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Darla719 12-29-2010 03:29 PM

Am I On Right Track? - Normal?
After watching and reading even more videos about fearful horses, I filled my coat pocket with some pellets and headed down to the barn to see Argy. It seems like we have spent way too much time just standing there looking at each other and neither one of us knowing what to do next. I decided to bring out the DREADED BRUSH! The first time, a few weeks ago, I only showed it to him and he would not come near me for the rest of that day and part of the next. I stood in the barn with him with the brush strap just hanging on my left hand and a treat pellet in the other. It took him about 5 min to even come enough to get the treat and then he snorted and bolted off. I kept standing there and soon he came back for another. We did this for about 20 more min until he would finally just stand there and get treats without running off. Then I slowly moved the brush closer until he eventually would take the treat with the brush right next to it. Finally, we started to play game where he would only get the treat if he TOUCHED the brush with his nose. This took about another 30 minutes until he finally got the concept: "touch brush = get treat". Then I spent another 30 minutes convincing him to let me very quickly and very lightly brush the very tip of his nose. This would award him another treat.

So basically, it took me over an HOUR for him to let me touch the tip of his nose with a brush! Now don't get me wrong, I'm okay with this if this sounds reasonable to everyone here. I just want to know if I'm not being pushy enough. I was very proud that I got him to do that, but just wonder if this is typical of an abused horse and should I do be anything more than this for now?

Thanks :)

Darla & Argy

Alwaysbehind 12-29-2010 03:40 PM

My horse has never been abused and is not really afraid of much of anything. But given the choice, he will walk away from me if I show up in his paddock with brushes.

I am impressed with your patience.

Ray MacDonald 12-29-2010 03:45 PM

Sounds like a great start! The only way to go fast is to go slow. Keep up the good work!

Darla719 12-29-2010 03:46 PM

I wish it was only a matter of him not 'wanting' to be brushed, but unfortunately he is terrified of people and anything someone may have in their hands. I've also been practicing when I'm standing next to him to suddenly raise my arm to either scratch my nose or just scratch the top of my head. He doesn't bolt anymore, but still jumps out of his skin.

Alwaysbehind 12-29-2010 03:50 PM

The point I was trying to make was, some actions can be normal and we as humans like to interpret them to be more than they are.

My mare will jump out of her skin too, if you toss your hands in the air. She is in no way afraid of people. She is just that type of horse.

I have found with the skittish horses you are better off just doing and not cooing your way through things.

mls 12-29-2010 04:00 PM


Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind (Post 868142)

I have found with the skittish horses you are better off just doing and not cooing your way through things.

Yes yes yes yes yes. We have a few horses we bred and raised out of the same stallion. We are finding they all tend to be hyper sensitive to noise and fast motions. Will be wonderful in the pen working cattle but frustrating to train until the light bulb goes on.

Halter the horse. Don't tie him and if he 'has' to back away - let him back a bit. But do not let go. Stand with his nose to your left shoulder, lead in left hand and brush in right hand. Approach his shoulder and brush. Wash, rinse, repeat. Speak softly but firmly. No cuddles, no coos.

I find showing a horse the object of their fear only forces it on them. You can't get mad, you don't know if they are truly upset or trying to work the system. I've had boarders teach their horse to be scared. I walk or ride the horse back and forth and I ignore the object. I am the the leader, the horse will follow what I tell it to do.

Think of the child that falls while learning to walk. You don't rush up and ask if you are ok in a big teary voice. You check them over but encourage them to try again. You cry - they cry.

Darla719 12-29-2010 04:13 PM

Putting a halter on him is an entire career move in itself and will be dealt with later. I need to get him to trust I'm not to beat the crap of him like others did in the past. I've only had him 1 month and he's finally trusting me enough to greet me at the gate and follow me down to the barn. I don't really want to further traumatize him with being too pushy yet. My first and only goal at this point is for him to trust that I'm not going to hurt him. Just not sure how to go about it. I do appreciate everyones input though, so I hope to keep getting suggestions.

I did get a halter on him a few times. He spooked, and then I had to spend quite awhile trying to catch a terrified horse who kept tripping on the lead rope. I thought he was going to pull his own head off.

mls 12-29-2010 04:24 PM

Ok - I am going to be a bit on the harsh side here. Why did you ask if you aren't going to even consider the advice?:shock:

There are actually a few of us who have been there before. More than once even.

Darla719 12-29-2010 04:28 PM

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come across like that. I appreciate all advice that anyone can give. However, I have learned there is more than one approach to take with a horse that has been abused and I would rather not use force and instead would prefer to have him 'want' to be near me and not because he is has no other choice.

Ray MacDonald 12-29-2010 04:30 PM

She didn't say she wasn't, maybe she just thinks that might not work with her horse. We don't know the horse and how it acts. I think she's doing a good job.

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