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JavaLover 04-14-2013 08:58 PM

Helping a horse overcome bad experiences
 
Hi guys!

So, my horse is a 5 year old gelding. He isn't trained, but I am working with him. He is absolutely scared of the saddle and won't let me put anything onto his back, including a blanket. While he was boarding at another place while he was owned by his previous owner, he had a bad experience. Someone unknowledgable mistook him for another horse and tried to saddle him (his first time even seeing a saddle) in a stall. Ever since then, he's had problems. I was wondering how I can help him overcome this issue.
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themacpack 04-14-2013 09:01 PM

Simply put - you have to get past it first. The longer you look at this past experience as any sort of excuse for continued bad behaviors the longer you will have the problems you are having with him.
What problems is he having specifically? What training methodology do you subscribe to?

JavaLover 04-14-2013 09:07 PM

I have him boarded at a trainers house right now, but we haven't started the riding yet. We are just working on the ground right now. He rears when you try and put a blanket on him, I haven't put a saddle on him yet.
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Nokotaheaven 04-14-2013 10:30 PM

Let him sniff it if he wants to. Start with the blanket. Find the limit to the distance he'll let you have it... Move back and forth with it till hes comfortable at that distance. Keep doing this until you can touch him with it. Touch him where he'll let you, that'll likely be the nose or the shoulder. Rub it quickly down him till you know where he's uncomfortable with it. When you find that spot quickly take the blanket away from him and go back and do the same thing until he's comfortable with it. He'll probably let you only rub it down his neck first. Eventually you'll be able to put it on his back alright. For the saddle do the same thing except the rubbing on him part. Let him sniff it every time he wants to. Move back and forth as if you're going to put the saddle on him, but don't. Eventually he'll be okay with it, and that's when you can set the saddle on him. Like i said, just set it there. I'd then take it off and leave it for the day to give the horse time to think about the experience and realize it wont hurt him... If you do up the saddle and try to get on, on the first day, it could overload him and ruin everything

themacpack 04-14-2013 10:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nokotaheaven (Post 2232177)
Let him sniff it if he wants to. Start with the blanket. Find the limit to the distance he'll let you have it... Move back and forth with it till hes comfortable at that distance. Keep doing this until you can touch him with it. Touch him where he'll let you, that'll likely be the nose or the shoulder. Rub it quickly down him till you know where he's uncomfortable with it. When you find that spot quickly take the blanket away from him and go back and do the same thing until he's comfortable with it. He'll probably let you only rub it down his neck first. Eventually you'll be able to put it on his back alright. For the saddle do the same thing except the rubbing on him part. Let him sniff it every time he wants to. Move back and forth as if you're going to put the saddle on him, but don't. Eventually he'll be okay with it, and that's when you can set the saddle on him. Like i said, just set it there. I'd then take it off and leave it for the day to give the horse time to think about the experience and realize it wont hurt him... If you do up the saddle and try to get on, on the first day, it could overload him and ruin everything

Yes - this is "approach and retreat" -- if you look on youtube you can find videos of it in practice, many featuring some very respected trainers.

Nokotaheaven 04-14-2013 11:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by themacpack (Post 2232281)
Yes - this is "approach and retreat" -- if you look on youtube you can find videos of it in practice, many featuring some very respected trainers.

Yep :)
I have used it for everything, and so far so good

Palomine 04-15-2013 05:49 AM

Is he tied when you are introducing the blanket or loose or in hand?

And do you have a be still command you use?

How does he behave when grooming, does he stand or dance around?

Saddlebag 04-15-2013 10:47 AM

Did you see that saddling? Maybe he's outsmarting you. "If I wear that thing she's going to get on and make me work." Go outside the barn and using a rope halter, give him about 4' of lead so he can move around a bit. Hold the pad low and show it to him then move it a bit behind you. Do this a dozen times then move to his other side. You are training both eyes (sides of his brain). Come back and start again only this time (use your left hand) swing it up toward his neck. Bore him to tears with it. If you arm tires switch sides. Never quit if he's moving. Gradually work the pad until it lands on his back then off. Again until he's bored. He'll drop his hip. That hind foot isn't forward to kick, it's denotes relaxation. I promise you your arms will begin to feel like lead so as long as he's standing still you can take a break.

JavaLover 04-15-2013 04:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Palomine (Post 2235322)
Is he tied when you are introducing the blanket or loose or in hand?
And do you have a be still command you use?

How does he behave when grooming, does he stand or dance around?

He is never tied. I'm working with him in a round pen, and he loves to be groomed. I can rub him around his body, he just freaks out when the saddle comes near him. He has never been ridden, just had the saddle thrown on.
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Foxhunter 04-15-2013 05:06 PM

I think you need to have him in control, he needs to learn how to be tied.
I would have a towel or something similar. Have a hold of the horse and just keep throwing the towel over his back. If he goes around you in a circle then let him (personally I wouldn't allow him to do this but doubt you have the experience or the know how to stop him) I would keep throwing the towel over his back until he just stands and accepts it, then put him away. When he is taking no notice of this and is relaxed with it, I would introduce the saddle.
I would use a bareback pad as it is lighter to throw on. Once use to that and to it being girthed up, I would introduce his saddle.

I do think that as he is at the trainers you would be better to leave it to the professionals. As long as you have the attitude that he has a fear of the saddle, he will never get over it.


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