New, and Need Advice on Training a Stubborn Pony - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-04-2012, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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New, and Need Advice on Training a Stubborn Pony

Hello everyone! This is my first post, on my first horse! Ok, to start, my family has been involved with horses (in one way or another) since I was small, but this is MY VERY OWN first horse. She was a rescue, (I know, not the best for a first horse.) Not aggressive or anything, but had feet that were NEVER cared for, and underweight. I've spent the past year with her, working on her feet everyday, and helping her to get her weight on and stay on. (each one of her hooves were over 12 inches long, twisting around, and horrible coffin bone rotation) She's come along nicely and is more confident on her feet. She now walks good, and looks good. Now, rescue or not, she is still one powerfull pony and needs ground work done.

She is:
  • Mare
  • 15 Years old
  • Is halter broke
  • Leads and loads well
  • Exmoor Welsh Pony
I've got her hips moving, and she moves out (or lunges) alright, but she does not back up, and is disrespectful. She will be in my face, and the only way (that I have found thus far) to back her up, is just plowing into her. she ignores nose pressure, tough when it comes to the whip or rope, and chooses to move forward into me if I pressure her any other way than pushing on her chest.

As far as I have known. She is people and kid friendly, but was left in a wet, small pasture for 13 of those 15 years. She's "nice" and all, but pushy, not trained, tough about getting a "tap" when she doesn't want to move...

Am I not being firm or rough enough with her? Am I being too soft in my training, and letting her get away with too much? Any advice would be so great! Thank you!!
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-05-2012, 12:03 AM
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When you ask her to back use your whip on the point of the shoulder of the foot she would step back with. Apply moderate pressure to the halter and slowlyand lightly tap that spot. If no response, keep tapping but add a little more pressure. She may try to come forward if confused but try to stop her. If you can't maker her complete the circle and start again. Always with the shoulder of the more forward foot. As soon as she takes a step, start tapping the point of the other shoulder. When she begins to understand she will back with just halter pressure and your pointing the whip at the appropriate shoulder. Then she will get lighter on the halter. Ask for 4 or 5 steps back then do something else. Whenever you work with her make this a part of your routine for at least 5 days. It takes that long for the horse to become comfortable with the routine.
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-05-2012, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for that! We'll give that a solid go for the next 7 days. She's tough and stubborn, and a bit of a pain... But you know, I suspect that's what's gotten her this far in life.... Thanks again.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-05-2012, 01:11 PM
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I would not use the whip to make her go back but the pointed end of a hoof pick.
If a horse continually walks into my space I will carry a hoof pick and use the pointed end if it comes into me. I do not do or say anything, just as he moves in I apply the point . He realises that walking into me is uncomfortable and stops doing it.
I will do the same with a horse that refuses to go back, use the point on the chest along with pressure on the halter.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-05-2012, 01:20 PM
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Before I'd push her to hard in the backing up department:

Given everything you've said, it might not be a bad idea for an equine chiropractor to examine her. Or, if your parents do not want to hear the word "chiropractor" for a horse, have the vet examin her skeletal structure.

Backing up is not a natural motion for a horse to make and it's possible that is compounded by something being out of place and it hurts her to move backward.

My 25 yr old now has hock/ankle arthritis and it has become pure misery for him to even take two steps backward. He WILL come forward a little, because he is trying to say "I can't do that but I can walk forward if you want me to"

Even though I don't ride him anymore, I always try to make sure I don't get him in a position, in the barn, to where he doesn't have a choice.

Once you have pain eliminated then work on the discipline part.

Also, how is she about picking up her front hooves? If she sort of argues about it, that might also indicate there is pain on the back end and she doesn't want to bear anymore weight back there than she has to.

I hope this helps. Good luck with her
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-05-2012, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all your help! I understand about the pain. She gets monthly checkups from our ferrier friend,(friend, but we pay him to come out, check her, and give a progress report) and by our vet. Thus far (with their guidance) her recovery has gone pretty smooth. My father instructed me to look EVERYTHING over (study, vet, ect.) But he is old school. He says "oh, this is your problem? Well, you'd better get it figured out because I won't have an untrained horse on my property, once she's better."

So, Pain and all looks good. But I think part of my fault. I was still feeling sorry for her in her first year of recovery, and let her get away with alot (except biting when she wanted grain in my hands) She is still very pushy about when I have something that smells good....

No, I mean it is not something I'VE ever seen.... but when she hears me getting our goats grain, she STANDS her FRONT FEET on the middle beam of her door, and kicks at the gate..... Kind of like a dog scratching at the door... And when she see's I'm empty handed, pushes at my pockest (that I've got nothing in) then ignores me.....

I believe though that it is alot of this "poor pony" thought that has made her expect treats from people.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-06-2012, 11:11 PM
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First & foremost, my thoughts, as were Walkin's that if it's only backwards she doesn't do, I'd get her checked out physically. A good bodyworker can often pick & fix problems not picked up by a vet. Given her previous life, I'd probably want to get that done before starting much training with her too.

Yes, that you've let her get away with stuff, 'mug you' for treats etc won't have helped. Don't blame her, it's just up to you to teach her better. She's just a horse, will do what works for her, or what she's allowed & will quit doing what doesn't work. So you need to think about the 'manners' you want her to learn & be consistent & effective in making them clear.

Be *effective* in whatever you ask. I like to use non-confrontational methods, and I find there's usually a reason that a horse doesn't understand & yield(respond softly & willingly) to pressure(you're not being clear enough, there's another horse or something fearful in the way... whatever), so be conscious about setting up the lesson for success - make it as clear & easy as you can for her to get it right, so she can practice being reinforced for Right behaviour. But I will use as much pressure as needed if/when I think it necessary to get a response.

Eg. never allowing her into your space without invitation, whatever you decide that is, whether one foot away or arm's length. Be consistent about consequences & as horses learn by instant association so you need to dish out the punishment/reinforcement *at the time of* the behaviour you want to affect.

If her backup's no good & there's no physical reason, you can bet there are other basics she doesn't 'get' too. I also wouldn't call her 'halter broke' if she doesn't yield backwards to halter pressure. Yielding any part of their body in any way when asked is the foundation of virtually everything we want of a horse IMO. I teach them to yield from fingertip pressure, stick/whip pushing or tapping, to halter/lead pressure, and then to bodylanguage, pointing, directing, waving a stick or rope. I teach them to yield whatever part of their body I direct pressure at - pressure behind them for forward, in front of them, on their nose or chest for backwards, on their neck/shoulder to yield forehand, on their rump or flank for hindquarters, etc, etc.

So, after all that, for teaching backing up, you could start with the horse led into a corner or such, so there aren't many options, 'ask' with light pressure on the lead, &/or fingertip pressure on his nose &/or fingertip pressure on his chest. If he doesn't yield to this, increase the pressure. If/when necessary, you can use the end of a stick/whip or a hoofpick or such as Foxhunter suggested, you can apply sharper pressure that the horse is more motivated to move from, without having to do it too hard or painfully.

It is very important that*The INSTANT* the horse *begins* to yield, release all pressure & reinforce the behaviour. They learn to yield because that behaviour works for them, to relieve the discomfort/pressure. If you have your mind on getting 10 paces of a backup & the horse isn't up to that yet, he'll yield a bit to the pressure, you keep pushing, so he decides yielding doesn't work - he might just try pushing against it instead. The pressure provides the motivation, but the release &/or reward is what teaches & reinforces the lesson. After the horse gets the idea, then you can gradually ask for more.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-06-2012, 11:18 PM
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By tapping the shoulder of the more forward leg when the pony moves back it will move with that leg. I don't increase the strength of the tapping just keep doing it until it's a bit annoying and the horse decides to move away from it. By moving to the other leg which is now forward it has release the pressure of the first. My preference is a dressage whip as it's long enough that I'm using it mid way down it's lenth which is easy to control.
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