Rude on the ground

Liz is a Recommended Associate of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association, and can help with behavioural issues
cloudybay
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Rude on the ground

Postby cloudybay » Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:23 am

Dear Liz,

Do you have any tips for working with my horse on the ground.

She tends to pull away from me and is too strong for me to hold even with a bridle on if she decides to go. She does not have any malice, it is purely bad manners. She barges into my space when I am leading her and regularly stands on my feet.

Thanks

mja
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby mja » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:18 pm

Groundwork galore to teach her manners and respect for you and your space. My mare was the same and me being 5ft with a 16.1hh bargy horse was not easy.

It will take time and repetition and must always be consistent in the school, stable, leading, boxing, everywhere and always.

If she moves off without you going first then make her stop and back up until her shoulder is behind you. If she takes a step repeat this til she stands and waits. If she goes to move with a firm no and if she doesnt move the foot pat her. Always reward if she waits etc.

Ask her to follow you and if she barges into you push her over and say no firml and make her back up til she gets the picture that she cant go forwards until she behaves. If she goes infront repeat nd if she pulls you or drags you then make her circle each time over and over each time til she realises it is going to take her ten times as lng to get going forward until she walks nicely. If she does it coming in from field do the same no matter how long it takes you to get to the stable!

Ask her to lead behind you or at your shoulder and stop when you stop or back her up again. Eventually she will learn to watch your moves nd copy you accordingly. My mare will now do this and wati when I am standing chatting and will tort when I run and skid to a halt if I do.

In the stable always ask her to back up when you come in the door and if she barges or pushes to the door make her step back as did on lead rope. Ask her to step over away from you when workig round her so she respects your space. Do not let her move one foot when mounting also.

It has made my mare an angle to lead xx

Expert_LizPitman
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:30 pm

Sorry, mja, but I'm afraid I disagree with some of the advice you've given. I don't have time to explain why right now, or to explain what my advice would be, but having a bargy horse behind you is downright dangerous.

I have to go out now but will answer this later, promise!

Expert_LizPitman
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:41 pm

Ok, back as promised.

I was going to say this might be long. I'll change that, this WILL be long, bear with me! (Reading back, I've realised you have a mare and I've written "he"! Sorry, I should have picked that up.)

First things first - we talk a lot about manners and horses being rude, but what do we really mean by that? Manners are, in effect, a set of behaviours that are acceptable in our eyes. That's really important to remember. These are our rules, not the horses, and the only way the horse can know them is if we teach them. It therefore comes back to us, not the horse. Similarly, rudeness - the breaking of those rules or breaching those manners - is again our concept, not the horse's. I don't see horses are rude, more as using behaviours that we find unacceptable. See it that way, and it changes everything, doesn't it?

When a horse doesn't lead as we would like - "nicely" - it's usually because our leadership doesn't come up to scratch, again, from the horse's point of view. There are, of course, some horses who actually like being leaders but in my opinion the majority don't. Being a leader, especially in a human environment, means facing all sorts of worrying things and having to make decisions on them. It's much easier if someone else will do that for you. However, if no one else decides, then the horse has to. Bearing in mind this is a flight animal we're talking about, one of their most natural courses of action is run.

In my experience, then, most horses who try to drag their owners all over the place from the ground are actually very uncertain, maybe lacking in self confidence but usually lacking in confidence in their handler. They often appear very alert, watchful of everything, and if they feel they need to go, nothing will stand in their way, not even you. Even many horses who appear not to be scared are often somewhere on the worry-fear spectrum. So again, if we change our perception, we have a different way of tackling the problem that doesn't involve bridles and pushing the horse around.

Having said that, I personally would always use a Dually headcollar. Old habits die hard, and horses often feel they need to test their old behaviours, and test their leaders as they dynamics between you change. I find the Dually gives just enough pressure in a very precise way without causing the pain of a hard pull on the bit.

I would also use a long line, hard hat and gloves for safety. A long line gives you leverages as well as options. Also, work in a school or similar enclosed area to start off with, then venture out step by step.

What you want more than anything, though, is to get and keep pressure and stress right down, and also to get your horse listening to you and believing in you. Leadership is all about mental strength not physical. If it was just physical, I'd not stand a chance against a 17hh fit warmblood!

The first exercise is just to get your horse to listen to you. I start by standing in front of the horse and asking him just to stand still. If he moves a muscle to come towards me, I make myself as big as I can, wave my arms, and walk towards him to push him back. Out of my space, thank you. If he looks away, I lightly apply pressure to the line to bring his head back to straight. Again, and again, and again, until the horse starts to understand that he has to stand still and not look around. With nothing else to look at, he should then start to give you his attention. You should now be able to step back away from him, with him still standing still, and ask for just one step forwards. Anything more than you ask for gets blocked. It is very, very simple and very, very clear.

Next, just ask your horse to move his quarters over, as lightly as you can, both ways. You're just saying that you are choosing where he goes. That's it.

Keep everything relaxed, low key, low stress.

Now you're ready to start walking. I believe a horse's head should be at your shoulder. For me, his head is where his concious is. If that's ahead of you, he's leading you. If he can get his head right in front of you, he can move you around all over the place. Not good. If he's behind you, though, you won't be able to see him. He can tuck in nervously if he's that sort of horse, or he could lag behind and switch off. Either way, you won't know what he's thinking unless you actually turn round and look at him, until, that is he's spooked at something and ploughed into your back. Not good either.

What we're aiming for is that he walks with his head at your shoulder on a nice relaxed line, no tension, so that it's 2 beings who trust each other but where one - you - are the leader. Hold your hand palm down on the line with the line balanced on your thumb, and the line just short enough that he'll feel the contact if you squeeze your hand or turn it slightly.

Then walk. With complete and utter conviction that your horse will follow you, without turning back, you just walk off. If you horse doesn't follow, he'll get a bump on the line and that is often enough to bring him along side as long as your walk and intent convince him. If he tries to lag behind, give him a tug and ask him to come alongside, then relax your line again. Relax your arm once you've asked so you don't fall into the trap of the arm stuck out to the side to keep asking, that in fact is just blocking the space you need your horse to come into.

If that doesn't work, try turning right. This will make your horse's circle smaller than yours and should "scoop" him up.

Now (we are finally getting to answer your question!), with your horse walking alongside you, keep his head in your peripheral vision. If he so much as edges forwards, close your hand a couple of times - check check - on the line. If you get this in early, before he's actually got ahead of you, it should be all you need. Remember, though, is squeeze squeeze, not jerk jerk. This should be something the horse finds easy to listen to, not something to annoy him. If, though, your timing isn't that good to start off with and he does get ahead, then stop and back him up. Once that head is ahead of you, he's in a much stronger position, so always try and anticipate and get there first.

The other thing is to start to say "you don't need to worry, I'll do that for you", so if you see your horse starting to look at (or even for!) something worrying, then again gently bring the head to a straight, forwards position.

When this works in the school - and if you get it right it can work within minutes - then you need to build up challenges. Look for a place where you think he might get a little worried and set it up to stack the odds in your favour. Really take charge, stop, back up, walk and say "me! I'm deciding". If he starts to get worried, then take control and take him away. It's not a cop out, it's taking control before he does. Then go back and try again. Start easy and build up until you should be able to face anything, with you deciding.

Told you it'd be long!

There are other things that you may or may not find useful but that's the basis of it.

I agree about consistency. It's much easier for your horse to know where he stands if you apply the same rule always. There's no need to test anymore as the rule will always be there. So keep switched on all the time that you are at the other end of the leadrope. It's a pain to start off with, maybe, but it soon becomes habit and it's one of the best ones you can have.

The reasons I wasn't keen on mja's advice are really because it's all too high pressure, pushing and circling, working on correcting the horse way too late when it becomes a physical fight, almost. The higher your pressure, the higher the horse can press back. By refining your timing, you really start communicating and can get softer and softer. Often, once the horse realises that you are listing to him because you are reacting almost to his thoughts, then they can start listening back. It's always up to us first, though.

See how that goes, cloudybay, and let me know.

mja
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby mja » Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:30 am

Sorry I did say behind you or "at your shoulder" as I believe in at your shoulder but once a vet told me should be behind you to show you are in charge! I thought I would say both incase I was wrong!! Whoops did it again......

I was telling how experts had told me to do it and the method of asking the horse to step back if they step into your space I thought was very similar to that mentioned above by the forum's expert. I can ask my mare without any force or pressure with just an ordinary headcollar to stop, walk, trot, back up and move over. She steps over simply by my voice in the stable. I am going to leave it to the experts as I dont like it seeming like I use force with my horses and I keep getting into trouble lol.

Irishcobfan
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby Irishcobfan » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:47 pm

Mja for what it's worth I think sometimes text can be confusing and interpreted differently to how the writer actually wanted! It doesn't sound to me like you use excessive force and I enjoy reading your posts x

mja
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby mja » Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:41 am

Thank you irishcobgan, I really do appreciate that. Ive been quite worried what people reading it may think if it came across that way.

I enjoy posting on here but definately will leave any questions for the experts to answer (I stupidly hadnt noticed for the experts just the topic interested me so I replied) and then learn from them too infuture xx

Expert_LizPitman
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Re: Rude on the ground

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:35 am

Hi mja,

Don't worry, you're not causing trouble! Irishcobfan's right, though, with just the written word it can be very easy sometimes to misinterpret what the writer intended. I've been on forums long enough to have seen loads of misunderstandings because of that. It's why I waffle on sometimes, to try and be as clear as possible. Even then, I know that what I see in my mind that I'm describing isn't always going to be what someone reading understands, and I always think afterwards that I missed this or that, and will it be clear enough, and should I clarify...

I do think it's important, though, if we're giving advice to try and find words that aren't easily open to misinterpretation. "Push", for example, may be intended as a light request with the hand but could well be taken as a hard shove, or anywhere in between! Sometimes you do need to push, if your horse is really walking into you still, but most of the time a squeeze is all that's needed and a real shove will just get the horse to push back.

It's an interesting point you make, though, about vets' advice. With all due respect to vets, they're not trained in behaviour at all, or hardly, which is a huge shame. The dominance theory really doesn't hold water, for horses, dogs, humans, anything, but it's still the last thing some vets were taught.

For what it's worth, I really don't mind anyone else joining in on threads in my little area here. I think it makes for healthy discussion and we can all learn from eachother. Maybe let me have first stab at it, though! lol!


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