First steps with new horse - what to do?
I've just gotten Kate - the spotted draft in my picture. She's about 12, and has been trail ridden a long time ago, according to the previous owner.
My other two horses are docile old arthritic pasture ornaments. I've never really trained or worked with them. But I want to learn about working with Kate, because I'd love to ride her some day. Please excuse my total ignorance w/ regard to training. Everybody has to start somewhere.
Every day, I go out and spend time with her (she's been here 2 weeks now). I go and stand about 15 feet from her and look down. She comes over to me every time. I slowly touch her shoulder. She'll let me, but then immediately backs up a step or two. It's all about the backing up. If I stand in front of her and just point at her, she backs up. That's cool, but the constant backing up when I touch her anywhere is not so good. If I try to pick up a foot, she backs up. What should I be doing?
Also, she's EXTREMELY head shy, and I haven't been able to get a halter on her. If I come near her with a halter she tosses her head and - you got it - she backs up.
This girl was a pasture bum for the past 5 or 7 years. She was always turned out in her halter. The halter is too small for her, and has made a dent in the top of her nose. So I'm sure it hurts her. I made a rope halter for her that will fit comfortably, but she's so head-shy I can't get it on her. (I've ordered a break-away halter that will fit her).
Are there other games or things I should be working on first? I don't have a round pen, and obviously haven't gotten the halter on her. How should I be spending our time together? I do make her move her feet - walking in circles, moving her back end away from me, backing her up (no problem there! :? )
Any help will be appreciated. Thanks!
What training has she had in the past, do you know?
I can't help much with the other stuff, but I might be able to help with getting the halter on:
Have you tried having the halter+lead rope on your shoulder (arm through the halter's nose hole), then taking the lead rope end, petting her neck, petting her neck, petting, then, sneakily dropping the lead rope over the other side of her neck and quickly wrapping it around her neck so that you basically have her caught, minus the halter? You can hold on to that neck loop, so she can't back up, and get the halter on her head.
That's what I do to my mare. She's not head shy but if I just went out into her pasture and tried to stick the halter on her head without draping the lead rope over her neck (I used to loop it but now the lead rope is enough of a cue), she would almost certainly started backing away. She doesn't reeeeeaaaaallllllllyyyyy want to be caught and if she can carefully weasel out of getting caught, why shouldn't she? haha!
She will let me approach her right side, but not her left.
I've also been getting her used to the lunge whip. I've tied a cloth flag on the end of it. She's afraid of it, but getting better. When she's desensitized to it, I may be able to work on that backing up thing.
I think that today I'll also try this - when she takes a step back, I'll just keep her going backward. Sooner or later she may get tired of that. At least backing her up should be easy! :lol:
Thanks for your replies!
have you looked into something like pick line neck collars like in this link
my denny boy used to not like to be haltered bc his nylon halter was left on to long when i found him. and then i retrained him to except this neck collar for catching then worked with a normal rope halter. eventually he excepted it but it made things alot less stressful for our first encounters and regained his face shyness issues slow and steady. it might not work but then again it could... he was the only one i ever tried it with.
GREAT progress today. Just spent an hour with her, just standing there with the rope halter in my hand. Every now and then I'd move it a little. Long slow story short, at the end she was walking 15 - 20 feet to come to me and taking a treat from my outstretched hand that had the halter dangling from it. Treat was balanced ON the halter! Progress! :-)
congrats :) good luck
Congrats on the progress! My advice would be to focus on one task at a time. First being able to be caught. Then working on teaching her to lead including walking forward, stopping, turning left and right, and backing.
Since you're not sure of her past and you're new at this yourself (forgive me if I'm wrong) just make sure you and your horse are naturals at allll of the basics and work on reteaching her everything.
It helps to work in a rope halter as they can feel the pressure (a poke versus a flat hand) and tend to respond better because it's clearer. Just my opinion though :)
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