First time training a filly. Need some help and tips
Last weekend I got a 5 month old filly as a surprise from my grandparents and I am supposed to train her myself. So what Im looking for is what exactly should I be teaching her at this age. We are currently working on halter breaking her with a butt rope and lead, we are practicing the stop and back up with that as well and she is doing really well. She loves to be groomed and from what I have seen (haven't done it myself yet, but will this weekend) she's alright with her feet being handled. I still need to teach her to stand tied and how to load in a trailer by next week cause we'll be moving her closer to home sometime next week. I hope to show her in halter as well when she's ready. So basically any tips would be help full so I can make sure I'm training her right.
We don't start to solid tie until they are a year old. Their poll is much to soft to risk them pulling and hurting themselves.
At this age their attention span and patience is short. Handling is best done in 15-30 minute increments.
I would just say lots of love and attention. Spend as much time as you can with her, and try to make the small things you are doing fun for her. I agree with mls to hold off on the serious serious stuff (like tying) for right now. Leading, getting her on and off the trailer, and working with her feet is fine; but I'd work on the bond and trust first.
At 5 months old you have the perfect opportunity. She most likely has just been weaned so you have the chance to become the boss mare. I agree with above that you need to keep it fun. As far as what to do at this age, ALL ground manners are essential. Stand for the farrier. I do not mean just handling her feet, I mean holding her feet up while you bang on them with milk jugs. Walk over tarps, cover her up with tarps, shake flags all around her not only while standing, but also while leading. Walk over wooden bridges, walk over mattresses, cross ditches while walking, not jumping over ditches, and walk, not jump through water. You said trailer loading so you have that covered.
In short, just about anything that does not cause physical strain on the animal, but everything that affect her attitude.
I work with training horses alot, especially the younger ones. I bought a true black QH stud that was never been touched (i had a hard time trying to catch him) but the best what i would work on, especially since she is VERY young is
-her leading, something you have already covered i think
-handling her feet, dont believe what others have said but get her use to being picked up and if you can have a farrier out to do her feet and get her use to that as well
- now when they are so young i like to work on them getting use to ropes being thrown around because i dont like having a horse spook by accident even if they are young so just lightly toss the lead rope around her butt and back and neck and anywhere possible, also try throwing it in a circle beside you so she doesnt run away if by chance you need to throw the rope around.
- sounds like you also have grooming down packed as well
- touch her ears and every part of her body because she will get use to it much much faster
- try taking an empty syringe and squirting it in her mouth so she gets use to things being injected in her mouth so she isnt a hastle for the vet
MLS is right, you shouldnt start tying her up until shes about a year old but i like to just loosly put the lead around a post and groom her so she does get use to standing, that way if she decides to pull back the rope will just go with her.
I hope ive helped some.
good luck with your training.
No offence but you should probably have someone who has trained horses before to watch you and help when needed.
How to train a horse is not learned for books or the internet. It is learned by working with a professional.
You could really end screwing the horse up. Please for the sake of the horse GET A PROFESSIONAL. If you can't afford that then you shouldn't have the filly. Sorry.
Agree with others on not tying her solid. Even older horses can be badly injured - not to mention mentally - by being tied & fighting it. On that note, I'd get her really good at leading & yielding to soft pressure before starting it. I also use a very long rope - at least 12' - wrapped around a rail, or if you don't have an appropriate horizontal rail, something like the 'Blocker Tie Ring', which will allow you to teach her to 'tie' but also allow her to back up without panic or injury. I always use a tie ring when floating horses too, for safety.
I think about the most important early lessons to teach a horse are about attitude. Build a good, trusting & respectful(on both ends of the lead) relationship with her. Teach her you're good to be around, that you & your tools & games are fun & lead to Good Stuff for her - make it worth her while. I therefore focus on using mostly positive reinforcement (rewards) in teaching.
Remember that horses have an extremely short span of association. That is, they need *instant* reinforcement for behaviours you want to effect. Even 3 seconds from the behaviour is too late generally. Lots of repetition is a key too. As is keeping it simple - isolate the parts of each behaviour you want & don't try to teach too many criteria at once, but get her good at all the 'ingredients' before combining them. Make the 'right' things easy by setting her up to make that response the most likely, to give her more 'practice' at being 'right' & getting reinforced for it.
Don't try to force her into things, but take it at her pace with what she's comfortable with. Trust is a huge & fragile issue with prey animals & 'baby steps' is generally the best. As well as the quickest in the long run IME. If you try to rush things, you generally end up with reactivity and negative attitude towards you, the tools, the 'games' you're teaching, which can be more difficult to get them over.
I personally am big on 'manners' first & foremost, as they're big beasties & are dangerous when they don't understand to stay out of your space, not walk into you, 'mug' you, not to treat you like another horse, for eg. Consistency is a huge part of this, and you need to be aware of what manners you want of her & to be utterly consistent never to allow 'bad' behaviours.
Do you have experienced people around you to help train her? I agree that it's important to have *good* hands on help if you don't know what you're doing, as it's easy to ruin a good thing very quickly with the wrong lessons.
I am sort of in your situation. I have a yearling. Not like I've never had one before but every horse is different. First and foremost, TRUST. As someone said before, dont rush her. It sounds like you are doing what you should except the tying part. I wouldnt tie her right now either. Leading her is giving her the feeling of pressure and as soon as she masters that you could start to tie her but I would use a tie ring as well. Dont let her get away with anything either. Always try to end your sessions in a positive way. Remember, everything you do with her is training her. I dont know much about showing in halter so I will leave that to someone else but I would definetley get her used to alot of different sites and sounds to prepare her for the ring. Consistency is key. I would dig in and do alot of research as you are now. You wouldnt be here asking if you werent researching. I watch dvd's, read books and look on line. Even if it has nothing to do with what you want to do now still will help in the event something happens. I was never trained how to train, never had a professional opinion or pro trainer helping but I learned by myself. You will make mistakes but if you act like its no big deal and try again, you can do it. You can change a mistake by learning and going forward. Horses can be wreaked by bad training but they can also be retrained by good training. Just take your time and have fun with it. If she isnt ready for the ring by next year, OH WELL. Its better to get it right then to rush and get frustrated.
Thanks for all the info. Just to be clear I am working with a professional trainer, there's no way I'd do this completely by myself, I probably could, but I wont especially because shes the first one I'll be training myself and I don't want to screw her up. I just like to do a bit of research myself. She is now pretty well halter broken and was perfectly fine with the trailer and picking up all four feet when asked. I will not be rushing her, if she's not ready she's not ready, it's baby steps, I know that. She and I have a good relationship she trusts me and respects my space.
First of all, the posts above all have good info and I agree with all of them. Anything you teach her, assuming it is not too physically demanding, will be great! But MOST OF ALL teach her to respect your personal space. No kissy faces and hugs. No lips on you period. Watch her shoulders and make sure she is NEVER pushing into you with them. We retrain numerous "Problem Horses" (I use the term loosely) and the most dangerous horses we have worked with were ones hand raised by super "nice" ladies. If you can pay close attension to her respect for your personal space that will be HUGE in the long run. If she creeps up on you, keep your feet still and move hers. You don't need to be mean or aggressive, but you do need to be effective. Later when you try crossing tarps, going on long walks, trailer loading, putting saddle pads on her, etc she will know that even when she is scared she CANNOT come into your space. If they are going to spook (and at some point they will) they ned to already know to spook the other way (away from you).
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