Help with problem horse
Problem horse sounds kind of mean...
But he has so many problems.
Reposting from another post I just made:
"Not only does he have Pica, he cribs, can jump over a 5 foot fence at a standing stop, as never been rode a day in his life and has the ability to hop in one place like a bunny rabbit, he bucks, kicks, bites, charges at, runs away from, breaks free from the pen, runs down roads when he succeeds to break the fencing, and also loves to chase after the neighbors cats."
We have no idea what to do. We have tried everything. EVERYTHING. We had a man who has worked with horses all his life come out and after watching his behavior, say it was probably better to find a new horse. I'm not giving up on him, though.
He acts like he is the dominate horse, acts like he is the leader of us. We try lunging him, and he tosses his head then turns his butt to us and kicks out. He charges and tries to pin us between things and when we try to ride him, he will get so mad he goes to roll with us on him. We thought at first that he was spooked, but then he started the biting. He will arch his head around and bite down towards your legs!
Then the pica. Pica is a disorder where an animal (or even human) will eat EVERYTHING. We've had him checked over by a vet and he said his diet is fine, but that he's just a little 'wonky' in the head. He eats wood, wire, Styrofoam, he steals eggs from chickens, he ate a baby bird (ATE.IT!), the list goes on. Then, he has coliced twice this year from simply getting out and eating the bag of horse food. We had to move it inside the house.
ANY and all advice will help!
Hi & welcome.
Is this your horse? What are you wanting out of him? How is he managed & fed? What sort of experience & skill would you say you have as a horseperson?
Have no idea what 'Pica' is, but the cribbing is likely a physical problem, due to unhealthy diet or feeding regime(perhaps not after reading what Pica is...) & the rest of the above sounds like he's bored & frustrated, jumping out of his skin.
What 'everything' have you tried?
What training & handling has he had? What preparation to do what you've asked him to? Why do you lunge him? You said above he's never been ridden & now say he rolls when you're on him - from this I'm gathering he's never been trained to be ridden but you've jumped on him anyway. It is very possible that it's not fear that's led him to be 'aggressive' like this, but just because he bites doesn't rule it out at all either.
:shock: Nope, can't say I've ever heard of that one before! Doubly interested to know how he's fed & managed on that note. But it sounds like you're not very experienced horse people, this horse is very difficult and also may have neurological issues that mean he can't learn normally either. Afraid without more info I'll have to agree with the man you had come see him. Sounds like you're in way over your head with him & the best thing for him would be to find an experienced, skilled home that can handle him. That's not giving up on him, but being realistic & giving him a better chance.
Hiya! sorry for not putting that much in there, I didn't know what all you wanted. :)
Okay, lets go in order, shall we!? :)
The horses have a fenced in 20 acre pasture, and get a coffee can full of grain and 2 flakes of hay a piece, but during the winter they get the grain and then have a round bale to graze off of constantly. The vet said thats not any more or less than what he would suggest.
Pica CAN be a nutritional deficiency , but he was checked by a vet who said there was nothing wrong with his diet. It can also be caused by a nutritional issue that happened earlier in life. It does not, however, mean they have a diet issue now. Foals often show signs of Pica when they eat feces but they are meant to grow out of that... Whiskey, apparently, did not lol.
As for horse experience, I honestly have very little. However, my stepdad has rescued PTSD horses (the two) and brought them back from almost everything. They can't be ridden due to bad backs, but they have completely turned around, but he cannot get whiskey to bend. My mother has practically lived and breathed horses since she was born. They had five horses growing up. Her mother (my grandmother) lived with horses before that and its been that way for several generations back. They are some of the best horse people i've ever seen. My grandfather rescued two wild mustangs from a round up in Colorado when I was around 8 or 9. My mom had them saddle broke in no time. She has quite a bit experience.
As for the everything we have tried. We worked with Whiskey from sun up to sun down for weeks and the only thing we 'broke through' with was him not eating the saddle after it was placed on his back. You name it, we've tried it. (Short of hiring an actual trainer, but I explained that one.)
When I said he had never been ridden, I meant from the previous owners (sorry for the mix up!) . They said they got him after his FIRST owners passed away and bought him from the FIRST owners daughter to help with financial costs. But, after that they just stuck him out to be a pasture decoration for a couple of years before deciding to thin their herd which is when we got him.
As for the preparation and just 'jumping on him' good god no. :shock: We'd get killed! We place a lunge line on him first, walk him around the yard to get use to us leading him, then we place the saddle on him and repeat the first step. Then, my mother (I don't ride him. When I say "he rolls when we're on them" I mean when my mom or stepdad is on him. She has way more experience and knowledge than I do.) will step into the stirrup and put her weight in, then step off, then do the same thing until he relaxes and then she puts her belly over the saddle and does that until he relaxes, then she swings her other leg over. At first, he is completely fine with it, then something causes him to just switch and he begins trying to gain control of his head and starts stomping and puffing. When he doesn't get his way that way, he then reaches around and tries to bite. So my mom pulls her legs up away from his mouth and THATS when he tries to roll. Why do we lunge him? We were told that lunging teaches the horse to listen to your commands and watch for your signals and looks to you as the 'dominate' horse so they know what to do next.
As for what we want out of him, we just want to be able to ride him. We want him to enjoy spending time with us and him trust us without getting so angry.
Sounds like your parents are quite experienced, tho I don't know what PTSD means. Have you/they thought of 'clicker training'? Great principles for teaching 'manners' to 'rude' horses.:wink:
When your mum first gets on him, I would suggest she gets straight back down - as it sounds like she's done with prior steps, & do this heaps - can be in between other stuff she's doing at the time, rather than a Big Thing to focus on. Then just sit for slightly longer, etc. The aim is to get down *before* the horse gets upset. What happens when he tries to roll? Does he 'win' with that behaviour?
Regardless of the commitment you may have to the horse and the experience of your parents, I do think it sounds like he may be a very difficult, dangerous character & I don't think there's any shame in anyone admitting he's too much for them. Safety must always be the major consideration, or everyone will suffer.
Eating wood, dirt and many other things is indeed called 'pica'. It is usually a Calcium deficiency from eating a grass /grass hay and grain diet. Find a loose, UNMEDICATED cattle mineral that has 3 or 4 times as much Calcium in it than Phosphorus.
As for behavior --- In this day of cheap nice horses, I would get rid of this one and replace him with a useful, nice prospect. Many of them are going to slaughter and they do not have the baggage of this one. Does this particular horse have some redeeming quality that you have not told us about? Some times it is just time to get a different horse that is much nicer and much more rewarding to work with. JMHO
To answer Loosie PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress disorder. My stepdad got the mare and filly from a man who had around 72 'meat' horses. He would throw scrap metal and what not in the pasture with them, and chase afterthem with his truck. he even had some tied to the back of it and went driving off full speed. They were terrified of men, had several scars and wounds from their experiences there but he gained their trust so everythings a lot better. When we got Ginger (the mare) she had barbwire wrapped around her neck and under her front right leg. She wouldn't come to anyone but my mom, but my stepdad was the only one that had the strength to actually cut through the rusty wire without hurting her. It was an adventure, but they're doing fantastic now! :)
I will also tell my mom what you said and have her try that, I may even convince her to let me record it. :-P. As for clicker training, whaaaaat? You can clicker train horses? :shock:
Also, to Cherie: Hiya!
While that may seem like the logical thing to do, I am stupidly attached to this horse. he's my baby and even though he acts up and throws tantrums, I care for him. I adore him. He can, at times, be super sweet and those moments of complete relaxation and calm around us makes it all worth while. When we have small breakthroughs, like him coming to his name (even if he runs away right after) it makes us feel fantastic. It' so rewarding and yah, it sucks sometimes. Being kicked and bit hurts like a mother but its still worth it. He has just the same right as any other horse for a second chance. Or third one, or fourth. We're not prepared to give up on him yet. :)
It sounds like he has been taught his entire life that he doesn't have to listen to anyone. Just because you grab a halter and a whip doesn't mean he's suddenly going to think "oh now I can't do everything that I have ever wanted now, they have the deadly halter." He's been in control of everything his whole life, and if you try to challenge that, he's going to kick and bite and charge and do whatever he has to do to make sure things stay the way he likes it.
Because you said you have little horse experience, I can guarantee you that nothing is ever going to get better for this horse unless you hire a trainer because he needs someone who is going to give him direction but not beat his head in with a shovel. You need to learn about all the little things like body language, feeding, leading, and horse behavior because that is where all of the problems start. It doesn't start with you letting him bite and kick, it starts with you letting him invade your space, charging in front of you, ignoring you, and getting rewarded for it. The big things come later when you have become so consistent with letting him do these things that he actually enjoys attacking because he has become a bully.
It sounds like you had very good intentions with him, your stepdad rescues horses, but you just didn't bank on rescuing a horse with problems like this. It's not going to be like the other horses because there doesn't seem to be any doubt in his mind of what he knows. He knows he's in control. Something Warwick said about bullies is that a bully is very insecure about himself which is why they go out of their way to be mean, they feel they have to prove to everyone how tough they are. So it's safe not to assume that he's happy being this way, he may actually be in a lot of turmoil and stress, so dealing with this problem professionally will fix the bad behavior, but also definitely improve his mental health as well.
IT IS NOT WORTH BEING KICKED AND BITTEN! Say that 100 times! It's not as if it's an accidental, one off type occurance. Whether he's not right in the head, whether he's being defensively aggressive, whether he is playing with you or feeling 'dominant' does not matter. It really sounds like you are just lucky you have not YET been seriously injured - or worse - by this horse - PLEASE keep it that way & keep out of his way! For the sake of the horse that you love too - if this continues, what do you think will ultimately happen to him WHEN he does injure or kill someone?? This is no exaggeration. Please look at the other 'dangerous horse' threads... or youtube if you feel the need to see to believe the possibilities.
I can understand very well your emotional attachment to him and that you want to keep trying with him, but I think your 'babying' him, for one, is likely to contribute, not 'fix' his attitude and at his level of... attitude, is simply dangerous.
It's obvious that whatever you(speaking to Mum & Dad too again now) have been doing has not been effective, may have been making matters worse - perhaps he is indeed 'one out of the box' that is going to be too much for anyone to teach, or not right in the head or some such, or could be you should have been doing things a lot differently. Given that his behaviour is seriously dangerous, I can only advise that you find someone with experience 'rehabbing' dangerous horses to train him for you *& then teach you, or you admit defeat otherwise (quite possibly an 'and' if no one can/will take him, or they admit defeat...:-() But to keep on doing what you've been doing will only get you more of the same... or worse. I wouldn't blame him for it at all, but I would start treating him like the dangerous animal he is & being more realistic about safety & potentials.
I have to say, I'm surprised by one thing no one else has mentioned yet; trust. You say you want him to trust you, so what have you done with him to earn trust? Do you ever have sessions that are just hanging out and bonding, not actively working on his issues? Maybe a good grooming and then let him go?
He charges at you, pins you against things, bites, kicks, eats live animals, etc. You are attached to him. Well doesn't sound like he is going to change his behaviour under your training methods, so be safe. Unless you have a lot of money for a trainer willing to take him on, build high fences so he can't escape and stay out his way and throw the food over the fence.
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