Originally Posted by MacabreMikolaj View Post
1st - Tied in the arena to a piece of baling twine through a metal loop, she ducked her head down, got the rope over her ears and freaked out. ......All three of these were during her bath last week. The first one I hollered and walloped her on the butt to make her stop fighting, but the next two times I just let her fight it out ....She almost sits, whips her head back and forth violently and then finally jumps forward.
Horses, being prey animals evolved to escape on fast legs, are naturally afraid of being trapped. Perhaps she actually did tie well in the previous environment, but horses don't generalise well, so she doesn't *know* it's OK here. But sounds like at least part of the problem is that she hasn't been desensitised to the pressure of the rope in different ways effectively, perhaps hasn't learned to yield well in different ways, and she is afraid & panics at your punishment. In short, I wouldn't be tying her solid until I'd got her over all that. It is dangerous to allow a horse to fight it out, even if they are tied to something unbreakable - they can do serious damage to their neck & spine, aside from the mental damage & further lack of trust in you & these situations it is harbouring.
She is fighting because she is panicking, not because she's trying to annoy you or some such, so punishing this is only making it worse - confirming to her she's in a dangerous situation. If she's not confident about the whole bathing routine, tying her up, forcing her into it & then punishing her for reacting badly has only further strengthened her attitude about bathing too.
IMO it's far better to get her comfortable & *confident* with stuff rather than just trying to force them into it. I'd be desensitising her *gradually* to things, using 'approach & retreat' tactics instead. If you go so far as causing her to react & panic, take this as a sign you've gone too far, back off & progress more gradually. As she has already learned these things(& you) are scary now, I'd expect to have to go extra slowly & considerately to begin with at least, in order to gain her trust in you & the situations. You can teach 'old dogs' but it takes longer & more consideration to 'disprove' previous 'training' first.
Should I be DOING anything about this? Is she going to eventually realize it's futile? I'm terrified she's going to snap one of the arena bolts one of these days and learn she can get free. Has anyone ever had a horse fight THIS much without learning it was pointless?
Like I mentioned, it is natural, instinctive for them & certainly not something they will always 'just' learn without being taught. It's not pointless to her, it's survival. What is amazing IMO is that an animal like a horse can learn to do this so apparently easily in most instances, given the right approach.
I swear, I'm wondering if I shouldn't tie her to the bath post (the only 110% guaranteed no getting loose spot) and just delibrately spook her with tarps and crap until she learns it's pointless.
'Sink or swim' type training *might* work, without doing any physical damage to her. If it works, it is through 'breaking her spirit' - teaching her that she's in a hopeless situation. If you take this line, it will further confirm her attitude towards you, rub off in other areas. It is often the case that you have to keep reinforcing this lesson regularly to her, or else she is in danger of getting 'hopeful' again & therefore attempting to escape the situation. Frequently tho, attempting 'sink or swim', aka 'breaking the spirit' tactics, depending on the horse's personality & strength of character, not to mention the skill of the trainer, will lead to an 'untrainable' 'rogue' horse.
I personally don't like the idea of this(as you've no doubt gathered already). I am into horses because I love the animals, and respect them for what they are. As such, I think learning what they are(as in behaviourally, mentally) and being considerate of this, learning to teach them in a respectful manner is the way to go, as well, I believe as being the most effective method. I want my horses to learn to be a friend and partner, not slave.
I too recommend a method such as Boulder suggests. The whole point is to set up the situation so that you *don't*
push/trap her into full blown panic & *don't* fight with her, so skin on your hands & strength doesn't come into it. Just about any horse is strong enough to win a battle of strength with just about any human, so set it up so there's no need of battles.
If you don't have an appropriate strong, round rail, there are gadgets such as the 'Blocker Tie Ring' and 'The Clip' that you can use to the same effect(I always use these & would never tie firm to a trailer BTW). The Blocker site has a good description of how & why this works too.
Using a long lead & a couple of wraps(more to create more 'firmness', as her training progresses) around the rail will *safely* 'tie' her but without preventing her from moving her feet & creating some slack. Very basically, you hold the loose end of the rope while you're training/desensitising her & *allow* it to slide when she feels the need to reef backwards. But she is not trapped, can back away, and when she calms, you just reel her in & repeat the process until she stands confidently without pulling.