HELP Please - Horse's behavior getting progressively worse... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy HELP Please - Horse's behavior getting progressively worse...

Hello All!

This is my first post, indeed my reason for joining the forum, and I'd be really thankful if you all might weigh in and give me some pointers!

A few months back, I purchased my horse, Chah, my first, and so far it has been a really wonderful experience (more or less...). We've been on plenty of long rides through the mountains here, and I simply love spending time with him at the stables, in pasture, etc just being around him. My suit sleeves are currently covered in slobber and dust as I write this. I've been doing TONS of reading, research, and tallking to other riders and owners to try and be as good of an owner, teacher, and leader to him as possible.

The Problem(s):

Despite a really great start between us, over the past month or so, Chah is becoming gradually more "aggressive" and "dominant" towards me. At first he was a real peach, but more and more, he exhibits signs of rebellion and anger towards me, and other horses. He is by no means dangerous or vicious, but I blame myself, and I want to fix this behavior ASAP. He's clearly testing me, but perhaps I am responding wrong.

Examples:

-Mounting: He REFUSES to stand still. Won't do it, never has. Takes me 5-10 minutes to get on, and when I do, he backs up, goes forward, turns around, and is generally agitated by my presence. Even though he's a harness racer, he's always been ridden saddle, and other riders who know him tell me this is strange.

-Trail Riding: At first, perfect trail riding, calm, collected. Now, he randomly bucks, lifts a leg, crabs, and kicks out at the other horses (whom he lives with) on trail. It can get quite scary, especially whilst along cliffs and rivers on a narrow path...I've checked his tack (all new), fitting, burrs, etc, but can't see why he's so bent out of shape. He also tries to bite my legs when we stop, only he can't reach

-Stables: Perhaps the least important, but he is becoming more and more aggressive towards me. He used to like being petted (never really enjoyed grooming much), but now he is ears pinned all the time around me, unless I have food. And when the food's gone, ears back down. He nips sometimes, but passively.

Sorry for the long post...overall, I still think he's a great horse. Even on his worst day, he's still more-or-less manageable and never outright mean or vicious. Sometimes I think many of these things might be due to his history as a racing horse, competitive nature, the very special commands/training he's learned, and lack of intimacy with humans he's certainly experienced.

What worries me is just that things are getting progressively WORSE all the time...I'd appreicate any thoughts on how to improve this!

Last edited by Foxhunter; 12-18-2015 at 04:07 PM.
Kieran is offline  
post #2 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 02:35 PM
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I am afraid he has learned you aren't the boss.
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post #3 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 02:50 PM
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Yep, he's got used to you and surroundings, knows you aren't the 'boss' and testing you big style!

Mounting.. spend hours getting on and off (forget riding out until you fix this) He shouldn't move while you mount so keep pretending to get on, if he moves do it again and again.. once he learns to stand still, try getting on, again if he moves keep repeating the process until he learns.

Trail.. double check his new tack for fit, it may rub somewhere otherwise ride short/safe areas with and without company and build up. Definately don't do narrow or dangerous paths until you know he's safe and behaves.

Stable.. don't give him treats, be firm with a 'sharp tone of voice' when he's being rude, soft when he stands and behaves. If he's moody when you give him his 'dinner'.. get him to back off when you bring it in, if he doesn't back off walk out and try again in a few mins (repeat as needed) but ignore flat back ears etc. just as long as he backs off until you 'allow' him to go to it, then leave him to eat in peace.

He doesn't respect you or see you as herd leader so you want to change that fast if you don't want him to get worse!
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post #4 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 02:55 PM
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For the mounting, are you using a mounting block? Your first thing is going to be teaching him to stand without a saddle. Take him out into the ring our his pasture with just a halter and lead, walk around and randomly stop and tell him "stand". If he moves any of his feet, even just a step, correct him with the lead, put his feet back where you want them, until he stands for a count of three. Then walk again. After he can consistently stand the first time you ask, for a three count, then move up to counting to five. When that's consistent, move to ten. Reward him with a "good boy" and a rub on his head or shoulder when he stands well. Increase the amount of time you stand until you can stand for a couple of minutes without him moving his feet.

Then move put your saddle on him and work at the mounting block. Bring him up next to it and ask him to stand. When he stands for a three count, walk him away from it and praise him. Don't get on. When he's standing well at a three count, go to five, then to ten, and so on. When he's standing well at the mounting for a couple of minutes consistently, start asking him to stand, and then you step onto the mounting block. If he moves, correct him, bring him back, make him stand, get back on the mounting block. When he can stand with you on the mounting block for a three count, get down, praise and walk him away. Increase the time until he stands well with you on the mounting block for a minute.
Repeat the process with putting one foot in the stirrup. Then when you get to where your actually swinging up onto him, if he moves, put him right back next to the mounting block. Do it every time until you can get on and he just stands at the block.

For the trail issue, get after him. When he bucks, pull his head up and push him forward. When he puts any foot out of where you want it to go, make him put it back in line. It's tough love time.

For the nipping, a good hard smack works. The second you feel teeth, you need to send a quick hard smack to his jaw. If it's quick and hard enough, it should only take once or twice for him to get it.
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post #5 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 03:05 PM
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Basically he has you figured out. Get a trainer in to show you the best ways to correct the bad behaviour.
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post #6 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
Sometimes I think many of these things might be due to his history as a racing horse, competitive nature, the very special commands/training he's learned, and lack of intimacy with humans he's certainly experienced.
I agree with the others who say he's figured you out. I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on a horse's past or throw out excuses as to why they behave poorly, when in fact...they just need WORK.

Lot's of people are going to tell you that you need to correct your horse when he exhibits these behaviors that you have explained, and you DO need to correct him, but you also need to know how and when to correct him. Timing is everything with bad behaviors...well, with all behaviors really. If you miss your window of opportunity, which can often be within seconds, you are just going to have a bossy, frustrated horse.
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post #7 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 03:13 PM
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I don't disagree with anyone AT ALL, but I would also check to be sure this isn't a pain issue, or something like ulcers, that's progressing...

Kelly
I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.
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post #8 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 03:25 PM
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You've gotten some good advice so far. I'll just add a bit on the biting at your legs. He may not be able to reach, but you can! When you stop, if you think he might try to bite, take your feet out of the stirrups and wait for it. If he reaches around to bite, pop him in the nose with the toe of your boot. It's the same idea as smacking him in the nose when you're on the ground.

For the kicking out on the trail, keep him far enough away from other horses that he can't connect with his hooves. If you know your horse has this problem, it's your responsibility to keep the others safe. If he kicks out even when they're not too close, get after him! Make him think he's going to die for about 3 seconds, and then go back to what you were doing before. Don't ride on any trail that's too dangerous for you to get after him until you have the problem under control.

If you don't have the experience to get after him when he acts up, get a good trainer to help you, or I'm afraid his behavior will continue to escalate.
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post #9 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 03:30 PM
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No more kisses, cuddles and pats for now. This is often delivered at the wrong time and horses see it as a reward. We women do this instinctively, like we would a toddler, but they are not toddlers. Treat the horse as tho he'd better not mess with you. It's a mental game for you, to ramp up your energy. He needs consequences. It doesn't always have to be in the form of corporal punishment. If he moves away from a mounting block (please use one) get down quickly and back him up 30'. Tap his chest with the whip or a crop. Do this 2 or 3 times and he'll learn he can either stand still or go backwards which isn't comfortable at all.



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post #10 of 31 Old 12-18-2015, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Many thanks to you all for your thoughts!

I can see the common thread in your messages, and I agree. Given the timing, he has probably now gotten comfortable with his new home, and is asserting himself.

For those who mentioned the mounting block, no I don't use one. He's 16H and I'm 6'2", so i don't need it to get on smoothly and without shock. Also, riding trail, we don't always have one around... I will work him more on standing still though as suggested by AnalisaParalyzer and Klstarrs, thank you both.

Insofar as punishment, I'm certainly not lax, but perhaps I'm not doing it right, especially when mounted. On the ground it seems manageable. Today he nipped at me when I was standing near him (after feeding and playing around), and I gave him a loud "No!", raised my hand, and he backed off quickly. I'll have to work on riding discipline more for sure. MkMurphy81, yes, I've certainly given him a smack in the snout for this before, and shall continue until rectified.
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