Dead-sided Trainer Filly
My boss asked me to work with her coming 4-year-old filly to get her what I call "basic broke," being she knows how to turn, stop, back, and move forward -- no discipline training. She will be used as a string horse at the trail riding facility.
About a week ago I finally put a "real" ride on her. And I tell you -- she is the most dead-sided thing I have ever encountered. I have worked with horses that will have "some sort" of reaction to leg pressure, whether it be paying extra attention or flinching a little bit at this 'new touch system.' This girl stood there as if I didn't apply any pressure at all and she was just standing tied to a fence...
I would usually take her back to the ground and begin spur desensitizing (using a stick or similar object to get her to yield to pressure, as a spur would) and then use the spur while riding, and remove it as time goes on and they respect the pressure more. Or I would use split reins or a crop to give her that little "pat of motivation."
Unfortunately, my boss is against spurs. To her knowledge, using spurs will (and I quote) "make the horse's sides sore. So when a rider comes along without spurs and kicks the horse, it hurts the animal -- and thus the horse bucks them off." She is also against crops and any sort of "whipping" (with the reins, a quirt, over under....) In this situation as aforementioned, I would go to spurs or pat with the reins/a crop while applying the forward cue, as I did with the other horse I worked for her. That horse is now trail riding and has even gone on trotting rides.
The pressure on this girl's face is just fine; she will flex, turn, stop, and back -- the problem is going forward. The fact that I cannot use common resources to help this filly along has me stuck. With a rider, she will not recognize a verbal forward cue either. And yes, she has been "ponied" by someone leading her with a rider and the forward cues have been used, to no avail.
Does anyone have any exercises that will help me teach this filly to recognize and yield to pressure without infringing my boss's spur/whip beliefs?
What about bumper spurs maybe?:/
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Give the horse back and tell the owner to deal with it. I think your method is completely humane and makes sense. If she's against it then she can figure something else out. Maybe suggest a fishing rod and a carrot :P
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I'm considering telling the boss she's on her own with this one. I hear constant word about her belittling my methods (even though the results are undeniable) and experience... Starting to weigh if the client is worth having, even if it is for the horse, if she's going to undermine my every move.
If you need to teach a child how to write but are disallowed teaching how to hold, have or use a pen or pencil, you are all done.
Hand the reins back to the "boss" and say, "I don't know how to do this" and either let your boss show you how or walk away.
I do not suffer fools gladly nor should you.
If she feels spurs and whips are cruel and unusual punishment (instead of the training tools they are), let's see how she can train the horse by herself without these.
As someone put it quite well: Your boss cannot possibly expect you to teach a child how to write, when you are not allowed to use a pen or pencil.
This. No doubt about it at all.
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