Sweet Pony turned Bratty - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Sweet Pony turned Bratty

A few years ago my grandfather bought my DD (who is now 7) a pony. She's a mix, about 15 years old, and until recently she was at my parentís house along with their two young Halflingers. She's a head-down eating machine, bomb proof and generally a little bit lazy. At my parentís house, she was definitely the barn boss when it came to the other two horses.

This summer we built a barn and now have her at our property. Since coming here, she's gotten a bit of an attitude. DD is very gentle with her and handles her and grooms her daily and she loves DD. However, often when DD tries to lead her around the pasture she pins her ears back and tries to bite at her. She also pins her ears back when I lead her around, although she generally doesn't try to nip at me.

The first few weeks when we'd take her out of the pasture for a ride she'd do great. I'd walk in front, with DD riding her. The pony and DD would follow me in whatever direction I went. Now she's being bratty and has turned stubborn, seemingly annoyed that we're making her do anything besides eat.

DD also liked to lead her over to our orchard which has a thick clover patch, but I've stopped letting her do that because the pony would try to nip anytime we tried to lead her away. I believe she is getting an adequate amount of food--but I swear this pony would eat herself to death if we let her, as she was a fair bit heavier when my parents got her (to the point where she'd breath heavy after walking a short distance), but they've been able to get her slimmed down in the past few years.

We've been focusing on groundwork with her and have resorted to putting the grazing muzzle on her so that DD doesn't get bit--but the pony still tries to charge ahead of DD and doesn't want to cooperate.

I grew up with horses, but admittedly have only been around them on a visitor basis for the last 15 years. Are we doing something wrong? Is she looking for someone to boss around now that there are no other horses for her?
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post #2 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 04:20 PM
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Unfortunately, this pony has your and DD's number and is testing the boundary of good behavior to see just what she can get by with. Start carrying a dressage whip so you can slap her on the neck/shoulder if she even acts likes she may nip and if she won't lead away from the clover, hit her on the butt to get her moving. Then show DD how to use the whip also so she can do the correcting to gain the mare's respect. The mare needs to learn that she is not in charge and must obey your requests.
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post #3 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 04:32 PM
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what else has changed for the pony? does she have pasture mates? change in diet? like, are you feeding her grain?
changes in environment creat remarkable changes in behavior. also, were your parents firmer in their handling of her, so they kept her 'tuned up' so that when you and DD came to ride things went well? there might have been more 'work' behind the scenese than you are aware of.

and, it isn't just 'doing' ground work, . . it's doing it RIGHT. unfortunately, ground work done incorrectly can often make things worse, as it serves to just nag on and irritate the hrose into thinking he CAN take over the leadership role.
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 04:35 PM
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What Prairie said. You don't have to look farther than she saw an opportunity and took it. You have to take it back. I would warn her (raise the whip and glare and say something in a threatening voice) if she as much as lays an ear back at you, and if she makes a move, get after her but good. Make her feel very sorry she ever had that thought. Then go right back to treating her sweet. But keep your eye on her. Don't let anything slide, ever, and you'll soon have your docile pony again.
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 04:38 PM
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Welcome!
Yes, your pony is trying to boss you around. If you watch horses when they interact with each other, you will see that a upper horse in the pecking order will pin its ears and nip at the other horses. It is their way of telling the other horse to get out of the way. Your pony in basically telling you that you are underneath her.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth; only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. -C.S. Lewis
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 04:54 PM
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The drawback with using groundwork (or any other form of work) with a bossy pony or horse is that it will only be effective if they believe that you're the one in charge. I've seen nervous or non-assertive people come off the worse when the horse decides that he's not impressed by what they do and instead of backing down it ups its stance on proving who's in charge
If you've any doubts at all, especially with your daughter's ability, I would suggest you get a trainer that can come and work with the pony and with her/you rather than leaping in and maybe getting it wrong and someone being hurt
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post
What Prairie said. You don't have to look farther than she saw an opportunity and took it. You have to take it back. I would warn her (raise the whip and glare and say something in a threatening voice) if she as much as lays an ear back at you, and if she makes a move, get after her but good. Make her feel very sorry she ever had that thought. Then go right back to treating her sweet. But keep your eye on her. Don't let anything slide, ever, and you'll soon have your docile pony again.

Ditto.
Horses (and ponies ) are not machines, tHey don't stay the same, far as work ethics and respect, unless that handling that produced that 'sweet, compliant horse', remains constant
If you don't lead, they will, it is in their very nature as a herd/prey species
Horses, some more than others, constantly ask, 'are you still the leader?'
If that answer is not a clear , yes, they will start to lead.
That does not mean you have to be abusive, control the horse out of fear, but it does mean that you must be a firm , fair and clear leader.
If this is not done, then well trained horses can become 'un trained
Just a personal choice, but I never had my kids learn to ride on ponies. This was due to several things, first, we were raising horses, and not ponies.
I could ride those horses first, make them solid, and even when my kids were riding them, get on and keep them 'tuned'
Not saying there are no good ponies, but the fact remains that they are mainly ridden by kids, thus get away with stuff, and being pretty smart, learn to take advantage
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CottonCandy View Post
She's a head-down eating machine, bomb proof and generally a little bit lazy. At my parentís house, she was definitely the barn boss when it came to the other two horses.

This summer we built a barn and now have her at our property. Since coming here, she's gotten a bit of an attitude. DD is very gentle with her and handles her and grooms her daily and she loves DD. However, often when DD tries to lead her around the pasture she pins her ears back and tries to bite at her. She also pins her ears back when I lead her around, although she generally doesn't try to nip at me.

I grew up with horses, but admittedly have only been around them on a visitor basis for the last 15 years. Are we doing something wrong? Is she looking for someone to boss around now that there are no other horses for her?
She found them - you and your daughter and she is doing quite well it seems. A firm no nonsense attitude from you both and a warning that is reinforced with a definite bite when she ignores it would go a long way to remedy this situation. She has both of your numbers. As others have said no need to be abusive but a well timed and well placed pop with a crop would put her in her place.
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