I had to reply to this, it was such a great piece of advice. Thank you!
Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
First get comfortable with the other horses in her paddock and let them know that you are not to be trifled with. Say HI, get a pat and a quick scritch and off you go. They are not to come around and try to boss your mare, push her out, push you out, or interfere in any way. At first, I'd halter her and carry a lunge whip or carrot stick in with me to let the others know that you are in charge.
Not at all. Pick one thing you want her to learn and every day that you go out, spend 15 or 20 mins. Working on that one thing until she gets it. If you go out for several hours, then break it up. For instance, in the first hour spend 15 mins teaching her one thing. Then go away for a while. 2nd hour, spend 20-30 mins grooming her and letting her stand quietly tied. Come back and turn her loose in a small corral or round pen for a little while. 3rd hour, work on a different thing for 15 mins. I wouldn't do too many sessions in one day, that can quickly lead to burn out for both of you. One of my trainers used to say, "Work him more than once a day, but allow him time to forget he's already been worked, feed him a meal and leave him alone for a while in between." I find that works pretty well.
Ok. Well right now Im currently still working on teaching her to lead away from me willingly. Shes getting better but still room for improvement. Ive been working on this with her for the past week, just casually though whenever I lead her (no more leading lessons).
One member mentioned I should teach her to come to me at the gate when I catch her. Is this a good or bad idea? I always thought its better if you go up to them to catch them and not have them come to you?
I've never been in to clicker training, it's cool but I jest never saw the point, I guess. When my horse is doing well, good attitude, doing what I ask, I say a BIG, "GOOOOOOD BOY!" or girl, whatever. When we've had a bit of a disagreement over how things should go and he finally has the light come on and does what I have been asking, I usually go over and kiss him on his nose (I KNOW I KNOW, he doesn't have a CLUE what a kiss is) and I drape my arm over his neck and put my hand between his ears and get him to drop his head and I say softly, "Goooood booooooy!" and I tossle his forelock a little and then I rub the base of his ears. Softly and gently so that my praise is exactly the opposite of the little tussle we had.
I thought kissing a horse on the nose is bad? Is this something that needs to be taught before done? Im not sure how horses generally feel when they get kissed randomly. I would love to give my mare hugs and kisses every now and then.
When I'm training I don't care if they think I'm a vending machine for treats, as long as they understand that the only currency accepted is doing what I've asked of them. Then they get praise and/or a treat. Frequently in the beginning, they get both.
Good point. But you over time phase out the treats? Do you believe that its much harder (if even impossible at times) to teach them new stuff without the use of treats?
Licking and chewing is nice when you have a real demonstrative horse. I've had horses though, that you could watch all day long and if you weren't paying real close attention at just the right moment, you'd miss it, it was that little and that subtle. That kind of horse also tends to clench their jaws and get uptight. With one of those, I will wait until I see they have "locked up" and then I'll go over and very gently stick my finger in their mouth so they have to unlock their jaws, and they'll reflexively lick and chew. I just stand with my arm draped over that horse's neck and gently give them time to relax a little and digest what we've just been doing. I don't pet, don't talk, nothing, just BE for a little while. Once I can see they've reflected and processed a little bit, I'll back up to something they understood and did well and start over from there.
Are you standing next to them when you give them time to think it over and take it in? Or facing them?
Dumb question, but say shes on a halter and lead still, and I have her on my side standing next to me. Wont she see the fact that shes still on a lead, that shes being worked and she wont be processing what she just learned, but instead what is next and waiting for que from you?
In the beginning, I praise lots and lots and lots and I give a lot of treats, consistently when they do something right. At this point, it doesn't matter if they think I'm a hot and cold drink dispenser, as long as they give me a good honest try, I'll give a treat and praise. We can work on weaning off of treats and such later on (like a year or 2 down the road), right now I want them to get what I'm teaching.
So the previous owner has always used treats when working with my mare when she had. I guess its not as bad of a thing as it sounds eh? Though, my past trainer swears that you should minimize the times you hand feed your horse. Do it too much and they will always expect and look for treats from you.
No, you're not talking mumbo jumbo, but you ARE trying too much too fast. Some horses are like the nerd kid in school and seem to drink n everything you toss at them, training wise. Most are more like the Spay-shull kids that need individual teaching and someone who can be infinitely adaptable to their learning needs. I forget who said it, Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt? But, "It takes a horse at least 1000 repetitions before you can say he's truly trained." That means, 1000 reps of EVERY SINGLE THING you ever teach them. Before that, they may or may not have it and in a crunch may forget what they've been taught. They have to build muscle memory in addition to having "head" knowledge.
What do you mean Im trying too much too fast? I first started off with the word associating by just saying "good" then treating. Rinse and repeat. Then I brought it over to when I lead her and she willingly leads away from me. Also, when she unhaltered without fussing (this I still do the "good" and reward her after) but I dont do over the top praising anymore for this since sh doesnt fuss anymore.
Absolutely it will happen. You just need to give her time. Do more with her, spend time just learning to hear what she's telling you and the more you learn her ways, the more she'll trust and rely on you.
What Ive really worked on with her lately is me focusing more on her body language. All the time. When I groom her, I pay attention to her ears and see what shes telling me. Yesterday and the day before I was grooming her and I was brushing the right side of her barrel. She immediately turned her head towards it and her ears went back for a quick sec. I stopped cause I thought maybe she was sore there. I tried again to brush that area but I did it much softer and worked the area around it first, then worked into that same area again. This time she seemed ok. Will have to keep monitoring this when brushing her. I have a feeling she may be sore in this area still and perhaps doesnt want me brushing this area. Hence the ears back and head turned right away to that area.