Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
LOL! Yes, Cloney is the one who wears the hats. Skippy is a real comedian. I can sit and watch horses all day long and learn something new every time. I also learn something new about each one of my horses when I do that, always some little thing that I've not noticed before.
I bet and this is why I learn a lot as well from just watching. Some people at my barn may think its wierd but I dont think it is.I find it very beneficial.
First you get them so they just let you halter them, which you've done. You do that for a while until it's routine and expected. Then, when I'm ready to teach them the head down thing, I take the halter and a favorite treat or a little bit of sweet feed (I keep a bag for treats) and put it in my hand, I hold the halter like I would if I was just going to put it on but I make sure they smell the treat or feed and stick their nose in the halter and follow my hand down before they are allowed to take the food. Once they have lowered their head, I praise them, "Gooooood boy!" and let him take the treat and I finish haltering as soon as it's in his mouth. I only ask for a little bit at a time, one day it's an inch and then before long they're lowering their head 6 inches and making life easy.
Oh this sounds great and I definitely have to try this! Thanks.
So I guess just gently applying downward pressure to their poll, then when they lower their head (even a bit), you then reward isnt a good method eh?
I dont need my mare to lower her head when i halter her since shes smaller but I find lowering a head is a good que to teach them because when their head is lowered, they are releasing endorphins and theyre submitting to you.
Once he's got that down and there's really no wait from offering the halter/hand to dropping and eating, then I start just putting my hand down and putting the other on top of the poll and applying light pressure while leading their head down with the feed. Pretty soon they will drop their head just from being touched on the poll. Once they have that, I add the halter back in, but instead of a treat, I touch their poll and offer the halter down low. Once they get the hang of that, they're practically haltering and bridling themselves. Some horses take a WHILE to get all the way to that point, so if you try it, don't expect it to happen overnight, you just have to be patient.
I will forsure be patient. This reminds me of one of the school masters at my barn, he will lower his head when you even walk the halter or bridle up to him.
If you put your hand on your horse's poll and she raises her head, just leave your hand on her poll and let her go as high as she can. You have the advantage because she's small and you are taller and have longer arms. By not forcing, but by not withdrawing, you're showing her 2 things. #1, it doesn't hurt. #2, she can't get away, the hand stays in place. Once she understands that, and she stops reacting by flinging her head up when you just lay your hand there, then you add the treat to try to get her head down with your hand just resting on her poll. You keep it up until she follows your hand down and the hand on the poll is not an issue. Once that's ok, then you offer the treat down low, but you add a little bit of pressure with your hand. Not a lot, just a little firmer than a touch. Then as you work through that, you keep dropping your hand and adding just a little pressure until one day, the treat is in a bucket or pan on the floor and a little touch on the poll makes her drop her head right down to the bucket.
That's also an excellent way to teach her a "calm down" cue. Horses who have their heads dropped down low can't seem to remain upset about something. Don't know why, but it's the truth. When they freak, the head goes up, when it drops, they calm down. So, if she's used to dropping her head at the touch on her poll, if she gets upset when you're leading, when you're riding or even if she's just standing by you, that touch will lower her head and she'll calm herself.
Very good point and a good reason why this is a valuable que to teach any horse.
I "just" started teaching her on Wed for the first time, to stand back when i feed her. When she steps forward towards me and the food, I back her up. She doesnt get the food until she stands quietly and away from me. I will work on this one first, then do the lowering of the head next.
Would love to teach her more than one thing at a time, but enh817 brings up a good point that (for my sake and not getting confused, losing focus) I should only work on one new thing with her, then move on when she has that one down.