I need Suggestions
A friend of mine went to a horse auction the other night and dragged me along for the ride, mostly because I have a trailer. Now I had no intent on coming home with a horse myself, my plan was to not be in the horse market for a few years. Well my friend found two horses that really caught her attention, though she only got the one. As she was wandering around looking at horses I to was wandering around, mostly keeping an eye out for a horse that may be good for her. That's when I saw this girl, huddled at the very back of her pain with her ears as far back as possible. Normally pinned back ears send warning bells off in my head but there was something about her. So I made a bid and got her for only $300, my friend spent almost $1000 on her horse. It took us ten minutes to load my horse on the trailer, let me say it was hard staying calm.
Once we got her home and unloaded her into a separate pasture away from Reggie I realized I have a problem. She will not let anyone get near her, it took three people to catch her so the vet could take a look at her. Even then he had to give her a sedative, the same thing when the farrier came. Yesterday I spent most of the day in her pasture just sitting in the dirt letting her get used to my presence. Every time she came close I would roll an apple over to her, which she would eat and then stare at me with her ears back. My hopes are that she will eventually equal treat with human, though I didn't always use apples so she wouldn't get sick.
She does come up to me but runs if I so much as twitch, so I have yet to really touch her. On the bright side she seems to like Reggie. The two of them talk to each other almost all day and I've seen her looking towards Reggie. Though I bet he has no clue where she is unless he follows her calls.
Does anyone have any suggestions on what else I can do with her to try and get her to trust people?
This is the only picture of her so far, taken from a distant with a special zoom lens on my camera. She still doesn't have a name.
How big is the pen she is in? The reason I ask is if it is some what smaller as in an acre or so then I would push her off to gain her respect as herd leader more so than gaining her trust with kindness. Once you establish herd dominance then she will submit to you however you want.
Pushing off is the art of making her leave the spot she is standing and take it over with your body turned away from her. Let her find a new spot then go move her off of that spot. Always going to her from her back side to push her off that spot. With her not letting you get close to her it will be easy to move her, but you HAVE to take the spot she was in when you moved her. Be prepared to take all day doing this with small breaks along the way so she can absorb what has happened and process it. Eventually she will always keep her focus on you and you will start finding yourself closer and closer to her as she decides to vie for the role and not want to move off so quickly. Remember to always face away from her when you take her spot as if she means nothing to you.
I did this with my standardbred mare who is the herd leader and would not come to me or respect me as herd leader when I came inside the fence. After 2 days of this she now comes to meet me at the gate when she hears the chain clanking against the fence as I come through.
The point is you have to PROVE to her that you can dominate her by moving her feet at will. This is how they come to trust you as they gain respect for you as their leader.
Hope this helps with your troubled horse and remember to stay calm and patient. The very worst thing you can do is get impatient and aggravated because things aren't progressing as fast as you want them to. This will effect your body language to her and give her the opposite signal you need to send. That will make the process impossible to succeed to the goal.
Again, good luck.
She is gorgeous! Are you feeding her at all? If you are , just stand close while she eats, and then try holding the bucket while she eats. Or, set up a panel pen so she is a captive audience, and work on getting her to look at you. When she does, look down and back up a step. Eventually, she will get close enough to put a rope on.
She is in a four acre pasture right now, the smallest of the two. She also does not seem very fuzzy for this time of year, should I have the vet look into that?
Well didn't you pick up an adventure! First of all she is beautiful, congratulations.
My advice is to take it slow. If you think you are going too slow then slow down some more. I am not sure how long you have had her bu I would give her a week to settle in with not much interaction. Then I would start with 10-20 min twice a day of interaction. Even just mucking her pen is benificial if you guys are out there together. Don't try to hard to catch her or approach her but let her make the decision that you are good. I would keep a treat in your pocket always so when she does finially decide to approach you you are ready with a reward. Patience is going to be key. I take 6 months or more on just building trust and bonding before I starte any training. There is a good chance she will be overly sensitive to corrections so you want a good foundation that she knows you arm going to hurt her.
Also I don't know your barn situation but if you can move her to the heart of the action where people are walking by and there is activity surrounding her that isn't focused on her.
Once you are able to approach her in her pen and get a halter on. I would get her into a round pen and start join up (also known as linking, hooking etc). Basicly you need to send her out of your herd (send her away from you) by lunging her in the round pen. Keep her moving don't worry about how many times she is going around. Watch for the signs she will give that she is ready to join back into your herd. These include dropping her head and licking her lips. When she submits stop asking her to run. She should turn towards you and approach. Keep doing this until she comes right to you with her head down. Then you are a herd and you are the leader!!
Please keep us poste on her progress. Your story sounds like the beginning of a book!!
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Is it possible to fence it in half or even fence off an acre of it to work her in?
Greentree, I have always been taught to never ever back up when dealing with horses you are trying to establish dominance with as they see that as them backing you down and ahead of you in the herd. I learned it the hard way by somewhat backing up when I first learned to lunge and it created a bad habit of the horse crowding me and giving him the thought that he was moving me at will. As soon as I learned the proper way and started practicing it it quickly changed the dynamics of our relationship and him staying out of my space when we worked together.
I started applying that to all work with them by never backing up, infact I purposely take the path that leads through them to make them move out of my way when I am going to a point beyond them just to keep it fresh in their head that I move them rather than go around them. Mind you I won't walk 30 feet out of the way just to do it, but if they are 4-5' off to the side of the path I'm walking then I will adjust to make them move. They usually move way before I get to them now if they see me coming directly at them unless my body language says I'm coming to them for something.
I hope that made as much sense in writing as it does in my head. lol
I agree ^ take is SLOW. Make it her decision to come to you (what you described doing is great). Another thing you can do is stand by where you feed her and just be there. I wouldn't push anything to soon, and though it sounds crazy I wouldn't push her out of your herd to bring her back in quite yet. When she does start getting more comfortable around you and slow movements you can use your fist (no fingers) and rub her that way to get her acclimated to touch. (I didn't believe it would work at first but my boss got a feral horse and she did it that way and could touch it all over, something about the extra fingers make some nervous.... couldn't hurt to try imo.) It sounds like you're getting there, just take things slow and easy and she'll come up to you eventually. It might take days, months, or even years just depends on her.
She's beautiful by the way! And good luck, I look forward to hearing about your progress!
Roadyy, I don't know about all that stuff! I just do what it takes.... I have had LOTS of horses that did not want to be touched, and that is what I always did. Horses that could not be "pushed" or they would go through the fence, or babies who will also go through, or over, whatever it takes to get AWAY.
I don't really think standing next to her while she eats is an option. She won't go near her feed area unless I'm away from her pasture. If I do shrink her pasture how small should I make it?
I'd do about an acre so you don't have to walk so far. I give my suggestions as though you have had the horse for a couple days to a week. I think she does need some time to get acclimated to her new environment, but not to the point that she thinks she has no one to answer or interact with.
Greetree has a point that not all horses will react the same way to any given method and you need to find the process that work for your horse.
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