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Confidence is low.
For the most part my new horse Riley is just a sweetheart but lately Ive been getting so frustrated with him Im losing my confidence. He started refusing to walk when I lead him. Ive tried giving him a tap on the hind end with the end of the leadrope and saying a firm walk. and tried circles and then going forward. I know its a respect thing and he doesnt see me as the alpha but I dont know what to do. we dont have a round pen by me so I cant do a join up or anything along those lines. I just feel my confidence starting to waiver and I just want to be the best leader for him.
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I know it sounds easier said than done , but the fact that you don't know what to do is evident to Riley. He knows that your resolve is not 100% there.
So, get a whip , a long one like a dressage whip, or just a good long switch off a tree, and when he wont come forward, really reach around and swish it hard through air so it makes a big noise. Or, if that does'tn get his attention, really reach around and whale on him. He'll jump, be prepared, it will mess up your forward but at least he'll break out of the stubborn break.
It is true that you have to show him you're the boss, like that old saying. You might have to get angry. Just dont' be angry and helpless, be angry and forceful. Then , next time when you need to do this , you can do it without being angry, just being a leader.
Good luck. I bet things will take a turn for the better in time, and the weather will warm, days wil get longer. IT's all uphill from here on out!
I don't personally think it's helpful to get hung up on terms & theories like 'respect' and 'alpha' etc. I also don't think you need a round pen or to teach tricks like 'Join Up' are particularly helpful. I go along with SisterMare's principle of making the 'wrong' thing difficult whenever necessary. I would also try to focus more on making the 'right' things easy & Good for the horse too. We all - whatever our species - keep doing what works & quit doing what doesn't.
I would strive to make doing as you ask more positive & at least not a chore, so the horse changes his attitude about doing stuff with you. You could plant a food treat wherever you're leading him to, lead him to a good patch of grass, other horses to talk to, use clicker training, etc.
If/when the horse plants his feet or otherwise does the 'Wrong Thing', whether you have a switch, your end of the rope, a cannon:-P... whatever, make it uncomfortable(doesn't have to be painful or impossible at all) for the horse & persist *until the horse makes a move to do as you ask*. This last bit is very important because if you don't keep at it & let him 'win', he'll learn that to plant his feet & outpersist you is what Works for him. If you continue to keep the pressure on after he's begun to rethink his approach about resisting you, he will decide that doesn't work. So even more important than making the 'wrong thing' difficult is making the 'right thing' positive; easy and preferably rewarded too.
Ditto to Loosie and Tinyliny.
Make "not wanting to walk" very difficult for him. And make leading nicely beside you easy!
There is nothing wrong with one good SMACK on his rump with a whip or whatever you have handy. A lot of people think that is abuse, or cruel, or mean, or however you want to describe it but let's think about what horses do in the wild. When the leader of the herd wants the whole herd to go to the watering hole (for example) and one horse just stands there and doesn't want to, what does the leader do? First he'll pin his ears to warn ... then he might turn his rear toward that horse to warn some more ... but he will not think twice about physically kicking or biting the disobedient member of the herd. He only has to do it once and that horse is moving and doesn't balk the next time because he remembers the one-kick-punishment that wasn't very much fun.
So you can "warn" him first by just raising the whip in the air. Then you can give him another chance by making noise with it or hitting the ground. But if you don't get a response with the warnings, then give him one good smack on the rump. You warned him -- it's his own fault if he decided not to move.
It's okay if he doesn't walk foward perfectly after that (after all, he's probably going to be a bit revved from that). But that's okay! He's moving. And that's what we wanted him to do. Remove all pressure from the whip by keeping it lowered and away from him and allow him to move freely while you walk calming beside him, as if nothing had just happened.
Basically, do not be afraid to get up and be the boss.
And no round pen is required to teach your horse to be responsive, respectful, and to want to do the correct thing. All you have to do is make the "wrong" thing lots of hard work, and make the right choice very pleasurable and desirable.
Thank you guys so much for all the advice when I go out tom Im going to try some of ur ideas. I know I can do it and I know itll get better. Im just frustrated. Its funny he seems to be a bigger jerk when its not just me and him....like he has to show off. weirdo lol
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I've posted this on other threads, but it was such an effective fix for me, I'll say it again: ROPE. I ride dressage, but the barn owners where I board are ropers - oddly enough with a barn full of dressage and evener boarders. When I first got my new mare she would often just plant her feet, and my attempts to untrack her with circles to get her to go forward were fruitless. The owner once told me he threw a rope around her hind end and gave a little tug to put some pressure on the back side of her hind quarters. It was calm, simple, required little effort, and she moved off right away. That little evasion got crossed off her list pretty quickly without ever becoming a battle.
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If your confidence is waivering even a little you can bet your life on it he will know (they just do). I have been leading my lesson horse perfectly fine for a few months and last week my instructor asked me to lead her two year old cob who has had basic training and would say only a handful of rides. When i took the leadrope from her i felt a little apprehensive and guess what he planted his feet! So my instructor said put a little pressure on his rope halter put your hand in the direction your going and put some energy and purpose into your walk (by that i think she meant don't be hesitant and take tentative steps) I did exactly that and he followed on perfectly fine away up the road we went for about half a mile. good luck!
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