Lack of Respect?
I have a 19 year old ASB mare that I've owned for about 2 1/2 years; she is a retired lesson horse and used primarily as a trail and pleasure horse. Until November she was kept in a stall for 1/2 the day and turned out for the remainder, then in November I moved her to 24 hour turnout (for financial and health reasons mainly). Since she has gone to 24 hour turnout she has developed a serious problem about being caught. She's never been one to come running when called, but she's always stood quietly to have her halter put on and led out of the field. Now, she turns her butt, pins her ears, and snaps when you approach with a halter or even just a lead. I'm currently in graduate school and also working part time, so I only make it to the barn about 4 days a week, and usually only ride 1-2 days a week. Once she's finally caught and in the barn she's a doll.
One factor that I think may be contributing to this less-than-desirable behavior is the way the barn owner/full time caretaker treats her. Every morning she goes out to the pasture, brings her in and feeds her (she comes in to eat so the barn owner can pick her feet and check her over for anything amiss), then goes back out to her pasture until its time for the evening feeding. At this point she gets fed in the field on a fence feeder. The problem with this whole routine is my horse is NEVER phyically caught and a halter put on her. The owner opens the gate and my horse makes her way up to the barn, eats loose in the arena, wanders back to the pasture when she wants, and eats loose in the evening as well.
I seriously think my horse has developed a complete lack of respect based on her new routine. Thoughts/opinions/recommendations? Thanks in advance!
If I walk up to a horse and it pins it's ears or swings its' butt toward me, I will drive it forward and make some commotion so that this action of his comes with some discomfort. the second it looks at me with its' ear pricked forward, I will stand quietly and invite it in. If it won't come , I'll walk slowly toward it. If it turns it's butt and heads off, I might send the rope out and "bite" its' butt, or at least make turning away from me the wrong thing to do.
Today, I had Zulu in a small paddock and went to reach over his head to put the halter on and he swung his head away from me. I gently tried to "pull" it back with pressure on his neck and he decided to "leave" me. As soon as he committed to turning away, I used the rope to smack him one on the shoulder as he was leaving me. He trotted off 15 feet then turned and as I made a little shuffling noise iwth me feet and stood with my core facing off at an angle from him a bit, he decided it's better to be near me and stand there.
This is what I would do with her. Make turning away from you a wrong choice, and turning toward you a nice one. Also, once you have caught her, I do give treats, but this depends on how pushy the hrose is or isn't.
Tiny's advice is great. I do the same thing, basically.
I'm not sure whether that new routine would contribute. Is the barn owner walking out there with a bucket of oats or hand feeding treats? I find horses can get obnoxious in those cases (though if that was the case, you'd think she'd be running over you instead of trying to evade capture).
I would just try the method Tiny outlined and see if that works.
Well what if you whip his butt and instead of submitting he runs off? TinyLiny if you are in a paddock that would work, buy what about in a 30 acre pasture? My horse is stall kept now, but when I was a kid I had a horse that would run to the farthest corner of the pasture with his best friend the mini. And I would have to walk out to him to catch him.
Yes, that can be a problem. our horses have 40 acres. fortunately, none of them resist being cuaght. But, I would still do the same thing, just be prepared to walk him down. Or, I'd put down food and then disallow the horse to approach it, just the one I want, while letting the others approach. Then, I'd move the one I want off the food and would not let her approach or eat until she had either come to me, or allowed me to approach and halter her without giving me a stink eye.
Be careful with food and multiple horses
I'd be careful about putting food out and trying to keep one horse away. You have to know the 'herd' and its pecking order or you could get in the middle of a horse fight-- an easy way to get hurt.
Can you talk to the barn manager and come up with a solution that you both like? Then both of you can catch in the same consistent way and that may help with the behavior.
My horse is very attached to her routine. I usually ride in the afternoon after the morning feeding. One day I came in the morning and she would not let me catch her (she's in a stall with attached paddock but when a 17 hand horse turns their butt on you in a small space, it's intimidating!). I had to get someone else to help me catch her! But my point is, perhaps you could try coming out at a feeding and be the one that leads her to her food sometimes. Right now she knows you are not the wonderful 'food' person.
Best of luck!:-)
good point. I know the horses I am dealing when I've done this, and I am really careful.
You are going to have to take the time to walk her down, armed with the halter and a stout lead rope. Keep your energy low and don't look at her as you enter the field. You will circle around behind her about 30' back, still not looking at her, at least no eye contact. Get her to move by using the least amount of energy that will move her. Start as tho shooing chickens. The goal isn't to get her to run off, just move her feet, even a few steps. BTW don't hide the halter, carry it in your left hand or elbow in plain sight. Continue to do this until she will try to protect her hiney and watch you with both eyes. It will become more difficult for you to get behind her and that's what you want. When she's facing you with both eyes, stand still, slump your shoulders and look at her knees or muzzle, just not her eyes. Extend your right hand, fingers downward and see if she will approach and touch your hand. If not, step back a few steps. A horse will often follow what is moving away. If she greets your hand, toss the rope over her neck and pull it off a few times. Put it on again then halter her. Do it up, then remove it and walk away. Leave her alone for a few minutes. She will either follow you or return to graze (or just stand there). Approach her as tho to circle. Just do as before only this time when she's haltered, groom her with your hands and pick up her feet. Then let her go and leave. You have made no demands on her. And to her, being haltered didn't result in work. Do the circling each time you enter the field. If you devote two or three days to this it will make a huge difference in the long run.She presently equates being haltered with work and the pasture space has allowed her to voice her opinion.
In your position, I would try to clear a large chunk of time a couple of days in a row (maybe a weekend) and "walk her down" such as Saddlebags suggests. I recently had to spend a whole day at the barn with my young pony who had become VERY herd bound as the result of a week off from working/spending all day in the pasture while I was visiting family for the holidays. Sometimes it is easier to fix an issue all at once rather than picking at it a little at a time.
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