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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok so this is my new boy Steel. He's a three year old welsh X QH gelding. He went untouched from birth to two year old as his owner was going through a hard time. When he was two (last summer) he was herded into a smaller (but still healthy sized) pen with about 8 other ponies in the same situation (they were all born at the same time). The only human contact he had was when the owner would come and feed and water them. In November, he was sedated so he could have his feet, deworming, and vaccines done. He was also gelded at this time. They left a halter on him for the next month or so. When I went to meet him, he was fairly curious of people, but didn't trust them. He would come over and sniff my outstretched hand, and then turn and trot off the way a snooty welsh can. :) When he came home, we had to put him in with our other horses, as our smaller pen would have buried him alive with all the snow. When we went to turn him out, my lead mare came over and bit his butt, so he ran off before we could take the halter or leadline off of him. He's been home for a few weeks now, and I will go out with a bucket of oats and make him eat from it while I hold it, but I can only do this when the other horses are tied up, as they pick on him a fair bit. He will come up and take a bit, then back about 6 steps away and chew then come back ever so slowly and take another bite and back away again. We have made absolutely zero progress since he's come home. If anyone has any critique, advice, suggestions, or their own stories, I would love to hear them!
PS here's a pick of the little buggar, he's quite a handsome boy eh?
 

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The absolute best thing to do, in my opinion and experience, is to keep him in a small pen away from the other horses, but perferably closer to you and your house and your happenings around the barn yard. This will enable him to be used to humans walking around and popping in and out and shouting and laughing and such. This pen should be large enough for him to be able to do normal horsey things, but small enough that when you enter the pen, he is still forced to see what you are doing (no larger than 30'x30' I would say) I like that you are making him eat from you. This is great! And the fact that he even attempts to eat from the bucket is a very good start. Other things you can try are to perform normal tasks in a chair while the bucket is at your side: i.e, cleaning tack, reading a book, etc... get him used to your calm and almost obsolete presence. Once he becomes comfortable with this, you can continue slowly onto other things such as brushing or touching him without a halter on. You want him to become comfortable with YOU working around his body, without him having to feel trapped. Once he is comfortable with you, this is where you can being normal training like a young filly or colt that is accostomed to humans- halter/lead training, picking up feet, bathing, lunging and all that good stuff :) He is a beauty! Best of wishes with him!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much SAsamone! I really appreciate it. Thankfully all of my pens (all three of them lol) are really close to the house, and we only have two horses and two mini donkeys, plus him at the moment. Unfortunately, our small pen is on the exact opposite side of the yard, right beside the big scary c-can/storage bin, so I can't get him into anything smaller. I'm thinking in the spring though when there isn't as much snow, I will probably move the other animals and leave him by himself for a bit. Hmmm...maybe I will start doing homework outside with the ponies as soon as it is a bit warmer...It's so hard to do anything with them when there's 3 feet of snow outside, and it's freezing cold! :(
 

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I commend you for taking him in. These situations always take a LOT of patience! The filly I've been working with (Sour) lately shares a similar story with your boy- except that she did have some contact with people right before I started working with her, and unfortunately...all of that contact was negative, and just about ruined her. When I finally got to her she was agressive and very fearful. That isnt the case with your boy though, and thats fantastic!
Now i want to warn you, I firmly believe in a fairly fast pacedway of going. If you give a horse too much time to think, it will quickly come up with a reason not to do something (ie; trust you, accept you as the alpha, etc) if you keep them on their toes though, they'll quickly become trusting. For over a year I sort of 'danced' around my filly's warning boundaries, never stepping into them because I didnt want to make her hate me more. In reality though, she was beginning to hate me more and more every day BECAUSE I was being so chicken about it. She was bored and I was basically telling her I was too afraid to advance. Once I started making her just a 'little bit uneasy' every time, the rewarded her if she reacted correctly, we began to make a huge amount of progress. I've accomplished three times as much with her in the past two months as I did when I was being too timid about her training for over a year.

That beig said, I would personally recommend the react and reward method. Since you cant really move him at the moment, it might be a good idea to remove your other horses when you're working with him. Once you've done that, bring in his daily rations and make sure he notices you. Before he can begin walking towards you (as he's probably used to by now), approach him at a leisurely walk, with your eyes cast away and your body relaxed into a non threatening posture (loose shoulders, soft back, even breathing) Theres about a 99% guarentee that he will begin to walk away from you, possibly even in a startled manner. Don't slack or quicken your pace. Keep an even distance (atleast two yards or so) and follow after him, just slightly to the side so that he can watch you. I warn you that this CAN take a LONG TIME so plan atleast an hour to do this. AS SOON as he slows his pace AT ALL, slow yours to match his pace. After a while, hunger, curiosity, or maybe even both will win over and he's stop. When he does that, reward him IMMEDIATELY by also stopping. If he approaches you, take a small step towards him also. If he retreats, continue 'shadowing' him. Repeat this until he meets you in the middle for his food. Once he does, congradulate yourself! This is the first step towards establishing your dominance while at the same time being gentle. Carefully set his feed down and leave the ring. Youve made him uncomfortable, gotten him over it, and now you must reward him with removing the thing that makes him uncomforable. you.

Within a few days, he should let you approach him with minimal movement on his part. At this time you should begin staying with him as he eats, and even taking a step or two to the right, then the left, back, and even forewards. It may startle him at first, but he'll get over it. Generally about four-five days into this training, you can now move to the next step. Touching him.

Ok I dont want to type a whole essay right now just incase you dont like this method (many people would rather other ways, and many like this way.) believe me though, it works =] I would LOVE to help you more though in each step. If you like my way of working things, tell me and I'll shoot you some PMs on what to do next when I have a chance, mmk?

GOOD LUCK! and remember, boredom is the biggest killer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Endiku, thank you so much for your advice! I will definately get on trying that as soon as I can, though I don't know when that will be, considering the only pen the donkey's wouldn't drown in the snow in, they can escape out of the wiring :S Maybe I'll try it with them tied up outside.
 

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definately =] if they do alright with being tied, you could just move them far enough away that they won't distract Steel, and rig up some buckets or something for them to eat their meals while they wait.
 

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good luck. it's time and patience. put him in the barn in a stall and gentle him that way. rub him and brush him daily or as much as possible. rub a whip all over him to desensitize him. a feed bag works too. bring him out to muck his stall. do you have cross ties? also using one stall as a feeding stall, and another stall as a holding stall(no food) will help him learn that being caught means food! move him daily. he is beautiful!
 

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I believe that stalling or crosstying him would just make him very nervouse at this point. I wouldnt do it.
 

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a barn would not panic him. neither would crosstying him in a shelter. if you can catch him easily just rub him daily, if you cant catch him easily crosstying is a solution, feed him grain and rub him tied. i have rescued 4 horses and sometimes its the only thing to do. i have had a donkey for 2 yrs, have not caught him once, too busy working other horses. but until i start tying him and gentling him -he thinks, why does he need me? he has freedom and food. in his mind he does not need me. think like a horse. get some books.
 

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myhorse10, I'm sorry, but I completely dissagree. Even though it may of worked multiple times for you, in the long run -even if somehow you did get off without any injuries to you or your horse- such a confining way of starting will cause problems. From what I understand, this colt has lived in a pasture all of his life with space to run and play as he pleases. He has been his own boss for his whole life, up to this point. Bringing him from a large pen to a small (most likely less than 12 x 12) stall where he can only circle and lay down, putting him into immediate solitary confinement, AND going into the stall many times daily trying to force your affection on him is only going to make him retaliate in one way or another. It could be something drastic, such as beginning to see people as threats and beginning to bite or kick, or it could be something smaller but just as unideal such as learning to crib, kicking at his stall, sucking wind, becoming head or feet shy, or become depressed and develope health issues. Horses are herd animals as well as creatures of habit. Taking away his freedom, his herd, and his lifestyle can and will be too much for any horse- no matter how well they seem to take it.

I belive in making a horse slightly uncomfortable then releasing them, not forcing them into complete discomfort. You cannot expect an animal to form a good bond with you in that way. Forcefulness is NOT a tactic that you should EVER use on an animal that is almost half a ton and is liable to react more on instinct than brains in times of fear.

How do you propose that a barn wouldn't scare him? I'm listening, if you do believe you have a good answer. As for the crosstying, I truthfully don't think those are a good idea for even the calmest of horses. It provides many ways to get hurt. If you're shodding, floating, or clipping them- maybe. But for normal purposes, crossties are a danger. I've heard of SO many young horses who flip themselves over backwards trying to get away, or knock over their handlers and break bones. This colt isn't just young, he's had about the same amount of human contact as your average scrub horse. He doesn't halter, doesn't lead, doesnt stand while tied. What would happen if he was crosstied? Nothing good, if you ask me.

My philosophy has always been to meet the horse in the middle. Don't force things on them, and never let them force something on you. You are partners, but at the same time you are the alpha. They are SO many techniques out there, but so many of them take away the horse's natural way of reacting to things. The best ones are the ones that teach you to speak THEIR language, and get into THEIR heads to understand how they feel. Making them conform to what you think they should be like never works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I definately agree again Endiku, I will never put my horses on cross ties after what happened to my friends horse. He was dead bombproof, and she put him on cross ties. Something spooked him and he snapped his neck trying to pull away. Also this horse has never been in a barn, only in a trailer once, and I can't even catch him, so number one, how would you go about even putting him in a barn or stall, and two how would it not freak him out. He won't even go in the shelter they have because he doesn't like to be in enclosed spaces.
 

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poor baby <3 he's probably so confused. I'm glad you got to him though =] I bet he'll be a wonderful riding horse once he begins to understand his place in the herd and what's expected of him. He seems to be naturally very curiouse. A real looker too. Very solid xD

I've also had a friend who's horse was killed by crossties. He was an extremely well trained eventer who just got nervouse about something one day- felt confined when he couldn't move away at all- and flipped himself over. He broke his shoulders and ripped part of his head open and couldn't be saved. I never have and never will crosstie a horse. If it can't be held willingly it's not going to be held unwillingly. I teach all of the ponies that I work with to stand quietly on their rope. No reason for crossties at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Exactly! I do not want to ever force my horses to do anything. I prefer to do everything as naturally as I can. I was thinking he may make an excellent pony hunter or a ppg pony. He's definately agile enough! But I guess I will figure that out once I get him tamer. I am happy to do whatever he excells at, and likes to do. Actually, today some family friends were over and I took the kids out to meet the horses, and he came up to me and sniffed my hand. He also came and sniffed my leg when I was riding my mare around bareback, so he is getting a little more curious about me being there rather than terrified.
 

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What a good horse! Sounds like he's already making progress on his own! He'd definately be a very cute pony hunter xD good strong body for that, too. Keep us updated on how he does! Seems like a very well tempered animal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update: He wiggled himself out of that halter, so I am extremely relieved not to have a halter and leadline on him all the time! Also he came up to me the other day and sniffed my back. I definately didn't expect it and figured it was my mare who tends to be a pest, so when I turned around I think I scared the both of us! But he is a little more comfortable with people around the pen, he doesn't go run and hide in the corner, he just watches and stays about 7 yards away.
 

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very good =] just keep going. Keep pushing him a little bit every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok so here's a little update for you all. I have been working with him quite consistantly. Every day sometimes twice a day, I go out, remove the other animals, and do exactly as you suggested Endiku. The first time I tried it, it took me 4 hours for him to come up for food while I was moving towards him instead of standing there. Now it takes all of 20 minutes for me to get to him with the food. He's been at this 20 minute mark for the last while, and yes we had a bit of a breakthrough like I mentioned earlier, but since then, I have gotten nothing. He won't let me near him without the bucket yet, and he's been at the standard 20 minutes to get the food into him for quite some time now aswell. I have made NO progress for the last week and a half. Is there something else I could be doing that could help?
 
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