possible abuse case?..help needed. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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possible abuse case?..help needed.

Most of you know i've recently started looking after a 9 year old Saddlebred Appaloosa mare.
I was originally only exercising her until she was sold, but i'm now going to be taking her on full loan
(Not buying her, but paying for her rent, food & everything else.) once I can get a job.

Anyway, getting to the point.
She's a real sweetheart, admittedly I did misunderstand her at first and thought she was going to be an absolute horror. Not true.
I have noticed she's an extremely nervous horse though. She wasnt too sure about me for the first couple of days, she constantly kept her eyes on me to see where I was and what I was doing around her. She settled down eventually and is now alot more relaxed around me.
A few days ago I thought I would do some 'desensitizing' with her, now I realised she was scared of whips, but I didnt realise she was scared to this extreme:
I took her in the lunging paddock, and took a schooling whip with me.
I showed it to her and she sniffed it. She was a little unsure about it.
She let me touch her with it, she tensed up, but she let me..everywhere until I got to her neck.. her head came up and she backed up a little.. I kept the whip there until she settled down, then moved it further up her neck.. her head went up again but this time her eyes started rolling and she shot backwards faster than I knew was possible.. I dropped the whip and waiting for her to calm down, then approached her. She was snorting at me and kept flinching every time I touched her.. has she been abused in the past? I understand some horses are just naturally nervous of whips etc, but Lilys reaction just seemed a little extreme..

What should I do to help her? I've never dealt with a horse like this, so as much help as possible is needed.
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:43 AM
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Sounds like she might have been abused, but I doubt that you will ever "really" know. Speak to her current owner, maybe she/he knows. Best thing to do is exactly what you are currently doing, albeit a wee bit slower, introduce it in increments, oh and treats, bring lots of treats so she can associate it with something good! Bless you for caring and wanting to do something to help her
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post #3 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:44 AM
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No! No! No! This is not a possible abuse case. This is a product of you and others doing exactly what you did.

She threw a fit running backwards and YOU dropped the whip and gave her a reward and complete release of pressure for throwing a fit. THIS is how horses learn to be afraid of things and show great fear. THIS is how you teach a horse to throw a fit --- you reward the fit.

I have to do chores, but I promise I will come back and explain what you should have done and what you have to do now.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cherie View Post
No! No! No! This is not a possible abuse case. This is a product of you and others doing exactly what you did.

She threw a fit running backwards and YOU dropped the whip and gave her a reward and complete release of pressure for throwing a fit. THIS is how horses learn to be afraid of things and show great fear. THIS is how you teach a horse to throw a fit --- you reward the fit.

I have to do chores, but I promise I will come back and explain what you should have done and what you have to do now.

I dropped it, because she was terrified of it & didnt want to stress her out anymore than needed. She worked herself up into a sweat, I don't understand "This is a product of you and others doing exactly what you did.", something must have happened for her to get so scared of whips in the first place? She was bought from a dealer, and I don't know about dealers in your area, but round here they are well known for being pretty rough with their horses. I didnt reward the fit, I just stopped it from going any further for her own, and my safety. But okay, i'll listen to what you have to say when you come back. Im interested now lol
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post #5 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Katze View Post
Sounds like she might have been abused, but I doubt that you will ever "really" know. Speak to her current owner, maybe she/he knows. Best thing to do is exactly what you are currently doing, albeit a wee bit slower, introduce it in increments, oh and treats, bring lots of treats so she can associate it with something good! Bless you for caring and wanting to do something to help her
I've asked her current owner about Lilys history, but it sounds like she's just been told a pack of lies to me.. her owner bought her from a dealer a year ago, she was told Lily had two foals previously, which I believe. But she was also told Lily used to be a showjumper..i don't believe it at all.
I've seen her owner jumping..well, trying to jump her. She refuses 9 out of 10 jumps, and has no talent for it what-so-ever.
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KawaiiCharlie View Post
until I got to her neck.. her head came up and she backed up a little.. I kept the whip there until she settled down, then moved it further up her neck.. her head went up again but this time her eyes started rolling and she shot backwards faster than I knew was possible.. I dropped the whip and waiting for her to calm down, then approached her. She was snorting at me and kept flinching every time I touched her.. has she been abused in the past?
Have you had her eyes checked?

Apps are predisposed to Night Blindness and uveitis.

As far as dropping the whip - if you felt at the time it was the answer to an immediate prooblem, it was fine. If you did it EVERY time she reacted, you are rewarding the negative behavior.

I would have her vision checked first.
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Have you had her eyes checked?

Apps are predisposed to Night Blindness and uveitis.

As far as dropping the whip - if you felt at the time it was the answer to an immediate prooblem, it was fine. If you did it EVERY time she reacted, you are rewarding the negative behavior.

I would have her vision checked first.
she's recently passed a 5 stage vetting by someone who was considering buying her, she has no vision problems or anything like that. The only problem that came up was with her left hind leg, she has major mud fever in it. We're working on it though :] & I didnt drop the whip every time she reacted, just that time. I've never seen a horse so scared of something.
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post #8 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 10:01 AM
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Don't be too quick to assume abuse. She just may have "issues" of her own. Some horses just have a harder time accepting a whip - or pretty much any - object near their head. You may need to change the way you approach her head with the whip. Slow down and take your time. Approach slowwwwly until she shows signs she's stressing, and back off a little. Aproach again, slowwwly, and watch her reactions. Try not to push her until she blows up. It may take a long time before you can work around her head. Then again, she may respond well to the slow approach and retreat.

If she does blow up - make her move her feet - make her, don't just let her move around you. Watch her - and when she shows that she's relaxing and listening again, start the approach and retreat again.

Some horses have a hard time developing a trust in their handler's, too. It's not necessarily indicative of abuse - it's just part and parcel of that particular horse's personality.

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

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post #9 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Cherie View Post
No! No! No! This is not a possible abuse case. This is a product of you and others doing exactly what you did.

She threw a fit running backwards and YOU dropped the whip and gave her a reward and complete release of pressure for throwing a fit. THIS is how horses learn to be afraid of things and show great fear. THIS is how you teach a horse to throw a fit --- you reward the fit.

I have to do chores, but I promise I will come back and explain what you should have done and what you have to do now.
Huh? How is she supposed to keep at it if the horse is rolling her eyes, breaking a sweat and bolting away from the whip once it reaches her head?? Makes no sense to me. Like I had posted slow increments maybe she moved it up too fast and the mare freaked. Horses don't normally trip out like that, yes they act silly at times but from what the OP posted she started shivering and reacting to the whip from the start. Horses are not born head shy, they are made head shy. And what I meant by "bring treats" is when she relaxes at the touch of the whip REWARD her, she will associate the whip with something good. But go SLOW
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post #10 of 27 Old 03-24-2011, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Katze View Post
Huh? How is she supposed to keep at it if the horse is rolling her eyes, breaking a sweat and bolting away from the whip once it reaches her head?? Makes no sense to me. Like I had posted slow increments maybe she moved it up too fast and the mare freaked. Horses don't normally trip out like that, yes they act silly at times but from what the OP posted she started shivering and reacting to the whip from the start. Horses are not born head shy, they are made head shy. And what I meant by "bring treats" is when she relaxes at the touch of the whip REWARD her, she will associate the whip with something good. But go SLOW
I had been rewarding her with treats up until that moment went she freaked. & yeah she is pretty head shy, takes a while for her to let me brush or even touch her ears, mouth or anything like that. First time I brushed her, I went to brush a bit of mud off her ears, she jerked her head away really quickly and headbutted the concrete wall she was next to.
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