I need help with my abused Right-brained Introvert! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-18-2016, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Red face I need advice: Right-brained Introvert!

Hey guys!
Now, I have a big 16hh beautiful buckskin paint gelding, aged 9. He has been through quite a lot. Worked as a Bronc brander in north QLD on a station. For some reason he ended up at the dogger sales (dog meat factory). He was bought and passed on.
I finally bought him, trucked him up from VIC to the NT. (these are the states in Australia).
He has been with me for the past 6 weeks, I've been spending a lot of time feeding him up, bonding & desensitising.
He is absolutely petrified of men, even if I were to clap my hands or pat him, not rub, he'd flinch or look like he wants to implode.


He's improved nearly 50% in the time he has been with me. But I've never had to deal with such a scared/abused/sensitive horse. All of my previous ponies were very dominant.
I'm pretty much starting from scratch in the round yard. He looks at me like he wants to learn but is just confused.
Is there anything I should focus on, like his insecurities and trust issues. Is there certain ways I should go about things?


I'm doing okay so far, but I didn't know if there were other ways to go about it. ♥
Thankyou in advance. x

Last edited by Kaity Painted Equine; 09-18-2016 at 10:35 PM.
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-18-2016, 10:35 PM
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I am glad you explained in plain English his personality and issues, I don't speak "Parelli", so the title alone is confusing to me.

I think what you're doing so far sounds like a reasonable start. you don't want to sneak around him, and go overly lightly, but neither do you want to overly flood him with scary stimuli. you sound like a sensitive person who can keep watching him to see where you might be overloading him.

it is true, though, that if you allow his history to be too prominant in your thinking, you may end up treating him with too much 'slack' and end up with a spoiled horse.

remember, in general, when desensitizing, you stop the stimulus when the horse stops fleeing, not when he flees.
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-18-2016, 10:41 PM
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Hello, and welcome to the Forum!

When I first purchased my horse, he was the same way. It would take me HOURS to catch him, he wouldn't let me anywhere near his face and any sudden movement made him EXPLODEEEE.
So I had to essentially retrain myself on how I handled him because just like you, I was very used to dealing with dominant/confident horses.

My best piece of advice would be to put a halt on the desensitizing training, for now I would work in baby steps. Desensitizing should come when the trust has been fully established and he knows you're not there to hurt him, only to build his confidence.
Right now you want to keep his engagement level at 50%, just like he is when he's out in the paddock. You don't want to raise his engagement level because then he can turn down the "fear path"

Just work with him on the ground, leading him around, brushing him, teaching him ground manners. You don't want to overload him though, some days you should just spend time around him, not necessarily working with him. Just so he knows you're essentially a "safety blanket"

I would say once you've established 85-90% trust/comfort level then I would start all over again, but this time with a male involved. That way he will learn this particular male is a "safe zone" and he will be more inclined to tolerate him because YOU (the safety blanket) brought him around.

I hope that helped and my thoughts weren't too all over the place for you.
Wishing you the best of luck.
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post #4 of 23 Old 09-18-2016, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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tinylily,
Thankyou so much, I am a very sensitive person. I think that's why I see him on such a different level than my previous horses. Its good in some ways, but I also want him to be confident enough in the future for trail riding and fun activities. :)
I'm trying not to think about his past too much, just plenty of smiles and positive energy. He responds very well to that. So that makes me even happier!

DomiStLaurent,
Hi! Thanks!
Wow, really? I'm trying not to catch him, I've just been waiting - turning my back and when he comes closer I show him the carrot I have, rub his face and he's usually fine.
I'm glad its not only me that has to re-train ourselves to the horse. Its hard because you don't want them feeling like we don't know how to lead them...

Thankyou, I've just spent most days going down there to see him and walk him around, showing him new things around the block. Telling him the things he is scared of is interesting and moving on. He has responded well to that as well. I haven't heard the term "safety blanket" before. But I like it. Because that is what we are, really! Haha
I will definitely give that a go. My partner says he wants to help out, so now I definitely want him to just be there in the background for the moment so Cooper can get used to the male presence. :)

Thankyou for your replies! ♥
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 12:41 AM
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I have a gelding that is similar! Parelli-followers I know [ie, the bodyworker...haha] have mentioned to me that he is a very much a "Right-brain introvert," as well!

For the first year and a half I had him, he accepted me in his pasture but anyone else would cause him to head for the farthest corner of his 6 acre pasture, and, basically, hide until I showed up. If I was there, he would occasionally semi-engage with strangers but it was mostly very nippy sort of interaction [his go-to "I'm very uncomfortable" behavior]. If the interaction extended beyond his comfort zone and he felt like he couldn't leave, he'd retreat into his stall and put his head in the corner - essentially blocking everyone out. If he was approached while in his corner, by me or anyone else, he'd pin his ears, then snake his neck and then maybe snap his teeth, if he still felt threatened.

The only thing that has really helped him is time and not pushing him. He was out to pasture for almost 2 years with twice daily interaction with me [though often it'd be weeks without me physically handling him in anyway - I fed him twice daily and we interacted physically if it was necessary or if he wanted to, but it was very limited]. This management scheme wasn't really planned - I was [am] very busy and it was often dark [with no electricity at the "shed"] when I was home and able to do any work with him. So he sat and just bummed around the pasture with his two goat buddies.

After about a year and a half, he started "asking" me to work with him more often - galloping away when I asked him to come to his stall for dinner, then coming back if I ignored him, and galloping off again when I paid any attention to him, hovering around more as I worked with his goat friends, following me wherever I went, meeting me at the gate everyday - twice a day, that sort of thing. He started getting into petting-range with strangers and engaging with people he didn't know in "normal" ways [still reverting to nipping if he got nervous/overstimulated].
He also started doing some "boredom"-type behaviors - chewing the siding off his stall-shed, digging in his stall, all despite the fact that he had a grassy 6 acre pasture at his disposal.


I started trying to work with him more, but my schedule just did not allow for it too well, so I started looking for a boarding barn where I could visit after work, in the dark, and still be able to see him!
I found the perfect place, with people who treat him carefully...but not too carefully.

He has really blossomed since coming to the barn, but, without that initial "depressurization" period, I think he would be doing a lot worse right now.
He still is wary of strangers and doesn't hang out with his head over the door, but he watches everything that's going on in the barn and seems to enjoy the activity.
I see him everyday and that regularity is very valuable for him as I seem to be sort of a "safety blanket" for him.

At first, I was still riding him as I was under the impression that he was sort of broke, but, after moving the barn, I quickly realized that he had some MASSIVE holes in his training. So I stopped riding him, at all, about 6 months ago and we've just been doing liberty work and groundwork to increase our communication and build his confidence.
The liberty work has been HUGE for his confidence. He's learning to approach things he fears and that not everything plans to kill him!

Here's a video that I really love because you can see him processing A LOT of feelings.
The backstory for this is that I wanted him to trot over the ground pole, then over the little jump. We had been working a lot on little jumps and such, so he knew the individual pieces well, but he was overwhelmed by the two parts together.
As you can see, it took him a while, lots of tries, but he understood what I was asking for and wanted to do it. This sort of thing takes a strong relationship and time, but you can kind of see how I'm choosing when to tell him things and when I'm choosing to let him think it out. For him, letting him think it out is huge. It's a major confidence boost for him when he is right, and he seems to learn faster from his mistakes.



Right now we've been working through a lot of his baggage around someone getting on his back/the mounting block. He gets to rest and get lots of scratches, occasionally treats if he tries REALLY hard, by the mounting block and he has to work if he intentionally moves away from the mounting block without permission - all while I'm standing on the block, above his head.
It's been tricky, but we've gone from him completely panicking over me just standing on the mounting block to him marching right up the second he sees me on top of the mounting block.
I haven't gotten on, at all, yet, but I'm hoping that part is coming soon. I plan to just sit on him at first - not asking for movement, just getting him ok and not anxious about a human on his back.

The one thing I feel pretty confident in saying about this type of horse is that recovery can take a LONG LONG time. It's really possible and they're super once they realize that humans are ok, but it isn't a fast road!

Best of luck. :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

~
Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 04:04 AM
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Time and patience are what will help him the most. When I've taken on a horse that has been abused I don't force lessons but they have to do what I want to get what they want. For instance at feeding time they have to stand and let me put the halter on before they are allowed to go eat. They are free to run off into the pasture but they are not free to enter the barn because I will block them from entering (I have lean-to type situations where they have access to come in or go out as they please). Same with grooming, I'll let them walk away if they want to, picking up feet etc...I just keep building on things as they learn to trust. Most every one of them has come around by doing it this way but I had a qh mare that would tolerate but not trust until she had a choke episode that I helped her through, after that she was my buddy. Another extremely stubborn mini mare who is no longer scared but would just as soon be ignored by humans. After she had time to get over her fear and still didn't want handled then it was a matter of putting her halter and lead on to do anything with her. It will be up to you to determine fear vs don't want to and work with him accordingly. I would ask your partner to stand back for now, within eyesight but not close enough to be a threat (yes I know he really isn't a threat) while you get the gelding to be more relaxed.

It also helps tremendously if you have another horse that is totally into human contact that can serve as an example. Let the gelding watch your partner grooming, feeding, working with that other horse.

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.

Last edited by JCnGrace; 09-19-2016 at 04:11 AM.
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 11:12 AM
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Welcome to the forum! :)
I agree- do some liberty training, and lots of groundwork. Have to work from the ground up. Patience is key. It will not happen overnight.
You two will be just fine.Need to build trust and confidence, with each other.

Ride more, worry less.
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 11:37 AM
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Even a non abused horse can take a long time to settle in to a new home, especially one that was with a previous owner for a long time.
You've already identified your horse's temperament so know that too much pressure to try to force progress isn't going to work.
Focus on being patient, taking things one day at a time and slowly build up a trust situation where the horse realizes that you aren't the enemy but the one he can rely on.
I found clicker training to be very useful with a horse of mine that had serious trust issues.

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-19-2016, 12:10 PM
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A 50% improvement in five weeks is very good. Depending on the horse I might allow three months or more if necessary to reach that point, so you are doing very well with him. I am very subtle with desensitizing. I work on each area as I need to and would never submit a horse to being desensitized to many things in one session. As for training. . . . I would say that some ground work is goods long as you are aware of him reaching the limits of his comfort zone. For now, I would look for improvement and leave perfection as the ultimate goal. I find very often that less done at first but done well pays off in the future. Good luck with him and keep us posted.
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-21-2016, 09:40 PM
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I, too, own a right brained introvert. While I don't believe she was abused, it has taken a long time to gain her trust and build up her confidence. I believe that firm, kind consistency does the trick. This type of horse doesn't like surprises, so I think it's important that there is a certain amount of predictability in routine for the confidence to grow. This seems to be working for my girl, anyway, and she is much more relaxed when we are working together. She is a TWH, and gaits beautifully when she feels confident and relaxed in what she's doing. Hope this helps, and good luck.
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