How to Deal with a Head-Tosser - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-21-2015, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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How to Deal with a Head-Tosser

At the rescue I've been volunteering at, we have a horse named Fuzzy who is incredibly sweet but also has a bit of an ornery streak in him. When I have him haltered and walking, he is the perfect gentleman. But as soon as I go to put him back in his stall, he decides to throw a bit of a fit in the form of tossing his head around so that I can't get a good enough grip to get the halter off.

What is a good way to discourage this behavior? In some desperation, I gave him a gentle tap on the head and he stopped immediately (and gave me the most heartbroken, offended look I've ever seen from a horse), but I don't know if head-tapping is a good form of discipline or if it's too "invasive" (we have several head-shy horses at the rescue, and I would just hate to cause any of the other horses to develop those feelings!) Thoughts?
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-21-2015, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HobbitGirl View Post
At the rescue I've been volunteering at, we have a horse named Fuzzy who is incredibly sweet but also has a bit of an ornery streak in him. When I have him haltered and walking, he is the perfect gentleman. But as soon as I go to put him back in his stall, he decides to throw a bit of a fit in the form of tossing his head around so that I can't get a good enough grip to get the halter off.

What is a good way to discourage this behavior? In some desperation, I gave him a gentle tap on the head and he stopped immediately (and gave me the most heartbroken, offended look I've ever seen from a horse), but I don't know if head-tapping is a good form of discipline or if it's too "invasive" (we have several head-shy horses at the rescue, and I would just hate to cause any of the other horses to develop those feelings!) Thoughts?


I'm not very experienced, but I'd say I would keep doing the head tapping.
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-21-2015, 10:08 AM
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I'm trying to better understand the situation. Are you stating that the only time Fuzzy tosses his head around when you return him to his stall even before you try to take the halter off? For example, he doesn't do this when you put the halter on? Does he exhibit the behavior on the way to the stall or only once he is in the stall?

Various responses by the handler may deter such behavior. It is best, however, to prevent the behavior in the first place.

Choosing the best way of dealing with a horse that throws its head around depends greatly on the cause for this behavior. Discovering the cause has much to do with when the horse exhibits this behavior. This includes what the handler was doing. It also includes where this happens. Other things happening in the vicinity may also influence the behavior.

Experiment with different scenarios to determine consistencies in influences and behavior. In this way, you narrow possibilities of cause and effect and have a better chance of knowing how to prevent the behavior.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-21-2015, 10:15 AM
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I'd get a bag of carrots and offer one at a time just outside of his reach so he must stop the head tossing and reach forward for the carrot. Pet and praise every time he does this.
Offer 5 carrots, one at a time right AFTER you lead him into his stall. Maybe in one day, but certainly after several days you should be able to unhalter him without the fuss, and you haven't punished him for anything, just rewarded the fact that he stopped doing what you didn't want him to do.
AFTER you have stopped the head tossing, take in one step further, again using the carrots, and teach him to put his head first down to the floor of the stall, like when he eats, and then teach him to tip his head towards you. You want him to tip his head down and towards you for haltering and unhaltering.
Hope this helps!
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-21-2015, 12:22 PM
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I like Corporal's suggestion. I think it is important to break the routine of taking his halter off as soon as he gets back to his stall. I have had horses do this when they were being turned out so I didn't release them as soon as I was in the gate but walked them in a couple small circles and made them just stand still a few times
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-21-2015, 03:17 PM
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A few years back, my horse started having a bit of an attitude when I was turning him back out after grooming.
He wasn't being turned out with his friends, and the pasture was grazed pretty short.
Yeah, I resorted to blatent bribery. He's all about the bribery.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-24-2015, 03:00 AM
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Tell him to knock it off, forget the treats or bribing him.

Use your voice and attitude to correct.

And make him stop it by being the boss.

Tapping him won't hurt him, but you should be able to control horse with voice and physical presence first.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-24-2015, 09:58 AM
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We've had several horses, usually younger ones who would toss their heads a lot in anticipation of the halter being removed.

We would keep our hands up by their poll or the snap and wouldn't take it off until they stopped. Then we'd only slip it off part way, then put it back on, then slip it back off. Repetition and not taking it off until he stops head tossing might help.

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post #9 of 10 Old 03-25-2015, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drifting View Post
We've had several horses, usually younger ones who would toss their heads a lot in anticipation of the halter being removed.

We would keep our hands up by their poll or the snap and wouldn't take it off until they stopped. Then we'd only slip it off part way, then put it back on, then slip it back off. Repetition and not taking it off until he stops head tossing might help.
AGREE
reward the right behavior, not the wrong one.
No different then not un tying a horse that is pawing, until he stands quietly
Horses don't use deductive reasoning, but association action directly with result
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-26-2015, 08:35 AM
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I think I now agree with YOU. But, the OP posted that nobody knows this horse's history and that it could have been abuse.
STILL, the horse understands current authority, and forgets prior experiences. I offered a way to encourage a horse that I thought had been abused.

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