teaching horse to move away from a stick or line - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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teaching horse to move away from a stick or line

I'm just starting to work with my mare for the season again. I got her last summer and did some riding with her and found I have much more control in the saddle than on the ground. She was completely saddle trained, no ground work.

I have been desensitising her to a stick ( I don't have an anderson or parelli stick, I use a bright yellow snow marker stick about 4 ft. long. ) or I use my lunge line.

She lets me touch her all over with both, head to tail, under belly, legs etc.

Now that she knows not to be afraid how do I go about getting her to move away from the stick or line?

If I try to move her body with my hands, like giving a push along her ribs or rump she will swing her head, pin her ears and even act like she wants to bite. She won't scoot over, so I thought if I use a stick or line to teach her to move her I will be safer from a bite etc, and teach her respect that way but as she has no fear of the stick or line she just stands there and doesn't move away even if I try to push gently with the stick or tap with the stick. She just stands perfectly still.

I saw an Anderson article about swinging the line vigorously and then moving the stick up and down to drive the horse back.

anyone have any tips?
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 03:19 PM
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My Fjord was the same way. I hardly had to do any desensitizing to the whip in terms of it going to kill her because she really didn't care. Sooo when I got to actually wanting to train her to lunge, I tried swinging it near her butt without much success. In comes in the "ask, tell, demand" method. First, I pushed on her butt with the whip (which I would only recommend if you have a long whip. I do not know your horse and how reactive it is in terms of kicking out or back.).

If that didn't work, I started tapping her butt to get her to move away. That worked somewhat well, but still resulted in stopping and refusing the move forward. So the strength of the taps increased (Disclaimer: I did not beat the crap out of my horse). This worked.

There's a difference between being scared of a whip and respecting it. She wasn't scared that it would kill her because I wasn't just wailing on her, but she did respect it because if she didn't pay attention to the cue it was providing, she got a smack in the butt. The same as she is not afraid of me because she does get her manners checked, but she respects me because I don't allow her to walk all over me.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 03:41 PM
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When you desensitize a horse to a stick or rope, you always want to follow up with them yielding to it. Desensitizing a horse isn't about showing a horse that the rope or whip is something to ignore. It's about showing a horse that it can be ignored sometimes, only when you're swinging the rope and whip about and you're not giving the horse any cues. It's just like your hand. Your hand is meaningless when you're scratching your hair, or swatting a fly away, or taking a drink. But it does mean something to the horse when you point, or swing towards their hindquarters, or pet them. That's exactly how the rope and whip should be. So after you show the horse that it won't hurt the horse, always follow up with asking them to yield to it just so the horse can distinguish when to yield and when to not care. Otherwise, you're going to wind up with a horse that ignores the whip and rope all the time, and therefore by extension, is going to ignore you all the time.

Controlling a horse's body is about influencing her mind, not her body. If you try to push your horse around, you're going to lose. She's either going to completely ignore you, or (as she has shown) get really irritated and start to kick or bite because it's extremely disrespectful to her. Think about if you walked up to a person and just tried to shove them out of your way instead of asking them to move over. If the person is a jerk, they'd say "uhh, no you don't," and probably punch you in the face.

Cues should be taught in stages. If you want your horse to move over, you should be able to do it just by tapping the whip in the air. If the horse doesn't move, then you tap the horse's hip. If the horse still didn't move, you'd tap it a little bit harder until it annoys the horse so much that the horse finally decides to move over. You always start with the lightest cue first, because the horse will know that if she doesn't move over at that point, more annoying cues are going to follow. Pushing and shoving the horse is only going to be met with resistance, and if the horse decides to plant her feet against your pushing and shoving, then the next highest cue would be kicking and punching, because that's how high you've set the lightest cue.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 04:10 PM
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 05:09 PM
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Don't peck at the horse you will only annoy it as you saw with her attempts to bite you. I start with a light but firm tap. No movement, I hit harder and still not movement I hit firm hard and concise, you do want to make it hurt, when the horse moves I release all pressure. I'm not say beat her up though. She needs to move when you ask. The horse that moves is the less dominant one. Right now your the less dominant one in her eyes. Demand movement. If she's told to get moving by a dominant horse the horse may ask nice the first time but if they don't move that dominant horse will pin its ears charge their space and bite them and make them move. You gotta think in similar terms, your the boss make them move! Horses are much bigger than people, you got to show them who is boss.
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Last edited by Peppy Barrel Racing; 03-29-2013 at 05:12 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 05:28 PM
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If your horse has become completely unresponsive to the whip, you might have to go back and re-teach her to listen to it.

I worked with a Morgan horse who was completely unafraid of the whip. You could smack the carp out of him with it and he might flick his ear at it. He would purposely deal with the pressure just to prove that you couldn't move him. The way I retaught him to listen to the whip is I took advantage of his attitude. I walked into the roundpen without asking him to come to me, and just swung the whip at him and pointed in the direction I wanted him to go. This instinctively got him moving just at a slow walk. Thats what I started with. Any kind of avoidance of pressure is what you're looking for, even if the horse slouches at it.

Swing the whip only to bump up speed, even if it's just a tiny bit. Don't crack, don't cluck or kiss, just give a light wave of the whip and stop all swinging if the horse picks up speed. Always point before you swing the whip, because the end goal is to make the whip a back-up tool, not something you rely on every time you work with the horse. Let the horse go at that speed, then swing the whip lightly again. The horse will begin to listen to the whip when it moves, and pick up speed. When she's getting pretty responsive, test her by letting her slow down, then swing the whip and get her up to a trot (or if she's already at a trot, a canter). Every time she slows to a slower gait, swing the whip slightly to bring her up a gait.

*Also want to mention, never ever ever ever ever ever swing the whip to maintain speed. ONLY swing it to increase speed, and ALWAYS make sure you get that increased speed. If you swing the whip to maintain speed, your horse will learn to ignore the whip because you're basically just nagging.*
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Last edited by Laffeetaffee; 03-29-2013 at 05:31 PM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-29-2013, 06:49 PM
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Subbing as I have a big, lazy, whip-proof dominant boy.

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post #8 of 11 Old 03-30-2013, 12:41 AM
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The horse learns from your body language also, if you watch Clinton Anderson's method he at first bends in slightly and stares at the rear......tap the air, tap them and then spank....it doesn't take long for them to recognize the tap means disengage the hind end or front end...

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post #9 of 11 Old 03-30-2013, 01:13 AM
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Just took my 3 1/2 year old for an assessment with the trainer I want to get to work with him. Mocha has been pushy lately, getting in my space, testing me and being disrespectful. The trainer used a cowboy lead with a leather strap on the end and used it on his shoulder to get him away from him. Started gently and then smacked hard if he didn't move out of his space. Also, working with Mocha to learn the 4 foot space where he is not to coming into unless invited. I have continued this at the barn and what a difference it has made. I have Mocha on a lead with me a lot right now, pushing the wheelbarrow, walking the field to pick rocks, scooping manure,....he goes everywhere with me and does not invade my space, if he does we do a short lesson again. He gets out of my way, I don't move around him. Another thing I learned is that my feet don't move, his do, and I do not exert any more energy than he is. Not sure if this answered your question or helps.
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-30-2013, 01:57 AM
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I don't like the "sticks" that the big name trainers advocate. They are just not very precise or able to convey much energy, when needed.

So, I just use a dressage or short lunging whip. Don't forget that you can put a lot of pressure on the hrose without actuall hitting it. If I take a dressage whip and vibrate it rapidly back and forth in the air, it makes a noise that will break a horse out of its' stupor. After that, I need only point or give the whip a small shake at the horse, if they ignore the point and body language for "go".

If I asked a horse to move over, and it pinned its ears at me , I would use that quick vibration of the whip to break it out of that thought pattern. Basically, it would be startled at the quick and negative reaction on my part. That gives me an openning to its' mind, at which time I return to asking more politely.

I agree with Laffy's explanation, only saying that if the horse is blowing you off, then don't stay in any kind of "gray" or soft space for long. No nagging, get your hrose's mind to stop thinking about biting and start asking the question . "What?!!?"
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