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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Horse community.
My name is Jordan, I am a 29 year old new horse owner. I began riding horses around 5 months ago, and prior to that, my horse experience was near zero.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a 5 year old QH Gelding named Rusty. I have been riding him for the past 4 months about twice a week. I am with him almost every day for a couple hours. I keep him at a barn with 45+ other horses.

I am getting a little discouraged as his ground manners are not where they should be. He struggles with:
- Nibbling/biting when hand gets close to his face (not all the time, about half the time). I do not hand feed him, prior to me owning him, people would give him treats, I cut that off.
- attention is everywhere else but on me. He becomes distracted easily and does not really pay attention to me.
- When walking he will occasionally try to walk in front of me, walk past me etc. I have been working with him on this and he is getting better slowly, It is like 3 steps forward, then he will regress one step back. When I try to back him up I will grab under the halter knot and push him back and he will try to bite my hand.

The biggest 'Ugh' thing that was been happening is bridling him. He has always been tough to bridle. He will throw his head up and walk backwards and just try and move. In the past I have been able to get it in half the time the other times, I would have my instructor help.

That being said, I have been leaving his rope halter on while bridling him, and it been easier because at least I can keep him in one place. He still tries to throw his head a little bit, especially if I haven't warmed him up in the round pen yet.

I have had a few very knowledgeable horse friends show me some things to do on the ground, and in the round pen that will get him hopefully on the right track. Lots of things with moving his feet, changing directions, transitions etc. When we worked him hard on Sunday for 30 minutes in the round pen, he was easier to bridle up and walk around. I have a decent understanding of how horses learn regarding pressure, and how important the timing of it is.

I have been studying up a lot on Clint Anderson, Monty Roberts, and Buck Brannaman techniques. I have started implementing some of their ground techniques and drills and it has helped. I want to build him from the ground up if I need to. Its possible that the people that walk him in from his turnout are not reprimanding him or teaching him to get out of their space, and if they are, they might be doing it wrong.

I do not want to think I made the wrong decision, I just don't want to be stressed everyday when I go to the barn thinking about how he will act that day.
I paid a decent amount for this horse (around 7,000) and I received a horse that rides well, but has bratty ground manners. I like Rusty a lot, but he really tests my patience. I hope overtime as I handle him more and crack the whip a little bit he will not be as annoying on the ground, but I am not sure...
 

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It sounds like he should know better if he brought that kind of money.

The one time my horse nipped me, I jerked very hard on her rope halter, spewing profanity while making her back up. The one time she kicked me, I had a crop in my hand and I whacked her several times, accompanied by the proper level of profanity and yelling. Neither of the two things every happened again.

For a punishment to be effective, it need to be immediate. They don't understand if you leave three seconds between the nip and your response.

If it were me, I would ride more and handle on the ground less. Your horse is trying to decide who is in charge. If he is obedient when riding, that seems like a good way to establish that.

Absolute no no's are biting, kicking, shoving, and getting in your space.

If you need someone to help you tack up, then ask them to.

Stopping all hand feeding was a very good idea.

Is there a smaller place that you could board? Maybe it is just too busy.

One thing that I am convinced of. It is not a cruelty to a horse to insist that he behave. It is a cruelty to do otherwise because it can earn him a trip to either a horrible life or the end of his life.

He bites. You whack. Now. Act furious. Mean. Like you might just kill him. But only for 3 seconds. (Don't injure him, but think about how big he is. You won't hurt him unless you use a hard object to hit him with.) Then all is forgiven and you start over. Don't stay mad.

Watch horses in the pasture. If one tries to take the other one's food away, they will squeal, bite, kick, and then they are immediately best friends again. That is the way horses are.

I am an amateur, but I have been riding horses for over 50 years and I'm not dead yet.

I hope that he works out for you. If he rides well, I suspect it will.
 

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You purchased him a couple of weeks ago but you have been riding him for around four months.

1. His manners did not get this bad in the two weeks since you purchased him.

2. Was he this onery on the ground when you first started working with him four months ago?

If he was, he was never worth “about 7K”.

If he was not this bad, over time your lack of knowledge and being able to sense when he is about to Rule, has now made him the boss.

2.1. A 45-horse barn is way bigger than I would ever want to be associated with BUT, there has to be a trainer or two available to work with both you and the horse, as you need lessons on how to properly handle the horse.

2.2. With all due respect, if you paid around 7K for a horse and you have zero experience, there should have been money put back for lessons on handling for yourself:)

3. Hopefully you can get some lessons before the horse ends up not rideable over the passage of time:)
 

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Hi Horse community.
My name is Jordan, I am a 29 year old new horse owner. I began riding horses around 5 months ago, and prior to that, my horse experience was near zero.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a 5 year old QH Gelding named Rusty. I have been riding him for the past 4 months about twice a week. I am with him almost every day for a couple hours. I keep him at a barn with 45+ other horses.

I am getting a little discouraged as his ground manners are not where they should be. He struggles with:
- Nibbling/biting when hand gets close to his face (not all the time, about half the time). I do not hand feed him, prior to me owning him, people would give him treats, I cut that off.
- attention is everywhere else but on me. He becomes distracted easily and does not really pay attention to me.
- When walking he will occasionally try to walk in front of me, walk past me etc. I have been working with him on this and he is getting better slowly, It is like 3 steps forward, then he will regress one step back. When I try to back him up I will grab under the halter knot and push him back and he will try to bite my hand.

The biggest 'Ugh' thing that was been happening is bridling him. He has always been tough to bridle. He will throw his head up and walk backwards and just try and move. In the past I have been able to get it in half the time the other times, I would have my instructor help.

That being said, I have been leaving his rope halter on while bridling him, and it been easier because at least I can keep him in one place. He still tries to throw his head a little bit, especially if I haven't warmed him up in the round pen yet.

I have had a few very knowledgeable horse friends show me some things to do on the ground, and in the round pen that will get him hopefully on the right track. Lots of things with moving his feet, changing directions, transitions etc. When we worked him hard on Sunday for 30 minutes in the round pen, he was easier to bridle up and walk around. I have a decent understanding of how horses learn regarding pressure, and how important the timing of it is.

I have been studying up a lot on Clint Anderson, Monty Roberts, and Buck Brannaman techniques. I have started implementing some of their ground techniques and drills and it has helped. I want to build him from the ground up if I need to. Its possible that the people that walk him in from his turnout are not reprimanding him or teaching him to get out of their space, and if they are, they might be doing it wrong.

I do not want to think I made the wrong decision, I just don't want to be stressed everyday when I go to the barn thinking about how he will act that day.
I paid a decent amount for this horse (around 7,000) and I received a horse that rides well, but has bratty ground manners. I like Rusty a lot, but he really tests my patience. I hope overtime as I handle him more and crack the whip a little bit he will not be as annoying on the ground, but I am not sure...
Hi there! Well, take my opinion for what it is, just some random horse forum poster's thoughts! :smile:

Is the biting aggressive or just hand=food=open my mouth and take it? For me personally, five is still young for a horse. Young horses get distracted, they get bored, they forget themselves. And therefore, they do stupid things and need reminders of how we behave proper. You may need to change to a leather halter that is more substantial and allows for a more precise correction. Since he's boarded it's very hard to determine what his handling is like when you are not there--and as you said, could be regressing any positive gains you make.

With regards to his difficulty with bridling, could he possibly dislike (due to possible pain/discomfort) the bit? I would want to make sure the bit was fitted correctly and no dental issues were the underlying cause of this behavior.

If you don't feel that his behavior on the ground is something you want to deal with, then by all means, move on and find a horse you can groove with. I really don't see him being a difficult horse to sell if that is the direction you choose to pursue. Riding is supposed to be fun and relaxing, a pastime you can look forward to. There's nothing wrong with saying "this isn't working for me".

I wish you the best of luck going forward. :pinkunicorn:
 

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Your horse is taking advantage of you and your not knowing how to handle him and his antics...
He is testing you....
Biting is a no-no...if he even moves his lips he gets growled at at the least and may indeed need a instant backhand where ever it may land...
If he was in a herd of horses and he opened his mouth against another he would be very swiftly and harshly reprimanded...no teeth...
Reprimand then move on...instant retribution then drop it and move on like it did not occur is how herd hierarchy is and how you must condition yourself in response.
Expect the best, prepare for the worst and make it count if you must reprimand or discipline...
Your horse is close to 1,000 pounds to your ...120...you are a gnat felt unless you truly mean it and land a swat with intention to be felt.
Never the face, never intentionally strike the face...the neck, chest or other body parts...and watch for surprise, a swift return of intent to hurt you, teeth or feet aimed in your direction.

So, when you used this horse prior to purchasing did he have the same habits of biting/nipping?
Was he difficult to bridle?
Did he push you around and get in your space?
Was he obnoxious as he sounds now?
Price means nothing...people will charge what they think someone can be taken for....
That is a fact is selling and buying horses...profit made, the more the better.

As for a distracted and roaming mind when you are riding...or handling the horse on the ground.
Do you ride to engage the horse and keep him thinking or do you just go round and round in a ring/arena following another so the horse doesn't need to think and pay attention?
Learn to do things with the horse...circles, spirals, serpentine, teardrops change of direction...break up the monotony and keep the horse thinking and listening to you keeps their mind active and working on paying attention not being bored and mind-wandering.

So... you bought a horse...
When is the last time the horse was seen by a vet or dentist for tooth and mouth care?
If the horse has a bad tooth, a rough edge on a tooth it hurts them and they will do everything they can to evade accepting a bit...
When you bridle the horse have you banged his teeth with the bit a few times?
Common for beginners to do this but it is uncomfortable and can make the mouth sore = evasion of him backing up, raising and tossing his head.
Someone needs to teach you hot to use your bridle reins to keep the horse from wandering away, then teach you how to secure the head of the horse using the headstall and your hand placement on the nose so they can't evade you and accepting the bit and bridle.
Also make sure your horse not have any sores near his ears or inside his ears cause when you bend a ear or touch a ear and it has a ouch..it hurts.
There are many things you have to learn to look for and how to anticipate and outsmart the horse to win the battle before the animal knows it has even begun...
You will never out-muscle a horse so you must outsmart them...
Out think and set the horse up for success and good not failure nor bad actions that get him reprimanded and disciplined..
It takes time to learn these and you now are on a crass-course to learn since you bought a horse with minimal skills behind you to utilize...
Owning your own is very different than riding the school horse who is ridden and kept in check by other more experienced riders and barn staff...
That knowledge will come to you too...in the meantime surround yourself with knowledgeable horse-people who can help by showing you, example shown and then you do yourself...people who are kind but consistent disciplinarians and have horses that are well behaved, ride well and are a pleasure to be around, not always smacking or yelling at their animals.
You can learn a huge amount by watching...both good and bad!
You also can learn a ton by having someone take you under their wing and show you how-to-do safely...
Good luck and choose carefully those who you want as a mentor and to emulate {copy} how they handle and work with their horse.
Your journey is just beginning.. :cool:

:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for the notes. I agree, I think he should have been a little easier to handle on the ground for that kind of money. He has a good bloodline, and is a very smart horse, but Its hard for me to use him when he can't do the basics.

I believe he is testing me. As far as a smaller place, I will be moving him to my parents barn in March or April. There will only be 2 horses there. The only thing is, I need this horse to be well behaved by then as my parents will be helping with the care half the time and they are in their 70's.
He definitely is trying to test me. I hope his behavior changes as I work with him more.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited by Moderator)
Your horse is taking advantage of you and your not knowing how to handle him and his antics...
He is testing you....
Biting is a no-no...if he even moves his lips he gets growled at at the least and may indeed need a instant backhand where ever it may land...
If he was in a herd of horses and he opened his mouth against another he would be very swiftly and harshly reprimanded...no teeth...
Reprimand then move on...instant retribution then drop it and move on like it did not occur is how herd hierarchy is and how you must condition yourself in response.
Expect the best, prepare for the worst and make it count if you must reprimand or discipline...
Your horse is close to 1,000 pounds to your ...120...you are a gnat felt unless you truly mean it and land a swat with intention to be felt.
Never the face, never intentionally strike the face...the neck, chest or other body parts...and watch for surprise, a swift return of intent to hurt you, teeth or feet aimed in your direction.

So, when you used this horse prior to purchasing did he have the same habits of biting/nipping?He did, I was riding him less frequently and not doing any groundwork with him so It was not magnified
Was he difficult to bridle? Yes
Did he push you around and get in your space?I was only walking him short distances so I did not really notice.
Was he obnoxious as he sounds now? The bridling stands out the most, and the biting.
Price means nothing...people will charge what they think someone can be taken for....
That is a fact is selling and buying horses...profit made, the more the better.

As for a distracted and roaming mind when you are riding...or handling the horse on the ground.
Do you ride to engage the horse and keep him thinking or do you just go round and round in a ring/arena following another so the horse doesn't need to think and pay attention? Most times I will ride him with some sort of structure, not just trotting and cantering randomly.



When is the last time the horse was seen by a vet or dentist for tooth and mouth care? I did do a PPE on him and all checked out.
If the horse has a bad tooth, a rough edge on a tooth it hurts them and they will do everything they can to evade accepting a bit...
When you bridle the horse have you banged his teeth with the bit a few times? Not that I can recall, he does not do a great job of opening his mouth for me, even when he opens it.
Someone needs to teach you hot to use your bridle reins to keep the horse from wandering away, then teach you how to secure the head of the horse using the headstall and your hand placement on the nose so they can't evade you and accepting the bit and bridle. I have only really ever practiced on him where its more of a high stress 'please take this bit and not shake your head' type of thing.



:runninghorse2:...

Thank you for that very detailed response. Very helpful information in it.

With that being said, are a few of these problems possibly fixed with round pen work and ground work with moving their feet? How do I make those ground exercises of them moving their feet, yielding, circles etc fun? Do they find that enjoyable or is just busy work for them? Or is it enjoyable when the get the release and they do not have to do it anymore?
 

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I answered in your post..
I hope explaining some of what I do and have done helps to give you options and more possibilities to choose from.
Others guaranteed will have other ideas to share with you...
You need to take what feels right to you, what you can handle as you learn and what you can store away for future times when you are more experienced.

Thank you for that very detailed response. Very helpful information in it.
With that being said, are a few of these problems possibly fixed with round pen work and ground work with moving their feet?
To me, no...
Real round pen work is done away from your person..
You refer to problems with the horse up close and personal, more in your space issues.

Personally I think round pen work is the most boring, not brain engaged roundy-round there is for a animal and handler.
If this horse is trained to ride, then ride.
Yes, you need to have better manners on the ground, but till you truly know how to ask, react and correct the horse, doing round-pen work for discipline to me is going to get you in much trouble and over your head in a horse exhibiting domineering you won't know how to counteract.

What you gain on the ground in attitude change and improvement is not often followed astride either, you must earn their respect and wanting to follow your instruction their too....on the ground and astride I can't stress enough you must earn each equally..
You don't always need to "move feet"... you need to engage the brain to learn a new way of doing something and to me, that does not always mean "chase them" as I often think people think moving the feet is about.
It is not about grand gestures and gross movement, it is about brain engaged and thinking, learning different and following through with pleasant reinforcement...
And most importantly, it means you find something good to end any time spent with your horse with...a positive ending...
Learning to keep your anger and frustration in check and to even in times of huge stress and disaster a calm demeanor cause that horse reads you better than you can read a book...learn to use your body in positive ways interacting with the horse.
That horse has you sized up long before you are near him...he smells your mood, he senses your attitude and he acts upon it...
Set yourself up for being leader and the horse following your lead and reacting in positive ways to your requests..your mindset invites success or failure.

How do I make those ground exercises of them moving their feet, yielding, circles etc fun?
Get out of the round pen.
Go for a walk and work on manners, response to requests of the horse doing something appropriately. Learn to use your voice with inflections, pitch and a gruffness you can instantly change as a reward, disciplinary action coming...and the atta boy of a good job.
I find my horses got/get bored working in a small circle besides it is hard on any horses joints and body to always be made to hold a bend in work...bored and sore happens quickly.
On a lead shank of appropriate length I can move my horse in any direction, even a easy trot or jog making them work if needed...my lead shank is a 10' thick cotton and my halters are flat leather no rope nor rope with knots.

Do they find that enjoyable or is just busy work for them?
I would have to say not so enjoyable to go roundy-round as some people do to much and it is boring and non-productive mentally for most.
My horses shut down and although do as told, they are not engaged with me listening and watching for the next command doing round pen work...they are bored stupid I think.
You are not advanced enough in your abilities to do liberty work that many horses enjoy and your horse is a long way away from trusting to do with you.

Or is it enjoyable when the get the release and they do not have to do it anymore?
I don't know if I would say enjoyable...but a release of something not cherished but endured is more how I think of it.
I just far rather work not in a round-pen.

If I'm having issues I work in a arena that is fenced for both our safety, yes, but large where we can roam and work together in different spots, not in a what 40' ,50' or 60' round pen...no thanks.
Learning how to work a issue without having high set walls like a round-pen affords also allows you to transfer some of what you learn on the ground to astride work in any environment. How will my horse react to and how do I divert him from....
Hope that helps you some...do enjoy that project and don't be afraid to ask for help, for guidance if you feel overwhelmed.
Most horse people will be more than happy to offer help so do chose from who it comes carefully.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I agree with @horselovinguy . If you feel safe riding your horse, ride him. Get someone to help you tack him up and mount and then ride. If you are only comfortable in the arena, that is ok. I find the best way to have fun with my horse is to get out on a trail and just go. Maybe you can get someone to ride too. With 45 horses, there should always be plenty of help around.
 

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You've already got lots of info, but I'll contribute what I can.

Firstly ill disagree with what one person said previously - I don't think that riding more will correct groundwork. Horses, like almost all animals besides humans, are bad at generalizing. This means they don't tend to take information they learned in one scenario and apply what they learned to a scenario that looks completely different. A.k.a, learning obedience in the saddle doesn't mean they'll understand obedience on the ground. All he'll know is he can get away with rudeness in one scenario and not the other.

Creating an understanding of boundaries is certainly really important but be sure not to fall into the trap of alpha-beta domination. Oftentimes this backfires, or at the very least results in a fearful and resentful horse. You can establish boundaries and rules without beating them up or running them around mindlessly for hours.

Speaking of running, you asked about lunging meaningfully and although I'm not the person you directed the question to, I'll answer what I believe. Yes, work should absolutely be meaningful and not just running around. You mentioned that more experienced people at the barn had you run your horse a lot and that made some of his manners better, which concerns me. Being able to avoid bad behaviors simply because they're too exhausted to fight back is not training, its just masking symptoms to a deeper problem. It doesn't make the problem go away, just covers it.

When working your horse, you should always have purpose. What are you working on? What are you asking? What is he getting rewarded for? For example, if you're working your horse because he's been rude, you may run him hard for a few minutes, but anything past that and he's already forgotten what he's being punished for. Horses don't have long term memory like us and after a minute or so your horse is no longer associating the exercise with what he did wrong. That being said, you don't necessarily want him to stop working at any old time. Ideally, he should be paying attention to you, one ear in one eye on you, essentially asking "please may I stop working" before giving him a break. If he's just running mad in circles, he isn't learning anything. But there's lots of things a horse can learn while lunging, including softness, body language cues personal space, and more. Spending time lunging with these goals in mind is great for ground manners, but as always its important to not just run them in circles mindlessly.
Reward him for the behavior you're looking for often with releases and breaks.

I agree with what someone said previously about bridling - could be a pain issue. However if everything checks out vet wise, you may be dealing with a horse who has very bad associations with the bridle, meaning he hates how he's been worked in the past so much that just the thought of the bridle scares him. In that case, you want to make sure that you're not contributing to the problem by riding heavy handed and making him associate the bridle with pain. If you're worried this could be case, transition to a softer bit and work on light hands. It could also be something from his past you aren't contributing to but that has become so ingrained in his mind that the bridle still gives him fear. In this case you'll want to spend time with him in bridle without doing any work. Every other time you bridle him, just walk him around and let him relax. Feed him treats, even. Then after a few minutes take it off. Show him a bridle doesn't have to be bad.

Last but not least, oftentimes riders make a bridling issue worse by turning every bridling into a war. Then at that point the horse is no longer resisting because of associating the bridle with work or pain, but because he associates the bridle with being yanked around as someone forces a bridle on his head. Its no longer an issue of what comes after the bridle, but the pain and trauma of bridling itself. In that case you might need to start from the ground up, slowly introducing it to him again as you would a young horse so he feels safe with the process. Never force him to accept it ever again - let him slowly get used to it, realize it doesn't have to be a fight and reward him for doing well.

A lot of people are agreeing with you that stopping all treats is a good idea- I dont think its necessarily a bad idea per se, but I dont think its entirely necessary either. A mouthy horse can learn to not be mouthy even with food. In fact, I think its really important for a mouthy horse to learn manners whether food is present or not. If you simply take way food altogether, they won't be mouthy but they also won't learn how to be polite around food, since you'll never train them out of the behavior. Its important to show them that you are allowed to have food without them interfering constantly. There's a really fun and easy trick to accomplish this - put food in your hand, and open your hand to the horse. When they dive for it, close your hand and bat them away if they try to go for it anyway. Do this over and over until they learn that any time they reach for the food, they get swatted. Once you csn open your palm without them diving for the food, reward them by taking a piece of food out of your open palm with your other hand and giving it to them (its important you don't let them eat out of the same palm you've been training with since it'll just confuse them - I couldn't watch out of your palm but now I can?) You can do this with all types of scenarios, including treats in pockets, on the ground, etc. Of course, that being said, if youre not confident enough with his mouthing yet its best to leave food out of the picture completely until you're ready. All I'm saying is these manners should be trained eventually.

As what someone else said with the biting, get "mean" - sqat them away, yell, raise your hands, chase them off. Make them scared of doing it again and show them its completely unacceptable. But, again, only for a few seconds. Horses have short memories and will only associate the punishment with the crime for a short time.
Thats all I have to offer so far - good luck 🙂
 

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I also have a Rusty, and he also is pretty bad at respecting my space. I bought him as a barely started 6 year old two years ago. He's improving all the time.

I do think that your Rusty needs a lot of ground work to learn to respect you. I agree with not hand-feeding treats. You can still reward him for being good using praise. Horses understand different tones of voice. If you do decide to use food as reward, you can also treat at the end of a ground work session (these can be pretty short - like 15-20 minutes at the MOST) by putting a treat in his feed pan. Make sure your parents never treat him when he is moved there, because he will quickly revert. Tell them that if they want to give an apple or carrot, it has to be given in his food dish. Ground work exercises can be pretty basic and mostly will consist in yielding to pressure. You want to make it pretty easy, especially at first, because what you're teaching is not how to yield his hindquarters (he should already know that), but rather, compliance. You want to teach him that you are the leader and that he must do what you say. There are some good leading exercises out there too which you should work on.

The biting is unacceptable of course. My daughter's horse did this when we first got him and she was so intimidated (she was only 11 at the time) that she wouldn't lead him. I took over and carried a sharp nail in the palm of my hand, pointy end sticking out. When he would go to nip me, he would get the nail in the muzzle. This surprises the horse, and rather than think you hurt them intentionally, they think "geez that human is prickly - I'd better not bite them again". It only took a few times for him to figure it out and now he never tries to bite anymore. I have let 4 year olds lead him, ride him, and he's a perfect gentleman. That being said, I also treated him for ulcers which definitely helped as well.

My own Rusty was also a little head-shy and would stick his head way up in the air when I'd try to bridle him. His former owner thought he needed more padding on the poll, and bought him a 600$ anatomical bridle. I declined to buy it off her, and instead, did two things: 1 - I discovered he had very sensitive ears, probably due to having aural plaques. Treating those is nearly impossible since it is painful, so I left them alone, but always made sure he had a fly mask with ears so they would be protected. 2 - I used my halter-bridle combo which is basically a headstall that I can unbuckle on the side like a halter so I didn't have to pull the headstall over the back of his ears, I could just put it over like a halter. Rusty would also sometimes just put his head up when I presented the bit, so we worked on that a lot. I used treats in my hand or given after he accepted the bit, but you won't want to do that. You can, however, rub the bit with applesauce, peppermint drops, etc. I don't force it, I just stand there with the bit on his lips and wait for him to accept it. I don't play the giraffe game, I just patiently wait - do this when you're not going to ride him so you aren't feeling hurried. When he accepts it, praise, and take it back out. Do this often. Now, I can use a normal bridle with Rusty, he will let me do anything with his ears, and he takes the bit right away.

The last thing I would say is that lifestyle can also create a lot of bad habits. How much turnout does he get? What does his diet look like? Has he been examined to rule out things like ulcers? The more relaxed a horse is, and the more turnout they get, the more they tend to be compliant. A lot of horses are just full of pent-up frustration and energy and this often comes out in a bad way.
 

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You mentioned that more experienced people at the barn had you run your horse a lot and that made some of his manners better, which concerns me. Being able to avoid bad behaviors simply because they're too exhausted to fight back is not training, its just masking symptoms to a deeper problem. It doesn't make the problem go away, just covers it.
When working your horse, you should always have purpose.
This is such a good quote, I was afraid it might get lost in that long post. I wanted to pull it out and emphasize it. I'm no training expert, but I really agree with this. Not to mention, with some horses they just get more and more fit and then you just have to round pen them longer and longer to get where you want to be.
 

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AliceWalker -
Thank you for the long response! I appreciate the time you took to write it.
I do need to clarify that when we worked him to be a little tired, it was more as a training aid for me. She worked him for about 10 minutes, then had me go in there and I worked him for about 10 minutes. We were not just sending him in circles. We did have directional changes and transitions. Initially he was defiant, but more towards the end of the exercise he was more tuned into us. Our purpose for that exercise session was more respect based, then just to run him tired.
I will take your advice with putting the bridle on and off and just practicing with that. Is it okay to work on bridling him if I don't intent to ride him that day? Somedays I have more time than others and it just works out better to work on ground manners, instead of riding. More often than not, I have time for both.

Acadianartist -
I am trying to get him to not bite, but he really isn't budging with that (it has only been a short time working with him on it). I would prefer not to wack him in the jowl or cheek, I am afraid he will get head shy. I have been trying to block him and that works, but sometimes he just connects with me gets a good nibble and it definitely hurts a little.

I am finding it hard to do some exercises because he just tries to get close enough to me to bite me. I was working on backing up with him today (grabbing underneath the halter knot and shaking it to get him to move backwards.) I did start with light pressure, then went to a shake and eventually an aggressive shake if he didn't budge. He learned that quickly but after a little bit of it he was just trying to bite my hand or arm. That is something I am noticing, I am trying to work with him and he just reverts to trying to bite me. When I was walking him I did feel him getting closer and closer to me and I think once he extended out to bite me when I was walking him.

As far as lifestyle, he is out of his stall everyday from 9-3:30/4ish. At my parents he will be way more free and have an in/out. He has had a PPE performed about 2 weeks ago.

I have been filming sessions with him when I work so I can look back and see how I/he acts.

Today, I was working on backing up with him. I would start at the knot, and not put much pressure. If I was not moving, I would shake it a little more, and if he really didn't move or back up I would aggressively shake. The problem with this, is the more I would grab for it, the more he would try and bite me. At the 5 minute mark, you can see me walking him around and he reaches out to bite me when I am facing the other way. My flag work is very new, so please give me any critiques...

The more time I spend with him, the more and more I feel like he is just resenting me.

 

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This is such a good quote, I was afraid it might get lost in that long post. I wanted to pull it out and emphasize it. I'm no training expert, but I really agree with this. Not to mention, with some horses they just get more and more fit and then you just have to round pen them longer and longer to get where you want to be.
That's such a kind compliment, I'm flattered! Thank you!

To original poster: Thanks for that arificstion. If you're working with purpose, that's fine. Just be careful his behavior isn't improving only because he's tired. Sometiems tiring a horse out slightly can be a training aid, as it'll help the horse focus if they're spooky or have a bucking problem, for example, where the high adrenaline is making it hard for them to focus on your direction. But it should never be the only thing stopping their behavior and never done to exhaustion. Absolutely you can just bridle him without riding him. In fact, its better that way because you show him that the bridle doesn't always mean work.
Your personal space is a privilege for your horse, not a right. If I have a horse I know is respectful, I give them permission to be in my personal space because I know they won't take advantage of me. But with a horse like yours, I'd take that privilege away until he's ready. If he comes into your space (say, his head within two to three feet of your body) push him out with big gestures. By walking into your space, especiallynwith the intent to bite, he says "you don't own this space, I do and I can do what I want with it" and you have to teach him the opposite. You own the space and decide whats done with it. When he learns to respect your space and only come into it politely and/or when you ask, then you can allow him in. Until then he hasn't earned it.
I cannot agree with what someone about the nail in the palm said... I know that person isn't using it to jab the horse, that they're just running into it, but it still seems unnecessary and very VERY dangerous. If something happened and you had a nail in your hand, who knows what could go wrong. Biting is unacceptable, certainly and you should make it clear that it's intolerable, but swatting the horse away with a palm is effective and safe for everyone involved.
 

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I stopped watching the video at about the 2 minute mark...if it changes after that, no idea but saw enough to start to offer a critique.
You are very abrupt, very fast handling the horse...soften your movements.
You do not give the horse the chance to respond but a split second and shake his halter pretty violently.
You go to stop the horse...but your hand and arm are raised in threat.
You spin around back at the horse who then tosses his head in surprise and reaction to you...

So, soften your approach.
I didn't have my speakers on so not sure if you spoke to the animal.
A hand placed against the neck and chest and say "back"...simple, one-word commands.
You start soft and increase the pressure as it is needed. In this case you escalated from not asking to shouting at the horse with your body language...the horse is caught off-guard and startled.

You want him to stop...and I mean stop... "whoa" and that should mean he no matter how fast is moving comes to a screeching halt.
"WHOA" is one word of command all horses should know and respond to in case of danger from anything headed their way... "WHOA" might just save theirs and your life.
"Easy" is a word mine recognize for slow down...
The secret is one word, short syllable and the tone of voice it is said with to convey your intent too.

But you need to be more aware of your body English as it is heightened and screaming at this animal.
The horse feels aggression, hence his reaction to you is head up, eye bulges...bet the nostril flared of what did I do...he is prepared for a strike.
Even when you went to pet the horses face...slow it down.
Many horses do not like a hand in front of their face, in front of their eyes in a threatening position that makes them vulnerable and they can not see as well that close directly in front of them either.

I was always told a horses eye magnifies 10x what they see.
Because the eye is placed on the side of the head they don't see as well directly in front of them...guess where much of your direction came from...
The placement of the eye on a horse allows them to see nearly all the way behind them, but not directly in front.
If that is not true, I invite those who know better to correct me. :cool:

But do soften your approach, use your voice, talk quietly and gently, ...not babble at the animal.
See if that "softer" not give you a better starting position of working with your horse in harmony of trusting each other.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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Horselovinguy thank you for the response. I will definitely give him more time to respond. I guess I was shaking his halter to get him to backup a little too early without giving him the chance to try and figure it out. If I go towards the bottom of his halter, and hold it, I want him to start to back up.
When he did not move, I began to shake, then shake more aggressively. But, I will give him more time to figure it out like you recommend. I was shown recently to occasionally throw my head around aggressively to make sure he knew he cannot be in my space - but thinking about it, it just scares him if he is doing nothing wrong...


Something I noticed from watching the video again is that I became a little bit more aggressive in how I brought my hand to the bottom knot. I started soft, but as time went on everytime I went for it he would just try and bite my hand, so I kept trying to do it faster so he couldn't grab hold of me. Then it got to the point where I would reach for his knot, he would go for a bite, and I would shake to back him up as punishment. I don't know if that is the right way to do things...
 

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Alright, just finished watching the vid. This may be a long one. Also, sorry if at any point I sound harsh - I don't mean to bash, just want to make my points clear and concise 🙂
First and foremost, your body language at all times is much too "loud". By this I mean that your body is always doing... something. Moving, adjusting, wiggling arms, raised arms, walking around. To a horse, body language is their first language, like speaking is for us. When your body is always doing something, it's like when someone is talking your ear off and adding way too much unnecessary info to a story and expecting you to listen. Your horse is responding sluggishly to your commands in part because he can't find the cue in all that noise. He's hearing blablablablablablayield your hind quartersblablablablabla... hard to hear you. Quiet your body. When you release, your shoulder should drop, you should step away and you should be basically motionless for a second. To a horse, that's perfect, beautiful silence. A perfect reward.
Speaking of release, you aren't giving many. When you ask to yield his hindquarters, he does it, but then you go straight into something else without giving him a break. This is slowly teaching him that moving his hindquarters never results ina reward or a break, so he might as well never do it. When you ask him to yield, especially when he's still new to it and doesn't understand what you're asking, you should drop your body language and give him a full release as soon as he swivels his hips independently from his front end for one step. The INSTANT he takes that step, drop your shoulders and stop asking him anything. Take a second, then ask again. If he does a really good job, give him.a big release by stepping away and disengaging completely and give him a full fifteen seconds to chill before asking something again.
I'm not sure who taught you to snap his lead like that... but don't do it! It's causing WAY WAY more problems then its solving. First of all, its very confusing to him. When a horse feels a snap like that, his reflex is to pull back, not to comply. When you apply pressure, it should be consistent increase of pressure. Think like a drum roll that slowly gets louder, not a symbol that crashes louder each time you hit it but with silence in between. This doesn't make sense to your horse. When asking a horse to back up, the lead should be slack, and you wiggle it back and forth creating a sideways wave that connects with his halter. The second he backs away from the pressure you release. By snapping the halter, a few things are going wrong: first, you're stepping into his space. This is problematic for a few reasons. You're crowding him and making him uncomfortable, you're going to make him head shy because he's learning to associate the snapping of his halter with your hand near his face and its really hard for him to understand what you're asking when youre basically under his chin. He has no idea whats going on. Secondly, using this lead snapping for his biting issue is entirely wrong. Instead of asking him to get out of your space for being rude, you're stepping INTO his space. So instead of saying "hey! Get out of here you can't act like that around me!" You say "when you try to bite me, I just get closer in biting range which is sort of what you want anyway" you are not preserving and protecting your personal space, you are offering it up to him every time he tries to bite you. When he bites, you should not be putting any tension on his lead. You should be getting big with your arms, slap him if you have to, and drive him out of your space. The lead should always be slack so he has the option to say "sorry!" By backing up out of your space. With a tense lead, you don't give him the option to leave, only prevent him from giving you the answer you want. The only time your hand should be under his halter like that is when you need to carefully walk him through a narrow door or something, but no other time.
With the flag - you're doing a few different things here that are making the process confusing for him. First you start by trying to desensitized him by placing it on his head. He's not bad with this, but he does jerk his head a bit. But instead of keeping the flag there, you move it away before he settles down. This tells him that moving his head is the right answer to get the flag away from him which is the opposite of what you want. You continue to move down his back, which he is quiet and good for, but then instead of rewarding him for good behavior by releasing pressure, you just change the pressure by snapping the flag far away from him. With no release, he never understands that standing still is what you want. The whole time your body language is too loud and inconsisten and he has trouble understanding what you want from him. Next you pressure him with the flag, which is confusing. Its not wrong to use the same tool for desensitizing and pressure. This is something that has to be done with things like lunge whips to ensure the horse understands that the whip can be used for pressure but that it isn't dangerous. But although the flag is telling him to "move away now" your bodynlanguage isn't saying that at all, so he thinks you're still asking him to stand still. You poke his butt, wave the flag, all sorts of stuff. The pressure is very inconsisten and very unclear. Like I mentioned earlier with the drum roll, it should be a steady clear increase of pressure and then stop the instant he gives you what you want. Whats happening now is, you use a lot of inconsistent pressure, eventually he gets the message in the noise and scoots over, but then you keep asking and keep asking without the release. Now he has no idea what to do. Pressure doesn't seem to stop whether he moves or not! So you're essentially teaching him to not move off pressure on the hindquarters because either way he doesn't get release, so he kugbt as well do less work and stand still. When you ask, ask clearly and evenly, usually by swinging the whip or in this case the flag more and more aggressively and more and more close to his hindquarters, even making contact if need be, and then stopping as soon as he moves. Eventually you can ask him to take more steps on his hindquarters at once, but right not he barely understands what you want with just one step, so just ask for one step until he understands that very clearly with light pressure. Once he can do one step with light pressure, you can add more.
To summarize, id do more research on pressure and release. Be sure your pressure is even and understandable and that your release is immediate and clear. Quiet your body language. And vow to never grab under his halter like that, whether for punishment or asking to back up ever again 😉

Edit: just read the last comment on the vid and agree with what was said. A lot of people tend to approach horses like dogs, who like loud movement and play. Horses are the dead opposite. Reaching for the face should be slow, as well as everything else. But I've gone on long enough lol
 

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I think it's awesome that you posted a video. I’m not a horse trainer or anything, but I was a new horse owner not too long ago and I know what you are going through. I’m going to watch your videos (good job on making them!) and comment. OK, actually I am going to have to watch part and then get back to work. I just want to say, before you read the comments, that I feel like I'm sounding really negative. I don't mean to be. I think you're doing the right thing by asking about these issues and trying to address them. I'm just commenting on what I'm seeing. Again, I'm no pro, so take or leave whatever you want...

1. Backing up (about 48 seconds in). Different people teach backing up different ways. The way you are doing it – is this how your horse was trained? It’s not clear to me that he entirely understands what you are asking. In this case, getting louder and bigger might not really be that helpful. To me, by putting your hand under his halter like that, you are sort of inviting him to bite you if he’s not happy. And it’s possible that you are holding the halter tightly enough that it’s making it difficult for him to back up. Also, have you tried adding a verbal component (“baaaaaaaack”)? Some horses like that better. When I was teaching my guys to back up, I did it at liberty and I did it by walking, with strong body language, into their space with one finger out, pointed right at that space where their neck meets their chest. If they didn’t back up, they got poked. If you were concerned about biting, this method has the advantage that you can also do it with a dressage whip, and if you have to, then just tap them lightly (but repetitively) on the chest until they back up. Also, is the purpose of you backing up the horse to “teach him respect” or to actually teach him to back up? It kind of looks to me like you’re just fighting with him.

2. Him biting at you (1:10). Are you trying to reward him by rubbing him on the head? A lot of people do that, but in my personal experience it isn’t actually something that horses find rewarding. It looks like he doesn’t like you to touch his head.

3. Again at (1:33). Yeah I don’t think he’s liking that. Of course, a horse needs to be Ok with his head being touched, but this guy doesn't seem to like it, so I would be careful about doing it. This head sensitivity is probably where the bridling issues are coming from, too.

4. Your hand at (1:48) or so. Why do you keep raising your hand up sharply like that? This is the second or third time I’ve seen it, and it doesn't seem to be tied to any behavior on his part. Are you trying to punish him for something? He seems to think you are.

5. At (2:10) are you wanting him to back up? You give him a lot of lead rope and walk back, in what looks like an inviting way to me, so he is hesitantly trying to take a step toward you. Again, to me, it looks like he's trying to nicely come into your space. But then you try to back him up by jerking on his lead rope. Again, I don't think this is sending a clear signal for him to back up, I think it's just confusing him. Also, when you are trying to back him up, you are thinking back up, but I don't think that's what your body is saying. Your shoulders are back like you're thinking YOU are going to take a step back. So of course he doesn't think HE needs to take a step back.

6. At (2:25) are you trying to punish him for putting his nose on your arm? I'm just asking, because that's what it looks like to me.

OK, I'm really promising myself I will come back to this later. He seems like a nice horse. He's trying. You are coming on really strong, really harsh to me, and even by minute 2:25 he seems to have gone from willing to sullen and worried.

There's a phrase a lot of people like, that goes something like this: "As little force as possible, as much as necessary." The idea being, you don't go in there with your guns blazing. Go in with soft body language. If you need to, listen to relaxing music for 15 minutes before you work with him. Get yourself feeling warm and fuzzy and relaxed. Then think about what you want from him, and try to get it with the least amount of force necessary. If you can't get what you want with a minimum of force, be sure that you are being CLEAR to him (see my point about your shoulders, above). If you still can't get what you want, then you can ratchet up the force a bit. But you don't want to start out at nuclear, because then where do you go if that doesn't work?

As a concrete example, I was having a problem with my Pony. I thought I was asking for the canter transition as quietly as possible. All I was doing was saying "OK" when I wanted him to canter. But he kept jumping into the canter, and my instructors were like "too much force!" I was like, how can that be too much force, I'm just saying "OK." But I thought about it, and I asked myself, how could I use even LESS force? So what I did was, I started just THINKING "Canter", and it worked really well. I get gorgeous canter transitions now (mostly). Obviously, he's not psychic, but just as obviously my body is somehow translating my thoughts into actions that I'm not aware of, but that he is. Horses are really sensitive. They don't often need a lot of pressure.

OK, one final thing, really. Get some books by Mark Rashid and read them. Internalize them. You and this horse can be a good team, you just need to take it down a notch or two. Think about it from HIS point of view.
 

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Thank you Alice. Don't apologize for being harsh, you were not. I am very green at this at can't afford to mess it up. I will remember to be more clear with his release of pressure. For example, in circles, my understanding was I start with pointing at his HQ to get them to yield, if he doesn't yield, I increase the pressure a little bit (slight wave of the flag), and level 3 would be tapping him. When he does this, I should immediately remove all pressure and give him a second to think about what he just did? That make sense. It appears I was going back to light pressure, from heavy pressure, instead of just removing all pressure and letting it soak.
With the pivoting of the HQ and the flag, I need to reward his small little wins right? Am I asking him too do much with no release?
Ie, get him to pivot *release pressure, and pet*, then repeat, instead of pivot, pivot, pivot, pivot, *release pressure*?
 

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I think it's awesome that you posted a video. I’m not a horse trainer or anything, but I was a new horse owner not too long ago and I know what you are going through. I’m going to watch your videos (good job on making them!) and comment. OK, actually I am going to have to watch part and then get back to work. I just want to say, before you read the comments, that I feel like I'm sounding really negative. I don't mean to be. I think you're doing the right thing by asking about these issues and trying to address them. I'm just commenting on what I'm seeing. Again, I'm no pro, so take or leave whatever you want...

1. Backing up (about 48 seconds in). Different people teach backing up different ways. The way you are doing it – is this how your horse was trained? It’s not clear to me that he entirely understands what you are asking. In this case, getting louder and bigger might not really be that helpful. To me, by putting your hand under his halter like that, you are sort of inviting him to bite you if he’s not happy. And it’s possible that you are holding the halter tightly enough that it’s making it difficult for him to back up. Also, have you tried adding a verbal component (“baaaaaaaack”)? Some horses like that better. When I was teaching my guys to back up, I did it at liberty and I did it by walking, with strong body language, into their space with one finger out, pointed right at that space where their neck meets their chest. If they didn’t back up, they got poked. If you were concerned about biting, this method has the advantage that you can also do it with a dressage whip, and if you have to, then just tap them lightly (but repetitively) on the chest until they back up. Also, is the purpose of you backing up the horse to “teach him respect” or to actually teach him to back up? It kind of looks to me like you’re just fighting with him.

2. Him biting at you (1:10). Are you trying to reward him by rubbing him on the head? A lot of people do that, but in my personal experience it isn’t actually something that horses find rewarding. It looks like he doesn’t like you to touch his head. I may start messing with his head less. Especially because it is evident I am wayyy too strong with my body language.

4. Your hand at (1:48) or so. Why do you keep raising your hand up sharply like that? This is the second or third time I’ve seen it, and it doesn't seem to be tied to any behavior on his part. Are you trying to punish him for something? He seems to think you are. Too be honest, I don't even know why I did that I didn't even notice I did it. I don't even know why I would do that... I have been raising my hand like that when he comes close to my hand (which anytime he has been coming close he is trying to bite). That is just unacceptable on my part and explains why he is acting the way he is.

5. At (2:10) are you wanting him to back up? You give him a lot of lead rope and walk back, in what looks like an inviting way to me, so he is hesitantly trying to take a step toward you. Again, to me, it looks like he's trying to nicely come into your space. But then you try to back him up by jerking on his lead rope. Again, I don't think this is sending a clear signal for him to back up, I think it's just confusing him. Also, when you are trying to back him up, you are thinking back up, but I don't think that's what your body is saying. Your shoulders are back like you're thinking YOU are going to take a step back. So of course he doesn't think HE needs to take a step back. I backed up and let out his lead rope a little bit. I wanted him to stay where he was with the slack on the lead rope and not come towards me. I started wiggling the lead rope to see if he would back up (not sure what he was taught before). I will take note of the body position.

6. At (2:25) are you trying to punish him for putting his nose on your arm? I'm just asking, because that's what it looks like to me. I think he is just trying to bite me. He will go nose first, then open up his mouth and grab.

OK, I'm really promising myself I will come back to this later. He seems like a nice horse. He's trying. You are coming on really strong, really harsh to me, and even by minute 2:25 he seems to have gone from willing to sullen and worried.

There's a phrase a lot of people like, that goes something like this: "As little force as possible, as much as necessary." The idea being, you don't go in there with your guns blazing. Go in with soft body language. If you need to, listen to relaxing music for 15 minutes before you work with him. Get yourself feeling warm and fuzzy and relaxed. Then think about what you want from him, and try to get it with the least amount of force necessary. If you can't get what you want with a minimum of force, be sure that you are being CLEAR to him (see my point about your shoulders, above). If you still can't get what you want, then you can ratchet up the force a bit. But you don't want to start out at nuclear, because then where do you go if that doesn't work? The common theme is that I am going from 0-100 a little too quickly when he does not pick up on what I am trying to relay to him (which is most likely due to my poor body language).

As a concrete example, I was having a problem with my Pony. I thought I was asking for the canter transition as quietly as possible. All I was doing was saying "OK" when I wanted him to canter. But he kept jumping into the canter, and my instructors were like "too much force!" I was like, how can that be too much force, I'm just saying "OK." But I thought about it, and I asked myself, how could I use even LESS force? So what I did was, I started just THINKING "Canter", and it worked really well. I get gorgeous canter transitions now (mostly). Obviously, he's not psychic, but just as obviously my body is somehow translating my thoughts into actions that I'm not aware of, but that he is. Horses are really sensitive. They don't often need a lot of pressure.

OK, one final thing, really. Get some books by Mark Rashid and read them. Internalize them. You and this horse can be a good team, you just need to take it down a notch or two. Think about it from HIS point of view.

Thank you again for your help. I will try be really light... Are there any easy exercises I can do for the both of us that I can show him that my body language is softer? Or basically just do what I was doing in the video, but reward more often, be lighter and less aggressive. I felt like I had to be more uptight because I was afraid of being bitten, but hopefully if I soften by body language, and keep my distance a little more, I will not get bit. I will keep more slack out on the lead rope and be out in front of him when I want to back him up and lightly increase pressure that way. Thank you !
 
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