Spooky horse+herd bound - did I do the right thing? - Page 2

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Spooky horse+herd bound - did I do the right thing?

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    08-20-2012, 12:17 AM
patience pole
One of these days, I'm going to get one of these.
Crystal09 and barrelbeginner like this.
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    08-20-2012, 12:20 AM
Super Moderator
Punk, I think you're perhaps getting caught on the tree idea. The point isn't (won't be to her) that she's tied to tree, it's that she's being forced to figure out a constructive way to deal with the feelings she's having.
Basically, imo, right now she's reacting how her instincts tell her to - panic because she's a prey animal, alone.
The idea of tying her to a tree (which I'm going to implement with my stupidly herd bound foster - thanks Cherie!!) is that she is trained to deal with the feelings she's having. She'll make the connection that she CAN'T run around stupidly and she'll learn that being alone doesn't actually kill her like her instincts are telling her.
It's all about overriding the negative (to our thinking) instincts with training.
The point is that eventually, even without being tied to a tree, she'll remember her training and calm herself down with no human guidance needed. :)

Make sense? :)
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    08-20-2012, 12:23 AM
I guess I'm curious the psychology behind it, how it makes a horse more comfortable with things that are scary. I'm a very logical person and I don't really understand how it works to teach a horse to not be spooky. Or how it works to teach a horse to not be upset when a friend leaves the barn. I'm very curious to know the thought process behind it.

Does anyone else have any other suggestions on how to handle this situation? I'm going to keep thinking on ways I can get her tied. But in the mean time other ideas would be great >.<

Edit: Wallaby I just saw yours after I posted this - this does help explain it - I'm still kinda foggy on the idea, but I'm not opposed to trying new things - I've found my good girl to be very forgiving anyway.
    08-20-2012, 12:26 AM
Super Moderator
I have seen pipes set in the ground in 4 feet of concrete. The one I saw was a heavy 4 inch oilfield pipe. It was about 10 feet tall.

It had a short piece of 2 inch pipe inserted in the top of it with a 3 or 4 foot long 2 inch pipe welded out to the side to the smaller pipe. There was a big ring or a horseshoe welded to the end of the 3 foot pipe with a lead-rope tied down from it. The horse was tied to that short pipe stuck out 3 or 4 feet from the big upright pipe. The horse could go around the big pipe by pulling the little short pipe around.

It is not safe to tie a horse to a post or pipe where it can wrap itself around the post and run out of rope. A horse can break its neck. But, the rope held out away from the upright pipe would stop that.

We have several big 300 and 400 barrel oilfield tanks that have been made into tack rooms and grain bins. The 400 barrel tanks hold a semi-load of grain. They are 20 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter. The 300 barrel tanks are 15 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter. They are not going anywhere.

We have horseshoes welded to the sides of the tanks about 7 feet above the ground. The tanks are smooth and it is about impossible for a horse to get hurt seriously tied to one. If a horse is green or reactive, we use a 20 foot nylon rope with a big bull snap. We run the rope through the horseshoe and it it off to another horseshoe 7 or 8 feet away. That way, if a horse throws itself down or falls down, we can release the horse without having to cut the rope or get in front of its feet. It isn't exactly safe to try to turn a fighting or cast horse loose when you have to get between it and the tank. Same is true for a horse tied to a trailer or a stall. We just use a very long rope, run it through the tie ring and tie it off a distance away.
    08-20-2012, 12:32 AM
What you can do also, is take the pony out to his field first in the morning (assuming they are in at night), and ignore her fits of anger and rage. Leave her in the stall until she's calm (but stay in there with her) and then take her outside to her paddock.

We did this with a young pony we had at our barn, who went completely ballistic whenever he was near the end of the turn out list. He just didn't want to be inside and wait patiently. He even broke a stall door in half because he flipped so much. His owner would grain him, and in the beginning, she would tie him to the back of his stall while we turned out the other horses. If he was good, he got turned out quickly behind the other horses. If he misbehaved, he stayed in as long as it took for him to chill and become handleable.
barrelbeginner likes this.
    08-20-2012, 12:33 AM
Super Moderator
patience pole
One of these days, I'm going to get one of these.
I wish I had waited to post my lengthy description. I have never seen one of these but it is identical to the home-made one I saw, only that one was much taller where the horse could not hit its head. It was otherwise identical and very effective.
    08-20-2012, 12:39 AM
Randella that's what I was thinking of doing but to a further extreme, taking the pony away for a few hours with her in her stall. Cherie said it wouldn't work.

Cherie I am no way near that handy - I'm going to look around my barn tomorrow and see if I can see any way to safely tie her. If I find a sturdy enough fence post on her paddock fence could I use that? One that has a fence on it, so she can't circle it and get tied tighter. I'm still really trying to figure out how this works - I believe it does I just don't fully understand how. Maybe I'm just being dense.

I'd love a patience pole, but I'm sure it's out of my price range - I'm also renting and can't 'install' anything.

I guess I mean, how does it help her be less spooky?

The more I think on it the more useful I think it will be, she is stronger than me and really seems to know it, though she does behave quite well. I think this will be quite humbling for her.
    08-20-2012, 01:02 AM
Ok I have one tree I could potentially use, if I'm allowed to take the fence down away from it (it has a fence built around it, not sure why, maybe for when the tree was new).

How do I do it? Do I tie her up and leave her for how long? Until she's quietly resting? What happens when I untie her will she explode or walk out calmly? I'm going to try this tomorrow, assuming I get permission to remove the fencing.
    08-20-2012, 05:35 AM
Originally Posted by PunksTank    
I guess I'm curious the psychology behind it, how it makes a horse more comfortable with things that are scary. I'm a very logical person and I don't really understand how it works to teach a horse to not be spooky. Or how it works to teach a horse to not be upset when a friend leaves the barn. I'm very curious to know the thought process behind it.
I'm not, like, some expert on horse psychology, but I do enjoy studying animal behaviour. To my understanding, it's like exposure therapy for humans. Like Wallaby said, her instincts are basically telling her she's going to get eaten if she's alone. By tying her up and making her live through being alone, she will just learn that she will not get eaten when she's alone, and accept that it's a waste of her energy to go into fight or flight mode when there is clearly no danger.

As for making her less spooky in general, I don't have the expertise to comment much. But I think that the tying up could help. My thinking is that since she is very heavily herd-oriented, she may only feel safe in her "herd", I.e. With her pony. So when you take her out to do things with her, she's on edge because she's "alone"--without her "herd", I.e. Pony (aaah I'mma going to get eaten!) and every little thing sets her off. Maybe by forcing her to be alone, and making her see "Hey, when the pony isn't around, it doesn't matter, nothing bad even happens" she will be less reactive to things in general when she's away from him. Just my hypothesis. XD
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    08-20-2012, 09:02 AM
Originally Posted by PunksTank    

I guess I mean, how does it help her be less spooky?
There are much more knowledgeable people than me posting on this thread, but I thought I'd jump in anyway.

Tying her and leaving her probably won't make your mare less spooky, but it will help with two things: the excessive herd-bonding, and the behaviour she exhibits.

You need to make sure she can't break whatever she's tied to, the halter, the rope, or the snaps if you're using them. If she does, your job just got a lot harder.

Make sure the space is clear around the tying place, tie her securely and all the time with a no-nonsense-no-babying manner, then simply leave her, ideally out of her sight but where you can keep an eye on her.
She will probably have a bit of a melt-down, but let her. She needs to find out that a) nothing she does will change her situation, and b) she'll be more comfortable and less tired if she stops spazzing out about it. So you leave her until she's looking bored and until you're convinced she really is bored with the situation (note: we're talking hours, here). Just accepting it doesn't cut it. Ideally you want her dozing off...
If, after you think she is properly bored, you walk out there and she starts prancing about, turn tail and go away again until she is calmly resting once more.
What you do then depends a bit on her character. You could turn her out with her pony for a bit, or you could take her back to her stall just to reinforce being away from her pony, you could give her some nice scratches and a carrot...

The next time she's away from her pony, or some event happens that she thinks she ought to have control over, she might realise a bit quicker that her having a fit doesn't change anything. It also teaches her that you do. Not. Fight. With. A. Rope. But this does have to be reinforced with repeated training, even if one good tying-out can work wonders.

I wouldn't recommend the fence option if you can avoid it. Mine ripped a fence post out and went running off with it sliding behind her. And she's not near as big as yours...

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