Groundwork ideas for building trust with new horse
I'm interested in doing some groundwork with my horse.
I've only had him a little over two months. A few days ago, I came off him after a bucking fit and I injured my ankle pretty badly, so I won't be riding for a little while! I'd like to get to know him better on the ground and do some things with him while I heal. He's an 11 y/o TB with a healthy respect for people, but he won't hesitate to check out your hands if he thinks you've got apples hidden in them! He's quite good to lunge, too, he doesn't really need a lunge whip.
Any suggestions for things I could work on? I don't have access to a round pen. I did try to join up with him a few times, I got him to the licking and chewing phase, but whenever I went passive, he would keep going around the circle. So I pushed him out again, but after a while, we both got tired, he would try to rest in the corners of the makeshift pen, and we both gave up. So it didn't really work. :/ No hate please, I'm a new owner and still figuring out what I can do with my horse! I'm open to ideas for light stuff I can do to get to know him better while I'm unable to ride.
Subbing! Interested in the answers :)
There are many fun things to do with your horse on the ground! Grab a bunch of random things and put them on the ground to walk over with him, teach him to side pass from both directions, pivots and forehand turns, backing in circles, setting up a sort of trail course in the arena. For the pushiness with your hands, it sounds harmless but if its something you want to correct/ work on you can teach him to back up out of your space by just wiggling a finger in front of him
Get creative and have fun with it! It will also strengthen the relationship you have with him and give him lots of respect for you :)
We have SO MANY posts of newbies who are getting thrown, or WORSE, off of their horses. If you aren't practicing to ride broncs in a rodeo then you have mistakenly bought a horse with training problems instead of a finished pleasure animal.
You NEED someone to train this horse. I am truly sorry that you will have to spend money ONE WAY OR THE OTHER to fix this problem, or I should say These Problems. You own a spoiled horse who WILL get worse, and weighs 8x-10x more than YOU, therefore dangerous.
I wish I could tell you that you buy a horse like you buy a car and enjoy the (car) horse for a LONG time without any problems. Truth is a horse owner is ALWAYS training or retraining and you won't be a happy horse owner without learning how to do so. Horses think and even reason. Cars are dumb and mute and will drive straight into a building if you ask them to. A horse won't. (Remember "True Lies", where the horse stops before stupidly jumping off a precipice? He also backed up with a verbal command. Horses are really incredible in that they can be trained to do a multitude of different things.)
What should you do NOW? Hard to say. You already accept his nipping. One women enjoyed feeding her horse a carrot that she held with her own teeth. Eventually her horse bit her in the face, and she was missing flesh. Did that frighten you? It SHOULD.
I suggest that you find a trainer who can train the horse and train YOU to train the horse. That costs $.
Many people are very happy with Clinton Anderson's Basic course--- ~$300.00, maybe more now --but most of them have gotten really sick and tired of no success with their horse. You don't sound like you are there, yet.
Just caring for your horse on a daily basis is the best way to bond with it. Making rules about behavior, standing still to be groomed, bathed. feet handled, leading correctly - all those things establish what you expect from him and what he should expect from you
I only feed treats as a reward for a new learning experience, I never use them 'just because' or they don't see them as a special thing.
There are many things you can do from the ground such as lunging, asking for him to move backwards and sideways to signals but you still have to get back on one day and none of those things will chase the buck out of him
Please get some hands on help from a trainer if you aren't experienced to deal with that sort of thing from the saddle
To gain his respect it will happen in many small ways. No. 1 is making him move his feet. A horse that is higher in the order in the herd will do this as it takes a notion that it wants to stand where another horse is, or eat that grass. You can achieve this even when leading. Turn the horse away from you, to the right, instead of to your left. Why? In the horse's thinking when it's away from you, you are moving him. When it's to the left, he thinks he's moving you which places you lower in rank. If he crowds you at feeding time, take your whip and wave it about waist high side to side to back him away. If he walks into it he'll back away and will be more mindful to stay back. Don't be afraid to deliver a good smack with the whip if it warrants it. He won't hate you because the whip did it. After one good smack he'll really pay mind.
Corporal, stop preaching at me. I can't believe how rude you are. Just because I am a first-time horse owner does not mean I don't have any experience. I have leased several horses before I got mine and I've done a heck of a lot of riding! The reason my guy was bucking so much was because I was bringing him back into work and he was being a totally spoiled piglet when I asked him to canter. He's not young, he's not inexperienced, and he's certainly enough for me to handle. And FYI, I am getting someone else more experienced to ride him for me before I get back on, I can freely admit when I am in over my head. Get off your soapbox, step down from your high horse, and don't judge so harshly before you know what's going on. I have asked for help with groundwork, not a lecture on irresponsibility, so either answer my question or butt out. Anyone can fall off a horse badly and injure themselves, and it doesn't mean that they don't have the experience to ride that horse.
I am also getting his back checked, in case he was bucking from pain.
Dawn, altho I prefer gentler methods with some horses it just has to be my way, like it or not and I might use a little corporal punishment. After 5 years of never using that type of punishment, I caved in and a horse got a smack with the lunge whip. Not real hard but enough to let him know that I meant business. We made more progress in an hour than in weeks. Was he nervous? No quite the opposite for a change.
I appreciate the responses, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my thread. I do want to make a point though, he is quite respectful on the ground and does not crowd, is happy to move over when asked, and is very good to lunge. I do admit that I have been a bit liberal with apples, but that will be changing soon and I will not be accepting his nose near my hands anymore. I have let him develop that habit and I take full responsibility for that. I am not desperate. I am not in over my head. With his bucking I am, maybe, but I will be paying a professional to bring him back into work before I get back on him.
I am just looking for stuff to do with him on the ground. I do quite like Clinton Anderson and his methods, so I might try some of that. But if anyone else has ideas, I'm quite open to those!
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