The Horse I got for Christmas is really herd-bound.
She's SUCH a sweety, until the other Horses leave, then she's really antsy, and doesn't want to stand still. I had to be all mean, and snappy on the lead-rope, and by the time I left, she barely wanted to eat the apple I was offering.
I won't be riding her until may or june, so I've got some time, and a little area (probably a 20 metre circle size) to lung.
Any training suggestions? I really need some help.
She doesn't really know you yet. Spend a lot of time handling her, often horses are itchy under those long winter coats and enjoy a good grooming. If she does not like grooming all horses seem to like being scratched on their necks from the shoulders on up, sort of in the middle from top to bottom. Do this when she is calm, do not reward her when she is antsy. Get a whoa, stand for as long as is necessary for her to get unantsy (might be several minutes) until she gets bored with standing and relaxes, then give a reward, a pat or a treat.
You might want to start leading her away from the horses, and if you can try to start in the pasture. The trick is to reward her BEFORE she starts getting antsy. Say she lets you lead her 3 feet away, and then gets antsy. Then lead her 2 1/2 feet, tell her to whoa, then give her a favorite treat, go back in a circle and then SLOWLY increase the distance away from the other horses before you whoa and treat. If you miss the timing and she gets antsy then stand, wait for relaxation, then reward. If she won't stand still walk in a circle (not a tiny circle) until she relaxes, then stand, relax, reward.
And I am sure that other people will give you much better ideas!
Let me tell you something we all go through. The absolutely wonderful horse you bought/got magically often transforms into this uncooperative frantic beastie who looks at you like you are the creature from the black lagoon. Calm consistent handling over the first 3 months of your partnership usually works best and teaches you horse that you are worthy of trust. It takes TIME, everything with training horses takes TIME. A LOT OF TIME.
I'm going to see her tomorrow so I'll try rewarding for un-antsy-ness!
I have to agree with what Jackie said about your horse not knowing you yet (most likely... unless you've been partners for a while and she's just now become *your* horse). The best thing I can suggest to help her accept you as part of her herd and really want to be with you is to join up. If you've never heard of it, it's a technique 'discovered' by Monty Roberts by thoroughly observing wild mustangs and making note of their behavior. I recommend watching videos of him joining up (easily found on youtube. Make sure you watch videos of him to get the idea. Sometimes other people do it wrong and post videos of it...). If you can have someone help you figure it out, it's probably one of the most beneficial things you can do with any horse, and the most rewarding thing I've found so far in training horses. Even if she is already a 'broke' horse, going back to the basics and demonstrating to her that you're her partner is never a harmful exercise. Once you can establish a connection with her on her level, asking things of her such as wanting to be with you vs the herd become exponentially easier.
Cheers, and keep us posted!
Hi again Jocelyn,
The join up ala Monty Roberts may be a good thing, but right now it is winter, and the horses can sweat alot in the process of join up. If you do this be SURE to have at least an hour for walking your horse dry, it is not good for a horse to stand around with a wet winter coat in the cold.
Of course if your horse is clipped it would be different, but still figure in cool down time and get your horse completely dry from the sweat before you put her up.
Come the warm weather and you will not have to worry as much, you'll still have to walk dry but the coat will be thinner and it won't take as long.
She's just so nervous and stressed when she's by herself, it's a little discouraging because she won't even run you out of the barn when I'm putting her back outside, she's walks nice and calm, stands for me to take off her halter, then walks away slowly.
She's fine to lead away from the group, absolutely cool and calm. But once I start grooming her, she's so panicky, calling out, bobbing her head up and down, sniffing and pawing the ground, trying to get a look at one of the other horses... I'm at a loss of what to do, I've never felt so helpless!
Could your mare have REALLY sensitive skin? Some Arabs I owned had been really antsy when I did the regular strength grooming and only calmed down when I switched to the ligtest pressure I could use and still get them clean enough to ride. It really helped if I groomed everyday, gently. If the bristles on your brush are really stiff you may want to try another softer brush.
Often I would go out to my horses in the pasture and groom them there in the middle of the field rather than bringing them in. In fact I even got them so I could trim their feet out in the pasture with just a halter on with a dangling lead rope. Working on this could pay off for you in the long run.
Or she may have some type of skin condition that makes it more sensitive to pressure and brushing.
I think Carolyn Resnick had a blog mostly on teaching the horse to stand in one position and how it can help.
That's definitly something to think about....
I didn't consider that before because she calls and tries to swing around and see if anyones there.
I'll try seeing what she does if I went over her with the soft brush first.
Hi Joceyln ... wow, Santa must really like you!
Congrats on the horse!! As for your problem ... I wouldn't sweat it. I'm quite sure she will settle in a few weeks,
once she gets used to her new herd, barn routine ... and you!
In the meantime, you could check out the blog posted by Carolyn Resnick on Dec 22. It addresses that very problem.
She also has some interesting philosophies to share on horse psychology.
Enjoy the journey with your new mare :)
Thanks for your reassurence!
I'll check out that blog right now!
Keeping you all updated:
I tried a Join-Up on Sunday, and even though it was my first time, It SO worked!
I didn`t get all of the signs (inside ear locked on you, lowered head, chewing), but once I decided to finnish I lowered my eyes, and she came to the middle with me, and then followed me around a little. It was great!
I then lead her back to the barn, toward the herd, and she had her head lowered, and didn`t call. Cool as a cucumber! =D
Thanks for all of your help, suggestions, and support! I still have some work to do, but this really helped!