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Discussion Starter #1
OK, so. Dougal generally has very good ground manners. He can be bargy and dominant, but as long as you are strict and firm, he is well behaved and very chilled out on ground.
He has been brushed and tacked up in the stable when the weather is bad and he has always been very well behaved.
But the last 2 times i've taken him into the stable he has been mental.
He won't go into the stable, and when he does he'll bolt out as soon as you try and shut the door. He thrashes his head around to tie him up. Once you have tied him up he runs sideways back and forth, throws his body against the door, paws the ground, kicks the door, kicks out when you pick out his back feet. He's just a nightmare. As soon as you open the door to get out he bolts towards the door. As soon as you take him out the stable he is good as gold.
Now, he has only started doing this since the snow has started. Before the snow he was an angel in the stable. Very settled, quiet and well behaved.
What i think may be causing this behaviour is when he was very young and clipped and rugged, he was stabled during the worst of the weather [he lived in the Cairngorms where it is extremely cold]. I think he may of got very bored and agitated, and now that he has seen the snow, he thinks he's getting stabled again.
This is not really and excuse for his behaviour, but i'm pretty sure its the reason.
I would appreciate some advice on how to solve this problem. He is a very very strong horse, despite only being 14.2hh. He can really throw his body weight around when he wants to, and did actually give me a scare.
I have got a ground work book and plan on doing A LOT of groundwork with him once the arena and ground has softened up.
in the meantime, solutions and advice is much needed, as its at the point is is verging on dangerous. I've tried getting rougher with him, but he doesn't listen and is very strong. I have a Dually head collar, also.
 

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I'm battling similar issues with my pony, although not to the degree you're describing. Seasonal changes can really wreak havoc with placid ponies! :p

How much grain does he get? I would definitely cut it way back. If he has free choice hay, the chances are pretty slim that he needs any grain at all if he's in minimal winter work. Free choice hay and perhaps some kind of mineral (ie salt/mineral block) source should be all he needs, nutrition wise.

Maximize his turnout and exercise. I know that this can be tough in bad weather, but more turnout = calmer horse.

I don't know how your barn is set up, but when the weather is too bad for turnout or arena work I will walk Scout around inside the barn, just up and down the barn aisle, and do grooming and showmanship style exercises with him, backing him out of my space, turning his shoulders away from me, etc. If you must, carry a jumping bat, the kind that makes more noise, or a NH stick to enforce your body language. I'm not too familiar with the Dually Halter, but I can recommend a rope halter or a stud chain if you need more control. First rule is be safe. If he's being outright dangerous, get pro help.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
He doesn't get any grain/feed, he's on 24/7 turnout and is on haylage. The arena is frozen and the very icy, snowy coniditions mean i can't excerise him [in-hand or otherwise] AT ALL. Agh, aren't i akward?! He isn't actually stabled, the only reason he's been taken into the stable is for me to brush him, as the yard is too icey outside to tie him up in. He hasn't been ridden for over 2 weeks due to the bad weather conditions and so i've been trying to handle him so all the work i've done with him doesn't regress into bad manners.
It isn't a barn we have, this is the set up:-

http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t53/i_lurve_cheese/DOUGAL/FogFrostDecember058.jpg

The Dually headcollar has a rope part over the nose that you can attach the lead to for more control.

Over the past couple of weeks i've been doing basic groundwork, mostly concentrating on backing up. But when he went into his frenzy in the stable, he just wasn't listening at all. He wouldn't back up and when i tried to make him stand when i opened the stable door he just dragged me out of it.
Should I try working on his stable manners while its still snowy or should i perhaps just leave it until the snow melts and then see what he's like?
It's so out of character, as he is usually very laidback and well mannered [as long as you are firm with him and don't let him get away with anything] on the ground. I was very shocked at his behaviour as it was so unlike him and more what you would expect from a wild horse, he was in a total frenzy.
 

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Is he allowed into the barn by himself--is he able to walk in and out of it at will? If so, maybe something like a raccoon or possum or cat scared him and now he's afraid to go in there. If he's not able to go in there by himself, your thought was the only other thing I could think of (a bad experience in a barn when it was cold and snowy).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No, he doesn't go into the stables by himself. He is only ever tied up outside or in them to be groomed and tacked up before i ride him. I don't think we have raccoons or possums in Scotland. xD
Yeah, i think that's what its linking to. Before the snow came he was as good as gold in the stable. Quite at home, in fact! We were very suprised. I'm just not entirely sure how to solve this problem when he is so strong and just really doesn't want to be in there.
 

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Go slow and don't force him in. Let him get comfortable before getting him closer. Dont use the cross ties untill he is comfortable standing in there. Lead him up untill he gets bothered then let him stop and settle then back him out and do it all again. Pretty soon he will be fine being in there.
 

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Maybe try making outside the barn more 'undesireable' by putting his tailend to work outside of it? Like, say when he balks at the door, just put him to work NOW lunging; give him a few rounds each side, then walk back up to the barn door. If he walks in calmly, then don't make another issue of it; til he gets antzy...calmly take him back outside (where he 'thinks' he wants to be), and put his tail end to work once more, both ways for a few good rounds, then back to the barn; make being in the barn the place he receives rest, and affection.

I would also leave him untied in the barn as well; teach him to ground tie, instead, as that can sometimes remedy some of the irritation he feels by being tied up; he may just be clausterphobic, and fearful of being left in there all alone. This will also give you a quick way of getting him outside to work him, when he gets aggitated, as you won't have to untie him.
 

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Is he allowed into the barn by himself--is he able to walk in and out of it at will? If so, maybe something like a raccoon or possum or cat scared him and now he's afraid to go in there. If he's not able to go in there by himself, your thought was the only other thing I could think of (a bad experience in a barn when it was cold and snowy).
It very well could have been anything, the sound of the snow hitting the roof, a rat, a cat, anything really, the wind whistling under the door. Something says "Bad experience" all over the barn. Is it possible to leave the door open for him to check in and out when he's alone? Can you horse-proof it so he can?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I can't lunge or work him outside the stable area as it's too icy. That's the problem, i'm running out of solutions.
I could just stand in the yard with him and brush him with someone holding him, or with the lead over his neck and brush him, but i would much prefer to get this sorted out. I'm just not sure how to approach it. Is it fear or is it just agitated impatience at the thought of getting stabled again?
Westonsma, i don't think there is any chance of him staying in the stable if i leave the door open. He just charges out, even if i'm on the end of the lead. He actually managed to do it when he was still tied up and got himself trapped between the stable door and the outside of the stable.
Thanks for all the help, i'm sorry i'm batting away so many good suggestions. It's just rather puzzling behaviour.
 

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How long have you had him? New horses will become bargy as a dominance issue - my horse started attacking me in the stable a few weeks after I bought him (we've sorted that out since)

If he's not new to you, then it could be lack of exercise, my first pony went ballistic at me when I couldn't ride her for a week ... especially if he's used to being ridden every day
 

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I've had him for 6 months. He does have respect issues, which we are working on and which have improved over the last half year. When we first got him he had to be put in line immediatly as he will always try it on.
Yeah, he hasn't been ridden for over 2 weeks due to the weather so he is defintly a lot more full of himself and hyped up than he usually is. Unfortunately i can't do anything about that until the ground and ice thaws.
 

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I agree with kevin, you have to address each issue as it comes up. You are going in with your own agenda, to get him groomed. You are continuing with your agenda even though he is in a state of emotional meltdown. This makes his defenses get stronger as he is pushed further outside of his comfort zone. If he isn't getting his point across to you by being pushy, he's get pushier, if you still aren't getting the point, he'll get aggressive. I'm not saying this is your fault, but I am saying that you need to take steps to fix the behavior. Its very possible that it is triggered by the snow if this is the first time that you have had him in this weather condition. Don't go into it with your own agenda, because something has your horse rather upset. Can you imagine thinking that something is terribly wrong and everyone around you just keeps going about their business? Eventually, you would start yelling, and then you would start physically getting people's attention. Slow it down a hair, as soon as he starts getting anxious, stand their a minute or a few minutes until he realizes its ok. You don't have to soothe him, just hang their, take deep breaths, like you are just standing their chatting with a good friend. Once he relaxes, ask him for a little more, this may take you all the way to brushing or it may take you two more steps inside the stable. LISTEN TO THE HORSE. As soon as you hit that point of tension again, just chill out and let him come to the realization that its ok. If you spend an hour just standing in the barn until he is calm and relaxed, you have made more progress with the horse himself than if you wrestled and fought with him to get him groomed. He will survive an extra day. The next day, you can get through these initial steps faster, but don't ignore them, you may still need to stop a few times along the way, but the more consistent you are, the faster he will make progress. He will be able to work his way up to a full grooming with a calm frame of mind in a relatively short time as long as you are paying attention to what he is telling you and not just your own agenda.

Some things to remember: Always maintain your personal space, the pushier the horse, the bigger your space should be. Where he is already pushy, you want him to find his comfort standing on his own, at least several feet away from you. I sometimes use food rewards for this type of thing, but would not recommend it if he is very pushy. Remember that whatever you are rewarding is what the horse is in that moment. If he is nervous, frantic, or pushy, and he gets a cookie, then that is the behavior that is being rewarded. If he has his head dropped, licking and chewing, and falling asleep in the middle of the stable, then it won't hurt to slip him a treat when he's not expecting it.

Hope this helps, good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you very much for the reply. I see what you mean now. I just got into a battle with him, in the end. I can see compeltely where you are coming from. I wasn't helping the situation at all. So should i just take him into the stable and be with him, and not worry about brushing him at all? Just stand with him? When he runs about and throws himself about, whats the best thing to do? Stepping away when he does it will cause him to think that when he misbehaves, i will go away. Should i just keep stroking or standing with him until he stands still and then step back? How can i tell whether he is just being rude and wanting to get his own way, or if he is actually geniunely worried or scared of something? I've stopped giving him any treats as its makes him very pushy and nippy. He didn't seem to care about the grooming, he just didn't want to be in the stable. Sorry for all the questions, i just wan to approach this the best possible way.
I just can't wait to get some excess energy out of him, its just sems to be causing problems.
 

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Thank you very much for the reply. I see what you mean now. I just got into a battle with him, in the end. I can see compeltely where you are coming from. I wasn't helping the situation at all. So should i just take him into the stable and be with him, and not worry about brushing him at all? Just stand with him? When he runs about and throws himself about, whats the best thing to do?
I think FlitterBug meant it shouldn't get to the point of him running and throwing himself about. Walk him towards the stable, and stop as soon as he gets nervous. Wait for him to calm down, then walk a little closer. If he is really freaked out you may not make it all the way into the stable the first day.
 

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Yes, just like almostthere said. Its not about our emotions of "you poor thing, you are upset", its about what another horse would do. In many cases, if he is an "in your lap" kinda guy, I would still be quite firm with him about him standing still. For a horse with insecurities, putting them in there place and making them stay right there will give them more confidence in you as the leader. I would probably give him at least 3-4' between me and him, as soon as he gets nervous, you stand there and set your boundaries for him. Have him look at you, using only as much pressure as needed to get your point across. This may be a light touch, it may be a rather firm pull to the rope if he is plowing into your space, but do whatever is needed to protect yourself first.

Remember, consistency makes leadership, don't feel bad for him, just show him that there is nothing there for him to be nervous about. Often times in natural horsemanship, you hear them say "move the feet". As you said, in your situation, that in itself can be dangerous due to weather conditions. Personally, I think that everyone should say "Control the feet" instead of move them, as many situations or horses physical conditions call for times when moving the feet isn't an option. In this case, it means give him a place and plant him until he calms down. He has one thing to focus on, you. The more confidence he finds in you as his leader the more you will be able to do with him ultimately without losing his trust. This can be slow in the beginning, and you may not make it in the barn the first day, but you will continue making progress as long as you leave him in a better place mentally than he was the day before, making progress towards the ultimate goal. Does that make sense?
 

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I've had him for 6 months. He does have respect issues, which we are working on and which have improved over the last half year. When we first got him he had to be put in line immediatly as he will always try it on.
I did a Join-Up session with my lad and it seems to have "cured" him of his bad stable manners - biting, barging, kicking ...

Yeah, he hasn't been ridden for over 2 weeks due to the weather so he is definitely a lot more full of himself and hyped up than he usually is. Unfortunately i can't do anything about that until the ground and ice thaws.
Have you cut his feed back? That might help him not be so full of himself...

Hope it thaws out soon for you!!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Lobeli Overhill - He doesn't get any feed, only hay and grass. I can't do anything about the hyperness until the snow and ice melts. ):

Yes, just like almostthere said. Its not about our emotions of "you poor thing, you are upset", its about what another horse would do. In many cases, if he is an "in your lap" kinda guy, I would still be quite firm with him about him standing still. For a horse with insecurities, putting them in there place and making them stay right there will give them more confidence in you as the leader. I would probably give him at least 3-4' between me and him, as soon as he gets nervous, you stand there and set your boundaries for him. Have him look at you, using only as much pressure as needed to get your point across. This may be a light touch, it may be a rather firm pull to the rope if he is plowing into your space, but do whatever is needed to protect yourself first.

Remember, consistency makes leadership, don't feel bad for him, just show him that there is nothing there for him to be nervous about. Often times in natural horsemanship, you hear them say "move the feet". As you said, in your situation, that in itself can be dangerous due to weather conditions. Personally, I think that everyone should say "Control the feet" instead of move them, as many situations or horses physical conditions call for times when moving the feet isn't an option. In this case, it means give him a place and plant him until he calms down. He has one thing to focus on, you. The more confidence he finds in you as his leader the more you will be able to do with him ultimately without losing his trust. This can be slow in the beginning, and you may not make it in the barn the first day, but you will continue making progress as long as you leave him in a better place mentally than he was the day before, making progress towards the ultimate goal. Does that make sense?
Yes, that does make sense. Before I led him into the stable, though, he planted [ie. Froze and didn't want to move at all] which was something he used to do when i went out to hack. I seriously don't want him to go back to planting, because he used to be a severe napper and we've only just started actually getting over that problem. He stops planting going into the stable after a bit of a tug, so what am i meant to do? I don't want to force him but i can't just let him stand there forever [because he will]. What's the best thing to do? Make him walk one step forward, stand for a moment and then praise him and call it a day?
Thanks for all the help! Sorry for all the questions.
 

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It sounds like you have more issues here than not wanting to go in the stable. Just to forewarn you, horses with sticky feet tend to cope with bucking under saddle when they find it necessary. When the weather clears up, I would recommend some serious groundwork with him.

For the current time, hold a crop or whip in your left hand and stand by his shoulder facing forward with him. The crop should be facing down, like a ski pole. Without looking at him, reach behind you and tap him with the crop when he gets stuck. I don't know this horse, and if you feel like that is a dangerous place for you to be as he may jump right on top of you, then take a safer position in front of him, give him a pull to the side to knock his feet off track, but you make the decision to stop him again before he feels the need to get stuck. If you want, you can go up to the stable without going in, and then repeat the same steps moving away from the stable, requiring the same amount of personal space and attention whether he is heading to the stable or to the field. By approaching and retreating, he will lose that need of anticipation, not knowing if you are going in, or if you will make the decision to go right out the other way. Basically, we want to expand his comfort zone little by little until that comfort zone includes the stable and anywhere else that you may want to bring him. Try to bring him a bit closer every time. This should help with his sticky feet and is a way to move him without moving him too fast that it is dangerous. If you can find someone to help you with him it would be a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yes, he does have issues, which we are working through. He's young, cheeky and he got away with a lot with his previour owner. The napping is a problem that has been sorted and he has made a lot of progress. His ground manners were very good up until Christmas Eve in the stable. He does buck, but usually for other reasons than napping. The bucking has improved a lot, also. I have done basic groundwork since I got him, and started doing it more seriously just coming into the Christmas holidays but the weather conditions have prevented me doing any further work.

I'm going to wait for the snow and ice to thaw before working any more on this as the yard is too icy to be doing anything on [especially if he stars being silly] which is annoying. Might also help see if this is a one of snow-related problem or something more on-going. Thanks for the help, and i'll defintly be working on it more and i will take everything you've said on board. I'll keep you updated.
 
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