Need help with training - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By BreakableRider
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Washington State
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Need help with training

So I got a new horse and I'm starting to work with him. I'm wanting him a little more fine tuned on the ground and decided to use Clinton Anderson's and some Buck Brannaman techniques. I've used the methods before on two other horses and they did great, they responded and turned out well. I'm not a big fan of Clinton, and I really don't buy into a lot of stuff from him, but I do like his ground working ideas and principles and stuff. So anyway, I'm having a problem. My horse is 13 and is already trained, but really all the groundwork he knows is proper leading behavior and being Lounged. Lounging is fine and I like to do that with horses, but I want a little more fine tuning with yielding the hindquarters and forequarters, backing, side passing, that stuff. And I want to be able to do that stuff with pressure from only my body or finger like Buck does. So I'm starting using the stick and then after I can get him to do what I want with the stick! I'll take it away slowly to where I don't need it anymore.

But I'm running into problems. Any pressure I put on him with the stick anywhere on his body he acts like I'm lounging him. He looks at the stick as lounge whip. He starts trying to trot in circles around me. Doesn't matter of I'm backing him up or whatever, he will only go forward. I've tried desensitizing him to the stick by doing the stuff Clinton does with slapping the sting on the ground, but again he just runs around me like I'm lounging him, not what I want. So is there any way I can get him to stop? I thought about putting hobbles on his front legs and then desensitizing him to the stick. that way he can't run around me and then he will understand I just want him to hold this making sense?

I don't want the stick to become a crutch, I just want it to be an instruction tool and my goal is to get rid of the stick all together when the time comes and never have to use it again after I get him trained the way I want. Any suggestions? Anyone familiar with training horses with this method? I can't get any progress with him because of this. It may be me, I may not be communicating with him well enough, but I need help!

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post #2 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Introducing hobbles to a horse that wants to move already and trying to desensitize to another object is a good way to get into a wreck. Trying to force a horse into standing still is never a good idea, instead you need to make standing still the easy thing that he wants to do.

If he's running around when you are desensitizing it can point to two things; your leadrope is too long and you aren't bumping him back toward you and or you are starting with too much pressure.

Start with just rubbing him with it. You will want your leadrope pretty short for this, just rub him all over starting on his topline, then the hindquarters, up the neck then down the legs on both sides. If he goes to move around just give bumps on the halter so he has to keep his head toward you and move more sideways than forward. Even if he's moving too fast to actually rub him, keep rubbing the air near him until he stops and then remove the pressure. If he isn't moving when you start, release the pressure then rub some more. You always want to stop when he is standing still. When he stands still consistently when you rub him keep rubbing till he gives you a sign of relaxation. Once he's good with the sensation of the training stick can you move onto it moving then to it making noise.

From there you want him to get used to it moving but staying pretty quiet. Use your whole arm to move the stick and string and just swing the stick and string while you lead him, facing away from him. This will have him following it and building confidence. Then you can turn around and walk backwards while you swing then stand and get him used to it swinging around. From there toss the string part all over him then you can move onto the noise.
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post #3 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 02:41 AM
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why use the stick at all? if this horse is reactive , and you want him to move off of body cues eventually, then why use a stick at all?

you can certainly work on getting him comfortable with a stick, but if you are wanting to get him to move sideways, back up , and other things, things other than running around you in a circle, and off of a finger, then start with a finger. you can up the pressure with the lead rope tail, if necessary.

If he runs off, you shut that down and ask again for what you want. For example, if you ask him to step his shoulder away and that's all, and he steps out and starts to trot off, you shut that down, right there. use the leadrope to give a few tugs to stop him, get him looking straight down that line , both eyes on you, then, (when you've got his attention) ask again for him to step out. start small , you might be going way past his "try" because you are upping the pressure too fast. I'd have to watch you work him to get a feel for how its going.
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post #4 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 05:48 AM
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Have you desensitized the horse to lead rope first, and are you able to throw the lead rope all over his back, legs, neck, and around his head. If not then go back and get him quiet when you throw the lead rope on and around him. Then move onto the stick and string the horse should not fear you or your tools, and your tools are extensions of your arms. Start with rubbing the horse all over with the stick, find a starting point I usually aim for the shoulder area, rub the air around the horse when he stops moving retreat. Then do it again until your able to touch and rub him all over with the stick. Once you can touch him all over with the stick then use the string, CA calls it flogging with kindness if you can fling the lead rope all over him then gently throwing the string across his back, around his legs and neck should not be a big deal. The last thing you do is slapping the ground with the string and again you have to find a starting point start out low energy and increase as the horse gets more comfortable. With all of these exercises most horses will run in circles the first time you fling the rope, or rub them with the stick, especially slapping the ground with the string, the key is to keep doing what your doing with rhythm, until the horse stops. When he goes like he is longing keep bumping his head to you so you have two eyes and move with him and stay at a 45 degree angle so he cannot run you over, and keep your lead rope up so you can push him away if does get to close. He will run in circles, back up, move sideways, try to go forward while looking for the right answer. You have to keep going until his feet stop moving, and he shows a sign of relaxation, drops heads, licks lips, cocks a hind leg, stands for 15 seconds, blinks his eyes. Horses learn from the release of pressure so if you stop while he running around then he is learning that is what you want. Also make sure to check your body language make sure your relaxed and low energy. You need to find a starting point for all the exercises. The desensitizing is also best done after the horse has done some work and wanting to stand and air up.

I follow CA method and have done these exercises with every horse I have and that I work with. The thing to keep in mind is don't quit to soon, the horse will find the right answer you have to let him. Some horses are more sensitive then others and it takes a little longer for them to find the right answer but they get it eventually, usually in under 5 minutes. Every horse I have will ground tie while I walk around them popping a bull whip and they all started running in circles while I was slapping the ground with the string.
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 07:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Houston area, Texas
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Agree with the question - why use the stick?

If the goal is to train your horse to become increasingly reactive to the aids you are giving, whether with the whip, hands, or something else, then the first step is to take stock of where he is - do you know, for instance, how sensitive his mouth and each part of his body is? How does he respond to verbal cues? Give him the command you want with multiple aids at the same time - i.e., voice and hand if you are working him on a line - then slowly back away from one aid, then soften the other, until he is as reactive you want.

If you want to work on the hind quarters, look into a piece of English gear called a lunging system - basically, it's a halter or basic bit in the front, that attaches to a strap that goes under the rear and pulls their legs under. An awesome way to build both hind strength and overall reactivity, I use it to train both my English and Western horses. Will run you about $100, and the first few times you longe your horse in it, they will work about 5 minutes in each direction and be pooped.

A word so you don't drive yourself crazy - increasing the reactivity level of your horse can take a LOT of time! It is a formidable task, so stay patient. I recommend against hobbling - you do not know this horse well, you do not know how it will react and do not currently have control of him; the odds of him getting hurt are pretty high.

Good luck!

Jan Shultis
Know yourself. Know your horse. Ride with joy.
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Nov 2013
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One more thing that occurred to me - your horse clearly is accustomed to working on a line. While you said that you want to move toward other training methods, keeping in mind that on the line is going to be the best place to teach him new skills now, because it's what he knows. He feels secure there, which is a big factor in introducing any new skill. Keep working him on the line, and don't move away from it until you are getting the behaviors you want there - if he doesn't understand you in a familiar place, he's not going to understand you in a foreign one.

Good luck!

Jan Shultis
Know yourself. Know your horse. Ride with joy.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-14-2013, 07:48 AM
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I would stay with the stick simply because you want him to accept anything you have in your hands.

You don't need hobbles and I would not use them in this situation.

What you have is a horse that does not have enough respect for his halter and lead and for your "Who!" command, so start there.

I would start working with him alongside a good fence like an arena fence or a building. I would put him between me and the fence. I would say "Whoa!" and slightly raise the stick. If he started to go forward, I would start jerking the lead-rope until he backed up to a spot farther back than where we started. Then, I would say "Whoa!" again and repeat. By the time you have done this 3 or 4 times, he will stand when you say "Whoa!" and raise the stick.

Next step is to move farther away from the wall or fence and repeat the process. Then gradually start him moving over a step with his hind end. Start this by saying "Whoa!" and rubbing his butt with the stick and tapping lightly with it but make him stand still for it. When YOU are ready for him to move his hip over, 'smooch' lightly and keep upping the taps until he move away from it, smooching the entire time until he moves. Then give the lead a small 'bump' and say "Whoa!".

I explain it to people this way: YOU close every door except the one YOU want him to go through. If he tries to go forward, you jerk the lead until he stops. If you want his hip to move over, you pull his head toward you and smooch and tap with the stick. If you close every wrong door and only leave the correct one open, any horse will quickly learn where he is supposed to go and where he is not allowed to go.

When I work with a new horse, it takes about 30 minutes for him to learn to stand when I want him to stand and to move when I smooch. Your body language and the stick tell him when and where to move.

I treat running past me as a really being BIG no-no. If a horse tries to go past me, I immediately go to my pipe arena fence and teach him to NEVER go past me unless I tell him to. This not only is it a terrible breech in manners, it can be dangerous when a horse runs over someone or leaps forward when a person is trying to mount. I go straight to a fence and teach what "Whoa!" means, especially when I have a stick or a whip in my hand.

When you get a solid "Whoa!" and a horse that knows it should move when you "Smooch!" , you can easily add each different command, one at a time, and he will easily learn when and where you want him to go or not go. He learns the smooch command and you can quickly replace the stick or whip with a raised hand. Your 'body language ' tells him where you want him to move and you no longer need a stick or a whip.
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