Unhandled Haflinger *Advice Needed*
Okay, so prepare for a book.
Recently, I've begun doing some small training jobs for some locals and 4H families by word of mouth. Last week, I got a call form a woman saying she had a haflinger yearling that needed some work. When I went out there, they had a roundpen set up, and inside it was a monster.
This filly, 18 months, ran circles around this roundpen. The woman had told me they bought her out of the killpen and she was unhandled when they got her. They told me after a few months, she would finally eat out of a bucket while their boy was holding it (something I couldn't get her to do). These people are studying Natural Horsemanship methods which I see no problems with.
Now the problem: the filly came with a halter on. Since she has done quite a bit of growing in the past three months since she has gotten correct nutrition, it is getting smaller and smaller. The family called and wanted to know if I would help get it off. I went out into the roundpen and she spooked at Everything. After 2 hours of just sitting in the middle of the roundpen with a bucket of feed while she ran madly around me, I walked out and talked to the family.
The family believes they can calm her down eventually, which I believe since from what the boy tells me they've already made decent progress, but the halter does need to come off. Aside from just roping her and doing something that could traumatize her even more, I told the family the only other option I could think of was to herd her into a stock trailer, and haul her to my family's facility and use a cattle chute to remove the halter and then release her back at their home in their corral or roundpen.
The family said they were willing to hire me to work with her through out the summer, but as of now, they just really want the halter off.
So my question to you is, what other options do I have besides what I've already mentioned. The halter is beginning to rub on the nose and behind the ears, and the family's main concern is for her health. So besides roping her and snubbing her against a post or such, or using a cattle chute, what else is there?
I talked to the family about sedation, and they didn't really like the idea of that.
I own two haffies and they do need to be able to trust you and then they are usually willing to do most things. No real advice to offer as it is hard to picture exactly what the youngster is doing, but time spent with her sitting quietly might eventually pay off. Hope you get it sorted.
That is one thing I told them to do, is every chance they get just sit with her. She is only scared and untrustful.
I would try join up in the round pen. I have seen many unhandled horses at clinics join up very quickly and ridden with in a few hours.
I've seen success too with join up and sending away, but unless it is done by someone experienced it can just lead to more distrust.
That is how I would handle it. I knew a former police horse that was severely traumatized and retired. He had a cut right above his eye and no one could catch him to treat it. They did have one set of stocks in that paddock, so I tied the other horses up and put his feed in there. He walked right in and didn't suspect a thing.
If stocks weren't an option, I would use join up.
I haven't had any of much to do with Haffies, but I could only think of your two options, either putting her in a chute which comes with its own hazards ie. flipping over etc or roping her. To be quite honest I'd be inclined to get the help of another horseman and rope her because you're going to have to get a halter back on her if you want to work with her. At the end of the day every horse has to learn that they can't run to avoid uncomfortable situations, it's going to have to happen eventually. By the sounds if things, no matter how you do it she is going to be traumatized in one way or another regardless of how you approach it.
If you have to sit in her pen for days on end she will learn that she can run away from you whenever she pleases, trust or not.
I'm not advocating being rough, I'm advocating a more straight forward approach because the halter has to come off and a new one has to go on.
Teaching a horse that they can't run away is the first step in getting anywhere IMHO. Traumatized, abused, unhandled or not, horses live in the moment:)
I've worked with several horses like this. Many people probably wouldn't agree with this method but it has worked for me, my dad, and my grandpa for years of raising and training horses.. so I'll continue with it.
That halter NEEDS to come off. So, you need to catch her. I wouldn't bother with days of joinup or sitting in the pen. I'd either make a squeeze and run her into it, or rope her. If you rope her you'll probably need someone to help anchor her or a post in the center of the pen to wrap the rope around.
It's obvious that the sitting quietly/feeding from a bucket is not working, so a different method need to be used.
I see though that they want to do "natural horsemanship".... to me, it looks like your best option would be to haul her to your place and run her through your chutes if they're not okay with you roping her.
I'm sure you've been there done that so I'm sure you'll realize that I'm telling the truth when I say that often the HUGEST challenge is getting that rope on them. Once they have it on, THEN you'll be able to start to progress towards touching her and gaining trust. In my opinion you can't accomplish very much (at least not without months and months of time) without having a rope on them.
as always, JMO :)
ETA: Muppet said it perfectly
I have yet to meet the unhandled horse that is more traumatised by enforced handling - providing the handling is done correctly!
I would get her in a chute or somewhere that you can get a rope on the halter and work from there, hand on her and let her panic around you. When she stops remove your hand.
I would replace the halter with a larger one or I doubt you will get another on her easily for several weeks.
Most dealings with horses like this is a matter of the handler remaining totally calm and never allowing their heart rate to change.
I was asked to help a woman with a 20 month Spanish Mustang that has a foot abscess. He had been hardly handled. She managed to catch him in the stable and had some oral dope to give him. (She had tried the day before but Ace hadn't worked.)
I gave him the dope and after it had take effect we got the job done.
Next day I took a friend with me to dress the wound. The owner wanted to dope him but I said I would have a go without.
Caught, nervous and wary of two strangers, he was wide eyed and shaking but stood quiet.
I fussed him all over and picked up his back foot with no problem. The day before he had to be roped even though he was doped.
I dressed the area and fussed him some more.
Today, I had the owner stay outside and did him on my own. No problem.
Now the owner is the sort of woman that thinks he is going to be traumatised by all this. This colt would be because she is worried about it whereas I am very matter of fact about it. The colt just accepts that I am going to do it and that is that.
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