Gaining trust with an abused horse
A friend rescued a 15 year old QH from slaughter in November. She was on a rodeo ranch most of her life and is exceptionally well trained in western gaming, reining, and cutting. She's also about to have a new foal any day now.
Eventually she started to hate the life she was living on the ranch and bucked every time someone got on, so she was sold a couple of times and wound up in rough stock for a rodeo. When she didn't buck well enough she went to auction. This entire time she was pregnant with the foal she's due to give birth to any day.
This mare has real control issues and responds very badly to telling her what to do. She is very difficult to catch and she will aim to kick as much as possible. She's extremely headshy so she wears a halter in the paddock 24/7. She was ridden once after rescue and flies around barrels and through spins as though terrified for her life. She leads and ties calmly as long as you can catch her.
For the past week I've been working with this mare every morning, sometimes twice a day. I never approach her and always let her come to me. She let me halter her very calmly on the second day when she was in a stall, after 40 minutes of just hanging out and talking to her. Since then I've been teaching her to touch my hand with her nose when I stretch my arm out to the side and giving her half a baby carrot. 2 days ago I added the condition that I had to be holding her halter before she got her treat, which went well. Yesterday I started walking a few steps with my hand on the halter before giving her the treat.
She has become very friendly with me and I can even now pet her head and neck, which is unusual for her. She nickers when I arrive at her pen, and tonight since I have lots of time I'm planning to remove her halter and then have her come to me to let me put it back on.
Any thoughts on next steps? This girl is afraid of everything - a walk up the drive is scary for her. She's also occasionally grouchy with the foal on the way, but I want to make sure she trusts me before she has that foal. Once I've taught her to come and be haltered, what should I work on? Would just walking her around the driveway be an okay way to reduce her nervousness?
Any advice is welcome, thank you!
It sounds like you are taking things nice and slow with her. that is good. before you take her to a "stressfull' place, she needs to look to you for leadership. Once you get her to where you can touch her all over with out her objecting, then I would move to the next step. Mearly having her trust you is great,but If you can get her to respect you and trust you then that's the best.. then you can start putting her in "stresful" situations and helping her deal with it.... Once you can touch her all over, I'd teach her(maybe reteach her is the better phrase) that she needs to respect your space, backup when you say, move her hingquarter, and forequarters when you say. ect.. Hope this helps! and Good luck with her.
Thanks for the advice. I think you're right, I'll work on having her let me touch her. Currently nobody can touch most of her without risk of being kicked. She can be brushed for a few minutes but only on her back and belly, not legs. She has been seeing the farrier and it's an ordeal, from what I've heard, because nobody has taken the time to do it carefully.
Good point also on the respect vs. trust. Lots to think about, thank you!
your welcome, if you have any questions feel free to pm me.
If she is a kicker I would use a driving whip. Move it up and down her leg so that she gets used to it. If she does kick out she is kicking the whip not your head. Then once she accepts the hip touching her leg slowly introduce your hand to her and start at the top and move down little by little.
If she is a biter and she tries to bite you make her move fast. Make the right things easy and the bad things hard for her. If she starts to bite make her move in a circle around you. Stay after her for a bit and then go back to what you were doing with her first. If she tries again make her move her feet some more.
Spend lots of time with her without asking anything of her or putting any pressure on her :-) Loads of grooming and scratching is good, sit in her stable while you feed her or sit and read a book in her field.
if you have a round pin us it. with a lunge line simple asking her to walk and trot in a circle stopping and turning when you ask will build trust and respect. do not do it with out lunge line you want to keep it controled and slow. Just getting her to know that you are the head of the heard.
Sounds like you are doing a great job.
If I were you, my next steps would be walking her around her stall (assuming it is big enough) or doing the things you are doing with her now, but out in the pasture. Then walking her around the inside edge of the pasture. From there I would walk her around the outside edge of the pasture, and progress from there.
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