Starting from scratch. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Starting from scratch.

Okay, so my friend has a horse that is REALLY skittish, can't be ridden, balks, and bites. I have no specific question other that WHERE TO START! Any ideas?
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 11:18 AM
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ground work. would be a great start. im watching some horses for a friend and one of them is very skiddish. ground work has helped her alot.

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post #3 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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What would you suggest? Like would using tarps and tin cans? We try to brush him and he will turn to bite, and hes scared of his own lead, to run, you name it, hes scared. I've never worked with a horse that has needed this much and I'm clueless
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post #4 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 02:19 PM
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start just like you would a weanling. he will have to be started from the very beginning. treat him as if he knows nothing. it will take lots of hard work, patience and time. if you dont feel safe i would also recommend sending him to a professional trainer for a few months. tarps and tin cans are good but i wouldnt suggest it at this time. show him that all things are not scary monsters out to get him. do you know his background and history? where was he before your friend got him? how was he treated?

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post #5 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 07:49 PM
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For starters, when he is scared, what does he do? Can you keep him at least facing the object and not running off, or is that not possible yet? I ask because what worked for me is to keep my horse facing the object, but without asking for squat. I never hold both reins tight at the same time, use alternating reins to keep him pointed toward the object with the logic that if he gets his butt turned away he's leaving. No leg pressure. I'm not asking him to pass the object. I'm only asking that he stops reacting to it. If he wants to back up, he can back up into next week as long as he keeps facing it. Once he settles down, only then do I ask for him to move on. Reward every try. It will get better. I credit all of this to Chris Cox who I ironically got to thank yesterday for just this same issue. My horse went from a reactive chicken to the big boy who can handle most everything.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 07:58 PM
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groud work is a really good start with him
doing heaps of different things to take his mind off things and keep him thinking but not making it to scary for him, start with small things and small noises and gradually get louder.
but ground work is always a good place to start, just spending time with the horse allowing him to adjust to your presense.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-14-2010, 08:23 PM
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When he gets scared of something, I would just get his feet to move, near, and around the object.

However, it sounds like he needs ALOT of groundwork, including desenstization of course, but he needs to learn how to respect you before you can work on object desensitization.

I would work in a rope halter with this horse, as well, so he can't "lean on" the halter...get one that has the extra knots on the nose, so you have the most feel with the least amount of pressure.

Start on the basics...#1 would be to get him to move out of your space, and stay there. He bites and kicks...that is a horse who doesn't come into your space until he respects it, and even then, ONLY when you invite him there.

Then start working on getting him to move his body for, lunging, yielding the hips, shoulders, sending between you and a fence (this is so he will be able to do that sort of exercise to over come fear of an object), ect.

When he will move his body for you whenever and however you ask, THEN work on desensitizing him to objects (I start with stick and string...). Start the exercise by just walking around (not facing the horse), and swinging the stick and string back and forth, and sideways beside you. When he is following without being fearful, then stop, turn and face him (stand just to the side, but in front of his shoulder...basically place yourself so if he lunges foward he can't trample you, nor can he reach foward and kick or strike you). Start the exercise over...not touching the horse quite yet...just swing it all around on that side, when he is quiet, relaxed and not moving, stop and pat him. Then repeat on the other side...ALWAYS do every exercise on each side.

I wouldn't even consider getting on a horse like this until he was unflappable on the ground.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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