Questions about horse behaviour for newbies - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 30 Old 09-30-2019, 07:31 PM
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Yeah, that could be it! I was holding a polocrosse racket and he stuck his nose in it and sniffed it. Maybe they just like seeing what we're doing?
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post #12 of 30 Old 10-01-2019, 12:23 PM
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Bonding tip: Hand grazing. If you have a safe area to do this, lead your horse to an area outside of it's enclosure, away from his usual buddies and living area, and then just let them graze while holding the lead rope. Trigger and I started out mowing the roadside several times a week, with me just sitting on the ground and holding a longer lead rope so he could roam but not get too far away.


Activities that ask nothing of them, or require no work - Grooming them, finding the itchy places and scrubbing till the horse curls up on you, softly singing something soothing while brushing them (Trigger enjoys Seven Spanish Angels on repeat and will visibly relax to it), playing Dress Up (How does this blanket/pad color look on this horse? In other words: Tack up and untack without actually getting in the saddle just because).... and most of all: Be present. Be the leader. Be a fair, consistent, calm leader. They enjoy friendship, sure, but they value a leader more - because instinctively they know the leader will protect them.


Hard to bond if you're not there feeding them, making sure they have water, talking to them, and simply being in their presence. Hard to truly bond if you're not a being a present, fair, consistent, leader.



Another idea, but more advanced: This last weekend, we went swimming in the lake. I kept him in the water for 45 minutes. It took him that long to genuinely relax and play with me. I'd not recommend this for a beginner, there's a lot that can go wrong but it was definitely an amazing bonding moment when he finally relaxed in my company and around other people and horses in the water, and began to truly play, roll, and paw the water with me.
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post #13 of 30 Old 10-02-2019, 03:24 AM
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Right, wasn't just lack of time earlier, but wanted to give @IamKateLyn a chance as she was the OP you were replying to Jolien, but as she seems to be... missing in action, here's my take...

Firstly I'd like to say, I really like your questions - you are being really attentive to the horses you deal with, whereas so many people are oblivious to a lot of this. Don't worry that you're not yet fluent in 'horse' - it will soon come, as you are a good student who cares to listen & learn & be considerate.

Quote:
-What does it mean when a horse makes a humming sound?? (context: trail riding, new rider, crappy light riding and the horse hummed after that.) Also hummed in the beginning of the ride. His body language seemed relaxed to me.
Not sure if it's the same, but I have one horse now who sort of groans a lot - kind of 'humming', now you call it that. He seems to do it when he's relaxed, never when he's stressed or concentrating on some task - usually when moseying on the trail. Had a vet come check him out cos never experienced that before - I mean, horses occasionally do this, but this one does it a LOT & for long periods - like sometimes keeps going for a minute at a time. They didn't find anything wrong & weren't concerned, so I suppose it's just a quirk of his.

Quote:
-What do you have to do when a horse rears and you are holding him on a lead rope? Last time I lifted my arm and gave the horse some rope so I would not be jerking the horse his head. After he landed I stayed where I was and calmly spoke to him. After I saw him do some more side leaps I jerked the lead rope with equal intensity (not that hard) to give the message: do not run or pull this rope! Meanwhile I stayed calm. I approached the horse still speaking calmly to him. (ps he did not run away and did not pull me any further) He reared because he was excited or maybe scared about a sudden appearance of broken out horses. Not because of dominance, I think?? I am a total newbie to horses and I really just didn't know what to do.
Firstly, rearing is potentially extremely dangerous. If you're a total newbie, is this your horse? If not, I would not handle this horse, at very least without experienced supervision. If he is yours, you may sometimes have to deal with him alone, but I'd strongly suggest having regular sessions with a good trainer.

It depends very much why a horse is rearing - or whatever unwanted behaviour - as to how I'd handle it. You might, for eg want to check out the recent thread 'Dangerous freakouts' to see what NOT to do(what the so called 'trainer' that 'helped' OP did...). If a horse is reacting in fear, generally(occasionally 'emergency tactics' for safety may call for otherwise) punishing it is the LAST thing you want to do - horses can't think rationally & if they react in fear, adding 'insult to injury' tends to only confirm their fear & make them more so. So in that sort of situation, your giving him enough rope to move his feet as he needs without pressure, and remaining calm until he 'comes down', literally or figuratively, can be the absolutely right thing.

If the horse is doing it because he is excited, wants to get away(not escape in fear), wants to 'call the shots' or such, I'm still not big on punishment generally(I rather just ensuring the 'bad' behaviour doesn't work for them & alternate 'good' behaviour does), but with seriously dangerous behaviour like rearing, I do tend to use strong, short, sharp punishment too, to 'reinforce' my other tactics & make the horse think very seriously before trying that tactic on me again. Rather than jerking on the rope though, if you have the ability(time, a whip/stick/rope in your other hand, etc), I'd smack his legs, until they came down. **Remember, as with pressure/release(negative reinforcement) & rewarding a horse, punishment must happen *instantly*, preferably *at the time of* the behaviour you want to influence, not after, for them to associate it well, so in this case, the horse is punished while he's up in the air, but not when he is returning to Earth.

Quote:
-One horse often approaches me in the pasture, touches me and slightly nibbles me. When I turn around to touch his head he pulls his head away so I turn my back and leave him in peace, but then he touches me again, so I asked some other riders what was up. They said to me: he wants attention. So I touched his back and rubbed him meanwhile watching his ears and nose. Those were not pinned nor tense. But I don't understand why he pulls away when I try to touch his head.... He used to be a race horse, maybe he is traumatized a little bit? Or does not like being touched on the nose?
Lots of animals(me included ) don't enjoy people reaching for or trying to 'pet' their head or nose. So maybe that's why he pulls back & it doesn't necessarily mean he was previously 'traumatised'. But then, horses are often punished for putting their mouth on a human in any way(can very easily & quickly become dangerous), and I don't think that necessarily equates to 'traumatised' or unreasonable. However, IF his behaviour is due to being punished, if he is nibbling you, then turning away when you respond, he obviously hasn't learned not to nibble & I'd imagine the 'punishment' he got was too late or otherwise not effectively dealt.

Quote:
Would you touch/stroke a horse that gently touches you or nibbles you??
As said, many would not allow/encourage this at all. As you're a 'newbie', I'd advise you not to either, as, if you're not fully aware & ready to be effective/stay safe with excellent timing, you can too easily be injured. So saying, I allow my horses to gently nuzzle me with their lips, NEVER EVER with their teeth, so we can have a 'mutual grooming session', as horses do with eachother. Even then, you need to be uber aware & ready to react, as for eg, if you find a particularly itchy spot, the horse can respond by turning the lip nuzzle into a painful 'love bite' if you're not careful!

Quote:
I do see him pin his ears towards other riders that touch his nose)
This doesn't necessarily mean he's had prior 'bad experiences', just that he's trying to communicate to the people he doesn't like it. Seems they're not 'listening' tho, as people often don't, until the horse needs to 'shout' - great that you are taking notice of these 'little things'!

Quote:
Do you have good/lesser known tips to bond with a horse and gain their trust?
As for 'bonding', agree with Atoka. Also just hanging out with them, spending time. As for trust, just being your non-threatening self, being aware of & 'congruent' with your own bodylanguage & 'listening to' & considerate(respectFUL) of theirs should help them feel OK about you generally. I think true trust - as in, asking stuff of a horse that may make them nervous - taking them away from mates or safety or whatever - takes being seen as a respected leader. They not only have to see you as non-threatening, but someone who is willing & able to keep them safe regardless. Therefore I think that is not something you can just learn over night, but will take time & experience. Hopefully you also have a good teacher.

Quote:
I was mounting a horse with a bit in it's mouth. I was not pulling the reins and he violently shook his head up and down vertically... I thought: man this horse is trying to tell me he doesn't like the bit/it hurts?? The other riders told me he was just protesting. During the riding he barely shook his head. I saw the other horses with a bit open their mouth (it looked like they were in pain to me, but maybe I am mistaken) and foaming... They also repeatedly openend and closed their mouth on the bits.
As to the horse you were mounting, yeah, I'd guess he was 'protesting' against discomfort/pain associated with mounting(be it bit, being held too tight, sore back, saddle...) that he may not have had with you, but anticipated due to prior experience. BTW if you always mount from the ground, this can be damaging for a horse, to have your weight drag the saddle sideways as you climb aboard. Best use a mounting block whenever possible.

When a horse goes with their mouth open(gapes), that is an obvious sign of pain - the bit may hurt generally, or the rider is putting too much &/or unyielding pressure on the reins. My first horse used to 'gape' his mouth with a bit, and toss his head, even without my hands on the reins, let alone any pressure. Previous owner told me he was just 'argumentative' and needed to be ridden with a martingale/tie down & a tight nose band(!). Not long after I got him I got a dentist to come attend him. He found the horse was 15yo(I was told he was about 8yo) & dentist reckoned he hadn't had his teeth seen to in a very long time if at all, and showed me his molars had long, razor sharp edges which had literally cut red raw gutters in his cheeks!! Poor guy had serious pain just wearing a bitted bridle! I rode him in a hackamore thereafter & he became good, but even years later, he always associated a bit with that pain & would gape & toss his head if I tried one on him.

One of my current horses - he's about 20yo now - went to a trainer for only a week(long story) when he was around 4yo. Came back head shy & terrified of men...threw his head up & gaped his mouth when I'd remove his halter(I didn't ride with a bit then & trainer said he wouldn't...). I found out they did indeed use a bit despite what they said... obviously were rough about removing the bridle, among other... issues. Got him over those issues, but still years later, on odd occasions he was stressed about something when I took his halter off, he'd still throw his head up & gape!

BUT without being sure what's going on, I don't want to give you the impression other riders are necessarily hurting their horse or such... Foaming at the mouth could well be a sign of discomfort, but a little foam on the lips is often seen as acceptable if a horse is working 'on the bit' a lot. Opening & closing their mouth, or constant chewing/fussing could well be due to discomfort/pain, but it could be that they just weren't trained well to accept a bit with a 'quiet' mouth. When a horse is first introduced to a bit, of course having an unfamiliar piece of metal stuck in their mouth, this is uncomfortable & they try to get rid of it. If they're given lots of time just wearing it, they do tend to become 'desensitised' to it though - bit like someone wearing a tie or glasses or such. But if the bit is taken out when they're 'fussing', or someone tries to ride/put pressure on the bit too soon, they may never learn to just carry it quietly.

Quote:
Also the horse I ride turns his head very far backward, looking (I think, he is wearing a fly mask so I don't see his eyes) towards my leg and feet. ... but he still does this every time he knows I am gonna give him some leg aid... I really don't know what he wants to tell me: I am itchy? You annoy me? You hurt me? You are gonna do this wrong? I wanna look you in the eye to see how you feel??? What do you want from me woman? :p
Haha to the last! I don't think it would be that he's itchy. I don't think it's just 'I want to look you in the eye'. But the others are possibilities. Ulcers or saddle pain are possible reasons too.

Quote:
he also turnes his head towards me while his butt is facing me
Does he turn his bum towards you as you approach, or was he already in this position & turns his head? If he just doesn't move his body but looks at you, I'd guess he's inviting/waiting for you to come to him, or waiting to be told what to do. If he turns his backside on you as you approach, could be that he's threatening or getting ready to bug off, but as he's looking at you 'kindly', it could well be because he's asking for a bum scratch! I have one who will back up to you for a bum scratch!
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post #14 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
...BTW if you always mount from the ground, this can be damaging for a horse, to have your weight drag the saddle sideways as you climb aboard. Best use a mounting block whenever possible....
Pet peeve of mine: Folks "climb aboard" a horse and then think mounting from the ground is a problem. Mounting from the ground is NOT an issue if one mounts correctly:


Mounting should be a back to front motion, not sideways up and over the horse. With a handful of mane, starting from the rear edge of the saddle, going FORWARD as you pull on the mane, tossing a leg over as one moves forward. As much as possible, the movement should be parallel to the horse's back, not perpendicular, and the mane is what you pull.

Also, too many saddle have too narrow a gap running down the center of the saddle. A wide "channel" helps prevent the saddle from digging in right next to the horse's spine.

Mounting is one of the true fundamentals of riding. One cannot ride if one doesn't first get on the horse. For reasons I don't understand, folks don't take it seriously. Done well, a person can mount with the cinch hanging undone. I don't teach riding and never will. But if I did, I'd build a wooden horse back, with a rope for the mane, and teach people to mount without a cinch as one of their first lessons. If you mount without hurting the horse's back, you establish credibility with the horse before a single step has been taken.

Sorry. I cringe a lot when I see videos of people crawling up a horse's side. My wife does it too, but she rides 6 times a year so I just try not to look. AND to make sure SHE uses a mounting block.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #15 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
Bonding tip: Hand grazing. If you have a safe area to do this, lead your horse to an area outside of it's enclosure, away from his usual buddies and living area, and then just let them graze while holding the lead rope. Trigger and I started out mowing the roadside several times a week, with me just sitting on the ground and holding a longer lead rope so he could roam but not get too far away.


Activities that ask nothing of them, or require no work - Grooming them, finding the itchy places and scrubbing till the horse curls up on you, softly singing something soothing while brushing them (Trigger enjoys Seven Spanish Angels on repeat and will visibly relax to it), playing Dress Up (How does this blanket/pad color look on this horse? In other words: Tack up and untack without actually getting in the saddle just because).... and most of all: Be present. Be the leader. Be a fair, consistent, calm leader. They enjoy friendship, sure, but they value a leader more - because instinctively they know the leader will protect them.


Hard to bond if you're not there feeding them, making sure they have water, talking to them, and simply being in their presence. Hard to truly bond if you're not a being a present, fair, consistent, leader.



Another idea, but more advanced: This last weekend, we went swimming in the lake. I kept him in the water for 45 minutes. It took him that long to genuinely relax and play with me. I'd not recommend this for a beginner, there's a lot that can go wrong but it was definitely an amazing bonding moment when he finally relaxed in my company and around other people and horses in the water, and began to truly play, roll, and paw the water with me.

Ok, those sound like good tips, but the horse is not mine and I am really inexperienced so I am afraid to go out with him alone because I feel unsure. I do try to brush him and scratch him when he seems itchy (so he gets I am attentive :) ) As for swimming with a horse: that sounds like a total no go for an inexperienced rider. ;)

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it. (-Thucydides)
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post #16 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Pet peeve of mine: Folks "climb aboard" a horse and then think mounting from the ground is a problem. Mounting from the ground is NOT an issue if one mounts correctly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lFyA__oZ2I

Mounting should be a back to front motion, not sideways up and over the horse. With a handful of mane, starting from the rear edge of the saddle, going FORWARD as you pull on the mane, tossing a leg over as one moves forward. As much as possible, the movement should be parallel to the horse's back, not perpendicular, and the mane is what you pull.

Also, too many saddle have too narrow a gap running down the center of the saddle. A wide "channel" helps prevent the saddle from digging in right next to the horse's spine.

Mounting is one of the true fundamentals of riding. One cannot ride if one doesn't first get on the horse. For reasons I don't understand, folks don't take it seriously. Done well, a person can mount with the cinch hanging undone. I don't teach riding and never will. But if I did, I'd build a wooden horse back, with a rope for the mane, and teach people to mount without a cinch as one of their first lessons. If you mount without hurting the horse's back, you establish credibility with the horse before a single step has been taken.

Sorry. I cringe a lot when I see videos of people crawling up a horse's side. My wife does it too, but she rides 6 times a year so I just try not to look. AND to make sure SHE uses a mounting block.
I can't let this go by unchallenged!!

All of your advice is great -- for TALL PEOPLE. I am going make a wild guess that you are not five feet tall. I am. Life is quite different for those of us in the substrata. I also have a long torso and short legs. I could never mount without a cinch, even my 14.2 mare, from the ground. I have seen many tall slim riders step gracefully, seemingly effortlessly on to a horse. Never seen a short person do it. No matter how lithe, no matter how experienced. Not once. Maybe there is a reason.

Short horse lover
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post #17 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 01:28 PM
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While I totally agree with you bsms there are so many factors that need to be addressed with mounting from the ground. The biggest is rider to horse height ratio. Next is saddle fit, flexibility, ability to propel oneself up (spring) and over parallel and you can add balance and weight to the equation as well. Put all of those together and the safest is to just use a block or stump or what have you as he mentions. Where the problem comes in as that most are not taught correctly, aren't tall enough, don't have equipment that fits properly, have a horse that is too tall in relation for this to be a safe procedure or have a horse that is too round. Too many do cause damage because of those in the previous sentence above and they compensate how? By tightening that girth. So in the ideal world what that video demonstrates would be what happens. In reality most are so far from ideal they can and do over time cause damage. Look at his height next to that horse - go to any other video and the taller the horse, the tighter the girth. Within reason a much lighter, quick, agile, very flexible, springy person can mount a slightly taller horse with the right saddle and a looser girth but you have to have everything just so for there to be no torque. I was taught to mount bareback. Similar technique except no saddle. Worked great on my 14H Quarab. Not much of a stretch to move to a 15H horse but even after months of riding her and getting the balance and ability that didn't work so well when there were 8 much less 12 or more inches added to the height of the horses I rode. As long as my mount's withers weren't above my collar bone I was fine on a steady eddy. Breast bone height was better.


The previous post brings up a very valid point about torso and leg length.

Last edited by QtrBel; 10-03-2019 at 01:36 PM.
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post #18 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 01:28 PM
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@loosie


The rearing horse is not mine. This was only my 7th interaction with a horse. As a kid I sat on some ponies and draft horses because lots of people in my family do farm work. I have no experience riding horses and no experience handling horses (hence all the questions). I was not holding a whip and I have never used a whip to teach a horse something. (so I don't really know how to...) I read some books about horse behaviour to prep for my lessons and I remembered to stay calm and not jerk on the rope while the horse was rearing... It all happened so fast and I stayed calm (this is funny caus in real life I suffer alot from stress, but apparently less so when interacting with animals). I think he reared out of excitement (the other horses were escaping) and maybe because he was startled? I don't know and I can't judge this behaviour since I am so new to horses...





Okay, the horse only touches me with his lips and head in a gentle way. He once pushed me very hard from behind and I turned and pushed back hard. Lol. After that I offered my hand and he softly touched it. I gave him some attention. I think he knows now that I don't want to be pushed hard? :) To be honest I really don't know what he wants from me, I just think he is kinda curious and would like some scratching. :) So I scratch him sometimes and in the meantime watch his muzzle for frowning or signs of 'I don't like this'.



Ok, I mount from the ground, even on really big horses. I will watch the video. Now I softly lower myself (I don't 'bump' on it's back). The horses I rode wore a western saddle. The horse I learn to ride on wears an expensive leather western saddle especially fitted for him so I don't think his back is sore? I wouldn't know... :s Too inexperienced.



Hoe doesn't turn his bum towards me, he generally faces me and keeps facing me. He is standing in the pasture or barn and when I turn around the corner (sneaking up I guess :p) I see his butt. :) He then notices I am there (just watching him) and he then looks back to see what I am doing?? :p When I am just standing there he approaches me and touches me with his head. :) When I lead him he also softly touches me. I also really don't know why. (he is like: touch touch touch, touchinggggg you...:p) I think he is unsure? I don't know... pfft. :p I thought it was kinda cute since I am cuddly with animals too and I think animals touching you in a gentle way are signalling: 'hello, let's interact' in a kind way? :) ;)

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it. (-Thucydides)
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post #19 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 01:31 PM
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omg I wanted to write "he" :) Sorry :p this a very unfortunate typo. Haha.

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it. (-Thucydides)
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post #20 of 30 Old 10-03-2019, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolien View Post
@loosie

Ok, I mount from the ground, even on really big horses. I will watch the video. Now I softly lower myself (I don't 'bump' on it's back). The horses I rode wore a western saddle. The horse I learn to ride on wears an expensive leather western saddle especially fitted for him so I don't think his back is sore? I wouldn't know... :s Too inexperienced.
;)



If his girth is tight to prevent the saddle from slipping then there is torque being placed as you mount. No matter how soft you settle the up and over pulls when the girth is tight.
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