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Morning From South africa
I would like to ask something and pleas bear with me as I am afrikaans speaking and new to horses. I am 42 and started last year with horses and bought aurora in July last year she is a percheron. I love her too bits.

I had anaphylactic shock in June this year and it was a near death experience so when I came out of hospital I was sooo greatful to see her. I cried while holding her but she is not the sympathetic type so I kind of felt....rejected?

A few days after this I went to the paddock and asked God to just hold me as I couldn't stop crying and she came towards me and placed her nose onto my cheek. I hoped that our relationship would got better as she sometimes would walk away when I want to put the halter on or have a rope on my shoulder that I use to make a halter of. I feel I love her so much but can't understand why she does this.

She has a bad past with previous owners but I hoped that we would have a partnership more than owner animal. So I contacted a place in Australia and they contacted me today. I really don't have 10000 dollars in south African currency that's a lot of money but I do believe that one should be able to have this relationship that I dream of.

Are there any of you that have a horse like this who seems to not always trust you and what did you do to improve it. Are there someone that can just give me a hint why she would try to run away when trying to halter her, it's only for grooming or lunging or a nice hacking to the pond that I would halter her. She was never yelled at or being rude at.

She is a lot better than when I got her, farrier services took 2 and a half hours to calm her its now 15 min? He said it seemed like she was twitched by her mouth and ear and restrained in a block to do her hooves. I couldnt come near her face she let's me scratch her now, which she loves and I can touch her eyes and face and neck. Am I just silly? I just feel like we could have a so much deeper relationship
 

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As much as we want them to be horses are not mystical beasts. Majestic, yes. Mystic, no. There are no magical bonds. That said horses can certainly be the therapy we need. As once said, and sorry, I do not remember who to credit for the quote but "the outside of a horse is good for the inside of the person." Horses are individuals and have each their own unique personalities. Some are more love and cuddles than others that are more standoffish. The best way to develop a relationship is to just spend time. Time. In the pasture, hanging out when she eats, no pressure just presence. It won't change her personality but it could give you something more than you feel you're getting. Days I feel down I grab a folding chair, along with something to drink (coffee if it is early morning, sometimes a glass of wine at night and a good book. Just being out there among the herd and able to relax and enjoy the moment gives me a boost.



When I first started working with drafts I was going through a really rough time and the one horse I trusted the most was the absolute least friendliest. Always a tight mouth, tense face and just angry. But late at night when I couldn't sleep I could crawl up on her back and lay back and watch the stars while she continued to graze or nap. There were no loves or cuddles but just the warmth and hearing her graze were enough.



Take what you do have and find contentment in something she does offer. Peche and I came to a mutual understanding and she was my steady when I moved three states over but friendly - never. That was ok. That was her.
 

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Hello. Your English is good.

What a traumatic experience you had! I'm glad you recovered.

Some horses are more affectionate than others. Just like some people.

I will encourage you to be patient with your horse. It sounds like she has improved in her level of trust with people already, but for what you hope it will take more time.

I also caution you to not let her be disrespectful. She may be very smart and try to take advantage of your kindness.

She sounds like a very lucky horse to have you in her life.
 

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Hi & welcome to the forum!

And welcome to the journey of horse owning! It strikes me that if Aurora had a 'bad past' she will have more 'baggage' about stuff than many horses. So while its been over a year, it may still take longer to overcome the associations from her previous life. Some may be difficult to overcome at all. Don't take it personally(altho do take it as feedback as to how you're going), just do the best you can by her.

I'd be spending more time with her just being, not doing. Hang out with her, go sit in the paddock & read a book... While it might seem nice to you, lunging or riding, even maybe grooming, may not be very nice for her, depending not only how/what you do but on her previous experiences.

I also use a fair amount of positive reinforcement/reward too, esp in the early days or with UNtrusting horses, which helps replace the Bad associations with Good.
 

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You are doing what so many of us do, anthropomorphizing or giving human emotions and motivations to your horse. They don't behave like us because they aren't us. Yes, you can have an amazing relationship with her, and it sounds like you're doing very well at having overcome several really big obstacles.

Why does she walk away from you when you want to halter her? Because to her it means something she doesn't want to do right now. Nothing to do with you at all, except that you're not the leader yet. She doesn't dislike you but she is being disrespectful. At this point, I would take a favorite treat (carrot, apple, pear, grapes, peppermints) with me every time I went to halter her. First I'd get her into a smallish area (not a big pasture), then go to the gate and call her. If she walks up to the gate tell her, "Good Girl!" and give her a treat. Then I'd put the rope around her neck and tell her "Good Girl" and give her another treat. Then I would leave her alone for 30 mins or so.

I'd keep her in the smallish area while I was working on getting her to come up to me because if she walks away there, it's easy to make her move her feet and she can't really get very far away from you. If she walks away, then start walking behind her and if she stops but won't let you come up, swing the rope and make her walk off, drive her away. Keep her moving and don't allow her to come into your space until YOU say it's ok. That's what horses do to each other to establish who's the leader. When she wants to stop and will let you come up and put the rope around her neck tell her, "Good Girl" and give her a treat. I got in the habit of telling mine once I've got the rope around their neck, "OK you, I caught you fair and square, now you have to behave.". It's not that they 'understand' that sentence, but if it's said every time in the same calm, quiet tone of voice, it's sort of a "Life is good, I can be calm" cue.

Walking up, catching her and walking away, then walking up, call her to you, catching her and walking away, and then call her, catch her, put the halter on, take it off, then walk away, interspersed with grooming and/or riding, so that she can't predict what you want her for and always giving her a treat (at this point) will do a lot to get her coming to you, giving you 2 eyes and not her butt, and are all things that will help her learn who is in charge, that she must be respectful, and make her much more willing and compliant. You don't need to spend 10,000!:eek::eek::eek:, to accomplish this, just work with her daily.

Another reason she's walking away is because she's associating you & the rope or halter with work. When you pull her out to groom or lunge or ride, she knows she's going to work when she sees that halter. You need to establish another reason for her to come to you and allow herself to be caught. Once she's accepted that you're in charge, she'll improve immensely when you go to catch her. The treats, at this point, give her a reason to want to come to you and be caught, after a while when she's consistent then you start only giving a treat every now and then but keep her guessing. She knows if she walks away she is NOT getting a treat, if she's comes to you and is caught, she MIGHT get one, so she's always going to come so she can not miss a treat opportunity.

If you can get an opportunity to watch a large group of horses in a pasture, I really recommend you do it. Watch how they're careful of each other's, and especially the lead horse's, space and how they act with someone violates that space. Some of the behavior is pretty subtle, narrowing the eyes, looking at the offender and giving a flip of the nose, pinning the ears back, snaking the neck, barring the teeth and narrowing the eyes, are all things that are saying to the offending horse, "HEY YOU GET OUT OF MY SPACE!". Watch how, when they are mutually grooming each other, their eyes are soft, they're in each other's space but not enforcing their "personal bubble" and if someone does something pushy or disrespectful, watch how quickly they can change. If you are firm, fair and consistent with the horse, she'll start recognizing who is in charge and she'll relax and start just enjoying being around you. Being in a herd or groups, knowing who the leader is and knowing that any action that is disrespectful to the leader, will get her some kind of retribution, are all security to a horse. They like things really clear and consistent.
 

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Horses have very short attention spans. If you are doing something that stimulates her curiosity, such as crying, she will come to investigate. But, if something else makes a noise, or moves, or the grass smells good, or another horse or person approaches, her attention will go there; away from you.



This is only natural. It also means she trusts you enough to let her attention leave you. If she feared you, she would keep her attention on you non-stop, from a distance. If she does not fear you, she feels ok to drift off to eat, or just drift her attention elsewhere
 

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@QtrBel said what I would say -- spend time BEING with them, not focused on DOING anything. In my experience, horses like to just be, they don't so much enjoy focused activity (doing).

My daughter's horse, Moonshine, was like that to a certain extent when we got her. I don't think she had a bad past, but she had been a trail horse and was ridden by random people all the time. She didn't really seem like she wanted to connect with my daughter, even though my daughter put so much love into her. Moonshine was always aloof and acting like she didn't care.

Then one day we moved her to a new barn. Moonshine got off the trailer to an absolute whirlwind of activity: horses, people, arenas, everything. Moonshine is a horse who hides her emotions, so she didn't want to let on that she was scared, but she stuck to my daughter like glue for several hours, even without a halter. That showed us that she really did care about my daughter, and she considered her to be trustworthy and a safe place. After that, their relationship really improved a lot. Moonshine used to take up to half an hour to catch! But we trained her to come when called. There is nothing like calling your horse on a foggy day and having them come cantering out of the mist! Wow!

The secret to our success? Food. I feed all of my horses every time I bring them in, even if it's just a handful of something. Man, horses love food. But I don't want you to think that it's just a transactional relationship -- Moonshine really does like to spend time with my daughter now.

So, my solution to your problem of her walking away would be: food.

My solution to your problem of maybe not feeling that she loves you would be to tell you that there are horses, like Moonshine, who have feelings but don't show them. We also know Moonshine cares about my horse Teddy, but she almost never shows that either. Moonshine is a horse who has great depths to her personality, but she's a horse who for whatever reason hides those depths as much as she can. We just had to spend a lot of time getting to know her, and then we started to be able to tell. I'm sure as you continue your relationship with that horse, you will find the same to be true.
 
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