Very first sign that a horse isn't ok inside - Page 4

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Very first sign that a horse isn't ok inside

This is a discussion on Very first sign that a horse isn't ok inside within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    12-20-2012, 12:03 AM
Originally Posted by Ian McDonald    
It begins with an increase in his awareness on something other than being centered in himself and right there with you.
I agree, the horse has to be aware of the situation before he can become fearful of it. Whether it be less than a second(like a spook) or a good hard look and work himself up into being fearful.
Ian McDonald likes this.
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    12-20-2012, 02:11 PM
It depends on the horse. Many horses I've worked with get a little starey eyed, not blinking much, as the first sign.

Holding breath, tight jaw, holding the tail in a tight or unusual position, quickly flicking ears, stiff ears, the list can go on and on. It all comes down to knowing your own horse. If you are going to be working with many different horses, you have to be aware of all of those signs, recognize them and decide what they mean in that particular animal.

Eyes are the window to the soul, so to me it does all come down to what you see in the eyes.
FaydesMom likes this.
    12-20-2012, 02:26 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
With my mare, she very rarely actually bolts anymore but when she's upset about something or worried, I almost always feel her break the soft contact that she has with the bit. When she's relaxed and tuned into me, she carries it herself and pushes into the bit so that I can feel her slightly massaging the bit with her tounge, waiting for cues. When she gets upset though, she stops and drops her tounge, leaving the bit loose and my reins connected to her mouth but not her brain. That's not something just anyone would notice with her, I didn't for a while either. Its just something you have to find for yourself. You have to be able to find YOUR horse's 'norm' and be on the constant lookout for anything that feels off.

After dropping contact her next sign is to usually stiffen her back and start bobbing. These things are hard to notice though because I don't ride her, I drive. I have no contact with anything but her mouth, and thus cannot feel her body tense like a spring. Therefore I have to watch very carefully when we're coming upon new things, to gauge her reaction through sight alone.
flytobecat likes this.
    12-20-2012, 02:32 PM
My filly, who has a tendency to go catatonic and then blow up massively, when she ISN'T catatonic is not difficult to read. Subtle, but not difficult. Worried eyes, tight mouth [she has a really strange expression actually, almost like a human's disgusted look], tight ears. Head goes up. Feet plant, tail clamps, she is quite textbook.

When she IS catatonic, I cannot read her. She seems totally calm outwardly. The best description is that she goes to her happy place to try to control the uncomfortable feelings, and there's not a single sign that I can see that she is anything other than completely ok. Until it gets too much and she blows up. Literally out of nowhere.

Slowly I am learning how to keep her from going to her happy place, and she is learning that it's ok to show me when she's scared. Everyone is happier when she displays her fear because I can know when to push the point and when to back off for a moment and let her settle down. She is no less afraid, but her person doesn't keep pushing if she says she's too scared. We have fewer blowups since it clicked in her mind that she actually CAN show her fear [it is still inconsistent] because I'm not pushing her over the edge.

I find my gelding, OTOH, to be rather more difficult to read. He is naturally a very curious horse and this makes him rather 'looky' as a baseline. Typically the first I know of something having scared him is my horse teleporting a few feet sideways, then spinning and trying to gallop off. That or he suddenly refuses to move forward no matter what I do. It depends on where the scary thing is.
    12-20-2012, 04:07 PM
Originally Posted by Fargosgirl    
...Eyes are the window to the soul, so to me it does all come down to what you see in the eyes.
Seeing the eyes is hard to do when astride, though.

Blueeyedpony, you might be interested to know that your description of your horse is textbook Parelli horsenality called the Right-brain Introvert (when scared, they go internal, then if no relief of the stimulus which is scaring them, they explode). They have 4 basic "horsenalities" & a different way to handle each.

Thanks all, for your responses. Deb Bennett has "The Birdie Book", in case anyone's interested.
    12-20-2012, 04:21 PM
Thank you, Northern, I am aware :) I have two introverts, Magic who is right brain and Monty who is left, and I find it much easier to work with the left brained horse... even though he is a lazy old pest when he wants to be! I am a reactive person by nature and work best, therefore, with a horse that is NOT reactive. It's been a learning curve working with Magic that's for sure. I have had to learn to be PROactive and prevent the panic attack before it happens.
    12-21-2012, 07:35 AM
Super Moderator
My gelding is a dominant left-brain extrovert. As a first sign that something is wrong as in fear he shows - tightening of lips and nostrils, "blank" gaze, as if he was looking into nowhere, also his belly gets tenser. If he is moving in that moment, his gait becomes shorter and choppier, with a tendency to freeze. In case of a sudden fright he rather freezes or makes a sitting motion than bolts. If the something that is wrong makes him defensive, then his nostrils start flaring, he lays back his ears and he gives a direct and hard gaze in the direction of whatever has made him defensive. Then, if he is moving, his strides become longer and somewhat anxious to get closer to that whatever.
    12-21-2012, 08:17 AM
Hm not sure if this sounds crazy, but I can feel it. They give off an energy that tells me they are nervous. Some horses like my Mason, wouldn't give any physical signs, but I could feel it if he was hurting or scared.

Does anyone else know what I mean?
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    12-21-2012, 09:05 AM
Super Moderator
Lins, that's not crazy at all. I feel it too, before any physical signs, but I take in consideration those, too.
    12-21-2012, 09:32 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Northern    
By "not ok inside", I mean the start of upset/fear.
I don't know the first sign, but I sure know the last sign, me on the ground and his rear end literally high-tailing it home.
jaydee likes this.

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