Alright well before anyone decides to comment, or even read on to see my question, I'd like to ask you to go to Sour's page and atleast skim over her story. Reading it will give you a look into why she is having the problems that she is, and hopefully help you give me advice that will work. =]
Sour and I have come a very, very long way in the past two years. I mean, even between these two pictures you can tell just how much more willing she is to accept me by her expression and stance. However, we still have quite a few problems that I'm hoping you guys can help me with. I chose to put my thread under 'natural horsemanship' because I don't want ANY, and I repeat ANY advice that includes desensatizing her by force or inflicting unneccesary fear or mistrust. Thanks for understanding.
Ok. So heres the list of our issues.
1. Will not allow me on her right side to do anything at all. this is mostly because no one worked with her when she was young, and she needs to train that side of her brain to accept me. I'd like some ideas on how to build her confidence in me on that side, and allow me to work with her to overcome her fears. I don't want to 'tie her up so she can't turn around, and force my hands all over her until she stops fighting,' I want this to be a willing thing. Any suggestions? 2. Foot Shy. I've gotten her to willingly allow me to move my hands as low as her knee- but only on her left side. I'm afraid that she might come up with some foot issue if I can't properly care for them. Is there a good way to make her not mind as much? At the moment she swings around and threatens to kick, or gives me a warning nip when I touch her feet. 3. Will NOT join up with me. Im not sure why this is. She just absolutely hates the idea of accepting me as the alpha mare. I've run her at a good canter for as long as an hour before- but she was getting so exausted that it wasnt safe to keep going, and I had to stop. As soon as I did- she collapsed on the ground and laid there for a good ten minutes. I was really worried. Is there something else I can do to get her to 'join me?'
If any of you have ideas for any of these things- let me know! =] thanks
My friends filly had the same problem with having her feet touched, my friend used a long stick with a rubber glove to touch her legs & run it down to the hooves before actually going near them. Sounds ridiculous I know but it worked lol.
XD well I've never heard of that, but I guess it might work =] however- I think its more than I'M doing it than that her foot is being touched, because I've desensatized her to having a rope run all over her- including wrapped around her feet. Things are ok, my hand or anyone else's hand is not ok in her mind xD
Well she seems to be food oriented. Try making it a game. For example, with the foot thing, give her a piece of carrot in a bowl. Do nothing, just a carrot in a bucket. Cool. Then leave. Then come back later, giving her another carrot in a bucket. Pet her neck. Then leave her alone. Then come back, give her a carrot in a bowl and go to the point on her leg where you know she wont retaliate with a nip or a kick, the "safe zone." then go back to petting her head. Then leave again. Come back later (BTW this doesn't have to all be done in the same day, or week, or month, take it at HER pace) give her another carrot (she'll be used to it by now) and then put your hand in the safe zone and inch down, but barely, and pull away BEFORE she retaliates or pulls away. You gotta be the one to stop first. Keep doing this, jsut making SMALL baby steps down the leg. (Do you get where I am going with this?) Keep up this pattern and eventually you will be able to touch her foot, with her completely calm and cool, eating her carrot. Then after that, you wont even need the carrot! You can do the same thing with the right side, just start in a safe place, inch over and pull away before she gets uncomfortable. She will soon learn that it ain't so bad. Just be patient, don't rush her, and if she does retaliate at some point, she's telling you that you are going too fast, so go back a step.
I have used this to train my filly to pick up her feet, accept a saddle and a blanket, and to accept her belly being touched. I have used it on MANY horses to get them to be calm when saddled, touched in the ears or face, or whatever their vice may be. It does work, but it ain't no quick fix. And if you don't like feeding treats all the time, it is also possible to do the excersize without the treat (as I prefer).
Good luck with her, and remember that lapses may happen, just take it slow and easy and she'll learn to trust you. This will also help her learn to Join up with you.
Thanks so much =] you're definitely right about her being food oriented. I think I will try that. It sounds like a non-stressful, trust-gaining approach, which is what I'm looking for. Do you think I could just use her dinner each day, instead of a carrot though? She really doesnt need anything extra as she's already resembling a potbellied pig.
Yes, when I started working with my Arabian, I would feed her a few treats by hand just to get her to the point where she was comfortable with me being in her stall, and then I made sure to be there several times a week when they fed dinner (I lived like 45 minutes away), and basically used her dinner as the food motivator. For me it was just getting her to come close, forget touching at that point, and so I would initially put the food in the middle of the stall, and then sit by the gate, and over a few days, I worked my self closer to the food, I didn't want to pin myself in a corner, so I moved not the food. Eventually I finally stuck the food in my lap, and she had to come stand comfortably "over" me, to eat the food. She actually got quite comfortable so then I started moving as she was eating, then standing ect. Ect.
Sour sounds just like my mini gelding I got as a yearling. Scared, hated people and anything I mean ANYTHING around his head...took us over 6 hours to get him in a trailer once. I did the same thing you did, sat around his pen minding my own business, etc. till he started to accept me. Food always worked and grooming, just spending time with him seemed to make all the difference, and changing it up. Somedays I would just sit in with him others I would ask for him to do something or we'd work on something. By keeping it varied he didn't anticipate bad things and he got to learning that in order to have some relaxing time with me he had to atleast try. His story is kinda like Sour's 'Cept more extreme. He's now a 12 year old Driving champion, so it can be done. He still has some issues, they always will but it doesn't have to stop them. It takes time and work, it took me over a YEAR to be able to halter/groom or anything where I asked to touch him without him sweating and trembling in fear. You just need to find the one thing she wants most to help over ride that fear, whether it be food or yourself.
I've been having the same issues with joining up on my new mini mare as well, she was scared to death when she got to my place too...i have a slight attraction to "special" horses... She will run and run and run for HOURS until she's exhausted and all I do is stand there, when I ask her in she just stands there and it becomes a stand off...one of those "I can stand here longer then you can" things...her ears are up and she's bright it's like she's taunting me! And she follows what I do as long as she's on the outside of the ring...it's really frustrating
:) some mini's don't grow alot. For example, my stallion from the same sized parents as my gelding was 26 inches at 3 months when we brought him home. He's now 12 years old and 27.5 inches tall...whereas my gelding was about 29 inches tall as a weanling in the same pen as my stallion when we bought him. Picked up the gelding as a yearling and he was already 34 inches tall :) talk about a growth spurt...haha ugliest baby stages for both of them too hahaha