Laying a horse down - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-20-2012, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Laying a horse down

What are your opinions on laying a horse down? Specifically in the case of an aggressive horse.

Is it just an old cowboy trick, or is it actually useful in establishing leadership with a horse that hasn't responded to other methods of training?

I've read that laying a horse down should only be used as a last resort. What if by laying a horse down to start with, you could eliminate behaviors that are aggressive from the start and not have the horse knowing if they bite/kick/buck/etc hard enough, it will rid them of what is bothering them.

I'm mainly asking this as I aquired a 12 year old mustang mare, whom for the last TEN YEARS has sat in a field, and not made to do anything or have any ground manners. As a matter of fact, she had intimidated her former owner so much so that she wouldn't even make her pick up her feet for fear of being bitten or kicked. I will be seeking the help of a trainer, but I am working with her for the moment. I will say now that if I do in fact see it neccessary to lay her down, I will have someone who is experienced in doing it so that I won't harm myself nor her.
She is not aggressive out of fear, but out of having learned that it gets rid of the thing she does not like or want to do.
I am wondering if laying her down to start with will help us progress not neccessarily faster, but in a more positive way.

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-20-2012, 10:54 PM
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Here is a recent thread that went into 'laying a horse down' in depth.

laying a horse down?

I think you will find the posts very enlightening. I have used it quite a bit on spoiled horses and it really 'messes with their minds'. They go down being resistant, mean, obnoxious and get up a totally different horse. I have used it on viscous horses that had attacked and put people in the hospital and were headed to the kill pen. Other restraints like 4 way hobbles do much of the same thing but not to the extent that laying one down does.

I would probably take this horse, teach her to tie solidly, sack her out with a long, soft rope and school her as much as possible before I laid her down.

Laying one down severely 'humbles' a horse, but in itself, it does not teach anything. It mostly adjusts attitudes and lowers resistance. It takes a lot of the 'push back' out of a resistant horse.
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-21-2012, 01:03 AM
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Cherie is correct. And much of the magic, if you will, in laying horse down, comes from attitude of handler too.

Doing this out of anger? Wrong.

Doing it out of firmness, and determination? Works.

But much of the time, simple handling techniques, the right ones, will do as much for most horses.

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-21-2012, 06:43 AM
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Yes, I believe it definitely works, though I have little personal experience of it. I think the reason it works is the same sort of psychology that allows a prey animal to give up & quit fighting once it's been pulled down by a lion. Once it's gone past any hope of escape, the endorphins come up & the mind shuts down. Same sort of thing as 'bucking a horse out' to 'break' it, or as 'sacking out' or 'flooding' as a desensitising technique, only a LOT more so.

I think that's the reason it's advised to be saved as a last resort. IME horses such as you speak of usually respond well to good, firm & consistent normal handling. Like you said, she's just learned this behaviour works for her. You've just got to teach her & make sure it no longer does. I would also make a point of ensuring any 'good' behaviour/manners do really 'work' for her, by positively reinforcing them - don't just give her a reason to quit being 'rude', give her a good reason to do the Right thing.

Now I'm off to read Cherie's thread...

Last edited by loosie; 08-21-2012 at 06:46 AM.
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