Spooky naughty pony :(

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Spooky naughty pony :(

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    05-01-2011, 07:54 AM
Unhappy Spooky naughty pony :(

Hi there,

I have been sharing a pony now (13.2hh grey gelding, 12yrs old) since september 2010, he's always been a bit wary of things but recently he's gotten a lot worse. Before easter, i'd just started to get him hacking out alone and with a bit of encouragement and bravery from me it was going quite well. I've come back after my 4 week easter holiday and although his owner has been lunging him and has had people riding him he's just turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Problem 1) He's impossible to catch, even with a bucket of carrots he still doesnt want to be caught and he trots and canters around the paddock taking the absolute mickey out of me. The only sure way of catching him is taking his field companion out of the field and then going back for him, in which case, he stands good as gold while you put his head collar on and lead him away.

Problem 2) He's scared of everything on the way in from the field - we walk down a small track and into the yard where his stable is.. The first challenge is to get him through the gate of his field where he just plants his feet and refuses to move - with a little shuffling around and smacks on the bottom he gradually gets the idea that he has to leave and does so.. The next challenge is just walking in - he gets scared of things in the hedge, rugs on the floor, anything he has an excuse for really.. Bearing in mind he's 12 years old and he was never like this to bring in before, I don't understand whats happened.

Problem 3) He's spooky in general - He used to be fine walking around the yard but now he gets worried and tries to run away from anything, such as the bench, the fillers from jumps, bucket, bags etc..
To ride in the menage he is absolutely lovely (unless there's something scary in there like a bag), really responsive, a bit strong at times but that's just his nature, which for me is fine.. As soon as we come out of the school he is snorting and tense all over again and scared of everything, he's so tense being ridden in the jumping paddock and I don't dare try and take him out for a hack by himself anymore. I havent taken him out in company yet but i'd be worried to do this as well..

I just don't know where to go from here and speaking to others on the yard I don't think they do either and neither does his owner. I'd really just appreciate some helpful advice, comments or anything that could possibly point me in the right direction with this pony. Before easter it seemed like we had formed a slight bond - which took a really long time! And I was looking forward to doing bigger and better things with him, we were jumping the top of the blocks and having fun out hacking and everything before and I just don't know whats happened. Whether something has happened that I don't know about or his owner lets him get away with things, I don't know.. I just need some help to start again :)
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    05-01-2011, 08:45 AM
Green Broke
I didn't have to read everything to tell you that this is not going to be an easy fix. A Huge reason: Everybody rides him. Everybody has their way of handling him. This is a huge problem when you have one horse and many people riding it is so hard.

"Problem 1) He's impossible to catch, even with a bucket of carrots he still doesnt want to be caught and he trots and canters around the paddock taking the absolute mickey out of me." Disrespect issue.

"Problem 2) He's scared of everything on the way in from the field - we walk down a small track and into the yard where his stable is.. The first challenge is to get him through the gate of his field where he just plants his feet and refuses to move - with a little shuffling around and smacks on the bottom he gradually gets the idea that he has to leave and does so.. "
Has he always done this?

Problem 2 and problem 3 are basically the same. For one, it sounds like he is just fresh. Testing you all over again. How good of a rider are you? How old are you? Not that it should matter but just curious. This is a long fix. Trust and patience. Can you handle that? Do you have confidence in yourself to get him through this? I am asking these questions as I can try and help you. But I need answers. Thanks
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    05-01-2011, 09:35 AM

I am 21, I think most would say i'm a good rider yes, and I am definitely a confident rider which does help him.. I have been trying out different things with him to build up his confidence over the past week i've been back both ridden and on the ground - he gradually gets the idea, but with this guy, you never know if he's going to take one step forwards and 100 back again. I realise that there'll never be a quick fix for him but I am willing to try and I have the confidence to be persistent with him. Thanks
    05-01-2011, 10:31 AM
Green Broke
Ok. Please do not take offense when I say you need to answer my question. So most people say your a good rider, good, but do you think your a good rider? Can you explain to me how you build up his confidence? Thinking positive and not looking at what he might happen. Try not to anticipate anything bad. He can pick up your feelings.
What do you do with him on the ground? What is your discipline? Ok, enough questions. I will do my best to help.
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    05-01-2011, 11:10 AM
Apologies, yes I am (I just don't like saying so lol) he is just a happy hacker (english) at the moment and I am supposed to be riding him just for pleasure, his owners wanted to do some showing with him this year but I doubt that will happen. He's a very good jumper when he wants to be, we were progressing well before but as I say, the pleasure has turned into a chore really.. Which I don't necessarily mind, its nice to have the challenge but I do need some help on the ground in order to build up his confidence when I ride.
What i've started off doing is just walking him around the yard and jumping field (ridden) and allowing him the time to stop and take a look at things he is scared of, gradually ask him to move closer and let him sniff it.. He gets a rub and a pat and we walk away and then walk past the object several times until he's cool as a cucumber with it. On the ground I havent had much chance to introduce many objects but i've accomplished swinging ropes, pieces of paper, big plastic bottles and just started the plastic bag which he seems to be coping with alright in his stable - I start of just spending some time with him, touching him allover and then I introduce the object into the environment.. Let him have a look at it and gradually progress to me moving it around, touching him with it etc.. To take him out onto the yard in hand is difficult because he's so stubborn/takes the mickey.. He'll walk next to you until he decides he doesnt want to and then stop and plant his feet, it takes a few minutes to get him moving again but if you face him with an object he's frightened of in a bigger space he backs off fast and there's no chance of getting him anywhere near or even walking past. Its easier to give him confidence if im riding because I do what you said - think positive, put my leg on and ride as if nothing would happen.
    05-01-2011, 11:32 AM
Green Broke
I think you have the idea. Ok. Walking him around the yard is good. Getting him used to everything at once can be overwhelming to some horses. But as I reread, you did say you introduce things. Starting slow and moving the object into the environment is good. Heres what I learned, moving a scary object away from the animal helps to build confidence. He will get a sense of control. Like if you move it away and have him follow you with the object he will think he is chasing it. But let him follow you at his safe zone. A couple feet behind. As he calms down you can ask himto come closer. Approach and retreat.

I love how you had him pass a scary object until he calmed down. Remember, don't push him to get close until you see him calm down. With each pass, he should calm down and then you get slowly get closer. I was told from a trainer, when they are afraid of an object, to turn the head away and pass. Staying calm in the saddle. Take deep breaths so you can check your own anxiety level.

Do you know any natural horsemanship at all? Or Clinton Anderson training? Im not advocating anything but I personally have had success with this training. Im not even telling you my way is the right way. Just my opinions and training success.

When he balks (wont move feet), pull him off balance. If he still wont move forward, turn him around and try again with more encouragement. If he fights, let him. He is telling you he is uncomfortable. So give him space to pass something scary. As long as he passes it. I've said alot so I need to hear from you and what you think.
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    05-01-2011, 11:44 AM
That sounds good, its nice to hear i've been doing some of the right things.. I think i'll try some approach and retreat and see how that goes, i've never been taught any natural horsemanship but I was getting the feeling that it might be the right thing to try with this pony, perhaps it would be worth looking into.. Thank you for the advice :) I really appreciate it, i'll let you know how it goes!
    05-01-2011, 11:49 AM
Green Broke
Your welcome. His reactions to things will tell you how far you can approach. But don't retreat if he shys away. That will tell him to shy. Just wait til you get a calm reaction then retreat. Good luck
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    05-01-2011, 03:20 PM
Why not just take a good book, a chair and your treats and just sit in the paddock with him. Don't even think about him. You are just sharing his space. Read your book and have no expectations of him. He will pick up on that. Let whatever happens, happen. He may chose to stay away or approach. Just ignore him unless he gets pushy then back him up just enough to get him out of your space. He knows you have treats. As you are leaving, it's ok to share treats with him. If he follows you to the gate - great but keep your mind blank about it.
    05-02-2011, 09:11 AM
So yesterday I had some success..

I spent an hour with him and his companion just walking up close and then walking away again, as he let me get nearer and nearer I progressed to patting him and walking away again. In the end he was following me around a little and let me put his leadrope on and take him out of the paddock. Success!!

He still refused to walk through the gate at the top of the field though and still planted his feet a few times down the track on the way in but I guess we can work on that still..

advice please, naughty, spooky

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