11 month boistrous colt, 6 weeks gelded but still a massive handful-any suggestions?!
I'm a new user to this site, but I am desperate for some non-judgemental advice and this seemed like the perfect place to look.
I have an 11 month old irish sports cross gelding, currently standing at 14hh to make 16hh. I have had him since he was about 5 months old. He was seperated from his mother at 2 months before I began looking for a foal due to sale by dealers. He has been a delight to own and generally well behaved - rugs up, led fairly quietly, picks up feet without too much complaint.
However, recently I have been having several problems. About two weeks before I had him gelded on 22/3/11, he seemed to become quite highly-strung. I suspected this was due to hormones and promptly had him gelded. However, nearly 2 months down the line our problems seem to be getting worse. When I had him he used to come to call in the field quite happily, whinnying when he heard me call and come cantering over, polite as anything. Now he acts like he hasnt even heard me. This on its own isnt any cause of concern, but he has started biting. Not nibbling or playfighting, proper biting. He can be a nightmare to lead, jumping about on his toes and not listening to anything i ask. He just seems to lack any respect for me whatsoever. I have a suspicious this may be because he so desensitized to people that he just treats me like one of his playmates, but I cant seem to make an impression on him to break the habit! I've got into the habit of strongly backing him up whenever he does anything I dont approve of, such as biting or charging forward, as I was always told that forcing a youngster to lose footing is a sign of dominance. But it seems to be having less and less effect. He's not on any kind of feed and lives out 24/7 in an all-geldings paddock (about 7 acres with roughly 20 other geldings). I have expressed a desire to maybe put him with a mature mare to teach him some manners for a few months, but I have been scorned for over-fussing him and making 'a mountain out of a molehill'. However, Im terrified that if I dont deal with his behaviour now I'll have serious problems in the future which, if too great, will mean I will be forced to sell. Even the thought of this breaks my heart, so any help or advice is greatly greatly appreciated please!!
you need to make him respect you as the leader and to train him. its not that he is used to humans its that he does not see you as the leader and doesn't feel that he should do what you want. you need to do ground work, not let him crowd your space, do not tolerate biting, give him a good old wack if he tries and make sure you do if he does succeed, dont hand feed him and don't baby him. ive had to deal with a stallion like this and its a huge problem you need to train him. there are tons of threads on here with how to solve this issue
How would you recommend doing some ground work with him? How much and what sort? I'm quite keen to try some join up with him but I don't know yet if he's too young. Also, would it be a good idea to move him somewhere quieter until tra grown up a but, it will the all-geldings herd do him any good?
I'm terrified I'm going to alter his personality by handling the situation in the wrong way. He was so well natured before - will he grow out of it?
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hes young, gelded or not his body is still going through alot of change so i would not think this is typical with a horse of this age.
as far as work you can teach him ground manners, things like dealing with the halter, leading, not to crowd your space, good grooming behavior, picking up his feet, loading and unloading, clipping and such. you can also work with, if he has come along enough with ground work, using a bareback pad and cinch on him. this will get him used to having something on his back and around his belly with out the risk of weight that can damage young horses. i would also talk to your vet and see what they have to say about his development and how much work you can put him through. the biggest thing that you need to be worried about is that if he does get to close to push him back and to not let him do this. only let yourself get in his space, dont let him come into yours. and never back down, this can be one of the hardest things to do because your 1st reaction so an aggressive horse coming at you is to back up, but doing this will reinforce the behavior. now im not saying that you shouldn't step aside if your about to get hit by a horse, but don't run away.
have you thought about hiring a trainer? or do you know someone who is more knowledgeable with horses that can help you out? also there are alot of dvds about horse training out there, while they aren't always the best and wont give you experience they will give you an idea of what to do and how to do it and you can go from there :)
If he bites bop him hard on the nose and make a loud NO everytime he even looks like he is going to bite correct him beofre it happens you have to be consistent in this he must learn now before he grows to a biting 16hh horse!
For not respecting your space lead him with a lunge line anytime he crowds you get him working move those feet backwards sideways until you have his full attention. If he does it again send him out on the lunge and make him work if he goes to stop make him do several more circles unitll you ask him you must be the boss.
Do not let him get bored either expose him to everything keep his mind active a bored horse is dangerous!
I am curious as to why he was weaned so young i personally dont wean unitll 6 and a half 7 months depending on the mother.
best of luck wiht him
this isn't something that hes going to grow out of, this is something that needs to be trained out because this is a horse being a horse, and this horse does not think you are alpha and will continue to do what ever he so wishes to do. i don't think that moving him from the other geldings will have any affect on his behavior, it may make it worst because they are heard animals, you do need to work with taking him out and walking him to areas that he can not see the heard so that he does not become heard bound, i would do this every time you are there and give him lots of praise so that he knows that leaving the herd can be a good thing, but make sure you NEVER go back to the herd when hes being a butt head and trying to get back there because this will teach him that if he puts up a fit that he will get his way. when he tries to dance around give one hard pop on the halter give him a strong no and walk him in a circle around you, kind of like lounging him, if he doesn't calm down pop him again and tell him no, AS SOON AS HE STOPS praise him tell him hes a good boy and pet him. do this every single time he starts to dance around, if you can get it to just a pop and a praise good, the circle isn't needed every time unless he does not stop. also don't always call him to catch him, if he thinks he has to work hes less likely to come. call him and give him a treat and let him go back (assuming he was well behaved, if he showed any aggression don't give him food simply tell him hes a good boy once he stops and behaves and then send him on his way). do fun things when you call him over, a long itch or a grooming season. this way he doesn't know that if your calling him what it means, it could be training, food, petting, grooming, a bath, he doesn't know so he will be more interested in coming than if lets say every time you called him over you lounged him.
thanks for the tips, :)
maggistar, he was weaned at 2 months due to breeder going into liquidation i think and had to sell all her horses on. Originally I think the mother and foal were advertised together but the woman I bought him off had taken an interest in just my foal, as they had the same stud. I then bought him from her as a 4 and a half month old. Definitely not ideal - I had been told that the mother had died from colic, but amazingly we found old photos from the original advert online!
in terms of lunging, is he not too young to do this kind of work with? since he is barely 11 months I would have thought that lunging at such a young age is detrimental further down the line?
I'm also concerned about making him head-shy - i know alot of people recommed a good knock on the end of the nose for a biting youngster, but when i initially tried this approach he then objected to me putting a headcollar on for almost a week - I dont know whether I'm making things worse! I tend to keep my hands out of reach, and hes normally very good and walks quietly (today, for instance) but then sometimes when he gets over excitable and frustrated (such as yesterday) he springs up and nips. Almost everyone I've spoken to just reckons its normal coltish behaviour and he'll grow out of it. Is this the case? And how do I deal with it if thats all its likely to be? (i dont want to punish him if its normal!)
Lunging him for long periods of time regularly is bad as it puts excess strain on there legs however you are only doing it when he gets pushy and only to move his feet and occupy his mond so prob les then 5mins. That is all it ook our colt to want to give up!
If you find him getting headshy i would then tend to go down the road where i turn it into a huge deal IE a big NO ad make noise. Also everytime he goes to make a move clap your hands or stamp your feet anything to distract him from going to bite.
Alot of it can be due to age however you do want respect out of him as it will be horrific when he gets older and doesnt respect your space,
with the head shyness id try rubbing his head and face to get him used to it and to realize that this isnt a bad thing (not sure if this is the right way to go about it, it was what i was trained to do if im wrong please correct me!) scratch him and rub him, this way he learns that touching his head isnt a bad thing. when you rub and scratch him generally this will feel good so if you pop the halter when hes miss behaving this should not affect if you can reach his head or not, or so ive been told
thanks, I think I'll definitely try the lunging then! :)
also, I've heard from several places that a water pistol works wonders for fiesty youngsters - short quick shock when they advance for a nip - would this maybe be worth trying too?
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