My horse is SO ANNOYING!
Sam is absolutely the love of my life, and he makes me the happiest girl in the world, but good lord, he can be a real pest. I think the general problem is that he doesn't see me as his leader/boss/alpha mare/whatever. We're working on that on the ground and under saddle, but I'm hoping I can work on the behaviors specifically.
When I'm on him and we're standing around talking to other riders, he'll do the "quarter horse plant" forever, and if I stand him in the aisle while I tack him, he fusses a little bit but is better. But in the cross ties, arena, outside, etc., he is soooo obnoxious, constantly stepping forward and back, chewing on the cross ties, nudging and nosing me, making goofy faces and biting everything (inanimate) he can get his face near. Under saddle and on the lunge line, he's usually very responsive and doesn't act like a brat except for the occasional fit, but it's not constant at all like it is when tied.
In the cross ties, I've been making him move back to where I put him every time he moves his feet and giving a tug on his halter when he gets extra antsy, but nothing seems to work. He'll quiet down for a minute and then if I give him a scratch or he decides he's bored he'll start again. He doesn't seem at all nervous or anxious. He really just acts like an ADD human 5-year-old. He just fusses with things like a bored kid.
I've tried the exercise I've read about where where I tie him in the arena and sit nearby but not give him any attention, but he just paws and scratches and pulls and chews on the rope. He doesn't freak out, he just doesn't stand still. I haven't been able to figure out a way to tie him that he can't undo (he pulls at the knot until it starts to come loose, at which point I re-tie, but that's not ideal.) I bop him on the nose when he nudges me hard or nibbles at me, but he thinks it's a game and just keeps doing it or will stop for a minute and then start again. If I back him up out of my space, he steps forward again almost immediately. For example, when I back him with the lead-rope-wiggle technique, I usually have to escalate to doing it hard before he moves back, and even then it's a few steps, like he's rolling his eyes at me.
I know the problem is that he doesn't take me seriously (because my trainer gets better behavior), but how do I get that? I feel like I'm being firm and still not getting through to him, and I don't want to always have to get tough to get him to listen.
My trainer says he should "be a Breyer" when tied or asked to stand. I only see her once a week, though, and she's pretty expensive for me, so I prefer to spend our lesson time on moving ground work and riding. Does anyone have suggestions for how to teach him that he's expected to stand when on lead so I can work on it myself?
Are there tricks? Or do I just need to put him in a rope halter and be harder on him? It seems like there should be a way to tell him to do something and have him do it without me demanding it, but even my demanding just barely works at best.
Help, wise horsemen and horsewomen! :)
"...and may your life be filled with good horses." — Buck Brannaman
Last edited by SammysMom; 10-13-2013 at 05:33 PM.