Beginner needs help with a colt
Hi, I'm 33 & have always wanted to own a horse, but knew many ppl who did, and knew it was a huge commitment and a lot of hard work. Anyways, long story short, I finally have land and time, and got a mini horse a week ago. I figured I'd start small. He's 5 months old. He was trained on a lead at the seller's house. But, when they dropped him off, they let him off the lead and into my pasture. I knew he was skiddish before I bought him. He was paired with his sister and they were best buddies. I got a pygmy goat to be his pal, and they've become friends. He'll eat from my hand. BUT, when I go to pet him or reach for him in any way, in order to clip the lead, he jumps back and runs away (sigh). Been at this for several days and several hours. Besides just being patient and hand feeding him, what tips do you have??:-|
I have watched many youtube clips and read many articles. I realize there are different schools of thought re: training, just as there are for dogs (we're dog breeders). I'm open to hearing all angles. Thank you!
I don't want to start out harsh...But this is why people say Green + Green= Black and Blue.
I suggest getting a trainer who can help you and show you what to do. I can't really explain some things over the internet, because I think of myself as a bad explainer (if that is even a word).
Usually 5 month old colts/fillies are going to be hyper and skittish and just need to burn off energy sleeping and playing out in the pasture. Anything else I wouldn't do.
First I would also try not to hand feed a horse too much, because they can get very pushy very quick. And since your horse is a baby, they have a tendency to learn very fast, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. ;)
I just suggest getting a trainer have him/her show you what to do and build off that. Take lessons and learn more about green horses, etc.
I don't believe a trainer is necessary for this issue. All you need is something to do and TIME. Go out in your field with a book, video game, whatever that is mobile and entertaining and pop a squat. Literally just sit there and ignore him. As they say, curiousity killed the cat. He'll have no idea what you're doing and why you're not paying attention to him and get curious. Let him come over to you, sniff you, investigate you. This method shows them that not all human interaction is about touching and feeling. All you really need is patience.
Once he's at the point where he's investigating you, reach out and see what he does. If he flinches or runs off, fine. Ignore him again and go back to what you're doing because I guarantee he'll come back. If he doesn't run off, give him a pat then ignore him again. Good luck with your little guy :)
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If he is fine being near you, that is a great start. The best thing right now is time time and more time. Hold your hand out. Let HIM smell you and touch you. When he touches you take your hand down, not quickly but not slooooowly either. If he runs away, you probably went too fast. If not, offer your hand again for him to check you out. Move your fingers around a little bit. Try to rub his nose. Go slow and work your way back. Once he knows that you are the source for those oh-so-delicious-and-wonderful scratches, you won't be able to get rid of the thing. BUT you will be able to catch him.
IF he goes to bite you, correct him immediately. Best way is to move him away from you. Clap your hands, growl at him, make him get out of your space. Doing this for a bite will NOT ruin your progress. You just start back over with the same engery as before.
Spending time in the pasture just hanging out is one thing you cannot overdo. When working hands on with him, you must remember that his attention span is only as big as he is, so keep it short. Several five minute sessions do so much better than an hour in one go. Go slow. Be patient and nice. Always end on a good note. Treat him like a horse(not a snuggly pet or puppy). Do not let him get away with disrespect or bad behavior. If you wouldn't want a full sized horse doing it, don't let him. No biting. No rearing. No pushing on you. Tantrums will happen, because every baby has tantrums. Don't pay them much mind. Just wait until he is back on earth and keep on going. Play is very important, too.
And get him gelded ASAP if he is not already.
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Good advice from everyone, including a trainer but, IMO, not necessarily a professional trainer. If you know any fair-minded and knowledgeable horse folks that might come and give you an assist.
If you're a dog breeder, you have training experience - just need to figure out how to transfer that knowledge to a piece of livestock. Yes, the little darling is livestock in spite of what many folks want to think:-P
Sitting out there with a book or video game is a great idea, but depending where you live, the weather may not permit that.
He is five months old and NEEDS his family jewels to quickly go missing before you start having mounting problems with him. Plus all that testosterone may cause added discipline problems.
Is your dog vet a large animal vet as well? If not, please contact your large animal vet, as he/she might also be of some help in finding someone to assist you. If you can't catch the Little Booger, you can't get him de-nutted" :D
Training a mini isn't any different than training a big horse. Feeding however, is another matter. Minis are very prone to obesity, therefore insulin and founder issues.
Hopefully the "Mini Crew" will come in and offer up some sound feeding advice:-)
Good luck and please feel free to ask questions. No question is dumb when you don't the answer:D
I agree about spending time. Take a comfy chair and a book and place his hay at your feet and ignore him. Horses know when you are thinking about them so that is why the reading material. Keep a riding crop handy. You may need to sit with him many times until he starts to investigate you. Don't reach out to him, it's tempting but refrain. Let him come to you on his terms. If he starts to crowd you, move your chair a few feet away and resume reading. It's ok to offer the goat some attention but for all intents and purposes the mini doesn't exist. He will come to accept you hand rubbing his forehead. That is one place they can't scratch and if he's wooly he will quickly come to enjoy this. Babies love to be scratched, the top of the tail is another favorite spot, along his back. Just don't attempt to catch him. If he's wearing a halter it's best to remove it as soon as possible.
Get 3 or 4 portable panels. Put up a little pen with them. Make a gate out of one of them. Leave a gate partially open. Put the feed and water source inside the pen made and you have a place to trap them. I would probably leave him locked in the pen for a few days and let him drag a rope. It usually does not take long for them to get gentle when you are in charge and they do not get a chance to run away.
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Very helpful advice from all!
Thanks everyone!!! You're all a wealth of info. I know I'm "green", but you have to start somewhere. I learn fast, and I'm good with animals. We have sheep, dogs, chickens, cats, a bird and a goat. :)
So, it was a warm day. I went and sat in the pasture for a long time. He came up multiple times, curiously. I let him sniff my hands. He bit me lightly a couple times (b/c I've always had treats). I told him no, firmly. Thanks so much for the reminder to not ALWAYS have treats in my hands/pockets. My sheep are the same way and the males get very aggressive over their treats. I've had many stand offs with my wether.
I tickled him under his chin and around his mouth on the sides (the closest he'd let me get), but anything else and he'd bolt. I fed him his hay from my hands. Still won't let me get close to rubbing his head.
Soooo, keep doing what I'm doing + more time? Any other advice? Just wish I had him on a lead!
Yep. Just keep going. My weanling colt now was awful. He would let me get close enough to lick him! If I tried to touch him, he'd move away. We would stand together, explore, get into stuff, but i could not touch him. This went on for a while until one day he let me start rubbing his nose and up his face to his cheek and them to his itchy itchy neck and then he was mine. I shamelessly exploit those itchy places they can't reach. It was a good month and a half to two months before I could do that(I couldn't trust the mare to work around until he was more independent). Since your guy is handled and interested, it won't take nearly that long. I'd say a week or two.
Does he still have his halter on?
If you absolutely HAVE to have him, the panels should work to pen him up and grab him up. Arm around the chest and under tail. Don't do this unless you have to though for vet reasons or other emergencies. It really is the best way to go slooow. It is frustrating and agonizing at times but it is a good lesson in patience for you, and it really does help develop trust.
The fact that he is interested in you is great. My little weanling filly I wasn't able to do this with. I saw her once a week and she really has no interest in people yet. Unfortunately for her, she HAS to be handled now, whether she wants to or not. It is really stressful, but she is coming along well. The colt that I mentioned above is loving the indoor life. He is trying so hard to do what we ask. He wants to be apart of everything. The little filly just wants to go back out. She has no trust in us yet. I wish I had had more time to build it while she was out.
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