Trade one prob for another - stopped pony kicking now mini scared - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Question Trade one prob for another - stopped pony kicking now mini scared

Earlier I read about a lady who had a pony that was "bug Eyed" & "quivering mass of nerves." Well, ours weren't like that so I forgot where I found it. We have had our mini & pony app. 4 weeks.

The mini was not overly friendly, ubt at the same time, not mean at all. Once I get him on a lead the kids hoped on and rode with me leading. He would come up for treats but not for "conversation" with us. He was the one that was supposed to be broke.

The pony, who is 2 and half, was kicking and a mess. Falling all advice, when she kicked or put her butt to me, I shouted and raised heck - She is over it & I thought that it was on to something new.

The new is not better.

It's like when all your children need you at the same time except the one that needs you most is the quietest so you didn't realize they needed you the most. Now, finally have time to be with just Rocky (the mini)and he is a mess. That poor thing puts his nose in a corner and trembles from me jsut trying to brush him. He does not try to kick. He cowers and then bolts. He won't come for treats and although he won't kick if we try to put him on a lead once he is caught but it seems there is no catching him at all, now.

This morning, I went out & Rocky was caught on teh fence somehow. I got to him and realized how he was caught, talked low and got him loose. I went in right away to make sure he wasn't cut. He went crazy - which I kinda thought was normal since he had to be scared. I started humming and I cleaned their pen. I still needed to check his little face.

I put Shug out and thought I would keep Rocky in and just sit in there and talk low, he finally came up to me but was real jittery after about 40 minutes. He sniffed my hand but looks spooked if you move one inch closer. I finally left him alone after about an hour and a half as I thought maybe he needed some alone down time. I am keeping him and Shug seperate today to see how he is after we are done with our work at the library.

We never put a hand to that little guy, or would. I am just upset. Could the loud scolding with Shug have caused him to remember something that happened before here? Once I did smak Shug on the butt when she tried to kick me because I was actually close enough to reach her - she has been better ever since, too.

At this point, I have a few dilemas. I knew they had to have a home. I am glad they are here. I think they are lovely.

Dilema 1 - i am not rich nor famous and have limited funds - isn't that the major life dilema

Dilema 2 - should I send Shug to live at my Aunts for awhile and jsut concentrate on Rocky. But, Shug is actually affecionate and walks with me and is showing silly sweet traits, now. I am not asking for a reward, but I feel like it is a positive reinforcement on her part - she is keeping me going.

Dilema 3 - will anyone buy them since they are not broke. I could never tell someone a lie and that they were like I was told. I ay lie, but I think his idea of a broke pony and mine are different. He was a nice person. He grew up riding ponies everywhere and obviously knew about them.

Dilema 4 - will a horse ever trust again. I knew the former owner saved them from a bad situation - but I wonder how bad it was! I thought it was just living conditins and neglect, but now abuse enters my mind. Wyt would that little guy tremble! I mean literally tremble and I think his legs could buckle. I know the man who had them would NEVER abuse an animal. and the loved him

Dilema 5 - Their main caretaker was a man. Does that take a transition for htem to switch to a woman being in charge. I think that even sounds silly, but I wonder if I am so different than D. that they don't know what to think.

Rocky is a good boy and I don't want to give up. Shug is a sweetheart that is full of piss & vinegar and I love her already.

- A horse is a horse of course unless the horse is yours and then it is a PERFECT HORSE!
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post #2 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 07:20 PM
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Firstly, may be wrong of course, but sounds like you're quite inexperienced with horses. I would therefore suggest you try to find someone experienced *& considerate & respectful with horses* to help you with them.

Perhaps the mini was always like this, but it's become worse & you didn't recognise it to begin with? It is sometimes difficult to tell what an 'introvert' is thinking. Or yes, it is definitely possible that your going berserk with the pony has (understandably) led the mini to believe you're scary & not to be trusted. That's one of the many potential problems with punishment, especially using over-the-top sounding behaviour with a prey animal. At least it only apparently affected one of the horses badly. I suspect there's also probably more to it than that...

He's also only been with you for a month, so will be still settling in to the environment & getting to know everyone. I would have personally spent most of that time just being with them, getting to know them on a friendly basis first. I would be inclined to start that process now and try not to put any pressure on him for the time being. Just get him used to being near you and being positively reinforced(rewarded) whenever he comes to you.

Once he's learned that you're nice to be around, then you can begin to ask him to do stuff, using 'approach & retreat' tactics to get him *gradually* more tolerant and confident with stuff. Eg. he doesn't like being brushed, so start out getting him used to you just touching him with the brush for a second & don't actually brush him until he's confident of being touched with it.
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post #3 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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I have talked to several of my "horse friends" & they have suggested that he is definitely spooked from something. I truly hope it is not me, but am not a person to that thinks they are perfect. I have not had to "speak sharp" to Shug for nearly a week now so it is all the more confusing. The overall consensus is that some of it might be due to the fact that we have been having tornado like winds & that it has him frightened. We spent all afternoon out with him & he was much calmer. Although, he is still not as approachable as he was, he would come up and be pet as well as take some peppermint treats. I think he has had a lot to deal with in his short life.

I sat out with them again most of the evening & we will just keep goig like that. I held out the brush most of the time & he would come up and sniff it, back away, sniff it & gently nibble. We have time.

I appreciate your reply

- A horse is a horse of course unless the horse is yours and then it is a PERFECT HORSE!
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post #4 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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for beginners, like myself, I think this article is very worthwhile

- A horse is a horse of course unless the horse is yours and then it is a PERFECT HORSE!
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post #5 of 10 Old 10-27-2010, 11:35 PM
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Oh! Tornado winds are certainly likely to have some effect! He's probably generally nervous then, so it won't take much of anything else to make him downright frightened. As he doesn't trust you, I'd be careful not to be that 'final straw' and just quietly fluff around him until he begins to relax, as it sounds like you're doing. I'd take it at his pace for now, whatever that may be. Sounds like you're on the right track & will start to see some improvement with him soon.

I do agree with using treats as reinforcement, and if it's a once in a blue moon thing, lollies aren't likely to hurt at all, but if you're in the practice of regular treats, I'd be looking for a healthy, sugar free treat - I usually use the pelleted nutritional supp that my horses get anyway.

Yeah, it doesn't matter that you haven't yelled at a horse in a week, but that this happened before he got to know you & gained trust in you, and first or early impressions tend to count a lot higher, as there's nothing else to put it into perspective. Also animals don't tend to understand punishment too well anyway, and especially horses being prey animals, tend to get worried about aggressive behaviour by us predators.

Punishment & 'shock tactics' can indeed be handy sometimes, IMO, but you need to understand the principles behind it's use and the 'side effects' to know when it may be a good idea & when it's best avoided. Eg. it is also generally a temporary 'fix', so I'd also be working out why the pony is kicking & what you can do change her attitude before the behaviour resurfaces...

And back to your original 'dilemmas' that I didn't answer... No, I wouldn't send Shrug away, as horses are herd animals & tend to feel more secure - not to mention happier - in company of other horses. You may consider separating them when you want to give the little guy your attention tho. Perhaps have him in a yard without her when you're sitting with him, so you can be the sole focus.

Will anyone buy them untrained? Yes, all horses start out this way! Does depend how old they are as to whether someone might think it worth starting them, but there are plenty out there(me included) who would prefer to buy unhandled animals. I don't like buying 'broken' horses because I don't want to have to fix them! Yes, telling the truth is the best idea, not only for decency & the sake of the buyers, but for the little guys in question. If they are untrained & you decide to keep them, I would definitely be finding a competent and *considerate* trainer to help you with them. Especially if it's your young kids you're entrusting them with.

On the question of trust & possible abuse, yes, horses are very forgiving, and so long as you prove to them you're trustworthy(be aware of your bodylanguage - horses are but people often aren't, so 'say the wrong things' even without realising), they'll come around. Of course, frightening them with yelling wouldn't have got your relationship off to a good start, and their previous experiences obviously haven't either, so it may take a bit of time & patience to get over those hurdles. Horses are so adaptive, but they are still prey animals, evolved to be reactive, especially in the face of anything unfamiliar, so I wouldn't take it that they were necessarily abused at their original home. It may be that they just weren't desensitised to a lot of stuff, environments, etc.

Regarding your comment about man v's woman, no, it's not silly at all. Horses don't generalise well & are perceptive to the smallest differences. Horses are also frequently known to have a problem with a certain sex because of bad experiences(or men with beards, women with red hair, Men With Tools(bad farrier), etc, etc). Eg. after I had my kids & no time, I decided I needed the help of another trainer for my green horse.... & unfortunately chose badly. My previously friendly with everyone, trusting horse even years later still is very wary of anyone he hasn't learned to trust & downright frightened of men! Except my husband who he's got to know well now. But back to horses being forgiving & adaptable, just start wherever they're at & work gradually, easily, considerately from there & they will quickly learn that you're OK.

One other consideration; how big is the pony(you said she's 2yo), how old & big is the mini & how big are your kids? It's also very possible their behaviour is related to physical pain/discomfort & this may be due to physical immaturity & being ridden. Worth ruling those things out, at any rate.
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post #6 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 07:45 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all your advice!

Shug is a two and a half year and although I don't know how many hands she is, her withers come up to about my collarbone or chest area and am nearly 5' 5". She has never had any weight on her.

Rocky is 5 and half years and I believe his withers are to my belly button or jsut a titch higher. He has driven carts and carried riders but here we have never put t child over 69 lbs. Mostly though, it is my youngest who is about 29 lbs.

I have been reading everything I can and I enjoy this forum. The idea of them being a prey animal was not something I had considered, honestly I found several articles last night that I feel were very informative and went on line to my library and have a dozen or more mixed media items coming to help in regard with horse behavior & training.

I have to read to understand things so we have read so much on horse care, but now I feel it is obvious I need to read in a new direction.

I do want Rocky to forgive all people & love us. WE are going to keep working on this.

I do notice when my husband goes out to the pony yard, it's about 2 acres, the get more excited & prnace a little more or show off harder! :)

The treat i got him came from Rural King and they are a hard pellet that smells of peppermint. I read in several places that they enjoy peppermint so we got them. Shug has a little bit, lot bit, of extra weight so I am afraid to giver her too many, I don't want her to founder. Oh, but how she loves them.

Several other things I read last night that made sense to me, or atleast confirmed what i was already doing naturally.

I try to spend a lot of time in their pony yard keeping it clean and just walking around. I don't always have to be interacting with them, jst be out there. I liked the concept in regard to prey animals, about not making eye contact. I NEVER gave that a thought. I have been staring those horses in the eye from day one. Poor Rocky probably thought we were ready to eat him for dinner!

I read about "horse whispering" in a very general sense and was glad to see they liked having air blown in their noses, I have been doing that to Shug non stop and want to be able to get that with Rocky. For some reason it felt right. The technique of putting your finger in the corner of their mouth and lowering hte head seems to me to be a real good idea.

and on and on - I do hope the wind dies down so he is not frightened. I think you hit it on the head when you said "generally nervous". I do know he was rescued from a "home" that he was born at. He was knee deep in waste and mud. It jsut makes me sick to think about any animal treated like that.

I don't think i can get rid of them. We already love them. What if someone else got them and decided they didn't like them and they just got passed around like old worn out clothes. I jsut will make this work.

My plan is to let us be around them all winter, jsut knowing each other and not really expecitng much escept to keep working on grooming, horse manners, people manners, and hopefully accepting lead ropes, etc. When spring comes, I have found 2 potential trainers that I can afford. I know I don't have the skills that Shug needs & she will be sent to the trainers for a month if it all goes well.

Sorry so long winded. Horses are like children in a regard, once you get them, you can't stop thinking about them or talking about them!

Thanks again.

- A horse is a horse of course unless the horse is yours and then it is a PERFECT HORSE!
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post #7 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 08:19 AM
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You've just got to keep handling him, teach him that you are nice to be around if he behaves.

My youngster gets a wollop occassionaly for doing something wrong and is normaly quite shocked about it, however the second he does something right he gets rewarded. Skratch on the withers, kiss on the snoz, treat if I have one on me.

With abused ponies you realy do need to know what you are doing. Pride one of my ponies was abused (was beaten into a pulp with a yard brush) but even so you have to set limits and stick to them. He got a wollop if he threatend to kick me, he got cuddles when he ignored or was friendly towards me. My reactions with him were not to beat the crap out of him as had happened in the past but I did let him know what was acceptable and what wasnt. Yes he went through stages of not trusting me and yes he was sometimes difficult to catch, but I just kept on at him, I walked him down in the field, sometimes takeing HOURS to get him to allow me close, when he allowed me close I totaly confused him by giving him a treat or a cuddle and then walking away. a few hours later I'd repeat the processand bring him in and feed him. Infinate patience is the key and not being afraid to take a step backwards if needs be.

RIDE your horse FORWARDS and keep him STRAIGHT

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post #8 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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We jsut came in from a lovely morning. We let Shug out & kept Rocky in the pen. My youngest is still at home and we cleaned etc. Then we at on benches and put some hay in fromt of us. We sang and chatted and about 30 minutes later Rocky came up and started sniffing. We each held hay in our hands and jsut talked to ourselves about "not bein lions, rocky" and he was eating out of our hands and nibbling us. we did this for about an hour and a half & then decided we needed a hot cocoa break & we told him goodbye and came in. He stayed in for awhile but I just looked out and he is grazing so contendlty.

The whole time we were in he did not tremble, I never caught him, but only tried twice slowly. I wonder if the winds had him terrified yesterday. We are so lucky to have this chance in our lives!

- A horse is a horse of course unless the horse is yours and then it is a PERFECT HORSE!
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post #9 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by cjedsall View Post
The whole time we were in he did not tremble, I never caught him, but only tried twice slowly. I wonder if the winds had him terrified yesterday. We are so lucky to have this chance in our lives!
Very possible. As prey animals, horses are very dependent on the senses. High winds rob them of some of that perception - everything moves, so it's harder to see a potential threat sneaking up; the wind roars in the ears, masking threatening sounds, or bringing strange sounds farther downwind; the wind brings strange smells from different places. Also, horses can be very responsive to changes in barometric pressure - wind is a pressure change - air moving from one pressure zone into another.

My first horse was rather nervous, and things only got worse if the wind was up.

If he's really that frightened-acting, I think what I would do would be to put on some junk pants and squat/sit/hang out in his pen without the filly around for a while. Have some munchies handy - carrots are good, but whatever his favorite treat is - and just wait for him to get curious. When he comes up, offer a treat and allow him to smell the back of your hand. Don't force him to stay, just allow him to discover that if he comes to see you nice things happen.

If he gets bolder and starts grubbing for treats, let him know that that's not okay by pushing him out of your space as gently as possible but as firmly as necessary - he doesn't need to get pushy, especially with smaller children around.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-28-2010, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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That is what we did - it is good to know we are doing some things alright - thanks so much for you time.

- A horse is a horse of course unless the horse is yours and then it is a PERFECT HORSE!
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