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spots 05-18-2009 10:25 AM

Question about "join up"
 
Long story short I adopted my horses out last year and the new owners spoiled them to death and then called me to come and pick them up about a week ago because they said they didn't want them anymore. I went to get them and I actually saw one of my horses bite his girl in the hip and she immediatley gave him a treat. I was shocked but since i was getting them back i didn't say anything.

Well, during the year they were gone they lost all respect for humans. I took them each for a two mile walk to pinpoint problems with leading and figured i have to start from the begining with ground work. I am not a trainer or a professional horse person but I will be working with a trainer in a weekly lesson since my horses were trained at one point. I think the biggest problems right now are disrespect and laziness or buddy sourness. They have not ridden either of them for the entire year or separated them from eachother at all, not even for a walk.

The other day i tried to "join up" with each horse. My Sammy did pretty well but at first did a lot of bucking and kicking at the line i was driving him with but he's fully sacked out and not afraid he was according to my interpretaion of body language just plain refusing to listen to my suggestions. but after insisting he did start to work for me and after a half an hour successfuly "joined up" It looked just like the videos i have seen and he would walk with me everywhere i went.

After he joined up and we took a little walk around the ropund pen i gave him his food. I have only been feeding them after they separate from eachother or work. As he was eating i left his side and went to get something from the other side of the pen. I was surprised to see him leave his food and walk with me and back. He was still pretty pushy and walking ahead of me on his return to the pasture but i will be starting lessons on wenesday. My question is since this horse is particularly bossy nd dominant anyway should i do join up before every training session? Is that something a person continues to do or something you only do once?

My other horse is blind in one eye and would not go with his blind eye to the inside so i stopped asking him for it and only made him go one way. Is going around the pen with his blind eye to me even possible? can he do it or should i not ask him to? He did join up within minutes and he's not dominant at all he's pretty much a follower already. Som insight and opinions would be great !!! thank you

GypsyTally921 05-18-2009 12:39 PM

Hi Spots;

Join-up is pretty simple, but every horse is different. It sounds like you were successful with the first horse, but a year of bad habits isn't going to be fixed in one half-hour lunge. He may respect you for the hour or so afterwards, but if you don't assert your dominance in every other aspect of your interactions together, the bad habits will re-surface quickly. Here's how I would handle this situation, and since I don't know your level of ability or knowledge, I apologize if this sounds too basic, that's not what I intend:

-Join-up with him at the start of each session. Lunge him until his ears relax, he lowers his head to the ground and licks and chews. He needs to be listening to your commands; if he stops running before you ask him or doesn't stop when you ask him and turn towards you, make him move off faster again and repeat til he does.

-Be dominant outside the bullpen too. Make him respect your space, etc., INSTANT correction when he steps out of line. He will probably get pissy with you; get pissy right back. Best, fastest solution to this depends on your level of skill reading body language-- you need to know when he's going to misbehave almost before he does and correct him before (ideal) or instantly after he finishes the bad behavior.

-Most importantly though-- when he's being good, reward him for it. I don't mean treats, as it sounds like handfeeding might be part of the catalyst for his current lack of respect. When he's cooperating, talk to him in a soothing, calm voice telling him he's a good boy, lots of pats, let him slow down or take a break (but only if you ask him to), etc. When he's being bad, get a harsh tone and raise your voice, and if you're in a confined area or have him on a lead make him work. He'll quickly learn it's uncomfortable to be around you when he's misbehaving, and nice to when he's being nice back.

My point with the above is that join-up, while a great tool to establish that first point of dominance, isn't usually enough. It's more of a trust builder than a problem solver. It's also important to work with him soon after join up on the other issues he has; leading, saddling, etc., whatever. Not for too long, but a few minutes each time. You'll notice improvement over time. But for the first week or two, or week's worth of days, I would join up with him at the start of each session and see how his attitude is after the week. If it's improving, you may go to every other session, or drop it altogether and bring it back if the behavior comes back.

As for the horse with the blind eye, I'd say it's probably ok to let him run only with the good eye inside. He probably doesn't feel comfortable not being able to see you and the commands you're giving. It doesn't sound like an attitude thing but more a dealing with a disability thing.

Sorry for the novel, and I hope this helped. :)

spots 05-18-2009 02:17 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. I know i'll have a lot of work to do with the horses especially the dominant one but as I have said I plan on working from the ground up in all aspects. I will be starting from the begining and see how fast he can relearn or reinforce my leadership roll. I will be working with a trainer once a week and carrying through with the lessons during the rest of the week. I don't let them get away with being pushy right now i usually make them back everytime they get into my space.I was just wondering about how often t do the join up since i have never personally done it before and i havn't heard anyone else say. I am thinking the same thing about my one-eyed horse that maybe he deosn't need it as much as just a recap of manners. He's also nowhere near as pushy i am thinking we might work wth the other one during lesson and i will just transfer all my homework to both horses.


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