My New Horse Has AWEFULE Habits!
Hi, I just bought a 10-year-old Arabian/Saddlebred. He's very easy to ride but he has some horrible ground manners.
The way our property is set up is we have the horse pasture in the back of a five acre forest property and the arena in the front of it. Whenever we try to bring him over to the arena, he stops, pulls, rears up, kicks, does whatever he can to stay over at the pasture.
Yesterday, we were trying to load him in the trailer with one of our other horses, Espy. We can't bring the trailer to the pasture because of all the trees so we had to lead him over to where the arena is. We already had Espy loaded and were having a huge amount of trouble getting him even over to the trailer. We were gone for a while trying to get him and this made Espy nervous. Once we finally got him close, Espy was freaking out and had somehow managed to lodge herself underneath the butt bar in the trailer and she got very hurt... it took us about an hour to free her and another couple hours of walking her around to make sure sue didn't colic.
We were willing to work slowly on this problem with Link but now that one of our horses has been injured because he refused to come to the trailer, I need some help. What can we do to start breaking this habit?
There's a number of things that could be going on - pain, bad or no training, fear...
Rule out pain first.
Once you know there's nothin physical going on, I recommend getting some Clinton Anderson DVDs or just streaming his show. His groundwork techniques will set this horse right. It will give him some confidence in himself, in you, and most importantly will teach him that YOU are the boss.
For trailering, CA basically works the horse very hard after it refuses to get on the trailer then stops the work and asks for the horse to load again. The work makes the choice of staying off the trailer less desirable. You could also try introducing him the trailer and setting his food in there and encourage him to enter to eat. You could also stand at the entry of the trailer, allow him to eat and try inching inside and praising forward, slow movement - even if its just one leg.
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I would work his butt off over in the pasture.....so he WANTS to come to the arena/trailer. It's too bad your other horse got hurt, I hope she mends up ok.
Make it harder for him to be wherever he is when he decides to goof off, then he will WANT to be where it's easier.....horses are inherently lazy!
By "just bought" - how long have you had the horse? Were you aware of the lack of ground training when you purchased him or was this an unpleasant surprise? What is your general training philosophy and how experienced are you in handling problem behavior?
OP-you have raised more questions than answers. I am getting the idea that you are not very experienced with horses and could benefit from some help with this horse. I am afraid he "has your number". THe above suggestions are all good, and exactly how you need to proceed.
My main question/statement would be-why, when you KNOW you have a problem horse, would you load the other horse first? You set yourself up for that horse getting upset, IMO. Have you loaded the "new horse" before without issue? In the future, I would strongly suggest that after a couple of tries you unload the loaded horse and try the other side of the trailer, or sliding the divider over a little..sometimes it looks really narrow to them. Above all-you need to work on loading after you solve your leading issue by working his A$$ off in the pasture! He only gets to rest where he doesn't normally want to be.
So.... it sounds like, as there are a number of issues & the basics don't seem to be in place even, that you'd do best to learn to develop a relationship & hire a trainer/instructor to help you know when/what/how to be, and what you can expect from these beasts & how they think.
I will say we had problems loading Dixie at first, we spoke to her previous owner and she came over to help load her, she refused at first and then her previous owner noted that Dixie had never been in a trailer without shavings on the floor. She now loads with not a bit of problem, stays calm in it and everything...was so strange, put the shavings down and not a pull or balk nothing. I know this is not a normal fix, but sometimes can just be something simple.
I am farely new to horses and have found Clinton Anderson's methods to be very helpful and extremely useful. Also, it has been my experience that a horse that will load in a stock or slant load trailer won't necessarily load in a two horse. I have had to two horse trailer train all 3 or my horses who will load perfectly in a slant(which I don't own). Good luck.
Like others said: do you have a bond yet? It took my mare two years to really trust me.
If you've only had him for a while, go out in the field with a brush and just walk around pick up stuff let him come over to you. Then pat him and talk to him, brush him a little. Let him get used to you. Then try just bringing him closer to the arena. Just keep working on it. If there's really no improvement, then I would start lunging him when he refuses.
After lunging for a bit, try again. Keep going until he goes with you.
Once he goes with you a few steps, leave it and do it again the next day.
My mare hated trailers, so I would lunge her right by the back of the trailer then try to load. She eventually figured out that if she just went with me that she wouldn't have to work. Definitely my favorite method for a horse that refuses on the ground..
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