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Wow have I got a problem - Help Please!!!

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        10-13-2008, 11:45 AM
      #11
    Started
    Pulling back is NOT a horse trying to get one over on the human. That is a huge fear response. Horses are born claustrophobics and if they feel trapped they will do a number of things, including pulling back. This is one reason why I am not a fan of cross ties. I would pull back too if someone poked me in the ribs, and the fact that the cross ties broke was probably enough to scare her and now she has this problem. And the fact that she is now showing aggressive behavior toward you should tell you that she no longer trusts you....if your spouse all of a sudden didn't want anything to do with you, you would probably think, "It's probably a relationship problem."

    I do not think this is her trying to get one over on you. Not at all. I think this is fear. Sometimes horses will act aggressive but really they are scared to death. Have you ever seen a horse out on the pasture with several others and this one particular horse freaks out on all the others? While the alpha horse is very calm and direct and doesn't throw a fit when he tells the others what to do? This is insecurity. So to me, it sounds like her insecurity is coming across as aggressive behavior. If I was in your situation, here is what I would do.

    Go out to the pen where she is at, take a chair and sit on the outside of the pen. I would not go in if she is still acting unpredictable, just to be safe. Sit there for 30 minutes while reading a book or something and observe what her behavior is. Does she come and investigate? Does she ignore you? Does she start pacing? Etc. The reason I would do this is because this is going to get her curiosity up. She might not have really ever been given the chance to see a human in this state before. If she comes over to you and wants to touch you, as long as she isn't trying to bite, etc. let her but do NOT touch her first. She has to be the one who initiates the touch. When the time is up simply get up and leave as if she is not even there. I would do this exercise everytime you go out until this issue is resolved.

    After you have been away for a few minutes go out to her pen, but now you want to see if you can get her. Here is where it's going to require a lot of patience on your part. As you enter the pen take notice of her ears. If her ears are full forward on you, you have permission to approach. If at any time she pulls one ear away from you, turns her head away or she pins her ears STOP in your tracks and wait. This is her telling you that you do not have permission to come into her space. We want other humans to be sensitive to our personal space, and horses are no different. If you just barge in there you are showing her you have no sensitivity to her personal space and thresholds. So, say you get 2 steps in and she pins her ears. Stop and wait until she brings them more forward. This could take awhile but you must prove to her that you understand. If you are waiting and waiting and waiting take a couple steps back and turn side-on to her. But be patient. If she turns her butt to you throw your halter and lead at her butt, not in a "You rotten horse don't you dare do that!" kind of way but enough to get her to face you. At this point if you make this into a smacking fest and get aggressive she will only fight back. And you will not win. If she comes at you at all in an aggressive way drive her away like an alpha horse would do. Focus on driving her front end away. The more we can drive a horse's front end away the more we are instilling in them that we are alpha. If she comes toward you in a nice way back up as if you are drawing her to you. Let her make the first touch, find a good itchy spot, rub her with the halter and slip it on.

    Say you get the halter on and all is good. Take her out to eat some grass and maybe go for a nice walk on-line. You need to invest in the relationship again so she trusts you. I would also put her in a good quality rope halter so you can teach her to give to pressure from her poll. When you do this exercise, put a tiny ounce of pressure on the lead and SLOWLY close each individual finger on the lead. This will add pressure to her poll and if she goes to pull away hang in there with her but don't try to force her. Go with her so that she doesn't feel trapped. When she makes even a TINY move in the right direction release all the pressure and give her plenty of time to think about it. Also teach her to give to pressure on other places of her body. Lead her by the leg, ask her to move her front end and hind end away from you by SLOWLY adding STEADY pressure (not poking) until she moves over. When she does stop, rub her.
         
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        10-13-2008, 12:47 PM
      #12
    Weanling
    Lots of good advice already. Rather than tackle your question, I would like to add one observation.

    Part of the problem is the horse not knowing how to give to pressure. As you are correcting the current problem, yielding to pressure is a training hole that you need to fix. I agree that the problem is now compounded by a bad experience/fear, but the pulling at the cross-ties and reaction from the pressure on the ribs definitely shows failure to give as a central issue.

    The good news is that getting a horse to give to pressure will be a big help as a foundation for teaching to ride.
         
        10-13-2008, 07:37 PM
      #13
    Foal
    Update

    Thank you all for all of the wonderful advice!

    Here is the latest in the Sacred Princess saga:

    This morning when I went to bring the horses in, I approached her without a halter. She came right to me. I rubbed her ears and face and put pressure on her pole. She was fine with all of it. I did not attempt to restrain her in any way, just took advantage of the moment to let kind of say "are we ok?". I then gave her some hay (no grain), but outside. (remember my rule no-one in the barn loose and unrestrained.)

    This evening when I went to feed everyone (she had now missed 3 meals by the way except for the hay I gave her) she came to barn gate. I asked her if she was ready to come in and put her halter on my shoulder (where I normally carry them all as I gather the horse to bring them in.) I rubbed her halter against her neck and back. She turned on me and I gave her a fine "crack" on her butt (with my fist as I did not have a whip). She stepped away then came back and when she did I took the lead rope and began to rub it on her neck and face and head. Soon I had the lead rope around her neck with no objection. She immediately became submissive and walked, and whoaed on command. She yielded and backed up on command, and was generally cooperative. All this with no halter but just the lead rope losely around her neck.

    I brought her in the barn with the lead rope tight enough so she remembered she was restrained, and put her in her stall, where she was fed with the others. She was obviously relieved. When it came time to move her back out to pasture, she resisted a bit, turning away but this time not completely around. When she again came to me I slid the lead rope around her neck and again did some ground exercises (walk, whoa, back, yield, etc). She was fine with all of it. I rubbed the halter on her face, but did not attempt to put it on her yet and released her into the pasture.

    I plan on continuing with the lead rope only for a couple of days, rubbing the halter on her, each time getting a bit closer to putting it on until I am certain I can get it on her without objection.

    It would seem that the comments about her being hurt by the halter when she pulled back appear to be sound and she is probably feeling a little better today so she is giving me a little more cooperation. As she gets back to normal, so too will our routine. I have patience so the time it takes is no problem.

    With today's demonstration, I am feeling a little better. She seems to remember that I am, at least to the degree I was, in charge. She did not react violently to crack on her butt, and immediately after, came right to me. She obeyed my instruction and re-assumed her submissive posture when she felt any resistence on her neck. All in all I think we are on the way back.

    Again thanks for the prompt and very useful suggestions
         
        10-13-2008, 07:45 PM
      #14
    Yearling
    Great news! Lots of patience works wonders.
         
        10-13-2008, 07:59 PM
      #15
    Trained
    Glad to hear that you were able to get things turned around. Sometimes a little attitude adjustment is all it takes. Good Job!!!
         
        10-13-2008, 08:32 PM
      #16
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joshie    

    Oh my Laura! That is one of the fattest horses I have seen in a while, lol. Is he halter bred? Hopefully he's on a diet . Pretty boy though and neat color. Is he a liver chestnut or faded black?
         
        10-13-2008, 08:35 PM
      #17
    Green Broke
    Good to hear things went well today! Hopefully this will only be a momentary speed bump in your relationship . Girls definitely like to test us, that's for sure, lol.
         
        10-13-2008, 09:37 PM
      #18
    Started
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by luvs2ride1979    
    Oh my Laura! That is one of the fattest horses I have seen in a while, lol. Is he halter bred? Hopefully he's on a diet . Pretty boy though and neat color. Is he a liver chestnut or faded black?
    He's not fat (not skinny though). It's just the angle of the picture. I realized tonight that he sure looks fat in that picture! His papers say he's brown and white tobiano. The last people had him listed as black/minimal white tobiano. I'm not sure what he is genetically but he was black when we got him and turned a funky splotchy brown/black and white out in the sun.

    The pic was taken before he'd been down on the trails much. He's only three and didn't have much muscle. He's been stalled for months before he came to us. I'll have to find a more recent pic that shows he's not fat!

    The people who had him purchased him to show. He's now in a dry lot with 3 others. He's really turning into a very nice and willing guy. He's going to be a wonderful trail horse.
         
        10-14-2008, 12:02 AM
      #19
    Foal
    I found one thing that helped me when one of my horses 'sets back' when tied. Once they do it, they will do it again. I would suggest tieing her up in the wash rack and washing her from behind. (not close enough to get kicked of course). Every time she starts to set back, I'd whack her butt to get her to move forward and relieve the poll pressure from the halter. You have to watch her closely to see when she is going to start it again. It took me a few weeks to get my mare to quit that, but its a dangerous habit to have. They can seriously hurt themselves from thrashing, or hurt you when the ties break
         
        10-14-2008, 12:21 AM
      #20
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joshie    
    He's not fat (not skinny though). It's just the angle of the picture. I realized tonight that he sure looks fat in that picture! His papers say he's brown and white tobiano. The last people had him listed as black/minimal white tobiano. I'm not sure what he is genetically but he was black when we got him and turned a funky splotchy brown/black and white out in the sun.

    The pic was taken before he'd been down on the trails much. He's only three and didn't have much muscle. He's been stalled for months before he came to us. I'll have to find a more recent pic that shows he's not fat!

    The people who had him purchased him to show. He's now in a dry lot with 3 others. He's really turning into a very nice and willing guy. He's going to be a wonderful trail horse.
    Good to know it's just the angle of the picture! If he's too easy of a keeper though, you might consider adding some magnesium to his diet to help him utilize the sugar in his diet.

    He sounds like a neat color! I wonder if he's a Smokey Black? Whatever he is, the funky brown/black is pretty cool looking .
         

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