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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've just gotten Kate - the spotted draft in my picture. She's about 12, and has been trail ridden a long time ago, according to the previous owner.

My other two horses are docile old arthritic pasture ornaments. I've never really trained or worked with them. But I want to learn about working with Kate, because I'd love to ride her some day. Please excuse my total ignorance w/ regard to training. Everybody has to start somewhere.

Every day, I go out and spend time with her (she's been here 2 weeks now). I go and stand about 15 feet from her and look down. She comes over to me every time. I slowly touch her shoulder. She'll let me, but then immediately backs up a step or two. It's all about the backing up. If I stand in front of her and just point at her, she backs up. That's cool, but the constant backing up when I touch her anywhere is not so good. If I try to pick up a foot, she backs up. What should I be doing?

Also, she's EXTREMELY head shy, and I haven't been able to get a halter on her. If I come near her with a halter she tosses her head and - you got it - she backs up.

This girl was a pasture bum for the past 5 or 7 years. She was always turned out in her halter. The halter is too small for her, and has made a dent in the top of her nose. So I'm sure it hurts her. I made a rope halter for her that will fit comfortably, but she's so head-shy I can't get it on her. (I've ordered a break-away halter that will fit her).

Are there other games or things I should be working on first? I don't have a round pen, and obviously haven't gotten the halter on her. How should I be spending our time together? I do make her move her feet - walking in circles, moving her back end away from me, backing her up (no problem there! :? )

Any help will be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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I can't help much with the other stuff, but I might be able to help with getting the halter on:
Have you tried having the halter+lead rope on your shoulder (arm through the halter's nose hole), then taking the lead rope end, petting her neck, petting her neck, petting, then, sneakily dropping the lead rope over the other side of her neck and quickly wrapping it around her neck so that you basically have her caught, minus the halter? You can hold on to that neck loop, so she can't back up, and get the halter on her head.

That's what I do to my mare. She's not head shy but if I just went out into her pasture and tried to stick the halter on her head without draping the lead rope over her neck (I used to loop it but now the lead rope is enough of a cue), she would almost certainly started backing away. She doesn't reeeeeaaaaallllllllyyyyy want to be caught and if she can carefully weasel out of getting caught, why shouldn't she? haha!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What training has she had in the past, do you know?
The previous owner said that "she used to be a trail horse - a long time ago". If that's true, then we can assume there has been some kind of training, but who knows what or how much.

She will let me approach her right side, but not her left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I can't help much with the other stuff, but I might be able to help with getting the halter on:
Have you tried having the halter+lead rope on your shoulder (arm through the halter's nose hole), then taking the lead rope end, petting her neck, petting her neck, petting, then, sneakily dropping the lead rope over the other side of her neck and quickly wrapping it around her neck so that you basically have her caught, minus the halter? You can hold on to that neck loop, so she can't back up, and get the halter on her head.
For the past 2 days, I've been carrying her rope halter on my shoulder when I go out to be with her. When she's very relaxed, I've been touching her with it. Today I'm going to work at just putting a lead rope over her neck. Sounds like a good plan. Thanks!

I've also been getting her used to the lunge whip. I've tied a cloth flag on the end of it. She's afraid of it, but getting better. When she's desensitized to it, I may be able to work on that backing up thing.

I think that today I'll also try this - when she takes a step back, I'll just keep her going backward. Sooner or later she may get tired of that. At least backing her up should be easy! :lol:

Thanks for your replies!
 

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have you looked into something like pick line neck collars like in this link
http://www.statelinetack.com/item/picket-line-adjustable-neck-collar/SLT771024/

my denny boy used to not like to be haltered bc his nylon halter was left on to long when i found him. and then i retrained him to except this neck collar for catching then worked with a normal rope halter. eventually he excepted it but it made things alot less stressful for our first encounters and regained his face shyness issues slow and steady. it might not work but then again it could... he was the only one i ever tried it with.
goodluck
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
have you looked into something like pick line neck collars like in this link
http://www.statelinetack.com/item/picket-line-adjustable-neck-collar/SLT771024/

my denny boy used to not like to be haltered bc his nylon halter was left on to long when i found him. and then i retrained him to except this neck collar for catching then worked with a normal rope halter. eventually he excepted it but it made things alot less stressful for our first encounters and regained his face shyness issues slow and steady. it might not work but then again it could... he was the only one i ever tried it with.
goodluck
Great idea! I'll contact them and see if they have it in draft sizes. Her head/neck is ridiculously huge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
GREAT progress today. Just spent an hour with her, just standing there with the rope halter in my hand. Every now and then I'd move it a little. Long slow story short, at the end she was walking 15 - 20 feet to come to me and taking a treat from my outstretched hand that had the halter dangling from it. Treat was balanced ON the halter! Progress! :)
 

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Congrats on the progress! My advice would be to focus on one task at a time. First being able to be caught. Then working on teaching her to lead including walking forward, stopping, turning left and right, and backing.

Since you're not sure of her past and you're new at this yourself (forgive me if I'm wrong) just make sure you and your horse are naturals at allll of the basics and work on reteaching her everything.

It helps to work in a rope halter as they can feel the pressure (a poke versus a flat hand) and tend to respond better because it's clearer. Just my opinion though :)
 

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I don't know if this will help since it's like the opposite of what you are doing, but when I was like 9, my trainer would have us "run" horses that couldn't be caught in open fields. Looking back, I'm not sure if it is ethical but I was young so please don't bash me for it people! lol I've done it a few times over the past few years and it has always worked for me. Though my horses weren't scared of the halter, they just didn't wanna get caught haha

Anywayys what she had us do was walk up to them like we normally would to halter them. If they would run off, we would run after them for about 10 steps and smooch and flail our arms. Eventually they would stop at some far end of the pasture and we would calmly walk over to them, keeping our eyes down and bodies slouched (no threatening). If they would take off, we would repeat the above steps as many times as it took. Usually after about twice though they would realize it was easier to just get caught and we would have the haltered :)

Again, I don't know if this is quite suited for you since your horse seems to be more timid and afraid of you/the halter at some points instead of just ornery about it... You seem to be making progress with what you are doing though!
 

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If I were in your situation, I would just keep doing what you're doing! Getting up to her at least to stand doesn't seem to be a problem, from what you're saying, so the next step would be just getting her used to being touched. Gently touch her when you can, if she draws away slowly, gently keep the pressure. If she's drawing away fast, then just drop your hand and let her do what she wants to. I like to make the horse feel that it's their idea to come to me, so try bringing treats or something that's going to peak her interest. Stand still, holding the treat, and slowly retract it towards you until she's right next to you, and repeat touching her gently- the shoulder, the neck, anywhere you know won't freak her out. It's a patient method, but it pays off- eventually, she'll feel relaxed with you enough to let you start working with her head (I usually use the same method with their head). Good luck!
Another thing is to breath deeply and calmly- I've always found that your breathing will affect the horse. If you feel relaxed and unfazed, she'll pick up on that. And if she trusts you, she'll feel relaxed when you do. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all for your comments and suggestions! I really appreciate them!

Every day, progress is happening. I think my biggest challenge now is to simply not be in a hurry. I'm happy that I don't have to go back to work until after New Year's, so still have a week when I can go out and work with her a few times a day.

Still haven't gotten the halter on her, but I've stopped worrying about it. We're just taking it slow.

After the past week of "work":
*She comes to me every time I go within 50 feet of her unless she's eating.

*She's no longer pushy for treats - I hold up my hand when she gets to my space and she stops. She's mostly stopping on her own now.

*I've learned that to touch her head, I can start at the neck, then scratch ear, then slide hand down side of face. Works every time!

* She'll stand still and let me stroke her all over, pick burrs out of her tail and feathers (she wouldn't let me touch her feet AT ALL before).

* I can gently push on her front, her shoulder, or her hip, and she yields and moves. So, I push her around a lot! :lol:

* I'm carrying a variety of things like hats, lunge whip, bags, and she's starting to be way less reactive. She's curious.

I think this is great progress!!!!

My goal for next week is to be able to pick up a foot and to get the halter on. But no rush.

Thanks again for the encouragement.
 

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SandyCreek, it's been my experience that horses don't want to be caught wind up having some respect issues. So, take things one step at a time and only focus on one thing at a time, instead of working on moving her around, etc. It just winds up confusing them, etc. So, for the next week, I would suggest strictly working on just getting her used to the halter, not scared of it, etc. You should try touching her neck with the halter and rubbing her with it. If you can rub her with it, then try slipping it on her face. Most likely she's had a bad experience with halters before, causing her not to trust them now. So your job now is to teach her to trust them and they won't hurt her. Then, once you get her caught you can work on her respect issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
SandyCreek, it's been my experience that horses don't want to be caught wind up having some respect issues. So, take things one step at a time and only focus on one thing at a time, instead of working on moving her around, etc. It just winds up confusing them, etc. So, for the next week, I would suggest strictly working on just getting her used to the halter, not scared of it, etc. You should try touching her neck with the halter and rubbing her with it. If you can rub her with it, then try slipping it on her face. Most likely she's had a bad experience with halters before, causing her not to trust them now. So your job now is to teach her to trust them and they won't hurt her. Then, once you get her caught you can work on her respect issues.
Thanks, kywalkers :)
 

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Your welcome. Let us know how it goes. You definitely wanna work on those respect issues once you get her retrained to accept being caught. There's nothing worse than having a pushy HUGE draft horse that doesn't respect your space. It really hurts when they step on your little pinky toe lol.
 

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I personally never start to train a horse to lead by putting a halter on him. I much prefer to go up to them and use rope such as a lariat or any rope with a loop. Put it over their heads and then flip a loop around their nose. I prefer this because the horse will learn to accept a rope over him head. If you always go under his neck and just buckle the crown the horse wont be accepting to things over their head. I once rode a horse that wouldnt even let me put the reins back on her when I was leading her. Hope you found this comment helpfull.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I personally never start to train a horse to lead by putting a halter on him. I much prefer to go up to them and use rope such as a lariat or any rope with a loop. Put it over their heads and then flip a loop around their nose. I prefer this because the horse will learn to accept a rope over him head. If you always go under his neck and just buckle the crown the horse wont be accepting to things over their head. I once rode a horse that wouldnt even let me put the reins back on her when I was leading her. Hope you found this comment helpfull.
Thanks, Geo!

The more she settles in here - it's been 3 weeks now, and the crabby #2 mare is letting her eat at the hay feeder now - and the more I mess with her head/face, the better and calmer she's getting. I'm in no rush. She ALWAYS comes to me now, and I can touch her whole face/head without her jerking away at all. She's spooky when I touch her with the halter and she walks away. But now she couldn't care less if I hold it out or wave it around, and last week that would have sent her running. So, I think we're winning! Like I said, no rush.
 
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