Leading Problems

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Leading Problems

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  • Why is my horse more skittish when I'm on him than when I'm just leading him?
  • Horse forum Leading Problems

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    09-14-2011, 07:16 PM
Leading Problems

So here's the story, I have this 7 year old Arabian gelding in training currently. When he first came, he had TERRIBLE leading problems. He is a very spooky horse, but we're working on that. His biggest problem was that he would randomly run (literally) backwards. At first I thought nothing of it, that maybe he just spooked, but it continued to happen. One night when I was trying to bring him inside, he did that to me 5 times. I got after him and made him back, back, back and after that he was better. I have since changed my approach with him; if I feel he's nervous and on edge I just stand with him and let him know it's okay, no big deal, pat him, give him a few treats, etc and then continue on. He is not the type of horse that deals well with discipline, discipline, discipline and dominant all the time personalities. He needs a lot of reassuring. Basically if he's going to spook, I ignore it and just let him know everything is fine. We take breaks often. I've never used this approach with any other horse, but hell it's working for me! So here's the issue I have been having with him: NOTHING.

He has been a perfect angel for me for the most part for the last several weeks. The worst thing he has done lately and this was a week ago was when I tried to wipe the goobers off his face--he was tied and I just walked up and started wiping him off with the paper towel and that spooked him. That was my fault. I untied him and reapproached him again, he was fine.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty; I'm have little to no problems with him; but the owner of the barn is having major problems with him. She is constantly telling me how he's dragging her backwards and how he is a VERY dangerous horse. I just need some opinions and clarification. The B/O is a very experienced horse person and breeds Warmbloods for dressage/jumping, etc. She is good to all her horses, but doesn't put up with nonsense.

I was told this evening she gave him a few treats and then BAM! He dragged her backwards. What's going on here?
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    09-14-2011, 07:27 PM
First, glad to hear he has been doing well for you and you have found an approach that works well for him and you're adapting to his needs.

What it sounds like is that the BO may not be reacting to him the same way you have been. When he does something she doesn't like, how does she act?
Wheatermay likes this.
    09-14-2011, 08:02 PM
Funny you ask because today she had to haul some young horses and while she was wiping off a youngersters face, he jerked his head (didn't like it/something else on his mind kind of thing) and she swatted him in the face and told him to behave. It DID work because he stood still, but that is how her horses are raised. Not to say I've never hit a horse, but I do try to avoid it as much as possible; I've not had good luck from it and in most cases, I find that hitting them comes from people's emotions.

She is sweet and kind to him at first, but her personality does always seem to be saying "no nonsense". When he's naughty she gets mad and often makes him back...not sure if she hits him or not because he's usually flying backwards.

I am just wondering, is it possible that I have developed a different sort of bond with the horse? I take my time with him and always try to maintain a relaxed atmosphere and it's no big deal, nothing is doing to eat you kind of attitude.
    09-14-2011, 08:10 PM
BO needs an attitude adjustment. Arabs are quite sensitive to this.
Corporal, natisha and Wheatermay like this.
    09-14-2011, 08:11 PM
She has also told me that he gives her big problems catching him in the evenings when it's time to go inside. He IS hard to catch, but I really think it's the approach. He is hard for me to catch, but I go about it completely differently--here's what I do:

When I go out to the pasture, I always load up on treats and rather then going straight to him I go and spoil the CRAP out of the mares--feeding them, petting them etc...and at first he walks away like he wants nothing to do with it, but eventually he gets jealous and stops nearby and that's when I catch him. Works every time.

When he runs from her, I think it's because she just walks up to him, he runs away and she gets mad and says oh well...he can stay out; because she doesn't want to chase him--I don't blame her, but approach?
Wheatermay likes this.
    09-14-2011, 08:13 PM
That's very possible, Jamzimm. He trusts that you won't hurt him most likely.. but with the other lady who probably has a very strong personality and leaves little wiggle room, he feels like he's in "danger" and so he reacts accordingly.

Your horse is your mirror.. in more ways than one. Trust is a very key concept though.

ALSO loading up on treats is much nicer to get than a little tap or smack. Just saying :P
Wheatermay likes this.
    09-14-2011, 08:21 PM
Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel    
That's very possible, Jamzimm. He trusts that you won't hurt him most likely.. but with the other lady who probably has a very strong personality and leaves little wiggle room, he feels like he's in "danger" and so he reacts accordingly.

Your horse is your mirror.. in more ways than one. Trust is a very key concept though.

ALSO loading up on treats is much nicer to get than a little tap or smack. Just saying :P
Good post; strange thing is that he was the same way towards me until I tried a different approach.

She said she gave him treats this evening, but I'm still thinking that even though there were treats involved, he still was not at ease. I mean, I spend a lot of time out in the pasture with him...just scratching him, talking to him, hell even singing to him! It works, but I don't dare suggest it to the BO because I'm sure she would think I was some kind of "horse whispering idiot".

I keep thinking to myself, there has got to be a reason why he's doing that to her and NOT me.
    09-14-2011, 08:52 PM
He doesn't see her as the herd leader, she sees you being more cut out for it (at least in his horsey mind)

He should be easy to handle for the BO incase there is a medical emergency and you're not there, or if he's being turned out/brought in, farrier, etc.

But if he's not confident enough to accept other people handling him with different energy levels, levels of experience, temperaments, etc. then you have a lot of work ahead of ya ;)

My horse used to not trust a single person, especially if that person was a male.. and especially if that person was a male, and a vet :P But he now feels confident and safe that he can just 'be' and nothing bad will happen, all is for his benefit even if it sucks at the moment. It didn't take long to build up his confidence--and tolerance-- :)
    09-14-2011, 09:00 PM
He was previously handled by many different people as he was in training for western pleasure, but it didn't suit him. However, the barn he was at was much like an assembly line...brush horse, saddle horse, ride horse.....brush horse, saddle horse, ride horse...NEXT! So I feel even though he was handled by a lot of people, he never got that one on one individual attention he needed.

He is a big project, but so far he's been great...for me at least. What did you do to get your horse used to other people?

I am a little concerned b/c we are leaving this barn soon due to no indoor and the barn we're moving to is managed by an older fellow...about 75 I think. I am worried the horse will be too much for him to handle. I was considering talking to the manager and explaining how I handle the horse. Like I said, he's been great for me, but apparently a monster for BO.
    09-14-2011, 09:19 PM
Well it was kind of a huge assortment of things. But first I'd teach him what "it's okay" meant.. I'd do something really nice for him like pet his neck and send him into deep relaxation. And then I'd stop.. and he'd go back on alert, and then I'd get him relaxed again and I'd begin to say "it's okay". Eventually now I just say it's okay and he calms down right away. Then I'd let random people pet him and be there to tell him it was okay and I'd start talking to people when I was brushing him and let them give my horse treats and join in on brushing.

I'd never push the envelope too far.. guys took a LONG time for him to tolerate. Usually he'd see a guy and run the other direction. Now they can lightly pat him (not not on his body or face) neck/shoulder only and for a little bit of time. But it's an improvement!

The idea is "pshh, people aren't a big deal!" Talk to people while you are near him, brushing him, yell over to people on the ground. Then start talking to them on his back. Incorporate any kind of people interaction either directly (like touching him, leading him, riding him, etc.) or indirectly (you saying hi to someone) into your daily interaction and pretty soon he'll start believing-- and trusting-- them too. But never as much as you :)

Also watch how YOU are around people. If you are nervous he's going to freak out.. then he'll freak. Just something to consider too!

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