My odd little Horse: Stubborn or Socially inept?
I am working with two young TB geldings. Both are three, both are rescues having spent most of thier lives in a pasture and not been fed. Six months ago they were surrendered to a rescue and I adopted them about two months back. They are both healthy, learning basic ground manners and in good shape now.
The first horse seems to be that "extremely willing" TB you always hear about. He is virtually angelic. He is scared of new things and can be snorty and shy, but he always looks to you to help him understand what to do. When i first got him, I could not catch him, but everyday he improves and works so hard to try and do everything you ask of him. He is very sensitive and submissive, but seems very clever. He is now being lunged with saddle/bridle and we have been round pen work to form contact and he is textbook in how he immediately links up to you. It is actually very sweet, as he follow you around like a puppy, just watching to see what you want him to do next. He has progressed amazingly.
His sidekick is a very different horse and is concerning. He has always been very calm, docile, and unflappable. Nothing seems to scare him and he is extremely level headed. However he is oblivious to both human and horse personal space. He doesnt bite, kick or act nasty in hand, but is also not respectful of human space.
We had to use a stud chain on him for a few days to get him to pay attention to pressure on the halter, as he just wouldnt stop when being led. I just to work with Arab stallions who needed a stud chain as they were very active and even mean...this is just more a failure to note we just stopped moving.
When we round pen work him, or free lunge, he actually pushes his body up against the panels and hits every single panel roughly as he goes by it. He doesnt kick or bite or pin ears or act nasty and he does not charge...instead he just roughly brushes up against the rails. He will be wacking his shoulders and legs and doesnt seem to care. Yesterday I placed a dressage saddle on him and he was even worse-CLANG CLANG CLANG as the stirrups kept hitting the round pen walls. Several times I watched him catch the stirrup on the wall and get jerked by the whole saddle, then he just would keep going. It didnt seem to scare him at all. When I told him to stop, he did so and stood calmly-he walks, trots and centers and will whoa and turn direction, although his turns are really odd at times. When on a lunge line, he can easily turn in a slightly more confined circle and not behave this way, so I dont think it is physical.
When in the round pen, when I stop and turn away, the first horse immediately comes up to me and follows me. This horse just stands there. If I walk sort of at an angle past him-then he will start following me around like a puppy and behave like the frist horse.
Interacting with other horses, he also is a bit odd. He ends up dominating them, not because he puts his ears back or shows teeth-he simply just pushes himself into thier personal space till they have to move out of the way. I was introducing him to some of the older horses and he doesnt seem to understand thier threats. The meanest old gelding on the place pinned his ears and barred teeth. My gelding didnt even notice. The old gelding bit him. He just stood there. The gelding bit him again harder-he flicked an ear at the old gelding. Finally with the third , harder bite, he turned and looked at the older horse-but still didnt offer to move away from where the gelding's fence was. The gelding actually just left seemingly flustered.
He is actually very clever. He learned some of the paralleli yields within just a few tries and is smarter than the first horse and requires much less repeating to new pick things up. He also is actually quite sensitive and, once moving (he is arther lazy), can be surprisingly energetic and vigorous-at times he bursts forward almost clumsily, like he throwing a temper tantrum or isnt quite in control of his own spontenaity. However "willing" is not a word I would use to describe him. :)
Is he just a very stubborn horse or is he a bit on the unique side? I am working with my trainer on the NH round pen work, but please let me know if you have suggestions.
He seems very similar to one of my mares. I call her my close contact mare. She's the alpha horse in my herd of four, frequently 'bumps' into the other horses when walking by and doesn't seem to mind when they (or other things for that matter) bump into her and I've even seen No. 2 nip her without repercussions. At first I used to think she had vision problems but that is not the case - she's just that laid back and unconcerned by closeness of anything. So to answer your question, by my experience, I go with him being unique and not stubborn. With my girl, I do notice boredom can quickly set in and if that is happening with your gelding then you'll need to be constantly coming up with new things to do. He may not be a horse that does well with the duldrums of arena work. Either way, good luck with both of them.
He may just be odd. But has his vision been assessed?
Thanks for responding!
chevaux-that sounds a lot like him.
Boots-When I first brught him home the vet gave him an exam. He noted the second horse actually has an old eye injusry, so I think he at least did a cursory exam on this guy. Both also had vet checks at the rescue. However it occurred to me that maybe vision was an issues as I drove to the barn yesterday as well so I played with him a bit.
He blinks when anything is waved in fornt of his eyes and he seems to be moving his eyes to watch other animals far away. He also is very aware, if not responsive to my body cues, although I dont put it past him to also be hearing them.
I worked with him yesterday and he was a lot better, with much less bashing of his body on the walls, so perhaps he just takes a while to get the idea.
Just unique. You may have to put a lung line on him in the round pen and start correcting him for hitting the side, or you will loose a knee when you start riding him. He is probably just a very chill kind of guy.
Horses have incredible memory with a built in gps. Why not put the horse that hits the panels in the pen and leave him alone with a little hay. Many young TBs have no training and have to be taught every inch of the way. These horses have no idea of someone's expectations and must be trained accordingly. Don't expect one to train at the same pace as another as they are all individuals.
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