Putting his head in the air
   

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Putting his head in the air

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  • Horse putting its head in th air
  • Pull and runway horse on lead rope

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    12-16-2012, 03:40 PM
  #1
Foal
Putting his head in the air

Hi,

Could people give me ideas and their experience with working with a tall horse who's evasion of choice is to put his head in the air and refuse.

He is a 9 year old 16.1 very solid thoroughbred. I got him on Saturday and put him straight in with the other horses to settle down a little. Sunday I went to pull him out of the paddock as the farrier was there to trim his extremely over gown feet.

When I asked him to lead down the runway he immediately put his head in the air and started pulling me back towards the paddock. He is far to big for me to win any tug of war games, so I tried to coax him down. Again any step he took forward once he relaxed his head was then meet with resistance of throwing his head in the air and dragging me back again.

After a few minutes of this and reluctant to let him win I turned him around and backed him down the run way about 5 meters. When he relaxed I attempted to turn him to walk normally. No luck again with the head in the air and trying to drag me back to the paddock. So I again turned him and backed him down the run way. That time when I turned him he walked normally relaxed and calm.

However once in the yard he was acting very spookish and would throw his head in the air and try to pull back on the lead with the farrier. The farrier comment that he isn't spookish that he is putting it on.

I feel like this boy uses this as his method to get out of doing what you want him to do. I almost feel like I need to somehow take it out of the equation so he can no long use this evasion on me. Any thoughts and or experiences would be appreciated.
     
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    12-16-2012, 04:02 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
You could take a roller (surcingle) to the field and out a tight tie down on him but could well make him rear!

I think you did absolutely the right thing and every time he tries things on make him reverse to where you want him to go.
It took you two or three reverses and he gave in - each time it will be less although sometimes they will try something new!

Make sure that you are very disciplined with him at all times and he will soon realise that you are the leader!
     
    12-16-2012, 04:17 PM
  #3
Started
It could just be he is in a new place and he's scared. If you have a rope halter you might have more luck keeping him from pulling away from you. I'd carry a whip with me and start making him go forward going backwards in my opinion is letting the horse win. When he turns away from you I'd give him a smack on the shoulder and make him face forward. If he balks I'd smack him on his hip getting him to go forward and his feet moving is the main thing. You can even disengage his hindquarters a bit then try walking on. Just don't get frustrated when you correct him and if he starts going like he should just walk on as if it never happened. You must be a confident leader so the horse feels confident in following you. Good luck with him just keep working with him. I'd also work on desensiting the horse to pressure and teach him to lower it when pressure is applied instead of evasive head raising. And when I say give him a smack I don't mean beat on him but probably at first your smack should be more firm if needed, sometimes a tap works its just depends on the horse. I usually offer the good deal first and if they don't take it they get the hard deal next. Just be firm decisive and consistent in whatever you do that will help establish you a the leader.
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    12-16-2012, 04:41 PM
  #4
Foal
I would like to avoid giving him a smack to start with. I got a slight feeling about him that someone may have used heavy handedness on him previously. Just from the way that when I moved my hands up to block him while trying to lead him he jerked his head away from me and lifted his front feet up (not a full rear) as if he thought I was going for his head.
     
    12-16-2012, 05:13 PM
  #5
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liligirl    
I would like to avoid giving him a smack to start with. I got a slight feeling about him that someone may have used heavy handedness on him previously. Just from the way that when I moved my hands up to block him while trying to lead him he jerked his head away from me and lifted his front feet up (not a full rear) as if he thought I was going for his head.
Its possible but remember that may not necessarily be true. I can't say for certain since I can't see him so I'll take your word for it. But remember its not uncommon for horses who are often evasive to do just as you described. Don't excuse bad behavior as him being abused, horse often get away with murder because they are assumed to have be handled badly by there previous owner. I had an appaloosa who I adopted who was violently beaten with a 2X4. He was definitely scared of certain things and it took awhile for him to completely trust, but you got to distinguish what behavior is brought out by trauma and what is naughty behavior. If he was bad regardless of his past he was disciplined appropriately, I can't just avoid making him mind just cause once upon a time he was beaten. If I just ignored him when he was bad he would of turned into a real handful. But I know a lot of people who would of let him get a way with it cause he was abused. I'm not saying he was smacked every time he was bad but I didn't excuse him because of his past either. I did a ton of work before he has ridden and such but unless I told you you would of never known he was an abused horse. They are capable of over coming trauma in their lives don't forget that. But what you described still sounds like evasion from going forward, you said you had to block so he must be pushing into you and maybe darn near running you down. It's doesn't matter if he was mishandled before you got to establish your space regardless of his possible bad past that also will establish that your the leader not him. My palomino mare occasionally does just what you described. I've owned her for her whole life she has never been beat or handled roughly she is 10 years old. But occasionally she doesn't want to move her feet and she will raise up just like that to avoid whatever it is she's in the mood to avoid doing that day. She was a pasture puff for a few years so the leader role has to occasionally reestablished and if the leader isn't mad clear she will take it. But usually ill move her feet she will first try to pit her shoulder into me I move her off make he feet move forward once she tells me she's good we move on like it never happened. And she is only 14.3 hands and can be quite the handful, you have a large horse there you need to be firm with him I own a 16 hand horse as well it's a lot of animal to deal with. You must be firm in whatever way you make him move so you must work on gaining his trust and show him that you lead not him. If you prefer backwards then I suppose its fine for now but remember there will be situations where going backward may not be an option. Which is why I don't back my horses to get them where they don't want to go. I wish I could see what he was doing to give move precise options on how to change his behavior.
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    12-16-2012, 05:30 PM
  #6
Foal
Thank you for the response I will certainly keep this in mind now. I think I will start by doing lead work and desensitization with him. It may just be that he has no reason yet to trust me or relax around me.

I was blocking him from trying to go sideways on me. Kind of hard to describe but he never actually threatened my space. If I feel like I am not making progress with him, I will get someone to video it and post it next time :)
     
    12-16-2012, 05:33 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
The easiest thing to do is to train him to lead better.

Like Peppy said , get a rope halter, first.

When you go forward, and he pulls back, you stay facing forward in the leading position, then you take the long tail of the leadline (did I say to get a long leadline?) and swing it around behind you so that it snakes out toward his body. The further back you can reach, the better. He will be surprised and will move. Maybe not forward, maybe sideways. IF he moves backward, do it again until he moves in such a way that some slack is put into the line. When that happens, stop tossing the rope. Do not pull in the slack rope when the horse creates some by moving his feet. Just start walking forward as soon as the horse's feet are unstuck and he no longer is pulling backward. He can move anywhere he wants when you pull on the rope and swing the tail around behind to unstick his feet, (as long as it's not backward). Eventually, you will put forward pull on the rope, he will resist, you will raise your other hand with the tail of the leadline, and he'll come forward BEFORE you even have to shush him along with it.
     
    12-16-2012, 05:35 PM
  #8
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liligirl    
Thank you for the response I will certainly keep this in mind now. I think I will start by doing lead work and desensitization with him. It may just be that he has no reason yet to trust me or relax around me.

I was blocking him from trying to go sideways on me. Kind of hard to describe but he never actually threatened my space. If I feel like I am not making progress with him, I will get someone to video it and post it next time :)
Ok I think just spending some time with him brushing him and leading him around his new surrounding will help you. Like I said just be consistent and establish your role. It could be a lack of trust and new surroundings that is making him nervous. Just try to spend some laid back time with him and let him he to know you that may solve a lot of this too. Keep at it I'm certain you can get over this bump.
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    12-16-2012, 05:36 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
Does this horse tie well? Lead well in other circumstances? Has he ever pulled back? (like in a panic when tied hard to a pole?)

It may be that the horse does not really understand how to come off of pressure and release himself from it. What happens when he steps on his own lead line? Does he freak? Or stop, back up and release himself.?

He may need some teaching about how to "come off of the rope" , as the cowboys say.
     
    12-16-2012, 09:23 PM
  #10
Showing
He's suddenly in a new place, put in with new horses, doesn't know you or the farrier. He wants badly to return to the security of the other horses. Everything is happening too fast. I'll bet his stress levels are thro the roof. I'm going to suggest you being him out from the others but so he can still see them. Don't tie him, just hang on to it giving him about 4' of lead rope. Groom him then put him back. Any time he stands quietly pop a treat in his mouth but only if his feet are "glued to the ground". Create a routine of this for 3 days in a row, preferably 5 if you can. He will start to look forward to this and the treats. Always groom him at the same spot. After the 5 days, move him farther away and begin the routine in the new spot. After a couple of days start mixing it up.Keep your routine to about 15 min initially then, and use a watch, stretch it by 5 min. Each day then one day fool him by bringing him out, give a treat and put him back. I love it when a horse gets that "Huh?" look on it's face.
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