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trampis 03-28-2010 11:35 PM

new with horses, need tips/advice
I recently purchased a 2 y/o paint mare. She seems good natured, but has been nipping at me often. When I first started feeding her I would pet her and she seemed ok with it. Now she slings her head at me if I get to close and once turned her rear to me as if she was going to attempt kicking. Needless to say, I don't stick around too close when she eats anymore as I know she feels her space is being invaded. She will walk up to me and allow me to pet her face, but eventually nips at me. I have to keep a close eye when walking near her in the pasture, once she began running towards me. I think she was just excited because I had come to feed her. I'm new at owning a horse, and would like to train her myself because I feel we will have as stronger relationship, but I need a lot of tips and advice. I have read much online already, but any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated.


SeWHC 03-29-2010 12:34 AM

Well, the good news is, you can learn. The bad news is, a person new to horses training a 2 year old usually doesn't end well and typically equals a pushy, mean horse that will walk all over their owner.

The only and best advice anyone on here should be giving you is to get a trainer, stat. Find an instructor willing to help you help her. Training horses is very time consuming, they require consistency and many hours to be a safe, reliable riding companion.

It doesn't have to be extremely expensive.... heck I just put an ad on craigslist looking for someone to come out and help me a few times a week riding my mare, because the corporate world is just sucking away my soul for more hours a week than I'd like to admit. I offered to give references and letters of recommendation to whoever works out in the end, and since I'm a trainer myself I extended the offer to aspiring trainers as well. I've gotten like 20 responses and now I just need to wade through the emails and find the right person. Most of them are offering to do it for free for the experience/just some gas money.

Unfortunately the horse world has changed, and people aren't as likely to say something to your face without you asking, but when you ask for help, people tend to flock and offer advice/help.

There is nothing collectively we can really even tell you that will teach you how to train a horse online. Sure, we can give suggestions, but someone that is totally new to horses and trying to train a 2yo is completely in over their heads, and this board could type for days and days and you still would just have a young, green horse sitting in the barn that you probably won't know what to do with, without being shown and taught in person.

Not that I don't doubt your will or your intellect, but while horses seem to be a simple creature, there is nothing relatively simple about them at all. A horse can colic for no reason, hurt themselves for no reason, drop weight for seemingly no reason, spook at absolutely nothing, and eat absolutely ridiculous things that appear out of nowhere. Heck, all of these things can happen all in one day.

Please. For your own sanity, and the sanity of your horse, find someone intelligent, horse smart, and willing to lead you through the ins and outs of horse care, training, and everything in between. You'll regret it down the line when you have a rank horse that you resent, and will take months to fix, rather than just doing it right the first time.

/climbs off of soapbox

Skipsfirstspike 03-29-2010 01:05 AM

Well said, SeWHC.
Please take her advice. I have a friend whose first horse was a yearling MINI filly. She wanted to train her herself. Now she owns an 8 year old bully who refuses to even lead unless she gets a treat first. It is not worth it. The nipping can get dangerous! So much potential for an accident. Please get someone qualified to help you. Best of luck and keep us posted!

ilyTango 03-29-2010 07:44 AM

TAKE SeHWC's ADVICE! GET A TRAINER!!! It's not advisable for a first-time horse owner to be training a 2-year-old. Get a trainer and ask if you could help or watch them work so you can learn.

Otherwise, just as a tiny tip, DON'T move away from HER. When she nips at you, or kicks at you or runs at you, DON'T MOVE. She's doing this to see if she can bully you, and right now she is the dominant horse and knows it. When she nips, smack her nose (be careful about hitting her in the face, though). When she kicks at you and hits you, kick her back and shoo her away. When she runs at you, stand your ground and if she looks like she's going to run right over top of you, chase her away. Pushing you around is what the dominant horse does to lesser herd members. YOU have to be the dominant horse. If she has power over you it can get extremely dangerous, and the longer she knows she can push you around, the more annoying and dangerous she can become.

Vidaloco 03-29-2010 09:45 AM

I posted a great video on "feeding time" awhile back, I'll see if I can find it and post a link back.
With my kids, I feed them in buckets along a fence line so I never even go into their area to feed, just dump and go. I also never mess with them when they eat. When mine were little (that includes the terrible 2's) I kept a whip close at hand for those times they were at liberty and feeling goofy.
Best advice, start doing lots of ground work with them. Make her move her feet a lot. Yield the hind/fore quarters, backing up walking out, that sort of thing.
If you can't afford a regular trainer, look into some of the DVD trainers. Pick one you like and can understand and buy their educational tapes.
Learn all you can and above all else be safe! :-)

Welcome to the forum too by the way ;-)

ETA- heres that video-

hccumminssmoke 03-29-2010 10:24 AM


Originally Posted by Vidaloco (Post 588713)
I posted a great video on "feeding time" awhile back, I'll see if I can find it and post a link back.
With my kids, I feed them in buckets along a fence line so I never even go into their area to feed, just dump and go. I also never mess with them when they eat. When mine where little (that includes the terrible 2's) I kept a whip close at hand for those times they were at liberty and feeling goofy.
Best advice, start doing lots of ground work with them. Make her move her feet a lot. Yield the hind/fore quarters, backing up walking out, that sort of thing.
If you can't afford a regular trainer, look into some of the DVD trainers. Pick on you like and can understand and buy their educational tapes.
Learn all you can and above all else be safe! :-)

Welcome to the forum too by the way ;-)

ETA- heres that video- YouTube- - Dangers at Feed Time

I like that guy, 'this isnt a time for natural horsemanship, all touchy feely'... i like his style...


Little T Ranch 03-29-2010 10:24 AM

First off I agree with getting some support.There are some things you can do while you are searching.The first question I have for you :is are you hand feeding the filly? Lets assume you are. Let me list the reasons why this is a very bad plan. The first thing this brings out is confussion about your space. You are inviting the horse to crowd you . Then you are giving the horse a reward for the behavior. Young horses tend to be mouthy and this adds to the confusion. Sometimes they get a treat sometimes they get a pop in the face . The next is more obvious it encourages the filly to become pushy ,and distracted, mugging you for treats. That will also include pushing at gates and crowding. The next part envolves how horses see. When you are either hand feeding or spending too much time at their face, what happens is you are blocking off 50% of their vision. Think of this ,the next time someone comes up to say hello they put a hand over your eye? What happens is some horse get really angry about this as they should . The nature of a horse is to know where it can go if it needs to move in a hurry. The other type of horse accepts this and is on the path to becoming dull in your presence. A common mistake for first time owners is raising the hore like a dog. The answer to this is to give treats from a bucket,or on the ground. Then spend your bulk of your time visiting behind the shoulder,on both sides. When I have clients that are hard core hand feeders,this is how I ween them off. Givivg the treat from behind the shoulder . If you haven't started ,I hope this will discourage you . Now lets see if we can stack the deck so the feeding issues go better. The place I would start is have her on the opposite side of a fence or panel, as you approach you want her to just back off . The best case would be if your feet are still and you can get her to back up. Set this up as you move forward. Think of it as you are sweeping the area in front of you. Bring up enough life in your body so your approach gets her attention. When she begins to yield to your approach you can introduce some hay. Repeat and when she either backs up ,or at least is not pushing forward ,throw over some hay. Then just let her eat. If she is already too pushy, you might have to use the gate to help her understand. The approach to the gate is the same. Put your hand on it , make sure you are opening it in! The intent here is to open the gate with some enery, and some life. We would like her to back as the gate begins to open. Now in the begining if she gets a tap with the gate that is fine. Again the intent here is not to slam her with the gate . The intent is to have her understand she needs to yield to your approach. This would be the start of her seeing you in control.

Seahorseys 03-29-2010 10:32 AM

I take most opportunities to share my insight on this matter whenever it comes up, because I just went through this very same thing not too long ago. I got a young, untrained horse with a great disposition, willingness to learn, but no manners. While it was true I had horse riding and handling experience, I was in over my head when it came to training and owning. I had some sense to have a trainer come out even before I bought my horse, to watch me and her and see if we'd be a good match. Initially, I was expecting that reading books, watching videos and other people, and going to clinics would be enough, maybe the occasional visit from my trainer. But really, the books, the DVD's, the clinics- its all just supplemental. The true fundamentals come from someone that has been there, done that, and is brave enough to shake you up and teach you how to have what it takes. She told me, you have taken on a huge responsibility that you don't fully understand yet, and if you really want to train this horse yourself, me and her are BOTH going to demand alot out of you. And boy, was she right. The first couple of months, my trainer wasn't really helping me train my horse, the lessons concentrated on me more. My mare knew exactly what I wanted her to do, what I was asking, but she wasn't about to give it up so easily. I'd get so frustrated because my trainer would just waltz in and it looked like she wasn't doing a thing. (Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch my breath and sweating.) After years sizing up threats and evaluating her surroundings, she could read in between the lines and would totally call me out. I almost felt like she was saying "you're not brave enough, you don't really mean it, you are scared of me" She never took full advantage of those things she knew I felt, (though she very well could have) rather she just waited for me to grow and get to the point where I earned enough confidence and ability to have a place in her world, a person to listen to. This is the point in our training path where I relied alot on her disposition, and if she had been a "problem" horse, well, it wouldn't have worked. If you think about it, horses are always looking for someone to rely on, to ensure their self-preservation, whether it be horse or human, and no sensible horse would give that responsibility to someone that sent mixed messages visible to the human eye, nevermind the keen survival-based senses of a horse.

As far as the time, money, and commitment - these are the obstacles I faced, as you will too. You need a good trainer, and established trainer, someone you can trust. I can write or ask my trainer anything, call her up if I encounter something during a session, and she is always available. There's alot of trainers that just want to deal with the horse, but you are looking for someone that is essentially going to apprentice and develop you as a horse trainer, because he/she is responsible for monitoring the partnership that will begin to grow between you and the horse, and neither party will function properly if one is deficient. Good trainers like that aren't found free-of-charge too often. I pay mine 90.00 an hour, and there were many times in the beginning she would come out two times a week. It was worth it though, because alot of good, quality trainers will "spend the time it takes" to accomplish what they had in mind for that particular session.

Also, (I know this is lengthy) you will have to work doubly as hard. This is just the way it is! It's like having a full-time job. I can't get away with only coming up 2-3 a week, or working half-heartedly, because the holes show up in our next training session and I get called out by my trainer. Even though I have gotten better, this habit is ingrained and I still train 4-5x a week. You may not move any quicker either, you'll just be keeping your head above the water. I worked all through the winter too, and although it kept her in shape and benefited her, it was more because I couldn't afford to lose what little skills I acquired. It does build a good relationship, and you get to see the gradual changes, which can be rewarding. I'm sure you'll find, however, that most of those changes will be in yourself. These changes, at least for me, have improved things way beyond the barn, have integrated into my common life, and for the better.

So invest in a trainer. It's kind of like paying a life coach too. lol

Speed Racer 03-29-2010 10:54 AM

Another vote for hiring a professional trainer.

Welcome to the wonderful world of horses, but remember that everything you see in the movies is NOT how these animals really are.

They're big, flight-oriented, prey animals who will hurt you even if they don't mean to.

First of all, a 2 y/o is still a baby. You can put her under saddle at that age, but you shouldn't be riding her consistently until she's at least 3 y/o. I think 4 y/o is better, but everyone has their own timetable.

This whole 'learning together' stuff is nothing but starry-eyed idealism. The reality is that you'll probably get badly hurt and the horse will turn out to be an illmannered pig, if you don't bring in a professional to help you.

Good luck. Owning horses is extremely rewarding, but even after 32 years of horse ownership I'm far from knowing everything! Any real horse person will tell you the same thing; you're constantly learning.

SeWHC 03-29-2010 11:08 AM

Speed racer is spot on. I learn something new and interesting every day! One day I hope to know a large amount about as many disciplines as I can. The terms, the movements, the standards, all of it.

I also agree on the learning together thing. Going down that road will brung much frustration, tears, and probably some pain. You can minimize this with pro help, but still you will have one heck of a time doing it. It will also take much longer to do so. But, with the right help it will be either very rewarding, or you'll end up selling her. Either way, that's okay. Not every horse is a good match for every person, beginner or not.

So, if you are willing to go through all of this, do it.

Also-- the stronger bond thing is unrealistic, you can find bonds with 27 year old horses that are as strong as any other. It isn't about who trains them.
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