Crop Use/Pawing - Good or Bad?
Alright everyone.. this is the dilemma. (And I like the "training opinions differ" thread with "the owner is always right".)
My problem is that while working with my filly, I'm going slow. Details surrounding her from her previous owners are rusty, and she's not quite as "yearling" as I was told.
Cerra is quite intelligent and eager to learn. She ties well, stands well, lifts feet well! And, for a new place.. she's pretty **** well-mannered. The only problem that I am having with her is pawing. While tied in a standing stall, she's quiet. She is catching on fast to voice commands, and because it is her first week, I'm not trying to overwhelm her. I've been doubling the commands up: "Over, over; Back, back; Walk on please. Walk on" with little effort. (Has moved over flush against left wall with just vocal command :))
The stall is an over-sized standing stall, and she likes to pin herself diagonally against the right side when I am working on her left. She is surprisingly sound and hasn't reared/kicked (yet), but as a precaution, to get to her right side, I walk into the second stall and ask. Then tell ("Over, over" push more). Normally, she's pretty good. A few times, she wouldn't respond, so I had my crop and gently tapped after asking/telling.
I also had the crop with me to show that I can "make it scary and I can take it away". Also, during grooming, she pawed. A sharp "No" and firm shoulder smack stopped it right quick (did not use crop for pawing). After the third time? of pawing, she stopped trying. Good girl. :D
Then the Barn Manager calls me out. My friend had just returned her gelding, and I walked out a little reluctant to leave the filly tied alone. She is nervous to be alone (natural, it's a new, scary place) and FLIPPED. She was pawing and leaning and just all around scared. I came back to her, and she calmed down, however, the BM followed me. The BM makes me nervous, and I have a general feeling that she dislikes me. Negative energy emits.
Cerra calms down to a point, but starts throwing her head, pawing and pacing. The BM turns to me: "She's scared. Just let her ride it out and let her be. Pawing is okay. She's fine." -- This is the same woman who wanted me to walk in there and release her mid-freak out. Then she noticed the crop and asked about it. "It's further incentive," I told her. "Ask, tell, demand. And it's not like I'm beating her with it. It's a tap. (ie - "Cerra, over over during push. Over over during push, push. Over over, tap.)" "Well, she's just a baby, and spanking her isn't going to help anything." o.O
The filly didn't rear or kick or anything, she was just nervous. And between her frazzled state and the BM, I was getting nervous. A few deep breaths later, I gently approached her. She was tense as all hell and spooky about what I'm assuming was the BM's presence because she was eyeing her hard. Quickly, I brought her back down, and had focused her on me. She calmed down quite a bit, but still had spook-potential. "Now release the knot," the BM said.
Cerra spooked at the knot before, and so when I began to pull it, it was **** slow. Talking to her, reassuring her, keeping us both calm, and then I finished the knot with a "What are you waiting for? RELEASE HER!" in my ears. IMO, this was the difference between her rearing and not. (It's common sense not to startle a spooky horse... and I could FEEL her uneasiness).
Outside of the barn, she levelled out again, and seemed content to be around me. The BM continued to talk, and I interrupted her, saying that I would like to start walking Cerra (while talking) instead of standing while talking. Upon returning her to the paddock (which she did with confidence), I came back to find the BM had abruptly departed, extremely sour over the exchange.
I, myself, do NOT encourage pawing. It is not acceptable. Also, I think a crop is necessary (without excess), to reinforce "I'm the boss". It doesn't have to hurt, but a light snap won't do much. (And I should not have allowed her to paw at word of the BM. Horses do not see gray areas, they see "black/white", "right/wrong" -- so I may have set myself back. Do I talk to the BM about 'I'll come to you when I'd like your advice?')
Opinion on pawing/crop use? I'd like to know your thoughts.
(Sorry. The human interaction set me right off.)
I can see both sides. Since it sounds like your mare is a little bit more on the sensitive side, I might be inclined to let the pawing slide for the time being and see if it stops.
I used to know a similarly nervous little pony gelding that would paw when he was stressed and tied. If you tried to punish him at all, he'd turn it into a game, He'd watch you and if you were too far away to correct him, he'd paw. But, as soon as you got closer with the intention of correcting him, he'd lift a leg high in the air and paw the air since he knew that was "acceptable". Ponies! haha
But, with that gelding, if you completely ignored it and acted like nothing weird was going on, he gradually figured out that it got him no where and he stopped pawing as much. Another thing that helped was an increase in his confidence level. He was a camp pony so he didn't know anyone and didn't know what was going on, at the beginning of the summer. Once he bonded with me and figured out that he could count on my leadership and that he could just look to me when he got worried, the pawing totally went away in the course of a week or two.
Another one of the horses had a pawing problem as well, but this horse just did it because he had the number of every human ever. We eventually solved that by sneakily throwing gravel right under his belly from a distance when he started pawing. He wasn't very smart about cause and effect like that, so he never connected the gravel with us. He stopped pawing pretty quickly. But, he wasn't nervous at all.
I'm really not a believer in punishment for nervous behaviors. I mean, I'm a pretty nervous person and if someone threatened me every time I got nervous, I'd end up really terrified. But since people are generally pretty friendly with me and they let me go at my own pace, I'm fine. When I have someone else that I can follow, that I trust, I do way better with new things. So I personally would just ignore it until/if it becomes obvious that the pawing is not a nervous thing and that she's just doing it to be a jerk. But, I'd bet that if you give her a bit to settle in and really begin to trust you in everything, I'd bet she'll stop pawing.
Good luck! :) And sorry for the novel! Haha
She's your horse, train her how you want.
If it's working and you're not needlessly and continually scaring or confusing her, you're doing it right.
I agree with Rocky Pony - she is your horse and you are training her, so it is up to you how you go about it, regardless of the Barn Manager's status. She can stick her nose in the air and tell you how to train your horse all she likes, but she is not going to be dealing with this horse - you are.
As long as you aren't beating a horse senseless with a crop, I think using one is fine with the correct technique. I think you way you're using it is perfectly acceptable, and the way you've established "I can make it scary, or I can take it away" is really great!
You might like to politely confront your Barn Manager and yes, tell her that you will come to her if you need advice. As long as you keep your cool and be polite, you should be able to reach a resolution. Just stand your ground - she's your horse!
Well, that's my two cents; good luck! (:
I had a similar situation when BO was telling me what to do and was trying to sell her trainer. What I did was I just smiled, said "I'll think about it", and that was it. Don't pay any attention and don't get nervous about her - just smile and pretend she's not around.
As for pawing, she may get out of it with time as she calms down. Personally I say "quit" and smack my horse's shoulder with my hand if she does it, and it works for me.
There was a good article in the horse.com about this......I will see if I can find it and post the link here.
Here is the link
Annie is an extreme busy body. She paws at the trailer all the time. She atually took our wheel off once and popped the tire. What I did to correct it was as soon as I ehard it happen I would run over to her Skidding my feet on the gravel to make extra noise and tell her sharply "NO" and she would stop. It worked for me the first few times and she hasn't done it since.
Thanks everyone. :)
When I go out today, I'll re-evaluate her attitude, because like alot of you mentioned, it could just be nerves (maybe boredom?). So we'll try leading first and a quick brush later. :)
I appreciate the feedback, and will talk to the BM today (regarding her constant presence being uncomfortable, and that together, the filly and I will find a positive strategy for what works. It will take time and patience, but I have utmost confidence in her. :) Was actually thinking of clicker training.. but I keep forgetting to bring enough treats!) :P
I see nothing wrong with what your doing.
My MFT pawed in the trailer when I first got him. So I worked on that and most of it was insecurity. Well one day I put him in my big trailer to go for a ride. He started pawing while in route. I tried everything I could to get him stop. But nothing lasted. I got home and before I got to the back of the trailer he was pawing violently. I opened the rear door and yelled at him he stopped for a nano sec.. Then he started again. I opened the rear tack and grabbed my dressage whip ( I only use it for bad loaders and as an extension.) When he started pawing again I let those legs have it. When he stopped I stopped. After about 3 times and let me tell ya the wacks got harder as he did. He stopped and he hasn't pawed in the trailer since.. Now I have a torn up white wall under the window that he did. Needless to say it's his stall for hauling anywhere now...
Everyone that owns a horse is a trainer, for good or bad. If your horse is responding by getting better with the techniques you choose to use, stand up for yourself. As long as you are not endangering someone or someone's horse, the BM should keep quiet. I have done a lot of boarding of my horses in the past and it is the people that are hard to deal with. Don't compromise what you do to please someone who may not have a clue what is going on.
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