New Home Issues

Liz is a Recommended Associate of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association, and can help with behavioural issues
chrissyh
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New Home Issues

Postby chrissyh » Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:20 am

I recently bought a 5 year old Arabian gelding, he had already been backed and was really sweet when I tried him out. I took him home and rode him, and he was fine. Then due to business I couldn't ride him for a week. During that time he was turned out with my other horse during the day and stabled during the night. When I started riding him again, he was a nightmare! Everytime I sent him forwards he would rear and throw in the occasional buck. I don't think kicking or whipping will work either. I can't ride him and it's really frustrating. I've had his teeth, back etc. all checked and he's fine. What do you think is wrong? Is it just because he hasn't settled into his new home?
[color=#0000BF]A horse doesn't care what you know until he knows that you care.[/color]

Expert_LizPitman
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Re: New Home Issues

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:21 am

Hi Chrissy,

Yes, it does rather sound like you've got "new home" problems. Some horses cope very well with moving and don't have issues at all. Some seem to cope for a month or two and then start to test boundaries as they feel more settled. Some have worries from the start. It very much sounds like your lad is falling into the latter camp.

My guess, and that's all it is of course without having met you, is that he's uncertain in his new environment but has found safety with your other horse. That makes him reluctant to leave what he perceives to be his safe place. What you need to do is make yourself a safe place for him too.

I'd start by not trying to ride until you've got more of relationship established, but instead work on getting your leadership in place so that he can trust you as he does your other horse. I'd start with some very simple groundwork and leading, then longlining if you know how to do that.

The first exercise is just standing still. All you want is for your horse to be happy to stand still with you and to focus on you. You're the leader, so he doesn't need to be alert and on the lookout. Stand in front of your horse, with a loose line, and be quiet. Ask him to stand there with you, also just being quiet. If he looses concentration on you, especially if he looks away, just gently bring his head back, then let your line go loose again. If he goes to take a step either away or towards you, just block him and, if he has moved his foot, move him back. You want him to be happy just to stand with you, quietly.

Here's a video clip of me with a horse called Mr Fox (it should load when you click on it). Mr Fox is very nervous after some previous abusive training and we are still working for him to be happy with us in all situations. He's liable to hit flight mode in a split second, hence the penned area and hence having the line looped through the headcollar rather than clipped on (the last thing I want is for him to charge around the field with a line chasing him). This should give you roughly the idea, though.

Image

(you can tell summer's over, can't you - look at that mud!!!)

You can do this in the field, on the yard, in a school, wherever you like. I'd start where he is most comfortable, then try other places. The message should be that wherever you are, you are the leader and he should listen to you.

Next comes leading. You want to be the leader but you want to be a partner, too. And keep safe. Lead with your horse's ear at your shoulder and with no tension on your line. If he tries by one step to get ahead, just squeeze your hand to ask him back. If he does get ahead, then stop and ask him to step back to the right place. If he tries to tuck in behind, then give him a tug to ask him forwards, or turn right to scoop him up. Give him a stroke and a word of praise when he's in the right place.

Also work on backing up and moving him over. Step by step, take control of his feet, letting him know that you are in charge but in a nice way.

Again, start in the field, then move further away until he's happy leading nicely with you anywhere. Keep this up all the time, any time you are leading him, even if it's just between field and stable, even if you are with someone else and talking, always. That way he'll know that you are now 100% his leader and he can rely on you always.

As I say, I'd then move onto longlining. It's a great tool to up a horse's confidence in going forwards, but with you in control. Leading from behind, if you like.

It can take a little time for this to work but more often than not a worried horse is so happy to had over to you, you can get a change overnight.

When you do get back on board, keep your leadership going. Keep a light contact and let him know that you are still there. For the first ride or two, I'd plan on not really going anywhere, just take him down the lane or whatever, tell him he's fab, then come home again. The message is that it's easy, nothing to worry about, etc. If you do start to hit a worry, then just stop (if you can safely), and do the standing still exercise from on board. Then ask for a few steps forwards, then go home again. The objective is to keep relaxed and keep him relaxed. Catch the worry as it starts and you should be able to settle him and let him understand that you are listening and that it's ok.

See how that goes. If it doesn't work, then maybe get someone to come and have a look. As I say, the above is my best guess based on what you've described but it could be something else too.

Good luck!

chrissyh
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:46 am
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Re: New Home Issues

Postby chrissyh » Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:35 pm

Hi,
I tried the 'stand still' exercise today with my horse in his field. First, he kept on trying to walk off or barge into me but after a bit of practice, he was happy to just stand there quietly and attentively. I'm going to try this in the stable or around the yard sometime tomorrow, and I really hope he gets better, it's been a nightmare! Thanks for the tips!
[color=#0000BF]A horse doesn't care what you know until he knows that you care.[/color]

Expert_LizPitman
Posts: 227
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:44 am
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Re: New Home Issues

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:07 am

Sounds good so far! Let us know how it goes.


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