joining up when you have company?
What I need to do is fetch my lesson horse out of an rectangular outdoor paddock-turnout with a shed.
I'm a novice rider at a stables where it looks like natural horsemanship (Monty Roberts-style) is in place. That is, when I learned how to deal with my lesson horse's inclination to Play Games in the paddock instead of coming over to get haltered, what my trainer taught me to do bears a great resemblance to a "join-up". I hadn't seen this done before and was thunderstruck when I saw the "drive-away" part going on - but I have to say, it's been working very well for me! Trainer's motto is: make doing the Wrong Thing hard, and the Right Thing easy.
So here's my question: lesson horse has taken, lately, to using paddock buddy as some kind of screen. He'll crowd into paddock buddy's side of the shed (so I am presented with two horse butts, no real room to squeeze in, and - of course- the possibility of getting kicked). Lesson horse is dominant over the paddock buddy, and will actually *usher* PB out into the middle of the paddock and position him where we (lesson horse and I) can do laps around him. This morning, I would be willing to swear, lesson horse was *laughing* at me over paddock buddy's back. (and, honestly, in that same way as any parent with a 3 yo kid knows - lesson horse was being totally hilarious in a thoroughly undesirable way...but it was really all I could do not to stand still and laugh my butt off at what he was doing) :lol:
If I can separate lesson horse from paddock buddy, I can drive him away from me until he chews and licks and puts his head down a bit. But as long as paddock buddy is available, we're playing Ring Around The Other Horse. I'm hesitant to press the lesson horse too hard as I do not want to freak him out or get kicked.
Any ideas about how to handle this situation where the horse I want to halter is using his paddock buddy as a screen? (within the philosophical context of NH, that is...I'd much rather get him to want to stop screwing around and halter up than try to force the issue).
Have you tho't about getting them both moving? Just stay well out of kicking distance.
Or perhaps get buddy out of the paddock first until you can catch your guy, then put him back.
heheheheheh...this morning the paddock was ankle-deep in mud. I didn't feel like rousting out the horses, and the lesson horse doesn't like running or trotting through mud. He hid in his part of the shed. I saw him, the little wretch, sticking his head just far enough out for his eyes to see if I was coming, then he decided WTF, to come out.
I showed him the harness and asked him to stand for harnessing (I figure, I might as well give him a chance to do the right thing up-front, instead of assuming he's going to do the wrong thing). He turned his butt on me, so I walked around and squared up to his head, flashed out the lead line, and drove him away. He gave me all of three paces, then cut back and insinuated himself into his buddy's side of the shed (where his buddy was already hanging out). That's when I got the pair o' horse butts. I walked around to the other side of the shed, and there was lesson horse, peering over the partition at me to see what I was going to do. I gave him a good wave with the harness, etc. and he showed me the whites of his eyes (as did the paddock buddy) and then both of them erupted from the shed in tandem.
I thought "Hey, these guys would actually look great harnessed up together..." :) - so yes, I did get them both moving...but lesson horse made jolly sure that he was on the opposite side of paddock buddy from me. (Honestly, I was almost tempted to just harness up and ride paddock buddy...)
Unfortunately, it's a little bit of a hike from the paddock to the nearest hitching post, so I'm not sure how feasible it would be to get paddock buddy out of the paddock first - this idea DOES have a lot of appeal...it would really cut to the chase! I can just see lesson horse's face when he watches that play out...I'm LOL just thinking about it.
I should probably say: I like this horse, even though he can be a total PITA, because he is teaching me TONS about handling horses both from the ground and from the saddle. But oy. Sometimes I wish he'd just let me put the harness on without an argument, and I wish he'd just stand patiently for grooming without an argument, and I wish he'd just do what I ask him to do under saddle...without an argument.
One possibility is to remove buddy, as said above, and see if this doesn't induce LH (lesson horse) to WANT to come out. he would be left alone, which is scary to a horse.
As for doing what you saw the trainer do, that is what is called, "Walking down a horse". This is how to catch a horse when they wont' want to be caught
When he turned away from you, I owuld not have wasted any time walking around to his head, I would just put the pressure on him NOW! Stand to the side of the shed openning a bit so that they have a way out and shoot out your line at his butt. He'll scramble on out. you start walking after him and if he doesnt' turn and look at you, then put pressure on again. Especially if he goes to graze or such, you intereupt that with a fling of the rope . If he stops or looks back at you over his shoulder, you stop and see if you can't draw him back by turning a bit "off" him (as in join up).
As for Buddy, he will move too, but if you remain very focusses on LH, LH will know that you have his number and he will give up soon enough. YOur focussed intent will span the distance.
I have a question about the shed thing. I didn't really want to walk around to his head, but we have a shed with an opening that is approximately 2 horse butts wide, with 2 horse butts sticking out of it. :) So they're standing head-in, both of them, in a single side of the shed that is basically built for one horse. I thought about zipping the line out at his butt (because I really do not want him *using* the shed for his game, I want him the heck out of the shed, and preferably, at the other end of the pasture).
I was worried that if I zipped the line out at his butt while he was cramming into the shed with his buddy...well, I'm not sure what I thought might happen. Kicking, maybe. Or some kind of horrible rough-housing with the PB. Was afraid someone - me, him, PB - might get injured. (Not trying to sound smart-alecky...I don't really have a ton of experience at this sort of thing, and my trainer is pretty busy with horse camps and stuff right now, so I'm kind of doing my best and getting assistance only when absolutely necessary.)
When I've been using the technique the trainer taught me, I have been trying to make sure that I'm sending him in a direction where there is a clear escape route, and that he doesn't need to back up or turn around to get away. Is this something I do not need to be concerned about? If I zip the line at his butt he will probably back himself out of the shed and move on?
Also - this isn't really clear to me with watching the trainer and learning about this approach online - is it generally OK to actually flick his butt with the line, or should I just be zipping it *near* his butt and making sure not to hit him with it? (Again, not being pissy, just not sure where the generally accepted boundaries are and such...it hasn't arisen before, because usually I can just make a nice flashy gesture with the halter and line and drive him away like that...he's sort of ramping up his Game Playing in concert with my current skills).
Unfortunately, unless you can separate him from his buddy and become a herd with that buddy, keeping the lesson horse out, the join up simply won't work because he has NO desire to BE a part of your herd.
We have a mare that likes to play these games in an 8 acre pasture on a regular basis. If she can take the rest of the herd with her, you basically have to run them all until the others get tired/bored enough to not be interested. Sometimes it takes awhile, but it never fails that the rest of the herd gives up and goes back to grazing, upon which Cinder HAS to be kept OUT of the herd. The herd is used to this, and will usually stand in a group and allow themselves to be circled - you essentially have become the "lead mare" of the herd, driving the "bad" horse out of the herd until s/he learns to behave. We have never not caught Cinder using this method - luckily, the herd almost serves as a help because she's desperate to get back to them and forced to recognize you as leader. If a horse is by himself in a very large pasture, it can be a lot trickier especially if he's used to being by himself.
If the buddy horse will not stand and allow you to circle him and keep the lesson horse "driven out", I would highly suggest removing the buddy horse as you ARE in a position to get hurt if they group together and decide to ignore you, and drive YOU off instead.
Best of luck!
Is the shed three sided? I can totally understand your concerns and you are wise to think about the possibilities. You can try moving them out of the shed from any position which is safe to you. It doesn't matter too much, just that they get very little respite. I thought you had taken the time to walk around to his head because you thought it was necessary to drive them from the head, for some unknown reason. Nah! Just interrupt their enjoyment of the shed from the angle that you deem the safest.
YOu may try stamping your feet or doing other things, like hitting the rope on the ground, anything that irritates them and gets them to thinking about you. If you keep them to thinking on you, they may decide to back out and move on a bit more slowly than snaking the line out to touch their butts.
As for whether to touch them with the line or just get it in the direction, I think I would not "nip: them unless necessary. It's not a matter of punishment, but rather a matter of interrupting them when they "go away" from you, physically or mentally. And by timing the interuption pretty quickly to their ignoring you or blowing you off by turning their butts to you, the message gets across more quickly that what they are doing is not well recieved. However, if you snake the line out at them and they still blow you off, the next one might nip! Just take care you are not , never are, in kicking range.
Another idea, (I am just full of 'em!); Try this whole process with the buddy horse. Get him to come to you , halter him and lead him off a bit and give him some treats and pet him a bit. See if that doesn't make LH curious.
The more you can "draw" a horse to you the better, but sometimes you have to keep disallowing them to find peace elsewhere. Once they learn that it's most peaceful WITH you, then they choose to come.
I love your positive attitude and enjoy hearing about your adventures and lessons.!
It is a 3-sided shed - the back side (the side away from the paddock) is a partition that is maybe 16hh - there's a space between it and the roof, so I could see LH fixing me with his excited, beady little eye and visibly wondering what I was going to do next. I thought "Great. I'm in a battle of wits with a critter whose brain is the size of my fist." :P
Thanks also for the clarification on the rope. The trainer definitely snaked the line out, but I haven't really wanted to (or needed to, not until today) because I wasn't sure about the touch vs. not touch. This advice confirms what I'd been thinking - touch only if nothing else is working. Kind of like putting a heel on the horse only when he isn't listening to the leg, I guess.
Also, the suggestions about paying some nice attention to the PB and making him in my herd (and LH *out* of our herd) sound really good. I think this would really speak to LH, and PB is a super-sweet, mellow guy who showed me this morning that he was totally happy to receive my affection. (Yep, I'm trying to drive off LH, he's shielding himself behind PB, and PB is taking advantage of his position in the thick of things to ask for muzzle rubs and forehead scritchies...it's a good thing the paddock was awash with mud, or I'd have been SERIOUSLY tempted to sit down and have a good laugh over all of it...).
I was having issues catching my horse whose usually turned out with a couple ponies and making him run wasn't safe. So I would go out with a small handful of grain. First few times, I went out with grain and a halter, gave him the treat but didn't try haltering. Then I slipped the leadrope around his neck while he ate the grain and put the halter on after. Did that for quite a bit, then switched it up and sometimes I had grain, sometimes, apple piece, sometimes cookies. I always shared the treats amongst all 3 (ponies are not mine but I had permission to give them whatever treats)
After I had all 3 RUNNING to come see me when I showed up, I would skip having a treat sometimes, or slip the halter on and then give the treat, or put the halter on, take him to the cross ties and then treat him.
No issue whatsoever catching him now. I now have to be very careful as I've got all 3 of them crowding me, the second I show up! For the most part, I've stopped bringing grain but on days that I know catching will be an issue (like the first day in the grass pasture after Winter) I make sure to bring it.
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