Groundwork with Harley - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 11:38 AM
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If one of my horses even LOOKS like it is going to nip, They are immediately entitled to experience a hissy fit by me, complete with yanking on the lead rope and backing as fast as they can for a good 30 feet.

There is no, "no, no, sweety, now that is not nice, honey" at my barn.
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post #12 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by greentree View Post
If one of my horses even LOOKS like it is going to nip, They are immediately entitled to experience a hissy fit by me, complete with yanking on the lead rope and backing as fast as they can for a good 30 feet.

There is no, "no, no, sweety, now that is not nice, honey" at my barn.
This is how I got my best friend's mare to stop biting me. She was awful and because my best friend had only pecked at her (lightly slapped her muzzle), she thought it was a game. She grabbed the back of my arm as we were standing there one day and I ran her backward for a good 40 feet. Stopped, stood for a second, then turned around and walked away like nothing had happened. That mare has NEVER even thought about biting me since. Funny enough, she nickers when she sees me and is infinitely more respectful of me and my space than she is of anyone else, even my best friend who has owned her since she was three (she's now 11-12).
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post #13 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 11:59 AM
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I am going to address the girth sour and the bridle/bit evasion. I am guessing by girth sour you are meaning he is turning and nipping when you start to girth, or maybe moving around. He is just testing you, like all his other tests so a correction as described by the others above is in order. Do it like you mean it. Make him stand still, not moving.

On the bridle, I experienced this myself last summer after months of no problem. I had developed three bad habits-----pulling on the bridle too quickly and too far up into the mouth, banging the teeth because I was in a hurry, and letting the bit drop when unbridling before she opened her mouth to let it drop out.

My trainer lectured me on my bad habits after watching me try to bridle unsuccessfully. She had not known, I was usually tacked up and warming up when she would arrive for a lesson. She then took my mare to the center of the arena and showed me how to correct the bridle evasion. When my mare refused to open for the bit and put her head up, Kim pushed her in a very tight circle, basically a turn on the haunches, around twice. She stopped, stood for a moment to let it sink in, then tried to bridle again. It took three tries before Whinnie took the bit nicely. I then tried and bridled and unbridled 3 times perfectly. Kim also told me that backing her up about 20 or 30 feet could work as well. The key is correct, settle, then try again.

I inadvertently created the problem when I got pinched while bridling (fumbling and not getting my thumb out of the way when opening mouth) and started getting into a hurry when bridling to avoid it. In all the years I had horses, I had never had this happen before and was duly ashamed for my role in her behavior.

Ask someone to watch you bridle, maybe something is happening that started making him evade. If not, then the correction will work anyway whatever Harley's reason for not cooperating.

P.S. Horses sometimes spend months in a new herd figuring out their place and who they can and cannot push around. Harley is just being a horse.
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post #14 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 12:01 PM
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Acadian, that horse is telling you he is an Arabian, and sees no point in doing that stuff.....no excuse for nipping! though! at alll....

He is obviously liking you, to leave his feed to visit!
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post #15 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 05:34 PM
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A previous horse tried to bite when being cinched up so, standing out of his reach the girth was raised and lowered countless times until he finally quite trying to get me. It took about 5 saddlings before he gave up. But, it was always done in two stages with a little walking in between.



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post #16 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all. I really appreciate you patiently telling me how to avoid messing up this horse without telling me straight out that I'm being an idiot.

After thinking it over for the day as we ran our NYE errands with the kids (none of which, unfortunately, involved horse time), I realized I had gone in with the idea of working on his ground tying alone. This was due to the fact that he didn't do very well the previous time I'd tried to throw in a bit of a ground-tying refresher before riding him. So my idea was to go to the barn and spend as much time as it took to work on just that, nothing else. When it was all over in about 5 minutes (seriously, it's like he reads my mind sometimes), I was out of ideas so I randomly started walking him around. I probably should have just brought him back into his stall as a reward for doing so well, but I got greedy and selfish and wanted to spend time with him.

I agree with many here who assess his "nipping" (really more lipping, but still not acceptable in my book) as boredom. You're exactly right - it's like a game to him. He'll kind of do a quick movement with his lips at my sleeve, then quickly move his head back like the little clown he is. But this is not something I want to tolerate so as you all pointed out, I need to get at him hard next time this happens. Also, no rolling while on lead line, got it. I generally don't get into a pulling match when he lags behind, and have slapped him a bit with the lead rope once when he refused to move, but I do kind of jerk the lead line forward and sideways when he wants to put his head on my shoulder.

What I'm also thinking is that after the initial ground-tying exercise, I had nothing else planned and failed to engage his mind. I will study a few groundwork exercises so I have them in store for next time. He was clearly in a learning frame of mind initially so I could have taken advantage of that to work on other things. How long would you make groundwork sessions? 15-20 minutes? 30 minutes?
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post #17 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whinnie View Post
I am going to address the girth sour and the bridle/bit evasion. I am guessing by girth sour you are meaning he is turning and nipping when you start to girth, or maybe moving around. He is just testing you, like all his other tests so a correction as described by the others above is in order. Do it like you mean it. Make him stand still, not moving.

On the bridle, I experienced this myself last summer after months of no problem. I had developed three bad habits-----pulling on the bridle too quickly and too far up into the mouth, banging the teeth because I was in a hurry, and letting the bit drop when unbridling before she opened her mouth to let it drop out.

My trainer lectured me on my bad habits after watching me try to bridle unsuccessfully. She had not known, I was usually tacked up and warming up when she would arrive for a lesson. She then took my mare to the center of the arena and showed me how to correct the bridle evasion. When my mare refused to open for the bit and put her head up, Kim pushed her in a very tight circle, basically a turn on the haunches, around twice. She stopped, stood for a moment to let it sink in, then tried to bridle again. It took three tries before Whinnie took the bit nicely. I then tried and bridled and unbridled 3 times perfectly. Kim also told me that backing her up about 20 or 30 feet could work as well. The key is correct, settle, then try again.

I inadvertently created the problem when I got pinched while bridling (fumbling and not getting my thumb out of the way when opening mouth) and started getting into a hurry when bridling to avoid it. In all the years I had horses, I had never had this happen before and was duly ashamed for my role in her behavior.

Ask someone to watch you bridle, maybe something is happening that started making him evade. If not, then the correction will work anyway whatever Harley's reason for not cooperating.

P.S. Horses sometimes spend months in a new herd figuring out their place and who they can and cannot push around. Harley is just being a horse.
Thanks for addressing this issue. He basically just swishes his tail around when I tighten the girth. If he's in the arena, he will move around. He was doing this when we bought him, but it was severe enough to worry me. Still, I agree, I'd like him to stand still - and that was part of the reason for the ground-tying exercise. He does stand still for mounting.

As for the bridling, when my daughter was trying to bridle him, he discovered he could just shoot his head up in the air and she couldn't reach him. He would do it two or three times and finally let her bridle him. The coach recommended I do the bridling to avoid this becoming a habit because my daughter can't hold onto him. So my technique now is to put the halter around his neck and immediately wrap my right arm around his head, about halfway between the muzzle and eye. I am prepared to hang on for dear life and he's now realized that and almost stopped trying. As far as putting the bridle on, I admit, I'm not the most skilled. However, I let him take the bit - which he does - and gently pull it up while using my right hand to put the back of the bridle over his ears. This is probably where I'm clumsiest because I'm so short. But I'm always careful not to bang his teeth, both while putting it on and taking it off. I really think it's just a half-hearted effort to get out of working on his part because once he feels my arm wrapped around his head, he just seems to give up and willingly take the bridle. I've seen lots of horses clamp their teeth shut and he doesn't do that at all. One last thing - I noticed he was chewing funny a few weeks ago so had the vet come in and sure enough, he needed his teeth floated pretty bad and had an ulcer in his mouth. So it's possible the bit didn't feel very good for a while, but he should be fine now. I just need to get more skilled at putting on the bridle. My daughter still does it once in a while and is getting better at it too. When she does it, I put the reins over his poll and hold him down from the right side while she puts the bridle on from the left. That seems to work well.
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post #18 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 07:08 PM
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Don't go by a clock.
I have an Arab who doesn't like arena work because before I bought her that's all she did. She was OK until after our first trail ride then she no longer saw a reason for it. Being in Wisconsin arena riding is a must.
If I don't give her something to do she gives me something to do. She likes chaos. So that's what I give her. I have a bridge, scatter poles around-(make them into ride through/back through lanes, side pass poles, step overs), cones & anything else I can find to throw around. She needs to be kept thinking. Your guy may be the same way.
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post #19 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 07:16 PM
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Teach him to lower his head to poll pressure. Press there & release with even the slightest hint of lowering his head. Soon you'll be able to hold the top of the bridle between his ears for bridling which is so much easier.
Some horse like bridling better if you bring their ears forward to put the bridle on vs sliding the bridle over the ears.
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post #20 of 23 Old 12-31-2015, 09:23 PM
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do work on getting him to lower his head, like Natisha says. this can be one of the things you do to bond. and, it helps to also get the horse to bend in toward you, not just lowering the head, when you start bridling.

so, you put you hand up over his poll (don't put your whole arm up there, or you could get a dislocated shoulder if he pops his head up). ask for lower. you can have the other hand softly on his nose bone, and as he lowers, you gently ask him to tip his head toward you. not twisting (that is , NOT having the mouth move toward you while the ears go farther away). no, I mean that he tucks his head so that the jowl tucks into his neck and he swivels at the poll and turns toward you. hold him for a sec with the absolute lightest touch you can, and if he takes his head back use a light but sharp tapping of your fingers on his nasal bone, on the offside, to ask him to curl back toward you. when he holds it soft, take your hands away , don't touch him but just verbally praise. and wait, and repeat.

I used to ride a 17hh giant. he did this evasion, and I never did get good at getthing to keep his head down. but, that's because I didn't take the time to do it. I just wanted to tack up and ride, not "work" on gettring things better.
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