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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so I know horses don't wear pants. :D

I have my new (to me) horse, an 11 yo mare, 1/2 Breton draft, 1/2 arab. She's been at her new stables for 2 weeks now. She's in a paddock 24/7 except when I take her out to do groundwork, ride or walk around, maybe an hour a day max, 2 days off a week.

I don't think she was ever in a barn or stable before. I've taken her inside the stables, but not in a box, twice, just standing in the aisle. Both times in the aisle she was jumpy, head up high, looking all over the place for a leopard she was certain was coming to jump on her, walking too close to me.

The second time I took her in, I tied her to a ring right by the big open door and worked on her feet, cleaning them up, drying them off, putting Pete's goo in the thrushy areas. I put some hay on the ground to distract her which she ate.

Problem was she kept moving all over the place - sideways as far as the lead rope would let her go, wrapping her back end around the corner, then dancing all the way around to the other side when I tapped her to move her over.

Normally she lifts her feet for me, no problem, I don't even have to touch them and she's lifting them. This time, no way. It was a struggle. I had to smack her a few times when she started walking sideways into me. We were the only ones there, so she wasn't nervous about other people or horses or dogs or anything.

So I know the general advice when a horse moves around without your permission is you're supposed to move their feet and show them that standing still is way easier. But when I'm in the stable trying to work on her feet, it's a real pain in the keester to have to untie her, take her out of there, find a place out of the way of other people to make her do her thing, only to go back and try all over again.

Is there any other way to get her to sit still when she's nervous like this?

She did the same thing when I was washing her feet off in the shower area. The sound of the hose spurting with air bubbles was freaking her out. Sure, it sounded like an angry snake, so I get it. I just kept spraying her feet, trying to desensitize her to it, but it wasn't really working. She was nervous through the whole process.

I'd love to get your input!
 

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Ok so I don't stable my horses but I do notice one common theme with nervous horses or all horses really - there naturally claustrophobic.
So if being indoors is new to a horse then they are going to be nervous for sure!!!
Perhaps desensitising her to more "confined spaces" gradually will be of a big help to you.

Maybe waking her through and then bak out again to show her she's not trapped.
Getting her to walk through two object close together outside like two barrels or two fences etc
Gradually build up until she's more sure of herself and not feeling trapped.
I may be way off but just thought I'd throw it out there in case haha!
Goodluck 😄
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I would probably just take it slow and walk her around but YOU don't think about anything. And it sounds like you're a confident person - you didn't freak out when she's spooky - so that's good.
I wouldn't tie her up yet indoors. I would just take her inside and really not pay much attention to her. Stand in a spot and just stand there - let her figure it all out and let her see nothing bad is going to happen. If she wants to move her feet, I wouldn't make a deal out of it unless she crowds your space then just tell her - get over, get out of my space.
Start doing some little ground work exercises in there. Just backing her up and then having her come to you. Get her mind off the indoor part and give her something to do. Make the sessions short and try to end it on a good note. She'll get better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, y'all. Great advice!
 

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Teach her a command such as "Keep those feet still" or "get on your feet", and get after her when she moves around.

She wouldn't do it with a lead mare, and is perfectly capable of standing still if she wanted to.

And as for moving a horse to teach them to stand still? Nonsense as far as I am concerned.

You want horse to stand, so do that. Tell them to be still, knock it off, or whatever you decide to say.

The longer you put up with it, the more horse will do it.
 

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I haven't work with this problem before, but thinking about it. I might try taking her into the barn and giving her a little space give her a foot or two of free rope. let her explore let her move around the barn smelling and feeling things if she wants. Then lead her out of the barn. That is what I would try.
 

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Hi ecasey! I've been following your posts and enjoying hearing about your new horse.

I have a claustrophobic horse named April, and here is what I do to work with her on this.

1. Tie her pretty short in the place she gets antsy and ignore her. Work on other stuff and keep an eye on her, but let her work it out. When she is calm, with a leg cocked, then untie and put her up. I like to do this as much as I can, and I will make her eat her grain tied in an "uncomfortable" place every day while I clean stalls and do other chores or work with other horses in the barn, always keeping an eye on her.
2. This is a Clinton Anderson exercise: tie her short to a tall wall with an extra long rope. With the tail end of the long rope, "squeeze" her between the rope and the wall by laying the rope on her side. Only stop the pressure when she is calm and relaxed. Start with just a little pressure and as she gets better with it, ask for more, longer, etc. Do this to both sides. You should get her to the point where she can be touched by both the wall and the rope and feel relaxed for several minutes.

I try to first work on stuff that makes her nervous out in the open. Is there a way you can spray the hose on her where she can move around? Start easy and keep the pressure (hose) on until she is calm and still and then give her a break. Same old pressure and release routine, but in a place you can move with her when she moves away.
 

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I know it's easy to say that the ground work, or lack of , is what makes her not feel confident enough to stand still, but it's the truth. this isn't to say I got it all down pat. I do NOT. But, when folks DO have it, you'll see that they can take the horse places, put it in new places, and it won't matter because the horse brings his confidence with him, in the form of his leader.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi ecasey! I've been following your posts and enjoying hearing about your new horse.

I have a claustrophobic horse named April, and here is what I do to work with her on this.

1. Tie her pretty short in the place she gets antsy and ignore her. Work on other stuff and keep an eye on her, but let her work it out. When she is calm, with a leg cocked, then untie and put her up. I like to do this as much as I can, and I will make her eat her grain tied in an "uncomfortable" place every day while I clean stalls and do other chores or work with other horses in the barn, always keeping an eye on her.
2. This is a Clinton Anderson exercise: tie her short to a tall wall with an extra long rope. With the tail end of the long rope, "squeeze" her between the rope and the wall by laying the rope on her side. Only stop the pressure when she is calm and relaxed. Start with just a little pressure and as she gets better with it, ask for more, longer, etc. Do this to both sides. You should get her to the point where she can be touched by both the wall and the rope and feel relaxed for several minutes.

I try to first work on stuff that makes her nervous out in the open. Is there a way you can spray the hose on her where she can move around? Start easy and keep the pressure (hose) on until she is calm and still and then give her a break. Same old pressure and release routine, but in a place you can move with her when she moves away.
Thanks for this! I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say "...With the tail end of the long rope, "squeeze" her between the rope and the wall by laying the rope on her side..."

Could you maybe explain more or show me a picture? Sorry, clueless alert!

Thanks, Palomine! I will do that. She's a smart girl. Maybe that's all we need.

Thanks, Cowboybob. Makes sense to me.

Thanks, Tinyliny. I do love me some Warwick Schiller!! :)
 

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Mine liked to dance around a bit too. I would just be consistent. Put her where you want her, tell her to "Stand" firmly. Then start brushing or whatever. As soon as she moves, you put her back and say "Stand" again. You don't need to get angry unless she's pushing into you or your space. Just be calm, firm, and consistent. And don't expect to get anything else done here...your goal has to be horse standing still, not clean hooves or full bath or what have you. If you get to that part it's a bonus.
 

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My gelding is the same way. He is very antsy and will push into me in his dancing around. Its been working for me to do what kenda suggested. I put him back in the general area he was in and tell him to whoa, then praise and talk to him when he is standing quietly. I can't rush with him at all, it gets him even more worked up.
 

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Thanks for this! I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say "...With the tail end of the long rope, "squeeze" her between the rope and the wall by laying the rope on her side..."

Could you maybe explain more or show me a picture? Sorry, clueless alert!

Thanks, Palomine! I will do that. She's a smart girl. Maybe that's all we need.

Thanks, Cowboybob. Makes sense to me.

Thanks, Tinyliny. I do love me some Warwick Schiller!! :)
Sorry ecasey! I looked for a CA video of this, or the TV episode, but no luck there, so I will try to explain.

Horse is tied to a tall, solid wall, at withers height or higher, with a long long rope. Horse is perpendicular to the wall, with equal amount of space (90 degrees) on each side. You pick up the remaining length of rope standing next to the horse at the head and, letting out the rope as you go, walk to the horses rear. Keep walking until you are out of kicking range.

Now you are in position. Pull the rope toward one side of the wall, putting pressure from the rope on the side of the horse. If the horse moves away from the pressure (as it should), then release and praise. Repeat until you have the horse moving out of perpendicular to wall, until the horse has become parallel with the wall. The horse will have one side of her body parallel to the wall and other side will have the rope "squeezing" her toward that wall.

Hope this explains what I mean!

My horse was okay with this exercise, until she came close to the wall and then she began to sull and fidget with her feet. I just kept the pressure on lightly until she relaxed. One side was better than the other too. She did not like to have her left side on the wall much more than her right.
 

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I know it's easy to say that the ground work, or lack of , is what makes her not feel confident enough to stand still, but it's the truth. this isn't to say I got it all down pat. I do NOT. But, when folks DO have it, you'll see that they can take the horse places, put it in new places, and it won't matter because the horse brings his confidence with him, in the form of his leader.
Agree with this statement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@Foxtail Ranch : YES! I see, says the blind man. (woman). I get it now. Now I just need to find a wall big enough and I'm all over this one. :)

Thanks much to all who have replied.
 

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Okay, so I know horses don't wear pants. :D

I have my new (to me) horse, an 11 yo mare, 1/2 Breton draft, 1/2 arab. She's been at her new stables for 2 weeks now. She's in a paddock 24/7 except when I take her out to do groundwork, ride or walk around, maybe an hour a day max, 2 days off a week.

I don't think she was ever in a barn or stable before. I've taken her inside the stables, but not in a box, twice, just standing in the aisle. Both times in the aisle she was jumpy, head up high, looking all over the place for a leopard she was certain was coming to jump on her, walking too close to me.

The second time I took her in, I tied her to a ring right by the big open door and worked on her feet, cleaning them up, drying them off, putting Pete's goo in the thrushy areas. I put some hay on the ground to distract her which she ate.

Problem was she kept moving all over the place - sideways as far as the lead rope would let her go, wrapping her back end around the corner, then dancing all the way around to the other side when I tapped her to move her over.

Normally she lifts her feet for me, no problem, I don't even have to touch them and she's lifting them. This time, no way. It was a struggle. I had to smack her a few times when she started walking sideways into me. We were the only ones there, so she wasn't nervous about other people or horses or dogs or anything.
It could be possible that she has never been in a barn before. If that is the case, I wouldn't blame or punish her for acting like that. Horses are claustrophobic by nature. Being tied up only increases her claustrophobia.

Even if she has been in a barn before, she has only been there for 2 weeks and only gone in the barn twice. Have you ever gone to a new school, a town you've never been in, a building, etc.? Did you always feel comfortable or were you nervous? Everything is new to her and she has no familiarity to it. For horses, instinct tells them that everything is out to get them. Until she settles into the place more and gets comfortable, she will be in fight or flight mode. While in that mode, she will act nervous, dance around, and not listen like she did before.

So I know the general advice when a horse moves around without your permission is you're supposed to move their feet and show them that standing still is way easier. But when I'm in the stable trying to work on her feet, it's a real pain in the keester to have to untie her, take her out of there, find a place out of the way of other people to make her do her thing, only to go back and try all over again.

Is there any other way to get her to sit still when she's nervous like this?

She did the same thing when I was washing her feet off in the shower area. The sound of the hose spurting with air bubbles was freaking her out. Sure, it sounded like an angry snake, so I get it. I just kept spraying her feet, trying to desensitize her to it, but it wasn't really working. She was nervous through the whole process.

I'd love to get your input!
There are times that you should make them move when they move and times to just put them back where they were. It depends on why the horse is moving around and the temperament of the horse.

Since she is part Arabian and nervous, making her move her feet would be counterproductive. It would likely just fire her up more. Putting her back where she was would be a better option. However, I feel that the best option would be to just ignore her behavior unless she endangers you or herself. DO NOT try to console/sooth her. Do not try to get her to stop moving and "feel better" by rubbing on her and saying "It's ok" while she's moving around. That is actually teaching her to react or rewarding that behavior. Do not get excited or show that you're nervous while she's acting up. She will feed off your emotions. If you stay calm and relaxed, it will rub off on her.

As for the wash bay, see the first part of my response.
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Here's an example of when to make a horse move that won't stand still.

You are trying to saddle a horse. The horse is not nervous or afraid of being saddled. It is moving around to avoid being saddled. In this case and those similar, make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard/work. If the horse wants to move, I will make it move but more than it wants to, the Hard part. When the horse is breathing heavy but not out of breath, I will stop the horse and try again to saddle. The horse gets to rest and catch it's breath while it stands to be saddled, the easy part.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@usandpets. That all makes sense. Thank you! I did make the mistake of trying to soothe her. But it seemed to work ??? Oh well. I'll just keep trying different things and see what works and what doesn't. She was better the second time and I'm sure she'll be better the 3rd, 4th, 5th ... :)
 
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