Approaching a moody mare in a stall (not your own)
I'm asking this question for my daughter. A little bit of background. She's almost 10, she spent two summers taking intermittent Western lessons, and has been taking weekly English lessons since October. She's *very* into natural horsemanship, and has been watching Rick Gore videos on youtube, and some Parelli as well. So this is to say she's eager, has great intentions, but her experience is limited. As you can see from my user name, we do not have a horse, and I'm not horsey. She does feel very confident around horses, but since I have even less experience than her, I can't even say whether her confidence is justified.
Right now she volunteers at a barn/farm every Saturday and Sunday, spends 6-7 hours there each day--cleans the stalls, brushes horses etc.
There's a mare there that always pins her ears down when people walk by or approach. My daughter watched some Rick Gore's videos on how to deal with a similar behaviour in pasture, which I understand is very different from dealing with that same behaviour in a stall, as the mare is pretty much "trapped" there and has no way to retreat.
She would still like to know some tips. She tells me (following Rick Gore, I think :lol:) that the mare is being disrespectful to her, and she shouldn't allow this. She says that the mare is now conditioned to pin her ears and thus make people leave, and other girls are scared of her. The mare allows her to put her hand on her face, but turns her head sideways, which my daughter interprets as "Don't you walk around me!"
Are there any tips for my daughter about how to guide this horse to respect her?
If you think any practical suggestions might not be safe for her in her situation, we'd still love to hear the tips, so at least we have some theoretical knowledge. She isn't going to do anything that isn't safe, she's very safety oriented, even wears her helmet at all times, even when not riding, but working in the stalls.
I admire your daughter's natural horse talent and desire to "help" a horse that might be misunderstood...
Your daughter is 10 years old and should not be anywhere near a dangerous horse. Even a horse that might only "bark" and never "bite".
A horse like that should only be handled by an experienced horse person. I fear your daughter may be a little over-confident in this area. The only advice I can give is to tell your daughter to steer clear of this mare before she gets hurt. Horses are unpredictable and very large. Even a little nip hurts and bruises. If she ever attempts to pet the mare or take it out of the stall, a trainer should be there. A lot of times, signs of a dominate horse can be missed by those less experienced and I'd hate for your daughter to be injured.
There are so many articles and videos that you can watch on youtube and it's actually unfortunate because young children and inexperienced horse people get the idea in their head to train an unmanageable horse using methods they see online. Unless someone has had proper training in how to deal with these types of situations, it's best just to cut the losses and stay away. Just because the horses in the video respond perfectly to Clinton Anderson and Pat Parelli, doesn't mean the horse your working with will.
Steer clear of the grumpy girl and let someone else deal with her attitude problems. It's much better then a trip to the ER.
I agree that she should definitely not try to address this problem on her own, but maybe she should talk to the owner of the horse or the barn owner about it just to satisfy her curiosity? That way she can observe how they deal with the horse's bad behaviour, and she can learn without being in harm's way.
CLaPorte432: Good points, thank you! We will read your reply together in the morning. :-)
foreveramber: That makes sense. She should observe more when the owners or other workers deal with this horse.
My feeling is that they are not getting much guidence there, and not sure what kind of advice they get. The people are lovely, and this is the place where she took her very first Western lessons and did summer camps, but the girls are left to their own devices a lot. Which is both good and bad.
My daugther likes to groom and hang out with one particular pony, who's new to the stables, and says she likes massaging her poll (? :oops:) and is teaching her not to move her head when she's being brushed and to lower her head on cue. This is a small, friendly pony.
Should she be doing this, if the owners are okay with that?
And if the owners are okay with her spending time with the pony, and he is kid safe, I'd say she is fine with him.
Although I am a little concerned by your comment about there being little guidance at this particular barn. Especially for younger, less experienced horse people, children included. :shock:
There's some guidence, but also freedom to roam--more than in other places. In a way I do like this, as she is not baby-sat the entire time, but of course, there are disadvantages to this as well.
The environment is more like visiting your grandparents in the country, than a more regimented barn, kwim? The owners' grandkids also roam around. It is more like in the "good old times", only we know that the good old times werent' always that good and safe. It is not always easy to find the right balance, between being oversupervised, and not supervised enough.
She did learn a lot from these people about horse care. But I believe their approach is more a "no-nonsense" approach, than NH, but not entirely non-NH either.
The above comes from a non-horsey person, so please feel free to correct!
Even on a grandparent's farm I am sure there is a lot more supervision than what is being offered there.
Please make sure that she doesn't get into this "I can train these horses" mindset because she will end up hurt without proper supervision and guidance!
I do not wish to upset either of you but trust me.. I've seen it with my own eyes. And have a few of my own scars to prove it.
I'm afraid she *is* getting into the training mode, and I will need to remind her that these are not her horses to train, and she can't train them without supervision and guidence.
Okay you asked so I'm giving it to you as the raw deal.
I know I'm going to step on a few toes, but that's how I feel NH training does to people.. makes them think that they can take any horse, play with it and suddenly it's trained.
If she's serious about training, have her intern with a riding instructor, watch lessons and see if she can pick out the difference before the instructor says the correct.. and after.
Encourage her to learn about how horses communicate, the signs of a happy horse, and MOST importantly, the signs the horse is asserting dominance and is about to strike out.
Take her to some trainers and have her watch their sessions in person or even just talk to her about training and how dangerous it can be and how important it is to have a lot of experience.
Or have her take some ground work lessons so she can learn. But encourage her to stay in riding lessons, and to not train until she's much more older and experienced.
At least then she knows more about the reality of it.
And if you do happen to stumble across any of my posts about how I trained my horse, let her know that I did it with HELP. I took lessons and I educated myself and I didn't do something that I had no clue about. Because otherwise with all due honesty I wouldn't be writing this right now.. I wouldn't be alive.
Also as much as I like Rick Gore, I would make sure that she takes his "training advice" lightly. HE has over 50 years of experience with horses. She just started. Very big difference. I've been riding for around 8 years.. all 6 of those years were terrible lessons where I learned bad habits.. the past 2 years I had proper lessons and volunteered at a barn and learned how to "read" horses (their body language.) Then the barn owner taught me how to lunge, how to handle on the ground, and then how to ride greenies. That was extremely poor of her to stick a beginner on a green horse.. but somehow I worked and managed to train quite a few horses. Then I took lessons at TWO different barns on riding and ground work so I could work with my green personal horse.
Been there done that.
But again.. I could have been seriously hurt. Horses aren't puppies.. they will hurt you intentionally or unintentionally.
Very good advice Sky.
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