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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently leasing a mare named Tilly. I have had her for about 4 months, and she is staying with me until April 2022. Lately we have been having some issues together. The main one being...a few days ago I accidentally static shocked her nose with my gloves on, and since then she has been really touchy about her nose being touched. Anytime I touch her nose, she pulls back aggressively, whether she is tied or not. So yesterday I was working on this, and anytime she pulled back I backed her up 4 or 5 more steps. If she wants to back up, she is going to have to back up enough to make her work. After about the sixth time of backing her up, she got frustrated and swung her butt to the side instead of backing up. This caused her to run her but into our big metal drag rake. I immediately noticed her limping, so I stopped her and she wouldn't put weight on her back left foot. I called my sister out and we took a look and she had a cut on both legs, one on her hock and one on her pastern. We called the vet and told her we would be coming in, since there was heat and swelling on the hock that she cut. After figuring out who's trailer we could borrow(ours is currently full because we are helping our grandparents move onto our property) we trailered her up and took her to the nearest emergency vet. They concluded that they were just superficial, so they shaved the area, cleaned them, put ointment on, and wrapped them. Moral of the story, we need to take 2 weeks off of riding(perfect time to work on groundwork and fix the issues we've been having) and keep the wraps on for 10 days. I need to change the wraps every 3 days. We got her home after she woke up from sedation, and she was walking fine with no limp. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this? Any ideas as to what to work on while we wait to ride again? Any cheap(or free) treatments or plans to try that might keep her less bored and help with our issues? I am going to try and save enough money to get her a couple PEMF treatments, since my friend offers them at a discount, before I start riding her again. Also, her owner has been kept up to date throughout all of the training problems we've been having, as well as the injury, and she is very understanding!
 

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Once, when I had a horse I called the General, I shocked him several times with the saddle blanket. Probably six times in a row, I threw the blanket up, it shocked him, and he pulled back. As you can imagine, he was a little leery of the blanket after that.

Instead of making a big deal out of it, I ignored it. He was logically scared, and I could get the blanket thrown on him. As soon as it was on he would stop pulling back and be fine to saddle.

It wasn’t something he ever truly overcame for a couple years. You could tell what sort of mood he was in by whether he threw a big fit over the blanket or not. I think, had I pushed it, it would have just been a big fight and probably gotten worse than just a pull back and snorting. He wasn’t the type of horse to pick a fight with, although a very good horse, and at times of course we did have to fight over things.

I think you might be better off to not make a big deal over it. It seems like reinforcing the behavior instead of just letting her have her own problem with it.

As far as the cuts go, if they are just superficial I wouldn’t worry much about that either. Simply continue to doctor them.
 

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Aw I've dont the static shock a few times 😅 Whenever I have shocked either mare I've just shouted SORRY grabbed them, rubbed the area firmly, covered them in smooches and give em a treat. Their face and nose are understandably sensitive. Imagine someone trying to clean your eye and every time you refused they slapped your thigh or made you run instead. There's no winning. In her mind she lets you touch her nose and gets shocked or doesn't let you and gets made to work. For the record my headshy 17hh mare often looks away or attempts to raise her head without fail almost every time I reach for it, especially if I bring out the dreaded Wet Wipe!:eek: If I give her a moment to absorb what I want I can pull her back down and she'll let me attend to her, with some minor objections to her nostrils. As long as she lets me and is safe I'm happy. When I'm giving kisses though she's very happy to accept or even offers a cheek or nose to me at random.

I agree don't make a big deal out of it. Stroke her neck, then her cheek, then her forehead and down to her nose. When she comes for the treat waggle your fingers on her muzzle. Look up clicker training. This isn't a question of "I want my horse to obey me" this is more "my horse is frightened and I want her to trust me".
 

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You violated her trust (even though it was an accident) and now you are punishing her for it. That's not a good way to build a relationship. My mare is afraid of static too (I guess most horses are) so I just try to avoid things that cause static, which can be hard, but I notice if I use a mane detangler in the winter for instance, it seems to make things worse. I try to put the saddle blanket on carefully, etc. I look at it like horses are very sensitive to electricity so I try to minimize things that cause static. I wouldn't try to train her out of it, rather try to tell her it was an accident and try not to do it again. If you make a big issue out it if, you might just create a horse that's afraid of correction and has little trust in people. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You violated her trust (even though it was an accident) and now you are punishing her for it. That's not a good way to build a relationship. My mare is afraid of static too (I guess most horses are) so I just try to avoid things that cause static, which can be hard, but I notice if I use a mane detangler in the winter for instance, it seems to make things worse. I try to put the saddle blanket on carefully, etc. I look at it like horses are very sensitive to electricity so I try to minimize things that cause static. I wouldn't try to train her out of it, rather try to tell her it was an accident and try not to do it again. If you make a big issue out it if, you might just create a horse that's afraid of correction and has little trust in people. Just my 2 cents.
Unfortunately I can't try to minimize the static shock, as I have to wear gloves in the winter, because I live in Montana. If I don't wear gloves, my hands are numb within 10 minutes. And I accidentally shock her without gloves too. I can't figure out why we both generate so much electricity lol. Do you have any recommendations on trust building exercises that I could try with her while she is off of riding? And what should I do when she pulls back 10+ times when I am grooming her anytime I try to give her a treat because I accidentally touch her nose?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Aw I've dont the static shock a few times 😅 Whenever I have shocked either mare I've just shouted SORRY grabbed them, rubbed the area firmly, covered them in smooches and give em a treat. Their face and nose are understandably sensitive. Imagine someone trying to clean your eye and every time you refused they slapped your thigh or made you run instead. There's no winning. In her mind she lets you touch her nose and gets shocked or doesn't let you and gets made to work. For the record my headshy 17hh mare often looks away or attempts to raise her head without fail almost every time I reach for it, especially if I bring out the dreaded Wet Wipe!:eek: If I give her a moment to absorb what I want I can pull her back down and she'll let me attend to her, with some minor objections to her nostrils. As long as she lets me and is safe I'm happy. When I'm giving kisses though she's very happy to accept or even offers a cheek or nose to me at random.

I agree don't make a big deal out of it. Stroke her neck, then her cheek, then her forehead and down to her nose. When she comes for the treat waggle your fingers on her muzzle. Look up clicker training. This isn't a question of "I want my horse to obey me" this is more "my horse is frightened and I want her to trust me".
Ok, any recommendations on trust building exercises? And what do I do when she pulls back 10+ times while grooming when I try to give her a treat simply because I accidentally touched her nose? Do I not give treats anymore because it eliminates even the possibility of me touching her nose? I'm at a loss... It doesn't help that sometimes when I touch her I accidentally shock her again, it just keeps making things worse. I don't know why we both generate so much electricity...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Once, when I had a horse I called the General, I shocked him several times with the saddle blanket. Probably six times in a row, I threw the blanket up, it shocked him, and he pulled back. As you can imagine, he was a little leery of the blanket after that.

Instead of making a big deal out of it, I ignored it. He was logically scared, and I could get the blanket thrown on him. As soon as it was on he would stop pulling back and be fine to saddle.

It wasn’t something he ever truly overcame for a couple years. You could tell what sort of mood he was in by whether he threw a big fit over the blanket or not. I think, had I pushed it, it would have just been a big fight and probably gotten worse than just a pull back and snorting. He wasn’t the type of horse to pick a fight with, although a very good horse, and at times of course we did have to fight over things.

I think you might be better off to not make a big deal over it. It seems like reinforcing the behavior instead of just letting her have her own problem with it.

As far as the cuts go, if they are just superficial I wouldn’t worry much about that either. Simply continue to doctor them.
So do I just let her pull back 10+ times while grooming because I accidentally touched her nose when giving her a treat? Do I stop giving treats completely to avoid the possibility of me shocking her again? I'm at a loss here...
 

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Just be sure to ground yourself on something before touching her. Touch something wooden that is in contact with the ground. If you keep shocking her, it's going to make her lose trust in you. I don't think you can expect her to stand still and enjoy getting groomed if you're randomly going to shock her all the time. If horses tolerated shocks, we wouldn't be able to keep them in electric fences.

I completely agree with those who say to ignore her worry and make sure she thinks it is no big deal if she wants to jump away from your hand. If she does, move in very slowly and show her that there will be no shock when you touch her so she can learn to trust your touch again.

You will have to work on this slowly for a while, because you have made things worse by punishing her fear. This means you inadvertently made it into a bigger deal than it was before.

It's quite normal for horses to remember and react to things that have caused issues in the past. One of my horses pulled a feeder off the wall because I made a mistake and tied him to it. When he is in that area, if I put pressure on his halter, sometimes his eyes get big and he pulls back, remembering that situation where he was afraid. He is getting better about it because if that happens, I release the pressure and step away, waiting for him to calm down and realize he's not going to be "attacked" by a feeder flying through the air.

ETA: Try to see how it was from her perspective. Imagine if you smacked a horse with a whip, and then if they moved away when you raised a whip after that, you punished them. Your hand is like a whip right now, something the horse responds to thinking it might "crack" at her. The horse will not understand this treatment and will see you as untrustworthy and unfair. What you need to do is teach her that the whip will never smack her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just be sure to ground yourself on something before touching her. Touch something wooden that is in contact with the ground. If you keep shocking her, it's going to make her lose trust in you. I don't think you can expect her to stand still and enjoy getting groomed if you're randomly going to shock her all the time. If horses tolerated shocks, we wouldn't be able to keep them in electric fences.

I completely agree with those who say to ignore her worry and make sure she thinks it is no big deal if she wants to jump away from your hand. If she does, move in very slowly and show her that there will be no shock when you touch her so she can learn to trust your touch again.

You will have to work on this slowly for a while, because you have made things worse by punishing her fear. This means you inadvertently made it into a bigger deal than it was before.

It's quite normal for horses to remember and react to things that have caused issues in the past. One of my horses pulled a feeder off the wall because I made a mistake and tied him to it. When he is in that area, if I put pressure on his halter, sometimes his eyes get big and he pulls back, remembering that situation where he was afraid. He is getting better about it because if that happens, I release the pressure and step away, waiting for him to calm down and realize he's not going to be "attacked" by a feeder flying through the air.
Thank you for your help. She however doesn't just shy away from my hand, she full on pulls back and sometimes her front feet will even leave the ground(they haven't since doing the backing up). She puts me and others in danger when she pulls back. I'll definitely try grounding myself before touching her, and I'll try to ignore her reaction, but it is hard when she does it so aggressively and dangerously.
 

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And I accidentally shock her without gloves too. I can't figure out why we both generate so much electricity lol.
I think static electricity is associated with dryness. Could you try rubbing a damp towel on your gloves before touching her?
 
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Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Just let her pull back, don’t worry about it and make it a bigger deal. If you don’t like her pulling back, or are worried about her or breaking a halter, then invest in a tie ring.
 

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I've shocked my mare a couple of times this fall - yesterday a pretty bad one on her nose after I pulled off her fleece cooler that was under her rain sheet. She is a bit of a treat hound, and didn't trust eating the treats out of my hand for a couple of minutes - but got over it pretty quickly. I gave her lots of love and smooches after it happened - I can't imagine punishing her for continuing to be scared.

I haven't tried it yet, but after that happened yesterday, my trainer suggested laying a couple of dryer sheets under the blanket to minimize the risk of more static. I will need to give that a go. I certainly can sympathize with her distrust after being shocked!
 

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I have never tried this but could you wipe your gloves with something like Bounce that you use in the dryer and hopefully that will cut the build up of electricity in your gloves. Just do this before you start to handle her.
I am thinking of blanketing my horse this year and I will do something like that if there is a build up of electricity when I take his blanket off.
Grounding your gloves is also a very good idea
 

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If I were you I’d use static guard or in some way try to minimize the static.
Then I’d work on getting her to trust me touching her nose WITHOUT her being tied up. If she backs away from you, don’t get mad and make her back more. In her mind “I’m backing away from danger and you want me to go farther and faster?” Let her move away. Things are much less frightening if they feel like they CAN get away. Start just putting your hand CLOSE to her nose. If she acts completely overwhelmed, take your hand away regardless of if she’s running scared or not. If they’re just too scared they simply can’t process. Turn your back towards her and lead her forward a few steps. Her thoughts “oh she’s not trying to kill me”. Once she can keep things together a bit more (fine if she’s moving but not running scared) just move with her, keeping your hand close to her nose until her feet slow down, her eyes soften, or her head drops. Once she figures that out, keep your hand close to her nose until she stops. Once she stays stopped, rub it ever so softly and lead her around for a few minutes to give her a chance to process. Then just build on that. Once you gain her trust back, try as hard as you can to not betray that trust. Only after she’s good when not tied up, tie her up and repeat.
 

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I haven't taken time to read everything but I handle static in the winter by keeping a spray bottle of Downy fabric softener handy. When I go to take blankets off, I spray a little on the underside of the blanket. When I go to put them back on, I spray the blanket first. Same with a saddle pad, a litte bit of diluted Downy and no static. Doesn't mean I don't ever shock them but if I do, I apologize, rub the area that got zapped and give a little treat for being good about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Just let her pull back, don’t worry about it and make it a bigger deal. If you don’t like her pulling back, or are worried about her or breaking a halter, then invest in a tie ring.
We have a tie ring lol. It doesn't do anything haha but release pressure when she pulls back.
 
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