Exercises to improve ground manners - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 10-12-2015, 06:36 AM
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I would say, with any horse but also because your daugther is young and the horse is wise to being able to over power... turn the horse AWAY from you in a clockwise, never turn in to yourself.

I had a mare that would try and drag me, even with a bridle and bit. I walked with a crop in my hand and topped her chest when she tried to barge. She wasn't a particularly smart horse, but this worked well. I never had to smack her, just remind her with a peck and after a few sessions we had no issues.

Also, gloves are a good idea for your daughter.

Was he a problem to bridle up at his old place? he may need his teeth checking, or be tight in the poll. I had an 18.1hh mare who did the same, so I popped the reins over the head, just behind the ears. When she threw her head up I had a) something to hold her by and b) something I could use pressure and release for to get her head to drop.

Your daughter, I would say, would benefit from ground work lessons. With this horse, not another. Getting him to respect her on the ground, and her learning timing and how to correct him. He knows it, he's just pushing his boundaries.

Can you also close the stable doors around his before you bring him in so he can't go in, and his even, so he learns to wait?
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post #12 of 20 Old 10-12-2015, 08:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all! These are very useful! I also found a helpful video last night showing an exercise in which you lead a horse around a triangle using cones and when you get to each corner, you turn quickly. If he keeps going ahead, his head gets jerked sharply in the other direction. This sounds similar to what you are all suggesting. If he gets smart and figures out the triangle, we could use other shapes or do it randomly without cones. I will also get her to bring a crop as an aid.

We have done the ground tying exercise quite successfully. He will stand still while she walks around him. He will also yield his hindquarters and do a turn on the forehand as well as a turn on the haunches. So there is a lot of positive. We just need to walk up and down the barn and put him on cross-ties over and over again until he starts to pay more attention. Maybe by doing a lot of halts, making him back up if he gets ahead of her and carrying a great in her hand to get his mind on her instead of the stalls.

The head down cue is certainly something I'd like to teach. I'm not sure why he is trying to avoid the bridle and I hadn't seen him do that before. Either he is just trying to outsmart her, or there's something about this bridle he doesn't like. I think it may be tight. They told us he is a cob size, but the bridle and halter both look a little snug to me. I'm going to either get another bridle, or at least replace the brow band since that would give a little more width on the forehead. Here's a picture where you can see what I mean. I suppose there is a possibility that it is pinching him a little. And since it is new, the leather is stiff (I've oiled it but it isn't very supple yet).

And DuffyDuck, she knows to always lead the horse away from her and already wears gloves. Closing the doors are a good idea, but I'd rather teach him that just because a door is open, that doesn't mean he can go in. He doesn't know his stall yet so he's just going into random stalls (to be fair, he only did this twice, but I want to nip it in the bud). I'll have the vet look at his teeth, but I doubt that's the problem - he was very well cared for at his previous barn. Is it possible the bit isn't fitting right? Does it look too far down in the picture? Maybe it's banging his teeth. However, I think it's more likely he's figured out she's short and cannot reach his head when he puts it up.

He really is a sweet horse overall, I just want to teach him to respect my daughter right from the start. I know horses will try to take advantage very quickly if they perceive they can get away with it. Also, we will chat with the coach about this and maybe take 5-10 minutes to do some ground work with her before her next one-on-one lesson. She can give us homework. But you've given me lots of good ideas for things she can work on to keep both of them busy and working together on the ground so we will start this today!
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Last edited by Acadianartist; 10-12-2015 at 08:11 AM.
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post #13 of 20 Old 10-12-2015, 09:24 AM
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Sweet photo! The browband might be a bit short, but hard to know from a photo.

Doing the ground exercises with cones is a good idea as it helps your daughter focus on exactly where she wants him to go. Eight cones in a regular octagon offers lots of possibilities. Think odd the shape as four parking spaces in a cross shape. Start from the centre, back up into a space, forward to the centre again, 90degree turn on forehand and then back into the next space. Or walk forward out of the octagon and lead him round the outside to a random slot and back into the centre.

I'm sure you can both have fun inventing exercises for him.
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post #14 of 20 Old 10-12-2015, 10:23 AM
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Hi Acadianartist, All!

In addition to what others have said, remember that these things take time.

I would suggest having the young lady spend lots of time leading her new friend around; in the barn, around the property, hand grazing, around parked cars, running tractors, ATVs, thru obstacles, whatever, whenever. Every day, several times a day if possible. Even better if she feeds him and is his primary caregiver. She should reward him for obedient behavior, and strive not to get angry with him when things don't go as planned; just ignore miscues, and try again.

This all aimed at developing a bond of friendship; "My Horse", "My Human". Especially with an Arabian, once a bond is in place, she will have a willing partner, and a friend for life. This should probably take precedence over riding lessons.

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post #15 of 20 Old 10-12-2015, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
Hey all, just thought I'd get your suggestions on some ground manners exercises my daughter (10) can do with her new horse, a 14 yr old Arabien gelding. He is a good horse overall, but tends to get a little excited and she is a small child who is used to handling horses, but obviously does not have the strength of an adult.

My observation while watching them is he tends to want to run into stalls when she brings him in the barn from outside to groom him and ride him. She has trouble holding the lead line when he does this and he has actually run into a random stall (not his, but he's new, so does not know which stall is his yet). They used to feed him grain to bring him (he prefers being outside) in so I think he expects some grain to be in there. We have had no issues at all catching him in the paddock and bringing him in, he could just be a little more polite about it. Even while walking through the indoor arena, he tends to rush a bit so she has to pull him back. Sometime she crowds her so she has to push his shoulders away from her. He does this with a halter or a bridle on. Once she mounts him, he settles down and goes to work.

On the cross-ties, he is generally ok, but he can be a challenge to bridle (he puts his head up) and halter. I thought we could work in the arena on ground manners. Any specific exercises we could do? I'd like to see him paying more attention to her cues rather than rushing forward - kind of like teaching a dog to heel. I know he has to respect her, but we just got him about a week ago and she is just a child so I'm not sure how to make that happen. This is not a major issue - he does not bite, kick or show any aggression - but just something that could help the two of them bond while teaching him to respect boundaries. Looking forward to hearing your advice!
Good thinking on your part that the problem of rushing into a stall is most likely learned behavior from his previous home. I agree with the others about your daughter needing the lessons in horse handling, learning the correct way and being very consistent. Any work your daughter does correctly will establish a better relationship with her and the horse but the two areas that you mentioned need attention. Treats can work very well with the stall rushing when the horse knows the reward is in your hand or pocket and not in the stall. I would be working with him on leading at a normal pace, stopping and standing still, then preceding slowly one step at a time. If the horse loses focus and tries to rush I would circle him or make him do an about face, make him stand still, then precede again. As for the haltering and bridling, a horse that accepts both but just holds his head high never bothers me as I am 6'1". The one thing I have found is to hold the halter lower. Sounds strange but it has worked with a few horses that just compensated for me not raising the halter by lowering their head. Again you can use treats to simply lower their head and use the lead rope or reins to put some pressure on the poll.
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post #16 of 20 Old 10-12-2015, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quick update: she did groundwork in the arena with him and he was perfect. Made me think I had overreacted. He follows her, stops with her, doesn't get ahead, backs up, stands for a long time. The only time she had to pull hard was when putting him on the cross-ties again. He looked like he was going to head into a stall so I stood in front of it as my daughter turned him around and clipped him on the ties. She didn't ride him today so no bridling, but he was very cooperative. He may just be adjusting... but we will keep working on ground manners and handling. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

George the mule, the horse is boarded right now so she can't be the primary caretaker since we can't be there for all the feeding times. However, we are there every day and she does absolutely everything by herself (but I am by her side to help if need be - so far that hasn't been necessary). All the treats also come from her. We are really having fun working with him overall! And eventually, he will live in our backyard so she will be primary caretaker then.
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post #17 of 20 Old 10-13-2015, 08:28 AM Thread Starter
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Had a chat with the barn hand who brought him in yesterday - he did the same thing with her, tried to rush into a stall. Otherwise, she had no issues leading him. The fact that this happens no matter who leads him tells me it is not my daughter who's the problem and that he's just gotten into a bad habit of doing this. Shouldn't be too hard to break him of it if we just move the reward away from the stall and give it to him when he's being quiet on cross-ties instead.
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post #18 of 20 Old 10-13-2015, 06:33 PM
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re: Browband. I have a little Morgan mare who needs a cob size bridle and halter, but the browband on a cob bridle was definitely pinching her, it just wasn't wide enough (I told her she needed more room to accommodate that big busy brain of hers :))

If you're on a FB page like "English Tack Trader" or similar, you should be able to find a browband in a size up pretty easily just by posting an "in search of" post. I don't think I even paid for the one I ended up getting, just the shipping charges. So many people have bits and pieces of bridles hanging around, you're doing them a favor by cleaning out their tack trunks!
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post #19 of 20 Old 10-16-2015, 08:33 PM
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First, congratulations for this new horse, who seems a good match with your daughter (lovely picture). You are doing a fine job supervising her, asking the right questions and learning. Horse make us learn every day and keep us humble.

You are right in not wanting bad habits escalate in major issues. You must "sweat the small stuff" to avoid the big stuff. You had great advices so far, and considering it's been just one week, those things take time. I love Georges the Mule's suggestion of just daughter and horse walking in all kinds of places to build confidence mutually.

I am a bit concerned about the coach's suggestion of a chain over the nose. I've owned arabians for years and they don't respond very well to training with harsh methods and pain as a mean of control. Taking the time for them to understand what's expected and being consistent and fair in training is the key. They understand fast and are usually extremely willing to learn and please their humans.

Good luck, keep us posted!

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post #20 of 20 Old 10-16-2015, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Eole (Merci Nathalie!)! You know what, we got the lead rope with the chain and never even used it. Turns out it's unnecessary. Overall, he leads like a sweetheart. We did a bunch of ground exercises and he was almost flawless. He will turn, back, walk, trot, halt, whatever she asks for. But he is also beginning to know and trust us, so I believe that is making a difference. When I went out to get him out of the paddock today (no hay or treats in hand), he neighed at me. Made me very happy.

This doesn't mean he is always perfect, but in my (totally unbiased ;) opinion, he is a very good horse trying hard to do a good job. For example, I was leading him out of the riding arena tonight (no pulling on the lead rope, just walking by his neck) and he got a little ahead of me as we got close to the gate so I made him do a circle and I could see his brain going "Oh, sorry, I got a little carried away there, I'll just walk alongside you very slowly now". Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but this horse is incredibly intelligent and forward-thinking. I rode him tonight for the first time. I did a few patterns with him at the walk/trot and I would do one pattern and I swear, the next time he would try to repeat it. He takes the lightest of cues and is paying attention all the time.

So, back to my daughter leading him. He no longer rushes into stalls. Though he tries to eat cat food, LOL. There is a big dish of cat food on the floor near the cross-ties and he will lunge for it, grab a mouthful, then spit it out. But now that we know he has this in his head when he comes in, we make sure to just give him a little jerk when we get near it (really, a tiny little tug coming from a 10-year old) which is usually enough to get him to re-focus. Again, this is with a regular lead rope attached under his chin, no chain over the nose. We find he has calmed down a bit now too, like he's settled in. But because he's so smart and sensitive, we will always need to stay a step ahead of him, otherwise, he will find ways to amuse himself.

The bridling remains a challenge. My daughter has a hard time getting it on because he keeps sticking his head in the air and to be fair, she's pretty sloppy, like most 10-yr olds will be, so the nose band is over his eye or something, which I'm sure really annoys him. We've tried training him to put his head down for a treat, but he grabs the treat and puts his head right back up. He eventually gives in after 2-3 tries, but I don't want this to become a bad habit. So tonight, I put the reins over his head, placed them directly behind the ears, and applied gentle pressure on the poll until he lowered his head. He then accepted the bit readily. The trick with him is to be slow, gentle, but firm. Trying to rush things is the worst thing we can do with this horse. Maybe with any horse, but hey, I'm learning all over again here, so I only have this guy to learn from right now!
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