gaining a horses trust
At the farm I board at. There is a mare that will b 11 this summeR. She is wild as can be. What would be some tips for gradually gaining her trust. Even just so I can get up to her and brush her
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I would say first try to become part of her usual world, you know, try to be seen and heard by her but not too near, just be something usual for her, so that she finally thinks you are harmless. How do you say that, you know, desensitizing her to your presence?
Once she does not mind your being close to her, talking, moving around, there will be some good thing done I think.
I knew a mare, who had been left alone in a pasture for years and had a laminitis (? fourbure in French), she was in deep pain and her owners didn't know anything about horses and did crazy things with her... I ended up trying to help her 'cuz she became dangerous... My approach was: as long as she looked defiant, I didn't try to get closer. When she looked a bit calmer, I just stretched one hand forward, pretending I was stroking her but not touching you know? It looked quite ridiculous I know, because I also kept murmuring some soothing lullaby to help her relax, and moving my hand as if to stroke her but at one yard distance, etc. It took me a long time... Because whenever she took a nervous, angry or frightened posture, I stepped back, really trying to tell her "hey calm down, I'm not invading you, you just decide, if you accept me, I come nearer, otherwise I'll just be waiting here for you to be ready. Just calm down, breathe...". She gradually understood I would not kick her or force her into any unpleasant thing, and as I was always moving my hands calmly around her and nothing happened to her, she gradually allowed me to draw nearer... Till I could touch her shoulder, really slghtly and briefly. She started all the same so I immediately drew back a little, let her relax, and so on.
It's long, it seemes ridiculous, but she was really in pain, and afraid, so I thought I had no chance to get to her by "force" or "speed", and I just tried to show her I was not a monster. By doing this several times, I finally could take her feet and touch her legs to try and see where the pain came from. That's just an example.
I still don't have the words to describe the postures but I guess you can see whether a horse is relaxed and tolerant or nervous and ready to kick you out!
The way Stephnello described her process is in line with what I will do with a difficult horse. When I take in a horse that is a problem to catch or approach, I keep the horse in my paddock for a few days and just be a presence in there with her but ignore her. All I want to do at this point is to be the one who comes to fed her.
My next step is to get a book, a chair, and some carrots then sit in the paddock with her. Sooner or latter, she'll come over - it may take an hour or all day but they usually do come over. This is the critical part ... I'll offer a carrot but not make eye contact or even try to touch her. The idea being that it is her choice to come over.
If the horse is not so much a problem, I'll still work with her in the paddock but I'll only approach her on a 45 degree angle to her front shoulder and, again, not make eye contact. I may have to follow her around the paddock for a while (which it's better to have a smaller area then a pasture) but sooner or latter she will allow me to approach and touch. I'll then retreat and leave her alone for a bit then do it again.
Once last thing is that I will always have a halter and lead over my shoulder so that she comes to think of it as an extension of me and not a signal that she is going to caught and worked.
Once I have her confidence that I'm not a threat to her, I'll use the lead to rub all over her. I may or may not put the halter on her but if I do, I'll only lead her for a few steps then take it off. Eventually, I'll lead her to the barn and groom her then turn her out. The whole point is that she comes to realize that my presence is not a threat but rather something of a treat.
I love the last sentence!
I like to say that I want to be some kind of living carrot for my horse, you know, something he expect with joy.
I deal with a horse a bit like this as well, my only suggestion is to put a handful of food on the ground, put it down and back away, get closer every time you go to see her and eventually she'll equate that you = tasty stuff and will approach you in her own time. When she does, slowly offer her treats from your hand, give her time to get to know you and introduce her to things like brushes slowly. If she doesn't like them in your hand, put food on the floor and the brush next to or in the food.
You can adapt this as to her personal problems but the overall thing is that horses trust those that feed them and don't hurt them, good luck!
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