Retraining an abused horse :( advice needed. - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 36 Old 08-04-2010, 06:21 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Australia
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I've been working with a horse recently that was hard to catch and wouldn't let anyone touch his ears. He was very hard to bridle because of this. I think that he had been ear twitched on many occasions. I completely disagree with this practice because you end up with horses just like this very head shy.

I believe in slowly, slowly with abused horses. It is very important that you gain their trust. If you have their trust you can work with them. Even though horses will never forget any cruelty done to them, I believe they can trust people that treat them well.

I am quite happy to spend several months working on a particular problem. I let the horse tell me what they are comfortable with and this dictates the speed at which we move through the problem. It's now been 2 months and I can hold both of his ears and move them back and forth. Bridling is no longer a problem and he is easy to catch.

I totally agree with the comments about putting him into a paddock. If a stable is where most of the horror happened he needs to be in a place where he will feel safe and with room to move.

The first thing I did was turn this head shy horse out into a nice paddock with my quiet dependable horse, who trusts me and will come up to me as soon as he sees me. I make sure that there is a bit of grass in the paddock but not enough to fill them up. They then need to depend on me for their feed.

I then got this new horse into a routine. I would feed him at the same time each day. I did nothing but feed him and talk to him for the first two weeks. After about a week he realised I was the food dispenser and he would look up expectantly when he saw me. Then I would add a few extra visits each day. I would go out a several times during the day with some pieces of carrot. My horse would come straight over and the new horse wasn't usually too far behind. No pressure. Just talk to him and give him a treat.

Eventually he was happy to be near me. As soon as I felt he was relaxed being around me then I would move my hand slowly toward him but only as close as he was happy with. The minute he looked worried I would retreat. Any time he moved toward me I would tell him what a wonderful boy he was and give him a bit of carrot. From this point forward he only gets a "good boy" and a treat if he moves toward me or let me touch his face. If he moves away I do nothing. Each day I could get a bit closer to his ears. You only need to spend a few minutes a few times a day on this a maximum of 10 minutes a day.

This routine and moving toward the horse and retreating can go on for weeks. Sometimes you might feel they have gone backward a few steps but just keep steadily working at it. It takes a lot of time and patience but the feeling you get when you know that this horse trusts you is SO worth it. I also find that because you have worked through one problem and you have this horse's trust it will now be much easier to work through other problems.

Good on you for wanting to help this horse

Jain & Trigger
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post #32 of 36 Old 08-05-2010, 09:42 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
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the buddy idea is good, also for the first little bit, get him used to the idea that everytime you come around somthing good happens, either feed him, or get him used to the idea of liking being touched by a human. Over time u will have to establish yourself as the leader and get the horse respecting you, its so sad because what horse wouldnt lash out at humans after being treated like that. Some people dont deserve to even be alive!! its a great thing you are doing though! good luck! and be safe!
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post #33 of 36 Old 08-06-2010, 12:02 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Michigan
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Its hard to give you pointers with out meeting the horse but right off the bat I have to say WOW... What a man. Someone should lock him up on several accounts if he hasn't already been!

As for the horse, you cannot erase his memory per-say but you can help him learn to cope. Do not stall him, leave him out in a large round pen with a calm, old, wise buddy near by (sharing fence) but not in with him if possible. A stall is an un-natural place for a horse to begin with (you don't see many wild Mustangs stalling themselves) and its the place where "things happened" to him.
My second piece of advice would be don't treat him like the kid whos mom died or the disabled kid from down the street. Hes a horse and he needs to learn to be one yet. YES its horrid what happened to him and he is totally expected to react (strike out and bite as mentioned) but your a human and he has to re-gain respect as well as trust.

Handing an abused, mis handled, neglected or any other sort of horse cookies and talking baby talk wont bring them where you need them. Your body language needs to speak LOUDLY to him. You are gentle, kind and here to help but if he plays dirty send him around the round pen a few times, don't back away and come back in a minute with a cookie. Re-train him being understanding of his life and condition but not coddling him. His aggression towards you isn't going to go away with kind words, its still a No-No.

I get more horses sent to me that "were abused 3 years ago" and still are allowed to have a chip on there shoulder. Its time to start the new chapter in life :) Like-wise I've taken some strait out of bad (similar) situations and can have them completely turned around with in a few weeks. Feel free to PM if you'd like - I haven't read many responses here but I'm sure you've gotten many different "ways it could be handled".

Last edited by New_image; 08-06-2010 at 12:06 AM.
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post #34 of 36 Old 08-06-2010, 08:57 AM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Europe
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I have just one tip and I don't mean to offend anyone AT ALL!

To the OP:

I am very glad of you that you are trying this on but since you have not worked with horses for this long it might be in the horse's favor to go to soomeone who has more recent experience with this sortof stuff. I have seen way to many horses being messed up more because even though the owner had good intensions they did not understand the body language.

Once again before anyone gets mad at me I am not trying to offend anyone but just trying to give some advice in my best intensions for the horse.

Oh and riding a horse is not like riding a bycicle. Many people get on a horse after not riding for many years and go for a trail ride or something and end up being scared and thrown off the horse because they can't remember how to handle it or their emotions. TRUST ME IT IS NOT LIKE RIDING A BYCICLE!!!!!!
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post #35 of 36 Old 08-06-2010, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Alice springs australia
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My first horse was abused! not a very good first horse but he hated men! i know that when he was broken in he was beated to flesh....:( pretty sad but any way he wouldnt let you touch his nose or neck and would always try jump over the fence or charge at you when going in but all i did was chuck him food over the fence and sit there and watch him eat and at night i would go and give him treats he got so used of me being around! soon he would let me go into his yard then pat his neck! but i still couldnt touch his nose!!! but evry day i woyuld go out there and give him a carrot but as he reached out to get it i would touch him on the nose with it....he soon got used of me touching his nose and after a few months i could touch him all over. I TRIED RIDING HIM MANY TIMES BUT WOULD ONLY LET ME RIDE HIM BAREBACK STRANGE! I EVENTUALLY LET HIM RETIRE AND PUT HIM ON 200 ACERS WITH MY FRIENDS HORSES STILL GO VISIT HIM! i give him kisses on the nose to!
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post #36 of 36 Old 08-06-2010, 11:40 AM
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Location: Michigan
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SugarPlumLove - I second that.
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