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New here and sorry if this is not the right location for this question. We are very new to horses and I need some advice on dealing with them.
About a month ago, we adopted two unbroken Arabian mares. The elder is 10 and the younger is 4. They were mostly out to pasture at their old home and while well cared for, didn't have a lot of human interaction as far as we can tell.

We are out twice a day talking to them and feeding them. So far, the elder is coming around and has just recently stopped moving away when we try to touch her (or heaven forbid brush her). The younger one is still very offish and usually will not get close enough to touch. Sometimes I can get her to come up and take an apple slice. She usually turns her back to me and watches me out of the corner of her eye, just keeping out of reach.

Many people have told me that Arabians take a while to build up trust. Any advice as to how I can win her over? Our end goal is to ride these horses, but we understand that this is going to take a while and require a lot of small steps. Thanks in advance.
 

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Many people have told me that Arabians take a while to build up trust. Any advice as to how I can win her over? Our end goal is to ride these horses, but we understand that this is going to take a while and require a lot of small steps. Thanks in advance.
Welcome to the forum!!! :D

Do you have anyone that can help you with these horses? That seems like it would be the best thing to do in this situation, especially if you eventually want to ride them.

Nothing wrong with keeping a horse as a beginner, but they are different to take care of. They communicate and socialize differently than dogs or cats. Plus they are huge and could easily hurt you. So it would be best if you could learn from someone that could show you what to look for.

As far as teaching them to ride, same thing. Someone needs to help you in this area. Otherwise you could get hurt from lack of experience...

It is not impossible to help these horses as a beginner, but you really do need to be careful and learn as much as possible. You will also need help from experienced horse people. Do you have a trainer in the area?
 

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I've seen it suggested on here that when dealing with unhandled horses, to take a lawn chair out to their pasture/paddock/what-have-you and sit down with a good book. Just sit there, read and ignore the horses. Eventually, they will come up to you and investigate. When they do, don't move, don't react, just go about your business. Do this for a couple of hours a day. You can even bring treats with you, if you feel so inclined, so they get rewarded for investigating you. Basically what this does is teach them that you aren't a threat and lets them investigate you on their terms.

When you do approach them on your terms, make yourself as non-threatening as possible. Approach slightly from the side, angled toward their shoulder and don't look them in the eye. If you can touch them, start by scratching their withers (this is what horses do when they first greet each other in a friendly way). I know this sounds all "Horse Whisperer," but I can tell you that it works. My 2yo gelding does not like men (in general). The first time I had a strange man approach him (was trying to work his distrust out of him), the man approached him in this manner and Aires was alert, but not trying to get away like he usually does with most men (who tend to approach very head-on and aggressive...usually without meaning to). Within a minute, Aires was relaxed and went back to grazing on his lead while the man scratched and pet him. I asked my farrier to approach Aires in this way (first time the farrier tried to get close to him, Aires dragged my friend 20 feet) and Aires accepted him with barely any hesitation (now the farrier approaches him like this every time and we have no problems...but if he approaches like normal [meaning head-on], Aires freaks).

I also agree with Lakotababii...get someone knowledgeable with horses to help you out, ASAP. Could be a trainer or just a friend who has a lot of horse experience.
 

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I second this opinion of working with a trainer and experienced horse people. Horses are great to own, but they do take a lot of knowledge to be cared for properly, as well as to not damage them (even if unintentional). Arabians tend to have more spunk and smarts than some other horses, and can easily take advantage of someone who shows any weakness.

You can easily ruin a horse by not knowing enough. I know this sounds vague but the more you learn, the more it will make sense. A trainer is your best option, as well as asking as many questions as you can here.
Note that wanting to win your horse over is fine in moderation, but they must learn to respect you early on to have a good working relationship
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the quick responses.

We have been looking for a good trainer in the area. My wife has contacted a few, but we want to make sure to get the right one and that usually means talking to 4 or 5 before making a choice. We have also been in contact with a few instructors about riding lessons and what not.

Right now we are just focusing on developing a relationship with them and getting to know them. I'm going to give the lawn chair idea a try tomorrow. It sounds like a good excuse to sit and do nothing.

Our usual routine is to hook them to a lead after feeding, walk the pasture, and then brush them. Does this sound about right?

I can get a lead on the mare in question, I just hate that I have distract her with food to do it.
 

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Thank you for the quick responses.

We have been looking for a good trainer in the area. My wife has contacted a few, but we want to make sure to get the right one and that usually means talking to 4 or 5 before making a choice. We have also been in contact with a few instructors about riding lessons and what not.

Right now we are just focusing on developing a relationship with them and getting to know them. I'm going to give the lawn chair idea a try tomorrow. It sounds like a good excuse to sit and do nothing.

Our usual routine is to hook them to a lead after feeding, walk the pasture, and then brush them. Does this sound about right?

I can get a lead on the mare in question, I just hate that I have distract her with food to do it.
Nothing wrong with checking out multiple trainers, in fact, that's just what I would do.

It sounds like you have your ducks in a row.

It may take some time to build trust, but as you keep working with her, the mare may no longer need food to be caught. If it's temporary and your goal is to not need it (which it sounds like it is) then I wouldn't worry too much about it. The goal right now is to socialize her and give her positive experiences with people.

I would just hang out in the pasture, brush them, whether on a lead or not, walk them, stand and pet them as they eat (if they tolerate it), talk to them, and just overall give them exposure to humans. Most of the time that is what they need the most, because I am sure they do not know what you want. So just keep telling them that all you want is just to be around them. That way you will have a good base to start off when you do find that perfect trainer.

Good luck and please keep us updated!!
 

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Nothing wrong with checking out multiple trainers, in fact, that's just what I would do.

It sounds like you have your ducks in a row.

It may take some time to buily no longer need food to be caught. If it's temporary and your goal is to not need it (which it sounds like it is) then I wouldn't worry too much about it. The goal right now is to socialize her and give her positive experiences with people.

I would just hang out in the pasture, brush them, whether on a lead or not, walk them, stand and pet them as they eat (if they tolerate it), talk to them, and just overall give them exposure to humans. Most of the time that is what they need the most, because I am sure they do not know what you want. So just keep telling them that all you want is just to be around them. That way you will have a good base to start off when you do find that perfect trainer.

Good luck and please keep us updated!!
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Just a quick follow-up on this. We finally decided on a trainer and brought a nice lady in that specializes in Arabians. Everything went well and the horses were very responsive. I am too new to put a title on her training method but we spent our time walking the horses forward and backward and running our hands over them to find problem areas. Once the girls decided that we weren't going to kill them, things went great. After that we walked around the property and she pointed out things that we were doing well and things that we could change to make our lives easier.

Oh, and the lawn chair idea worked well. (Other than the fact that I felt a little ridiculous sitting in the middle of our pasture in a lawn chair.) It only took about 15 minutes before they came over to see what I was doing. Based on a recommendation from this site, I chose Horses Don't Lie as my reading material. That also helped me realize that there were things I could change too.

Great experience this week. We have moved from not being able to catch them to picking up hooves. Thanks again.
 
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