Help 17yr old Beginer Train Agressive Gelding? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 80 Old 02-07-2011, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
Zip
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Help 17yr old Beginer Train Agressive Gelding?

As the name suggests, I have an Aggressive 3 Year old I bought 2 and a half years ago as an ungelded 18 month old, as a result of the owner leading us to believe he has been broken (I should have realized by his age. I know) When we got him home he was fairley well behaved, but the longer we had him, the more is behavioural problems began to shine through. We contacted the old owner and she told us that once I got him gelded they would all go away, and to make a long story short, I am now stuck with a very agressive 3 year old that challenges me for dominance every day. Crowding my space, nipping at my cloths, trying to shake me down for food. He also appears to be really jealous of the other farm animals, if we go out to the pig and pay attention to him the gets really agressive, running and bucking around the field, and trying to block us from leaving the barnyard. He also dosn't like new people coming into the barnyard. My cousin went into the barnyard for the first time, and he chased her out of the barnyard.

I tried asking for advice on another forum but that was a no go, it seemed the members were more interested in putting me down, and critizing me than actually offering me any advice, saying things like "you will NEED a trainer or someone to help you EVERY single step of the way" And "sounds like they should have never gotten the horse in the first place!! they do not have the experience OR the desire to deal with a young horse." When I mentioned that I thought he may have been jealous I was told "Horses don't get jealous" I said that I was desperate to train him because I knew that if someone ever got hurt because of his lack of manners he would surely be slaughtered and they took offence saying "If this is going to be your attitude... Sell him and don't get another living thing to take care of till you can be more responsible "

I really don't feel like I need a trainer. I am confiedent I can train him myself if pointed in the right direction, and am 100% and fully dedicated to training him, and am willing to do practically anything nessicary (within reason.) I've been doing research online, and bought a few books at my local Chapters about how to deal with dominant, and agressive horses and I've tried a few of the methods I learned, and I can already see a major difference in his attitude. One of the methods I've tried with him (I'm not sure if yous would consider this an appropriate method or not), involved taking a leadrope (as I haven't bought a crop yet) holding it by the metal clasp and swinging it around, above my head like a hellicopter to stop him from crowding my space. Once he did, the end of the lead rope hit his nose and he reacted by backing away and kicking. I continued to hold my ground and gave him a stern "No" he calmed down, and I allowed him to approach me, but not crowed my space. I continued walking through the barn yard, spinning the rope above my head and when I tried crowding my space again he was hit in the nose and ran away from me kicking. He tried kicking towards me once but I hit him with the rope again and told him "No" and he backed away from me and hasn't since tried crowding my space or nipping at me. I assume I've made it clear to him that I'm the dominant one? but how do I progress from here?

Please don't reply If you have no intentions of offering advice, I know I made a mistake and should have been more careful when searching for the right horse for me experience level, but its done and over with now and I can't change it. My family has this 'Policy' I guess you could say, where when we take responsability of an animal, we don't just get rid of it if it becomes an inconvenience. Please don't critisize me, I've gotten enough from the other forum I was on, all I want is some advice from someone who can understand where I am coming from.

Thanks,
Zip
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post #2 of 80 Old 02-07-2011, 08:31 PM
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Hi Zip,

I will try to refrain from all the behaviors you warned me not to do. I don't think I usually approach posts with a mind to lavish critisism on folks, but I do have to say that you have placed a lot of limitations on how people can respond to you. sounds like you got burned really bad on that other forum. I hope you will find what you need here.

I respect your policy of taking on an animal and standing by the committment. I wouldn't tell you to get rid of the colt. Is he gelded now?

I do think, that you may have to admit that the way you have dealt with him up til now is the reason he has become pushy and aggressive. So, what to do now?

Your explanation of using the rope to move him off is good. If you actually hit him, try to make it so that it is HE who moves into the moving propeller. If you are approaching him and making signals for him to move off/away using your body language and your voice, and he isn't responding, then get the propelleof going and just walk into him . If you are worried that so doing would put you at risk of being kicked, then take the line and let it snake out and bite him , but only after you have told him to move off . That being said, you don't have to tell, tell, beg, tell, ask. Just signal, "hey, move over!" and if he doesn't respond, then shake him up a bit. Next time he should respond to the warning. I guess my point is that you are trying to sensitize him to body signals of "move away" so it's important that you start each encounter by using those signals, back it up with the propeller or crop IF NEEDED, but promptly, and if not needed, then use the smaller signals. Work toward using only the mildes of body language, but start out with a bang to get his attention.

I would personally remain openminded about having a trainer give you some hands on help while you reshape this youngster's mind. It's tricky and you could make him a "mean" horse.

Good luck on the forum. I look forward to hearing more of your adventures.
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post #3 of 80 Old 02-07-2011, 08:47 PM
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Tinyliny explained what you should do very well.

I would also like to add please be careful and getting help from a trainer every once in a while will always help. I reccomend reading up on Clinton Andersons methods of training because he deals with problem horses very well.

Do you happen to have a round pen? If so try some exercises in there. Such as lunging and accepting pressure.

Best of Luck and I hope you get some good advice from other members.

" Horses are a humans wings."
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post #4 of 80 Old 02-07-2011, 09:51 PM
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You are on the right track. Keep reading and asking. If you have any horsey friends, spend as much time as you can watching and listening. Don't take every piece of advise directly to heart -- think about it, work it through what you have read and learned from others. All of us are horse-experts, but it's funny how some are more successful with their animals than others. ;)

As another piece of training advice, keep the attitude of YOUR SPACE and YOU'RE the boss at all times; feeding, grooming, tacking, walking, visiting... Don't let him do anything that you haven't asked for or invited. You have to "undo" his past experiences of getting away with stuff so there is no room for lovey-dovey-cuddly unless YOU initiate it; not that you allow, but that you initiate.

As you have noticed, it's all psychological. You absolutely can not out-pull a horse. You must out-maneuver him. In a herd, horses don't often communicate with physical contact, it's mostly physical postering. Keep that in mind.

Good luck.
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post #5 of 80 Old 02-07-2011, 10:47 PM
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Hi Zip,

I hope anything you may take in my post as 'criticism' is taken as constructive, because that's how I intend it. First thing, it's obvious you have been learning, in theory at least, a lot since you got him. That is great... keep it up! It also sounds like you have a responsible attitude towards your animals. I agree wholeheartedly that animals should never be treated as a replaceable commodity & respect your view on not wanting to 'get rid' of him. However, at the same time, assuming you find him a good home, I don't think there should be any shame or guilt on you if you decide he's too much for you & would be in better hands elsewhere. IMO it takes a lot of skill to deal with 'problem' horses, especially ones with 'assertive' personalities, and they're far easier to stuff up further than they are to 'fix' in the wrong hands.

Whether or not you choose to do most of the training yourself, I would definitely consider getting some help from a *good* trainer, if you can find one, because while you can learn most of the theories & principles of training through books & vids, it just doesn't compare with hands-on help. Regarding skills such as animal training, especially when talking 'correcting' problem behaviour, IMO there is simply a limit to how far you can go learning from theory alone.

Quote:
the owner leading us to believe he has been broken (I should have realized by his age. I know) When we got him home he was fairley well behaved, but the longer we had him, the more is behavioural problems began to shine through. We contacted the old owner and she told us that once I got him gelded they would all go away,
Actually I don't agree with doing it at all, but some people do 'break' horses at very young ages, so the previous owner wasn't necessarily lying about that. Also some horses do 'miraculously' change once gelded, even if it's done at that age. Him getting more 'rude' may also have been to do with his age & basic personality, but I would also consider that if he got progressively worse since being with you, then no offense meant, but it is highly likely that you were at least contributing to his learning of the wrong lessons. Not to worry - we all make mistakes. The important thing is to analyse & learn from them.

Quote:
very agressive 3 year old that challenges me for dominance every day. Crowding my space, nipping at my cloths, trying to shake me down for food. He also appears to be really jealous of the other farm animals, if we go out to the pig and pay attention to him the gets really agressive, running and bucking around the field, and trying to block us from leaving the barnyard. He also dosn't like new people coming into the barnyard. My cousin went into the barnyard for the first time, and he chased her out of the barnyard.
Of course I don't know the horse aside from what you've told & he may well be aggressive too, but none of the above sounds particularly aggressive to me. Not necessarily about 'dominance challenges' either. Crowding, nipping clothes, mugging you for food are all just behaviours that the horse may just do because it works for him &/or he's never been taught not to. So many horses you meet can be well trained in relation to being ridden, but are very 'rude' on the ground simply because no one's ever taught them effectively this is not acceptable behaviour with humans. I think it's amusing that he gets jealous of you giving other animals attention & throws a 'tantie' (yes, I agree jealousy's not an emotion confined to humans IME!), but running & bucking isn't 'aggressive', it's just 'horse'.

Quote:
and when I tried crowding my space again he was hit in the nose and ran away from me kicking. He tried kicking towards me once but I hit him with the rope again and told him "No" and he backed away from me and hasn't since tried crowding my space or nipping at me. I assume I've made it clear to him that I'm the dominant one? but how do I progress from here?
I would not assume at all that he sees you as 'the dominant one' because of this. His kicking out at you for one, leads me to suspect the opposite - he may see you as the impudent underling in need of discipline. I basically agree with Tiny too & think it's a good *general* tactic, BUT depending on their personality & especially if they are a 'dominant' type, horses can become truly aggressive if treated with force & physical punishment. They may perceive it as a dominance challenge, so rise to the occasion, seeing as you're obviously up for it. So IMO it may not be appropriate for your horse, at least at this time.

The bit in bold of your quote above is a very important principle, as has already been pointed out - if punishment is to be used, try to set it up so he perceives it that *he* ran into the pressure & *got himself hit*, rather than you lashing out at him.

Also keep in mind that effective punishment can *weaken* behaviour, but doesn't actually tend to stop it. For that it takes consistency and ensuring the behaviour NEVER works for the animal. Therefore, don't let your guard down & assume you've dealt with him once and for all. I think of punishment more as a 'tool' that may be necessary to keep you safe & buy you more time while you teach the Right behaviours.

With a horse that is 'rude' and maybe domineering I would personally start out with a fence in between(for safety) and teach him some Good manners with the use of reward, before/more so than focussing on just correcting the Bad manners. Teach him what you DO want first & make sure that works(is reinforced) for him. Learning the principles of 'clicker training' will help you learn how to effectively teach him what you want.

Best wishes & keep us posted!
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post #6 of 80 Old 02-08-2011, 12:12 AM
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Heres my policy, I have respectful, quiet, happy horses.

Biting = Smack
Nipping (NOT lipping, but NIP) = Smack
Crowding (aggressively) = Smack
Kicking = Smack
Bumping with nose = Smack

An aggressive horse is one that (usually) has not been taught to respect humans. Bring a lunge whip into the yard with you, if he tries to be aggressive nail him HARD on the shoulder or hindquarter. Do NOT think that 'oh thats cruel'. Considering the sheer force behind a horses hoof, and how they blatantly kick each other, you with your little stick is nothing. The point is to make yourself BIG and MEAN and WORTHY OF RESPECT.

Another tactic to be used (especially if he comes at you with ears pinned) is to catch him off guard. Pop out a plastic bag, or cans filled with rocks or beads. Don't hit him with it, pop it out in a sudden fashion. This will make a horse backpedal so fast it will make your head spin. Stomp, puff up, and yell. Make yourself big.

Put a halter or cavesson and a lunge line on him. Make him work, reward good behavior but be aggressive about bad behavior. If he kicks, pop him with the lunge whip. If he refuses, yell, scream, and make him go.


I do not sugar coat aggressive behavior with treats or pretend like it can be solved with gentleness. I absolutely do not tolerate it.
I've gone through a broken back, a torn knee that's retorn several time. Another knee that locks, and general body pain. I cannot allow aggressive behavior because it could put me into a wheel chair, kill me, or permanently cripple me. I take aggression and I napalm it before it can bloom into a difficult to kill weed.

Loki, my dear Foxtrotter gelding, had started aggressive head bumping after I finally brought him home. He did it once to me and once to my dad. I nailed him hard upside the nose the second he dared such behavior. My dad did the same.
He is not head shy, people shy, or halter shy.
He was quite frankly startled at such an aggressive response. He bumped, I smacked, then I went about what I was doing before. Feeding, giving treats, kisses, and scratching necks. Acted like nothing at all happened. He tried it on my dad the next day, has never done it since.

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #7 of 80 Old 02-08-2011, 01:30 AM
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Hi twogeldings,

Generally speaking, I think most differences of opinion in training come down to 'each to their own', and it's obvious you & I have very different approaches & understandings about attitudes & behaviours. I got the feeling a lot of what you've said was directed at my response, rather than generally to OP, so am responding to that...

Quote:
Originally Posted by twogeldings View Post
Biting = Smack
Nipping (NOT lipping, but NIP) = Smack
Crowding (aggressively) = Smack
Kicking = Smack
Bumping with nose = Smack

....Considering the sheer force behind a horses hoof, and how they blatantly kick each other, you with your little stick is nothing. The point is to make yourself BIG and MEAN and WORTHY OF RESPECT.
Firstly, as I tried to explain, I'm by no means against punishment and it often works, but I think it's important to understand & consider it's 'cons' as well as it's 'pros', that it's not the only and I don't believe necessarily the best option. Considering a 'dominant' type personality horse, and as you have said, considering how horses kick eachother, a little 'rudeness' can become major & dangerous aggression if you just try to meet it head on, as the horse rises to your perceived challenge. In that situation I'd rather pit my brains against the horses.

'Respect' is also one of those ambiguous terms that means vastly different things to different people & in my definition of the term doesn't include meanness or fear. I don't want my horse to be frightened of me and earning their trust is so important IMO.

Quote:
I do not sugar coat aggressive behavior with treats or pretend like it can be solved with gentleness. I absolutely do not tolerate it.
I've gone through a broken back,.... I cannot allow aggressive behavior because it could put me into a wheel chair, kill me, or permanently cripple me. I take aggression and I napalm it before it can bloom into a difficult to kill weed.
I agree fully with every single thing you say above(except the broken back). Horses are big, potentially dangerous animals and we need to effectively teach them to be safe(r). Only difference is while I don't 'pretend like it can be solved with gentleness', it's because I know it often can & don't believe(pretend?) confrontation is always appropriate or best. I find approaching it from a different angle & focussing on reinforcing the horse for what you *want* rather than having to 'correct' what you don't want means that 'gentleness' is generally all that's required - it's not necessary to get into a confrontation in the first place generally. *Not that I won't do whatever it takes to be safe & effective when necessary, just see it more as a backup/emergency measure.
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post #8 of 80 Old 02-08-2011, 07:22 AM
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I agree wholeheartedly with the above post. Not using violence to train does not mean that there are no negative consequences for undesirable behavior, it just means that we can use our brains to set it up that the horse is uncomfortable when they are doing the wrong thing, and comfortable when they are doing the right thing. My take on the situation is, if you are of the mentality "look at what horses do to eachother when they kick, bite, etc., a person can not possibly use that much force so therefore whipping/hitting is not abuse" then how will this method even be effective? In the wild, a horse would not step down to a less powerful rival. Like has been stated, you will never win a physical fight with a horse; that is why we need to use our brains to create a situation that the horse can not win by being aggressive, and this does not often come from fighting force with (lesser) force.
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post #9 of 80 Old 02-08-2011, 08:36 AM
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The reason for suggesting you bring a trainer (or very experienced friend) in on this is so that both you and the horse can move forward SAFELY with training.

Do you know how to lunge a horse? Do you have a round pen? Have you read any good books (Mary Twelveponies comes to mind immediately) and have you laid out a PLAN to train your horse with goals? These are things you need to know or have to get started.

We often concentrate, in animal training, on what behaviors we want an animal to STOP doing.. instead of deciding what we want them to do instead and training that. That being said, I never tolerated bad ground manners in ANY horse. What do you WANT this horse to do, starting with groound manners? IOW's if you want to train the horse to stand quietly for grooming, then you need to ask how to do that. Break your goals down into little parts so that you can ask and learn each part and put it together into a whole.

I am sure you have heard that a Green Rider and a Green horse are a bad color combination. You have this here.. and really you need someone there with you to help you READ THE HORSE and showing you how to appropriately react without anyone getting hurt.

The internet is full of information and mis-information and really.. at this point.. and for your own safety and the safety of the horse an experienced person to HELP you firs hand would be an invaluable aid (and a much safer approach).

Do you have any hands on friends who have experience and success (the last is very important) training young horses that could help you get started?

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer
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post #10 of 80 Old 02-08-2011, 08:44 AM
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I find some of the above posts frightening in the hands of a beginner. IMO, there are certain horse behaviors that are "deal breakers", and when these happen, immediate assertiveness is necessary on the part of the handler or the behavior will continue, and possibly escalate. These would include, but not be limited to, striking, kicking, biting. Having owned a truly aggressive horse in the past, I will tell you that there are times that you must whack them. I am a firm believer in the "3 second rule". This means that if my horse PURPOSELY (and you can tell by demeanor, etc) attacks me I have 3 seconds to react in a very decisive manner. To me that means that by whatever means necessary they will understand VERY CLEARLY that their behavior is not acceptable. Frankly, it is the first thing that comes to my mind at the moment. If it means I smack them with my hand, so be it. If they cowkick me-they usually meet the toe of my boot. if the try to kick me, they typically meet the lunge whip, end of the lead, whatever. I am not saying to beat them, but they have to have a clear signal right then. Act instantly, then forget it and move on, just as they do.

Again, if it is me or them-it will not be me if I have any say in the matter.
A beginner is at a distinct disadvantage, since there are signals we all learn over the years from our horses that certain behaviors will follow. These signals allow us to avert the behavior before it happens in many cases. As a "newbie" you have to act on what the horse is doing and learn the signals as you go.

To the OP-get some good videos of different trainers-Clinton Anderson is a good one, and his videos address how to handle a horse that isn't doing as you are asking, more than some of the others, I think. However, please do stay open to the idea of someone to help you. As has been stated many times on other threads here, there may be the slightlest thing about your stance, body language, etc, that is sending the wrong signals. You may not be aware of it and it can be really frustrating. Another set of eyes helps with this.

Good luck and stay safe.

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