Help with halter breaking
Tuff, my rejected foal, is almost 8 weeks old. I am working on halter breaking and need some advice. I have spent a lot of time reading and researching methods online, and have been working with him each day. I found an article on the AQHA website that I have been following. My plan so far has been to take the halter off and on (he always tries to bite it), then move on to attaching the lead rope and let him drag it around the stall, and then begin to pull on the lead rope from the side, releasing pressure when he moves in my direction. All of that has gone fine, but now that I am trying to lead him, he is really misbehaving.
As I stand at his shoulder and attempt to lead him using a rump rope, he tries his hardest to nip me, and then he'll attempt to rear or buck. I use the crop to smack him on his chest and tell him no, but I can't see that he is getting the message. Is this colt behavior, a result of being a bottle fed baby, or both? Whatever the reason, what do I need to do? I have been giving these lessons in a 12x20 stall - should I take him out? He gets turnout each day, so I don't think it's too much pent up energy.
At his age his attention span is very limited. 10-15 minute sessions 2-3 times a day is good. How is he getting from the stall to turnout?
If you are doing the butt rope method make sure that he is used to the rope all over his body before pulling on him. Just like you rub the halter all over and on his face before putting it on him (I hope). Then if you are doing the drag method, thus far his only experience with a lead rope has been "step on it, get my face pulled, scary!" I personally don't like or use this method. Rub the rope allllll over his body so that he is used to feeling it around him. Once he stands still for that, then work on leading with the butt rope method. If he still rears or pulls/walks backwards go with him until he stops (SAFELY, don't get struck if he rears) and reward any of the slightest attempt to move forward (EI- drop the butt rope, pet his neck, tell him he's good) Then do it again.
The method that I use on babies and big horses goes like this:
1. Get them used to halter and lead rope (as stated above, rub all over body until it isn't scary anymore)
2. Attach lead rope and stand in front to one side about 5ft or so and pull toward you. If the horse moves, go with it when it's standing still again stand to side and pull again. Do this on both sides to teach them to give to side pressure.
3. Once the horse stands still and will turn only its head toward you when you pull, Teach the horse to disengage hindquarters. (on a baby this is more like moving around you until they face you as they lack coordination enough to cross back legs) Teach both directions.
4. After they have learned to disengage to both sides, get them moving in a disengaging circle then take a few steps backward and see if the horse will take just one (more is great) step toward you. Teach both sides.
5.When you can get just one or two steps forward (after disengaging both directions) start to disengage but walk backwards a few step. Both sides. Eventually the horse figures out, with very little pressure and little if any pulling, to follow you.
With some horses the whole process takes a day or two. Some take a week or two. Depends on the horse, as always. Just ALWAYS remember to reward the slightest try by releasing the pressure. A training key is to quit after the first few GOOD tries, then leave the horse alone in the stall, or round pen, etc..., to "think" and repeat the lesson again later (morning, evening).
I have been saying NO, but QUIT is a better word - thanks! As for turnout, his stall opens to a paddock where he spends the main part of the day with his companion mare, and also connects to a larger pasture where he is turned out for about five hours each evening. His stall door is left open ( a bar keeps the mare from getting in) and he goes in for naps (probably a security thing) and feedings.
Heartprints62, I have rubbed him all over with the lead rope. He does move in the direction of side pressure - it's just trying to get him to move forward that isn't working. I think you and MLS hit the nail on the head when you said he is SPOILED. Come to think of it, the mare he has for a companion may be too lenient with him - I noticed today part of her mane is shorter where he as pulled it out. Maybe he needs to go back in with the gelding that was his first companion, as he was more of a disciplinarian, but me, worried about Tuff getting hurt, pulled the gelding for the mare. I think Tuff is needing more discipline than this mare is giving him, now that he is older and his nipping behavior is worse.
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