Training a nervous/shy horse?
   

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Training a nervous/shy horse?

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  • Is it better to keep neevous horses in a small or large space

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    08-06-2013, 12:29 AM
  #1
Foal
Training a nervous/shy horse?

I got a 4 year old mare for free. She's a lovely horse to look at and is willing usually... But she's a pain in the butt to catch, then once she's caught VERY nervous and shy of everything. I have to catch her directly on and she moves away more than she's willing to come forward. I want to start her ground driving and lunging but I feel like pushing her away on the lunge will create her to run away more?

I don't really know how to go about it, and I see so much potential in her. I want to give this horse a chance!

Has anybody else trained a horse in the similar situation?
     
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    08-06-2013, 01:42 AM
  #2
Yearling
We received a 3 year old brood mare that had never been handled and was not accepted by the heard. She came to our land in April of this year, she foaled in May. She finally started eating out of a feed bucket that we would hold a few weeks ago. We are now rubbing her face while she eats, and occasionally rubbing her neck. You can not just walk up on her and touch her. I know we have made progress but it is going so slow.
I am interested to see what advise you are given.
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    08-06-2013, 07:26 AM
  #3
Weanling
She is nervous and reactive because she needs leadership from you. So moving her feet, lunging her with lots of changes of direction are exactly what you need to do. Don't think of it as pushing her away. Think of it as you are the alpha and show her you can control her feet. You will give her permission to be in your space and then you will push back out, by showing her your a worthy leader she will learn to respect you and trust you. Lunge her for a few circles no more then four stop her bring her to you rub her face, back her up send her the other way, repeat. Once she has a good draw start changing directions without bringing her in. Make being with a good place to be a place she gets to rest, gain her respect and the catching problem will go away. Do lots of desensitizing, throw the rope over her back, butt, hind legs, front legs, neck and head one part at a time. If she gets worried keep doing it until she stops moving her feet and relaxes. Horses learn from the release of pressure so if you stop while she is moving you just taught her to be afraid. Use you whip or whatever you use to rub on her teach her to not be afraid of you or your tools.

There are ways to catch a horse when they don't want to be caught, but you have to understand what your doing and why. It involves chasing them and making them move their feet, then retreating when you get their two eyes, and making them uncomfortable for not looking at you. If your in a large space it is much harder, and practically setting them up for failure. The smaller the space the better until they get to where they catch you. Above all else be safe.
texasgal, Palomine, Cherie and 3 others like this.
     
    08-06-2013, 08:16 AM
  #4
Super Moderator
I've never used coaxing and feeding and I've never had the time or inclination to just 'sit around'. I do exactly what is explained by GSSW5 (whatever kind of name is that?) explained. I push one away until they want to 'catch me'. I feed every horse grain (even if it is just a little bit of feed) when I bring them in. Feeding them after they have been caught sure does not hurt anything, but my catching strategy has always been that I push one away until that becomes a chore for them and they are begging to be caught.

I can start with a very timid, spooky and goosey green horse that has to be run into a lot to catch and may take 3 people or a 'trap' in the corner of the lot to get my hands on him the first time. After working with him for three or four days he is coming to me and sticking his head in a halter. They are usually wild enough and herd-bound enough for their friends still out in pasture that I have to play with them in the round-pen on a rope or they will try to jump out the first 2 or 3 days of working with them. Like I have explained before, if it a horse is herd-bound, I do not even try working with one until I have tied it up in a safe place until it stands quietly. THEN and only then is the horse in a learning or responding frame of mind. Then, It takes 3 or 4 sessions for the horse to learn that I'm their new herd leader and their friend.

You don't buy friendship from a horse --- you earn it.
     
    08-07-2013, 03:15 AM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
I've never used coaxing and feeding and I've never had the time or inclination to just 'sit around'. I do exactly what is explained by GSSW5 (whatever kind of name is that?) explained. I push one away until they want to 'catch me'. I feed every horse grain (even if it is just a little bit of feed) when I bring them in. Feeding them after they have been caught sure does not hurt anything, but my catching strategy has always been that I push one away until that becomes a chore for them and they are begging to be caught.

I can start with a very timid, spooky and goosey green horse that has to be run into a lot to catch and may take 3 people or a 'trap' in the corner of the lot to get my hands on him the first time. After working with him for three or four days he is coming to me and sticking his head in a halter. They are usually wild enough and herd-bound enough for their friends still out in pasture that I have to play with them in the round-pen on a rope or they will try to jump out the first 2 or 3 days of working with them. Like I have explained before, if it a horse is herd-bound, I do not even try working with one until I have tied it up in a safe place until it stands quietly. THEN and only then is the horse in a learning or responding frame of mind. Then, It takes 3 or 4 sessions for the horse to learn that I'm their new herd leader and their friend.

You don't buy friendship from a horse --- you earn it.
She's currently in a smaller paddock with 2 other horses if that helps?
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    08-07-2013, 08:43 AM
  #6
Weanling
Keeping her with other horses right now is going to add to the difficulty in catching her, and is counter productive. Can you keep her by herself in a separate paddock? Keep her where she can see other horses, but as long as she has others to pal around with it will be harder to get her to see you as alpha, and if the other horses get in the way of your catching her its just that much harder. If you cannot keep her by herself then I suggest tying the other ones up while you catch her, at least that way your separating the herd from her. Then you can work on catching her without them in the way.
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    08-07-2013, 09:01 AM
  #7
Yearling
Find yourself a ground work program that you like. Clinton Anderson, Julie Goodnight, Craig Cameron....and work through the steps. The nervousness is a secondary problem. If she's an unhandled broody she hasn't learned the role of people in her world. She may have only been handled to get knocked up.
texasgal likes this.
     
    08-07-2013, 09:04 AM
  #8
Green Broke
Such good advice so far. The only other thing I will add is to look at your feeding program too. We have a gelding that we had to take off of grain based products and ad a magnesium/b12 supplement to.

He's fed mostly hay, a ration balancer, and his supplement and the nervousness and reacting all but disappeared..

Keep us updated and ................. WELCOME TO THE FORUM.
Palomine and jaydee like this.
     
    08-07-2013, 09:42 AM
  #9
Super Moderator
Agree with the feeding thing (Texasgal) not sure what you are feeding OP but introducing too much grain to a horse that's never been fed it before can add to problems
A recent study done in Poland using one NH trainer and the conventional round pen technique on 72 unbroken horses equally divided into 3 groups of TB's, arabs and anglo arabs with an equal split of mares and geldings in each group measured stress levels and found that the mares were significantly more stressed than the geldings.
The more your horse is around people and reliant on humans the quicker it will learn to respond to you and trust you as it will have to lean on you for support rather than the herd
Provided the round pen work you do isn't based on the outdated prey/predator approach but on the horse learning that you aren't the enemy then its will benefit and become a willing participant and start to enjoy being around you
I don't normally use treats to catch my horses but I would have a piece of apple or carrot in my pocket for one that was nervous - but only to be given once it was caught
My horses always have a small bit of feed in their mangers to come into.
     
    08-08-2013, 04:42 AM
  #10
Weanling
Our pony wasn't too keen on being caught either. I've found that if I show her a carrot piece, but don't let her have it until the halter and lead are on, she's quite good. And she's improved over the last week so now she just lets me halter her, then she sorta looks at me like, 'where's the carrot?" Next step is no carrot until she's up where I want to work her.
A quick question tho for everyone, what do you mean by controlling the horse's feet? It seems like its a term used a lot here but not one I've heard here in Australia so much. What does it mean in practical terms?
     

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