Use of a whip - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Use of a whip

My horse seems to think that he is higher in the pecking order when it comes to food and feeding time.
I have to literally CHASE him away from the feeder to put hay and grain in it. All the while, he's pinning his ears at me and showing aggression. I'm tired of doing this, so I decided to try something. I happen to have a whip. Longer than a crop, and shorter than a lunge.
I had the whip and food in hand and I held the whip out at arm length. He saw it and backed off and out of my space. This is what I wanted, and if he came to close I waved it again and told him to back off.

My question is, did I use the whip appropriately? Was it a good to reason to use the whip?
I just didnt want to have it come to going after him every time I feed him. I would never, never, EVER use the whip with the intentions of hitting him or using it to harm him.

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post #2 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 10:07 PM
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If he doesn't move when you wave it at him then you SHOULD hit him with it. Otherwise you're training him to ignore the whip the same way he ignores the rest of you.

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post #3 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 10:16 PM
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Agreed with Kevin

Use the ligthest amount of pressure possible, but don't ONLY use light pressure. Ask him gently. Then ask aggressively. Then hit him. The 1-2-3 Rule is a method to always keep in your mind.

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It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Alright. Thanks guys!
I'll be sure to use that in the morning for feeding. Haha.

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post #5 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 10:27 PM
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OP, watch some horses out in the paddock together. If one lower in the 'pecking order' invades a more dominant horses space, the dominant horse will first pin its ears as a warning, and if the lesser horse does not move away, the dominant horse will either bite, or turn around and kick the other horse.
A kick, with say 5-600kg of muscle behind it, will do a lot more damage than a tiny human on the end of a little whip!
Do NOT be scared to hit your horse with the whip, across the chest, if that horse is barging into your space and becoming agressive around you and food.
There is much angst among younger and less experienced horse people, about hitting a horse being a cruel action, and that 'hurting' the horse should not be used in training. Well let me tell you - it takes a hell of a lot of force to physically hurt a horse. And sometimes, you really do have to act like you're about to kill them, to get the message across. Horses resond to pressure, and most strongly, the release of pressure with comment timing. Putting a little bit of pressure on in a half hearted manner will simply make a dominant horse 'laugh' at you. You REALLY need to mean it! And as soon as the horse moves away from that pressure, release it immediately and leave the horse alone. Having no pressure is the biggest reward you can give a horse.

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post #6 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 10:52 PM
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One of my horses was very food aggressive when i got him. I started carrying a whip when i fed him and didn't feed him until he put his head down and ignored the food in my hands. he took a few good hits with the whip. I did a lot of round pen work with him specifically working on food aggression. i would bring treats or a bucket of grain to the middle of the pen with me. he would charge me and i would give him a good whap with the whip to break the charge and send him back out. he learned that if he was going to try to bully than his feet were moving and he wasn't getting anything. such a safer horse now.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-12-2011, 11:11 PM
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IMO feed time is dangerous enough as is without the horse having aggressive actions towards a person. So any aggressive actions are treated with swiftly and hard.

For a short while my horse started being pushy when i fed his grain, so he got a fast no warning smack on his chest with the flat side of the spoon I use to stir grain. Then he pinned his ears at me and refused to move I swung his grain bucket and clocked him hard on the nose. That got him falling over himself backwards.

Lets just say with only a cluck he backs up away from the grain bucket and stays back and waits for me to completely leave the stall before he eats. He also is not fearful of me, I gave him a pat after carrying the bucket and he had no reservations and understood that when he had ignored my dominance space and telling him to back off (the spoon swat) hell was going to rain down. But I didn't chase him or continue to go after him. It was forgotten after he got out of my space. I will use anything in my hand so I create no object fear because honestly no one object will be swatted at him.

No beating, just anyways to get an understanding that it is your food and they are not aloud to eat until you are done yourself.
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-13-2011, 04:09 AM
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We've used clicker training with a number of horses like this to solve this problem. It sounds counter intuitive, but by installing a behaviour that is incompatible with the unwanted behaviour (the charging) you get control of the horse.

We start by having the horse behind a gate and use the clicker to train a head away repsonse- basically every time the horse turns its head away a tiny bit we click (or kiss -can't lose it or drop it) and then reward with the treat. We bring the treat to the horse and don't give it to them if they stretch for it- they learn that they only get it when it comes to them, not when they go to get it. We keep this up until they will turn their head away and hold it away from us for about 3 secs. At first its important to use a high rate of rewards to keep the horse motivated and to reward the smallest try until it understand what of its behaviours will turn on the treat machine. Once we have reached the 3 sec criteria, we then test it without the gate in between, only clicking and rewarding when the head is turned away.

We then intro a feedbucket and repeat while holding it and then shape the behaviour until we can put the bucket down and they will turn away from it- we then click and let them eat it. The key is not to wait too long once the head is turned away, other wise the horse will turn back towards you and you might click that which is rewarding the wrong response.

When we walk into a paddock our horses stand by their bins and wait with heads turned away until we tip the food in. Obviously if you take too long they start to get a big muggy, but we also teach them to back on a voice cue and then wait until they turn the head away. Have found this method works very well and they learn it in a few days at most. Because they really want the food they are highly motivated to repeat the head away behaviour as it becomes the only way they get fed.

In an emergency then the whip is handy and if you are in danger of getting injured then a smart smack on the chest or tapping on the knees is very effective. If you don't have a whip, waving your hands in front of the eyes is quite aversive and usually gets them to back off. By training the incompatible behaviour (the head away) you don't have to remember to carry the whip and its behaviour is under your control.
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-13-2011, 04:23 AM
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I agree with using a whip, and definetly the three step rule, its the same by riding, leg, kick, whip! or spurs ;)

But really try and aim for shoulders and below, because you don't want to make him head shy. Have people been feeding him treats and tidbits over his stable door, or been over affectionate to him? I find that people that feed my horse over the door, or give her cuddles make her really bad mannered, and I made everyone stop, she gets treats but in her feed bucket when in the box so she isn't possesive over the door.

It just sounds like he needs reminding that his space is your space too. Is he the same when he leads? If so I'd advise carrying a crop in your boot, so when leading if he barges or misbehaves, you have the whip to hand for any eventuality!

Good luck!
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-14-2011, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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He's fine when I lead him. He actually lags and I have to ask him to step up. Sometimes I have to tell him to back off after he's been stalled for a while and he's full of himself. Its only during feeding time that I have major space issues. I used the whip this morning and he seemed to remember our previous encounter. I only have to ask and tell. I didn't have to go after him.

I've also stopped grooming and loving on him after I've fed him. He seems to enjoy not being groomed while eating.
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