Spooking/Refusing to move - methods, when to apply them?
 
 

       The Horse Forum > Training Horses > Horse Training

Spooking/Refusing to move - methods, when to apply them?

This is a discussion on Spooking/Refusing to move - methods, when to apply them? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Horse refusing to go where you want it to
  • Naughty horse refusing ditch

 
LinkBack Thread Tools
    05-10-2010, 03:06 PM
  #1
Foal
Spooking/Refusing to move - methods, when to apply them?

Ok, this thread has two purposes. One to (hopefully) solve I problem I have and the second out of sheer curiosity of different people's methods.

So first off. I ride a little mare than belongs to a stud. She's got gorgeous ground manners, and is starting to go well in her dressage and hunter jumping training. Little history about her for those who might not be familiar with Anita, she was bought in at 10 years old, from what the manager of the stud suspects was an abusive home. She has quite a few scars on her face and, when the stud got her, she was point-blank terrified of crops. If she saw one, someone tried to carry one on her or even if she heard another horse getting hit with a crop, she would freak out, spin in circles and get very panicky.

Now to the situation at hand (she is by the way, thanks to months of desensitizing, not nearly as terrified of crops and I was even able to ride her with a dressage whip - just to see her reaction as I'm not a huge fan of crops/whips on nervous horses, she was fine with the dressage whip though I obviously did not use it on her). Anyway, there is this ditch, a large, quite steep ditch that we have to cross (not jump over but go down into and then out again) in order to go on outrides to the farm next door.

For some reason, my mare is terrified of this ditch, but only when going back home. She will cross it, if being lead by another horse, going away from the stables but not on the way back. Another girl was riding the mare and the same problem arose (no matter how many times we eventually manage to get her across, every time she gets there, she freezes up and refuses to budge) but she, as her wits end, took a thin slender branch and smacked her horse until she crossed. This has not resolved the problem needless to say and the mare still refuses to cross the ditch on the way back home. (And was very jittery and skittish returning to the stables after having a crop used to get her to cross)

So basically, any ideas on how to get her to cross it?

The strange thing is, its only THIS one ditch. I can get her, through lots of groundwork first, and then work in the saddle to cross other ditches, go into deep water, walk across blankets/tarps on the ground etc. It seems like she almost has a mental block on this particular ditch

Then, to the second part, what are your methods to deal with

A) Spooking
B) Refusing to move

And then, do they differ with

A) A horse just being naughty
B) A nervous horse who is scared?

I'd love to hear everyones opinions!
     
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
    05-10-2010, 04:13 PM
  #2
Trained
I have some basic advice for you. =]

Firstly, when I'm riding, or leading, a horse that stops and refuses to move forward, you can almost always get them to go forward after you circle them and work the hindquarters. It has always worked for me to get them "un-stuck."

Second, when my horse refuses to go forward, she will still go backwards. So when we are on the trail and she doesn't want to go forward anymore, I can turn her in the direction she wants to go, and move her backwards in the direction I want to go. Eventually, she realizes it's a lot easier to go where I want to go walking forwards than it is to go where I want to go walking backwards. I have done this going up a pretty big, steep hill, but I'm not sure the ditch you are mentioning would be a great place to use this technique.

When a horse is being naughty [typically the case with my horse] I just get tougher and more or less "force" her to go. My horse typically decides she doesn't want to continue on the trail and will spin around [to the left] to head around. I will spin her back around [to the right, I will never let her "finish" a circle] and give her a squeeze. Squeeze turns into kick, kick turns into a good whack with the ends of my reins. If that doesn't work, I use my "backwards" technique.

If she is truly scared or sceptical of something, I let her stop and observe. I won't immediately force her closer, but I won't let her retreat. When she stops focusing on the scary object, I ask her foward. If she's really scared, I will dismount and lead her forward and show her the scary object isn't scary. Then, I will re-mount and walk back and forth by the scary object several times before we continue.

To be more specific to your situation, I would just walk her up to the ditch and expect her to cross. If you don't think she will, she definitely won't. Will power, baby! If you are calm, assertive, and confident, your horse will feed off that energy. If she doesn't cross, don't let her retreat, but rather, walk her back and forth a few times. Maybe she will cross a few feet to the left or the right, or perhaps at an angle? I would also see if there are any differences on that side compared to the other. I.e., a bush on the way out will look different on the way back. If all else fails, work on leading her through it, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Lead her along inside the ditch if you can. Then re-mount and try again. Seeing as she came from an abusive situation, I would not use a stick, whip, or rein ends, as the problem can easily escalate. If you know what you're doing, spurs may help you enforce "go."

Sorry for the long-winded reply, I hope you can find something that works for you!
     
    05-12-2010, 05:41 AM
  #3
Foal
Thanks so much for the time you took to type your reply.

I've tried circling her, she'll circle away from the ditch very happily but the moment I approach it again, she freezes up completely. I've even tried to approach at a trot (canter is too fast for the steepness of the ditch) but its like she hits a wall and stops dead.

The reversing/backwards is a good idea though I don't want to try it for this particular situation as you mentioned, but definitely a good idea to try in the future if she gets freaked out by something else =)

Unfortunately there is only one place to cross, the ditch and its side are covered with thick brush and theres only a two metre or so area that has been cleared for us to cross. As for trying to get her to cross by leading, even that doesnt work. Which is strange as for anything else that is scary, if I get off and lead her, she will walk with me and approach the object, even if she's skittish and nervy the whole time. Its one of the goals I had with the endless hours of ground work I put it. But for some reason it doesnt work for this ditch, she simply refuses to move, if I put pressure on her, she'll move from side to side but never closer to the ditch, we had to resort to putting a rope around her haunches and physically pulling her over to cross once.

Maybe I must just go out there with a halter and a good long lead rope and work on getting closer and closer to it. Maybe if I take it slow she'll eventually get over her fear of this stupid ditch!
     
    05-12-2010, 10:17 AM
  #4
Yearling
I would do as riccilove said. Turn her in circles, and get her working around that area. It's easier said than done, of course. I can't really explain how I do it, but I just basically force my horse to cross something she doesn't want to cross. If it's really bad, I'll get off, and lead her across, than lead her back across, get on and try to cross again with me on her.

I'd also like to add, that smacking a horse with anything, will not make the situation any better. They might associate pain/punishment with that area, and REALLY not want to cross it, let alone go anywhere near it ever again. Good Luck!
     
    05-12-2010, 10:43 AM
  #5
Green Broke
I had a horse that was very very spooky on trails when I first got her. The best advice I can give is to really watch the horses body language so you know when they are going to spook. Usually you will feel some tension through the back muscles, they will lift their head up quite high and they will lock their ears on whatever it is that they are about to spook at (quite often I found it was completely invisible to the human eye).

When my girl started to behave like this (for her it was logs on the side of the trail, fallen down trees and large sticks, perfectly happy to jump them but no way she would walk past them quietly, go figure!) I would use whichever rein is on the FAR side of the scary object to act like I am going to make her walk away from the object. This provides some relief for the horse as they don't feel under direct pressure to approach what is is that is frightening them. At the same time, I would use my leg (same side as the rein I am employing) to push her inadvertently in a straight line past the object. I never tried to get her to walk as close as possible to the object or towards it, rather I wanted her to continue in a straight line past the object as if it was never there in the first place.

This all depends on recognizing the signals that your horse gives you that they are about to spook, once they have spooked it is too late. So the most important thing is to watch their behaviour and try and get a feel for what scares them so you can see it up ahead on the trail and start with the hand/leg commands. It took a while for me (about 4-6 months) but my girl ended up being an exceptional horse to take out on trails, I never stopped watching her body language though as every now and then she would decide there was a lion in the bushes.

P.S. I loved RicciLoves advice about walking backwards, I don't know why it is but horses will often walk backwards when they refuse to walk forwards but they do.
     
    05-12-2010, 12:01 PM
  #6
Foal
Thank you everyone for your advice I really appreciate it.

PechosGoldenChance, working her in circles isn't a problem, though I can't work her very close to the ditch do to the bush/tree cover there but I can work her about 10m away. I can work her there and work her there but bring her to the ditch, same problem. She stops dead. As for leading, that doesnt work either which, as I mentioned earlier, is strange as I can usually lead her up to anything, even if she's afraid of it.

sarahver, very good advice for a spooking horse! I also found that was the best and back when my mare was more spooky that she is today (thankfully due to groundwork she's a lot better than most of the horses at the stud), I also had to be on full alert. And I do it now anyway, just to be on the safe side =)
     
    05-12-2010, 12:20 PM
  #7
Foal
[QUOTE=munschk;629381]Ok, this thread has two purposes. One to (hopefully) solve I problem I have and the second out of sheer curiosity of different people's methods.

So first off. I ride a little mare than belongs to a stud. She's got gorgeous ground manners, and is starting to go well in her dressage and hunter jumping training. Little history about her for those who might not be familiar with Anita, she was bought in at 10 years old, from what the manager of the stud suspects was an abusive home. She has quite a few scars on her face and, when the stud got her, she was point-blank terrified of crops. If she saw one, someone tried to carry one on her or even if she heard another horse getting hit with a crop, she would freak out, spin in circles and get very panicky.

Now to the situation at hand (she is by the way, thanks to months of desensitizing, not nearly as terrified of crops and I was even able to ride her with a dressage whip - just to see her reaction as I'm not a huge fan of crops/whips on nervous horses, she was fine with the dressage whip though I obviously did not use it on her). Anyway, there is this ditch, a large, quite steep ditch that we have to cross (not jump over but go down into and then out again) in order to go on outrides to the farm next door.

For some reason, my mare is terrified of this ditch, but only when going back home. She will cross it, if being lead by another horse, going away from the stables but not on the way back. Another girl was riding the mare and the same problem arose (no matter how many times we eventually manage to get her across, every time she gets there, she freezes up and refuses to budge) but she, as her wits end, took a thin slender branch and smacked her horse until she crossed. This has not resolved the problem needless to say and the mare still refuses to cross the ditch on the way back home. (And was very jittery and skittish returning to the stables after having a crop used to get her to cross)

So basically, any ideas on how to get her to cross it?

The strange thing is, its only THIS one ditch. I can get her, through lots of groundwork first, and then work in the saddle to cross other ditches, go into deep water, walk across blankets/tarps on the ground etc. It seems like she almost has a mental block on this particular ditch

Then, to the second part, what are your methods to deal with

A) Spooking
B) Refusing to move

And then, do they differ with

A) A horse just being naughty
B) A nervous horse who is scared?

I have a horse with this same problem to get her through it I took her to this certain spot and led her through it continuosuly using treats and she eventually out grew her fear of it. It takes alot of patients and extra time but in the end it is worth it.
     
    05-12-2010, 01:07 PM
  #8
Weanling
For whatever reason she is lacking the ability to process how to maneuver over the ditch coming home, obviously. Lol The best thing I can advise is not to rush or push her. Keep it obvious to her that you would like to cross it so correct her if she attempt another route but never having the energy that you're asking her to cross it. She needs time to try and figure the situation out for herself rather than you trying to hurry her over it, which it doesn't sound like you are doing. If possible, move her haunches a step to the right, then left, then right, and moment she goes to give attention to the ditch a head of her, stop all aids and pet on her. The reward is the ditch. She has to make an effort to try at least so get her feet moving. You have to be careful that you don't continue to keep her feet moving after an effort on her part. Just a subtle look at the ditch is enough for a huge reward. Once you get her over, repeat it until she walks over the ditch both ways willingly. It might take you all day so don't make plans. ;)
If you get her over the ditch after a strenuous session and then leave it at that it, the next time you go to cross it she will remember it as a stressful event and continue to refuse to budge. Leave the situation with her going over it a few times calmly and willingly and it will carry over to the next time.
Another thing you might try is getting her into the ditch going away from home and stopping halfway through, turning her, and walking out coming home. Do that a few times and then try going all the way through and all the way through heading home. Try to break it down more simply for her. Remember, the place of peace is the ditch and nowhere else. Unless she is making an effort to work out how to get across, keep her feet busy.

As far as the whips are concerned, you need to start getting her curious of the whips instead of being afraid for her to really have a break through. You can do that by doing some simple groundwork. Walk along ahead of her, where you are able to keep your eye on her. Have a whip in your hand and walk forward, quietly waving the whip in front of you, and she's to follow it. She'll dance sideways and be weary of it, but be careful not to ever let the whip come at her, you are always in between her and the whip and the whip is always moving away from her. Do this until she calms down considerably and repeat until you can wave the whip and make a noise with it and she doesn't try to shy away. Then you can turn around to face her, walk backwards, and have her follow the whip (hold it still). Just hold it out in front of you and let her sniff if, but don't let her get too close. You want to spark her curiosity not her fear. Once she realizes the whip is never going at her, and that she is following it and making it move you will start to see a change. If she gets at all curious in these sessions, stop for the day. Reward her for curiosity.
Good luck! :)

     

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Refusing? NordicJuniper Horse Training 6 02-04-2010 05:47 PM
Horse refusing to be caught. jumpwhat007 Horse Training 10 06-08-2009 09:14 PM
Spooking PalominoStarsky Horse Training 26 01-04-2009 10:57 AM
Refusing to Ride. Small_Town_Girl Horse Riding 9 05-02-2008 01:14 AM
Spooking to get out of work? horsestar8100 Horse Training 18 04-07-2008 07:46 AM



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:23 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0