Need help with ground work.
I am trying to gain respect from my horse. He is an appaloosa and is head-strong and lazy. A bad combination.
I did some ground work with him today, and it was a real pain in the butt. At first he wouldn't do anything, wouldn't budge an inch. After working for about 30 minutes he finally starting yielding his hind quarters, and backing on command. I was still having troubles getting him to yield his front quarters. He WILL do it if I strong arm and push him, forcing him, but he won't do it willingly. And when lunging he tries to follow me, he won't get out, even when I try to drive him out by showing him the whip. It's frustrating me. Any advice?
You need to be more firm with him. He knows you're not going to make him do it, so he doesn't do it.
From now on, he gets three chances to do as you ask, then you have a come-to-Jesus meeting. First you ask him to do something (for example, backing up) using your pre-established cue. If he doesn't do it, you tell him to do it by being more insistent with your cue. If he still doesn't do it, you make him do it by making him think the world is going to end in fire and death if he doesn't listen to you.
The key is timing. At the very first attempt to do as you ask on his part, back off the pressure and let him relax. If you just keep pecking at him (like asking him to do the same thing for thirty minutes straight and not rewarding the smallest attempt with a release of pressure), you're just reinforcing to him that he can ignore you.
Your mantra from now on is "Ask, tell, make."
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But yes, I like the 3 try rule. Thursday when I go out, I don't think I will ride, I am just going to focus on ground work. He needs to see me as the alpha, and right now I am the nice lady who brings treats, that he can push around. Time to toughen up.
It's not so much that you're not rewarding correctly, it's that you're not being tough enough. Horses respect the leader, not the "nice lady who brings treats."
Watch a herd of horses. The lead mare will first ask a lower-ranking member of the herd to move. If she doesn't move, she'll push a little harder (the "tell" phase, for us humans). Finally, if the herd member really isn't listening (or is being a butt), she will really get after them and MAKE them do what she wants. YOU are the lead mare in your little herd of two, but right now he doesn't believe that.
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I don't really like to tell people to "be more firm" after they've already stated that the horse will do what they ask if they're firm about it. The goal isn't to send you back out to beat on your horse, it's to send you out to teach him your most subtle cues.
What you should work on is timing. Timing not only in respecting his effort and dropping pressure IMMEDIATELY when he makes the right move, but also timing in your praise. Petting is still a form of pressure and most people don't realize it.
Give it a think. How often, after the lead mare has sent away a member of her herd, do you see her follow and nuzzle that horse? When you send him back, or out, or forward, give him a full 30 seconds to a minute to just relax and appreciate the lack of pressure. Then approach and give your pat and ask for the next cue.
The other timing issue you're having is the lack of time spent working on the particular movements. It's good that you've come to realize you want and deserve more respect but it's a professional trainer working 6 days a week for a month who turns out a dependable horse. And each learns at a different speed.
Work with him. Appreciate his effort. Perfect your method. You'll be glad down the road when you have a solid citizen because you didn't take shortcuts.
I think I mentioned this before, but groundwork done well is helpful, not done well can reinforce a less than respectful relationship. I am not sure how you are doing it, but wonder if you have a knowledgeable person to show you things. I mean, body position and timing are not something you can know unless someone shows you. hard to learn from a book or video.
wold you like to post a video of you working with him?
Is this horse already trained?
It could be, if horse is trained that it is sick of being asked to do these things.
Is there some reason all of this is necessary? Most trained horses do not have to be done this way.
I would suggest looking on the internet for videos of the big trainers: Anderson, Cox, Archer, etc. They all seem to approach ground work with the same rules:
Don't think for a minute that if you are fair and not cruel with a whip, or other aid (I like to just use the popper on the end of my lead rope) that the poor horsey is going to not like you or not love you, they are not capable of complex emotions. I will absolutely MAKE my mare move if I have to, but will ask first, I can not physically hurt her, she is 16.2 and abut 1300lbs. I can hurt her mind though if I only make her and not ask first. I also do believe in doing ground work in small amounts the whole life of the horse, to keep the "pecking order" established.
Good luck and hope some of these comments helps you enjoy your mount more.
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