Question about ear pinning.....

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Question about ear pinning.....

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    03-08-2012, 10:22 PM
Question about ear pinning.....

Hi guys,

Something my 1 1/2 yr old gelding has started doing lately bothers me, but I'm not sure if I should do anything about it, or if I should do something about it, WHAT I should do about it.

Whenever I feed him I make a kissing sound and that is his cue to back away from the feeder so I can put the hay in. Then I make him stand there a few seconds before tapping the feeder which is his cue to come and eat. Well, maybe for the past month or so, when I kiss and ask him to back away he pins his ears. I keep kissing and making him back up and stand politely and all that (sometimes with a dressage whip in hand if he doesn't back off like he should) but basically he always backs away, but the ear pinning is new.

This is going to sound stupid, but it kind of hurts my feelings!

I know he is trying to move himself up in the pecking order, and I don't ever intend to back down from him, so if he ever really challenges me I will go at him with the dressage whip. I know he has some disrespect issues such as nipping when leading and such. I am doing the best I can with him. I guess I am just wondering if I should be doing something to correct the ear pinning or just ignore it?

I will also frequently "kiss" and make him leave his hay pile if I am out there, just to assert myself as top horse, and I know that must irritate him but again, I am trying to assert myself as dominant. He will pin his ears and walk away. Am I making things worse by messing with him at feeding time?

I don't know if I am making myself more dominant or just irritating the hell out of the horse.
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    03-08-2012, 11:51 PM
No you are not making things worse. My horse used to literally trample all over me to steal the food out of the bucket in my hand. And I went in with a crop and gave him the cue that waving my hand arms length around I am literally creating my space that he can't enter that or he will have to back up. I think you are doing everything right. :) You are still the dominant horse. :)
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    03-09-2012, 03:31 AM
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It is just his baby way of saying that he will do as he is told but he doesn't like it!

I do not use a whip with my youngsters, just my arm and body language, they know to stand back and wait.

They all try things on sooner or later, it is not letting them get away with it that counts!

Nipping and grabbing things to chew is also normal - if they nip then I will use both hands and rub their muzzles hard with both hands, one either side. They don't like it much and soon learn not to nip.
    03-09-2012, 12:26 PM
Thanks guys!

This is my first young horse and I knew not to "spoil" him but somehow he got a little bit that way anyway despite my best intentions.

He was imprinted and is very "in your pocket." I carry the dressage whip because otherwise I only have about a 50/50 chance of him responding and backing out of my space. The other half of the time he just looks at me and doesn't want to budge. So I figure it would be better to carry the whip (and he respects even the sight of it) rather than ask for something and not be able to enforce it.

I'm hoping that if I keep myself dominant even in little ways, like at feeding time that it will help in the long run. My long-run goal is for him to be a trail horse. I plan to send him out to a real trainer for saddle breaking in his 3 yr old year. But until then I have about a year of working with him on ground to get through.

Foxhunter, on the muzzle rubbing thing. I have tried that and I'm not sure if it works well for me or not. He will put his head in the air when I do it, so I guess that's good. But it's not like he backs away or anything. Sometimes I think he kind of likes it. He's weird that way!
    03-09-2012, 01:03 PM
Originally Posted by trailhorserider    
I will also frequently "kiss" and make him leave his hay pile if I am out there, just to assert myself as top horse, and I know that must irritate him but again, I am trying to assert myself as dominant. He will pin his ears and walk away. Am I making things worse by messing with him at feeding time?
Yes. If there is no purpose to move him away from his feed, why are you? Think of someone that always calls or stops by at supper time. You start to resent them.

If they had free choice hay, then they know it's always there. As horses are grazing animals, their feeding time is important when they are fed limited amounts.
    03-09-2012, 01:39 PM
Originally Posted by trailhorserider    
Hi guys,

but basically he always backs away, but the ear pinning is new.

This is going to sound stupid, but it kind of hurts my feelings!

LOL I just love that you said that out loud!

He is being annoyed and he's telling you so. If it were me I would mix it up a little. Since the whole point of what you're doing is just to remind him whose boss, throw a little challenge into the mix. My Appy is the same kind of pest, always checking for a move up the ladder so I have to be on my toes with him. I know he's a food driven guy and use that to my advantage.

I don't know what you're feeding him, how or when, but try to think of ways to vary the routine and keep him guessing about what you're going to ask next. He is challenging you and these little signs of disrespect will grow to much bigger problems before you know what hit you.

If you have limited time and space/situation for your feeding routine, you might try doing your usual routine with the backing away, but only giving him a couple of mouthfuls...then make him work for a bigger reward and so on. It's all just you reminding him that you hold the keys to his happiness and so he'd better focus on making you happy. It's not about starting a fight with him, it's about being smarter than him.
    03-10-2012, 03:28 PM
At a year and half, he's starting into what in human terms would be teenage years. A little rebellion and attitude is to be expected. You are doing all the right things, keep up the way you are and one day he will grow up to be a well mannered adult. As a school teacher who works with teens on occasion the saying goes "You can keep your attitude, as long as you do as I say."

Dominant horses often push other horses away from feed for no other reason than to assert dominance, so I see no problem with you driving your horse away from his pile of hay, I do it to my horses occasionally to remind them who boss mare is and all my boys are very respectful at feeding time.

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