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Miloismyboy 08-18-2009 07:31 PM

I'm learning and so is he....advice?
So here is the back story: In May of this year my husband, who was born and raised around horses bought me my heart's desire; a calm, laid back TWH. Since then my husband hasn't had the time to assist me (I was not born and raised around horses) so much of my learning has been through hours and hours... and a few more hours of research and reading as well as trial and error. At first, Milo and I got along great. We just spent time getting to know each other....a lot of grooming, evening treats, hanging out... no pressure. That was my first mistake I think.

Eventually Milo became incredibly pushy and disrespectful of my space. I did my research and we started a regime of daily work sessions. We walked together to learn about personal space and where my boundaries were. We learned to stop when I stopped, go when I said go and to be still. I put the lunge line on and we worked with that, although I still cannot get him into a good trot. I made him back up when I said backup, and when all that was done we would then practice my bareback riding skills for a while. When we are done with our daily routine, I put down his small handful of sweet feed but don't allow him to approach it until I say it's okay. He learned well and he respected me, much safer for both of us. I thought gone were the days of having my feet stepped on.

This past Friday the farrier came out and Milo did well as he has in the past but as we were walking back to the ring he attempted to nip at my arm. Okay, his feet are sore and he's just telling me so, my bad was that I backed away. It's been down hill from there as he's pinning his ears at me, not co-operating at all and basically being incredibly disrespectful. My confidence is shaken and I'm sure he knows it. He's a very stubborn boy, takes him a bit to learn. I would love to hear any feedback on how to get over this hiccup we are having. As I said.. his disrespect has gotten a bit worse than before and I don't usually resort to smacking the boy in the shoulder but he got a whap today from me. While trying to get some sunscreen on his nose his head tossing got me one good time. :( Advice??????

Scoutrider 08-18-2009 08:01 PM

You're basically on the right track with getting his respect and control of his body, as you described in your second paragraph. I think it's just going to take some refresher courses for him. Horses are a constant maintenance project, behavior-wise. You can't fix something and never go back to it and have it stay fixed. Even manners get rusty sometimes.

I recommend reading up on Clinton Anderson's groundwork, if you haven't already. He really emphasizes having complete respect from the horse, being the unquestionable leader without being "mean" about it, and actually does it in a way very similar to what you were already doing.

Some little tips and tricks I've picked up:

Only turn towards the horse, don't pull him around you. Always a good safety tip, but doing it constantly (and on both sides!) really drills the idea of personal space into their heads.

At feeding time, bring the food to him and demand that he wait until you give him the food. I've seen horses cultivate major respect issues from being led to a stall where feed was already waiting. I almost goad mine into being snots every now and again so I can see what needs work. It's a good feeling when a horse will politely leave his grain and allow you to fill a water bucket in the middle of his "meal," lol.

With the sunscreen, try approach and retreat, rewarding even a slight attempt to stand nicely. This method also works great for dewormer, fly masks, almost anything.

If he's being nippy, be passively defensive. Keep your elbow up a little higher, ready for him to ram into if he swings his head.

I would suggest that you and your husband get together a bit and try to work through your horse's issues, especially if he is more experienced. This is something that you should at least have some experienced input on in person.

I hope that was somewhat helpful, and good luck!

Wallaby 08-18-2009 08:11 PM

How old is Milo? How much training has he had? Is he stalled or out on pasture all the time? Sorry for all the questions but the answers will help us (atleast me) answer your questions better. =)

Is there any way you could start getting lessons with him from a trainer/your husband?

Miloismyboy 08-18-2009 08:33 PM

He's is 4 years old, we got him from a trusted horse breeder who had bought him at auction so he wasn't trained by the person we bought him from.....therefore, I have no idea what kind of training he's had. He's amazingly calm (okay...lazy). He understands basic commands and was ridden regularly before I got him. and he's mainly out in the pasture 90% of the time with 6 other horses.. he's low on the totem pole there.

As far as lessons go, that money is reserved for my daughters riding lessons which I pay very very close attention to. :)

Miloismyboy 08-18-2009 09:00 PM

Thank you for the advice Scoutrider, it is very helpful :)

Miloismyboy 08-20-2009 02:52 PM

what a difference a day (and an attitude!) make
So I buried myself in more research (paying close attention to Clinton Anderson), and more videos. The problem of course, is me. My apprehension and intimidation is easily read by Milo. He's a stubborn boy.. not as eager or responsive as our other horse. With her everything comes easily, she's attentive and knows how to keep her attention on me with little effort from me. She wants to work and to please, she is a dream. But Milo... well he knows he's bigger than me and he uses it to his advantage and with a few wins under his belt it makes his stubborness even more pronounced. Crack a whip behind his butt and he just looks at me in the most relaxed way a horse can as if to say..."scuse me, but you have no effect on me whatsoever" and goes back to chewing on the grass. *Sigh*

So yesterday and today I re-arranged my attitude. No nonsense. I'm boss and what I say goes. Go ahead and pin those ears at me when I ask you to do something, I don't care! You are going to do it anyway! We had a great session together, only one or two test put forth by him that I won. Every other task I asked of him was done with little or no resistance. He was an angel. I still cannot get a good trot out of him on the lunge line, but that will come with time. He's learning and I'm figuring out that my attitude is the first thing that has to change. I don't think he will ever be as attentive and responsive as I would hope... is there a good method to use with a chronically stubborn or lazy horse?

Wallaby 08-20-2009 04:24 PM

It sounds like you're heading in the right direction! Good job! =)

He'll probably get more and more attentive and responsive the more he realizes that you're the boss and the more he trusts you.

My favorite method with lazy/stubborn horses is just time. I've found that the more time you spend with a lazy or stubborn horse and the more time you spend teaching them that working with you is fun (find their favorite thing whether it's running, food, scratches or something else and use that in your training sessions) the more the horse will start getting engaged in what you're doing and forget about being stubborn/lazy or whatever. =)

When I got my mare everything was a fight because she was scared of what I might do to her so she responded to her fear by refusing to listen to me, running me over, bucking, rearing etc. I thought for sure that she was always going to need me to keep my attention on her and not take it off because she would behave badly. Well, a year later and I actually rode her in a halter using the lead rope as a rein (neck reining on direction and direct reining the other) and bareback for the first time just last week. She was totally in tune with what I was asking and she didn't act up once. And that is all because I've taught her that I'm not going to hurt her or confuse her and that I'm in charge but I'm willing to change my plans if she shows that she can't handle what we're doing.

Sorry for the novel but I wanted to encourage you. =)

Miloismyboy 08-20-2009 04:51 PM

I love novels! and Thanks for the virtual pat on the back... sometimes that's all a person, or a horse, needs to re-energize themselves. :)

Scoutrider 08-20-2009 05:49 PM

Sounds like you're really on the right track! Great job, and good progress!

I'm with Wallaby, the best thing for stubborn or lazy horses is time (for both of you! Your new attitude with Milo is spot on, but it may take time for that attitude to become the norm. You may need a few minutes before you head to the barn to "put your game face on," so to speak) and patient persistence. Know what you want, and know what you are likely to get from the horse on this day. Get what you ask for, don't let him "win" the discussion, but at the same time, be forgiving and understanding about it. It's partnership, but you are still the boss. Ideally, you want the "balance of power" to be 51% you, 49% him, but with a very stubborn/lazy horse you may need to be a bit more the boss in the beginning until he understands what rung he lives on.

Glad to hear that you've made progress! :D

snoggle 08-20-2009 06:57 PM

I'm a fairly new rider with a somewhat green horse. I've had to do training, etc. on my own too and have gotten lots of books. The most helpful one has been "Horses Never Lie" - it is more philisophical and about your attitude with the horse than many of them. He doesn't really give specific techniques, though he does talk about different things he's tried that worked well with different horses. Its a quick, easy read and he teaches through interesting stories from his many years with horses. I read it in 2 days. Good luck!

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