Mistreatment of pony - pls advise - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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Mistreatment of pony - pls advise

We have bought our first pony for our dd (aged 8) from a friend, she also has a livery attached. Our pony (22) has been with us for seven months and is loved more than anything. We are frantically trying to learn the ropes (relatively successfully) and are enjoying time with her so much. Our greatest concern is of her treatment when we are not there, I saw the groom very sharply elbowing her in the chest today for eating grass, she tells us we are too soft and pushes the horses around. We don't know if this is normal or not? My instincts so absolutely not ( pony looked scared) but maybe we this is what you do.... Please please advise.
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 05:35 PM
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A nudge in the chest as a cue to back up or stop putting their head down is acceptable, but not a harsh jab. It takes a lot for a horse to be actually hurt by a human but still, this doesn't sound comfortable and is a bit excessive.
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 05:40 PM
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I think you need to take some lessons on handling. A sharp elbow is not much to a horse who outweighs a human by seven or more times. Horses will definitely push you around if you do not command their respect. Horses are not children, nor are they dogs. A correction like that would be for a horse who knows how to obey, and has been asked politely, but continues to ignore you. It says, "don't ignore me or else!"

If you are too easy-going with your pony she will probably take advantage of you more and more, until finally she will refuse to do anything she doesn't feel like doing (and most horses only feel like grazing with their friends, most of the time). Worse, she may decide to push you around as if you were a horse she was dominant to, with her teeth and hoofs. When you get to that point you have created a dangerous horse who could hurt you. This happens to naive beginners without guidance, all the time. Don't let it happen to you.

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post #4 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 05:59 PM
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We have a greedy grass-snatcher. I would not consider a poke with the elbow in the chest out of line at all! I usually opt for the toe of the boot to the muzzle (not hard, but quick, almost like the horse didn't realize your toe was there when he reached down for grass, and is surprised by it all). When we first got him, my daughter would not lead him into the indoor because he was difficult to control and kept yanking the lead away to eat grass. With consistent correction, she is now able to walk him across a lawn easily. But it took a few jabs and boots to the nose!

In my personal opinion, you are over-reacting and need to be more assertive with this pony because if it tries to take advantage of a groom that knows it, your 8 year old will not be able to do anything with it. I know it's hard to teach kids to be assertive, but it is actually very empowering once they realize they can make this 1000 lb animal mind its manners on the ground, as well as in the saddle.

What I would consider abuse: whipping, punishing using physical force (the difference between a correction and a punishment is all in the timing), and continuing the correction after the behavior has ended. The right way to do it is with a correction, then moving on like nothing happened. Yes, the pony may be surprised. But it's not from pain, just from realizing they're going to have to re-think their plan of running over you.
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post #5 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 06:04 PM
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As the users above me have stated, it takes a lot for humans to do damage to a horse without the use of tools (crop, spurs, etc). If the pony was grazing when she wasn't supposed to, it is my personal opinion that the groom was in the right to correct her. I have actually done the exact same correction (elbow to the chest or to the side) to get the horse to come back up.

Personally, my horses are only allowed to graze when they are off the lead line in the pasture, or when I give them express permission by verbal cue. This is one of the ways I let them know that I am the 'boss' horse and that when I ask them to do something, I expect them to respect my wishes.

I will also correct them with a sharp smack to the shoulder or an elbow to the side if they crowd me while walking. This is akin to another horse snapping at them to warn them to mind their space and not abusive. However, if you ever see the groom or anyone else going after the head of your pony, I would say something right away as there is absolutely no need to go after something as sensitive as the head or ears.

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post #6 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 06:12 PM
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A jab with an elbow will not hurt them. They require physical reprimanding until they understand what is and is not acceptable. You may watch a herd together and a boss mare is able to move another with a glare, but to get to that point they've been bit or kicked a few times.

You probably are being too soft.
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post #7 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 08:53 PM
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I agree with all of the above generally. Except the bits effectively saying 'it will not hurt them because they are a horse'. Just because it's a horse & is big doesn't mean a jab of an elbow or whatever doesn't hurt them - I just don't get that assertion. Just because they might be built like a tank, why do people assume they may be as insensitive as one? It's BECAUSE it hurts a little that it's likely to be more effective punishment than if it's just irritating or such.

Agree that sometimes it's necessary to be strongly assertive with a horse - horses, without the power to reason & being physical beasts, I do think that punishment, when it's needed, is best being physical, whereas that's not generally for the best with kids, IMO. But I don't advocate/feel the need for more than uncomfortable generally, but mildly painful *at worst*. Be as gentle as possible, *but as firm as necessary to be effective*.

Generally, if you're clear & consistent, rewarding of the Good Stuff and firm but fair with your 'rules', just like kids, punishment is very seldom necessary. But just like kids, if you don't teach them any boundaries, they will grow to be spoilt little brats... tho bigger, (arguably)more dangerous brats, if they're as big as a pony/horse. And you can't blame the kid or the horse for not being taught their 'manners' & to have some respect for people.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-25-2017, 10:05 PM
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the problem with seeing someone elbow a horse is . . .was the after they had politely asked the hrose to back off, or, had they basically gone straight to wham! with the elbow.

the 'ask' doesn't have to be much, but, if there is absolutely NO warning, and a person goes from lah-dee-dah to Wham! elbow the chest! to make them back off, it can be abusive.

on the other hand, if that pony had been pushing forward, pushing foward and the groom had indicated with his body, or a shake of the rope or a tap on his nose or chest, THEN elbowed him, that's only fair, IMO. '

sometimes horse need a wake up call, but one doesn't SHOUT every single time you aske them to move somewhere. if you do, then soon enough you will HAVE TO shout to get them to respond to anything.
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-26-2017, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
the 'ask' doesn't have to be much, but, if there is absolutely NO warning, and a person goes from lah-dee-dah to Wham! elbow the chest! to make them back off, it can be abusive.
That's the problem I have with how many people use the lead shank. Instead of asking the horse to move, they yank down quick and hard as the first cue, and to the horse it comes out of nowhere because they can't see your hand down underneath the chin. So many horses will throw their head up or react strongly when things come with no warning.
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-26-2017, 06:15 AM
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^ouch! Just reminded me of an 'equestrian establishment' i worked at, where the handlers were taught to do that as punishment for any perceived 'misdemeanor' - try being underneath a big, young, nervous warmblood when they do that to them!!
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