Don't like being touched. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-12-2019, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Tonopah, AZ
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Question Don't like being touched.

Hi everyone, I'm new here. I used to have horses and ride a lot when I was young but that has been a long time ago and I don't remember a lot of the training. I recently bought two horses. One is a 3 yr old, very small arabian and the other is also about 3 years old, very tall, looks like a thoroughbred. Neither of them have had much if any work done with them. The arabian will let you pet her most of the time and can occasionally get her to halter. The other one doesn't want anything to do with being touched. She will let you touch her nose or muzzle some times when you are giving her a carrot but that is about it. They both have gotten into the habit of turning their backside to you when you try to approach them knowing that you are not going to stand there where you could possibly get kicked. Some suggestions for where I need to start with these girls would be greatly appreciated. I would like to get them halter trained and then saddle broke because I really want to be able to ride them. Thanks in advance for any help.
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-12-2019, 11:02 PM
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They are still young, in my opinion, inexperienced, and sound like they are still fairly new to you, so take it slow.

What is your experience with training horses?

How long have you had these horses?
If they are still really new, some horses just don't really like to be pet by "strangers." Try spending more time with them, such as having a picnic or reading a book out in their pasture with them.

How do you approach these horses?
Don't move straight towards their face. That's considered rude and predatory by most horses, unless you are a friend, which it doesn't sound like you are. When you approach, approach slowly towards their shoulder or flank. When you do get close enough to pet them, don't man-handle their face; pet on the shoulder.

How big is the area that they are in?
If they are in a stall, I wouldn't really recommend that for a training area. Horses that feel trapped are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors. However, I also wouldn't recommend putting them in a huge pasture when they can very easily run away to avoid you. Preferably and ideally, a medium sized area. Large enough so they don't feel trapped and can get release, but not so large that you have to "hunt them down" if they decide to leave.

The horse sets the pace - not you. Don't try to push it or get greedy and move (in their training) too fast.

If you have a round-pen, I suggest starting in there.

Are they turning their hindquarters "disrespectfully" (a "you can't make me" avoidance) or simply because they are bored, disinterested, or leaving because you aren't being clear in asking them anything? If it is the former, do not yield by backing away - make them move. If it is more so like the latter, ignore it, then engage them or ask them something. If you aren't engaging them/asking them to do something and aren't making them stay/face you, then they'll probably leave, resulting in the turned butt (because horses don't moon-walk).

Non-chalantly walk towards their shoulder, if they leave, let them. Just casually follow (not chasing) them. If they turn their hindquarters, send them on their way at a trot or a canter. Have them stop by cutting in front of their drive-line. If they look at you, back away and face away (standing to the side, not staring directly). If they look away, start towards them again - walking slowly and casually towards their shoulder.
Rinse and repeat. Keep yo-yoing until you get within petting distance. Gently but firmly (so it doesn't feel like flies but not roughly) stroke their shoulder. If you'd like, you can offer a treat simultaneously or immediately after the pet. Then, walk away and leave them alone for a few minutes.
Rinse and repeat. The second time, you could try doing two pets. Rinse and repeat until they let you come up to them without trying to leave or turning their hindquarters. Then, just try spending some close (in personal space but not right on top of each other) quality time together without touching (such as giving them a treats or standing with them while they graze). Once they go used to you walking up to them and just generally being near them, then you could start working on haltering.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 04-12-2019 at 11:16 PM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-15-2019, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Tonopah, AZ
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I had quite a bit of experience with them when I was young but it has been over 35 yrs. I used to ride in junior rodeos and trained my horses for barrel racing etc. They are fairly new to us, about 2 months. They will follow us around and want to be where we are. They take treats (carrots, apples) from us and will sometimes let us touch them on the nose. The smaller one will actually let us pet her and can probably be brushed out now but the other one is a different story. When you try to walk up to her side she turns away but if she sees you giving the other one attention she will come a put her nose right up to you and the other horse and sniff your hand but then moves away. I guess I need to be more patient but they both need their hooves worked on and if I can't get a halter on them they for sure won't let the Ferrier mess with them. Thanks for the response and the tips.
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-15-2019, 11:34 PM
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you will need to work with them in a smaller pen, I mean, not like a huge pasture. If the horse turns away from you, she has made a choice, but it's the WRONG choice. You now set it up so that she will have a chance to choose again, so that eventually, she will choose you!

If she turns and moves away from you, make a little bit of noise. Now, don't DRIVE her away. Rather, AFTER she has turned her back to you (and make sure you are not too close), you make that choice she just made a bit uncomfortable by making a wee commotion.

You can slap your thigh, or scuffle the ground, or hiss at her, or kick some dirt sideways (not directly at her). This should be not too long after she has turned away from you, but definitely AFTER she has committed to this action.

She will jump forward in surprise, most likely. She may just run away, or she may scoot forward a few feet and turn back to look at you. If she does the latter, then you STOP. and do NOTHING. You are waiting for her to make another choice. She will either choose to come to you, or to leave you.

If she comes to you, then pet her just once or twice on the nose, and walk away. She may follow you as you walk off. If so, you can pause and pet her again, but don't over do it the first time.

If, the first time you 'make a commotion', she turns and runs away from you, you follow her, walking along behind her. Don't 'chase' her, just follow her.
If she gets off some distance, and puts her head down and starts to graze, then immediately make a commotion that interrupts that. Basically, you are addressing her choice. She choose to ignore you and graze. And you say, no, not THAT. Choose again!

You put pressure on her when she makes the wrong choice, and do nothing when she makes the right one. It is incredibly effective.
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-23-2019, 08:23 PM
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If you are a novice to horses(I consider only having them when you were 'young'(?), forgetting anything about training and having 35 years off, you're very much novice), you need to find yourself a good trainer, to teach both the horses & you. I would actually advise you get that trainer to train the horses first(could very lightly start under saddle, if trainer is light, but they're too young to really be ridden yet). Every single time you interact with the horses, you're effectively training them, so if you don't know what you're doing, do the wrong thing - such as teaching them that turning their backside on a person is what works - then you can very easily mess up a good horse, make future training difficult, make the horse dangerous, get hurt...

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-23-2019, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by sadams862 View Post
both need their hooves worked on and if I can't get a halter on them they for sure won't let the Ferrier mess with them. Thanks for the response and the tips.
Yes, and it's not the place of a fArrier to train a horse, or to put himself in harms way & try to just do the job because a horse is not well trained. And for this reason & to be able to do other health related stuff that may be needed, you need to get a trainer to teach them ASAP.

It's simply way beyond the scope of a forum to teach a beginner from scratch, how to train horses from scratch. I agree mostly with Tiny's & Equil's advice, but simply following 'instructions' like this is not adequate, as there are so many 'ifs buts & maybes' to do with stuff like timing, bodylanguage etc, that governs when/why you might/might not do some specific, that I feel there is no good substitute for good hands on training, when both you & the horses don't know what's what.

The one thing I disagree with in Tiny's & reason why I think it's important...
If she comes to you, then pet her just once or twice on the nose,
Horses do what works, they quit doing what doesn't work. And they learn from instant consequences. So if you're teaching a horse to come to you when asked, especially when she's already shown she doesn't like/doesn't trust you to touch her(so at this point it's effectively a punishment for her), then I would not attempt to do anything to her like that when she came to you. Instead I'd reward her with something desirable for coming/facing you. I'd teach the horse to come & stay with you when you ask confidently first.

Then I'd work on getting her comfortable being touched. Bearing in mind it's currently a Bad Thing for her that she doesn't like, I'd pair it with something Good like a bit of carrot. You may start with just a fleeting touch, to wherever is least threatening/uncomfortable for her, but she only gets the carrot AS she allows you to touch her. After associating touch with Good Stuff, then you can start asking her to accept a touch before giving her a bit of carrot - but remembering horses need instant consequences to learn, still ensure you give the reward immediately following your touch.

Once you get that, you have a 'foundation' to start teaching her to accept gradually longer & in different places. Then you can do the same to get her happy with being touched with ropes, halter, etc.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]

Last edited by loosie; 04-23-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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