Good evening all!
I have had this 7 y/o gelding by Sock Broker for about three weeks, after I traded to gain him as a project horse. He is gorgeous, athletic, very intelligent, and possesses loads of potential, but he is scared of just about everything. From what I've been told, he has been ridden before, but with his flighty demeanor and trust issues, I would much rather start from the ground, up.
He has made great strides on the ground with leading, longing, and general comfort with me moving around him, touching him, and tacking him up. However, he still will not come to me in the open pasture. I have to trick him into coming into the barn. This usually involves leading all of the other horses into their stalls, making him think, "Oh boy! It must be feeding time again!" Not only do I not like using this "bait & switch" method, but I am sure that at one point, that he will wise up to my ways and not follow his buddies.
I am fully aware that gaining his trust may take time, as I believe that it is possible that he may have been abused at one time or another. He seems to merely be frightened, but does not fully exhibit all fight/flight responses. He is never aggressive by any means. He never kicks out, pins his ears, lunges out, or bites. He continually looks for ways to escape.
I lunged him, as I do routinely, and the last 4 sessions have been with a saddle & bridle. Yesterday, I stepped up into the stirrup about 6 times and put body weight on the saddle with no incident. Today, it was perhaps a foolhardy decision that I decided to follow the same routine, only this time I attempted to swing a leg over. He took off towards the herd. He never bucked, he just ran.
Does anyone have any suggestions for methods of training? Any specific clinicians I should look to in gaining his trust?
Have you tried going out into his field with treats and feeding them to him as you get the lead rope over his neck and as you put the halter on? If he hasn't been worked with very much he's not going to realize that you aren't a predator until you teach him that you're not going to eat him. Don't forget that he is a prey animal so it's very natural for him to be scared. My advice for you is just to act like there's nothing wrong with you going up to him in the field, and feeding him a treat. Work on reading his body language so you know how to push him to the point just before he freaks out, but don't push him to where he freaks out.
Just act like everything you're doing is perfectly normal, don't let him being scared scare you. And with the saddling thing, maybe try working with a partner who can hold him while you get on, and possibly use some sort of reward, like a scratch in his favorite spot or a treat as reassurance when you work with him. Maybe he also needs just a few days of you just putting weight in the stirrup, go really really slowly with him, maybe that will help.
Good luck, I'm sure you guys'll be fine. =)
The fact that you can't get him from the pasture should tell you that he doesn't trust you and doesn't want to be with you. I'm not saying that to be mean, that's just his perception. And tricking him is only making things worse. How can he trust you when you trick him? Think about this from his point of view This is a relationship problem.
Do you only halter him when you want to work him? If so this is your first problem. You need to invest in the relationship and take him out to graze. Make being haltered enjoyable, not a sign of being worked.
As far as clinicians go, I would suggest you look into Parelli. The Seven Games will completely change your relationship with him. You want your horse to meet you at the gate saying "Pick me!" This is what my horses do. If they are out in the pasture and I call to them they both come running. Well, my warmblood comes trotting....he likes to show off his big fancy trot lol.
I would work with getting his trust before you really start thinking on ways on how to catch him. Just spend time with him, lingering in the pasuture, talking to him, ect. This one lady that had mustangs captured and brought to captivity got them used to the sound of her voice by reading to them everyday. Eventually they would come around. I think once he gains your trust then you will find working with him just becomes easier and easier. Good luck :wink:
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