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Another question.....

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Posted on Nov 18, 2008 at 04:17 AM Total posts: 21
As I keep working with our nervous horse..... We were working on standing still. I noticed that when she would step forward she would immediately start her circles on the line whether I asked her or not. So, I started making her back up to prevent this. Whenever she backs up she moves her hips to the opposite side I am standing on. I kept working with her and would use a whip to gently push her back into a straight line, and by the end of the session she was standing, backing up straight and licking her lips. Now, when she is tied to a trailer, she can't stand still. Constantly moving from one side to the other. There is something about her not seeing, not trusting, I don't know, about what is behind her? Could she have less vision in the back that causes this?
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Posted on Nov 22, 2008 at 05:28 AM Total posts: 353
And I agree with you Mr. Montana. Country, how is the process with your mare coming?

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Posted on Nov 20, 2008 at 04:08 AM Total posts: 69
Quoting author: That is a good question Country. I am not sure if this has anything to do with your horses sight. Only a vet would be able to tell you that. In the meantime, this situation is not as uncommon as some might believe. Some horses do respond to the theory of "keeping them moving" when they are not doing what we want, while others get worse. It really seems to depend on how nervous the horse is. Often this comes from horses that are herd bound or experiencing separation anxiety. A nervous horse will be on its "tip toes" and dance frantically. These horses tend to get worse (screaming, kicking, pulling) until they understand what is going on...in the meantime this can be a dangerous situation for the horse and who ever is around it. The horse tends to be "out of its body" and is not focused on the person. This is when accidents happen. Some horses can find a way past this, others never do... I would suggest that you slow everything you do with her down. Practice tying her somewhere else that is safer until she will stand flat footed. Make sure you have a break free type of halter. The nylon ones will not break, but her neck will. As to the trailer, a hay bag might help so she can eat and create that lip licking response you are looking for. Maybe. It might take her a long time before she feels comfortable standing with her feet flat and being relaxed. I would suggest having another calm horse near her while you are practicing the trailer training.

I agree with starhorse. What ever you do slow things down when you do it. It obviously will make things better for the horse, but it will also help you sort through possible causes separating out the symptoms from the underlying source of the issue. When I'm given a troubled horse to work with I start with the no-brainer things first, checking the tack when applicable and a vet check for physical issues. If these check out I'll go to work. Regardless of the problem the first thing that I will do is turn the horse loose in a large round pen and see how he moves. This tells me a lot about where his mind is. What starhorse describes as "out of body" will become apparent then. My job is to bring him back inside his body first and then offer up a connection with me. I had a horse this summer that is a case in point. The horse was eight, had been trained and used for show and trail for several years when my client bought him. His only obvious problem was agitation when tied to the point that he would sit back and fight until the halter broke or he fell. The owner had tried all sorts of advice from the pundits in her circle most of which I assumed had been passed down for a few generations, but things had just gotten worse. (I'm always on the alert when I hear, "I learned this from my dad who learned it from his dad.") Now when the lady talked to me on the phone she asked what I would do and I gave my usual reply... "I haven't a clue". When turned loose in the round pen he performed "perfectly" just as the owner predicted when questioning my wisdom in meeting there instead of at the scene of the crime. Yes, he trotted around the perimeter in both directions and immediately turned in facing up to me with straightness practically saluting with military precision. But it was too perfect.. he had been "trained" to do this with no regard to his spirit. I immediately set to tearing his known world apart not accepting his rote repetition, only letting him hook on when I invited it and rejecting it when he offered it up mindlessly. This was very upsetting to him and he reacted by bucking and turning his eye to the outside while racing around the pen as I knelt motionless in the center sifting sand through my fingers. After about fifteen minutes of this he was pretty sweated up and began casting a wary but questioning eye to me. it was then that I rocked back inviting him to hook on and walking over to pet him softly when he did. We did this for another fifteen minutes until he would turn in from a walk (not a trot!) and smoothly step his front quarters across in the other direction - always riveting his attention on what I was asking for. Calling it a day I asked the owner to walk him back the half mile to her corral letting him cool down, always keeping a droop in the lead line. When they arrived back she was astounded that he had walked along at her shoulder amicably never once charging ahead or trying to eat grass along the road. (Apparently this was behavior that she had not told me about previously) So I tied him to the hitching post petting him down softly and we went out of his sight to have lunch. Well he stood quietly and relaxed for the next hour and reportedly has done so ever since. She also reports that he just feels softer when riding in general. This was a case of a horse that could easily change eyes eliminating that common cause of sitting back. He just had a disconnect that had been covered up by training, which had its outlet in this behavior. He just needed to go back to kindergarten in order for both of us to figure out and solve the problem. (BTW my favorite TV show is "House".) Tom used to say that sometimes all a rank horse needs is to be petted with sincere affection... I have since learned that the trainer/owner that had owned the horse prior to my client had dealt with this problem by hobbling the horse for as much as five hours at a time to "cure" his agitated behavior. And then trained the heck out of him.
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Posted on Nov 19, 2008 at 06:45 AM Total posts: 69
It sounds like you're very good at figuring things out and offering up the changes to her. Now think about what you did to accomplish the former issue... What could you do to make the movement when tied just "very slightly" unpleasant? A hint: you can't be standing next to her whatever you come up with.
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Posted on Nov 19, 2008 at 04:58 AM Total posts: 353
That is a good question Country. I am not sure if this has anything to do with your horses sight. Only a vet would be able to tell you that. In the meantime, this situation is not as uncommon as some might believe. Some horses do respond to the theory of "keeping them moving" when they are not doing what we want, while others get worse. It really seems to depend on how nervous the horse is. Often this comes from horses that are herd bound or experiencing separation anxiety. A nervous horse will be on its "tip toes" and dance frantically. These horses tend to get worse (screaming, kicking, pulling) until they understand what is going on...in the meantime this can be a dangerous situation for the horse and who ever is around it. The horse tends to be "out of its body" and is not focused on the person. This is when accidents happen. Some horses can find a way past this, others never do... I would suggest that you slow everything you do with her down. Practice tying her somewhere else that is safer until she will stand flat footed. Make sure you have a break free type of halter. The nylon ones will not break, but her neck will. As to the trailer, a hay bag might help so she can eat and create that lip licking response you are looking for. Maybe. It might take her a long time before she feels comfortable standing with her feet flat and being relaxed. I would suggest having another calm horse near her while you are practicing the trailer training.

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