Exercises for bonding - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By mcfarawayland
  • 1 Post By starsunset
  • 1 Post By womack29
  • 1 Post By Skyseternalangel
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-29-2013, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Virginia
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Exercises for bonding

Hey guys,

First off.. I just want to thank you all for helping me get towards where I want to be.. You may or may not remember the thread I posted a little while ago about "getting out there" in the horse world, and since then I really feel like everything is coming together! I took your advice and I'm now volunteering with a horse rescue, where I met these 2 wonderful people and they offered for me to come over and eventually ride this mare that they are boarding.. She has been there for 4 years and been ridden maybe three times by her family. She's talked with the family - basically they just don't care about the horse anymore.

So, she offered for me to come over and love on her, get to know her until I would be able to ride her regularly. She is pretty small, I'm not good with hand measurements but I'm 5'4" and I believe I'm taller than her withers. She is some kind of appaloosa mix, used to be a school horse for a while. I think she's around 16 years. She is also the alpha mare of their group of 8.

Okay.. now that you know the whole background, I can get to my question. I've only been over there 2 times now, for a few hours each time. The second time I took her out into the pen, and I know I immediately need to show that I'm the leader and gain her respect. I was walking her around, making her follow my pace, stop when I stopped without running me over, and grooming her.

What are some other things I can do with her to establish my leadership but by gaining her trust and respect?
I've been making sure she does not rub on me, and didn't let her eat hay on the ground on her terms.
Also, how do I tell her that it's okay for her to eat some hay without her thinking it was her decision?

And while I was walking her around, I was trying to get her to trot and often she was really dragging behind me. How do I get her to the pace I want her at without just pulling and pulling on the lead rope?

They had me feed her while I was there and I plan to be there at least a few times a week.

Here is Freckles. As you can see, her butt is always facing me when I go towards her stall. I don't think it's an active thought on her part to make sure her butt is facing me, she just seems to always be that way. What does this mean? She is not one to kick, bite, etc. so I don't think she is threatening me.

Also, her ears are constantly swiveling back and forth. Is this just a sign that she feels she must be on alert since she doesn't trust me?

THANK YOU to anyone that read all that.. My thoughts are slightly jumbled, lol. I'm still pretty new to the horse world.. I've been riding since May every week. Please do not tell me to just hire a trainer or get someone more experienced.. I am definitely going to ask the owners for some help with things to do but I really wanted to know your guys' thoughts on her behaviors and how to work with her.

ETA: I made it sound like she hasn't barely been ridden in 4 years.. Just want to clarify that the 2 people I met are riding her. I'm not sure how regularly, and plan to check to see if I need to work on building back muscle and getting her back in shape first.
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Last edited by mcfarawayland; 09-29-2013 at 04:38 PM. Reason: clarification
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-29-2013, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
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To answer your questions,
1)I find that working on getting a horse to back up both with light pressure and by shaking the lead is really helpful. As well as doing transitions on the lunge line.
2) Just pick any cue like pointing to the food or even guiding her head to it. Anything will work as long as you're consistent and don't accidentally give her the cue when you don't want her eating.
3) If you ask for a trot and she doesn't move just swing the lead around behind you so it taps her shoulder or get a whip and tap her with that. Either way works so long as you aren't nagging her and you don't stop and look back every time she refuses to trot. Stopping is just giving her permission to stop because in her mind you're admitting she's right and it's better to walk.
4)As to facing the back of her stall, since she's not consciously turning away when you come up, she probably just likes standing that way.
5)Her ears swiveling back and forth could be any number of things or nothing, so you're better off asking her owners or someone else who can see it in person.

Honestly, if she's been a school horse she's probably been handled by a lot of different people and gaining her respect might just require you to act like you're in charge. Considering that and how the only naughty thing you've described her doing is being lazy, you may be obsessing a little too much about gaining her respect. Just try to be calm and spend time with her, maybe focus more on getting to know her and less on controlling every little thing she does.

Hope this helps and I wish you best of luck with Freckles.
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-29-2013, 06:27 PM
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Spending time with her is a great place to start. Sounds like she needs some love
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post #4 of 5 Old 09-29-2013, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Thanks guys!
I'm the type of person that, when I try something new, I feel like I should immediately be doing well/get the result I wanted or else I'm sunk.. and I'm definitely working on that. After hearing your responses, I realize she won't make a "make or break" decision on my leadership and I will be okay with not shoving my leadership down her throat, lol.
I guess I was just worried that, especially being an alpha mare, she wasn't really actively looking for a leader and I felt like I had to show her from the first second that I would be in charge. (Mind you, I've never come at this with a forceful approach)
Thanks for your responses, I will just work on spending lots of time with her and leading her around for the meantime.

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." -Winston Churchill
"Strong legs, soft hands, steady mind." (Unknown)
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-01-2013, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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Originally Posted by mcfarawayland View Post

Also, her ears are constantly swiveling back and forth. Is this just a sign that she feels she must be on alert since she doesn't trust me?
Nope that's just how horses are. They listen to every sound, point their ears in the direction of strange smells.. they're prey/flight animals.
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