how to train a horse with bad habits.
 
 

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how to train a horse with bad habits.

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  • Can a horse buck with the buck buster on
  • Pony with bad habbits

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    02-06-2012, 10:42 PM
  #1
Foal
Question how to train a horse with bad habits.

Hey guys,
I have an Arab appy who is 9yrs old and ALOT of bad habits learned from his old owner. She let him get away with too much for his first 8 years. She also lied saying no vices, trailers, bathes, all of which are untrue and he is terrified of. When she fouls out a month later she paid us back nearly all our money and said to please take him, we felt bad so we did and now he is super stubborn still after a whole year of training. I was wondering if I could get some tips from anyone with a horse like him, and here are some of the things that my learning trainer/friend of mine and me are struggling with:

Kicking little bucks when asked to go forward (just started in the past fee months with crop and even sometimes leg)

Really mouthy, likes to nip and lip you or anything else (want to fix before it could turn into biting)

Does not keep consistent with a gait once started

Throws up head and will do anything to keep a bit out of his mouth

Less bothered by but still not been able to stop:
Pawing at the ground while tied up

He has come so far from where he was before, and I would hate to stop training now, but I'm stumped about how to train him with the things above, and I've tried almost all the techniques I know. Thank you for your help!
     
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    02-06-2012, 11:28 PM
  #2
Green Broke
So the very first thing you want to rule out is PAIN. We just want to make sure that we are reprimanding him for strictly bad habit behavior, rather than him acting out because something hurts. Get him examined by a vet, equine dentist, farrier, and possibly an equine chiropractor. Also make sure your tack fits properly and is not pinching him anywhere or causing him discomfort.

When you can be sure it is not pain or discomfort, then you can move on to correcting the bad habits he has learned.

Kicking little bucks when asked to go forward (just started in the past fee months with crop and even sometimes leg)
Are you allowing him to stop when he bucks? If you are, you are rewarding him for bucking by allowing him to stop and rest. Whenever he kicks or bucks, that should mean work to him. Make him hustle and move in a circle, so that you are able to keep control of his head while keeping his feet moving. Give him a good workout, and then ask him to move forward in a straight line like you did before. If he responds nicely, continue on in a relaxed manner. If he gives you a "I don't want to work" bucking episode, then he needs to move, move, move in a circle again. Do not stop moving his feet. If you do, it will only reward his bad behavior. He is bucking to get out of work and get out of having to move forward.

really mouthy, likes to nip and lip you or anything else (want to fix before it could turn into biting)
You need to always pay 100% attention to him and don't let him catch you off guard with this because you need to stay consistent. If he goes to bite or nip or lip you, you need to give him one hard smack immediately on the nose. Period. Then go back to what you were doing. You need to react within 3 seconds of him nipping, or your message will not be understood. If you weren't paying attention and 3 seconds passes, don't bother reprimanding him because he won't understand.

Essentially, you are biting him back by giving him one hard hit to the mouth. It's not going to make him head shy. It's not going to hurt his feelings. It doesn't make you an abuser. Think about what the head stallion does in a herd of horses when one gets out of line. He might give them a warning look (pinned ears) but you can bet he has no problems biting or kicking the misbehaving horse, to keep them in line.

You need to be 100% consistent with this or he will learn that he can get away with it sometimes.


does not keep consistent with a gait once started
You are the boss. Do not allow him to change gait. If he is continually going much faster than you want. Make him stop and stand still quietly, before you ask him to move out again. I don't care how many times you have to stop him, but eventually he is going to realize that going faster than you ask is not going to get him anywhere.

If he is going slower than you ask, keep on him! Even if you have to give him a good firm kick, keep him moving. You are the one who decides the speed.

And again, stay consistent. Don't lolly gag one day and let him get away with things, and then expect him to listen to you the next.


throws up head and will do anything to keep a bit out of his mouth
My first question here may be something that you are doing. Do you allow the bit to smack his teeth when you put it in, or take the bit out? If you aren't paying attention, that can really hurt a horse's teeth to be smacked against the metal. So be careful when bridling and un-bridling.

In general, have you taught him to lower his head? I would do that step first. With just a regular halter on, put even downward pressure on the lead rope. You can also reinforce the cue by putting your free hand on the top of his head (between his ears, on the poll). Just hold the pressure steady; do not pull harder and harder. Wait patiently for him to respond. The very instant he lowers his head the smallest amount, you need to immediately release the lead rope pressure, and remove your hands from his head. Release of pressure is his reward. This may take weeks to get a good response, but eventually, you want to work your way until if you ask him to drop his head, he'll literally drop it to the ground for you. But you have to start with small baby steps, let him get consistent at that first, and then very slowly and gradually ask him to drop his head farther before he gets release.

Then when you go to bridle, incorporate the "head down" cue he has now learned. There's no reason he should not stand nicely and accept the bit. Just be patient with him and let him be the one to open his mouth, and be careful not to hit his teeth on the bit itself.

This especially is important to make sure he gets a visit with the dentist so that there isn't a dental issue causing him pain, and making him not want to put that hurtful bit into his mouth.


pawing at the ground while tied up
Honestly, this one I haven't had a lot of success with, as I also haven't had a lot of horses with this problem that I needed to fix. So maybe someone else can give you advice on that.
tinyliny and Stan like this.
     
    02-07-2012, 10:32 AM
  #3
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbjumper    
Hey guys,
I have an Arab appy who is 9yrs old and ALOT of bad habits learned from his old owner. She let him get away with too much for his first 8 years. She also lied saying no vices, trailers, bathes, all of which are untrue and he is terrified of. When she fouls out a month later she paid us back nearly all our money and said to please take him, we felt bad so we did and now he is super stubborn still after a whole year of training. I was wondering if I could get some tips from anyone with a horse like him, and here are some of the things that my learning trainer/friend of mine and me are struggling with:

Kicking little bucks when asked to go forward (just started in the past fee months with crop and even sometimes leg)

I would make sure that there are no pain issues, I have seen this before and if you can rule out pain then if he does that you spin him and give him a kick. That problem will only get worse.

Really mouthy, likes to nip and lip you or anything else (want to fix before it could turn into biting)

This is just my opinion, and there are probably just as many people for it as for against it... but my mare bit me once, I cuffed her. I don't make a habit of beating my horse and if anything I am too soft on her 9 times out of 10, but biting and kicking is non negotiable to me 1200 lbs hurts a lot if you're kicked and I know someone whose horse bit their finger off so I will not tolerate it...anyways she has never tried to bite me again, not once.

Does not keep consistent with a gait once started

This takes time, and honestly what I found worked the best is riding beside a consistent horse on the trails or in the arena. Also ride that consistent gait for shorter periods of time. Ifhe gets a consistent streak end it before he does nd he will learn as well that there is reward in maintaining his speed. He could be having troubl with his balance and so speeds up and slows down, so make sure as well that you are balanced.

Throws up head and will do anything to keep a bit out of his mouth.

You need to spend some time on the ground with him while he is bitted and work on him giving to the bit. In the saddle do a lot of turns, bends, back him up etc and every time that you get a response immedaitely give the release. Once he learns the reward he will be more willing to respond. If he is even being difficult to bridle, put a bit of molasses on it, or hold a cookie in front, when he takes the bit give him a cookie and tons of praise...obviously don't continue giving him cookies after he doesn't fight anymore or you'll become dependant on those things, but sometimes (depsite what some anti-cookie people believe) I have personally found that it helps to get over a hump.

Less bothered by but still not been able to stop:
Pawing at the ground while tied up

Some of our horses did this. What I did is I tied the in the cross tie that they couldnt see me if I stood off to the side. Every time they paw I'd use a crop and tp that leg. Eventually they think that there is a wall there and that they can't paw and they just stop doing it bc they don't asociate you with the reason they can't because they don't see you.

He has come so far from where he was before, and I would hate to stop training now, but I'm stumped about how to train him with the things above, and I've tried almost all the techniques I know. Thank you for your help!
Anyways goodluck!
     
    02-07-2012, 11:15 AM
  #4
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbjumper    
He has come so far from where he was before, and I would hate to stop training now, but I'm stumped about how to train him with the things above, and I've tried almost all the techniques I know. Thank you for your help!
Keep trying. You said he's come far so you are doing the right thing. Unfortunately unlearning a bad habit takes a longer longer than it did to learn it.
kstinson likes this.
     
    02-07-2012, 11:21 AM
  #5
Weanling
I agree with mls, in addition to my advice above on his issues...you're on the right track because you are able to pick out and notice those as problems that need fixing, not trying to work around them. :-D
     
    02-07-2012, 01:11 PM
  #6
Weanling
Many of these sound like my mare when I first started working with her. Getting a vet check is important. When I ruled out pain and teeth issues I began to ride and work with her all the time. She had not been ridden much in her previous 12 years so she protested exercise often. This included little bucks or kicks when I asked her to move into canter. I think it was a mixture of being unbalanced and lazy. Sometimes I ended up getting more tired than she was just trying to keep her moving at the same gait. Consistent riding/forcing her to continue at gaits as well as making her work hard when she bucks has improved her behavior in the arena dramatically in just a few months.

I don't know whether your horse is protesting work or lazy or whatever, but if it is boredom then maybe consider changing up your schooling schedule a bit. A lot of the times I take her out of the arena and ride around the property. She is more excited and more energetic to work when we are out of the boring arena. When in the arena I also set up obstacles and do poles and other things to keep her thinking and engaged instead of bored and grumpy. It has worked wonders! Her balance has improved, she has learned how to carry herself with a rider on her back and she is quicker on her feet in general. I believe going on trails with a buddy has helped her look forward to riding as well. I don't know your horse or if this will help you at all, but this has been my experience with mine.

Her bridling issue is still a work in progress, but she has had a night and day difference from when I first bridled her. Her issue is not so much bridling as it is UN bridling. Her bit was likely ripped out of her mouth at some point and now she dreads the removal of the bridle. She used to throw her head as soon as she felt me start to push the headstall off. The vet told us that some horses have a loose tooth that the bit will touch on its way out and it will hurt like HELL. That was not our issue but it could be a possibility for you. Using a rope halter and teaching her to keep her head down and putting my arm over her poll for unbridling has helped her be more confident and she actually opens her mouth to release the bit now instead of panicking. She still gets a little look in her eye when we take it off but im sure that in a few months time I will not have to use the halter at all.

I have plenty of experience with a mouthy horse, and let me tell you - this will take a LONG time to deal with depending how bad your horse is. I have an old pony that is extremely mouthy, especially when being groomed or when I pony him with my mare. I have not been consistent enough with him, and although I never "let" him be mouthy with me I have not given the appropriate discipline either. I wasn't hard enough on him because he has never bitten me with teeth, but his mouthiness is ridiculous. He is now actually so bad that I have to hit his nose when he even turns his head towards me during grooming. I used to only care when he put his mouth on me, but I realized that him turning towards me and wiggling his mouth is the first step and I need to stop him from even getting there because waiting until he touched me wasn't solving anything. For how much I have to pop that poor boy on the nose he should be headshy by now....

Now that I've been much more consistent and have discouraged the behavior right at the time I see him thinking about it things have been a lot better. But it is still a really bad habit. Sometimes I think it has just been so ingrained he forgets he's even doing it. I constantly see him pick up his head to go to lip me and then realize before he turns he's not supposed to do that and put his head back down. He is a stubborn pony, old as time, ( has lost almost all his teeth) so he has had a lifetime of being used to putting his mouth on people.
     
    02-07-2012, 01:35 PM
  #7
Yearling
Sometimes you have to start from the beginning again from the ground work up, something was skipped some where. As for the mouthiness I take a thumb tack and put in between my fingers and smack them in the nose when they try to bite, it won't really hurt them and stops it in a couple of pops.
GotaDunQH and DraftyAiresMum like this.
     
    02-07-2012, 01:48 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbjumper    
Hey really mouthy, likes to nip and lip you or anything else (want to fix before it could turn into biting)
Corporal, (1982-2009, RIP) was mouthy, Cup & Cakes is a little mouthy, and my QH Buster is a recovering "mouthaholic."
I'll tell you how I'm curing Buster.
--First, I NEVER hand feed a mouthy horse. Remarkably horses are SO SMART that if you put a treat on the ground they remember that you gave it to them!!
--Keep your fingers and your face WAY away from mouthy horses even after you fix the behavior. Mouthy horses feed their addiction--you thought I was joking?--by playing with things. Buster puts his rubber grain bowl and his Jolly Ball through the window in the shelter to the barn almost every day. He also wants to chew on the handles of my wheelbarrow when I'm cleaning in the shelter with him.
--Wear boots that can house a small crop. You MUST consider your own safety first and horses respond to visual movement, so you probably will just have to wave it instead of smacking with it, but don't hesitate to smack once with it if your safety is at risk.
--Say, "NO" when he tries to chew on your clothes, or lips any part of your body, and follow it up the first time with a healthy SMACK accompanied by another "No." You gotta play "head broodmare" here.
Reagrding the other problems...I hope you really like this horse, bc you're going to have to start him over breaking as if he was a 2yo to REALLY get a riding horse out of him. Quite frankly, I wouldn't want to, but that's just MHO.
Clinton Anderson has an excellent begining course called, "Lunging for Respect." I think you really need it for this horse. Let us know how everything turns out. =D
@cmarie, I understand your logic with the thumbtack, but a crop never put out an eye, so I would not recommend it.
     
    02-07-2012, 01:55 PM
  #9
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporal    
--Say, "NO" when he tries to chew on your clothes, or lips any part of your body, and follow it up the first time with a healthy SMACK accompanied by another "No." You gotta play "head broodmare" here.
"Quit" - please. As someone who rides a lot of horses, I want WHOA to mean one thing. No rhymes with WHOA. If a horse is standing but fussing - QUIT will get their attention vs NO.

Horse logic - [I'm not moving there fore she ain't talkin' ta me]
GotaDunQH likes this.
     
    02-07-2012, 05:14 PM
  #10
Yearling
Agree about starting over again....start working this horse like to has not been trained before. There are MAJOR training holes. Clean the slate and start over. Rule out pain, have the teeth checked and start again with a snaffle bit for the under saddle work.

For the ground work...I also agree....I use the word QUIT. For the pawing, well....that's one that many people spend too much time fussing over getting a horse to stop. If it does bother you that much, take your foot and bump the leg that is NOT pawing from the back...up close to the back of the knee. Kind of like when someone comes up behind you and does it to you as a joke, so you knee gives a little....know what I mean? The horse will be surprised because the other knee gives and they will put the pawing foot down to compensate. Hard to explain here. As for the mouthiness, sometimes a real quick "elbow" works, then go about your business. It's the element of immediate surprise that works.
     

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bad habits, help me!, training advice, vices

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