Activities/Games I can play with my horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Missouri
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Question Activities/Games I can play with my horse?

Hi guys! I recently bought my first horse, a 16 year old gelding named Tigger, and I know how vital it is to gain respect from your horse... but I just keep hitting road-blocks.
When I first got Tigger I mainly worked on the ground with him - you know, making him back up, pivot, side-pass, mainly just controlling his feet - and things went well...for a while.
After a a few weeks I started to realize that while Tigger may not have been outright challenging me, he wasn't accepting me either. He merely tolerated me. So, I went to his old owner for help.
His old owner came over and showed me how to lunge him, which I did nearly every day for two weeks in this tiny corral I have. I started to see a real improvement. He came when I called more, he actually paid attention to me, and he started minding my space more. Problem is, his hooves started to take a turn for the worse, especially when our farrier didn't show up and he went another two weeks past his normal date as we tried to find a new farrier. So, I couldn't work him for several weeks and the respect I had earned started to dissipate.
I can now work him again but I a wary of lunging him in our rocky corral for fear of hurting his hooves, and he doesn't do well being lunged out of a smallish enclosure.
What I am asking of you guys is to give me some activities and games I can play with Tigger that will help me to gain his respect and also get some exercise as well as have fun. Anything will do. Please, please, help me!
Every time I go trail riding, Tigger will try to run me into branches or when I feed him he will get very pushy, or completely ignores my space and will nearly step on me, or hit me with his head as he looks at something across our pasture. Sometimes he seems very lovey and other times he acts like I'm not there at all.
Now, I realize that owning a horse isn't all fun and games and hugs and kisses. But I really want to be connected to my horse more than I am at this current time. Thank you guys, anything will help!
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 05:39 PM
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Your horse is exhibiting disrespectful behavior. You have to learn to be his leader and that is done by gaining his respect. Horses are herd animals and follow their herd leader, it is not a democracy when alpha horse says move the lower horses move or they get kicked, bit and chased. I highly recommend you find a trainer to help you, or find a known popular trainer you like and follow them. Clinton Anderson, Julie Goodnight, Chris Cox, are good they teach you how to get your horses respect. Personally I like Clinton Anderson he is black and white with clear explanations that are easy to follow.

In the mean time keep in mind that your horse is not to be in your space unless you invite him in, keep his two eyes on you, when your leading him walk at his shoulder with your elbow up so if he pushes into you your elbow is there to push him back. When you feed him carry a stick or whip to keep him out of your space until you give him the ok to eat. In the round pen practice moving him out of your space by having him stand at the end of the lead rope bring him to you then make him back up to the end of the line and waits to be invited in. You can put ground poles in the round pen and trot him over them for something to do. You must gain his respect. And I would certainly not be riding him on the trail until you can control him. The game is called move your feet where, when and at the speed I tell you to. When you can control his feet forwards, backwards, left and right, he will respect you, and bond with you. Teaching respect is to much to get into on this page, there is so much involved. Your right horses are not all fun and games you have to educate yourself and become a horseman, it does not happen over night. Please find someone to help you and mentor you. Be safe.
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 06:56 PM
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As I'm sure you're learning, owning horses isn't always magical... especially in the very beginning. Sure there's that moment of awe and disbelief that you own one of those amazing creatures, but it's not always like that...

Personally it seems you need to set some boundaries with him... His "lovey"-ness my not be love, it may be dominance. Is he rubbing his head on you? Walking up to you or nuzzling you without you inviting him to? That's not love, it's dominance... Personally, this is how I've dealt with the issues you're having with every horse that I own; When you're going to catch your horse, make him want to be caught... I'm not big into treats, personally... but if that means you giving your horse a carrot after he's come to you and let you catch/halter him, by all means do what works for you. When you're working in the round pen or on a lunge line, don't let him come in just because he turns in and looks at you or asks you to let him stop... stop him when he behaves and he deserves to stop. You want it to be your idea. Keep him thinking when you're working him too... set up ground poles and/or ask for a change in direction every once in a while. When you go to feed your horse, make him stand away from the feeding trough while you feed. If you have to go into his stall with a riding crop--do it. Don't let him step on you and run you over. One time I was in a very bad situation with a horse who was very aggressive about his feed... he charged me with his ears pinned, teeth bared and had an angry look in his eye... if it wasn't for a swift kick in the chest with my foot, I dunno how far that horse would have gone to get me away from his food. So nip it in the bud while you can! Make him stay away from his food until you walk away.

Now everything I listed above is part of how I do, and have very successfully in the past dealt with and have gained respect with horses.

Of course there's more fun that can be had while gaining respect at the same time! Keep in mind what I'm about to suggest is considered Natural Horsemanship, and some people are very iffy about it... but again, this personally works for me and my horses, it might be fun to try it with yours too; Join Up by Monty Roberts. To do join up properly, you need a round pen. Basically turn your horse loose in the round pen, stay in the middle and ask your horse to trot/canter in circles around you. Frequently ask for change in direction, keep his feet moving and his mind left-brained (the learning side). When you notice your horse beginning to relax, drop his head, lick his lips, ask him to come in... if he doesn't pay attention and come in, get his feet moving again. Keep doing this until he joins up with you. A successful join up will mean your horse follows you in the round pen everywhere you go. Of course, allow your horse to rest in the middle. Give him lots of hugs and kisses and tell him he's a good boy. He'll feed off of your positive energy and that'll be a big reward and even an eye opener for him.

Join up is definitely something you don't want to do everyday... personally, I've done it twice with my mare... once when I had recently got her, and a second time when I hadn't worked her in a while and had lost some respect.

Everything I wrote works for some people, others it doesn't. However, this is just my personal opinion from past experiences. Hope I helped, even a little!
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 07:27 PM
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Playing games with a horse wont win you respect. Sadly some people dont realize that horses are violent creatures by our sgandards. They communicate physically by biting and kicking. They cant communicate in any other way besides body language.

So when you are feeding him and he stick his nose in your face or shoves you, elbow him if he is close enough or slap him on the chest or neck. By doing this you are mimicking a dominant horse and he thinks you just bit him.

If you have other horses turned out with him I suggest you watch them act and how they communicate. If a lower horse tries to push up on a more dominant one, they will kick the snot out of them. Its just a fact about owning a horse, its not all kisses and butterflies.
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 07:30 PM
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Heres a good video about what I was talking about Horses: Wild herd behavior - YouTube
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 07:46 PM
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Heres a better one Dominance in the Natural Horse Herd - YouTube
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 11:36 PM
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Location: enfeild london england
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mounted games.

hiya i lost my girlfrends cremello she was a mounted games pony and to keep her sharp i brought her a set of bendy poles and a flag race kit consists of 5 flags and 2 two small cones were to pick them up and deposit them at the other end.
the other thing i have got for her was a jousting set comprises in a plastic jousting stick and 2 traffic cones were the target base mounts on and a round plastic target to hit when you hit it it folds down.
she was a great little mare and all i can say that vanessa and tammy are playing games togeather again rip both of them.
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-09-2013, 11:55 PM
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I have not read the whole thread, I am sorry to admit.

you shouldn't lose your horse's respect in a few days of not lunging him. in fact, lunging him ceaselessly will only sour him to you. A horse needs to see a reason for doing things. if he is asked to go around and around and do a whole lot of backing , over and over again, he will start to really dislike this work. If you have to do it a LOT, then you aren't getting a change in the first place. I mean, no improvement is happening, so you feel you need to keep at it.
now, I don't mean you cant do things over and over, some, but if each time you do it, you accept a bit less (so little that you might not notice it), the horse becomes dulled out. it really isn't the number of times you back your horse, but the quality of the back up you get. and doing the same "gray" back up 50 times does not sharpen it . one or two black/white back ups will.

that means, you ask for the horse's attention , and you back him up (either facing the same way, and you back with him) or (facing him and backing him away from you), and you expect him to move as if there is an electric forcefield that moves him, not a pull on your rope, or a smack of the line.

you may NEED to pull on the rope, or smack the line or swing the propellor or vibrate a whip at first, but when he backs from the forcefield, then you have made a real change. and you can quit for a bit. Stopping at the place where you are still swinging a rope or vibarating a whip to get a good back up means you actually didnt' GET the change. nothing changed in the horse. he is still draggin himself to do what you ask, late and unwilling, and that's not the place you want to start with your horse again tomorrow. If you get him REALLY moving back, light as a feather, then he will not lose this respect. He might need a reminder, but it will take hardly anything to remind him of what you expect of him.
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-10-2013, 04:57 AM
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Activities like yielding and stuff do help, but to really be the "dominant" in the relationship you have to take control when he tests you, not just in a controlled environment in the arena.

If he rubs against you, tries to step into you then in those moments you have to drive him out of your space.

Respect doesn't dissipate when you don't do work because every day you reinforce your dominance. Every time you lead through a gate you should ask him to yield his hindquarters around to shut it. Walking everywhere I stop and start a few times and if my horse goes to step in front of me at all I back her up a bit. Or I spin her around, yielding hindquarters, just moving her feet. I zig zag while walking, making sure she moves out of my space when I step into hers rather than having to apply pressure to steer. This is all incidental groundwork.

And yes, most horses are fine in small areas for lunging. So why lunge there? What are you achieving? Take him out where he isn't so familiar so you can assert yourself. When lunging for groundwork I only do a lap or to then ask them to slow down or speed up, change direction or come in. If free lunging, when you put yourself in front of their motion they should either stop or spin - if he's not doing that he's not paying attention. Also, I think you should never let a horse turn it's hind to you - so make sure when changing direction he always turns front on.
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-10-2013, 09:53 AM
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There’s lots of things you can do to kill a number of birds with one stone, so to speak. And lunging is a good place to start. I guess the kind of lunging is what counts. I learned Parelli's lateral lunging, and use it. I never learned any of the 7 games (it is 7? I think so) but rather I learned the principals of how to do it, and the person who taught me said “once you know the principals of doing it, off you go, just think up things to do that are interesting that push the horses past its comfort zone just a little each time”.

So for example, using the Parelli stuff I do the standard getting the horse moving around me in a circle, no more than three times in any one go. Make sure the horse move its back end and front end well. Make sure it can side pass well, and then get it going along as I walk beside it well.

Once it does all of that, (and most of its done outside of the yard, they get board real quick if you never leave the yard, or round pen or coral, whatever you want to call it) I get them doing tasks. So, I might find a branch, and get them walking over it. Usually they won't notice it and just step over it, but you gotta start somewhere. Then I either find a small log, or set up a jump, and get them going over that. And increase the challenge till they are jumping some pretty substantial things. I might go off into a paddock and find a gully to jump them over, or into, or out of, or all three. Find a dam wall for them to run up and down. Find a creek or a dam to get them to go through or over, get them loading onto a truck or a horse trailer/float and unloading. On some of the places I worked there were big round steel round hay bail feeders, I used to tip them on their side and get the horses walking back and forth through them, get them walking in and out of a stable, at one place I worked I would stand on the ground in front of my house and on a 40 foot rope I had my horses jump up onto the front porch of the house, walk through the door and back out and off the porch again (the boss saw me and he put a stop to that, didn’t want the floor in the quarters messed up). Probably the most challenging type of thing I used to do was to run in the milker calves sitting on one horse while getting another horse on a 40 foot rope to do the actual work. I'd ride out on one horse leading the other and when I found the milkers I'd stand off from them and send out the other horse and work the milkers with the horse on the rope and herd them to the milking shed to lock the calves up for the night.

Anyway, those are the things I do with them, and they are all based on Parelli's lateral lunging, though I don’t do these 7 games, I've heard about them but have no idea what they actually are. But the point is if you know how to do the lunging, you probably don’t need the games, if you have a bit of imagination.

As for killing multiple birds with one stone. Well, do it right and you not only gain and keep the horse's respect through the process you desensitise it to all manner of things you are likely to come across riding, you will make loading and unloading the horse so easy all you have to do is point in the direction of where you want the horse to go and it will go there, and if you maintain consistency from what you do with the horse on the ground to when you are on its back, that is, how you handle the rope when you lung it and how you move its body on the ground, to how you handle the reins on its back and move its body through your seat, when you get on the horse, a big part of the job is done.

Yeah, it sounds like the horse is beginning to disrespect you a bit, Tiny is right, drill the same stuff over and over without any challenge for the horse and it will sour and get board, and start to resent you. But just be creative, be firm and fair, and never push the horse to more than it can actually accomplish (even if it doesn’t know it yet) and you'll do OK.
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connect , exercise , games , respect

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