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beepine 04-28-2009 10:38 PM

Behavior issue..baffled.
 
Hi-
I bought a gelding about 6 weeks ago from an auction.
We have no history on this horse.
He is either a QH, QHX, 10-12 years old, in very good flesh..show quality. His eyes are smallish and not soft, but not mean either.
He most likely came from a show barn.
It took him about a month to settle in. He's very tuned into the herd, gets upset i.e whinnies, paws, paces when separated from herd, be that in a stall in the barn by himself, or turned out in a paddock. He does best sticking to a routine.
He's easy to catch and friendly. He leads well, is respectful, a bit spooky, but overall handles okay.
The first few weeks he would nip and paw in cross-ties.
We would correct him with a jerk on the shank, a swift kick in the side and a loud "No!" eventually he got it.d So far he has not offered to nip.
Over the past week he's started swishing his tail in the cross-ties and lift his hind feet a little. The other day he seemed relaxed, lip hanging, I was doing something nearby and then the tail started swishing like mad. He actually hunkered his rump down, lifted his tail a few inches while swishing madly, started pawing with both feet and stamped his back feet like he was going to strike. I just stood there watching this entire process..shocked. No flies, no wind, no change in herd location, nothing precipitated this reaction. I tapped his knees with my dressage whip several times before he stopped pawing. Each time he started to paw, I lifted the whip and said, "No!"
He continued with the swishing tail and I waited a few minutes before I lead him out. I backed him, circled him, stopped short several times and he was fine on the lead.
Overall, his behavior is quirky. I don't trust him.
He kicks out in the trailer, kicks out quickly and aggressively at other horse's when threatened, and kicks out in his stall when irritated. I certainly don't think he would hesitate to kick me and I believe he would have done it the other day if I had gotten anywhere close to striking distance.
He's a nice riding horse, goes quietly under saddle so far. I want to work with this horse, but he scares me a little and I'm sure he knows it. I'd like to hear from posters who have dealt specifically with horses that have behavior issues. Thanks, Jenn

Wallaby 04-29-2009 01:05 AM

I once knew a horse that would paw whenever he was unsure about whatever was going on. People would try to correct him and he would just start striking out with the hoof he had been pawing with. Eventually I convinced everybody that he pawed when he was unsure so they left him alone when he pawed. Soon after that he stopped pawing becuase he had gotten comfortable and realized that no one was going to punish him. After he realized that, he would only paw when a mare was in heat (we think he was gelded late) or when all the other horses were going on a trail ride and he wasn't.

Could your horse be basically displacing his wish to paw into pretending like he's going to kick?
I'd suggest letting him settle in more and maybe doing some bonding exercises becuase he may just be one of those horses that needs a bond to be well behaved and is a holy terror when he isn't bonded to a human. Maybe you could try not punishing him for pawing and see what happens?
That first horse I was talking about was one of those horses who needs a human bond and he had also just come from an auction. He was one of the most terrifying horses I had ever met but once I started working with him and treating him like he was my one and only (letting him out of the pasture to graze on the long grass none of the other horses could eat, feeding him smidgens of grain even though he didn't need it, riding him whenever I rode, brushing him as often as possible, braiding his mane and tail and basically spending every moment I was at the barn treating him like he was something special) he started coming around to me. After that everybody else was still afraid to go near him but I could without fear becuase he needed me to feel safe since I was his "herd". I obviously wouldn't have continued treating him that way if he had started trying to push me around or something, but he never did try to take the "upper hand."

That's my experience, good luck with yours! =)

weefoal 04-29-2009 06:27 AM

Its been my experience that quite a few horses will not release their bowels while tied. With the lifting and swishing of the tail I wonder if he need to empty his bowel :)

I would not kick him in the side for moving.

What we do for a horse training to tie is totally ignore the bad behavoir and reward the good. They are a lot like kids in that any attention (good or bad) is sometimes better to them then no attention. Especially when being tied and learning patientce.

We tie them up and totally ignore pawing etc. I am always near but I dont pay attention to them I go about my business. Once the horse has stood for a good amount of time, without moving, pawing, banging I give then a good pat and untie them. The next time I go longer but I never untie if they are moving and I only reward them for standing still.

beepine 04-29-2009 09:14 AM

Thanks, I'd like to hear more about bonding exercises.
This horse doesn't really enjoy grooming, atleast not yet.
Kicked him for nipping.

cowgirl4jesus94 04-29-2009 10:21 AM

my horse's manners when tied arent very good... he swishes his tail and paws like he is impatient the whole time to. (but he has no problems emptying his bowels when tied. lol!) i do only let him go once he is standing still and I believe that it is very important for a horse to be able to stand still tied when he is alone... but when I tie him up or untie him he butts me with his head and starts prancing again..what should I do? Sorry to post this on your topic beepine..it kind of a similar situation though it sounds like.

mls 04-29-2009 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by weefoal (Post 297842)
Its been my experience that quite a few horses will not release their bowels while tied. With the lifting and swishing of the tail I wonder if he need to empty his bowel :)

I would not kick him in the side for moving.


I agree - he may simply need to relieve himself. I have a couple that will get twitchy when they need to urinate. I put them in a stall for a minute and problem solved.

I also agree with ot kicking him for moving. A "quit" with a hand on his ribcage to let him know what you need.

He's still learning the routine. I would give him more time to settle in.

Spirithorse 04-29-2009 02:02 PM

Give him more time. Some horses take longer than others, and it sounds like he's pretty sensitive all around.

Do a ton of bonding exercises. Take him out to graze and try to find his itchy spots. Just spend a lot of undemanding time with him. That's what I'd do first with him.

twogeldings 04-29-2009 07:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cowgirl4jesus94 (Post 297934)
my horse's manners when tied arent very good... he swishes his tail and paws like he is impatient the whole time to. (but he has no problems emptying his bowels when tied. lol!) i do only let him go once he is standing still and I believe that it is very important for a horse to be able to stand still tied when he is alone... but when I tie him up or untie him he butts me with his head and starts prancing again..what should I do? Sorry to post this on your topic beepine..it kind of a similar situation though it sounds like.

Both my nine year old and my 16 year old rescue were terrible at standing tied. They would prance around, paw, scoot, bump with noses, etc.

I took to taking a riding crop along with me whenever I had them tied. When they would start to act up, a swift (but light, don't lay it on them) smack on the shoulder or hindquarter and a 'NU UH!' and they STOPPED. I haven't had any problems since.
My nine year old even ground tied out in the pasture. He's never been trained to do this. When he started to fidget I would say 'NU UH!' and he stopped.

I consider impatience while tied (ruling out discomfort, having to urinate or defecate, etc.) a dangerous habit. Henceforth, I do get rougher when such behavior surfaces.
Like I said, I don't really swing and SMACK! them. Just enough so that they can feel it, it doesn't need to hurt or anything. It's more of a 'surprise! this annoying feeling happens when you do that!' punishment.

jazzyrider 04-29-2009 10:51 PM

i second everyones suggestions so far. i really want to add though that physical discipline is definitely not the way to go. the above mentioned quick tap and a stern no is fine but considering this horse is a rescue and you have no idea on his history you could well be exacerbating any nervous issues he may have. try finding the actual root of the problem and fix that rather than blindly disciplining while not knowing exactly what is causing it.

some horses simply dont like being cross tied either. maybe try tying him some other way. IMO horses can feel more 'cornered' when cross tied

Calamity Jane 04-29-2009 11:02 PM

Sounds like he's just got too much energy and is frustrated about what to do with it.

Having too much energy, doesn't mean the horse must be prancy, or jiggy, or otherwise a spaz. Some horses instead act like your horse when they are just ansy..frustrated....

Instead of taking him from the stall (confinement) to the cross ties (even more confinement because he must stand still in one place)....I would take him from the stall to the arena or wherever it is you have to work and do some exercises to let him put some of that pent up energy to good use.

There is a really cool exercise by Clinton Anderson called lunging for respect part one and two.

Part one consists of basically lunging him in a circle, then stopping him (by taking out the slack in the lead and getting his hips to disengage: hind feet cross and the horse ends up stopped and facing you) and changing directions. It's different than regular lunging in that there is more emphasis on the changes of direction rather than just having the horse go around in circle after circle.

I'd add some obstacles to engage him and challenge him too...send him over barrels, poles, tarps, etc.... stop, change direction.

The part 2 is when you ask him to stop, you ask him to move his shoulders over and ask for a rollback.

You can do these simple exercises at the brisk walk and trot and lope. Work it in steps to get each one right, so don't rush.

Then....do a simple exercise of flexing him and moving his hips over (disengaging) up close. So you're teaching him to yield the hindquarters.

Then....take him to the cross ties. This way, you're giving him a reason to want to stand still....you're not using the lessons to punish him, but to put the excess pent up energy in him to good use and he feels like relaxing and standing at the cross ties.

I wouldn't advise any form of punishment since I believe it's better practice to focus on what you DO want your horse to do, rather than waste time and energy on trying to make him stop what you don't want him to do. This way, you are working on the overall attitude which then takes care of the unwanted behavior. He willingly listens and then looks forward to the cross ties as place to rest and relax.

Just want to add...that it's not about tiring him out to stand still...

Hope this helps.


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