New Horse - Bad Manners - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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New Horse - Bad Manners

Hi guys, I recently started leasing a new horse less than a month ago. He's a great horse, and we work really well together once we're in the ring. However, his last owner really let him get away with anything, so he came to me with a ton of bad habits and manners. I've been trying to fix them for a while with no real success, so I thought that I'd see if any of you had suggestions.

1) He's always chewing on things, and ridiculously food-orientated. When he's in the cross-ties he tries to eat those, or the lead rope or my sleeve as I'm leading him. If there is hay anywhere in the vicinity, he'll do his best to drag whoever is leading him over to it, and it's nearly impossible to stop him. Once he's been given a treat he'll harass the person who gave it to him, sticking his nose in their pockets or nibbling at their hand. I've started to always feed him treats in a bucket as opposed to by hand to see if that helps at all, but there hasn't been much progress.

2) He refuses to stand while I'm tightening his girth before getting on. Even if I walk him up to a wall, he still tries to walk away. I keep pulling him back into place again and again until I can finally get the girth tightened, but every time I ride he continues to do it.

3) This one is probably the worst. Whenever someone tries to mount him, even from a mounting block, he bolts. If I walk him up to a wall so he can't go forward, he'll just back up as fast as he can. It's really dangerous for the both of us, as the mounting area is filled with potentially dangerous equipment if he happened to trip on something, and for others in the arena with high-strung horses. I've again tried to have someone hold him while I mount, but often no one is available

4) This is slightly unrelated, since it's not a bad habit, but I've been having lots of trouble getting him to bend. He's not very flexible, and I've been doing tons of circles and figure eights and stuff that haven't seemed to help.

Thank you!

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post #2 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohtheseathesand View Post
Hi guys, I recently started leasing a new horse less than a month ago. He's a great horse, and we work really well together once we're in the ring. However, his last owner really let him get away with anything, so he came to me with a ton of bad habits and manners. I've been trying to fix them for a while with no real success, so I thought that I'd see if any of you had suggestions.

1) He's always chewing on things, and ridiculously food-orientated. When he's in the cross-ties he tries to eat those, or the lead rope or my sleeve as I'm leading him. If there is hay anywhere in the vicinity, he'll do his best to drag whoever is leading him over to it, and it's nearly impossible to stop him. Once he's been given a treat he'll harass the person who gave it to him, sticking his nose in their pockets or nibbling at their hand. I've started to always feed him treats in a bucket as opposed to by hand to see if that helps at all, but there hasn't been much progress.

2) He refuses to stand while I'm tightening his girth before getting on. Even if I walk him up to a wall, he still tries to walk away. I keep pulling him back into place again and again until I can finally get the girth tightened, but every time I ride he continues to do it.

3) This one is probably the worst. Whenever someone tries to mount him, even from a mounting block, he bolts. If I walk him up to a wall so he can't go forward, he'll just back up as fast as he can. It's really dangerous for the both of us, as the mounting area is filled with potentially dangerous equipment if he happened to trip on something, and for others in the arena with high-strung horses. I've again tried to have someone hold him while I mount, but often no one is available

4) This is slightly unrelated, since it's not a bad habit, but I've been having lots of trouble getting him to bend. He's not very flexible, and I've been doing tons of circles and figure eights and stuff that haven't seemed to help.

Thank you!

1. Stop giving him treats of any kind, bucket or no bucket. Do not hand feed him anything. Period. If he tries to chew on your sleeve while being handled, give him an elbow in the face. As for him dragging you around diving for hay, you need to use a stud chain run through the halter, and give a good yank on it every time he tries to pull on you. He'll figure it out soon if you are consistent.

You need to teach him to respect your space, right now he's a big spoiled obnoxious brat.

2,3,and 4 are all related: you need to go back to basic groundwork with this horse. Roundpen work from the beginning, walk, trot, canter, reverse and who on command. Teach him to ground tie.

As for the bending/flexibility issues, have him checked by a vet, chiro/massage therapist.

The majority of problems with this horse as you have described are behavioral issues which need to be fixed.
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 07:01 PM
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You need a trainer to work with you and the horse. I would not suggest that you do any sort of correction yourself until you have a trainers guidance.

Sometimes things are not black and white and while spoiled brat may be an easy assumption to make, we don't really know that is what is happening. Not saying he is but, what if the reality was the horse was 400lbs underweight with horrible ulcers and messed up feet. Sure probably not but you don't really know.

You can have some very bad results trying to correct this horse yourself if you don't know what you are doing. Horses are not all alike and while one horse may quiver and bow down to you with respect if you elbow him and use a stud chain and yank on his face, another horse may rear up and flip over backwards dead, or, hit you with a hoof when he comes down or be terrified of you afterwards. Or a plethora of other undesirable behaviors. If this is a behavior problem you need someone who can handle it. Timing is incredibly important and so is being able to read the horse. So, please for your own safety as well as those around you, get a qualified trainer to help you and make sure it is okay with the owner of the horse first.
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 07:57 PM
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I would not give him any treats, ever. He shouldn't be able to drag you to a bale of hay. I would use a stud chain over his nose before he would drag me anywhere. But that wouldn't be needed in my world because he would have learned ground manners.

The lack of flexibility might be related to the bolting, or his lack of ground training. he could have something out of whack and doesn't want to be mounted. Pinched nerve, arthritic, out of alignment. Stand behind him and stand him square. Look to see how straight his spine is, how even his hips are from side to side, have someone walk him in a line and see if he looks even from behind from toe to hip.
Also any thing in the area or near a mounting block that you deem potentially dangerous shouldn't be there.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys for your advice. A couple things: his previous owner had him for 15+ years, so he's been allowed to get away with this sort of thing for a long time, so I really appreciate your help. Also, I can't really afford a trainer at this point in time, so that's kind of out of the question. I'm fairly light as well, so I simply do not have the strength to keep him from pulling me towards the hay... any other suggestions there?
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 09:26 PM
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What's your experience level as a rider, and with horses in general. Please be honest with us.

The suggestion to get a trainer, or at least someone experienced with training who may be willing to help you out isn't without merit if you are a beginner - I agree with others above that if you don't know what you're doing you are unlikely to resolve all the issues yourself. Heck, I've been riding for years and I still struggle getting one particular mare to bend, but the rest of your issues sound like simple ground manner issues that are easily addressed with proper tactics..and an understanding of your horse. But experience goes a long way in that regard.

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post #7 of 12 Old 03-14-2015, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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I've been riding for most of my life, and have ridden lots of different horses. However it's been more of an on/off thing, so I've never gotten super good. For the last two years I've been riding about once a week. I'd consider myself an intermediate rider? I'm not super confident in myself and my riding knowledge though, so it's possible that it's easier for my horse to take advantage of my hesitance?
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-15-2015, 02:18 PM
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Horses are extremely good at reading people and any sort of hesitation with them means you are not the one to follow, they are. So he pulls you to the hay because he wants to eat. There is no deeper meaning than that. Just that he wants to eat and the hay is over there. He has no reason to listen to you. What have you done to prove to him that you are trustworthy and the person to follow. Why should he follow you? Why should he listen to you? You have to ask yourself those questions and come up with answers and then live them.

Don't get mad at him and do not get upset or frustrated. If you start to feel like that just put him back and deal with it when you can have your emotions in check.

For me, I would get all bent out of shape and but hurt because my horse wouldn't listen to me. Then I would get frustrated and mad and it would spiral out of control and down real fast. I don't know if you get frustrated or not but if you do, there is no good that will come from that.

Walk and speak and act with confidence. Real confidence. Keep your emotions in check and don't raise or speed up your voice or mannerisms. Stay in control no matter what. You must be that way from the time you arrive at the barn until you leave. If you can't then put him away and come back when you can. I myself have been known to take mid day frozen yogurt breaks in town more than once in a day.

Watch your body language. Pay attention to everything. Learn what things horses do to test you. For example, I used to think it was so funny that when I was hand walking my mare and had stopped to talk to someone she would get bored and knock my hat off of my head. Also funny when that didn't work she would pick up my dressage whip with her mouth and start swinging it. Then she would get me laughing and rubbing on her face, "Ha Ha, OH you are so cute! Ha Ha" No more. Now she stands there and one move from her I make sure to place her back where I want her to stand. If she moves again, which she will, then I back her up to two feet behind where she was. I usually do not speak to her when I do this. If she moves again then she is once again placed back out of reach. I don't lose my temper and I don't make a big deal out of it. She just has to stand there and wait.

When you get your horse out, have a whip with you at all times. You are not to beat the horse with the whip but it is good for an extension of your arm when you don't want to get in to close. It can be used for blocking as well.

There is just to much to go over with horse behavior, so I suggest in lite of a trainer, start reading everything you can and look for the behaviors to be expressed in your horse and deal with accordingly.

Chris Irwin is very good with explaining horse behavior and body language of you and your horse. I would suggest you go online to his website and watch his free videos and even consider signing up for his video library online. I think it is like $25 a month with no minimum. So, I think that will help you the most for the least amount of money.

You never want to be chasing your horse around a round pen with a lunge whip or anything of the sort. All of the behaviors your horse is expressing are basic horse things of horses that are not following a person. You can't blame him for that but you shouldn't allow it either. If he grabs your sleeve, don't get mad or yell or anything. Just pull your hand away and back him up a few feet with the end of the whip pushing on the pressure point of his chest. As soon as he moves back wards remove the pressure. Stay focused on what you are going to do and are doing and stay calm.

Try looking up Chris Irwin for starters. I can't explain it as well as him. Also don't buy into everything a trainer says. There are allot of trainers I like but I don't like everything about any of them. Do not drink the koolaide and don't become a cult member.

Have to run. Hope some of this helps. Good luck.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-15-2015, 09:54 PM
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To be honest this horse sounds like too much hassle for a lease horse.

If he nibbles at you elbowing him off. If he drags to hay and he is pretty strong sometimes it's not worth fighting, just yield his hindquarters, make him spin around a few times, head near you, then walk forward briskly. Make his poor manners more work for him.

As for the saddling. Check your saddle fit, whenever I've tried a less than ideal fitting saddle on my horse he's always moved more in girthing etc. Otherwise, work in it in steps, get him standing when being girthed. You might yield his hindquarters around each time he moves. I'd be doing sessions on just girthing/mounting, so I'd saddle up, girthing gradually, holding the pressure until he stands still, then perhaps releasing it. Or when he is still I might just loosen it, take off the saddle or give him a pat and some rest. Then I'd do it again and again until he would stand each time, then work with mounting.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-15-2015, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohtheseathesand View Post
I've been riding for most of my life, and have ridden lots of different horses. However it's been more of an on/off thing, so I've never gotten super good. For the last two years I've been riding about once a week. I'd consider myself an intermediate rider? I'm not super confident in myself and my riding knowledge though, so it's possible that it's easier for my horse to take advantage of my hesitance?
"I am not super confident in myself or my riding"...

Enough said. This horse is going to give you hell because he knows he can get away with it. This horse is an accident waiting to happen. You or someone else is going to get hurt. You need a trainer to come out and help you. Internet advice can only go so far. You need someone giving you LIVE feedback.
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