Aggressive lesson horses - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 26 Old 07-06-2018, 05:21 AM
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The horse behavior described in this post is usually human induced. People often handle and saddle horses with little or no thought as to how the horse perceives the treatment. Barn owners and managers may get so involved with business issues they pay little attention to what is going on with the horses. They simply expect the hired help to handle things without providing any useful guidance even if they may know what to do. Regrettably, this attitude usually filters down to those who handle the horses.

The easiest thing to do in such a situation is to walk away if possible. If that is not an option, or if you really want to help the horses, there are some things you can do.

Lesson horses often become defensive because they are treated roughly with little thought to what is actually happening to the horse. Some of this is related to how they are ridden, and the horse associates being saddled to how they are treated when ridden. Horses, however, can put up with most of what little children may do when riding them such as pulling on their mouth or kicking them. Kicks from other horses are much harder than any kick a child can give without spurs. Horses can often simply clamp down on a bit and ignore any pulls by little children.

The biggest problems I’ve witnessed with lesson horses are associated with saddling and bridling. Saddles and girths may be installed with little thought to where they are placed or how they fit. Girths are pulled and yanked to tighten with no thought given to whether the horse’s skin has been folded between their body and the girth. People afraid of being bitten may fail to make certain the bit is between the horse’s teeth before trying to get the headstall over the horse’s ears. This can lead to pulling on the bridle while the bit ilies against the horse’s gums above the upper teeth. These things are not pleasant for a horse, and a horse may try to prevent this from happening by trying to keep people away from them in various manners.

It is sometimes possible to begin from scratch in reintroducing a horse to human interaction. Ideally, this reintroduction should be combined with educating people about better ways of handling the horse. Regrettably, this is not always possible.

However, most horses respond to even simple acts of kindness and understanding. Numerous horses have ceased aggressive actions when dealt with by patient people who talk calmly to them while installing tack in a more considerate manner. In conjunction with this – but not apart from it – treats to reward good behavior often prove beneficial.

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post #12 of 26 Old 07-06-2018, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by RoseH View Post
I am a little confused. What do you mean "before they start planning?" Do you mean when they warn to bite, but before they actually do? I don't think someone can correctly correct a horse before the horse actually plans to do something.
I meant, if there is a horse who routinely is aggressive, staring at him with intent and lifting a crop (not threatening, just showing it to him) is like another horse saying with body language, "My turf, my rules." But it totally depends on the horse. You aren't correcting, you are just saying that you will if the occasion requires.

I also agree with other posters that these behaviors are often the result of ignorant mistreatment.
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post #13 of 26 Old 07-06-2018, 06:49 AM
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I do feel sorry for these horses as their lot in life is not an easy one and you have no control over this, what I have done in a somewhat similar situation, not with as many horses but kind of the same is have a treat with me and when I go in with a horse like you are describing, I give them a treat and then their attitude changes when I come up to them.
I know this is not a solution but it did help diffuse the poor attitude.
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post #14 of 26 Old 07-06-2018, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Who owns these horses? Does the owner know how they are behaving? I imagine there could be done e serious liability if a camper was to be seriously injured by one of them.

The best solution is to find them another job. These are not camp horses.
The owner of the barn and his family. They run a hunter jumper barn and apparently it runs in the family. There are fifteen other horses that are saints that we use. It's just the ones I mentioned.

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post #15 of 26 Old 07-06-2018, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
The horse behavior described in this post is usually human induced. People often handle and saddle horses with little or no thought as to how the horse perceives the treatment. Barn owners and managers may get so involved with business issues they pay little attention to what is going on with the horses. They simply expect the hired help to handle things without providing any useful guidance even if they may know what to do. Regrettably, this attitude usually filters down to those who handle the horses.

The easiest thing to do in such a situation is to walk away if possible. If that is not an option, or if you really want to help the horses, there are some things you can do.

Lesson horses often become defensive because they are treated roughly with little thought to what is actually happening to the horse. Some of this is related to how they are ridden, and the horse associates being saddled to how they are treated when ridden. Horses, however, can put up with most of what little children may do when riding them such as pulling on their mouth or kicking them. Kicks from other horses are much harder than any kick a child can give without spurs. Horses can often simply clamp down on a bit and ignore any pulls by little children.

The biggest problems I’ve witnessed with lesson horses are associated with saddling and bridling. Saddles and girths may be installed with little thought to where they are placed or how they fit. Girths are pulled and yanked to tighten with no thought given to whether the horse’s skin has been folded between their body and the girth. People afraid of being bitten may fail to make certain the bit is between the horse’s teeth before trying to get the headstall over the horse’s ears. This can lead to pulling on the bridle while the bit ilies against the horse’s gums above the upper teeth. These things are not pleasant for a horse, and a horse may try to prevent this from happening by trying to keep people away from them in various manners.

It is sometimes possible to begin from scratch in reintroducing a horse to human interaction. Ideally, this reintroduction should be combined with educating people about better ways of handling the horse. Regrettably, this is not always possible.

However, most horses respond to even simple acts of kindness and understanding. Numerous horses have ceased aggressive actions when dealt with by patient people who talk calmly to them while installing tack in a more considerate manner. In conjunction with this – but not apart from it – treats to reward good behavior often prove beneficial.
Yes, I understand this and make sure that MY campers/my group gives the horses proper care as you described. I don't know about everyone else though and there lies the problem. However I make sure to be gentle and teach the kids too.
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post #16 of 26 Old 07-06-2018, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Poor horses! But I imagine you are not being paid danger money, didn't take on this job agreeing to deal with dangerous horses. You're not obliged to put yourself in danger for your employers. Therefore I would inform the owners that you will no longer deal with these horses because you don't feel safe doing so, and you've already been bitten once.
I would but some of the girls (not the campers, the girls who have more experience) I let them deal with some of the horses. Or at best I ask for help if I am having trouble with a particular horse.

------

Thank you for all the responses everyone! I am on the mobile site so I wasn't sure how to multi quote or 'like'. But good comments. I'm aware of how school horses are often kept. I suppose it all comes down to business at some places. They don't even let you lease schoolies for whatever reason, so people taking care of them. Like picking out hooves is a bit uncommon. That said, most of the school horses don't have major problems.
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post #17 of 26 Old 07-07-2018, 04:05 AM
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It seems a sad situation all round.

First off I agree with Txhorseman. Secondly I disagree with you saying you are not in a position to train them. Every time you have an interaction with a horse you are training it - for good or bad.

I have many years experience under my belt and can assure you that any horse that tried to bite or kick me, would instantly think it is going to die. I would not necessarily beat it up but there would be a lot of noise, arm waving and chasing in the stable.

When the children are leading a horse out and others are leaning over the doors and biting them, one of the instructors should be present and instantly correct the biting horse. I had a narrow aisle to lead down but a horse only bit another once and didn't do it again, any threat was corrected with voice, that was enough.

Several times you say that you are not very big, size has absolutely nothing to do with these matters, it is attitude, timing and energy.

My niece aged about five at the time, had a big three year old Clydesdale push towards he in the field (she was by my side and I was holding her sister ) I had pushed the horse back, when I turned to look at another youngster this horse took a step towards my niece, she instantly slapped it as hard as she could across the muzzle. That horse jumped back and although close, respected her bubble.
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post #18 of 26 Old 07-07-2018, 05:52 AM
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I worked in a big RDA yard. 40+ horses. There were a handful of horses that you'd never know could be so dangerous. They look so jolly and take such good care of their very vulnerable clients. They led such great lives only a few hours of work and full turnout in the evenings and weekends, with their very own herds across nearly 50 acres... But once out in the yard with the staff... they become a monster. Kicking, biting, striking out... these horses were crying out and I can't blame them. Their jobs are boring. RDA is great an all but I rarely see the horse benefit from it aside from getting immaculate physical care. The only consolation I had was that at this yard the manager made sure that the horses got worked and stimulated with a good hack and a gallop each week with a member of staff. The ones that liked to jump would be jumped, too. It was something but for some horses... it wasn't enough.

There were horses that would kick, pin, bite, spin and strike out... tacking up was the worst because they knew that they were going to have to walk in boring circles surrounded by four assistants helping keep the unbalanced RDA client from falling off or kicking the horse, or yanking on the bit or scratching or punching it or screaming at the top of their lungs. RDA is great and all and I particularly like hippotherapy but really .... it rarely benefits the horse directly (not talking about the welfare and income that RDA sponsorship provides). I would come away from a session irritable and with a thumping headache from dealing with a difficult client. It's not their fault obviously but I cannot blame the horse for being irritable after years of dealing with it. Some horses are chill as well though and don't mind. It's gonna be the same with dealing with moronic children day in day out lol.

Remember OP horses are smart. There were plenty horses at this place that would try bite you as you try fetch their girth, much less do it up. But they soon learned that with me tacking up could be stress-free. I always try empathy first before escalating to correction especially when the horse has a good reason to be miserable. I knew that they didn't enjoy their work so I'd try set them up to a good start with mints and gentle handling, especially the old gals. If they tried to bite I'd firmly push their head away and continue what I was doing. Really do your best to not get angry or flustered. Getting annoyed usually made things worse with these horses. I would also use mints excessively. A mint when I turned up with tack to turn their ugly face into a happy one. My arrival+tack=treat. Bridle on+mint. Saddle cloth and taking it slow+mint. Saddle on+mint. Fetch girth and do it up gently, on the loose buckle making sure it wont pinch. Gently stretch their legs out to get out any folds. Soon I didn't need any mints just my voice was enough to calm them - to the point they would continue to eat as I tacked them up. They were less crabby when being led as well. What was sad though was watching someone else tack them up an hour later and it would be a frustrating affair of biting and fluster and face smacking... This also might sound stupid but I always make a point of greeting a horse each time happily like "hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii sweety". I think it's too easy to get into busy work mode and forget to address them like an independent living creature. It's like coming home from work and complaining to your SO without asking how was their day... gotta connect man. It's a bit like "hey no one else is listening, but I hear you".

Now some horses are so far gone. Soooooooo far gone. They could not give a hoot. Never ask permission to defend yourself. Carry a crop if you think you'll need it and remember to keep that head to you and their bum away by any means necessary. And frankly I don't even want to give you advice how to deal with a dangerous horse because there is no need to. There were horses that I refused to work with - not because I couldn't but because I didn't feel the reward was worth the risk. I actually called a wuss... I'll risk it on my terms. Maybe a rescue horse one day or with the actual help of a trainer who has the aim of fixing the issue permanently, not just "getting by". If I'm not allowed to correct it then I sure as heck ain't dealing with it.

And to all the people advising OP as if she owns them lol... it's stating the obvious. We all know that these horses deserve a holiday or a new way of life. But she has no power unfortunately :'<
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post #19 of 26 Old 07-07-2018, 07:20 AM
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Good testimonial, Kalraii. Horses can quickly learn who they can trust and who they can't. Their attitude when with each person can vary greatly.

Walking a horse down a narrow aisle past other horses trying to bite can be daunting. However, even these horses can be taught to respond differently. I had to bring a gelding down such an aisle past a particularly aggressive acting stud who didn't seem to like the fact that the gelding lived with his mares. I asked the owner if I could give the stud, who was actually good with people, treats. She said, "Yes." I then began to teach the stud that good behavior was rewarded. When he put his ears back and stretched out his neck to bite, I would point at him and say, "Ears." When he relaxed his ears, I gave him a treat. He sometimes seemed to have trouble controlling his aggressive instincts, but his overall behavior became much better.

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post #20 of 26 Old 07-07-2018, 08:48 AM
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You make mention of "camp" & "horses".
Then you make comment of other lesson horses and a boarding business...
So sounds to me like a summer camp for lesson riders is where these animals are found.
Are these the normal lesson horses or are these the "unknowns" the barn contracted with some sale barn to lease riding horses for summer months for the camp program?
Big difference in quality of horse and quality of manners you may encounter... saving the lesson horse string from over-use, abuse and becoming like these...
Every encounter is a lesson for every horse...absolutely.
Teaching manners with authority, respect and tolerated/not-tolerated actions is going to be a needed work in progress.
Be safe and be careful as you now know several of these animals have very undesirable traits...wonder if acting this way got them out of work quickly.
They learned a new trick...
Is it just you working the summer camp horse section?
If not, then all counselors handling the horses need to work from the same page of tolerated/not-tolerated behaviors so consistency. Horses must learn from all, not just one handler their behaviors expected.
These traits can be turned around, but it is a every-single-time in contact with the animal you "teach & educate" what is expected and what is not allowed.
If these are part of the normal lesson horse string this barn has, I would be finding me a new barn...dangerous habits to have in animals handled by newbies is a accident waiting to happen.
Any camp that I observed had a large part of the work-force being teens...
That means limited abilities handling horses with personality traits undesirable...= someone is going to get hurt.
Make sure that someone is not you...
...
jmo...
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