Okay guys, "correction" is not working for getting my 9 month old gelding to stop nipping (mostly at the air), chewing things (like reins on the horse I am ponying him from) and just being a brat in general.
The sad part about it is, I am really emotionally attached to him, and he does pretty good with all the ground work and such I want him to do, he just has to get his "nips" in doing it, and it is making me an emotional wreck. I am afraid if things keep going at the current rate, we will be another story on the "Playing the Hero" thread.
Once he gets a little energy released he is MUCH easier to work with, but he is living in a round pen (all my horses are in a drylot situaton) and I don't have pasture.
I am thinking up a new game plan for him. Please let me know what you guys think: Step #1) Cut out most (or all) of his grain-based feed
, and putting him on a pound of Purina Enrich 32 instead, to see if maybe he isn't so hyper-active.
Right now he gets 6 lbs. of Purina Strategy GX along with alfalfa hay. The alfalfa is pretty rich. I'm assuming the GX is probably pretty rich too. I know if I fed the gelding's mother 6 pounds of Strategy, which is about what the bag recommends, SHE would be bouncing off the walls.
Do you think 6 lbs of Strategy and a confined living situation are contributing to his attitude problems? I try to pony him out about twice a week for exercise, but it has gotten so that our rides aren't enjoyable anymore. I spend most of the ride correcting the 9 month old. Step #2) Get a grazing (or similar muzzle)
to put on him when I pony him out, so he can't chew my tack or nip at my riding horse. If it wasn't for the nipping/chewing, I think we could have pleasant rides. Step #3) I was thinking of trying clicker training
with him. Maybe use a certain sound or cluck with my voice instead of a clicker to keep my hands free. I feel like I spend all my time punishing bad behavior instead of rewarding good behavior. Maybe if I had an effective way of rewarding good behavior, he would be more eager to please.
For instance, today when I picked up his front feet to clean them, he was pulling them away from me and we ended up in one of our little fights where I untied him, made him disengage his hindquarters a bunch, back-up, etc. to try to get his mind back on respecting me. It finally worked but it always gets me frustrated with him.
After that, I experimentally tried giving him a horse cookie each time I was done "picking" a problem foot and it made him much more willing to pick up his feet. I guess I am wondering if the clicker training would have him working more with me instead of against me?
I have been avoiding treats for several months because people tell me that will make him mouthy, but at this point I don't think he could get much mouthier. I am thinking about researching clicker training and giving it a try.
What do you guys think of my 3 step plan?
I really don't want to end up as another case of "playing the hero." I don't want to give him up to an uncertain future and I have doubts about him finding a good home as he really has nothing going for him. He's a 9 month old grade horse with a deformed leg and lack of manners.
I did get in 3 good hours with a professional trainer a couple months ago, and the colt respects the trainer, and me when I was working with the trainer, just not ME now that we are back at home. Yes, he does all the ground work pretty well, but he still nips. I know the problem is with ME and I am desperate to fix it.