Training Tips Needed - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-15-2013, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Maryland
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Training Tips Needed

My boyfriend recently adopted a 10 year old Missouri Fox trotter mare, who needs a bit more of a refresher course then we initially though. Her ground manners are pretty good, she leads very well, but has almost no trust for people anymore. She is very spooky, and even jumped at the crinkling of a peppermint wrapper. Any advice or pointers on starting over with her?
candycane93 is offline  
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-15-2013, 02:38 PM
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First off, howdy and welcome to the forum.

Judging from your post, I'd venture a guess that neither you or boyfriend has much experience with training or re-training any horses. If that's the case, my best suggestion to you would be to find a good trainer to work with you and the horse.

It's so easy to do the wrong thing and get either the rider/handler or the horse hurt if you're not exactly sure what you should be doing.
JumpingwithBrirony likes this.
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-15-2013, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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My boyfriend has very little experience, and has it in his head he wants to do it himself lol, we will see on that one, lol.
I have been around horses for quite a few years and done a bit of everything from pleasure riding, to jumping, and a few shows in between. With my previous trainer I assisted in breaking a few horses and learned a few different training methods, BUT the big difference between those horses and her is that she is very untrusting. The horses I had worked with previously were young, and were used to people and being handled. She is not.
My boyfriend got Holly not to long ago from a Humane Society as kind of a surprise for me, something he and I could do together. She had be part of a major investigation in which several horses(all severely under weight), stolen cars, and drugs were seized.
Fast forward to today:she is back at a healthy weight, she does VERY well on leading, will stop when you stop, will back up with you, ect, will even lung(though is unsure what you want from her). BUT she is very spooky and will jump at just about anything(ex: peppermint wrapper, I tried to eat a peppermint while by her stall in the barn the other day and she swore it was going to eat her). She has been ridden before and will allow you to put a saddle pad on her IF you show it to her first and she watches what you are doing but anything other than that she is terrified.

I'm just looking for pointers on maybe some trust exercises, and where to start over, I have the previous experience in training but I'm just not used to dealing with a horse this untrusting...
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-15-2013, 04:06 PM
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Well if she doesn't trust you, you best be there every day, just to see her, groom her and walk her around (both you and your boyfriend). Starting over with her is a good idea but she probably sees human and thinks bad so try your best to get there on a normal basis so she can look forward to something; treats the minute she sees you, try you feeding her and maybe not another stable hand, and try trust exercises like free lunging with no whip, doing tricks (bow , stretch, paw, smile) of which you can look up on YouTube, free lunging is your best bet on trusting since it makes her rely on you to show her where to go and it's even better if she's spooky because going on her own makes her face the fears and trust you for a safe overall run. So try without a whip first then if she needs it have it next to and have fun with her put up small jumps, have her follow you and I'm sure she will get better ;)
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-16-2013, 09:02 AM
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I have worked with a few untrusting horses and it is a very slow process. The one horse really just needed one person to do everything with him for a few months before he got to the point where he was trusting enough to let other people handle him. I'm not a huge treat giver but this horse I would give treats to. I put him in the stall closest to the action in the barn (right near the wash stalls and grooming stalls and tack room) so he could see everything going on. I would hang out by his stall every morning and drink my coffee and eat breakfast (I was the barn manager at the time) and then turn him out myself (the guys would usually do turn out) I would bring him in early so I could work with him and ride him before the afternoon crowd came and the barn got really busy, plus I wanted him back in his stall once the commotion started so he could see everything going on. With him his spookiness went away the more he began to trust me. I loved that horse and still consider him my favorite horse of all time I wish I could have afforded to buy him. He was an import that was pulled out of a field as a three year old gelded and shipped over from Europe with almost no handling so although he was terrified of life he was an extremely athletic and talented jumper out of my price range. He go to the point that he would whinny to me every morning when I came in the barn and nicker when I would walk by his stall. After a few months he got to the point where he was no longer fearful of people and others were able to begin handling him and riding him as well. He always had a little spook in him but the more he trusted you the less he spooked. I knew I had succeeded one day when we went for a hack after a ride with a bunch of people and it was windy and garbage blew out in front of us and all the other horses spooked and he kept walking :) I occasionally see him at shows now, and he is an older adult amateurs horse (he is in his teens now) So just go slow and build her trust. Try to have a routine that you fallow every day this really helps a nervous horse.
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-16-2013, 09:26 AM
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Are you soothing her after she spooks? A horse sees this as a reward so you may be inadvertently training the spooky. Any time she spooks, ignore it. Don't even look at her head as that too can reinforce the behaviour. Just keep doing what you were doing.
Saddlebag is offline  

mare , missouri fox trotter , spooky horse , starting over

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