3yo gelding, broken early, want to do best for him!

Liz is a Recommended Associate of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association, and can help with behavioural issues
phrinv
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3yo gelding, broken early, want to do best for him!

Postby phrinv » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:34 am

Hi
My friend and I have just taken on loan a 3yo gelding - he is a lovely boy, very trusting of humans :) His owner loves him to bits but has perhaps to my mind, been asking a bit too much? Pony obv loves her to bits too and trusts her!

He's currently about 14.1hh, Welsh D cross, gelded young.

He was advertised as will hack out alone - o has taken him on 1-2hr hacks alone, but he has recently started rearing upon leaving the yard. To my mind 3yo is too young to ask that of him. We also had his tack checked and it will have been hurting him.

So we have started taking him for walks in hand down 'the lane' but he is still very reluctant, keeps planting his feet and refusing to move. I know he's telling me it's scary and it hurt last time he did this, but to my mind if we can get him to do it a few times without anything bad happening then he may stop planting himself. Today I took him out in hand and made a loop out of the end of the lunge line, which I put round his bum, to get him to move forward. Obv I released pressure as soon as he took a step forward.

Also once he started walking out nicely I'd ask him to stand, then give him a treat and a fuss

On the way back up the hill to the yard I asked him to stand every now and then which he did - also asked him to a couple of circles away from home - needed the bum rope again, but his reward was the release of tension and being able to walk towards home.

Owner also only gave him a bucket if she thought he'd been good!? So friend and I are going to set a routine where he gets a handful of chaff plus pink powder whether he's worked or not, and always around the same time of day :)

I'm just desperate for advice on how to do right by this special boy! He's gonna be a stunner, and he's such an impressionable age right now... Please help me dear experts :)

phrinv
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Re: 3yo gelding, broken early, want to do best for him!

Postby phrinv » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:44 am

He's becoming quite dead to the leg too - not surprising if he's been urged to hack out alone at his age in a saddle that hurts! Help!!

Expert_LizPitman
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Re: 3yo gelding, broken early, want to do best for him!

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:55 pm

Hi there,

Just a quickie to say I've read your post and will get back to you asap. I've got something to do with an urgent deadline but your questions come next on the list as soon as I've finished that.

Liz

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Re: 3yo gelding, broken early, want to do best for him!

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:47 am

Sorry to keep you waiting.

It sounds like there's some very positive stuff you're doing with this lad. Definitely giving him rewards through releases of pressure while your out is the way to go, so you're on the right track. I think, though, that you'd be better off starting even further back than you've taken it.

There are 2 related things to bear in mind when dealing with this sort of issue, i.e. fear-panic. The first is that fear is horrible, and that itself is enough to confirm to the horse that whatever it is that he perceives to be the threat really is one. He therefore won't see it as "see there's nothing to worry about", he'll see it as "I told you it was awful here". The other thing is that positive learning is almost impossible when a horse's fear/stress level goes past a certain point. The easiest way to know where that point is, I think, is to look at where he feels he actually has to act. Once his flight kicks in, getting away is all that's in his mind. One foot fall away from something is the start of flight (if he wasn't attached to you, he'd not leave it at that one), so if you keep the idea of feet moving = too far you probably won't be that far out.

So, to keep him learning positively, you need to work with him in that uncertain zone. When there, you can work on asking him to relax, take in where he is and that you're keeping him safe, and learn that if he trusts you fully he'll be ok.

Before you start going out and about, though, it's really worth time making sure that you have full control of his feet and that you can keep his attention all of the time. I'd start with the standing stil exercise, so literally asking him to stand still, with you facing him and a step to the side, gently bringing his head back to you if he starts to look away. In other words, don't worry about that, I'm here. This on its own can be enough to help a horse find relaxation as he starts to switch off.

Then move on to step by step leading and backing up. Get real control of those feet in an easy place, then increase the challenges but gradually so that he's building his confidence in you and in himself. I know you said he trusts you but there are different levels of trust and what we want is that he'll trust you even when he's scared.

That for me is step one. Step 2 is to build up your in hand work and incorporate despooking, using pressure and release as you are, and also incorporating relaxation work.

Step 3 is to move onto longlining. This should help with his confidence - you are asking him to go out in front and face things first, in a similar way to when riding. You can also work on his responsivenss to aids. Never ask of him something he can't do, so if you do ask something then be prepared to insist if he doesn't repond. In other words, don't ignore me. Then incorporate that same idea into schooling, be it in an arena or out hacking.

That's a brief synopsis, and working on the assumption that there aren't other underlying problems you haven't yet discovered. If you haven't, before starting any of that I'd have him properly checked by a good physio or similar to make sure that his previous tack and tensions haven't left him sore. He can only do what you're asking if he feels physically able to do it.

If you continue to have problems, then call one of my collegues to come and have a look. It's very common that the cause you think is the one is a red herring, and that there's something else that's the real block. A trained pair of eyes can be very useful, and can also make sure that you're both working well together.

I hope that all helps!

Liz

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Re: 3yo gelding, broken early, want to do best for him!

Postby Kaliska » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:19 am

Sounds like Liz's advice is spot on. I always feel sorry for youngsters being broken that early, particularly Welshies as they tend to mature quite late.


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