Humble Pie anyone?
Ok, so I was very humbled by my horse today. Let me first say that my horse is head shy. Why? No idea. She is particularly nervous about her right ear. When she first came to us, we did not take her halter off because she would not let you put it back on. Eventually we worked to only taking it off in her stall and she'd let you put it back on in the stall. Out to the pasture with the halter. Always. Until after I took ownership. About 6 weeks ago we started to take the halter off when she is out to pasture. She will not let you put it back on out in the open pasture to come back in. We have to open the gate and enter the small square paddock between the pasture and the barn - and 9/10 times she will let me halter her there with no issues, MIL can halter her without issue only about 3/10 times. When she takes issue, we have to make her lunge a few times then she will stand still and let you put it on. Fly mask: after working with her extensively, I can put the fly mask in her without issue WHILE IN THE STALL. She will even drop her head and give me the right ear first - huge improvement....for the MIL, she can get it on, but not as easily and 4/10 times the horse will refuse and she goes out without it.
So. Today: I decide I am going to try and put the fly mask on in the cross ties instead of the stall because she should be flexible. Right? So, I groom her. Take one side off and go to put her halter around her neck so I can put the fly mask on. I never did get the halter secured around her neck. She pulled up and back hard and I lost hold of her. Next thing I know she's free in the barn and though my MIL has ALWAYS told me to keep the big barn door (out to the road and at the end the highway) closed, I had it open. :/. Out she goes. Running frantically around the yard. I was terrified that she would run in the road and when I tried to get near her, she ran the other way... Eventually, I caught her when I haltered her pasture mate and opened the side pasture gate wide - she finally ran in and I slammed the door shut behind her. Scariest thing ever. I will NEVER, ever leave that barn door open again with a horse outside of her stall.... I am totally going to have to eat humble pie and tell my MIL what happened. I thank God that did not end bad.
Question for you all: is it ok that you can only halter, fly mask, hoof pick and farrier this horse in the stall? Do I quit trying to get her to be flexible and do these outside of her stall? Please tell me your opinion and why. Thank you!
Having a horse who won't stand still outside her stall for any of these things will severely limit what you can do with and where you can take her. What if you want to trailer off property and hit the trails with some friends? You can't, because this horse won't take the halter if she's not in her stall, and you should never tie a horse by the reins to a trailer.
It's dangerous for your farrier to be in such an enclosed space if she decides to go ballistic about her feet being worked on. He needs to have an escape route. Dangerous for you as her handler, too.
All of this will take time. How much? Depends on the horse, honestly. Some get it fairly quickly, while others take months. Slow, calm and steady wins the race, so don't get discouraged or angry and try to rush her. Sounds like this animal has big time trust issues, which makes it more difficult than just a regular animal who is acting like a PITA.
All of mine will stand still out in the field to be haltered or fly masked. I don't chase them, as that's just a waste of energy for me. They get trimmed/shoed out in the side yard near the barn, and I can straight or cross tie them and do just about anything with them from grooming to hoof picking.
Ditto what SR said.
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Sounds like she is running this show.
She is spoiled more than anything. Handling needs to change.
Hi AmateurOwner.. definitely agree with what everyone else has said, the last thing you want to do is stop progressing. My gelding was head shy when I got him - it was difficult to get his halter, bridle, or fly mask on without a fight. Another thing I noticed was whenever anyone tried to pet him or touch his face (even if it was to give him a treat) he was react severely by pulling back, rearing, and trying to take off. It took about 6 months for him to get comfortable with me touching his face - but every second I spent working on it was worth it.
One thing I would caution is introducing new things to your horse when she is tied. Try putting her fly mask on and off in the aisle, over her halter, while you are holding the lead rope. Don't stand in front of her if you think she is going to charge and run you over. Once she is used to that, tie her on one side and get her used to that. Then once she's comfortable you can do it with the cross tie. Work on it out in the field too, just anywhere you can work on it so she thinks it's no big deal. I know some people will disagree with me about the tying thing, but since your horse sounds similar to mine, I can tell you he has reared out of 'panic' before and broken cross ties and halters. It's not worth the chance of her damaging her poll.
Don't want to keep rambling on, but there are a lot of things I have done to help my guy over the years and you can do anything to his face now. You just have to take it slow and reinforce that contact with her face doesn't mean pain. The biggest thing I've found with him is that if he gets scared and I keep pushing it aggressively he will flip out. If I give him a break for a few seconds, then try again and keep doing that over and over, he will finally give in. Hopefully that can work with your mare. Let us know how it goes!
Horse may have an aural plaque and be in pain when you mess with the ear. Work with her. As all pp have said you can't have a horse that you are only able to halter in a stall or you will be rally limited to what you can do. It also brings up safety issues for those handling her.
[QUOTE= Don't want to keep rambling on, but there are a lot of things I have done to help my guy over the years and you can do anything to his face now. You just have to take it slow and reinforce that contact with her face doesn't mean pain. The biggest thing I've found with him is that if he gets scared and I keep pushing it aggressively he will flip out. If I give him a break for a few seconds, then try again and keep doing that over and over, he will finally give in. Hopefully that can work with your mare. Let us know how it goes![/QUOTE]
Your horse sounds very similar to mine! Thank you for your advice and hope :)
My mare was very headshy, esp her left ear, when I got her. She would fling herself backwards, tied or not, when you tried to touch anywhere near her ears. I had the vet look at her ears to determine if there was a physical cause, there was not. I just handled her very matter of factly, approach/retreat. I was not tying her at this point, just throwing the rope over the fence or holding it. When she threw herself backwards I threw myself at HER and made her keep going backwards, sometimes clear across the yard. When we stopped, I went back to doing what I had been doing like nothing had happened. It didn't take long for her to decide it was WAY too much work just to keep me from touching her ears. I can now handle her ears all over & she actually likes have me scratch around the base and will put her head down for it. I will stress, it is important to rule out physical/pain issues before treating the behavior as an attitude issue.
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I'm going to go on a slightly different tangent here due to an experience I have almost every day with my little mare who I got in August last year..
Have you checked to make sure your horse doesn't have a sore poll? Might sound odd, but my little mare was extremely headshy, wouldn't tie up anywhere anyhow, everything that needed to be done using her head was mission impossible.
I got the chiropractor out to have my gelding done and thought hey, why don't I get Dj done too, just for the hell of it..... Turns out she was out in her poll badly, and in several other places. Well, next day, changed horse. I tied her up and left her there and she just stood, she didn't worry about her halter being out on etc, completely changed. Now and again she still has moments and then seems to remember that it doesn't hurt.
However, that is only a possibility and I highly agree with everything that has already been said. What does she do when her poll is touched? Just worth checking is all, as I thought Dj was being naughty and stubborn and everything else, turns out she wasn't.
Honestly you should be able to do anything in the stall, in the crossties, with the barn door open, in the pasture... everywhere.
I can blanket my horse in the middle of a field, in his stall, standing in the alleyway with both barn doors open.
Why? because he knows if he stands still, then he doesn't get corrected.. so he's happy to stand still because more often than not it is a very pleasant experience.
Next time just keep the halter on, take her off the crossties and put her flymask on over the top, then when you go to let her out, take the halter off and she should be good to go.
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