The Horse Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I started posting on this forum after purchasing my forever pony - a complete blank slate and long term project. He is aged 5-6 years old, and is 12hh. He had been unhandled for two years when I purchased him, and incredibly timid/nervous around people. He was head shy, flighty, and unable to be caught or approached. By chance I got in contact with a previous owner and was told that they had rescued him from a sale. At the time he was emaciated, had lice, was covered in cuts etc. I know that he was abused, also. He can be very stubborn, and does bite.

THE GOOD POINTS: I have been working with him and he is now easy to catch (he is in a 2 acre paddock), loves cuddles and being scratched in that special spot, and will follow you around the paddock however long you're in there. He trots to the gate and calls out to anyone who passes, and is seems very people oriented. He will willingly leave the company of another horse to come and say hello. He is very comfortable on the lead, and when he spooks (which is happening less and less often) he does so on the spot, ducking low, rather than bolting like before. He is very responsive to halter pressure. He doesn't bat an eye at saddle blankets, and I have managed to saddle him easily. The girth being done up didn't bother him at all and he was fine walking around with the stirrups flapping at his sides. He free lunges like a dream. I free lunge him off the rope in a 2 acre paddock and he keeps a perfect circle and changes direction when I raise my arm. I hold a lead rope to spin as encouragement, but never have to use it. He is very intelligent.

THE NOT SO GOOD POINTS:
1) When being led, he panics if another person is present. He is fine to be touched, brushed, held and approached by other people, and I've had another person lead him around for me, but for some reason having a second person walking with you when you lead him is too much.
2) He will not trot. I'm at a loss for what else to do. He is very stubborn and confused. He looks at me like I'm crazy for suggesting he run beside me.
3) He won't lunge. He turns to face me when I ask him to go out. I've been working on breaking it down into simpler steps, such as walking the circle with him and then slowly increasing how much rope he has etc. But the second I lengthen the amount of rope he has, he immediately tries to follow me, pressing into my elbow, or he stops dead and turns to face me. I'm not sure how to proceed. He free lunges, but I would like to lunge him on a line, because it allows me to be more versatile with where we do our groundwork and start to focus a bit on changing pace. The problem with free lunging is I can't get him into a canter because he can technically run out whenever he wants. (He doesn't, but still)
4) He is scared of being haltered and having a fly veil put on. He has a leather halter on in the paddock. To get him used to haltering I have been putting a standard halter on over his, either with him on a rope or loose, and now I can get it on, but he seems very uncomfortable about his poll being touched. He was vet checked and they couldn't find a medical explanation for this, so I think it's just how he is. His ears are the same. I can touch his ears and poll but when I have to put something on, over or around his ears or poll he panics. It's a different level of panic every time also. Sometimes, if you go slow and talk to him, it is enough to keep him calm and then it's easy, but other times the same technique doesn't work and he'll turn his head away, back up, stomp his back feet, show the whites of his eyes, rear up, try to bolt etc.

I'm looking for advice to solve the above 4 problems. I'm not experienced by any means, and have only been riding / owned horses for a year, so any suggestions or criticisms are more than welcome. I'm here to learn from people who do know what they are doing :) Preferred methods of breaking a horse in (gentling etc) would also be helpful. (I'm thinking about trying with my boy, but if I think it is out of my depth or detrimental to him for me to do so, I am going to pay to have him professionally broken)

I bought my boy to start learning the ropes of horse training, so I'd also love to hear what things other people have taught horses / ponies, be it liberty, tricks, etc. or what disciplines you think would be fun to train a 12hh Welsh in. (He is a natural jumper. He jumped a chair I'd been using to read on in his paddock and cleared in by miles, and his canter strides towards it were amazing, so I'd definitely love to try free jumping for now and then maybe have him jump with a rider once broken in.)

Sorry for the length. Just had a LOT of questions and figured it was easier to do just the one post.
Thanks in advance. :runninghorse2:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,927 Posts
Hi & welcome to the forum!(if I haven't welcomed you before)

Hi,
I started posting on this forum after purchasing my forever pony - a complete blank slate and long term project. He is aged 5-6 years old, and is 12hh.
You must be a tiny person, to think of a 12hh pony as your 'forever horse'. Assuming you plan to ride him. My thin 13yo daughter has outgrown her 12hh pony. Unfortunately the problem with a lot of ponies is they're too small for most adults to ride, so they may not get great training, & often inadvertently learn 'wrong' behaviour from the kids they learn they can take advantage of.

1) When being led, he panics if another person is present.
I'd have the other person walk at whatever distance from him/you that the pony is only a little bothered. Do lots of very short sessions - a minute or 2 - then have the person walk away or stop, then come back for another minute. Approach & retreat. Get the horse comfortable & blase about this, before asking the person to do the same a bit closer. Etc.

Whatever you want to desensitise the horse to, it's best to avoid 'overfacing' them & causing them actual fear, but do it in such a way that you can gradually get them over it without putting them into a 'sink or swim' situation. This will also help the horse learn to trust you, so he will be more likely to look to you for future 'scaries' & deal with them more easily.

2) He will not trot. I'm at a loss for what else to do. He is very stubborn and confused. He looks at me like I'm crazy for suggesting he run beside me.
Firstly, I'd drop thinking of him as 'stubborn'. He is confused and a bit worried about what you want, yes. And horses will naturally resist things that confuse & worry them.

So how do you ask him to move forward on a lead? I do it by standing beside his shoulder & first raising my own energy/bodylanguage, and my leading hand in the direction I want, then putting a little pressure on it if need be, then using the rope/stick in my other hand to put some rhythmic energy out behind the horse. If that doesn't work, then that 'energy' will get bigger, and I'll start tapping the rope/stick on the horse's rump. Generally, if it gets to that point, that will cause the horse to move forward, at which point you immediately drop all pressure to negatively reinforce him for the Right answer. If not, just quietly persist with the uncomfortable pressure until the horse *begins* to move. Once he's reliably doing so, then you can start asking him to keep moving until you ask him to stop. Remember that whatever you teach, do so in small, easy increments & build on that one criteria at a time.

So once the horse has learned not to wait & is reliable at moving forward and continuing from your smallest signals, then you do the same sort of thing to get him to go faster; He's walking beside you & you put a little more forward pressure on the lead & energy behind him to get him to walk faster. Quit that pressure when he does. When you can reliably get him to walk faster whenever you ask, then you can ask for faster still in the same way.

3) He won't lunge. He turns to face me when I ask him to go out.
I'm confused how he's so great at (real as opposed to chased round a pen)free lunging, but he will not trot on lead or walk a circle on lead. At any rate, I teach 'lunging' just as an extension of leading/driving. So if he doesn't do those things well yet, I wouldn't bother even trying to lunge him. Lunging to me is just the horse learning/confirming their lessons in leading/driving but at a distance. The distance is just one more criteria to be added to 'the basics'. So... once the horse will lead where you direct them, once they understand how to yield to driving(pushing) pressure wherever on their body - eg. yield forehand away when pressure on shoulder/neck/side of face; yield hindquarter away & face you when pressure on flank or hip. Yield yourself forward when there's pressure behind you, and has become good at that, then you just start doing it at gradually increasing distance & different positions in relation to him, until it becomes 'lunging' or 'ground driving'.

the second I lengthen the amount of rope he has, he immediately tries to follow me, pressing into my elbow, or he stops dead and turns to face me.
So assuming you're not moving too fast for him, making things too hard, just keep that little bit of pressure up, to make it uncomfortable(but not scary, impossible, painful...) for him to do the Wrong thing, and persist for as long as it takes for him to *start* in the right direction. Watch his bodylanguage & reinforce him by quitting the pressure the *instant* he even thinks about trying the Right Answer.

4) He is scared of being haltered and having a fly veil put on. He has a leather halter on in the paddock. To get him used to haltering I have been putting a standard halter on over his, either with him on a rope or loose,
Firstly, for safety's sake, I would not leave him with a halter on in the paddock unsupervised.

I'd teach him first & foremost that it is a Good Thing for him to be 'caught' & haltered, before you go on with teaching him anything else. So you can easily 'catch' him & attach a rope? So he's not afraid of being approached by you with halter & lead? Not worried about you reaching for him with lead in hand? That's great. I'd be rewarding him for those things anyway for a bit, so you form a stronger association with Good Stuff & allowing this.

I'd use 'approach & retreat' as per other desensitising, to gradually get him comfortable & confident with you putting the halter over his poll. By the sound of it, it probably won't take much, but I'd still start at the start with him & only progress as fast as he is comfortable with. If at any point he gets reactive or stops progressing, take it that you've gone a bit fast for him & back off a few steps, then progress more slowly.

So... I'd start with you just touching him first. Starting at a point where he's *slightly* uncomfortable, such as half way up his neck, approach & retreat, as he gets used to it, get gradually closer to his head. *As well as removing 'pressure' to reinforce him negatively for 'putting up' with you, I'd also be inclined to reinforce positively, with a food tidbit, or a scratch in a favourite place - associate what you're doing with Good Stuff. Once he is comfortable with you touching his poll(I find once you get there, they generally love a scratch around the base of the ears, which acts as a good reinforcer), then start over with the halter.

I'm not experienced by any means, and have only been riding / owned horses for a year,
I have given you the theory above, but I do advise you to find a trainer, or at least experienced horse person to work with, to help you learn hands-on, as there is so much that is effected by body language & timing, etc, which we can't really give you feedback on via remote forum advice.

love to hear what things other people have taught horses / ponies, be it liberty, tricks, etc. or what disciplines you think would be fun to train a 12hh Welsh in.
I gather you mean other than run of the mill 'normal' stuff. Obstacles & agility training are fun, as is teaching your horse to 'dance' with you. I've recently discovered 'Extreme Cowboy Racing' which is like 'Extreme Mountain Trail' but they then learn to do the obstacles at speed, in a timed race! Working Equitation is another bit similar 'discipline' that looks fun too...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,046 Posts
The moment I started to read this I immediately thought, "Bet he's a Welsh!"

Now, I have trained a lot of ponies, a lot of them Welsh ponies straight off the mountains. Many were very hyped up and nervous with flight reaction to the fore. They had never been handled much and when they were it was generally running them through chutes to worm them, wean them or sort them for the sales.

I never tip toed around them. Those that were really nervous went down the road to a line of converted pig pens with an small outside area. These buildings were by the side of a track leading to a car breakers so lots of big vehicles, noise and people coming and going.

To add to their education I tied tins with lids and a few pebbles in each so they rattled to manes and tails.

A couple of weeks living there and they took very little notice of anything.

Another that came to me for breaking could be your pony's twin. He was frightened of his own shadow and didn't like people so, I took him with me everywhere, he came walking with the dogs, with me when I was herding sheep with the dogs, digging the garden, mowing the lawns and alongside the ATV when I fed cattle and horses. It wasn't long before he caught on that if he behaved he was left alone. Freak and it kept going until he stopped.

I had him being ridden by a young not very experienced girl amd she could do all the exercises like round the world, scissotes backward rolls off his side and leap frog onto him without him batting an eyelid.

I taught him to lunge and, as I was his security, he didn't want to leave me but the lunge whip kept him out and soon he was good at it.

You might think your pony is afraid of a whip and be reluctant to carry one but, by making him face his fear he will accept it without a care.

The pony I mentioned above was shown seriously at major shows, he did very well and once won a big class in the Forst Ridden, because a loose horse came careening into thenarena and majority of ponies freaked. He just stood stock still watching loose ponies galloping around and young riders sat on the ground!

Exposure and lots of it. If he freaks don't do anything other than hang on to his lead and continue as if nothing had happened. Voice control can also help a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
"You must be a tiny person, to think of a 12hh pony as your 'forever horse'. Assuming you plan to ride him. My thin 13yo daughter has outgrown her 12hh pony. Unfortunately the problem with a lot of ponies is they're too small for most adults to ride, so they may not get great training, & often inadvertently learn 'wrong' behaviour from the kids they learn they can take advantage of."

What I mean by forever horse is that he will stay with me for life. He is not a pony that I intend to sell on at any stage, so I have the advantage of being able to take my time with whatever training I decide to do with my boy. I own a green mare (very forward and unbalanced in her canter) and take lessons, so the majority of my riding is done using other horses. I'm still not 100% on whether or not I'm going to break my boy in. My reason for doing so would be to gain experience. My biggest focus (and the part that I find most enjoyment in, is the groundwork etc.)


"I'd have the other person walk at whatever distance from him/you that the pony is only a little bothered. Do lots of very short sessions - a minute or 2 - then have the person walk away or stop, then come back for another minute. Approach & retreat. Get the horse comfortable & blase about this, before asking the person to do the same a bit closer. Etc.
Whatever you want to desensitise the horse to, it's best to avoid 'overfacing' them & causing them actual fear, but do it in such a way that you can gradually get them over it without putting them into a 'sink or swim' situation. This will also help the horse learn to trust you, so he will be more likely to look to you for future 'scaries' & deal with them more easily."

Thank you. That makes heaps of sense.


"I'm confused how he's so great at (real as opposed to chased round a pen)free lunging, but he will not trot on lead or walk a circle on lead. At any rate, I teach 'lunging' just as an extension of leading/driving. So if he doesn't do those things well yet, I wouldn't bother even trying to lunge him. Lunging to me is just the horse learning/confirming their lessons in leading/driving but at a distance. The distance is just one more criteria to be added to 'the basics'. So... once the horse will lead where you direct them, once they understand how to yield to driving(pushing) pressure wherever on their body - eg. yield forehand away when pressure on shoulder/neck/side of face; yield hindquarter away & face you when pressure on flank or hip. Yield yourself forward when there's pressure behind you, and has become good at that, then you just start doing it at gradually increasing distance & different positions in relation to him, until it becomes 'lunging' or 'ground driving'."

It confuses me as well. Because I couldn't catch him properly, I did some roundpenning (some lunging, some join-up) and because he didn't listen very well I started introducing the cue to change direction so that I'd have more control. I did it in a round area of a cattle yard (so not particularly round, more hexagonal) and somehow he has transferred this to the paddock. He stays in the circle perfectly, and if you push him out he makes the circle larger. The only thing he doesn't do is speed up into canter. Which was why I was thinking maybe lunging on a line. I'm too scared to push him into canter in our pen because it isn't huge.

So assuming you're not moving too fast for him, making things too hard, just keep that little bit of pressure up, to make it uncomfortable(but not scary, impossible, painful...) for him to do the Wrong thing, and persist for as long as it takes for him to *start* in the right direction. Watch his bodylanguage & reinforce him by quitting the pressure the *instant* he even thinks about trying the Right Answer.



"Firstly, for safety's sake, I would not leave him with a halter on in the paddock unsupervised."

I agree entirely. The problem is he is still too nervous about being haltered for me to remove it. There isn't anything he can get caught on in his paddock. I've put pipes on the wire of the fences, removed the hay feeder, etc. I know that it doesn't completely remove the risk, but if I want any chance of having him be anything but a paddock ornament, I need the halter on, just until he's fine being haltered. I bought him off of a professional horse trainer, who was selling him because he was too long term a project for her to work with. She wasn't able to catch him, and had to put him in a cattle crush (locking him in) and then try and get the halter on that way. I have him in a paddock right near the house, so he can always be seen by someone, and I am out with him six times a day.

I'd teach him first & foremost that it is a Good Thing for him to be 'caught' & haltered, before you go on with teaching him anything else. So you can easily 'catch' him & attach a rope? So he's not afraid of being approached by you with halter & lead? Not worried about you reaching for him with lead in hand? That's great. I'd be rewarding him for those things anyway for a bit, so you form a stronger association with Good Stuff & allowing this.

I'd use 'approach & retreat' as per other desensitising, to gradually get him comfortable & confident with you putting the halter over his poll. By the sound of it, it probably won't take much, but I'd still start at the start with him & only progress as fast as he is comfortable with. If at any point he gets reactive or stops progressing, take it that you've gone a bit fast for him & back off a few steps, then progress more slowly.

So... I'd start with you just touching him first. Starting at a point where he's *slightly* uncomfortable, such as half way up his neck, approach & retreat, as he gets used to it, get gradually closer to his head. *As well as removing 'pressure' to reinforce him negatively for 'putting up' with you, I'd also be inclined to reinforce positively, with a food tidbit, or a scratch in a favourite place - associate what you're doing with Good Stuff. Once he is comfortable with you touching his poll(I find once you get there, they generally love a scratch around the base of the ears, which acts as a good reinforcer), then start over with the halter.



I have given you the theory above, but I do advise you to find a trainer, or at least experienced horse person to work with, to help you learn hands-on, as there is so much that is effected by body language & timing, etc, which we can't really give you feedback on via remote forum advice.



I gather you mean other than run of the mill 'normal' stuff. Obstacles & agility training are fun, as is teaching your horse to 'dance' with you. I've recently discovered 'Extreme Cowboy Racing' which is like 'Extreme Mountain Trail' but they then learn to do the obstacles at speed, in a timed race! Working Equitation is another bit similar 'discipline' that looks fun too...[/QUOTE]
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top