Problems handling and leading new weanlings?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Question Problems handling and leading new weanlings??

2 weeks ago I bought 2 friesian girls -6 and 7 months old - they are my first horses and I'm so excited and pleased with them - but I have some problems I don't know how best to progress with......

We built them 2 stalls, each 3x4m, in a large airy barn - but it does not have direct access to the field - they have to go round the house, through the garden - a bit of a ramble, and one of the issues.....

The first one, Vicky, is used to being handled, and led - although she stops and refuses to move frequently on the way to the field .... I am still trying to figure the best encouragement past this problem - snack only help a little...

The second, (we call her Shergar!), arrived doped, which was a shock to us. Her halter was a little small, and she was not handled.......we didn't realise she had never been handled or led......

The first time we tried to lead them out to the field was a nightmare....Vicky would lead, but Shergar just freaked, panicing Vicky too.....we finally got them both there safely, but we were Lucky. Bringing them in, and for the next few days out, we let Shergar just follow.....but Vicky continues to refuse, and Shergar wanders about, then panics at something and runs - so we have stopped that too, as it is not safe - there is not a secure 'run' to the field.

Shergar would not be touched when she arrived. After spending time and giving treats, she now allows petting and brushing over the door - she still panics if you go in with her. After a few days I was able to take off her halter, but could only get it back on whilst feeding her treats. Then started bitting/nipping, so I have stopped feeding treats, and am unable to get her halter back on yet!!

I asked the breeder's advice - she told me to hit her in the face with my hand if she bit, or tried to bite! And that to lead her, I just have to 'show her who is boss' !! I do not want this kind of relationship with my horses - they are babies at the moment - there must be a better way?

Unfortunately, I cannot let them out to run until I get past these first issues......

The barn is right in front of the house, and I go out to see them every hour or 2, petting, brushing, topping up hay and water, the doors are open for fresh air. They both call as soon as they hear anyone approaching, and Shergar seems to really enjoy being brushed - in fact she walks past, then backs up to me - does this signify anything other than she likes her butt being brushed?

My inclination is to take the time to let her settle and accept having a halter put on, before moving on to a lead....but they cannot go outside and run until she gets there - and I desperately want to do it 'right' for them both. I assume putting just Vicky out each day would create even more problems for both?

I live in Germany, but don't speak German, so local help is difficult. I have a trainer (recommended) coming tomorrow, but he doesn't speak English - so although he should help (I hope) practically, he won't be ably to explain much!! Any help or advice right now would be appreciated. It seems such a stupid situation to have gotten into, but I really had no idea the 2nd baby had never been led.
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post #2 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 10:21 AM
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Wow tough spot you have gotten into. Glad your getting a trainer out to help you. Despite the language barrier you can still learn a lot just by watching and paying attention to what he does. Think of it as though your watching a training video without sound, if you understand what is being done without explanation so does the horse. If you do not understand what is being asked then the horse probably doesn't either.

The fact they are young they will learn fast both good and bad. But they need to be able to run around and get rid of the energy they have, otherwise their behavior will get worse. I would recommend keeping them in the field rather then the stalls. If the field is large maybe your could cross fence and make smaller areas so you can successfully catch them again, but if they will come up for food that should not be a problem.

Using food as part of training can be done, and it is a great reinforcer, but as you have discovered it can cause other problems, like mugging and biting. It is very easy to teach food manners, without hitting them, so you can use food as a reinforcer. There are some good videos on Youtube if you search positive reinforcement training/clicker training and search for teaching food manners.

If your bent on keeping them work with the trainer as much as possible, watch what he does and repeat. I also recommend if you can get it a book by Clinton Anderson called Establishing respect and control for English and Western riders. The groundwork portion of the book will help you immensely. Clinton emphasizes safety and teaches in a very easy way to understand. I don't know how ordering works from Amazon works in Germany, but you can download the book electronically from Amazon.

Good luck to you, I hope it all works out.


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post #3 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 10:27 AM
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Where are you in Germany? I may be able to tell you of a good trainer, depending where you are!

I can recommend that you try and fumble through the German. Get him, at the end, to write down the main words he will use. That way you can learn them in your own time and next time you will pick it up.. only way I managed to learn!
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post #4 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 10:30 AM
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You can order through UK amazon to Germany, but Germany also stocks the books generally in English, they just cost a bit more :)
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post #5 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for such swift responses.....amazing!

Our postcode is 46419 - NRW, very close to Bocholt and also the Dutch border.
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post #6 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 10:48 AM
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I may be able to help, then. I used to be 41179 in Moenchengladbach (near Venlo/Roermond), now I live in Bielefeld (33179) so too far out to come and give a hand unfortunately!

How have you ended up in the big O? It's lovely there, I went with a friend to pick up a horse and a few shopping trips.

I only know Americans/Brits who are serving or have served!
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post #7 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 11:26 AM
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Don't forget, these are babies so the attention span is short, like a toddler's. What does the nipper do when you enter the stall? Run around, kick out? If you are nervous she is picking up on this and acting accordingly. Youngsters and many older horses don't like to be petted if you do it like we do a dog. When walking to the field keep your focus well past the gate. This keeps your shoulders square and tells the filly where you are going. No need to look at her. Keep your hand about 30" down the lead, not under her jaw. If she stops, immediately turn away from her and head back the other way. This will unlock her and her head will get a good yank. Turn your focus back to beyond the gate and head for it again. Keep changing direction until she's willing to come along. At no time while doing this do you talk to or pet her, be very business like and walk with the confidence of a soldier. You will start winning her respect. Apply the same confident energy to the nipper. Go to her with the attitude "mess with me today and you will die". Remember, no talking no petting, just go in there and put her halter on and lead her out, even if you just walk the aisle and put her back. Remove the halter and leave. When leading, if she tries to nip, bend your arm and flap your elbow up and down. If she hits it, too bad, just keep your focus ahead. Randomly flap your elbow and she'll become mindful of it and at least the nipping on the lead will stop.



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post #8 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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I realise this is my failure entirely, but when she doesn't want to have a halter put on, how do you do it exactly? She does not like /will not have her head held, and backs away or pulls her head out of the halter as i try to put it on.
She is just relaxing with being petted or brushed - it is still new for her. I don't want to spoil the trust I have built with her by trying to fight her into a halter. Am I looking at it all wrong?
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post #9 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 12:03 PM
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Unfortunately, "being the boss" really is the best option. Horses are herd animals, and you have to be the dominant figure--otherwise they will slip into that role. I'm not sure if someone else mentioned this already, but a horse backing up to you isn't usually a good sign--rather, this is a good way to get yourself kicked! ):

I'm glad to hear that you have a trainer coming out to help you tomorrow. Frankly, I wouldn't try anything on your own until then, as this seems to becoming a rather dangerous situation. Best of luck, and let us know how it goes! (:

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #10 of 59 Old 11-11-2014, 12:20 PM
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The second, (we call her Shergar!), arrived doped,


Thats a pretty dangerous statement, so I assume you have the blood work to back this?
Otherwise, this sounds like you went out and bought two weanlings, with zero experience, and now are VERY overhorsed to say the least.
This is a train wreck in the making!
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