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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings all.

Posted on another thread that I am leasing a horse. I groom and usually hand walk in the indoor ring. I come across a few things I could use some advice on.

1- the horse won't always let me pick certain feet or any feet. I usually can get 3 out of four, with the solo one always being his front left. Now, at first the BO said perhaps he was a little sore, but she got him to lift all his feet- and much easier too. The horse would even lift with anticipation of her going for that hoof. On good days- he readies his back legs, but when I get to the front leg- I see him put his weight on the leg. I went to work with him today, and he wouldn't let me get any feet. The most the horse did was briefly pick the hoof up, and when I try to grab it, he put it back down. I don't know if I am stressing too much, fearing he won't let me get his feet and it makes him not do it... but if anyone has any suggestions to help improve this situation I'd appreciate it.

2- I walk him around the ring- I do several laps of mixing up activities- I do long diagonals to change direction, circles, serpentines, walk the center line ect. So once he is all warmed up I do a little hand trotting- just keeping it simple and trotting in a straight line. Yesterday he nipped me a little, but I wasn't sure if I simply had my hand right at his mouth, but he did this today and I know my hand wasn't literally right at his mouth. Now, I am working to improve my hand trot, and I keep my hand up incase I need to keep the horse from getting too close.

Now, the horse doesn't appear to be angry- but I don't want him to think it's ok. I don't know if it's something I am doing, or if the horse thinks he can get away with it. I am going to watch some vids on hand trotting, but what should I do when he bites or tries to bite? ( he didn't bite me today, but he was going to. When he did bite yesterday- it wasn't the hard bite- he's not trying to rip flesh off) When he did it yesterday and today, I do the 'ah-ah' noise followed with a stern- but not shouting/screaming- 'No' and lead him in a few tighter circles- but not too tight you know. But is there something better to do to teach the horse that this isn't acceptable?

I am working on bonding better with the horse- I just started leasing him this month, and I spent time just grooming him, but now I am grooming and hand walking him in the ring. I am loving it! Overall, things are going great, but just those 2 things have come up and I want to learn how to fix them- even if it's something with me.

Thank you all in advance for your time and advice. I really appreciate it greatly.
 

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You seem to have encountered a complete lack of respect. This horse sees you as his subordinate. You need groundwork, respect building. If he nips you, smack him. If he refuses to lift his feet, make him move in all directions, then try again. Only let him set still when he lets you lift the foot. Someone with more experience should reply soon.
 

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My mare is a very dominant and nips at the trot. She usually pins her ears with everything I ask of her, but knows I expect her to do it and we'll do something involving even more work if she refuses.

So, when she nips at the trot in-hand, I'll spin around and chase her backwards across the arena. She will MOVE, and move NOW. She's been getting better, but she's definitely very expressive and I think she'll always need an experienced handler (she just snaps sometimes and becomes ddangerous).

With the feet..my mare use to be ridiculous with them. She'd drop down on her knees when I got fronts up and kick when I got the backs up. What I do to get them up is shove them off balance and snatch the foot up and keep it up until they settle. As for when she dropped, I'd keep a hold until she was on her knees, let her get back up, and pick it right back up. They'll learn that you'll get your way and that it's much less work for them if they do it willingly.

But, like the poster above, you don't have respect from that horse and you need to get it through groundwork.
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It sounds like this horse is chumping you and testing your leadership. To get him to lift his foot pinch his chestnut, if he ignores you pinch it harder and twist it, eventually he will pick his foot up, make him uncomfortable for not picking his foot up.

As for the biting you need to make sure he knows in no uncertain terms he is not allowed to put his teeth anywhere near your personal space. You said you keep your hand up in case he gets to close so your hand is in a good spot, use it. When he goes to bite you use your arm that is already up there and put your forearm/elbow up let him "run into your forearm/elbow" with his muzzle hard. Your not going to hurt him, and it will give him something think about. Then continue on try not to give the behavior a lot of attention make it uncomfortable for him to try. If he is really getting nippy and running into your arm does not work back him up aggressively for a few feet, yield his forequarters or yield his hind end which ever you choose make his feet hustle. Then go back to what you were doing, don't try to micromanage his mouth, watch him out of the corner of your eye and let him commit to his mistake then get after him. Timing is everything, then release and move on. The other thing is do not feed him treats from your hand, I know how us humans love to feed to treats but for now refrain from hand feeding. If you really want to give him a treat put it in a bucket, discourage him from looking at your hands as a source of food.

Don't worry about creating a rift in the bond your trying to form, horses are looking for leadership not friendship. The alpha mare does not care if she liked by the herd she wants them to respect her, get the horses respect so you can enjoy the time you spend with him.
 

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Are you planning on doing in hand showing?
or , is this your way of doing groundwork with him?

in any case, he is definitely becoming irritated with the activity, and , sorry to say, your way of doing it. horses that bite when someone is leading them close often feel irritated by the closeness of the person. they shouldn't , but since they feel that they are being pushed around by a subordinant, they will become defensive. Also, it's possible that you are giving mixed signals, without realizing it. for example, you are saying stop with your hand, but the lean of your body is saying go. nothing irritates a horse more than mixed signals.

I would do ground work with him where you work some on sending him away from you, and when you are leading him, do not hold the line so short. If he does reach over to bite you, let him have it! a sharp jab of your fingers into his nose. it has to make an impression.

but, look into branching out the groundwork , and check out either someone to help you make it effective, or some videos.

Julie Goodnight has a video series on groundwork that is clear and concise. It has a lot on just plain leading. worth the money.
 

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My horse used to do this (just last week!) as I got him 2 weeks ago. He used to put all his weight on his front right in order to not have to pick it up. It was DEFINITELY a test of my leadership.

One good thing is my horse came to me AMAZING at being able to disengage his hindquarters. Whenever he wouldn't pick up that foot I QUICKLY made him disengage his hindquarters on both sides and I made a lot of noise about it. Then I would go to that foot again. If he wouldn't pick it up again, I would disengage again, etc. I would NOT give up until he picked up his foot (otherwise he learns how to "get you to go away"!), even if it took a while, and the second he picked up that hoof I would reward him and give him some hay. He quickly learned that the WRONG thing was hard, and the RIGHT thing was easy. He now lifts that foot as I am walking towards it ;)

It also could have been a mix of the thrush he had in his left side feet, too, which I treated and he was more willing to put weight on that side. But that wasn't the only issue going on for sure.
 

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I agree with the others here. It sounds like this horse is testing you to see how much he can get away with and if he can get the upper hand. You need to be confident and consistent. Never give up on a fight and don't let him bite you without suffering some consequence.

When pick up his feet, first make sure you give him plenty of warning by running your hand down the back of his leg. If he doesn't give it to you with this, or starts leaning on you, use your shoulder to push him off that foot and pinch the back of that leg to ask him to pick it up. If he still won't budge, make him move. Use his halter or a thumb in his girth area to make him take his weight off that leg and then pick up his foot. Whatever you do, don't give up, and don't be afraid to get a little mean. He needs to learn that you will make him pick up that foot and fighting you will only make life harder for him. If he starts to lean on you while you're picking out his foot, don't let him put it down. Give him a jab in the girth area with your thumb to get him off you. If that doesn't work, wait until he's leaning pretty heavily on you and then drop him. Then make him pick up his foot again. Horses don't like to be dropped or thrown off balance and by making him pick his foot up again afterwards, he gains nothing from it, and should quit the behavior.

With the biting at you while working in hand, you need to meet him with a smack to the mouth and then work him hard. Suddenly get serious and make him stop, back, turn (away from you), trot off, stop etc. Very quickly and with purpose for the next few minutes. Make him think, and keep him on his toes. It will remind him that biting is not a tolerable behavior and by working him immediately afterward you both re-establish your control, and start to make him associate bad behavior with more work.

Try to carry this attitiude into the rest of your time with this horse, including riding. You can be nice and gentile with him when he behaves but as soon as he starts to act up, you need to be firm. Act quickly and with confidence and don't let him get away with these behaviors. He will soon realize that you are not a handler to be trifled with and the testing will stop. Many horses do this as they start to spend time with a new person. It's not unusual, but it's important to tackle it the right way, or you might end up losing his respect and putting yourself in danger as these naughty behaviors escalate.
 

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I also want to add that if any of these behaviors get worse or if they don't stop, you should seek the help of your instructor to make sure you're not doing anything wrong to contribute to the behavior and make sure the horse isn't hurting somehow. My sister's horse will sometimes get scratches and doesn't like to pick up his foot when the skin at his heel hurts. It's not acceptable behavior for a horse to refuse to pick up his foot, but if he's reluctant for a legitimate reason you need to combine a firm hand and training with treatment for whatever's bothering him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
:D So much advice!! Thanks.

About the feet- I will try to get him moving his feet when he does this. The horse backs up, and there is some leeway with the crossties so I can move him back and forth, or make him move his butt over.

As for leading him around- I don't plan on showing him in hand walking, right now, I am just doing it for fun. When I am not trotting- he is behind be following me pretty nicely I'd say. At first, i'd say that maybe I was just too close, but in reality, I need to gain the horses respect- I knew I had to, just since I am just starting, I didn't know where I stood. But now I know.

I do want to get a book on doing ground work, and I have been reading just now about techniques for herding. The indoor ring would be too big for me to try these techniques out on, but 2 of the' paddocks would work - Unfortunatly, our ground is covered in snow and a snowstorm on the way- plus, we lost the main field b/c of the previous ice storm knocked a huge tree down and the tree may be poisonous, so even if there was no snow, there would be another horse in the paddock as well. ( there is 2 more fields but they are covered with snow on top, ice on the bottom pretty badly)

My second concern would be what if the BO ( who owns the horse I am leasing) has some issues with the techniques? I know the difference with being stern vs beating- but what if she feels these techniques aren't right? I understand this horse won't be my best friend like a dog- I know I got to be his herd leader, so I am not discouraged, its just this is the first time I am going for a better relationship with a horse and its not just lesson horse and student- who just rides for that lesson.

But I appreciate all that you said. I will watch some leading videos and get better with that- including making sure I don't give wrong signals and such. It really helps greatly, and I thank you again for you taking time out of your day to help me. :D
 

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I remember from a video, that a horse that weights the hoof you want to pick up can be encouraged to weight the other one, but you don't push on him to push him over onto the other leg becuase this only encourages him to push back against you. you PULL the leg you want to lift (your put your arm around it above the knee and pull toward you, outward), pull it out away from him and he'll resist that pull and by so doing will put more weight onto the other front leg, and make the one you want lighter.

now, I have never tried this, and maybe I got that all wrong, but it's something to try.
 

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Hmm about the leading in the school, you should lead him and be standing mid way between the shoulder and head. never go past his shoulder though! means he wont be able to swing around and bite you so easy :) Goodluck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thought I'd giver an update.

One thing tho, I realize I didn't mention in the first post- the horse kinda has a thing about people picking out it's feet. You do have to ave a good bond to pick the horses feet. That is something I am working on now- and it doesn't dispel what you all said before- but I did talk to another rider about it.

But When Magic started giving me issues this last time- he would lift his front foot- but bring it all the way out, then put all his weight on it ect. So, what I did was made Magic walk forward on the cross ties a bit then back. I did this a few times- the horse was kinda like what the heck are you doing? But when I finished, I was able to get all his feet picked. When I was done, I rewarded him with some loving. :D

As for the hand trotting, didn't work too much on that. The indoor ring had snow dropping off the roof- and it was a first for me so I mainly just walked around. But in general the horse didn't really invade my space- but usually doesn't when walking.

I am happy with being able to pick up his feet- I think that was successful and a step in the good direction- he realized that his silly games weren't going to work.

:D
 

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I had some problems with my horse not picking up all his feet or trying to pull his hind feet out of my hands when I first got him. Here is my advice:

1. Establish a pattern of how you pick his hooves and be consistent (you may already do this, but it is worth mentioning. My horse now does anticipate and shifts his weight and starts picking up the next hoof before I even get there)

3. If he won't pick up a hoof, push him over with your shoulder to force his weight off the near foot, pinch his chestnut if needed, and be prepared to grab his hoof as soon as he picks it up. My horse used to pick it up and then put it down quickly or try to grab it back out of my hand. You need to get good at being persistent and holding onto that hoof no matter what, and he'll learn it doesn't do any good.

4. If you absolutely can't get him to lift up on of his hooves (my horse did this a few times), untie him from the cross-ties if you need to and make him move all his feet, then start with the first hoof again, and go through all four until you get them all. I did this whenever my horse refused to pick up one of his feet, and he quickly realized it was a lot less trouble to just pick them up for me the first time.

I agree with the other advice about the nipping - make it so that he 'runs into' your elbow, and don't worry about hurting him. He is trying to hurt YOU, so make the consequence of that action something that will hurt him.

With a new horse, you do have to establish yourself as the leader, and even subtle actions can tell your horse that you aren't an effective leader and he had better take control. So, be cognizant of not letting him get away with any bad behavior, including nuzzling you, crowding you, moving into your space without being invited, pulling on the lead rope, etc. Do groundwork to show him that you are the one moving HIS feet. Lastly, make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. An example of this is making him move all his feet when he refuses to give you a hoof (make the wrong thing hard), and rewarding him by leaving him alone once he picks them up nicely for you.
 

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If a horse nips at you, take it for a walk or trot and suddenly flap your elbow. If the horse connect with it, too bad. It won't make it head shy. Keep going as it may try it again. Usually after a second connection the horse will quit altho it may take a third time. Every once in a while, flap the elbow as a reminder even if the horse isn't trying to nip.
 

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I would rule out pain. If you can usually get 3 of his hooves and he is protective over his front left, it sounds like pain. But he let the other woman pick up all fours. Also, confidence is key in these situations. If you approach him in the mindset of, "He only lets me pick three hooves." he will only let you pick three hooves. If you approach with the mindset of, "Today, I will pick all four hooves." You will have a better chance when picking his hooves. And always stay persistent or the horse will win, and keep up with the behavior, making it more difficult to put a stop to the longer he does it. I was always told, "What you feel travels through the leadrope to the horse." and it is true. Whatever you feel the horse knows. When he kicks while you're picking hooves, hold it until he stops kicking. My horse does this with her backs and I am training her out of it. If he isn't stopping, shout "no!". This worked with her, but of course all horses are different. And biting/nipping is never acceptable. It is bad mannered and inexcusable. Whenever he bites, slap his neck and a loud "no!". From then on, if he bites, he associates the "no!" with a slap on the neck, so he should stop. But once pain is ruled out, it just sounds like a lazy horse who doesn't want to do the work :lol:. (This advice was given if pain wasn't the case, just if the horse has bad habits.) Good luck, hope everything turns out well :)!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thanks for all the advice. What I have been working on the most was the hoof picking. Yesterday, I got all 3 up fine- he shifted the weight off and picked them up- the the same front one he gave me issues. So, I make him walk forward and backward a few times. I had to do this 2 times to be able to grab that hoof- and it was the grab it quickly not him letting gm epick it up.

Today- was more of a struggle to get him to lift the first one- I do start with the same one too. But walked him back and forth and finally got it.

Now, his back feet- he lifts them for me, but does the classic lifts them extremely high- so, I grab them, and eventually he settles. He does do the lets put weigh ton it and try to drop it- but I learned to feel when he is about to do this- so I stop picking, and just hang on.

My initial fear was that he was just loosing his balance- but I watched an extremely old horse get his holves trimmed- and the horse has severe issues balancing when his front left foot is off the ground- I can say I seen a horse do the Michael Jackson smooth criminal lean! SO, I was able to see a horse loosing it's balance, and Magic defi natly isn't loosing his balance- so, I hang on. He eventually stops.

Now, today he also gave me issues with the same front left foot- its not pain- BO can get the horse to lift his feet nicely- its just the horse being a brat. But what Iam proud of- even tho he didn't truly lift his feet ( had the toe resting on the ground, foot kinda up) I did the 'ah-ah' noise and confidently pulled ( but not yanked) that foot- and bam- he lifted it for me. So, yes, he gave me issues, but I did get him to lift it eventually.

So, th ebad news is he still gives me issues- but the good news is I always pick all 4 feet. Sometimes its more work, sometimes it's just that one foot. Right now, I am happy. I am hoping in the future it won't always be this battle- but in the end, I pick his feet.

As far as the biting while trotting- a few visits ago- started out good- was trotting and not biting, but he did do that again. Today I did some hand trotting- but what I do is start him trotting behind me ( as in he is following me), he trots to my side- but I just keep my elbow out- not my hand. No biting. I'd love to say it was just my hand placement- but while that could have encouraged him to bite, I don't think that is it. I don't have his respect yet, but I think I am heading into the right direction- just needs more work.

But I do think for the hoof picking- if he refuses to pick up one- restart it all over.

thanks again!
 
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