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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The other day I put haylage out for the horses and left my pony for about an hour to graze before attempting to bring her in to ride. Usually I leave her headcollar on all the time but someone had taken it off. Anyway, I tried to catch her but she tryed to kick me more than once, she kept spinning round with her ears flat back against her head. I could stand about 3m away but any closer and she was really aggressive towards me.
When my Dad came she was even behaving in that way towards him (despite him being bigger and more assertive than myself).

This shouldn't bother me but it does as I thought I'd built up quite a bond with her. She never tests me like this when we ride, so why now? I feel weak because I had to give up in the end. I know I should have persisted but I really didn't want to get hurt. The more I tried the more agressive she became. At one point she went towards me as if about to charge so I stamped me feet and shouted. It seemed to work but when I tried grabbing bits of mane or whatever I could reach to stop her running away it certainly did not work.

Also I tried a handful of knuts and a bucket of food but of course I was bombarded by every horse in the field except her.

So my questions are ... How would other people have dealt with this? Was I wrong to give up? Thanks so much, any advice will be greatly appreciated :) x
 

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When she was younger my filly used to do something similiar, however it was nowhere near as extreme. I did lots of groundwork. Mainly focusing on getting her to be responsive to my 'whoa' cue during longing. Although there are many ways to lounge, the way I chose was to have her turn and face me when she stopped. I also focused on backing up, and pivoting on her forehand and hind end. When she was good I let her loose in the round pen and worked with her, doing the same exercises. And then went to the arena. She eventually learned that when I say "whoa", that she is supposed to turn and face me. If she didn't She would get a smack on he rear Demanding that she face me. (I used to carry 1/2 of the lounge whip, b/c it screws together :D) And if she tried to come closer she knew what the back up signal was. Same goes for the pasture. My cues are always the same and she now has the respect for me to stop and be still when I ask and not to invade my space.

I suggest that you work on lots of ground work. When she is in the pasture lunging at you that is her way of telling you to move, when in fact it should be the other way around :) Just keep working at it and eventually you'll get though to her. Although I can say that I don't think stomping your feet and yelling will work for much longer, and then you'll be in a VEry Very dangerous spot. If you need to carry a crop with you, there is nothing wrong with that.
 

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Actually, it SHOULD bother you - because it is a dangerous step onto a very slippery slope of increased aggression and a dangerous pony. It's less to do with the "bond" you have with her and more to do with the respect she has - or hasn't got - for you. There is a difference between the emotional side of things that we humans like to interject and the basics such as respecting a leader.
I would suggest a LOT of ground work that re-establishes you as her leader first and formost - you can't worry about hurting her feelings or that she won't "love" you anymore if you take control. There is nothing loving about a disrespectful pony.
For the field issue, carry a nice long longe or driving whip with you and the moment she even thinks about turning her hindquarters to you (don't wait for her to kick at you, she isn't allowed to so much as give you her bum) use it to make her move off while allowing you to be at a safer distance. She will do whatever she can get away with, nothing more, nothing less. It is up to you to show here what is or isn't allowed, and acting the way she did is most certainly on the "no-fly" list.
 

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At the stable I used to work at, they once had a a mini named Nelly. She was very cute, but HATED children. If any child walked by her stall or paddock fence she'd pin her ears and she'd get that snake-y look. Kids weren't allowed to touch her, let alone ride her. So it was our job to try and get her over this, but she also hated being caught.
Luckily, she usually would follow all the other ponies in, if everyone had to come in, but good luck if you wanted to catch just her.
One time, we had to bring all the ponies in, but she wouldn't come. She was eating the last bits of hay in the round bale feeder. So I walked out there to get her, and she suddenly turned evil. As soon as I got up next to her, she reared straight up, bared her teeth, and lunged forward about to bite me. But luckily the round bale feeder was right there, so I jumped in so she couldn't reach me. She didn't care, she turned around and kicked the crap out of the round bale feeder. I yelled for another worker to get me a whip, and she tossed it to me over the fence. As soon as I had the whip I whacked it right on her butt, and her whole demeanor changed. Almost like she was shocked that I would even do something like that to her. I made her work, I stayed in the round feeder, but I made her run circles around me. Eventually I let her stop, and got out and caught her with no problems.
That was only time I have ever felt seriously threatened by a horse, or should I say mini. I don't know what I would have done if she were a full grown horse because she would have probably been able to reach me in the round feeder. She just needed someone to step up, and become boss. Her problems being caught were old news after that event.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your anwswers but I have a couple of questions. If I carry a crop into the field isn't she likely to be more agressive to protect herself? And what sort of groundwork do you suggest?
 

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I agree with themacpac concerning the "showing you her bum" post, and I wouldn't think it's as much about her showing aggression for self protection as it is about showing you that she's the boss and things are gonna work her way around here from now on. Try to take an aggressive stance toward her and by all means carry an equalizer. Of course make sure that she isn't injured or reacting to some pain or discomfort and not just having behavioral issues, but if you can get her alone and away from other horses it would be best and safest. Good luck!
 

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Agreed that this horse is waaaay out of order. Currently, she is the boss and you can not tolerate that. It should bother you - big time. Those posters that have already suggested that you use whatever tools available and use them agressively are correct. You must dictate your space and YOU tell HER when to move, not the other way around. I suggest you spend much time in the paddock, not trying to necessarily catch her Continue to move her until she turns to face you. It might take a very long time the first time and is much easier in a smaller paddock of course. When she turns to face you, praise her with a soothing voice and walk away. That's day one or session one. Do not ever try to grab for a piece of mane. You will have no control and it negates your superiority.

I would not try to approach her further the first time. You are only telling her who is boss. Unless, of course, she begins to walk calmly towards you with her head at a relaxed height. Too high or too low is not good.

Progress to just being able to approach her, then being able to halter her. Then walk away. Next time, go take the halter off. Personally, I use treats to reinforce when a horse has done well. As time goes on, I find I don't need the treats anymore, but initially it works well for me. So, when you put her halter on, give her a treat. When you take it off, she must stand quietly, praise her, then you walk away or tell her too. Do not allow her to walk away by her own choice.

At all times, carry a crop, whip, stick or handle of stones. Anything that makes your reach longer.

There are very few horses that actually will physically fight with you -- it is not a natural thing for horses, other than stallions. 95% of their communication is body language from a distance. It sounds like this horse needs ground work to (re)establish respect. Do not think of your horse as your "bosom buddy" -- you are ALWAYS the boss. You will have a much stronger, happier and safer relationship this way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Agreed that this horse is waaaay out of order. Currently, she is the boss and you can not tolerate that. It should bother you - big time. Those posters that have already suggested that you use whatever tools available and use them agressively are correct. You must dictate your space and YOU tell HER when to move, not the other way around. I suggest you spend much time in the paddock, not trying to necessarily catch her Continue to move her until she turns to face you. It might take a very long time the first time and is much easier in a smaller paddock of course. When she turns to face you, praise her with a soothing voice and walk away. That's day one or session one. Do not ever try to grab for a piece of mane. You will have no control and it negates your superiority.

I would not try to approach her further the first time. You are only telling her who is boss. Unless, of course, she begins to walk calmly towards you with her head at a relaxed height. Too high or too low is not good.

Progress to just being able to approach her, then being able to halter her. Then walk away. Next time, go take the halter off. Personally, I use treats to reinforce when a horse has done well. As time goes on, I find I don't need the treats anymore, but initially it works well for me. So, when you put her halter on, give her a treat. When you take it off, she must stand quietly, praise her, then you walk away or tell her too. Do not allow her to walk away by her own choice.

At all times, carry a crop, whip, stick or handle of stones. Anything that makes your reach longer.

There are very few horses that actually will physically fight with you -- it is not a natural thing for horses, other than stallions. 95% of their communication is body language from a distance. It sounds like this horse needs ground work to (re)establish respect. Do not think of your horse as your "bosom buddy" -- you are ALWAYS the boss. You will have a much stronger, happier and safer relationship this way.
Thanks for that, it was very helpful. I was just wondering how I make her stand still after I take off the headcollar? Also when I am in the field with her she is usually willing to apporoach me or at least face me. It's only when I hold the headcollar it's a problem. Would it be right to try keeping the headcollar with me when I visit her in the field even if I do not intend to use it? Would this make her see it more positively or is that not right?
 

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^^Try wrapping the lead rope loosely around her neck so that when she tries to walk away after you take the halter off, shes still "attached" to you. After she stands still and again, shows signs of relaxing (licking/chewing, lowered head, BIG sighs) then you can let her go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
^^Try wrapping the lead rope loosely around her neck so that when she tries to walk away after you take the halter off, shes still "attached" to you. After she stands still and again, shows signs of relaxing (licking/chewing, lowered head, BIG sighs) then you can let her go.
Ok Thanks :)
 

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^^ what she said.

And I meant a "handful of stones" not a "handle" :)

So, the headcollar is an issue then. Even more important than for her to recognize that the halter isn't a bad thing. Yes, take it with you everywhere and make a point of visiting only without trying to put it on. Bring it to her when you get to that point and don't even try to put it on the next fews times you actually approach her with it. It is important that she doesn't feel threatened by it.

Also, you could try feeding her grain/supplements ONLY with the headcollar on. No headcollar - no grain. After eating, take it off. They get the idea very quickly. I once stood for almost 2 hours with the halter waiting for my horse to come and ask me, "Please, please, please can I wear it?" so she could get her grain. The next day was only 3/4 hour; for a while after that it was 5 - 10 minutes each time, then nada -- just "give me that thing so I can eat already!"
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
^^ what she said.

And I meant a "handful of stones" not a "handle" :)

So, the headcollar is an issue then. Even more important than for her to recognize that the halter isn't a bad thing. Yes, take it with you everywhere and make a point of visiting only without trying to put it on. Bring it to her when you get to that point and don't even try to put it on the next fews times you actually approach her with it. It is important that she doesn't feel threatened by it.

Also, you could try feeding her grain/supplements ONLY with the headcollar on. No headcollar - no grain. After eating, take it off. They get the idea very quickly. I once stood for almost 2 hours with the halter waiting for my horse to come and ask me, "Please, please, please can I wear it?" so she could get her grain. The next day was only 3/4 hour; for a while after that it was 5 - 10 minutes each time, then nada -- just "give me that thing so I can eat already!"
Thank you so much. Thats all great info! Sorry if I'm being a pain but I have more questions! Your advice is just too good too miss out on!

Do you think it's a bad idea to ride her again until she's more willing to accept the Head collar?

Or should I catch her as long as she's willing?

Also If I really do need to get her in quickly, what's the best way to do so?

Thanks again :D
 

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I think for the time being, you should forget all expectations of riding and work on the basics. You may have to spend two hours trying to catch her, catch her, and then leave for dinner. Eventually, it will get easier, but at least for now I wouldn't put the added stress on you when things don't go as you plan, which will in turn put stress on HER when you become too pushy or too demanding and then it may end up with her hurting you.
 

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I also think you should avoid the riding for now. If you can't work safely and effectively with her on the ground, riding can certainly make things worse. You need to root out the base problem of why she doesn't want to take the halter. Which is, to me, respect at this point. Maybe later you will find other things, like she is OK with the halter, but not the bridle. Or, OK with the bridle, but not the saddle... whatever. Take it in steps. It will take time, but you will both be far better off in the end.

As far as catching her if she's willing? No. Set your goal for the day and stick to it. If your goal is only to have her not be agressive when you have the headcollar in your hand, then that is it for that session. Always end the session with success, so keep your goals achievable. The goals must be what YOU set. Even if she wants the halter, do not give it to her unless that is the day you had already decided that this is the day that she will be permitted to have it.

Honestly, I know it requires patience to do this, but it IS worth it.
 

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Just checking to see how it was goin', and it sounds like you have been given the tools to get the job done. It's true, it wont happen overnight but if you are patient, you will be amazed at your results. Good luck and let us know how it progresses.
 
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