Helping a Head Shy Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 03-07-2020, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Helping a Head Shy Horse

Last week, my mom accidentally shocked my horse on the nose. She had those stupid fluffy gloves on and was still charged when she went to rub his nose. He is becoming, understandably, head shy.

I definitely thought it wasn't as big a deal as it was, but my mom now terrifies him. He won't let her groom him, which used to be something he loved. Almost nailed me today when she lowered a cross tie while I was cleaning his feet.

It's the worst with her, but he's becoming hesitant to let me touch his nose (I can still easily bridle, halter and scratch the rest of his face) How can I fix this? Before it gets worse?

This whole horse girl phase wasn't supposed to last this long... oh well.
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-07-2020, 10:00 PM
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No more fluffy gloves, for starters. Nothing that could shock him and reinforce his fear.

Start with gentle, patient persistence. Handle him with your mom just close enough to make him just slightly nervous but not fearful. Once he's comfortable, have her stand a little bit closer. Rinse and repeat until he's okay with her standing right next to him again. THEN have her touch him again.

In the meantime, as you handle him, run your hand closer to where he has trouble with your touch until he gets nervous, then move it away before he can move away himself. That way you reward him for standing still by removing the pressure, AND he learns it's not so scary after all.
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post #3 of 4 Old 03-08-2020, 05:12 AM
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I would go the opposite! Fluffy gloves would be put in his feed bowl - you want to eat then go past the fluffies.

I would also not allow silly behaviour and had he reacted as he did then I would have given him a hard poke in the robs to let him know that he is being utterly idiotic.

Horses do get startled/ frightened about something we would take no notice of and if allowed they will make it into something a lot bigger than it really is.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-08-2020, 10:29 AM
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Rather than trying to touch him on the nose, I'd offer my hand and let his natural curiosity cause him to touch me with his nose. When he did, I'd briefly and nonchalantly rub where I could touch without moving my hand,just maybe wiggle a finger to rub with. Then slowly build from there, and sometimes offer a cookie for motivation. I think pretty soon he will regain his trust and allow you to rub his nose. Horses are very forgiving.

For the fluffy gloves, I'd hold them out and offer to let him sniff them, but not try to make him. If he does, great. If not, no big deal. Step to near his withers and see if he can stay relaxed while you rub him on his withers and side with them. If that goes easily, then move to his neck. Build from there untill you can rub his jaw and face with them, just make sure that they won't 'bite' him. I do think that in their own way horses understand the difference in intentional pain inflicted and accidental, and are even more forgiving than usual when it was accidental. I've experienced that with Sonny, and had an incident yesterday with the horse I am allowed to ride at my neighbor's farm. I was giving the saddle a prepatory swing , as I usually swing it back and forth a couple of times to build momentum before actually giving it the biggest swing to toss it on her back. One of the leather tie strings must have popped her on the flank because she flinched strongly and looked at me like 'what the heck?!'. I apologized , yes, actually out loud, to her and laughed at myself, she held no resentment,,never tried to cow kick in my direction, or bite, and stood steady when I started swinging i again. Of all the times that I've saddled that way, that was the first time I'd ever accidently popped a horse with a string.

Respect......rapport......impulsion......flexion.. .
Be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary--Pat Parelli
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