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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First I will give you some background information. The first thing that you need to know is that my horse is obsessed with food :) She was at a barn in a lesson program and she went out in an overcrowded field where they had to fight for their food. At one point they were even fed their grain under the fence, with all the horses fighting for their bit. They changed that, thankfully, and now i bought her and have her at a different barn.

There is a problem that I have with her now that is, I think, from that situation she used to be in. She is so obsessed with food that when I have her on the cross ties and I am grooming her she will just shake her head up and down. She has been doing this for a long time and I used to hit her when she did it but I would never hit her anymore. (and not to hurt her just to shock her into stopping, I would never ever hurt her or hit her hard) That was before I really learned about how to deal with them. Now I am working with her and a parelli program. Anyway nothing seemed to work I would yell, I would try doing nothing, ect but she didn't seem to care. Now I just try and ignore it. She has gotten alot better at this new barn but sometimes, especially when I take her out to groom her and the other horses are in their stalls eating hay or something then she gets really annoying about shaking her head because she wants to be eating like everyone else. I didnt know if anyone knew how to get her to stop because I have exaused everything I can think to stop her. Oh also I don't give her treat anymore because she can not handle having them. She gets too greedy and gets even more annoying shaking her head. Thanks so much!
 

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It seems like you might need to become a bigger distraction than food.

Here's a recent example I witnessed recently. I had a new farrier come out yesterday. I liked my old farrier, he was very gentle and kind to my horse. The perfect first farrier, I loved him because I wanted everything to be perfect - to me, Frida pooped rainbows and butterflies. If Frida got impatient, or lazy, she would move around, try and pull her foot back. It was nothing major, perse - not disrespectful, but ultimately, not respectful either. He would just keep moving her foot back, over and over. I noticed last time my old farrier was trimming Fri, she was practically sitting on his back when he did the hind legs. He let her. This new farrier, well, he was not going to have it. Frida knew what she was doing, because she did it all sneaky-like. She'd lean a little bit, lean a bit more...and then wallop! This guy hit her on the belly out of no where. I thought at first, my god! why isn't Fri freaking out! He just hit her, with about as much force to send me flying. However, I am not 1000lbs, and Fri? She wasn't shocked in the least. I was staring right at her face as he did it, and there was no fear, no anger, no trauma. In fact, milliseconds after it happened, she began to lick and chew. As you would guess, she said her "yes sir's" for the rest of the session and carried her own weight. This farrier was about as nice as pie. He wasn't some mean burly monster, in fact, he pet, praised, and complimented her more than the last farrier. The only thing he did different from the other farrier was he set a boundary that he wasn't going to let her cross, and she respected it. I think that's what I've learned from this whole long experience training Fri. You have to set boundaries, and you have to be prepared to dole out a consequence if your horse crosses them. I'm not even 100% there yet, I can still fall into babying her if I lose focus, but I got to say, it's been proving effective.
 

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First I will give you some background information. The first thing that you need to know is that my horse is obsessed with food :) She was at a barn in a lesson program and she went out in an overcrowded field where they had to fight for their food. At one point they were even fed their grain under the fence, with all the horses fighting for their bit. They changed that, thankfully, and now i bought her and have her at a different barn.

There is a problem that I have with her now that is, I think, from that situation she used to be in. She is so obsessed with food that when I have her on the cross ties and I am grooming her she will just shake her head up and down. She has been doing this for a long time and I used to hit her when she did it but I would never hit her anymore. (and not to hurt her just to shock her into stopping, I would never ever hurt her or hit her hard) That was before I really learned about how to deal with them. Now I am working with her and a parelli program. Anyway nothing seemed to work I would yell, I would try doing nothing, ect but she didn't seem to care. Now I just try and ignore it. She has gotten alot better at this new barn but sometimes, especially when I take her out to groom her and the other horses are in their stalls eating hay or something then she gets really annoying about shaking her head because she wants to be eating like everyone else. I didnt know if anyone knew how to get her to stop because I have exaused everything I can think to stop her. Oh also I don't give her treat anymore because she can not handle having them. She gets too greedy and gets even more annoying shaking her head. Thanks so much!
So let me see if I am understanding this, the problem you are having is her shaking her head up and down? [because she wants to be eating like everyone else.] How do you know this? That she wants to be eating, I mean? I realize that if you put food in front of her she stops, hard to shake yer head while it's buried in some hay! I am going to tell you my angle on her behavior, this is coming from a degree in equine behavior, not personal exsperiance, so bear with me here. Regardless of her past situation, that is her past and it should stay in the past. If you were not privy to that information what do you think would be the trigger to her head shaking? It sounds more like a habit. She may have a little ADHD, [no really, horses can have it too.]
If her head shaking is bothering you, such as she may hurt herself or you, then correct it, if not then I say let her do it. Does she do it under saddle? That needs to be corrected if that is the case. I have heard of others using a ballon with warm water to correct a head tosser. While in cross ties, place the ballon within in her head tossing range ( no I have not idea how to do thing.LOL. ) The idea is when she tosses her head up, she hits the ballon full of warm water, it bursts, covering her head with warm water, what the horse believes to be blood, due to poor color site, and they will stop for fear of injury again. Dose this work, I don't know. I it was a favorite of some in my classes when we discussed training aids.

I will need more info on her issue before giving you anymore advice. Can you post a video of her doing it?
 

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Ha! Seahorsey, we must have the same farrier!! Mine will not take any misbehavin either. He smacks em on the gut too. Seems like it would hurt but it don't. If you ever watch them in pasture together, they hurt each other way worse [not that humans should adopt that rule] but it takes more than we think to hurt a horse with out hands.
I will say the difference in a horse who is misbehavin and knows it, such as yours and mine with the farrier, hers may be doing it out of unconscious habit and not realize it. That can not be corrected like ill behavior.
 

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peetz the theory of the balloon totally reminded me of something i got told once (dunno if it works, never tried it) i was told if a horse was bad for rearing up then carry an egg and when it rears crack it over the head with the egg to make the horse think its banged its head but if this works i dont know, ive never known anyone to carry eggs while riding
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am not 100% sure its the food because, obviously, I cant read her mind lol! but She been doing this for over a year and it is definatly worse when she is near food or had just been given treats. The food (being near or just fed food) can trigger it. Also she will shake her head when I just get a brush and bring it up to her neck to brush her. The second i put it onto her neck she shakes her head. It doesn't do this continually she shakes it a couple times then stops and starts again, ect. I have been just letting it be lately. I will try and get a video of her doing this tomorrow and post it up, hopefully that will help. Thanks so much.
 

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Watch her closely next time she moves her head up and down. I have read and noticed that horses move their heads around to get a better look at things--if your horse does this mostly when she is cross-tied, it makes sense that she might try moving her head to see what the others are doing. Just a thought. :)
 

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NO TREATS!!! Treats are a horrible habbit to get into.

If the horse has food agression from being fed improperly then I would make sure she has her own hay piles and is fed any grain away from the other horses (stalled if possible). I do not believe in holding the bucket or making a horse stand against the wall in the stall etc. I put the food in and have the horse walk calmly in the stall turn around and stand so I can take the halter. Then they eat.

For the head shaking a firm no and then continue on with grooming. If she moves put her back to where you had her standing and continue as if it hdn't happened.

She will get the idea.

Another idea is to wait to groom her after she has eaten her grain. She might be more happy to be fussed with if she has a full belly.
 

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Also some horses just don't like to be groomed or fussed with. Most days Bakkir is an angel, last night he wasn't in the mood. I am nursing a kick on his LH so I was nice and just did the minimal amount of brushing and took care of his leg.

Today he'll probably want to hang out in the barn and be fussed over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I dont give her any treats anymore because I know now that she cant handle it. But if my sister is feeding her horse a carrot in front of her she gets all head shakey and she really wants it. She eats her grain in her stall so there is nothing to fight over. She goes out with three other mares and she is sometimes fed her hay out with them (they heach get a flake spread out) but now that it has been muddy she has been going out by herself and so there is no one to fight over there either. I will try to get a video of her doing this today I wasnt able to get upto the barn yesterday.
 

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Hi there,

I didn't have time to watch the whole ten minutes worth right now, only about 2 1/2 minutes, but she looks totally calm and relaxed.

It doesn't look like a behavior issue to me. As a matter of fact, since she really seems to do it when you are bushing on her chest and neck, I think she is just really getting into the grooming. I am guessing that is her way of saying "I'm itchy and that feels good."

My guys don't toss their head like that when grooming, but will stretch their necks out and make funny faces when I brush and scratch around the neck and chest area. I really think that is a spot they like being scratched!

Other thoughts are that maybe she is ticklish or just inpatient. But it doesn't look to me like she is doing anything "wrong." Do you know what I mean? In other words, I don't think it's a misbehavior that needs to be fixed.

If I can get back here later, maybe I can watch the rest of it. :) It will be interesting to see what others think too.

She looks like a sweetie to me! :D
 

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She's just having some fun, she probably likes the sound of it or something. She's entertaining herself. There are far worse things she could do than that. The important things are that a) she is standing still, b) She is not showing any aggression/dangerous behavior, c) although annoying, it is not an interference with grooming.

My horse is much worse. To have him stand still for ten minutes and just bob his head every once in a while would be wonderful. You're lucky she doesn't paw, go back and forward to the limits of the chains, throw her head as high as possible, swing her quarters out, shake the chains violently back and forth, fight and try to get them in her mouth, or any of that fun stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
lol! Ohh my! Yes, I try and make it clear that she is not allowed to do that stuff. She, to some degree, knows what stand means and she knows that she is absolutely not allowed to paw haha! Thanks so much! This is so helpful I have been trying to figure out what this was for a long time!
 

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I am so glad you posted a video. You are scratching her spots that feel good and itchy. That is totally normal and alot of times they will curl there lip also
 

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I agree with everyone else. It looks like the "kicker spot" on the dog. You are scratching in just the right spot and it feels good, kind of like the dogs get that back leg kick when you rub them in just the right spot. Half the time she's licking and chewing while she's doing it.
 

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oh. this seems totally acceptable to me. she looks totally calm and relaxed. it doesn't like she cares too much about food right now. She seems like she's just being expressive, lol.
 

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She's not misbehaving, from what I can see...she's calm, and relaxed; note leg cocked much of the time, and lip curling as you tickle her itchy spots; she's telling you you're hitting all the good spots! I couldn't see her ears, but my geuss would be that they are also in a 'half mast' relaxed position, given the rest of her body language.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
thanks guys! It does kind of seem like shes being itched but I have a tool called a shed flower that is supposed to get the hair off of them when they are shedding. I use it like a curry comb, in circles. When I use this I can tell that I am itching her. She will stick her head to the side to look at me and stick out her lip. At times she will even close her eyes! haha! So I know that I am definitely itching her so knowing that do you still think she is doing this because it itches her?
 
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