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W Brew 10-03-2008 05:45 PM

New here. Need help

I am really, really a novice, I'm a city girl whose come to the country, and always wanted a horse. So now I have three. I have many problems, but I am most concerned with a colt. He is 16 months old. (I got him when he was 9 months old.) I have had him trained in ground manners and he has been gelded. Until last month he has been lovely. He would stand and tie for grooming, pick up his feet for the farrier, he walked right into and out of the trailor. He led well and was just a sweetie. Last time the farrier was here, (about a month ago) he was not very cooperative. He danced around, didn't want to pick up his feet, just being naughty, etc. Since then I started noticing that he is getting worse. He used to let me groom him all over, lift up his feet, rub things all over him, lead him anyplace. Now he is pulling backwards at the hitching post, pulls his head away from me, will not let me pick up his feet. He tries to back up and kicks at me. He does this even when I am trying to just brush my hand over him. Today just walking him to the pasture he reared up on my husband. What could have happened to this once sweet boy. My farrier is coming again in 2 weeks and I'm afraid he will drop me if my horse is not cooperative.

Thanks in advance

free_sprtd 10-03-2008 05:56 PM

It sounds like it's behavioral and he's testing you. he's trying to determine who's alpha here. and it sounds like he needs correcting quickly or it will turn into some really nasty habits. the farrier shouldnt drop you for horse's his business, he deals with a lot of stuff, but then again, he shouldnt be put at risk because the horse isn't trained. I was a very much new to horses when i got my gelding....he was 21 months and boy.... what did i get myself into lol. well it's been almost a year now, and through lots of work and patience and tears, we're almost ready to ride :)

i really feel like he's testing you

free_sprtd 10-03-2008 05:56 PM

also what's his feed schedule like?

W Brew 10-05-2008 05:43 PM

Feed schedule
Thanks for the reply.

I feed each horse a scoop of grain plus a chip (or more) of hay in the morning. I feed them in the turnout with individual ground feeders, but the mares usually eat faster then he does and then take what's left of his food. When the weather is bad they are in the stable at night and get their grain in their individual stalls. So there's no competition.

Most days I take them out to the pasture to graze for several hours . When returning to the barn I bring in the colt first so he gets a start on eating before the mares get there. At that time I again give them a scoop of grain and a chip (or more) of hay.

Before taking them out to the pasture I usually groom them and give them treats. (apples or carrots) Just this week I have been giving my colt an extra cup of grain at this time. I worry that he isn't getting his full share. He's kind of skinny. Interestingly,
this is when his behavior began getting ugly.

He is the last one I take out and I know he is anxious to get out with the other horses. He misbehaves and will not stand to let me groom him. I know I've let him get away with this and its getting worse. I just don't know how to change his behavior.


Zab 10-05-2008 05:55 PM

I'd advice you to stop giving them treats, first of all. :)
It might sound silly, but giving treats can start a lot of ugly behaviour, especially if you're not very good with handeling the horses to begin with. (I'm not saying that you're bad with your horses, but since you wrote this, there is some problem.) Im not feeding my horses treats at all, and they're obedient and nice to start with. ;) It's all about timing, every timr you give him treats, you reinforce some behaviour. What behaviour it is depends all about timing, and a split second makes differense.
Give it in his crip or on the ground if you want to give him something tasty.

What kind of grain? (I'm sorry if this question seems stupid, english isn't my native so..:3)

I think it's very hard to solve your problems here, you need someone there when he misbehaves, someone that can see what you might be doing wrong, and to tell you how to act in this specific case.

Try to find a trainer or just someone with a good hand with horses, that can help you :)

sempre_cantando 10-05-2008 05:56 PM

Unfortunately, grain often makes horse's behaviour worse as it gives them extra energy. Perhaps you should reduce or cut out his grain. Try some sort of pellet mix that is nutritious without giving him too much energy.

kickshaw 10-05-2008 07:47 PM

sounds like a rotten case of the "terrible twos" - - he's definitely testing you to see where his boundaries really are - - make sure to establish them now, or the problem will only get worse.

Do you have access to a roundpen? Round pen exercises (in moderation, because of his young age) should help. I would also be cautious of feeding treats (perhaps give them in his grain instead of hand feeding him).

Are the mares bossy towards him, or is he low man on the totem pole?

Also, silly question maybe, but how are his teeth? If he has any tooth issues, that could be why he is dropping weight/eating slowly -and even acting up - I know I'm cranky when my mouth hurts :wink:

W Brew 10-05-2008 07:52 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I think I probably do need a trainer to work with me here. I hope I can find someone.

jazzyrider 10-05-2008 09:40 PM

the grain feed could be causing problems. grain can make a regularly exercised horse heat up so with a youngen it would be a lot worse especially if he isnt getting to release all his energy.

aside from that it does sound like he is testing you. the main thing you have to do is "win" every battle you have. if he kicks at you growl at him and move him back/away from you. moving a horse backwards starts to establish you as the dominant one in the relationship which is exactly what you need to do. every time he does something naughty or misbehaves have a growl at him and move him away from you again. the boss mare or head stallion dont stand for any carry on and this is part of teaching the rest of the herd respect and recognition that that horse is the leader.

make sure any discipline you give is with a couple of seconds of the incident. a young horse will quickly get confused if he isnt sure why he is being discplined. if he kicks at you and you can get to him within a split second give him a fair slap on the butt. this wont hurt him but the sound will likely startle him and horses do anything to avoid something that will startle them. if you can get in straight away he will automatically associate kicking with a firm slap on the rump.

same if he bites. my old standardbred has a bad habit nipping/biting when you do almost anything to him lol straightening his rugs or brushing him or anything and he will swing around and have a nip. a few times of getting a well timed slap in on his shoulder and now he thinks twice about doing it. if anything he snaps at the air now days but he wont try and bite me anymore. physical discipline is fine as long as a) its only on areas like the rump or the shoulder b) its using only your hand not your feet or a whip or a piece of 4 x 2 c) its done within a very short time frame from when the incident occured & d) not a repeated beating. one firm slap is enough.

dont be afraid to get mad at him and show it in your face and in your posture. horses pick up on the littlest of things even whether or not you have a smile or a scowl on your face. you need him to understand that if he doesnt do what you are asking of him that there will be consequences. in a herd situation of a colt where to challenge the stallion he would be bitten and kicked into submission. although you dont want to beat him into submission he really needs to think that if he challenges you he will be in big trouble.

i hope that all made sense. im not always the best at putting things in words :)

good luck and above all be safe ;)

W Brew 10-06-2008 08:32 AM

Gosh Guys.

Thanks for all the good stuff.

Free-Sprtd......... Why did you ask about feed schedule......does that have something to do with his behavior?

My farrier told me she would drop me if my horses didn't stand and lift their feet, etc.. I can't really blame her though, that's why he isn't getting practice lifting his feet. I don't want to be down there while he is kicking either. I have more farrier questions but will start a thread elswhere.

Zap......... The consences is NO TREATS. How sad, but everyone seems to think you are correct in this. I will stop. :(

Sempre'-Cantando......... I will talk to my feedman about what's in the mix. I know there is some molasses cause I can smell it. Up until just recently the colt has been doing okay with this feed, as are the mares. But I will definately look at this factor. (Your English is lovely)

Kick Shaw.......... I do not have a round pen. I hate to tell my husband I need one more thing. LOL. Again, this is probably stupid, but does it have to be round? I have a small turnout that is a dry lot. It's square though.

Jazzy Rider........... Really good feedback. I have a question about exercise: Does he have to be longed (is that spelled right, or is it lunged?) or ridden, or can he just get exercise running around in a pasture?

The info on body language and giving him a good swat is probably right on target. I have been trying to NOT react to his behavior.
He probably just doesn't have a clue.

I hate to be a pain, but one more much time should I be spending working with my horses? I wonder if I'm not spending enough time.

Thank You all so much.

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