please help. horse with attitude
hello every one. i have a horse she is a 5 yr/old quarter horse. ive had her about a month now and ever since i got her she acts ok but me and my wife cant really connect with her. when we go around her she always pins her ears back, but she doesnt act real bad. she is the dominant horse in the pasture. i have to stand out there at feeding time so she wont run the rest of the horses away from their food and hay. she was really bad buddy sower when we got her. she wouldnt even leave the yard , she would plant her feet and not move unless we went towards the barn,but ive gotten her out of that. she will come to us but when we brush her or even just scratch her under her neck or anything her ears are pinned. im about ready to trade or sell her. shes just so food agressive and always pins her ears. what can i do.
You & wife need to develop the skills in a systematic way to deal with this dominant mare, & I suggest Parelli home study course & "horsenalities" info. She sounds like a left-brain introvert, highly food-motivated, unafraid & into bossing. Once you get the data & skillset you need to deal with her, you'll probably have a horse that you wouldn't trade for the world. Please DON'T ask a conventional trainer to "take her on", because any attempt to MAKE this horse do anything will only result in greater defiance on her part! You instead need to be interesting/fun for her! (Then those ears'll start to prick forward to you in interest! How would that feel?:))
I agree that you both need to learn the skills to deal with the mare, but would rather invest the money that you would spend on Parelli on a real trainer who can show you the proper way to correct any dangerous behavior.
A "real" trainer isn't a Parelli trainer, lol! OP, Parelli has many detractors in the horse world; welcome to your first taste of it!
I'm confident that you'll be able to see if anyone who deals with the horse is making her unhappier than ever, & MAKING her do tasks, instead of INTERESTING her in doing them. Many so-called "trainers" out there will MAKE her! If someone starts dealing with her in this way, it behooves you to stop it, naturally.
If you want a partnership with the horse, wherein she's INTERESTED in your ideas, rather than complying like a robot to avoid pain, you'll gain the skills for that & Parelli shows you how.
I suggest Parelli because I've concluded that the program is the best step-by-step program out there. People bash step-by-step, but that's how we learn anything! There are many other great horsemen, but their programs lack the clear building-up of skill, & the inclusion of horse psychology that Parelli has, in teaching materials (literature & dvd's).
You could luck out & find a true horseman who helps you out on-site, & that'd be great! It's just that I want you to be on guard, ask your questions of people before they touch the horse, to find if they're the MAKERS or the HORSEMEN.
I have no respect for Parelli. Seen him do things i wouldnt dream of with my horse. His ideals are kind of..... hilarious to me. How out there they are. No offense Northern.
I like Clinton Anderson best. He lays it out straight and simple. His methods make sense to me because they dont let a horse become "this horse needs this this horse needs this" I dont like the whole special treatment for certain horses. I expect all my horses to respect me and act alright despite their "horsenality" and Clinton Anderson has some GREAT methods for groundwork and respect that would be amazing. He has a tv show so you dont even have to buy his methods.
For OP's learning curve here, my opinion is the Clinton is the MAKE the horse do it poster child. "Get the job done" is his favorite saying.
Every horse I see him on is behind the vertical, meaning, OP, his nose is somewhere in the vicinity of his chest instead of up & out as he'd naturally hold it, because CA is forcing the horse to bend his neck down & stare at his knees! You prob can see this on youtube. He also brings the horse's nose around to "sniff his boot" constantly, from side to side, & I feel that this overkill of lateral flexion is detrimental to the horse's mind & maybe physique.
CA, on his dvd, has his assistant kick horse in same spot in ribs about 35x with a pointy-toe boot, (that's called MAKING the horse keep spinning around you in a tight circle) & also on dvd recommends leaving horses in a trailer for 3-5 days straight, when traveling. I hope these facts give you an idea, OP, of the diff between CA & Parelli. Both CA & Pat Parelli competed in "Road to the Horse" colt-starting competition in 2011, & neither won, but perhaps you can find video footage/articles/photos comparing their behaviours in that event. Pat bought his colt & their partnership is going strong, btw.
Texas, I just want OP & his dominant mare to get their needs met!
Signing out on this one; OP, you'll have to start learning real horsemanship in order to help your mare. I'm only sorry that there's such disagreement these days on what constitutes true horsemanship, for beginners like you.
Is this the horse that you rescued that was starved before you got her? If so, there are some reall issues that need to be dealt with around food that will take time, time, more time for the horse to feel secure about her own basic needs being fulfilled. If you don't have a lot of experience, you may need some help from someone who does. Your mare is protecting herself from a learned experience. She KNOWS she needs to guard her food and herself from harm.
God only know what issues she may have had to deal with in her past.
A month is NOTHING for her at this point, but you must absolutely not endanger yourselves. I would continue to spend time with her and avoid any situation that may become confrontational at this point. I can't begin to try to tell you how to work with her -- there would be all kinds of body language she is sending, but to try to explain it here just is beyond my abilities. You don't want her to feel threatened, but on the other hand, you must try to acclimatize her to being handled securely, and still yet, you must be sure that she doesn't become dominant with you. She may be quietly defensive, but that's as far as it can go. If you scold her at the wrong time, it could completely backfire on you.
I would give her time. Feed her separately from the other horses. Be near her when she is feeding, but don't make her feel defensive. I had one horse years ago that was very food defensive and what we did was hold her grain bucket as she ate. We would be near while she ate her hay and got her to the point where we could do anything at all around her while she was eating, but it took months.
Perhaps, as I suggested, someone with more experience could come out and help you with this.
OP, welcome to the wonderful world of horse forums, thousands of members and a thousand and one different opinions, the skill is finding like minded people, or ones that make sense to you, so let me give you another view.
If you watch horses in the wild there is little about wanting to do, and a lot about doing what either the stallion, or more likely the lead mare tells you, and doing it darn quick.
Horses respect a leader, not a friend, with constant leadership comes trust, and with trust comes a partnership, not an equal one, but a partnership never the less.
I actually don't dismiss ALL of the Parelli doctrine, but I do have very large reservations about novice people investing extraordinary amounts of money in hugely overpriced books, videos and training aids.
My suggestion work first with a real life trainer, one who can keep you safe and deal with the issues you have now, when working with horses there simply is no substituting for having someone there to translate for you as and when things happen. Later when you have the basic skills that you need that's when you can decide to follow different paths.
But hey, mine is yet another strangers opinion on the internet
No matter how many DVDs you buy and Parelli chat rooms you visit, they absolutely cannot replace hands-on help because most people without horse experience (which is who he tends to cater to) cannot truly make the connection between what they are seeing on the video and what their own horse is doing.
On nearly every video most of the BNTs put out where they are standing there as a trainee works with their horse, the BNT tells them "Okay, put pressure here and when the horse does this, release all pressure. If he doesn't do this with the first level of pressure, give him more and more pressure until he does do this."
Video proceeds with the trainee applying initial pressure that is either way too weak or way too strong...get corrected by BNT...apply pressure that either doesn't escalate at all or escalates too quickly and doesn't give the horse a chance to respond before the level goes up to 10...get corrected by the BNT...when they finally get the pressure level and escalation correct and the horse responds appropriately, they don't release pressure, even with BNT talking in their ear saying "okay, he responded, stop pressure...Stop Pressure...STOP NOW!"
If they can't get the pressure and release correct with the trainer right there talking in their ear, how many of those people do you really think are getting it correct by sitting and watching a DVD and then going out to try to figure it out for themselves all by their lonesome?
It takes years to develop the proper timing and feel to be effective at training a horse to do much of anything...and that's if you have a proper trainer there that can tell you exactly what to look for and the exact moment that it happens so that you can learn to recognize the feel of it instead of running on guesstimation.
And, most importantly, the trainer can help you in the moment when things don't exactly go according to plan. Not every horse is going to respond the same way as the ones in the videos and when one doesn't, you're just stuck until you can get some other specialized video in the mail that may or may not correct the problem.
I really love seeing all of the diversity here; however, I see one point being overlooked. (And correct me if I'm wrong; I know nothing of this mare or her history.)
At the livery we have one gelding, who's 5, who constantly has his ears FLAT BACK against his head. Eyes white. As you approach he drops his head, reaches out his nose a little, and "stares you down." BUT, as soon as you're close, those little ears spring up and he's as happy as can be! He's been this way, quite literally, since he was born.
Some horses "just do." If she hasn't tried to bite, swing her rear, this is a very likely possibility that she's "one of those" horses.
Otherwise... Are her ears this or this?? The difference is the first link is a tense (but not angry) horse. The second is obviously angry! As of late I've watched numerous handlers mistake the horse's body language... there's more to a horse's mood than back ears. I also look at the eyes, nostrils, and corners of the mouth (see the second link for more comparison).
As for her feeding habits? If she was ever neglected she will be possessive of food. The best you can do is make sure she has enough of it; however, you aren't helping her find her place in the herd's pecking order by interfering with the establishment process (which may contribute to her attitude). After I brought Bamber home, he was covered in little nicks and bite marks (nothing serious, thank goodness) for a week or two from his 2 bossier pasture mates (mares; half-sisters). You most certainly didn't find me out in the pasture fighting the two of them off. I put their food separate (at least 15-20 feet between feed piles, or a large round bale) to help demote fighting. But if he put his nose into space it didn't belong, the girls told him who's who around the barn.
And in closing... Just remember:
If you don't understand it, neither will your horse.
I wouldn't suggest trying any sort of training until you understand what it is, how it's done (properly), and what it's supposed to do.
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