My horse is invading my space; I love his curiousity but need him to BACK OFF!
I'm new to the forum, and fairly new to horse ownership; utterly green when it comes to training!
My four-year old blue roan paint gelding, Takah, is a sweetheart.
Last summer we put about 10 rides on him after this woman who turned out to be an utter nightmare "trained" him.
He is very even-tempered and easy to work with. He and I had established a positive relationship and our mutual confidence suffered some bruising - literal and metaphorical - after she pushed us both too hard and too fast.
When I finally grew enough brain to run her off the ranch, Takah ran every time you showed up with a rope or a halter in your hand. I backed him right off last fall and just worked on our trust again. Now he comes when I call and is my buddy in the field again, following me around when he gets the chance.
I am 7 months pregnant so am not riding this spring. Takah has been bale grazing with the four other horses on our place, and since we're not moving to the ranch until late summer, I don't get to see him as often as I like, although I cherish the half hour or forty minutes we get five times a week, at least.
He is booked to learn again with a natural horsemanship trainer at the end of June; treeless saddles and halters, etc. I think because of his nature he will adapt very well to this style of training, and after getting both of us burned so bad last summer I really looked into the trainer this time!
He is fine to halter once again, although it takes a little more work than I like because the horses are still on winter pasture and bales after half my corral system gave into flooding. We're rebuilding as soon as the frost goes, but I don't have a pen at the moment and my two-year old is a jealous snot always causing trouble . . . but that's a different story!
My problem is that Takah has gotton too friendly. He has insatiable curiousity and notices everything; if I have cargo pants on instead of jeans, he checks out the pockets. He picks at buttons and pulls on zipper tabs, tries to look in my pockets, and to see if my hat will come off. He inspects my boots, whatever I have in my hands, whatever I brought with me . . . he knows to 'back' and I've been reinforcing that with him when he starts his inspection, but I want him to simply back off. I have lots of little kids (this is number five and my eldest is only seven) and he worries me. I made the mistake of giving him treats from my hand but stopped that; only from the bucket! How can I get him to wait to be invited into my space - or anybody's space! - without punishing him for his curiousity, which is really quite useful when teaching him something or getting him to try something new?
I really appreciate any advice you can offer.
Thanks, and happy spring!
Hmmm well although you want your horse to keep his curiose nature you need to establish clear boundaries with him. Horses look for a leader in you and if you let then invade your space you give up that role In a sense. I suggest you just stand tall and give him a lil bop if he gets too close not in a sudden way as to startle him just establish a space boundary in your mind and maintain it if your horse knows his boundaries he'll be alot happier mentally knowing what to expect of you as his leader. Hope that's helpful!
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Maybe just use your hand to push on his neck or shoulder to lead him into a new direction so he isn't so close. It's worked for me before, especially while feeding when I worked on a ranch.
teach him how to backup from something like shaking his leadrope at him.
This is my experience and this is what I am getting from your post. So correct me if I'm wrong.
This horse had a rough start and it sounds like you enjoy a natural horsemanship type training. Whatever happened with the trainer obviously frustrated and made your horse not trust people very well or he became quite disrespectful in the process. The disrespect is carrying over to you and because of what he went through and how he reacted to you coming in to catch him (running away) you feel it necessary to be walking lightly so as not to have him do that again. So you unintentionally invited him into your space to help him trust that being with you was ok.
Now, that being said, you need to back up and prove your leadership with him. Put a rope halter on and lead whenever you are just spending time with him. Any time he gets to close,, back him quickly. Firmly and gentle. Be consistent and even a foot forward warrants a immediate backing. Just establishing your leadership to him will stop him from getting too close when you don't want him to.
If he pins his ears back or pushes into you he is challenging you and you need to add more pressure. Watch his body language. He will be watching yours and he will also feel your emotions ( scared, nervous, excited etc..). So make sure you stay calm but **** if he should try anything get on him and back him. If this makes sense to you let me know. Or if it doesn't let me know.
Have you watched horses in a group? You will see the body language. Taking the end of the lead rope to pop him or even a crop is nothing when you see what they do to each other in a herd. Now, for your hesitation because you don't want him to think your being mean,, again, in a herd, the leader is a cherished thing to lower totem horses! They will follow him where ever. Why? They trust him. This is what you will get from your horse.
He will react like your beating the crap out of him, but this is where he will begin to respect your space. When you do your respect training always end with inviting him in and letting him rest right next to you. But remember, if he is getting too close, back him immediately! Good luck and god I hope I made sense.
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I have the same problem with my new guy.
I recently had a trainer come out and show me some new techniques. Although mine were working (kinda) with my horse, he was still not getting what I wanted from him. My horse has a past of both abuse and being spoiled. It is quite challenging to find a balance between respect and understanding that we wont hurt them.
The trainer that came out to help me was an angel! He has adapted a few techniques from parelli and a few other natural horsemanship trainers.
Anyways, he told me to "get big." Basically wave your arms, stamp your feet, shake a lead rope, but dont face the horse or go at his head. Just stand wherever you are and start shaking or flapping your arms or stomping your feet. This way you are communicating to back off without being aggressive. Eventually he will back off. When he does, you can pet and reassure him.
I especially really liked this technique because like I said, my horse is very nippy but also very headshy, it taught him to give me my space without freaking him out.
Hope that helps. :)
My gelding is a bit like you're describing, he likes to sniff and lick me and my clothes. I usually let him do it but when I don't want him in my space I tell him so. I usually use a "move off" hand motion with a ssssit noise or a GIT, if he won't move or continues "invading" I'll give him a little smack/push on the shoulder or maybe "invade" his space. I rarely do the "get big" but then again I don't usually need to.
As for worrying about the kids... I wouldn't let the kids in there by themselves. Ever. My 6 yr old neice is never ever aloud into the paddocks or pasture without an adult and she is supposed to stand right next to me the entire time. Even if you train your horse to stay out of everyone's space without an invitation they are children and do all sorts of stupid things around horses. Even my 10 yr old neice isn't aloud around the horses without supervision. Too much room for error.
Always carry a stick or whip at least 4' long. When you stretch out your arm, that is your boundary. Do not let him in. As he's approaching just hold your whip in front of you and slowly wave it back and forth. That usually stops a horse as he doesn't want to get popped on the face. Hold your other hand up like a stop sign and tell him whoa. Then back him up a step. He will come forward but just repeat. You may have to do this 10 or 20 times but bear with it, he will get more respectful. When he stands you can go in his space, he's not to come in yours so keep the whip with you whenever you go in the pasture. Even respectful horses can lose respect if they get to squabbling amongst themselve. You need to have the upper hand.
You don't need to carry a whip, your horse is just very familiar with you.
Here's my advice...take it or leave it. Take him for walks. If he gets up in your space, shake the lead rope. If he doesn't respond, shake it harder and then HARD.....until he responds, meaning, turn around and get up in his face. REMEMBER....RELEASE the millisecond he stops, and walk away. Repeat. You need to UP the energy with a horse that is curious and high energy....horses kick the FIRE out of eachother and think nothing of it. Start with low energy, but if you have a pushy horse, the energy needs to amp up faster than with a sensitive horse. Try to think about how horses approach eachother in the pasture. You also need to be with your horse regularly.
A couple of years ago my husband acquired a foxhunting horse who was accustomed to having a saddle thrown on her, a bit shoved in her mouth, and to take off through the woods. My husband loved her immediately for her heart and her work ethic, and we made her his trail horse. She is wonderful....but it took us a year to get her to allow us to touch her head, stop running over us, being tied, etc. She now has great manners, just because she has been given the opportunity to see it can be done.
No matter what anyone says, don't be afraid to tie your horse up....for hours.....
MAKE your horse do what you ask him to........horses are bred to work and are healthier and happier when their brains are working.
Get aggressive with the lead rope when your horse gets in your space.....but learn to let off IMMEDIATELY when they back off. Do not forget this concept. It is the cornerstone of your groundwork.
Anyways, get the horse to understand that it is not okay to be in your space. When done correctly, he won't be afraid, he'll get the idea. Get your horse on your side, respectfully, and he will run through hell for you :)
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