Insecure Horse - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 17 Old 06-18-2012, 08:21 AM
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Hi,
I have a horse thats a bit nervous and also not above faking me out if he gets out of work. If these are everyday objects such as the tractor that has been parked there for months or a giant tree, then I think it might be you expecting him to be weird and then him fulfilling that expectation. I would say act confident, normal-walk-in-the-park attitude and talk to your horse. I talk to my nervous horse I say "Oh stop, your being an idiot! Its a tree we have thousands of them around here. It huge it did not just crawl up here overnight". Its not a "oh poor baby" tone but a "seriously your being an idiot" tone. Which I guess could be dismissive tone. This means that you are breathing, which means your body is relaxed and your tone of voice means more then your words to your horse. Then again, you saying something out loud in that tone of voice also confirms to you that its not worth being worried about. Just my two cents.
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post #12 of 17 Old 06-18-2012, 09:20 AM
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Well, yes, it does depend on the why and the timing. I work with a lot of young horses here and reassurance is generally a better strategy than 'getting them to mind.' Agreed, you don't want to reinforce bad behavior but have found in most cases if a horse is honestly scared, you're not going to build confidence by punishing the horse for doing something that is natural. It just makes them react more strongly the next time they're afraid because now that's been reinforced with more fear or pain. Good point on the unintentional reward, though. I suppose I should have gone into more detail. The pat comes after they are standing still and being brave.

http://www.HorseSenseAndCents.com has a free blog focused on young horse training, alpha issues, horse care, equine careers and more. Google "Horse Sense and Cents" or "Nanette Levin" to find fun surprises. Enjoy the Ride!
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post #13 of 17 Old 06-18-2012, 01:12 PM
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One mistake we made early on was when foal/young juvenile gelding would get worried, we'd baby him, oh it's ok, pet him, WRONG! We reinforced it unknowingly (we fixed this).

Don't baby, don't reward this behavior by being too "nice" to him. Just keep walking and refocus his attention on you, whatever it takes, don't act concerned yourself, and don't act like there IS a problem with his behavior, if you get worried, they get worried. And they can pick up on the SMALLEST body language! I swear they can pick up on a muscle twitch!

So on ground, we keep going and get his attention on us, when DH rides him, he doesn't let his mind wander, there's no mind wander time, if it does and DH senses he's "Looking for something" he asks him to do something else and takes his mind off of it, and keeps going until it's a non issue. Doesn't stop those out of the blue episodes (no warning) but it does catch the ones you, the human, are being warned about.
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post #14 of 17 Old 06-18-2012, 09:33 PM
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Quit with the soothing reassuring mindset. Only makes a horse worse.

Be very matter of fact, low tone of voice, and don't draw words out either. Keep chatter to minimum, just what is needed to get job done, and don't pat/praise, just get on with program.

Doesn't matter what type of halter as much as what type of handler. I've used nylon, rope, leather, and even in a pinch clothesline, belt... or bra. Don't ask. Long story.

Anyway. Point I am making is this. The person on the other end of the "attachment" plays a bigger role by far than the gee gaws used. How you walk, how you move, how you respond will tell horse that YOU are the leader, and that YOU have everything under control.

Horse may still look around but will not lollygag.

I agree with most of what Saddlebag wrote, with the exception of the placing of hand when leading. The vast majority of the problems I am seeing with horse owners lately, is that they want to keep hand by their body rather than up by the halter ring where lead rope is clipped.

I lead, and teach to lead, with hand under horse's chin at clip, so that corrections can be made if needed quickly. I kept wondering why people were having their horses waller all over the place, even when horse had started out at throatlatch/shoulder, and finally figured out it was their hand placement. Arm is extended out from body to halter/snap, both to keep horse off me, and to give me heads up when horse is not in tune with me.

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post #15 of 17 Old 06-21-2012, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I had two ahhh haaa moments this past week. First one, 20 of us went on a trail ride. We mounted in the outdoor arena, and on our way through the gate, which usually he would bolt through, (due to the scary chairs and garbage bin I thought) he easily walked through. On our way back he walked by the picnic tables, and back in the arena with no problems at all! He was a little nervous in the woods, and when we went by a tractor, but that was it!
My second ahh haa moment, we let all the horses into the area between the arena and the barn to eat the grass, and he was up by the picnic tables, over by the arena, he was everywhere, without one spook! So it really made me realize that I need to be way more confident in leading him, and riding him, because the scary things are only scary when humans are around, and expecially me! And yesterday we were riding in the arena, and what sounded like a gunshot went off, all he did was turn and bolt 2 strides, and we collected ourselves, and went right back to work. (and I didn't fall off this time :) ) By the second circle we were fine.
But a big improvement in my leading with my shoulders square and in a forward march and basically not stopping, cause when I stop him he starts to over think! Thanks so much!!
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post #16 of 17 Old 06-21-2012, 07:15 AM
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Good job OP! Glad we could all help!

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #17 of 17 Old 06-21-2012, 11:57 AM
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Your welcome! I'm glad thing are going better for you!
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