New horse is high headed. Why? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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I truly think she is afraid. Her response is more than just pulling her head up. It's extremely dramatic. As soon as she saw the bridle she started exhibiting signs of stress. Her previous owner doesn't know much about how she was treated before she bought her, but she suspects twitching or some kind of abusive halter training. We will continue to work on it one step at a time, and get some insight from a trainer.

Thanks everyone.
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post #12 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 11:38 AM
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You do see a lot of Arabian handlers flapping at horses faces and yanking on their heads to get them to look impressive - to me something that should be stopped. It never used to be that way in the UK and yet its become the norm. over there now too. Its like the shaking a plastic bag on a stick thing to make them fly around - if you get one that's had that done chances are every time it sees a flapping bag its going to over react - the rest of the horse world is desensitizing horses to NOT run away from a plastic bag shook at them!!!
Try to avoid sudden movements around the head - and that can include reaching up at the head in what the horse sees to be a threatening way even though its not meant to be. I saw a video on Youtube a few days ago that was quite good, if I can find it again I'll post it
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post #13 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 12:09 PM
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I want my relationship to based on love and respect
respect first, love second, always.

Arabians are great at hiding behind "I'm scared, I'm scared" to get out of things because they very often get away with it
this. I was working with a gelding the other day. I know for a fact he has not been abused, but was out to pasture for the last year or so. everything was a major dramatic event. you went to touch his face and you got the "OH GOD, ITS GONNA EAT ME!!!!" high head freak out. went to hose his legs off and you think there was a lion leaping for his legs, bug eyed, snorting. You cant be rough on an arab(unless you have a death wish) , but you can know when to say 'quit it'. A calm, firm, insistence on them complying to your wishes works wonders, wether they are throwing a fit for show, or reacting based on previous bad experiences.
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post #14 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 12:42 PM
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Definitely agree with BlueSpark. Arabs are ridiculously intelligent. All those times you feel like saying, "Stupid horse! Just listen/do it/whatever!" Really, you should be saying, "Gah! Smart horse! Stop thinking and bring your brain back down to earth!"

I have these conversations with my horse in a regular basis. I'm also learning the very fine line between scared, bored, frustrated, and misbehavior. It is a VERY fine line.

As an example, my horse hates having his ears touched at all. He was not abused at any point. In fact, I got him as a virtually untouched yearling. Now, as a 5 year old, he barely tolerates me anywhere near his ears. Even now I still sometimes get the head-throwing, wild-eyed, monster-going-to-eat-me look. He gets reprimanded and will settle back down and continue barely tolerating me touching his ears. The best way I can put it is that Arabs occasionally have moments or specific triggers where their brains temporarily leave the planet. It's up to you to find the method to bring yours down the fastest and safest way possible. Abused or not, fear or habit, you have to teach your horse that the behavior is not okay.

Can halter training cause the behavior? Maybe back when it happened. Now it's likely more out of habit.
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post #15 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 12:46 PM
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Quite honestly it makes absolutely no difference as to "why" a horse misbehaves. All that makes the difference his how to get proper, responsive and calm behavior.

I used to rescue and turn horses around. I have told a few stories here. I had horses do all sorts of weird things that had to be retrained. Sometimes I knew the history. Mostly I did not.

Horses are not like dogs.. you can't say "Nice Horsey" in a happy high squaeky voice and get a response like you can with a pet dog (might get a different reaction from a real working dog). Horses do not bond to people like dogs do.. and they will kick you and kill you as quick as that. Just to set up some clarity which the OP may or may not have.

What you are dealing with is a horse that is reactive. You need to use consistent handling and pressure, release of pressure as well as an understanding of thresholds to retrain a horse that has acquired bad default behaviors (such as shying from reins going over the horse's head).

Actually, dogs train the same way but bond to people differently (well.. most pet dogs).

The way to help any horse is to put pressure on to get a desired result, and releasing that pressure the instant the horse starts to respond correctly to that result.

The trick in that simple statement is knowing how much of what kind of pressure and the exact timing for release. This does not mean you have to throw 'em on the ground 'nd hog tie 'em (sometimes you may.. but that is a LOT of pressure). It just means you need to know how much by reading the horse.

Knowing how much pressure is where threshold reading comes in.
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post #16 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 02:24 PM
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I totally agree that Arabs are really smart, and notorious for being dramatic not because they are necessarily scared, but because they know it gets a certain reaction out of someone. I worked with a mare that I knew wasn't handled right, so I assumed her "panicked" flying around her stall was her being scared. Found a rescue for her, and the guy nicely corrected my thinking. She wasn't scared at all, no matter how dramatic she was acting, And she was acting dramatic, she was flinging herself into the sides of the corral, and all the trainer was doing was standing in the middle not moving. She never broke a sweat with all that flying around. He said if she were truly scared, she'd be sweating almost from the get go, but she had just learned that flying around the stall made everyone leave her alone, and earned her the nickname of Crazy Alice.

You can't coddle a horse, sure you can give them some love, but even if she was abused early on in her life, she doesn't think "oh I was abused, I must be treated differently" all she knows is that hand near face normally means she must react, so she does. If you work with her with the mindset of "maybe she was abused, I must be really loving, and give her a few concessions with some behavior", she'll definitely get your number, and she won't ever change. I know that you were just looking for possible causes, so I'll just stop here with the training aspect.

Being head shy like that can happen for many different reasons. Her being a halter horse, it may just be habit now that hand around face, she must tense up, and throw her head up, or she may have been smacked in the face as a reprimand when she misbehaved. Or she's got some sight problems, and to her the hand near her face, or the bridle coming over her head is sudden even if it isn't. And the list goes on for possible causes. But the cause doesn't matter, what matters is that it gets fixed so that people don't get hurt working with her. I've had horses I've been working on space with, or bridling with that are reactive end up smacking me in the face with their heads when something startles them, and that's just when I'm standing getting them out of my space, there is a huge probability that you kissing on her face is going to result in you getting knocked out, nose broken, or some other injury, so please be careful.
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post #17 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 02:40 PM
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This is a video from a world championship held in Paris - and anyone wonders why Arabians shown like this get fractious and nervy - you treat an intelligent horse this way and its going to have an impact on it
I don't get it - you cant even really see the horses beautiful floating action and gives on idea that they will produce a good riding horse - just a flashy pasture ornament

But if you show something like an Irish Draft stallion in hand its supposed to look like the type of horse that will produce level headed useful riding horses
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post #18 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 03:17 PM
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arab's are crafty little beasts.
To a point you can bully a qh and get 'er done as we say in Texas. I don't train that way, but you can.

Trying to bully and push an Arab is a great way to test the limits of your medical insurance. It's their self preservation you have to work with. They will protect themselves, period. The only way I've ever found to break the flakiness and really get to them is to play to their intellect and make them figure out difficult things with guidance, but mostly just allowing them to figure it out.
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post #19 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 04:16 PM
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Arabs love to work. But only for a fair and consistent person. You have to be their partner, not their master. I love my Arabs and prefer to ride them over all other breeds, Saddlebreds coming close 2nd. I don't ever try to force an issue, I may come at it 34 different ways from Sunday, but I never try to force. An Arab will remember kindness and they never forget cruelty.

When I got my one mare, if she even saw you pick up a whip and carry it past her, she'd fall to her knees. When she'd get frightened and pull back, she didn't know how to release herself from the pressure and would nearly hang herself. I know who trained her for halter, and I know HOW he trained her for halter and none of it was nice. Knowing the method though, was helpful in bringing her past all the fear. She now has moments where something will scare her but if I stand quiet for a moment, she will immediately come back to me and be very sensible. Considering the shape she was in when I got her, I'm amazed she's come this far. It's a real testament to their resilience and forgiving natures. If someone treated me the way she's been treated, I would NEVER allow a human near me again and SHE seeks us out. AMAZING!

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post #20 of 26 Old 07-09-2013, 05:26 PM
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Getting on your high horse with people giving you sound advice is foolish.

Keep giving little loves and kisses and you will end up with a monster.

Horses of any breed are not dogs, and I would imagine as much as anything you getting in her face is making this worse.

I would also bet that the high headness is less from abuse and more about how you are approaching her, and how she has been able to get out of things in the past.

Approach from underneath, with arm over poll to bridle or halter, making sure you don't pull into eyes. Support bit, and bring it up.

And quit babying this horse, or you will be sorry.

Horses make me a better person.
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