long) until the horse will keep its head down as low and as long as you want.

    From there, you can start the same process with touching different parts of the head, but I find once you can get horse to put its head down on cue, and control the head that way, any other handling of the head just follows very easily.
    loosie, sorral3, Yogiwick and 1 others like this.
        01-13-2014, 04:15 PM
    Here's a great video that might help you. While he's showing how to worm a difficult horse, the techniques are the same. The key is to not take your hand off the head/mouth when the fussing starts. The hand only goes away when the horse is calm. Look for tiny signs of trying to do the right thing for you and reward them.
    EmilyJoy and XxBabyGirlxX like this.
        01-13-2014, 04:38 PM
    I have one that will flip his nose away if I approach to touch his mouth or nostril. Yet if I slide my hand down his cheek, he's fine.
    Foxtail Ranch and Yogiwick like this.
        01-14-2014, 12:51 PM
    When my horses have objected to being touched in a certain way I work it into our normal handling routine. No drama, no tension build up... I just casually do it as I'm going about my business. I can touch my gelding all over, play with his ears, run a finger into his nostril, flap his lips, look at his teeth back to the molars, pick up feet, clean sheath, brush belly and inside the legs... pretty much touch him however I like because I don't treat it like a game or like any big deal. If there's a trouble spot I work on it until I get the response I want, then I praise and move on.
    loosie, EmilyJoy, Yogiwick and 1 others like this.
        01-14-2014, 01:48 PM
    Absolutely^^ I never make a big deal of it, just kind of do what I normally do with a couple swipes over the touchy spots, the first couple times can be interesting, but after the break through it's just maintaining... Seems to be working so far for me.
    XxBabyGirlxX likes this.

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