Neglected pony with kicking problem - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-05-2011, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Albany, NY
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Exclamation Neglected pony with kicking problem

I got my pony about a year and a half ago, he was a rescue and all I know about him was that he was left in a pen with 8 other horses (he born where he was rescued from and was only a yearling when he was rescued), the horses were rarely fed, didnt have water and were up over their knees in mud and manure. The people that were "fostering" him did nothing but feed him and turn him out, so he had no ground manners at all. When I brought him to my barn, I started by doing ground work everyday and he caught on very quickly. He has been going under saddle for a little over a year and is great.

Then there is the cross tie issue, you cant walk up behind him or he will kick. And not just a little kick, he almost broke my knee last summer. After he kicks, he then flies forwards and back and almost "hangs himself" with the xties (I leave the throat latch of his halter undone so if he does fly back it will slip off, although he has never slipped out of it) Its almost like he knows he shouldnt do it and thinks he is going to get beaten for kicking (Ive smacked him before after kicking but its been quite a while bc hitting him only makes him angrier and he will kick again) Ive tried so many different methods, ignoring, repremanding him, clicker training and nothing seems to work (the clicker training seemed to be the best option but I cant leave him on the xties alone bc he will still kick). If it tie him outside and brush him, he is perfectly fine. But thats not really an option all year when we have snow, mud, etc.

He has come a long way since Ive had him, he is no longer aggressive over food and he is a dream under saddle, Ive never started a horse that learned as quickly as he did. At shows he doesnt act like this either, you can stand him in the aisle and he is fine. But I dont know how to address the xtie issue and since I board him, I need to do something bc he is not safe unless I am standing right there. Any suggestions would be very helpful, I try to stick with natural horsemanship if that helps!
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-05-2011, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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I don't think you are considering how his eyesight works. He doesn't see as we do, he sees down each side with each eye and his hindquarters create a blind spot. When you put him in crossties, you take away his need to escape should a predator approach from behind. Your eyes are in front of your head, therefore you are a predator. He reacted out of fear and lunged forward to escape but the ties held him. Instead, tie him with a single tie so he can move around and watch what is going on. Better yet, teach him to stand with the lead dropped on the ground. If he moves forward just back him up. When he stands for a few seconds a treat is appropriate. He'll learn faster. Often times because the horse feels safer knowing he can escape, he'll stay.
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post #3 of 7 Old 11-05-2011, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Albany, NY
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I am aware of how horses see, and he ground ties in the ring but teaching him to ground tie in the aisle is not an option since I often need to put him on the xties and go clean his stall, get my saddle, etc. There have been instances too where he in not xtied and kicked out at a person or another horse. I board at a barn that has over 50 horses, people walking in and out all the time so him not being tied isnt really an option. Thanks for your input though.
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post #4 of 7 Old 11-06-2011, 07:20 AM
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Do you have a safe place to tie him with a single rope (not cross-ties) where you can school him?

He needs to be 'sacked out' with a long, soft rope. He needs to get comfortable with a rope being flipped and flopped all over his ribs, hips, behind his butt, between his hind legs -- everywhere you can flip the rope around, over and under.

Horses are 'creatures of habit' and he has talked himself into being afraid of people and things coming up behind him. As a 'flight or fight' animal of prey, some horses automatically choose fight mode when they cannot flee something that they have decided is a danger to their existence. It is our job or duty as owners to teach them to be comfortable with the things that would make a feral horse run for his life. Horses that have not been trained to accept things that would bother a feral horse, will get 'on the fight' when they have a fear response. This, then, turned into a habit. Setting them up and going through all of the desensitizing that it takes to get a horse comfortable with whatever is bothering them is the only way to get one over this once it has decided that it is a situation or thing to be feared and fought over. I would guess that he is worse in the cross-ties because he feels trapped there and goes into a more serious fight mode. Hopefully, learning to accept the rope will carry over to the cross-tie situation.

Some horse like yours will fight hard, kick and throw huge fits, have a complete 'come-apart' when you sack them out with the rope. You just have to 'outlast them' and not give in until he stands quietly and accepts the rope. The instant he stands still, you stop putting pressure on him.

You may need to do this several times before he loses the conditioned response he is used to having in his mind.
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-06-2011, 07:32 AM
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ive seen horses you can tie to a picket line, trailer or single post and they are perfectly fine, put em in cross ties they freek. My horse doesnt like it at all. But hes fine single tied so I just single tie him. I like Julie Goodnights, "Stand like a statue" video it works well. Had my horse ground tiening like a champ, then I left for three weeks and he kinda forgot. But have been busy on other things.
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-06-2011, 07:37 AM
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A barn aisle is closed in compared to the ring. There are too many enclosed spaces for a predator to hide. Out in the ring he can see all around. We see a barn as being safe for a horse, he sees it as a trap. Some adapt well, others don't.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-06-2011, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Here's something else you can try. When you groom your horse all over, do you do it on the crossties? If so, take your time with it and please stay safe.. groom one side until he relaxes, then go around infront of his face, rub his neck and his face if he'll let you. Then do the other side until he's relaxed. Put your brushes farther away from your horse so you have to walk away from him. Start with infront, and then start grooming each side and then walking back away from him to pick up your brushes. And walk back away from him (safely...!) to groom the other side. Keep increasing the distance you are away from him, and the time (spend time cleaning the brush with a metal curry for example..) or fiddle in the cookie jar to give him a treat when he isn't striking out.

It sounds like he isn't feeling safe and so you need to show him that it's okay if you aren't in view or you move away from him.

Always start small though, build on it within a matter of days or even weeks until you can start popping into his stall for extended periods of time without any negative reaction from him.

Remember to reward him when he gets the right answer. But not always with treats! Pats are nice too, or even being let off of the crossties and turned out for a minute or two in a free arena. Mix it up
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