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dcs13 12-24-2009 12:26 PM

Newbie..Couple of questions...
Totally new to horses. I have read a lot so far, but still have a few questions..
We have a small cattle operation breeding show cattle. I have discouraged the wife from buying a horse for many years. I knew they were a lot of work. (I have a whole new perspective now just how much). I should have done research and been more educated in her purchase, but I failed. Last spring she bought a 10 year old mare.
This horse is head shy. Pretty bad too. Didn't know what that meant until it came time to bridle her. She's been vetted and is fine physically. I have been working a lot on the head shy. I have progressed to being able to rub her left ear. She still hates it and bends away while I am doing it. I brought the plastic bag into the round pen yesterday. Just tied it on a stick and attached it to the side of the pen. I left it there and would walk her up close to it. She FREAKS on noises like that. She hates the velcro on my gloves. I figured I'd use the bag on the next training day. Working her in the round pen. Longing ,then rubbing and working on the head, longing more,etc... Once bridled she rides well. She is a HUGE fight to bridle. She works with a hackemore. She picks up her feet well and stands for farrier.
I have noticed that she has NO respect for my wife. She throws her head and is just skittish. She will longe for the wife, but as for the wife touching the head, forget it.
In the barn today, she didn't want anything to do with me. Would walk away, turn her head etc. Its raining and muddy, so no round pen today.
Guess my questions are:
1) Will she EVER get past the head shy. I hate to fight the bridle fitting.
2) will she ever be more social ? I hate that she walks away.
3) Will she ever respect the wife. I realize she is going to have to work LONG and hard to make progress. This is an issue right now because of lack of time. I train most everyday because I work 2nd shift. Its dark and not safe for the wife when she gets home.
We have a second horse that we bought that is younger (9). She has no issues at all. She's a big puppy dog. Rides great, takes her bridle easy,etc..Just a perfect horse.
We are taking these 2 to a trainer more for our learning. Doing basics, like riding circles,weave patterns, etc...
Would I benefit from sending this other horse to a professional ? My farrier has offered to train her at his place. He thinks she needs some intense riding and a week or two of "back to basics" and a "who's in charge" kind of time..
Thanks in advance...

angelsgrace 12-24-2009 09:24 PM

Ok I had a mare that when I first got would rear up when i tryed to stick the bridle on now i can just slide it on just keep persisting slowly and soft.

With the social my mare also would take up to three hours to catch just be friendly carrots do work but only after the halters on if you are kind to her and learn her repect she will be very social it takes time but worth in my mare now gallops up the hill when called.

With your wife I'd say your mare will resect her but it will take work I recomend parrreli it does really workmonty roberts is also so one of my faves but not carlos tabernarri.
good luck is sound like your doing the right thing,
she will become the best horse if you never smack her or lose you temper but that doesn't mean not firm a scare horse is very very dangerous my sister has a shake every time she takes presher off her leg caue a scare horse that had been wacked ran away she fell off and the horse stood on her leg.

Merry X-mas

justsambam08 12-24-2009 09:32 PM

I would say she was DEFINITELY benefit from going to this trainer....however, I would make sure that you are involved as much as possible, especially since she doesn't respect your wife or you at all. A horse should never be allowed to turn its butt to its owner....thats the equivalent of the middle finger in horse language, and makes you vulnerable to injury. "Turning her head away" is an extension of her head shyness, but walking away from you after you've already approached isn't just unsocial, its bad manners.

She should get past being headshy, with slow, slow work. Some horses just take longer than others. Would this be last spring as in '07, or the most recent spring of '08? Either way, I'd say she's still as skittish/unruly as she is because you aren't as confident and firm as you need to be with her. Sometimes its hard to tell the difference between when a horse is really scared of something, and when its just fooling around with you to see how much she can get away with. Does she halter well, or is it specifically with bridling?

dcs13 12-25-2009 11:11 AM

OK. She came to us in Spring '09. I have read so much on this site in the last 24 hours that I need glasses. What I have learned is I am a complete idiot when it comes to horses. I didn't realize just how smart and different they are. I have trained dogs and halter broke show calves with success, so I'd like to think I have the patience. I don't show my frustration at all ( I supervise 12 people at work, so I have learned to manage people I don't care for. You show frustration there and your sunk.).I am sure I can do this, just need a good plan.
I think I am not being assertive enough, and this mare may be left brained. She seems to be trying to be the dominant of me, and I think ya'll are right, she is pushing her limits. Not being smart enough to understand this , has made the problem worse. She doesn't bite or charge, just defiant.
She halters fairly well. NOT as good as when we first got her. The bridle is a real booger. We have been taking the horses to a trainer on sundays and she has taught us a lot. The trainer has helped bridling her when we are there. I haven't worked specifically with the bridle at home. I have concentrated on getting her to let me touch her head. I have been spending about an hour with her most days. I bought a round pen last week and started in there with longing. (we were longing before, just more controlled now). What I have been doing is working on rubbing the head and getting up to touching the ears and over the head. I'll try to watch and just before she really gets cranky, send her on a run, longing in both directions, then stop and rub again.
I have read the parelli stuff and the arguments (pro and con). What I take from all I have read here is there is no substitute for a good foundation. And there are several ways to get there. I think thats the best plan is the groundwork foundation, really starting completely over and asserting myself as the alpha.
So, what exercises are the best, what order and how long should I train her per day. The time question is one I am not sure of. I realize she will have some limits, but how do I tell when enough is enough.
Thanks for the answers to my simple questions. I have made a commitment here and want to succeed with this horse.

kitten_Val 12-25-2009 12:08 PM

I'm sure she can go over the bridling issue. It's just need some time and persistence (not bridling once week, but every day (if possible)).

I'd just mess with her head several times a day EVERY day. Pet her all over - nose, ears, jaw, anything you can. Talk to her, give her carrots when she behaves, etc. Then when she's fine with that start with halter. Slide it all over put it on and off several times, etc. Give her a praise and a treat when it went fairly smooth. Then go to bridle. Etc.

I'm having similar problems now with trimming my horses heads. They started going nuts when I brought the working trimmer close for the first time. I try to do it once every day (not even necessarily the cutting hair, but at least it's working and touching). So it takes forever, but we are getting there. Yes, slowly, but I'd rather spend more time and make them to be OK with it.

Good luck! Frankly as long as horse doesn't rear, buck, bite, kick, or take off all other problems are not nearly as bad IMO. :D

Spirithorse 12-27-2009 03:45 PM

It sounds like all involved would benefit from doing the Parelli 7 Games with her.

Vidaloco 12-27-2009 04:02 PM

You sound so much like my husband and I (he works 3rd shift) :lol:
When we first got into horses, he had never been around them at all. I hadn't had one since I was a teenager. In our 40's we decided to buy a horse. It was a disaster to say the least. The best and I mean BEST thing we ever did was take the horse and my husband to a trainer. He learned, the horse learned. It was a win win for both. That's been several years ago and now in our 50's we have a couple of great horses that we both enjoy. We gained enough knowledge via sites like this and other "DVD trainers" like Clinton Anderson and Pat Parelli, and of course the folks who spent hours and hours helping my husband and his first horse.
Its been a labor of love and a few bumps and bruises but it has brought us closer in our marriage. Its way cheaper than any therapist and tons more fun. Your first mare will get over her fears when you gain the tools to help her. The only way to get those tools is from a professional, either a DVD one or one in person (I recommend the in person kind). You can learn a lot from both. Enjoy your adventure and of course welcome to the horse forum.

I can give a couple of tips.
As far as fear of the plastic bag. Try feeding the horse from it. Once it gets used to eating from it then start rubbing the horse down with it.
As far as head shyness, just work on the pressure and release method.
start working your hand as close as you can to the ear or face. get to the comfort zone than move your hand away. keep doing this till you can get closer and closer. Do this often, the horse will get used to it. Give lots of praise when you get what you want.
Sorry for the book :oops:

Kayty 12-27-2009 04:23 PM

I've had two mares like that, that would flip out when it came to bridle them. One of them had good reason to do so, she had smashed her nose a few years before I had her, and was still head shy. She would run backwards, rear, and go galloping across the yards to avoid a bridle.

To combat this, I used a short, firm riding crop as an extension of my arm. I'd place it behind her ears, and then when she ran backwards or threw her head up, I could still reach and the pressure would not come off her head until she lowered it and let me rub behind her ears with the crop without panic. That exercise was done twice a day, always with the crop in case she threw her head out of arms reach. It took a couple of days but she soon realised that there was no pain being inflicted when she was touched behind the ears. From then, we moved onto rubbing all over the top of her head, her ears, jaw etc. etc. until she was totally comfortable and would allow me to use her my to touch her. In the end she would move her head into you and snore while you rubbed her face!
From that, we progressed onto the bridle. I took the bit and holding the crop again, hung the bridle over my arm and repeated the rubbing exercises until she got comfortable, then I would start to rub with the bridle itself, all over her face. If her head went up, the crop was there straight away to keep a pressure there until she lowered it and relaxed again. It didn't take long until I was able to rub the bridle all over her face, and slip it over her ears.

After she was fine having the bridle slid over her ears and moved around, I started attaching the bit to one side of the bridle so she could feel it there, then just putting it into her mouth and attaching it to the other side so that I didn't have to try and put my whole arm across her head to try and bridle her.

She's not a problem to bridle at all now. Young teenagers can bridle her now without a problem and you can do anything with her head!

Kayty 12-27-2009 04:47 PM

As for getting her respect/confidence, if she is best with you I would be having only you working with her for now until she gets more confident, then start introducing your wife into the equation again.

One part of Parelli that I DO agree with, is the basic foundation of the seven games. Not all of them though. To some extent.
I'd be doing what he calls the 'friendly game'. Spend time with her in the round yard, maybe just sit and read a book etc. Let her get used to you being around her and let her realise that you're not going to jump out at her and try to make her do things every time you approach her.
Once she's comfortable with your presence and will approach you, start stroking her. You want to be able to touch her everywhere without her flinching or moving away. So start in the areas where she is most comfortable, maybe her lower neck and shoulder? Gently rub her in circular motions until you fell he muscle relax, then move across her back, her front legs, under her girth, hind quarters, hind legs, tail etc. Doing both side of her body. Because she is so head shy I would leave her head until last.
Give her a good week or so of doing this, it will make her realise that you're not out to get her, and being near you is actually quite pleasurable.

When she is happy to be around you, start asking her to move away from pressure. Backing up is one that I like to teach first as it is a very usefull aid to have on the ground- it has stopped me getting run over many a time! Stand a little to the side of her and put a couple of fingers against her chest, and push, walking a little towards her. As soon as she takes a step back, take the pressure off and rub her chest. Then ask again. It won't take much to get her backing up on command, and then you will be able to use that to stop her from running you guys over, just walk towards her and prod her!

From backing up, I'd go to walking forward from halter pressure. Put a halter on her (I prefer rope halters for horses like this as they give a more direct pressure on the poll, jaw and nose so that you don't need to use so much force to get a reaction) and standing just in front of her shoulder, put some pressure on the lead rope (pushing to towards her nose, so that the halter pulls a little on her poll/jaw) and she SHOULD move forward from that. If she doesn't, she not sensitive enough. Carry a crop or a dressage whip with you, and if she doesn't go forward from a slight pressure on the halter, tap her behind the shoulder. Be aware that she may jump forward so don't catch her in the face with the halter as any forward reaction is a good reaction to start with, you can fine tune it later.
When she is going backwards and forwards off slight pressure, move onto sideways movement. Basically where ever you touch her body, you want to to yield. So if you touch her jaw, you want her to turn her head, touch her shoulder and she should cross her front legs, touch her girth and she should bend away from the pressure, touch her hind quarters and she should cross her hind legs etc etc.

Yielding the hindquarters is probably the easiest to teach from what I've found so far, so start there if you feel comfortable. Make sure that she is comfortable with your being around her hindquarters by playing "the friendly game' a little there, rubbing her over the hind quarters and stifles until she relaxes with you being back there. Standing to the side of her hind quarters (safest spot is actually close to her hindquarters level with her back leg- much less damage if you get kicked from close quarters if she decides to have a go!), put a little pressure on with your fingers/fist round on the side of her rump ask expect her to move over. If she doesn't move, or leans into you, increase the pressure and if that doesn't work, small jabs will usually stop them being ignoranent and they will move across. Every time you do this, start with the smallest pressure first, and as soon as she steps across, take the pressure off and rub her.
Same goes with other parts of her body.

Essentially, you want to be able to touch her anywhere and move her anywhere. Once she understands this, you will have yourself a horse that is so much safer and more enjoyable to be around, and she will enjoy your company so much more as she will understand her job.
When you reach this point with her, start introducing your wife into the equation, getting her to go through the same process.

I would be doing this work before trying to bridle her and ride. When working with new/timid/green horses it is always best to take things slowly and build there trust step by step. It will make for a longer and more enjoyable relationship ;)

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