Training a 5 year old
I am new here so I hope I am posting this in the right spot.
I am not sure where to even begin. I became a horse owner 2 years ago... and since then we have had 5 horses...just not all at the same time. I have had a crash course in learning to expect the unexpected.
Let me stay on track here to the issue at hand lol...
The questions I have right now are for 2 of the 3 we have now. We expect to have these all 3 for a very long time so I really need this advice.
The first question is about my 7 month old. Since her mother left us....Dolly is very pushy and likes to nip. She is smart and picks up on things fast... but the nipping has turned into a habit. Right now she stands and looks me in the eye, and pushing her butt away gets harder the bigger she gets. Dont get me wrong... shes sweet.. but has her moods. This is my first foal... so the whole experience is a new one. I have many people tell me I am doing great with her... but I just feel like there is something more I can do because I know from a past experience with a yearling rescue we took in that the nips can turn to bites fast. The only difference with her is, she has never been abused and that yearling had been before he came to us. Her attitude in this area has gotten worse since we brought in a new gelding, Rusty. The foal (dolly) and Jack our other gelding are best buddies, but they feed off each other. If one develops a bad habit the other picks up on it in the blink of an eye. So I guess the question is or would be about foal training... what to start and when... what is to much and so forth. I do work with her... but have not wanted to over do it. I live in an area where people ride 1 1/2 year olds and am careful as to where to get my advice from, because I do not agree with getting on a yearling.
Anyway... on to the next question. Rusty... the gelding we just brought home a couple weeks ago.. he is greenbroke, and he is 5. people were telling me I had a deathwish before we brought him home, and now that he is here, and these same people have seen him they are saying, well maybe you can do this....There are only a couple of trainers in our area... that are good that is... and they are way way out of our price range...and they train race horses.. so thats not my area anyway. I want this done right but as all of you know, you can read the books and watch the videos all day long, but each horse is different. Other than not wanting to load ( which I am working on btw) he is gentle and sweet. I have never gotten a horse because of their markings... we have brought them in either as a rescue or because of their personalities... anyway... I was told by the friend I got him from that he had been at a trainer but no one ever got into the saddle. I have been doing just basic groundwork with him to get a feel for what he knows. He takes a bit... but the discomfort he shows.. I cant explain it... I have never seen a horse act that way with a bit. He was not ugly... but just did not want it, and he showed pain... Yesterday I saddled him. He did fine. My husband and I worked on the ground with him. He did wonderful. Keep in mind, he had on a leather halter, and reins. No bit. My husband held the lead rope and I just wanted to put a little weight in the struip to see how he would do. He put his ears back, but not pinned, and he stood there without shifting. That turned into me getting all the way in the saddle after a few minutes. First I never expected to get in the saddle yesterday! But my husband had a hold of us. He did let go for a minute and Rusty listened, but seemed a little confused. I got down and praised him, my husband praised him. I have never been on an unbroke horse... and I know this is dangerous. Is this normal behavior after the groundwork? What suggestions as far as bits.. the one we tried the other day was a snaffle. I am running blind here because I have no idea what the person did that trained him other than putting the saddle on him and a bit in his mouth.
I will stop now.. lol i have been longwinded enough.
I am also working with a 5 year old right now. When I bought him he was not however greenbroke, he was quite broke.
The only thing I can really suggest is to get the vet out to check his teeth. He might have wolf teeth that have never come out, making the bit hurt him. Or he could also just need them done. After that I suggest a KK snaffle, or a french link. These bits are better and softer than a regular snaffle because the double joint in the center keeps the pressure off of the sensitive palate of the horse. Before mounting him I would suggest lunging him in a snaffle bridle, saddle and side reins so he is used to contact in the mouth, and so he is strong enough to carry a rider. Get your voice aids with him really solid so that when you do mount him, you can use those to enforce your other aids. When you first get on him, keep him on the lunge and keep the sidereins on as these will prevent bucking/rearing for the most part and just hold onto the front of the saddle, try to just act as dead weight and let him figure out the balance. Eventually take off the sidereins and add proper reins and slowly wean him off the lunge. Also just because he is a young horse doesn't mean you can't expect him to be round, working properly and listening to commands. My 5 year old is schooling second level with no issues.
Thanks anebel :) He does have his wolf teeth. My husband and I discussed that may be the problem. I will take him up to the vets friday to have him checked.
Well anebel answered your 5 year old question and a good answer at that.
Regarding the foal. Her behaviour is actually perfectly normal. At this age they are testing things. What things do and taste like and how far can they push it. Not unusual to "buddy up" with another horse either.
If she were in with a herd or with her mom then she would be disciplined. A foal that got out of hand would get a severe nip from other horses or her mom, maybe even a kick.
YOU are now herd leader and just like any spoiled child certain behaviours need to be nipped in the bud...excuse the pun. YOU MUST discipline her, not around the head but a threat of a nip must have consequesces. Give her a slap on the shoulder or side then walk away. If she did this while you were "playing" with her understand she was responding but she needs to know where the limit is and it is you that must set that line that cannot be crossed.
In a herd a horse is disciplined and if a horse fails to heed the "punishment" it is ignored and rejected until IT comes begging back. So she nips you smack her where it will be obvious it is a no no and a voice command at the same time will prove helpful later. The first smack should set her back a second and that is where you walk away and leave her alone....with no buddy. Come back about an hour later and see what she does and be prepared to discipline her again with a longer time out. Most foal with any sort of sense in them will start to realize that you are NOT to be touched. She is not to invade your space unless invited and must act in a respectful manner when allowed into this "hallowed place".
If you have an older mare it would be a better buddy than the gelding...older mares just don't seem to tolerate foolish foal behaviour. Some geldings do work out but you could try to rotated her buddies so she will learn that some of them will not accept being nipped at.
I appreciate both your and anebels replies very much!
I had not thought about the fact there is not a mare here! That makes so much sense! I should have recognized that lol...She has to push Jack to his utter limits before he nips at her, although sometimes he nips out of jealousy when I am out there.
I have slapped her on the neck and walked away... but.. 1 of 2 things happens when I do... 1) I walk away but I am still in the paddock with her, and she walks back up to me only to do it again, at which time I smack on the neck, and walk away, and this may continue 4 or 5 times until I leave the paddock, or she acts like shes going to and I just move my arm slightly and she jumps back. Or 2) I leave the paddock after the first time...but... she is left with Jack, and now Jack and Rusty which is not leaving her completely alone.
So ...maybe the 2nd part of what I am doing is where I am messing up maybe? Would separating her from the 'boys' and working with her, as in waiting for the nip that I know at this point will come lol... and then slapping and leaving her in the paddock TOTALLY alone without me, or the geldings...and then coming back an hour later? That would make sense.
She also ties well... I did not mention that. I have tied her and taken the other horses out. She will pace for a few minute and then is usually calm... if left untied when I take them out she throws a wild haired fit... so there was a different reason for me tying her up.
Lol, I am working several different areas with each of them and feel like a basket case here lately. 3 kids 3 horses ...
Oh and there was a typo in my first post... when I had said that some people in this area begin riding 1 1/2 years old... it should say 1- 1 1/2 years old. ugh. anyway...
I am very optimistic about tomorrow! Getting new ideas from people who know their stuff is a great help :) Thank you both so much!
Don't be afraid to take a short crop with you. The kind that has a flat piece of leather at the end. It makes more noise than any pain and when you do hit her TELL something like NO very firmly. What you want to do is replace that smack with a firm NO so it lets her know she is treading on dangerous territory before that act occures.
You don't even have to tie her but just have her all by herself.She will reflect on why in the beginning and will slowly piece the nip...punishment..all alone with no one to play with. When you start replacing the slap with just a NO and she listens then a nice scratch where she likes will help to reinforce the good act. :-)
And no hand treats.
You have created the game of Tag, your it. with out realizing it.
in my opinion you should be one on one with her. It is hard and a little
dangerous with other horses in the same space. The horse fun could snowball and you will be dodging horses. Work alone with her, like spyder said, she nips you respond and drive her away. Acting like a mad woman if need be. But I also apply the 3 second rule. you have to react within
3 seconds, and only yell and chase her away for 3 seconds.
when she stops let her think about what happened, and you ignore her,
You are the alpha mare and her testing you has to stop. if she comes back and nips again, you react the same way, horses are social animals
and feel safe within the herd, they are vulnerable by themselves. she will figure it out.
just my 2˘
I can see how that could become tag...that makes total sense!
I do use the 3 second rule...and as far as acting like a mad woman... lol... yes! I've been there lol. My neighbor on the one side of us gets tickled sometimes. He says there is always something amusing coming from our place.
Having a foal is a full time job for sure. I wouldnt give her up for anything though.
When we lived in Texas and I was growing up, I used to clean stalls just to be able to ride for a little while. Having your own horses though is much different. I waited so many years and it finally happened. It still amazes me how just having a bad day and going out to the paddock and brushing them down will change my mood. It makes all the work from this very worthwhile.
I didn't really read the replies, so if I'm redundant I'm sorry. :)
(This was all with the help and guidance of my trainer)
I'm training my mare now, she'll be 4 in April, I got her last January. I was going to teach her to drive first, but she was a little too nuts for it at the time. I'll tell you what I did with her. For the first month, all we did was lunge. The first couple weeks, just in a halter.. until she understood the voice commands. She would woah, walk, trot, canter all from voice, I didn't even need a whip.. and when I did I just lashed the end of the lunge line. (the whip sent her off) Then I introduced a bitting harness without the bridle.. first the surcingle, then the crupper. Then I introduced the bit, every day increasing in time she wore the headstall with the bit and no noseband in her stall. I let her loose so she could eat hay and relax but I kept my eye on her. I used a straightbar rubber loose ring snaffle, it was big and a lot to take in, but much gentler on her mouth then metal. Then I introduced the noseband. Then I lunged her in the full bitting harness with the bit for a couple days. I then added side reins very loosely, and slowly tightened them. Then we long lined for almost two whole months before we rode. I introduced other equipment, I would long line in a stripped driving harness, introducing each piece of "new" equipment as loose as possible, like the check.. etc. Long lining taught her to stop, turn, turn around, back, and three speeds at the trot. I tried cantering a few times long lining, but I would not suggest it with an inexperienced horse, just because it can get confusing at that point. Once my trainer and I felt she was ready, it was time to introduce the saddle. (After she became used to the bit, I switched over to a KK Ultra Bit long lining.. http://www.dressageforbeginners.com/...it/kkbits1.jpg very nice and gentle for young horses)
I saddled her and walked her around the arena, she didn't seem opposed so I lunged her (just a saddle and halter). The next day I added the bridle, which she was plenty used to. She lunged like that a couple days. Then like you, I leaned weight in the stirrups several times. Then my trainer and I had a lesson where I got on the for the first time. She led me around at the walk and trot and we called it a day. The next day we did it again, starting on a lead and coming off when she was good. I would say keep the lead on as long as you feel safe with it. one of the next times I rode her, I mounted her alone and I got bucked off before other foot was in the stirrup. I was in a lot of pain and hobbled away because she started cantering around the arena.. when I felt up to it I went and grabbed her and mounted again, and rode her like usual. She has never bucked me off again, or sent such violent bucks.. but she has bucked and reared all of which I was prepared for. Lately she hasn't been bucking or rearing at all which is good.
Anyway, I would highly suggest long-lining.
You said he was green-broke? I took that as he had some basic training, I consider my filly green-broke but she does basic w/t/c work U/S now. Has he had any formal training at all?
As for the seven month old. It depends on their personality, but generally when horses nip me, I smack them in the nose and yell at them. Certain horses don't have the disposition for that though, and may become headshy. With my filly, I can't really do that since she's headshy already... but my gelding is the type of horse who would only become headshy if someone actually took a 2 x 4 and cracked him on the head with it, he doesn't care never has never will. It all depends on their personality. Chances are if she's ballsy enough to get nippy, they can take it back. It's playful, especially from foals.. If you don't want to smack her, then get really loud and scary.
I wouldn't carry a whip with you or use it, you don't want to introduce the whip as a punishing agent so young, because by the time you want to use it as an aid, she's going to have the preconceived idea that any time the whip is brought out she's done something bad.
I agree with Spyder and Regal about how to deal with your filly. I would suggest maybe keeping her penned away from the boys at all times until she learns how to act appropriately. As for the 5yo, it is normal for a young horse to tilt his ears when weight is put on the saddle when he is not used to it. Have the vet check his mouth to see if there are any issues there causing the problems with the bit. Also, make sure that the bit and bridle fit him properly. If all this is taken care of, then I think it may be a problem caused by the trainer. I would let him carry a bit while you are working with him but don't use it to direct him. All of ours get started in loose ring snaffles and we don't have any problems. Also, not do put down whoever said it, but his wolf teeth may not be the problem. All of ours still have theirs and we have never had a problem with them taking or carrying the bit. Just take it slow and make sure that he is very responsive to your cues before you get on and try to ride. Make sure that you can stop and turn him without causing pain. Good luck and I'm sure that you will do fine. Also, thank you for disagreeing with most of the people from your area. Anything younger than 2 is way to young to start any serious training with. Only at 2 if you are very careful with what you do and only do it for a very short time. I prefer 3 myself although the last one I started was 6. :)
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