Originally Posted by Tejas
Wow! Great progress! How did you teach her to pick up her feet? How was she about touching her face when you first started? I too have recently started with a filly that was out to pasture with 0 handling. She is very nervous around people, but she is starting to come around. She refuses to let me touch her muzzle. I will be sending her to a trainer to get her started under saddle when she is old enough and trusts people more. :) You have given me hope!
About the 1st week - I left her in her stall took her halter off and just let her get used to the stall - cause she has never been in one. I would come in couple of times a day and try to approach her - not really making too much eye contact, I would have the halter hanging over my arm and try to spend some time in the stall with her and let her get curious about me. Eventually I would come closer and closer till she would let me touch the side of her neck and withers and then head and I would rub on her A LOT. They will come to you for more because it feels good to them to rub on something. I would not go to touch her nose at this stage as she is learning to trust me and most horses don't like to have their nose touched at least at the beginning.
- on about day 3 I finally put a halter on her - it took me 20 minutes to do so! Once I had the halter on her things would progress a lot faster, because every time she got scared or spooked and tried to kick or bolt I could pull her pretty head facing me in no time.
- For the next 2 weeks I did a lot of desensitizing of her with lead rope (throwing the lead rope over her back, withers, butt, hind legs eth. And again lots of rubbing and love as she still did not know me well and was learning to trust me.
-at the same time I would start teaching her a little bit of backing away from me because you want her to respect your space - because if they spook they naturally run into you not away from you - so I made sure that running into my space was uncomfortable. Practiced some sending exercises - sending her left and right, disengaging hindquarters etc.
- at this point I would not be be real quiet around her - opposite is true, I was just working with her with my normal speed, being noisy, whistling, talking loud, making noises - if she spooked at anything, noise or moving object I would continue doing that noise or moving that object till she would stop moving her feet and relax
- why I am I saying all this? This was basically about getting the fear out of her and making her respectful towards me, so that anything I would ask her to do in the future she would do without much hesitation. Basically teaching her to trust me and respect me
That is a big one because you build on it - teaching to pickup feet was not that hard after this initial period - front feet were easy. Rub down her legs and cue for her to pickup was to squeeze her fetlock. Once she picks up you rub her leg - that is the reward - I would not just grab her foot at first though - she would freak out
- Hind legs - that one took a while - I made sure I did lots of desensitizing with rope, throwing rope around her legs, make sure she won't kick at it or spook. The use the rope to lift one of her hind legs, when she does - release. Lot of repetitions, when she was comfortable with that I would carefully reach down with my hands, but again lot of rubbing - as a form of desensitizing the horse to you as an object.
- Basically to me it's kind of like child upbringing - you get back what you put into them
She needed time to adjust and get comfortable in the completely new environment and get used to the noises and people and horse etc. - give your filly time to adjust and spend time with her -even if it's only 15-20 minutes daily - it's better then 2 hours 1 - 2 times a week, because you will become a regular part of her life. Don't get discouraged if there is a setback, she will come around - she needs time
How long have you had your filly? Congratulations!