How do I discipline a headstong pony - Page 2

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How do I discipline a headstong pony

This is a discussion on How do I discipline a headstong pony within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    11-14-2012, 11:16 AM
Green Broke
Is your daughter comfortable backing a horse out of her space and does this horse know how to be backed out of someone's space? Is she working with a trainer/instructor at all to learn basic ground work, etc?
It sounds like this pony is either lacking in basic ground manners or has ground manners but is testing the new handler. How long has the pony been with you?
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    11-14-2012, 11:51 AM
Originally Posted by Muppetgirl    
Nope, not for me. As far as I'm concerned, smack em like you mean it, do it once and do it right.....then leave em alone.....

The worst thing about ineffective discipline is that it's frustrating for both handler and horse........and you both end up nit picking and nagging one turns into a battle of wills......
This is exactly, can't abide nagging, not for horses, kids dogs or husbands....
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    11-14-2012, 06:37 PM
Thanks for these replies. Yes, she is having lessons for riding which do include some groundwork. It sounds like she needs more groundwork teaching and still unsure about the smacking but consensus seems to be in favour. Have been recommended a dually halter to keep his head up - has anyone tried these?
    11-14-2012, 06:54 PM
I've never heard of a dually halter, but you might want to try a rope halter. The rope halter is thinner, so the pressure is more intense. Ideally, you should be able to put that pony's head anywhere you want it without much pressure. Up, down, yielding to the left or right.

I would have done the same as your daughter in that situation (just make sure she doesn't slap him on the head or legs, for that matter, or resort to slapping in every situation). Personally, if a horse tries to dominate me by crowding or biting, I'll give him a hard slap on the neck. But I rarely have to do this.

She should also work on getting that pony moving out of her space - he should move his hips if she presses on his hips, move his shoulders away when she asks him to, etc.... His ground manners will improve with work, and once he views her as the boss, she won't have to worry about being crowded.
    11-14-2012, 08:11 PM
Much agreed with Muppet.

I suggest yourself, your partner and your daughter take an opportunity to watch a large group of horses interacting in a paddock environment.
You will find that it takes ALOT to physically hurt a horse. My 2 year old has been booted so hard in the ribs by the dominant mare in the paddock, that it sent him flying onto his side. He got up, shook himself off, and never tried to push that mare around again!
They kick each other, bite each other, slam into each other, rear and strike at each other. A human slap feels very insignificant to a horse. Unless you start beating them with a steel rod, it's **** hard to hurt them with your own strength.

The issue with physically reprimanding a horse however, is that a horse is a heck of a lot stronger than a person, particularly a 13 year old girl. We need to use brain, more so than brawn. You want to shock the horse into moving away from you, and thinking that it better not try that again. I prefer to use my elbow if the horse is leaning into me, I leave my elbow out, and if the horse wants to bump into me, it cops an elbow to the ribs. As soon as it moves away, it doesn't have the discomfort of the elbow, and learns to stay away from your 'bubble'.
When correcting these behaviours, you need to be quick and sharp, then go on your way as though nothing happened. Horses learn through the release of pressure, not pressure itself. So if you apply pressure, and don't release it the SECOND the horse responds, the horse will not associate its response with being correct, and will probably go straight back to leaning (or whatever other unwanted behaviour) again.

Ground work lessons will be very beneficial to your daughter, and may I suggest that yourself and your partner attend, and be willing to keep quiet and simply learn?
I remember when I got my first pony, my mum thought a pony was simply a big dog - and reacted in similar ways to your partner towards discpline. If we treat a very big, and potentially very dangerous animal as though they are a cute fluffy pet, then we are setting ourselves up for injury.
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    11-15-2012, 11:56 PM
Originally Posted by Kayty    

I suggest yourself, your partner and your daughter take an opportunity to watch a large group of horses interacting in a paddock environment...
(I totally agree. You can start to see how they communicate with body language, too, which is very useful to know)

Originally Posted by Kayty    
Horses learn through the release of pressure, not pressure itself. So if you apply pressure, and don't release it the SECOND the horse responds, the horse will not associate its response with being correct, and will probably go straight back to leaning (or whatever other unwanted behaviour) again.
Yes - super important. Applies to every possible cue you'll give the horse.
    11-16-2012, 12:38 AM
Originally Posted by Samtheman    
Thanks for advice so far. She did hit him fairly hard, just one single slap. Is this a problem for anyone?
SHe has the right idea - he is a large animal with the power to crush a person just by leaning on them hard - I know only too well as a pony crushed me against a gate post and damaged the ligaments in my hip.

Think horse for a moment! If one horse forces himself into the second horses space the second horse will
A) Glare at him with ears back
B) If ignored possibly bite the horse
C) spin around and kick it in the guts!

Your daughters slap means nothing.

She needs to do some ground work with him.

Sending him away from her - backwards
Coming back to her - forwards
Stepping sideways from her
Head down
Head up - as decribed above.

Find her a book on Natural Horsemanship as these are the basic manners that should be taught to all horses and ponies.
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    11-16-2012, 12:55 AM
If a slap is given out of anger I don't agree with it but if it is to teach the horse to respect you I do.
When I lead our horses they walk behind me, if they try to get ahead of me I bop them on the noggin with the end of the lead rope. Even as you are leading toss the lead around, twirl it, it keeps the horse's attention on if it does spook it will go around you.
Sounds like your daughter needs a little help with ground work but I do agree she should have given the horse a slap......her slap probably just startled the horse more than anything.....
    11-16-2012, 12:56 AM
I concur with everyone else in this thread so far. Pony or not, it's still a large (and muscular) animal that can get an inch and run away with a mile...

When the horse leans, does your daughter push back? Horses will tend to lean on pressure. For example; my barn manager is holding one of our heavier horses for the farrier, who is merrily trimming on the near front. The horse is off balance, and the farrier comes to discover that the manager is "holding the horse's head up for him." (Which we all know, they tend to get quite heavy.) The manager complains. The farrier proceeds to tell her to quit leaning back.

When our trail horses come back from the (guided) trail rides, we have a few that like to lean & rub on us. I will usually give them an abrupt poke with my thumb on the corner of their mouth, without really being like "HEY I JUST POKED YOU, HORSE." Just as they lean in, my thumb is there to stop them. Otherwise, I'll push them away and give a verbal reprimand (usually a noise, like a quick hiss of air or other sound they dislike).

If the slap is an anger response (hitting again, and again... etc.), hell no your daughter was wrong. If it was one good whack, great job to your daughter! There isn't much that girl can do to harm that horse.
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    11-16-2012, 02:12 AM
Here is my favorite way to describe this situation

'If your horse was with a herd, and your horse was all over the stallion, or lead mare what would they do? Would the mare let them be in their space? Would the mare ask them politely to move? No. That mare would turn around and kick them as hard as they could to tell them to back the heck up!'

Disciplining our horses by giving them a good smack is simply immitating a herd environment, but without being as rough as a herd. Our horses want to know who's boss, and if no one else takes up the position, they will decide its theirs, and start doing stuff like getting in our space, and it turns into much more dangerous behavior in the long run!
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