New horse is high headed. Why?
I just bought a 7 y/o Arab mare. We have had her for 5 days now. On day 1 we saddled her up and took her for a trail ride, and getting her bridle over her head was not happening. She pulled and jumped and it was terrifying -- as if we were trying to kill her. We ended up taking the brow band off, and putting the bit on in a really roundabout way. When I went to put the reins over her head she did the same thing. Pulled her head up, huffed, stomped, and jumped.
I considered the fact that it was a new family, new horses, new trail, and new tack..plus she was in heat. She's beginning to settle down and it not nervous anymore, but still gets a bit high headed when I reach up to pet her. We get a fly mask on now (day 3 of fly mask) with little fuss, but she won't bow her head until I gently pull her nose down to me.
I give her tons of love and kisses when I bring her head down. And will continue to bring her head to my level a few times a day. I don't reach up to put the fly mask on. She must come to me. I believe a similar approach will work with the bridle.
We thought ears, but I have handled her ears several times with no reaction. She was originally bred to be a halter horse and we think it may be tied to that. Does anyone know if halter training could have resulted in being high headed? There is something about putting something over her head that really scares her.
Hi Arabian Mama. Welcome to the Horse Forum.
Is there someone around that is an experienced horse person that can help you learn horse behavior and how they respond to handling and training? Horses learn to trust people that they respect. They accept things like a bridle and saddle because they have been taught to accept them.
Did you ride and handle this horse before you bought her? Will the people you bought her from help you get started with her? You are really lost here and this horse will become more and more spoiled if she is not handled by someone that knows how to handle her and get the correct responses.
I appreciate your opinion, however, I don't agree that horses are not pets. They may not be the same as a cat or dog, but I believe they still deserve love when overcoming a problem. I want my relationship to based on love and respect, not fear.
I am under the supervision of an experienced horse handler who has instructed me to work this way, and while I will be firm and continue to work through quirks like this I will not put myself or my horse into a dangerous situation by forcing a bridle over her head, especially when she is already distressed. Her previous owner did not work with her on this in the two years she owned her so we are starting from square one.
Maybe I should have been more clear in my post. I was not looking to discuss my technique for overcoming her bridle fear, but for insight as to why she got this way.
Thank you for your concern, but I am not lost nor will my horse become spoiled. I just prefer a different approach than some.
She may also not give to pressure at the poll, they are taught to lean back into the pressure of the halter to balance themselves. If she ever sits back in cross ties or pulls back while tied, you may need to do something to get her to step forward to release the pressure. I have a halter horse who got frightened and pulled back, it was very scary.
I should add, that depending on the trainer, her training could have been very abusive and based on fear. No horse can get as tight as the top halter horses do unless they are very very tensed up, and that's accomplished through fear. Some of the training can be downright brutal.
The person who is mentoring you should be able to correct this issue with little to no problem.
Even severely abused horses respond to consistent cues that make sense. And even if they have been trained to do a certain thing a certain way, they can certainly learn to respond to new and different cues. People and horses do it all the time.
The person who is mentoring you should be able to alter this behavior with little to no problem.
Even horses who have been quite abused respond to consistent handling that makes sense. Horses who have been trained to respond to a cue in one way, are often taught another when their lives change.
I agree with Dreamcatch Arabians - most of the halter horses I have worked with (not just Arabians) have been very mishandled and have a lot of bad habits related to their halter training past. Sounds like your mare is head shy and that can come from a lot of different things - she could have had bridles and halters ripped on and off in the past, she may have been hit around her head, or she could have always had a fear of having her head handled and it was never addressed before. Keep up the patient, consistent work and no matter what caused this behavior you can change it!
You need to have a trainer come work her and you out of this. If she hasn't already she's going to get your 'number' and realize how easy it is to get out of work by raising her head
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I agree with Dreamcatcher. Training Arabians to show at halter is very abusive and probably why she is 'high headed'. It will take skill as well as love to get her to consistently put her head in an acceptable place for handling and using her as a saddle horse.
Even when I trained and showed Arabians, I only showed Western and refused to show Halter Horses or Park Horses. I raised, trained and showed Arabians for many years and retrained many spoiled Arabs and all were extremely relaxed and safe to ride. Many became top endurance contenders, one I showed to a US National Top Ten in Trail and I trained several winning Arabian Race Horses including one that became a World Champion Race Horse.
You have to train Arabians like any other horse to respect you; They have to find you to be a worthy leader. They do not become well mannered obedient horses because you kiss and hug them and give them treats. The only difference with them and any other horse is that they are a lot smarter.
Arabians are different critters and they have to be dealt with as such. There's a fine like with Arabians between "that's how Arabians are" and bratty behavior. So you need to decide if she's really afraid or not. Arabians are great at hiding behind "I'm scared, I'm scared" to get out of things because they very often get away with it. They're so freakin' smart it only takes one person to over baby them and you have a mess on your hands.
So that's your first step. Is she really afraid or is she just yanking your chain?
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