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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so what do you do when your horse is a little afraid of something and refuses to move forward? Only backs up? He hasn't offered to rear or buck, doesn't pin his ears back or anything...but he will back and back and sidestep...he doesn't seem to notice what's behind him and I was afraid he was going to back into the pasture fence which has an electric line running across the top of it today! Only thing I could think to do was dismount and lead him forward towards what he was afraid of (cows) and make him stand calmly
 

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Mmm, my horse used to do the same but not as bad with gates.. wouldn't go near it.

If I were you I'd...

Growl and tell him to get up! If that doesn't work, squeeze at the same time as growling, if that doesn't work growl, squeeze, kick. If that doesn't work... Growl, squeeze, kick then use the end of your reins to whack him on the side of the neck/upper shoulder. Be sure to use 'phases' so that next time or the time after that you don't have to get so 'firm'. Do this until he stands still.

Once he stands still pat him and praise him heaps!! I'd just stand him there till he's settled down.. and retreat, go away for a while or the rest of the ride.

Then next time you might want to 'push' it further.. once you've gone through all that and relaxed at the end etc.. then try to get one step forwards.. over the 'boundary' that you horse has set in his mind. And then relax again.

If you really need to get over the 'boundary' then once they've taken the step over the 'boundary' then you could get off and lead him the rest of the way.

Hopefully that helped some, that's just what I'd do, others will have another way, but do what ever works for you and your horse..

Goodluck.

Oh and I know it will take a while but in the end if your horse goes to back up.. you'll just be able to 'growl' and he'll go ohh... ok and stop.

:D
 

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I would let him stand and look at it as long as needed. As long as he is looking and not moving away all is good. After a bit push him a little if he refuses that is ok as long as he is looking at it and thinking about it and not backing away. Just keep turning him to face the item and let him think a bit.The key is not letting them move away and then a little pressure when the time is right and they should go on.
 

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You can get him moving by doing circles, one rein stops and kicking with your inside leg and using your reins or a popper to slap him on the butt which will make him move. The more he works the more tired he becomes and he will see that this ''scary'' thing isn't coming after him. If he's scared he'll need to have some ground work done with desensitizing though.
 

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Your problem goes much deeper. His lack of forward stems from his non-belief in you. You have yet to prove to him that you are a worthy leader who can keep him safe no matter what. So when he's overwhelmed, rather than 'check-in' with you to see what he should do, he takes matters into his own hooves and 'flees'.

Improve your relationship with your horse, confirm your 'go forward' aids, and then your problem will no longer exist.
 

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I definitely agree with Mercedes. My guy would spook at a lot of nothing/little things when I first got him and I could not make him walk forward past scary situations. Once we built up trust and he realized that not only am I in charge but that I will take care of him, his spooks got smaller and smaller and now they are largely just a tensing of his body until I give a "forward" aid and then he forgets about it.
 

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Agreed with mercedes.
You don't need to get past the object in one fell swoop. Every little "try" the horse gives you, praise him. Whether he licks and chews, drops his head (even if its just a centimeter), takes a baby step forward.

Maybe approach this object on the ground at first. Horse are forward animals by nature and if he feels the need to exercise that let him. If he's backing up keep backing him up until he doesn't want to anymore and then do it a few more steps after that. Not to say you should be shanking him constantly, try to be as light as you can.
If he needs to run, lunge him in circles and then disengage his hindquarters. His focus should be on you the entire time.

This may be kind of silly, but sometimes if one of my horses sees something that might "eat them." i lead them up to it as far as they're comfortable. Then I drop my head down and blow out through my mouth/nostrils like a horse does. I guess you could call it "mimicry," but the horse can feed off your relaxed and inquisitive cues and will follow suit.

Hopefully this helps a little! Good luck!
 

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Agreed with mercedes! I also think you need to do some desensitizing though. I think you did the right thing by getting off and making him stand still while he looks out yonder where the cows are. I do not agree with brookelovesparelli though. Hitting him, kicking him or anything like that to make him move forwards will not help when he's afraid of something. That will only make matters worse, and possible endanger you and him.
 

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Agree with the others, but in real life, I would do as you did. Nothing wrong with getting off, and letting your horse know you're braver than he is, and look, it's not dangerous after all. I actually haven't had to dismount in a long time, I think it has helped increase our trust in each other.
 

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I do not agree with brookelovesparelli though. Hitting him, kicking him or anything like that to make him move forwards will not help when he's afraid of something. That will only make matters worse, and possible endanger you and him.
I didn't pay attention to her name until I read this. I do not believe her " Brook's" method is the perelli way so I am suprised she loves perelli. I jsut watched some of his DVD's and what she has discribed I have not seen any bit of that. When I read her post I also did not agree with her methods
 

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^ Careful you don't get too personal there.

A question for you guys - How do you desensitize with cows? Cows that are out in a big pasture and have a tendency to run away when you try to get close?

If he is going to do something as drastic as back into an electric fence, then you can bet your bippy I will kick, scream, yell, and whack with whatever I have in my hand to stop that happening. A horse that is so tuned out that he puts both of you in danger is a horse that needs his attention regained no matter how.

Personally, I DON'T want my horse to go up to scary things for a look. My preferred reaction is that they give me their attention, and continue on whatever line we were on and whatever speed we were going. I use my reins and my body to keep their head either straight or a little away from the scary thing, and ym outside leg to keep their body straight - And we just go on past. They realise that hey, they didn't die! They learn to look to you for direction.

I never want my horse to learn that the correct response when scared is to stop and look. That can be very dangerous, and when trying to compete or get a job done, very counterproductive.

OP - If my horse was already in the situation of backing up, I would go to something he knows through and through. So maybe yeilding his head around to my foot, maybe small circles, maybe sidepassing, etc. Anything to get his attention back on me, and not on evasion. If that didn't work, you bet that I would get that attention however I could - But the second he gives it to you, stop, relax, and go on.

You need to decide how you want your horse to react - It is a personal preferance. As I said, I want my horses to take confidence from me, and continue on the path and speed we were on, unless we need to detour. It works well for me, and my horses are generally very quiet and non-spooky on trails.
 

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If I were you I'd...

Growl and tell him to get up! If that doesn't work, squeeze at the same time as growling, if that doesn't work growl, squeeze, kick. If that doesn't work... Growl, squeeze, kick then use the end of your reins to whack him on the side of the neck/upper shoulder. Be sure to use 'phases' so that next time or the time after that you don't have to get so 'firm'. Do this until he stands still.

Once he stands still pat him and praise him heaps!!

:D
If you read my post again im talking about using the PHASES, KICKING BEING ONE OF THE LAST PHASES, as is hitting him. And its not to get him to go forwards its to get him to stop... stop going backwards.

I do not agree with brookelovesparelli though. Hitting him, kicking him or anything like that to make him move forwards will not help when he's afraid of something. That will only make matters worse, and possible endanger you and him.
I didn't pay attention to her name until I read this. I do not believe her " Brook's" method is the perelli way so I am suprised she loves perelli. I jsut watched some of his DVD's and what she has discribed I have not seen any bit of that. When I read her post I also did not agree with her methods
If your going to Bi*ch about me at least, learn how to spell!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok well I will say one thing, this is a new horse to me. I have only ridden him maybe 3 times before this 'incident' and this was the first time I had him out all by himself going down the driveway (long and winding dirt driveway). I have had him out on the trails before and he will lead like a champ, but I think KNOWING that there are other horses out there with him gives him more courage. And I also agree that once we get to know each other I don't foresee this as being a real issue. At the time, I tried to let him stop briefly to look at what he was afraid of, so he could see that it was something he had seen before and not a big scary monster. When I asked him to go forward, he went backwards. I slacked up the reigns and tried to encourage him to go forwards more and he just kept backing. That's when I noticed he didn't seem to realize there was an electric fence behind him - not a pasture he goes into so how would he know? I tried turning him to go back up on the driveway - at this point he was more off to the side closer to the fence. He went forward then but once we got to that same point in the driveway he'd stop and start backing again, the whole time very alert to a particular direction (where the cows were) I tried the other side of the driveway too, where he couldn't actually SEE the cows because there was a tree. I only got a few steps closer that way and then he started to back again. The cows are not really afraid of people and they stay right by the fence for the most part. So when I dismounted and led him to the outside of the fence where the cows were, he was ok. Obviously very interested in the cows, but he was content to follow me to where they were. A baby cow came up to the fence and sniffed us both through the fence and he was fine with that. Then I mounted there and rode him back down the driveway towards the barn...at a walk (no 'running' away from the cows)
 

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I disagree with Jillaroo - a sure fire way of *confirming* to your horse it's something to worry about & lose any trust she has in you IME. I would never growl at or punish a horse who is reacting from fear. I believe it's in everyone's best interests to avoid 'battles' wherever possible. I too agree with Mercedes & others, that the better your relationship is, the better her behaviour in the face of 'scaries' will be.

If I'm out on a horse & something unexpected comes up that the horse reacts to, if we were unprepared, I too would most likely get off & lead the horse past it. Walking first and staying in between the horse & the Monsters should help them stay calm. But I would be doing a lot of 'approach & retreat' desensitising to all sorts of stuff in preparation, which will not only get her used to & confident in a lot of wierd & wonderful things, but teach her that she can trust & rely on you to keep her safe regardless of how scary something seems.
 

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when despooking/desensitizing my horse i taught her to relax when something spooked her. this means starting with them halted and bringing the object to them & exposing it to them until they relax & then take it away when you get the response you want.

sorry i didnt read all the posts, this idea may have been stated before, but i feel if your horse shuts down that far you need to start over from the beginning.
 

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If you read my post again im talking about using the PHASES, KICKING BEING ONE OF THE LAST PHASES, as is hitting him. And its not to get him to go forwards its to get him to stop... stop going backwards.
It's still punishment, no matter what you want to call it. I do agree with wild spot tho, that if the horse was going to back into something bad - elec fence, cliff, road... I'd be doing whatever it took & stuff the 'phases'.

If your going to Bi*ch about me at least, learn how to spell!
I don't get what was bitchy about the comment made. Churumbeque, yes, what she described is a sound method *depending on the situation* - that is, apply a little pressure & gradually build it(to a level of discomfort, no more) until you get a response - but it's not something I think likely that Parelli would use in this sort of circumstance. There are all manner of techniques you could use, and a big part of being a good trainer is knowing when to use them & when to avoid them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion...
I went out today and tried again. Again he went into his backing and trying to turn around. Luckily one of the trainers was out there and saw the problem I was having and came over to help. She hopped on him and, I'm glad to say, he did the same thing with her on him...so at least it's not just me! Anyway, he 'fought' with him for a few minutes but in the end got him to go down the driveway passed the scary part. She worked him back and forth for a couple minutes and then I hopped on him and rode him down the driveway as well and he did good. I'm so lucky to be at the barn I am at, everyone is so helpful. I could have paid a trainer who knows what to help me 'fix' that but she was more than happy to come over and help without even being asked. Also, as I am still accumulating tack and stuff that I need, they are happy to go through their 'collections' and see what they don't need anymore and sell it to me for cheap.
 

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I think you did the right thing. There's no shame in dismounting and leading the horse away from what could be a potentially dangerous situation. I do agree with what everyone else said, but if there's a chance the situation could be made worse, and harm could come to you or the horse, by all means, dismount and lead the horse.

What you could do is find scary objects to put in your home environment and practice going past those making minimal fuss but making sure he understands he needs to go past them. Desensitize, give him confidence, learn what how to stay in control of the horse when he's upset.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The trainer who got on him just continued to 'make' him move forward. When he backed and backed, she would make him turn around and face him back the direction she wanted him to go. She gave leg pressure, then a good hard kick in the sides with both legs...and then a slap on the shoulder/neck with the end of the reigns. Every time he moved forward and would stand when asked, he was praised and told her was a 'good boy' with a pat on the neck. Eventually he conceded and walked down the driveway. She had him go back and forth a couple times to make sure he understood what was being asked and then had me get on and ride him down the driveway so it wouldn't just be something he was doing for HER
 

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I don't think you did anything wrong with getting off but if I may say make sure you can tell the difference between this horse misbehaving because he thinks he can get away with it and geuine fear. sorry if obv (again)
 
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