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strange yearling behavior!

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Here is a question particularly for trainers: Please tell me if you think the following is abnormal behavior for a yearling filly (16 months) that will lead to training difficulties in the future. I have successfully trained many well-broke horses and have not seen this behavior before. I wonder if I should consider selling the horse before I put too much into her. Perhaps someone out there in horse-land will know the diagnosis and prognosis for the future of this horse. I will list the potential negatives and positives:

POTENTIAL NEGATIVES
• Since buying filly 2 months ago, she has been joined with two adults, a gelding and a mare. The foal RARELY smacks or clacks as an indication of submission.
• I have to put quite a bit of flag-pressure on her in the round pen before she will finally lick her lips.
• She has not been very excitable or reactive in or out of the round pen. Dull acting.
• Here is the strangest behavior in my opinion. She is not herd bound. In fact, when I have free-ranged while riding my other horse, she will continue to graze without following me. Even when I disappear over a hill, she may look for me after greater than 5 minutes. Even when I am more than a quarter of a mile away, she will take her time walking, trotting and occasionally loping toward me. When I head back home, she doesn't follow. The last time, I herded her back like a cow, cutting her off when she wants to go somewhere other than towards home. After spanking her on the rear, she maintained a trot or lope toward home with occasional course correction by me. I have never herded a horse like a cow.
• She responds to cues willingly, but in "slow motion."

POSTIVES
• This foal moves away from pressure on the hip or moving backward with the halter better than any foal I have handled. I was surprise and delighted.
• Very calm horse to sudden movements or loud sounds. I know she is not deft.
• She tries hard to figure out what I want and she will remember days after. Good memory and willingness.
• I do not observe any lameness or illness.

When I eventually get in the saddle, I want a horse with forward impulsion and a balance between a "pull" and "push" horse. Any input would be welcome and will help me to decide if I sell this foal and get one to which I am more accustom.
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Some video showing you working the filly would be helpful. She sounds delightful and like a horse who uses her head to think through her different new steps. You say you know that she is not deaf, how do you know? Not saying I think she is, just curious how you know she is isn't. What is her breeding, do you know?
 

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Not to be rude, but this seems like a joke. I mean, I have never heard of a person complaining that a horse is not herd bound. Really? This is a negative to you? Thinking before reacting is a negative? Wanting to be with you is a negative?

My filly wouldn’t clack her teeth to an adult horse as a weanling. She even took some pretty good runs at a couple before one finally kicked her across the corral and she learned she might not be as tough as she thought she was. I don’t care if she is or is not tough in the herd. It was different, but not bad.

I feel like if you don’t like her, then go ahead and sell her. Someone will be quite happy with her.

I think it’s really odd someone with your level of claimed experience would think negatively of a filly with this temperament. Yes, maybe the lack of sensitivity could be perceived as a negative, but it’s certainly easier to start a fire than to put one out.
 

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I am not a trainer and have never worked with such a young horse. But, I did watch as the BO worked with her yearling / two year old filly. In the round pen, mostly. The filly was so unfazed by any pressure like a flag. And she was pushy, and seemed dull to stimulus. I remember thinking that doing MORE flag work had a big risk of dulling her out more. I had never seen anyone do round pen work with such a young horse.

three years later, the filly is a solid trail horse. A normal horse. She just grew out of it all, and I bet this horse of yours will, too.
 

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I have 1 TB mare & 1 Arab x stock horse, both alpha mares (what fun :) ). Dolly's sweet & Aya's sour
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I don't see anything wrong with her (although I haven't dealt with a horse that young before) except maybe the dullness, but that could make her a great trail horse. She could probably also be trained to be more responsive to aids.
 

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My black horse is very silly and handsome. He is hard to train most of the time.
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All of my horses are herdbound to some extent some a lot more than others. I DO mind them being herd bound most of the time, but sometimes when I want them to follow the horse I am riding somewhere, or something else like that, It is bothersome for the less herd bound ones to not follow. But most of the time the herd boundness is a bother.

Nevada, ( 2 yrs) is similar to your filly she is very curious, not very scared of things, when she was smaller she was a lot less scared but now is more scared of things, the first time I did unwinding on her she did amazing and progressed at an amazing speed so now she does unwinding perfect, she does other things well except she doesn't like lunging.
She is also not very herd bound but she is some. She does clack and chew at new horses or a horse that she knows well but hasn't smelled in a while but is rude to her " Aunt and Uncle" aka 25 yr old Comet and " Aunt" 13 yr old Ginger and the horse don't correct her probably because she is the " baby" and grew up among all of my horses and so they don't feel like they need to correct her. The only correction that I see that she gets if she is crowding Trueno or Castillo, the 2 equaly dominant geldings, they bite her to tell her to keep away.
 

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Here is a question particularly for trainers: Please tell me if you think the following is abnormal behavior for a yearling filly (16 months) that will lead to training difficulties in the future. I have successfully trained many well-broke horses and have not seen this behavior before. I wonder if I should consider selling the horse before I put too much into her. Perhaps someone out there in horse-land will know the diagnosis and prognosis for the future of this horse. I will list the potential negatives and positives:

POTENTIAL NEGATIVES
• Since buying filly 2 months ago, she has been joined with two adults, a gelding and a mare. The foal RARELY smacks or clacks as an indication of submission.
• I have to put quite a bit of flag-pressure on her in the round pen before she will finally lick her lips.
• She has not been very excitable or reactive in or out of the round pen. Dull acting.
• Here is the strangest behavior in my opinion. She is not herd bound. In fact, when I have free-ranged while riding my other horse, she will continue to graze without following me. Even when I disappear over a hill, she may look for me after greater than 5 minutes. Even when I am more than a quarter of a mile away, she will take her time walking, trotting and occasionally loping toward me. When I head back home, she doesn't follow. The last time, I herded her back like a cow, cutting her off when she wants to go somewhere other than towards home. After spanking her on the rear, she maintained a trot or lope toward home with occasional course correction by me. I have never herded a horse like a cow.
• She responds to cues willingly, but in "slow motion."

POSTIVES
• This foal moves away from pressure on the hip or moving backward with the halter better than any foal I have handled. I was surprise and delighted.
• Very calm horse to sudden movements or loud sounds. I know she is not deft.
• She tries hard to figure out what I want and she will remember days after. Good memory and willingness.
• I do not observe any lameness or illness.

When I eventually get in the saddle, I want a horse with forward impulsion and a balance between a "pull" and "push" horse. Any input would be welcome and will help me to decide if I sell this foal and get one to which I am more accustom.
She sounds like a horse I would love to have. The only issue I would possibly have with her is the 'dullness'. But it's easy enough to create energy and forward motion, actually easier than trying to slow down a wild one.

What breed is she? How is she fed? Does she have adequate nutrition and vitamin/mineral balance? That's the first thing I would consider when looking at a lack of energy.

Also, as a yearling I personally would not be working with her a lot. Short 10-15 min sessions a couple times a day at the most. At that age, she needs to be allowed to be a horse.

Horses do have different personalities, just like people. Some don't act wild and crazy, some are slower and have issues with forward motion and impulsion. It's just a question for you of whether you are willing to deal with those things. And whether you are capable and confident creating that energy and forward motion without causing her to freak out. That's something only you know the answer to.
 

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My black horse is very silly and handsome. He is hard to train most of the time.
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Also, as a yearling I personally would not be working with her a lot. Short 10-15 min sessions a couple times a day at the most. At that age, she needs to be allowed to be a horse.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I agree Nevada is 2 years old 3 months-ish but I only work with her for somewhere around 30 minutes and when she was a yearling only like 10-15 minutes
 

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What you are describing sounds very much like a yearling filly my sister bought. she would not clack to the other horses and when turned out did not worry about being out alone, take away the other horse she would stay out in the field or come up when she felt like it, could be left in the barn when all others turned out. We think this is really a good trait in her and think it is great that she is not herd/barn sour and we keep putting her out alone to encourage it.

this year as a three yr old I took her out on a lead line walk, around the farm and through the woods, she was great, never called out or hesitated or shied at anything. Seemed to enjoy her outing.
Personally I think you have an intelligent, strong minded filly

I would encourage her independent attitude and work with her keeping in mind she will challenge you at times and be ready to assert your authority even over little things as she will have a dominant horse mentality. Properly handled she will turn out to be a fantastic horse.
 

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People called me nuts when I said I was buying a yearling as my first horse (riding for years). But you’ve pretty much described my guy so here’s my take.

My now 2yo never clacked as a weanling. He is also non-reactive to most stimulus when working as in lunge whips/crops are toys and he thinks plastic bags are a “good effort” to get him moving on my part 😂. He’s also curious and smart and prefers the company of people to horses although he gets worried if he doesn’t have a neighbor in the stable. He has his quirks and he still has his baby brain but his overall temperament is low-key.

All of this can lead to some frustration when training. We have had to work on responsiveness so I’m not dragging him on a lead line like a dull lesson horse. However, because he’s so non-responsive at home, we haven’t been able to practice things like de-escalation and self soothing and that makes taking him places (exciting!!!) challenging. Small steps, lots of praise/excitement (at home), and a grain pellet is the way to his heart. He is definitely someone who needs a cheerleader at home so work doesn’t become a negative. He also does better with a very slow approach to training compared to his peers so the work doesn’t overwhelm him and make him dull or frustrated even though he’s smart enough to, and does, “get it”. He isn’t a horse you can just command - you have to earn it by working with him and making it a priority to keep work as fun as you can (he loves desensitizing work - seriously). But he will try and that try is plenty to make me thing he’ll be great under saddle when we get there, even if I do develop more leg 🙃
 

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I would like a horse like that. Maybe she is just "neutral" in regards to other horses. Dogs can be dominant, submissive or neutral on the temperament spectrum. The neutral dogs are the easiest to train for performance (obedience trials, etc.) in my opinion.
 

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To me, not a trainer, but a retired breeder that has raised a lot of horses, this filly is a thinker and not just reactive. Be happy about that!
That's she's not married up to another horse is great!
Honestly, I don't see any problems with the filly that you have described! She has a mind, and she's using it.
We'd love to see a pic of her!!
 

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My long yearling that I raised is like this.

I've seen her clack maybe twice? and that was when she was a couple weeks old when she came home from the equine hospital and I reintroduced her and the mare back into my herd.
She is quite bold. I had a friends mare at my place last spring to run over to the Stallion station. Friend said I could turn her out with my bunch I said no and kept her in a seperate pen.
I had my yearling out to graze, not thinking much about it. Friends mare threatened my filly when she got close. My filly tried to go over the panels to fight her.

Her dam was the head horse in my bunch, she wasn't great about disciplining her and wouldn't allow the other horses to discipline her either which I believe that has lead to her boldness along with her breeding. Now that I no longer have her dam and my old gelding (her babysitter) has passed, Rey Banz my 3 year old has taken on thumping on her regularly.
I've only had to get after twice other than being in my space since she was tiny. Once for biting. And once for trying to kick me and she's never tried it again.

However her bubble is small. I have found teaching this filly to gyp around she doesn't really respond to flag work in a pen. But that doesn't mean she isn't sensitive. I can barely touch her sides to move her over and she is light in the halter.
I believe some of her non-reaction to flag type work other than her small bubble has to do with her breeding believe it or not. Like the others I've had like her, if they don't see the purpose in it they don't try very hard and make their opinion of what we are doing known.

These are horses you can not bully into something but have to figure how to appeal to them otherwise you'll install a fight into them that will always pop up if pushed too far.
But if they understand the purpose or if it's something they enjoy they will give you everything they got and then some.
 

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You're behind on equine behavior.
Clacking isn't submission, "don't hurt me" sign. It means the clacker is anxious and unsure about situation, not brave.

You do NOT want a horse to lick & chew. That means that you went too far and put a lot of stress on the horse and it's now trying to calm itself back down. Stressed animals don't behave predictably and don't learn well.

She is a calm, level headed & confident horse. You will ruin her if you keep trying to make her reactive and insecure like other horses.
 

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I have 1 TB mare & 1 Arab x stock horse, both alpha mares (what fun :) ). Dolly's sweet & Aya's sour
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You're behind on equine behavior.
Clacking isn't submission, "don't hurt me" sign. It means the clacker is anxious and unsure about situation, not brave.

You do NOT want a horse to lick & chew. That means that you went too far and put a lot of stress on the horse and it's now trying to calm itself back down. Stressed animals don't behave predictably and don't learn well.

She is a calm, level headed & confident horse. You will ruin her if you keep trying to make her reactive and insecure like other horses.
Licking and chewing is usually seen as a good thing - horses often do it when they learn something (and yes, when they come down from their higher stress state). I wouldn't say you should try to force a horse to lick and chew, but I certainly don't try to avoid it.
And BTW, I'm not trying to start an argument, just giving another opinion 😊.
 

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I'm not a training expert - lots of folks here have way more experience than me. But they are all saying the same thing: stop trying to get a reaction from this filly and work with her strengths!

I think it's a really bad idea to try to get each horse to exhibit the same "signs" during training, as if it was some kind of goalpost they all have to reach. Especially given that some of the signs you are looking for are no longer seen as useful indicators that the horse is progressing by a lot of trainers. I don't know why you would want her to display submission to other horses if there aren't any issues in getting along with them, or why on earth you would WANT a horse that is herd bound!

This filly seems like she's going to be a great, solid horse. She may not be the most reactive, but she may be the most dependable and sensible horse in your barn. Not into that? (I mean, who wouldn't be, but I suppose if you are into something requiring big bursts of nervous energy, she may not have it in her) Train her and sell her! She'll be a big money maker if she's as quiet and easy to ride as you're making it sound!

Honestly, I'm guessing this is exactly how my current horse Rusty was as a foal (I bought him as a barely-broke 6 year old). Bold, curious, and unafraid. I'd buy another like him in a heartbeat.
 
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