The Horse Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im started leasing a super cute 5 year old, but he has some bad habits I would like to work on and hopefully stop.

For one, when he's in the cross ties he's very well behaved, but once I unclip the halter to put his bridle on he drops his head to the floor or swings it left and right. I have to repeatedly pull his head back up/around to do the noseband and throat strap. Ive tried to smack him to get him to listen, but I hate doing it too much or too hard when people are around because it probably looks so awful that I have to do it so often.

Once the bridle is on and I lead him to the ring, he tries at any moment to chew on the reins. I read this is normal for young horses, but to what extent? Does it deserve another smack? He loves to chew on the lunge line or even try and chew the crop display. He's quite a handful to keep him away from everything.

The other thing I have a lot of trouble with is mounting. When I lead him to the mounting block he becomes incredibly distracted. If I give him loose rein to adjust the stirrups he tries to walk away to go chew on something else. When I finally get him still, he's constantly pulling on the reins to pull his head back down. It can be so difficult to get him focused and still enough to mount, I feel exhausted by the time I finally get on him! He's a big horse and its hard to have much authority when Im out of the saddle.

Does anyone have tips or advice what to do?
Thanks so much!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
To me it seems like he acting like that because he knows what follows after bridle is on. How does he behave if you take him to the ring in his halter and put bridle in there? If he can't stand still, make him work until he is calm and takes that bridle like a champion. Let him know that he won't skip the work with this attitude. I don't like smacking unless they're kicking. But they learn quick to do anything if it keeps them away from working :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,897 Posts
Hi, firstly, not against punishment personally, but there should be very little need for it & if you find you're 'having to' do it much at all, let alone repeatedly for the same thing, you're not being effective. - Either he doesn't understand(remember they need INSTANT consequences) or he has a bigger motivation to do the behaviour than to avoid a... light swat, or whatever, or he's not getting any reinforcement/release/reward for the behaviour you DO want, so he has no reason to do it.

So, bearing in mind instant consequences, and having a bit shoved in his mouth is an unpleasant thing, what happens when he puts his head down? What happens when he keeps it still, or puts it up when you ask? If he's getting negatively reinforced by escaping downwards, &/or he's not getting reinforced/rewarded when he has his head up - say as soon as he puts it up you try forcing the bit on him again, then you are teaching him to evade, not to allow it.

At the mounting block, is he actually distracted, or is it that he hasn't been taught to stand to be mounted, or he finds being mounted unpleasant for some reason - unfortunately, like bridling, horses are often not taught in a way they can learn to LIKE what we do to them. When he moves around when you don't want, what do you do? When he DOES stand still, what do you do? Does he get rewarded for that, or do you just continue trying to mount?

I don't agree with Unlucker - as you may have gathered. For one, as horses learn from instant associations, what you do a minute afterwards doesn't really have a bearing on what/why they're doing something now. Horses aren't good at connecting abstracted ideas like that. For 2, if you want the horse to be still, making them move is counterproductive - it only works when they get too tired to be bothered 'arguing' any more. For 3, being bridled is already a 'punishment' - unpleasant happening - for the horse. To 'work' it as punishment, to get it to accept another punishment is not the best IMO. Lastly, I don't want my horses thinking of the 'work' I ask of them as Work/punishment - I want my horses to enjoy the stuff I ask of them, or the majority at least & strive to make the rest as least unpleasant as possible, so they WANT to do as I ask. I don't want to ride a horse who is just doing it begrudgingly because he feels trapped into it, because I'll make his life miserable if he doesn't.`
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
508 Posts
When I brought Angelina home, she hadn’t been ridden regularly for some time and showed some resentment towards being tacked up. I thought I’d try and make it enjoyable for her by giving rewards. When I tied her up to be saddled, I’d give her a treat (a baby carrot or horse cookie.) After the saddle pad came another treat, then one more after the saddle was put on and the girth tightened. The bridle went on and you guessed it, another treat.
It wasn’t long before she began to associate getting tacked up with a reward and I was able to cut down to one or two treats. By the time I mounted her, she was raring to go 🙂
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi, firstly, not against punishment personally, but there should be very little need for it & if you find you're 'having to' do it much at all, let alone repeatedly for the same thing, you're not being effective. - Either he doesn't understand(remember they need INSTANT consequences) or he has a bigger motivation to do the behaviour than to avoid a... light swat, or whatever, or he's not getting any reinforcement/release/reward for the behaviour you DO want, so he has no reason to do it.

So, bearing in mind instant consequences, and having a bit shoved in his mouth is an unpleasant thing, what happens when he puts his head down? What happens when he keeps it still, or puts it up when you ask? If he's getting negatively reinforced by escaping downwards, &/or he's not getting reinforced/rewarded when he has his head up - say as soon as he puts it up you try forcing the bit on him again, then you are teaching him to evade, not to allow it.

At the mounting block, is he actually distracted, or is it that he hasn't been taught to stand to be mounted, or he finds being mounted unpleasant for some reason - unfortunately, like bridling, horses are often not taught in a way they can learn to LIKE what we do to them. When he moves around when you don't want, what do you do? When he DOES stand still, what do you do? Does he get rewarded for that, or do you just continue trying to mount?

I don't agree with Unlucker - as you may have gathered. For one, as horses learn from instant associations, what you do a minute afterwards doesn't really have a bearing on what/why they're doing something now. Horses aren't good at connecting abstracted ideas like that. For 2, if you want the horse to be still, making them move is counterproductive - it only works when they get too tired to be bothered 'arguing' any more. For 3, being bridled is already a 'punishment' - unpleasant happening - for the horse. To 'work' it as punishment, to get it to accept another punishment is not the best IMO. Lastly, I don't want my horses thinking of the 'work' I ask of them as Work/punishment - I want my horses to enjoy the stuff I ask of them, or the majority at least & strive to make the rest as least unpleasant as possible, so they WANT to do as I ask. I don't want to ride a horse who is just doing it begrudgingly because he feels trapped into it, because I'll make his life miserable if he doesn't.`
Thank you for this insight! I agree and do my best to practice with instant consequences or rewards when Im riding. Though when Im out of the saddle Im not always so coordinated, but I will work on that. Do you think a "good boy" or pat on the neck is a good enough reward when he has his head up? Thats what I usually do but it seems to have little effect, maybe I just need more time and patience. Or do you think treats are necessary if the horse believes the entire bridling process is unpleasant? Same goes for the mounting block - I reward him with no rein pressure and a pat on the back when he finally understands, but yes its a long process to get there.

Also I would love to hear more into how you lead the horse to wanting to work rather than trapped into work - if you have time. Thanks again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When I brought Angelina home, she hadn’t been ridden regularly for some time and showed some resentment towards being tacked up. I thought I’d try and make it enjoyable for her by giving rewards. When I tied her up to be saddled, I’d give her a treat (a baby carrot or horse cookie.) After the saddle pad came another treat, then one more after the saddle was put on and the girth tightened. The bridle went on and you guessed it, another treat.
It wasn’t long before she began to associate getting tacked up with a reward and I was able to cut down to one or two treats. By the time I mounted her, she was raring to go 🙂
Thats a great idea, I think I'll try that out when I bridle him next time. Thank you!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,897 Posts
Do you think a "good boy" or pat on the neck is a good enough reward when he has his head up?
Probably not, unless you've strongly associated these signals with rewards. 'Good boy' is just a noise, but when it's repeatedly paired with an actual reinforcement, it can gain meaning. Patting/slapping can be quite UNpleasant for a lot of horses, but they generally learn to tolerate it, and, as with vocal signals, if repeatedly associated with a reward, it can gain meaning. I'd be using actual rewards/positive reinforcement, along with your vocal cues & negative reinforcement(removal of pressure).

Or do you think treats are necessary if the horse believes the entire bridling process is unpleasant? Same goes for the mounting block - I reward him with no rein pressure and a pat on the back when he finally understands,
Yeah I would be, or anything else he finds actually desirable - that's the definition of a reward. Instead of a slap on the back(my mother in law does this - I understand it as her trying to be nice, but I HATE it!) you might find he's got some itchy spots you can give him some pleasure with.

Also I would love to hear more into how you lead the horse to wanting to work rather than trapped into work
Very basically, same as you'd get a person enjoying something - making things rewarding, fun, easy. Once you've established that well, that he associates 'work' with Good Stuff, then you don't need to reward all the time & you can also build on success, to gradually do 'harder' stuff & occasionally not fun things, without it effecting his whole 'work ethic'.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top