Give up or carry on? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Give up or carry on?

Hi all
as many of you know, i currently have an in foal mare and i also have a rising 5 gelding shetland. These 2 soon to be 3 are my world! I love them so much. However...
i bought my gelding about 7 months ago for my daughter and was sold as a perfect kids pony. I have ridden for years as a kid and dealt with horses for years, but his was my first owned.
For the first month he was everything i wanted, but slowly his behaviour turned. He is bolshy, refuses to be groomed, rears and bucks when being lead, fussy with his feet etc etc. Its got to the point where i wont let my daughter near him even though he is only 10hh! He tries to bite me often.
My mare who is pregnant is a dream, perfect manners in everything. He however constantly challenges me. I have considered several times selling him on as a companion, but deep down i know he is not nasty. He was dumped as a foal and it tugs at my heart strings to let him go.
i know my inexperience lead him to this, and blame no one but me. I have learnt alot, and my mare is as good as gold. Have i left it too long to gain his respect? Have i ruined him forever?

Do i let him go to someone who could do better? Its so hard right now as we all love him, but im not sure if hd will ever respect me as its been so long. Im considering giving up altogether, but i dont know what i would do without them! Is it possible to be over horsed by a shetland!
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 04:10 PM
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you'd be amazed at quickly a bolshy horse can make a 180 degree turn when the handler upsets his view of the world that he is in charge, and resets that view to "I am in charge". Get a good trainer, one who is firm and knows how to teach good ground handling skills. watch her work with him, and learn from her/him. literally mimic the trainer's approach. it can be harder for the owner, becuase they succumb to the "cuteness" factor and struggle to be firm enough with their own horses.
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post #3 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 04:14 PM
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If he was good for the first month, try to find someone near to help you. You think that you are doing something wrong. Try to find out what. If a trainer could help you with him, he could still be a good horse. Buying another horse and the same thing may happen, if you can't find what caused the change. I had one that change due to a larger horse kicking her in the ribs. A custom saddle pad and she got better fast.
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post #4 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I dont want to give up on him. I know when i first got him, i was very nervous due to keeping him on a farm where the owner was very experienced having bred and trained point to point horses. So when he acted up, due to my own insecurities i would turn him out, or just let him get away with it. So he knew he could rule me.
i have started woring with him, but he only respects the whip. I have never had to use it on him with any force, but when i asked him to back out of my space i gently touch the whip on his chest and he backs away. He is very respectful when i have that in my hand, but also wont come near me.
however, like today, as soon as i leave, and im tool free, he likes to see me off. Today i chased him away for his behaviour, and he scuttled off and picked a fight on my mare who was having none of it. Am i doing right or wrong?
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 07:12 PM
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He should enter your space when you invite , or allow, but it should be polite,

If he runs up to you like,"I OWN you." You shush him off promptly . When he turns and looks at you like,"may I come over?" Then you let him.
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 07:39 PM
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You NEED a trainer. You have a grown horse with whom you're already having trouble with - how are you going to manage to properly raise and train a foal?
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* I'm often reading and posting from mobile and Siri loves to make a mockery of the English language.
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post #7 of 16 Old 02-13-2015, 07:48 PM
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Sounds like you have a fair idea what's going on actually, but just lack the confidence & skill to turn it around on your own. So don't stress, you haven't 'ruined' him or anything, you don't need to give up, just get some instruction/help with him. Especially if you believe he *was* well mannered & trained, he is likely to be perfectly OK again, so long as you can become consistent and assertive. So if you can get a trainer to come instruct you on how to handle him, that's the way I'd go.

Don't know how old your daughter is, gathering she's pretty young if you got her a shetty, but she may be old enough to start learning some safety basics too, so you have a little less to worry about(tho I dunno about you, but I didn't know what worry was, until I had kids... esp around horses).

On your above post, 'so he knew he could rule me', yes, horses work out very quickly what works & what doesn't. But you can be 'bossy' without confidence & get nowhere either - horses need a leader to feel secure, and if you're not it, even(especially?) if you're pretending to be, they may feel the need to step up, or get anxious & reactive about having no trusted leader to rely on. So again, I'd suggest working with a trainer, to learn how to be *confidently* assertive.

Re the whip thing, sounds like he knows that if he steps out of line when there's a whip in hand, it will be very unpleasant, so he's motivated to avoid that. And he has obviously found there's no good reason he should do stuff in absence of the whip - he doesn't get punished if he refuses, &/or he doesn't get rewarded for doing 'Good'. So you need to make sure you can be effective with him regardless of what you're holding - make the Right things Good & Easy for him and make the Wrong things difficult & ensure they don't work for him.

You might have noticed I said '*Good* and easy' and I've mentioned rewarding him for 'right' behaviour. Negative reinforcement(release of pressure/removal of unpleasant stimulus) is an invaluable training 'tool'. But don't discount the value & effectiveness of positively reinforcing(reward/add something desirable) the behaviours you want to encourage too. Just as the pony has obviously associated the whip to the fear of punishment, you can associate Good behaviours with Good consequences, to have him actually keen to do what you ask, rather than just because it gets too hard if he doesn't.

NB forgot to emphasise, until I saw Dancing's post, that yes, I agree that while it's far from 'panic stations', I would indeed be treating this seriously & making it a priority, especially when you're planning on bringing up a foal. At least the gelding started out well trained - imagine when you have a young horse with no clue, if you still have little ability/knowledge to teach him either, what a mess that could be.
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Last edited by loosie; 02-13-2015 at 07:53 PM.
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post #8 of 16 Old 02-14-2015, 01:36 AM
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Ponies are so cute - they can also be right little beggars and be quick to take advantage.

At 40" he can easily be put in his place. If he swings into you when you are grooming him, use your body weight to shove him very uncerimonially back and make him stand parallel to the tie place rather than at right angles to it.

If he makes an ugly face shove hm hard and get him off balance. Get after him with fast firm corrections every single time he threatens.
When he stands and behaves reward with a scratch not a tidbit.
Forget the "He was abandoned" and be determined to make him behave.

He will be happier for it and so will you and your daughter.
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-14-2015, 04:54 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DancingArabian View Post
You NEED a trainer. You have a grown horse with whom you're already having trouble with - how are you going to manage to properly raise and train a foal?
This is my worry, which is why giving it up before i ruin anymore is a thought that is becoming more and more prevalent.

My daughter is almost 3, and whilst she does listen, there are many times she doesnt (may need a trainer for her too). I let her deal with the mare who stands beautifully to be groomed, and she could lead her around as she is so good.
even when tied, i do not let my DD near my gelding unless i am in between them.

I used to reward him for good behaviour with a small treat, but quickly stopped this as it turned to biting. Now he gets his favourite spot tickled for good behaviour.

i agree that i shouldnt rely on the whip. I use it as an extension of my arm, but never used it on him with force, i touch him gently with it. I managed to get him to back off without it yesterday with noise and body language.

We considered sending him away to pony brat camp, but that might sort him out, but it wont teach me anything. We will have a look at local trainers, but i dont have a school or enclosed area for them to work with him.
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-14-2015, 06:38 AM
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I don't care if it is horses, dogs or children the rules and boundaries must run the same lines.
No grey areas, everything black and white.
Tight boundaries to start and as trust is formed then those boundaries can widen.

My wise old mother always said that if you promised them a bar of chocolate they got it, if you promised a spanking, they got that too.

Neither your horse nor your daughter need trainers, you need someone to help set you on the path to being a trainer!

Bribery never works, no good saying to your daughter if she is throwing a tantrum, "Darling, if you stop that you can have a cookie." That means tantrum equals a cookie.
You either ignore the tantrum or you use the naughty step.

It is the same with the gelding, threatening him or touching him with the whip and not carrying it through then he will soon ignore the whip and continue. One good crack along his side so that he feels it, at the correct time, will mean far more than all the threats.
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