How to correct these habits?
   

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How to correct these habits?

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  • The reason you have these habits is
  • Never smack a horse in the mouth

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    06-12-2012, 08:48 PM
  #1
Foal
How to correct these habits?

So I got my horse (OTTB) about 5 months ago and he was underweight with no muscle at all. So we've spent the past few months building muscle and gaining weight (as well inproving some small health issues).

All of a sudden, he's hit a stage where he has almost no respect for me. The worst thing is that when I come near him (around his head and shoulders) he'll pin his ears and threaten to bite me. At first when he would do this, I would slap him on the neck. But then we would get into little fights in which it would go back and forth. So then I started on the whole "turn you out of the circle" by turning my back and crossing my arms whenever he would try to bite. It helped a bit, but not very much. In the cross ties, if he tries to bite, I give him an elbow to the corner of his mouth, but often times outside of the cross ties I'm not in a position where I can do this.

Other problems I've noticed are that he will lean into the pressure when I ask him to move over and refuses to stand (often times pawing instead). The pawing was a major problem when I first got him (to the point where it had ruined his feet) but we spent a lot of time on it. Every time he would go to paw I would snap, point at him, and say "Quit!" Now all I have to do is snap and/or point at him to get him to stop.

As a side note, anyone know why an OTTB would hate any sort of clucking/kissing sound? For some reason it always freaks him out (ears back, eyes bulging, head up, back hollowed) and he's not the first OTTB I've seen be upset by kisses.

Anyway, the barn manager is from a ranch out in Wyoming and has offered to help me (in a round pen, he said - but we don't have one. Any idea if we could make one out of poles and jump standards [each standard has holes on three sides]?) So basically, I'm asking if anyone has any ideas as to what I could do to correct these behaviors and gain respect from him. They can be anywhere - under saddle, in the ring, in the cross ties, in his stall, out in the field, on a trail, in a round pen, anywhere.

Poor Enzo! This makes him sound like a complete disaster! He's such an angel under saddle, just the typical little green horse issues, but nothing out of a lack of respect. I would love to hear what people have to say about this - and yes, I do know that these habits are dangerous; that is the reason I want them corrected.

Thanks in advance - and sorry for the long post!
     
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    06-12-2012, 09:13 PM
  #2
Showing
Sounds like he's battling you for herd leader spot. My horse isn't fond of that kissing noise either, but I don't really care. It's a noise and he works through it.

He needs major ground work, maybe you can find the help of a trainer. I'd keep a crop handy and work on driving this horse away. If you have to smack him with a crop (not with your hand) to get him to move his feet, then do it with meaning and not half heartedly.

He's beginning to get dangerous. If my horse pinned his ears at me, after ruling out pain (cause that's not like him AT ALL) I would make him work if he did.

But ANYTHING dangerous, like biting, charging, even pinning ears, needs a BIG correction rather than a small correction.
     
    06-12-2012, 09:54 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
Quote:
All of a sudden, he's hit a stage where he has almost no respect for me.
NO! This is NOT 'all of a sudden'. Every time you have had an opportunity to put him in his place, you have failed. Slapping him on the neck when he is threatening you is just making a 'game' out of it and he is winning this game. There is not a 'battle' for herd leader. He already IS the herd leader and has put you in your place -- under him. He WILL hurt you at the rate you are both going.

You need someone to show you how to get on his case and MAKE him back up; Make him move his shoulder away from you. Never , never slap or threaten or 'peck' on a horse. Get after him hard enough that he thinks he is lucky to still be alive and then go about your business like nothing has happened at all.

If you cannot find someone to show you how to do it 'right', Clinton Andersen has 2 books. One is 'Establishing Respect' and the other is 'Ground Manners'. He also did a very good TV series on retraining a horse off of the racetrack. It is available at his website -- 'www.downunderhorsemanship.com. He has a 'no nonsense' approach to respect that is exactly how I feel it should be done. You establish respect and there just are few or no problems after that.

If you 'get after' a horse for threatening aggression and you have to get after him more than twice, you have failed. Your methods are ineffective and you have just been 'pecking' on your horse. This angers them and makes them more aggressive -- always. You need to establish who is the herd leader quickly and decisively. You don't want to make a game out it. You absolutely need to be at the top of your 'pecking order' within your herd of two -- you and him.
     
    06-12-2012, 10:04 PM
  #4
Foal
I've been working on getting him to move away from me, and he's fine with it as long as I use gestures (not pressing into him) at this point. So I'm pleased with that. The thing that worries me most about using a crop is that 1) he already has issues (trust and fear) with crops as is and 2) we will most likely get into another back and forth battle.

Also, do you think it could be a side effect of his ulcer med? He was put on this medicine as soon as he started showing signs of ulcers and right around then was when he became mouthy. I assumed that it was a pain thing (saying as I was around his barrel when he would start pinning his ears). After a while, it became less around his barrel and more when I was near his head/shoulders.
     
    06-12-2012, 10:10 PM
  #5
Foal
Cherie - I would beg to differ that he has ALREADY established dominance. He follows me around like a puppy dog and will move up to 10 feet away if I push him away using gestures. I can free lunge him and work him anyway I want. I do agree, though, that he is trying to establish dominance. He has gained weight and muscle and is getting stronger.

I will look into those books. But I also trust my barn manager and he has offered to help me.
     
    06-12-2012, 10:14 PM
  #6
Showing
Then use a leadrope, a newspaper, growl.. something to make him move away fast. What about a dressage whip? They only tickle, not designed to swat, and you'll be safely away to avoid kicking. But he needs to move forward. Even if he leans to go forward, that's a try that needs to be rewarded (by release of pressure)

Again, I'd really look into getting a trainer to help you. :/
     
    06-12-2012, 10:20 PM
  #7
Foal
So when he is biting/pinning his ears/being mouthy I should make him move away/forward? I'm a little confused, as that's the issue I'm trying to resolve. The leaning into the pressure is just a little thing, and (in my opinion) less of a concern than the biting.

As far as a trainer, my barn manager is certainly qualified as he has trained and broken many horses as well as corrected many ill-behaving horses. He has just been holding off on any training because he didn't want to invade. Also, I do have a "real" trainer but she is not at the barn but once a week. When she is there, she does help me and gives me things to work on with him.
     
    06-12-2012, 11:03 PM
  #8
Super Moderator
Of course he is already dominant. He is just 'letting' you do the other things that you do.

Quote:
he's fine with it as long as I use gestures (not pressing into him) at this point.
He has trained you to NOT put pressure on him. You should be able to put pressure on him any time you want and he should 'yield' to that pressure. That is what training is. Pressure and Release. You apply pressure and he yields to it and you release pressure when he complies.

When a horse does not let you smooch without consequences or threatens you with its ears back or bites you or at you, it is showing dominance and is warning you that if you do not 'back off', it will attack.

Quote:
we will most likely get into another back and forth battle.
The only way this can happen is if you let it. You should be in charge. You should show him decisively that there is no 'back and forth'. You should be the only one applying pressure and he should be moving away from it. 'Back and forth' tells me that he is applying as much pressure as you are and you are yielding more than he is.

Any time he lays an ear back or takes a step toward you or defies your request and you 'give ground' or do not follow through by making him obey your request, he has shown his dominance. If he was not being dominant, you would not be having this problem.

I never mentioned using a 'crop'. I hate them and seldom ever pick up a crop or a whip of any kind. I use body language and a sharp jerk on a lead-rope to establish my position as herd leader. I make a horse back up and make him yield to the slightest pressure. If a horse can feel and react to a fly on his ribs, he can also respond to the slightest pressure I put on him and will soon learn to yield to my 'suggestion' that he should step back and/or away from me.

Him following you around like a puppy dog has absolutely nothing to do with 'who is in charge'. Whether he backs away from you and yields to pressure when asked has everything to do with 'who is in charge'. A horse liking to be 'loved on' and 'petted' and given treats can turn and attack in a heartbeat.

I still say he is already dominant. You can live in the land of De Nile until he paws you, lunges at you with his mouth open biting savagely or knocks you down with his shoulder. I have had to deal with the aftermath of several of these encounters. The longer one lets it go and 'explains' it away, the more difficult it will be to decisively establish leadership.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
     
    06-12-2012, 11:45 PM
  #9
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgie    
So when he is biting/pinning his ears/being mouthy I should make him move away/forward? I'm a little confused, as that's the issue I'm trying to resolve. The leaning into the pressure is just a little thing, and (in my opinion) less of a concern than the biting.
Yes, when horses are in a herd and they are challenged, the herd leader will make that horse MOVE. If they don't move, the herd leader will up the correction from pinned ears to a bite, then a kick, then a beating.

Sound familiar?

You need to replicate this, except you have a choice of the size of correction. If it's dangerous, they need a bigger one than if they aren't listening right away or something. Make sense?

There are two kinds of correction coming to mind atm.

A work correction (more work like leg yields, backing up, lunging on the spot, circles, weaving, etc.)
A physical correction (smacking with a crop, elbow in the face, etc.)

Work correction is always better, but sometimes depending on the severity of the problem, a physical correction is needed.

If the horse bit me, I'd move his feet. If he tried it again, I'd smack him with a crop and make him work. Tried it again, I'd up the anty until he realized that was the wrong answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgie    
As far as a trainer, my barn manager is certainly qualified as he has trained and broken many horses as well as corrected many ill-behaving horses. He has just been holding off on any training because he didn't want to invade. Also, I do have a "real" trainer but she is not at the barn but once a week. When she is there, she does help me and gives me things to work on with him.
Good :) They should be able to help you then.
     
    06-13-2012, 01:28 AM
  #10
Super Moderator
I think one of the things that has to happen in a situation like this, where both parties are fighting each other and the stalemate is escalating, if for one of them to really shake things up and kind of "startle" the other one out his posiition.

So, you might have to get surprisingly big to go way beyond what's expected to really shake the horse out of his expectation and have him go kind of "WTH? What was that?" So surprised that he does't have any mental space to think about striking back.

So, if you use the leadrope, like Cherie suggest, if you grabbed it and popppedit up under the horse's chin, then back down good and hard, while making a sudden and startling hiss or growl at him, he would of course really jump backward, but I bet you'd have his attention

It would be the suddenness and unexpected loudness and strength of the correction that might make your horse see you in a different light.
So, it's not necessarily a correction of 5 for an infraction of 5, but a correction of 9 for the infraction of 5, but hopefully, you'd only have to do it once or twice..

I hope your barn manager can help you take a tack that works for you two. It must be a very distressing place to be.
     

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