Acquired a horse...know NOTHING and scared.
Coming in with my tail tucked between my legs, so be nice, please! I just moved in with my partner who has an Amish throw away horse in the pasture. He's had nothing done with him, he's yard art, and he hates my guts. Partner wants to find him a new home, but I want this horse so bad I can't see straight. I know nothing, I'm about half intimidated by him, and I need dirt basic advise. Never had a horse, haven't ridden since I was a kid, and I'm, (ehem), aged now.
He's a 12 year old thoroughbred, healthy, semi calm, I just don't know how to handle him at all. When I go to the fence, his ears go back, he blows, throws his head and walks away...unless I have apples in tow, then he lets me touch him for about 30 seconds.
I WANT this horse, even if I end up getting my guts stomped out.
Hi, don't worry, we don't ALL bite! ;)
Please stay on opposite side of fence from horse till you have a mentor there with you. Safety is your #1 concern, & this horse sounds left-brain (blows you off unless you've got treats, rather than a nervous type).
Sometimes, a neophyte can progress via a good horsemanship book, like "True Horsemanship Through Feel" by master horseman Bill Dorrance, or a good home study program like Parelli, IF the horse is more of a schoolmaster horse (the horse "fills in" for your errors, & teaches you patiently). This tb ain't one of those, so I feel better saying that you need someone there when you're with the horse, till it's safe for you to handle by yourself.
Awesome that you feel such desire to get involved with horses, & do update us on what's happening!
Well, Dilly, welcome to the forum. You'll have your work cut out for you but if you keep an open mind, commit to learning methods and commit to diligently applying them you will succeed.
First off, I would suggest you immerse yourself in reading up on the subject of horsemanship and horse husbandry. There are many good books online or at local bookstores that will give introductory information for the newbie horseowner.
Second, if it's possible, you might be able to find a local person with experience who can mentor you through the initial stages; with any luck there's a local horse club in your area that you could join. Start with your neighbours who have horses and see if they would give you a few pointers or can point you in the direction of someone else. You could ask at places like feed stores, vet clinics to see if they could recommend someone on a more professional level or know of any clubs.
Finally, keep in touch with the forum - there's always helpful hints and tidbits that will be useful to you as well as people to act as a sounding board for you.
This is going to sound mean, but I'll explain later. You ARE going to get your guts stomped out.
This animal hasn't been handled in a very long time, and he has already learned that he can intimidate you easily. It isn't your fault or his fault but the two of you are a terrible match right now. Horses are herd animals, and they do one of two things when someone is too afraid OR inexperienced to be their leader. They either decide that THEY will be the leader and you end up with an aggressive, biting, lunging, ordering you around type animal, or they see that the leadership position is unfilled and they panic because they NEED a leader, and they become very reactive, scared of everything, etc., I have one of each.
You can BECOME a leader, but if you're already intimidated by him and haven't been around horses in a long time, this is not the horse to begin with. He is bound to make mistakes because he has been out of work for a long time. You're bound to make mistakes because you're new at this. Neither things are necessary BAD, they're just part of the training process. But together they ARE bad because you will both quickly become confused, and you won't know how to read each others body language.
If you want to get into horses still, either 1. Sell this guy and get into lessons. When you're more experienced, try leasing a horse, then buying one that has 'been there done that' to learn on. Or 2. Send this horse to a trainer for at least a few months (we're talking thousands of dollars here) so that an experienced horseman can determine how well trained he is, teach him anything he may have forgotten or not learned, and make him dependable... and you need to take lessons in the meantime with an instructor. Then take weekly (or better, biweekly) lessons on this horse with an instructor. That's the only way to safely do this.
Definitely get someone to help. Otherwise you will get hurt and really WILL sell the horse.
He doesn't "hate your guts." He is controlling the situations. Someone has to and since you aren't, he is. He weighs somewhere between 4 and 10 times what you do. The physics aren't in your favour. It's all about mind control and he's controlling yours.
How has the horse been cared for in the past? How long has he been there? If no one has worked with him, you will have issues with his hoof care right off the bat - how bad will be seen once he comes under control.
Is he a gelding or a stallion? If he's a stallion, re-home him if you can.
If he is a gelding and you're bound and determined to keep him, go get some experience with another horse. That will also enable you to meet some people in the area that can help you with this horse. Read as much as you can from books and magazines. Be very discriminating when choosing information from the internet. There are a million of us "horse experts" out there - problem is that if you know basically nothing, you can easily be led down the wrong path by someone who knows just enough to be dangerous, knows nothing but thinks they do, knows only one way of doing things, etc. etc.
Your first steps with him would be groundwork, but you have to learn it first so you can teach him and know what to watch for in his behavior.
Honestly, if your partner can find a home for him, both the horse and you would be better off for it.
You have sensible advice here, but if you're dead-set on this.. go get yourself lessons and find someone willing to deal with the horse in the mean time. When you get lessons, ask specifically for ground work lessons, not for time in the saddle until later. This will introduce you to having a horse respect your space, making the horse move, and will teach you how to get up in their face if you need to.
I strongly agree with getting this horse to a trainer to handle getting him conditioned to following a human as a leader again, as you are in no Way, Shape, or Form, capable of safely doing it with your current level of experience. I don't mean to sound mean, but I do mean to sound practical. A facility that offers lessons as well as training may be best, because as your horse learns under that trainer, the trainer can teach you their horse handling methods and there will be no confusion later in your relationship. As he progresses and gets better, you should ask to start working with him and the trainer so that you can be mentored, spotted (like folks do during workouts) and as safe as possible.
The key to this succeeding is to get experience with horses. Lessons are your number one and safest way to go - which is why I'm advocating them as much as I am. Reading books and watching clips on training is good to a point, but do Not make up for hands-on experience. Clinton Anderson and Warwick Schiller (on YouTube) would be good places for you to start looking for some bit of education.
Honestly though, selling may be the best option for you both.
OP, howdy and welcome to the forum.
For the most part, I agree with Endiku and NorthernMama, you and this horse are a terrible fit right now and I really suggest you avoid trying to handle him in any way without an experienced person right there with you. Truthfully, it would probably be best for both of you to part ways so that you could eventually lease or buy a horse more suited to your ability. BUT, if you're dead set on having this horse, then you need some professional help to keep you from getting hurt.
Where I think you should start is with some lessons from a good instructor. They'll often have good natured school horses for you to learn the basics with (horses who are unlikely to injure you in any way unless they accidentally step on your toe :wink:). After some time spent there where you can learn how to handle a horse properly and you gain some confidence in your ability to handle one, then you should talk with your instructor about working with the horse and then with you and the horse together.
If this horse hasn't been touched for years, then he'll need a training tune-up before you do anything with him anyway. Though it really all depends on what quality of training he had in the first place. IME, with Amish horses, it's rather hit and miss; some are really great and others....not so much. Depending on his training, it may take more time and $$ than it's worth to get him to the point where he's suitable for you. Or, he may never be suitable or safe for you to handle without experienced help present.
Another thing to consider is that Amish horses don't get loved on. They aren't petted and scratched and pampered. They are tractors and cars that get caught, they go to work, they get turned loose and fed, then tomorrow they do it all over again. They are work horses, not pets, so he may have never had anyone who wanted to love on him before and he's probably not sure how to take it. He may never like it. Some horses don't, regardless of how much time is spent with them or how much training they get, some just don't like being touched. They have an attitude of "Let's just go to work, let me do my job, and leave me alone".
Scared is good! makes you less likely to jump in and do something dangerous...like just about anything at this point.
An Amish throw-away horse? As in he was too hot for buggy work, or any work? Or some serious soundness issues? Just thinking of the horse, he probably needs his feet trimmed and needs to be current on vaccinations as well as having his teeth checked. How is his weight?
Now for you...Chevaux suggested one contact for info would be a vet clinic. Make sure they do large animals. They very likely could recommend a local trainer for you to talk to. Plus they could do a farm call to check the horse out, but you do need to be able to catch him first. It would be best if you could have the horse spend at least a couple of months getting his brain cells adjusted by a trainer and in the meantime get you started learning basic horse handling skills. It would be good if the trainer could make a "house call" and give you an evaluation of this guy and what might be needed to get him manageable. Also keep in mind that a confident trainer may walk in and have none of the issues you are seeing.
I believe it is always best to start with a horse that is of good disposition and well trained under saddle. A horse like this makes it so much easier for a beginner to gain knowledge and confidence with far less risk of the gut stomping thing. But if you are determined to do this please get professional help. And it will cost some dollars so be prepared.
You have a lot to think about here.
Professional help is right! If you're dead set on having this horse DO NOT move forward alone. You WILL get hurt. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
Look around and see if you can find a trainer to come to your farm. Let the trainer handle everything, explain everything to you as they're doing it. Let the trainer turn the horse into a gentleman on the ground and THEN you can start working with the horse - in the trainer's presence, of course. Seriously - a lot of us learn by ourselves from nothing. I am one of those people (impulse bought a horse when I knew as much as you do now!) The difference is the horse your'e facing is unhandled and dangerous, and the horse I was facing was rideable and for the most part pleasant for me.
We can only help you so much without being there. I strongly, strongly advise finding someone to help you learn how to be the herd leader of this horse. If he's been alone he needs to re-learn his herd manners, whether it be with a human or another horse. How is your partner with handling the horse?
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