Monday, August 31, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means To Me

A while ago a reader (was it redsmom?) wrote in and asked about getting her dull and willful horse to side pass. I encouraged her to loosen up her horse and increase her responsiveness before trying to teach the maneuver.

Anon wrote in asking about a few solid tips for her dull and willful horse who wouldn't move forward.

I also was asked about giving a needle shy horse a shot.

All of these questions are rooted with the same weed. Disrespect.

Disrespect from my horse doesn't have to be attempting to bite or throwing a kick. It can be as subtle as leaning into me enough to back me up a step. Or crowding towards me in order to move me when I'm talking to somebody else. The one I love is when they wait until I'm answering my cell phone. As soon as I'm focused on my conversation the little scamps will try to graze, or pick a fight with another horse....all signs of disrespect.

That being said, we'll work with anon and the horse she's training herself first. This all connects by the way. Her colt won't go forward on the longe line, or in the round pen, without lots of effort from anon. He's sulky and tunes her out quickly with every new approach.

What I read told me her colt doesn't work because he doesn't have to. He's behaving a lot like my teen age daughter.

Our horses don't get to behave like teenagers. They're to big and powerful.

I would take a colt like this, put him in the round pen first and make a few rules very, very clear.

We're going to the old one, two, three method here.I would ask him to move out around me. I point or wave my hand at the hindquarters and expect him to move away and out. Now.

So my first cue is my hand wave.

When he ignores me I'm going to cluck and tap him with my longe whip.

When he ignores that I'm going to crouch down a little, stare right at his haunches (think charging mountain lion) and yell "Hey! Git!" Then I'm going to run after him and smack the crap out of him with that longe whip until he is blowing around that round pen with his eyes bugged out.

When he starts running with the appropriate AAAAAHHHH look on his face, I'll stand up in the middle, relax, not look at him and wait for him to stop.

If he tries to come in at me, either leaning with his shoulder or begging for a pet I will repeat the "Hey Git!" step.

He will get the same treatment with a lot more screaming and chasing for throwing a kick BTW. For kicking at the whip I will make him change directions several times too. I do this by stepping towards his shoulder and wacking the whip on the ground in front of him.

When he finally stops running and is politely waiting for instruction while standing at the fence, I will walk towards him and give him a friendly rub, first with my hand, then with the whip. I want it clear that it's me he needs to worry about, not the whip.

Then I walk away and offer the same gentle wave of my hand cue, then, if needed, the cluck and gentle tap cue, then all hell breaks loose if I go to three.

I do this for as long as it takes to have my little darling WTC in the pen or on the longe for as long as I want and in the gait I choose.

You don't have to use my cues, just make sure there's a dramatic difference between cue one, two and three. And I'm serious, there needs to be whacking if you get to step three. The horse needs to understand step three stings. A lot.

This will clear up lots of miscommunication between me and my colt. Yours too.

Keep in mind, this is not cruel. It's to the point.
Your horse won't hate you. As a matter of fact, he'll be friendlier.

The biggest point I need to make here is this one, if your horse doesn't know step three is a consequence he won't ever listen to you. In his mind he has already decided he can ignore you.
You need to get his attention.

On to the sidepass. I’m going to assume Redsmom? has been working on loosening up her mare, Queenie, and we can now get into the side pass.
When I start a young horse I make sure I have a healthy amount of forward, I know she’ll follow my hand with her nose and then her feet and I can get a relaxed turn on the forehand before I start my lateral work. I usually have a rudimentary half pass too.
When my horse does a side pass she moves directly sideways in response to my leg and hand.
I used to teach them to sidepass on the fence first, then in front and across poles, then in front and across a line of hay bales.
Now I teach them along a fence and then start opening and closing gates. I have found that opening and closing gates makes sense to a horse and she will clean up the sidepass quickly.
I face my horse to the arena fence. I have her positioned so her nose is about two feet away from the fence.
I have a relaxed hold on my reins but have enough of a hold to keep her facing the fence.
At first I break the maneuver down. I ask my horse to move her hips over to the left by holding steady on the reins and lightly bumping with my right leg about 6 inches behind my cinch.
When she moves a couple of steps I hesitate, let her relax, then ask her to line her shoulders back up with her hindquarters. I do this by lightly bumping at the cinch with my right leg and holding my reins with enough pressure to keep her facing the fence.
My inside (left) leg is relaxed and neutral.
If my horse steps forward I immediately back her into position again, hesitate and start over.
I’m patient.
I move her down the fence both ways, hips, shoulders, hips, shoulders. About ten steps each way.
Once my filly is comfortable with this maneuver I trot or lope around the arena a few times to loosen everybody up.
Then I’m back to the fence. I will ask my horse to move sideways to the left by bumping her hip with my right leg like I did at first, but I will take hold of my outside (right) rein, keep my inside (left) rein open and my inside leg (left) open.
There’s usually a little confusion, but I only ask for a couple of steps each way at first. If my horse steps forward I immediately back him into position again, hesitate and start over.
When my colt can sidepass down the fence line 10 or 15 steps each way (after several days) I start on gates.

Now let's talk about a horse being needle shy. First, Baloney. Horses aren't needle shy, they're telling you how you get to handle them. Which comes down to who's in charge, or disrespect.

We have to do things to our horses they don't like. To keep us and our horses safe they have to behave when we need to make them uncomfortable.

Shots are a basic requirement. I will give my horse a chance to be good.

I don't have him tied, I hold the lead rope in one hand, then I can follow as we move around.I will pound with my fist the area I'm going to stick. Whack Whack, Whack. If my horse is moving away I just follow, tugging my lead rope so we stay in a circle. Whack, whack, whack. When he stops moving, so do I. When he will stand and tolerate the thumping, I'll whack, whack whack and stick the needle in.

If he moves away I just go with.

I have also had a helper grab a roll of skin on the opposite side of my horse's neck. This often distracts them enough to get the shot.

All of this stuff will only work if your horse has the manners to not crowd, stomp or mash you. If he wants to do those things a little schooling is probably in order.

I'm going away now, I have to work on the next Sonita post. Stay tuned.


kel said...

Great topics.

Mugs when you say you let them relax between tries at side passing, what rule of thumb do you use to decide when they have relaxed. We had an interesting conversation the other night at a lesson. The trainer gave us a task to do and said when the horse did as he was ask, stop and sit, let him think about what he did, wait for him to exhale deeply or lick and chew. She felt that from the time you stopped to the time it took him to exhale or lick and chew was the time frame that it took him to absorb what he had just done and become relaxed. I have heard this before but always about relaxing, never about learning. Your thoughts?

Most all my horses are good citizens. They respect humans and want to be with you. I do however have one mare that can be a handful. It is a respect issue that she came with. She crowds your space, will step on your feet, hit you in the head with her head, etc. She came to me this way and I just hate working around her. The worst is when you have to worm her. She hates it. She gets a lesson in respect everytime that I have to worm her. She just becomes the most unruly bitch ever. And it is just worming. Not giving her shots, not shoeing her, most of the time she behaves for the normal day to day procedures, but dang, worming is where she comes undone. I used to take my time, work her in the round pen, yield her hind quarters around, make her go forward anything I could think of to get her to think and become more submissive, but it was a complete waste of time. What I do now is give her one chance to behave and if she starts in (throwing her head and rearing), I grap her ear or nose with a death hold, twist it with everyting I have and dose her. It takes all of about 2 minutes and no one gets hurt. I always give her the opportunity to be good but after 6 years and not one time has she offered to give it up, I am not sure she gets it. Maybe she just thinks this is the program. Maybe she thinks that the wormer is what is grabbing her ear or nose, I don't know.

Shanster said...

Seems like most every issue comes down to respect huh?

Do you feel like a broken record telling us that our horses don't respect us? :) I get it, I just don't always see it til someone with more experience points it out and then I go - ohhhhh. (lightbulb moment)

Also seems like us lesser experienced people don't go far enough... we start with the right idea but then stop too soon which probably makes things a lot harder in the long run, since the horse learns if I do x long enough, they get their way!

It's all very interesting and if it were easy, a lot more people would be doing it! :) Thanks for keeping us in line Mugs - can you see me chewing and licking?

Cheers - Shanster

mugwump said...

Hey Kel - Or she just hates the taste of wormer. I'd handle her just like you are. I have practiced with horses like this and shot syringes of water in their mouth, over and over and over until they were too tired to fight. Then I wormed and then did two or three syringes of water. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes not. I always got really wet.
When I say relax I mean I want them to drop their head, cock a hip,relax the back, lick and chew or any one of the above.
I have had tight jawed horses who won't lick and chew when I'm on them and I have had horses lick and chew because they are upset, trying to be submissive or use it as a trained response. So I don't count on any one factor. Personally I can tell if my horse is relaxed, can't you?

mugwump said...

Shanster-Do you mean it or is it just a trained response?
It's funny, I have had students and clients call me a, well, a Nazi with my horses.
But my horses are all relaxed, calm and cheerful. They trust me.
I'm consistant. I think that's the best description of myself as a trainer I can come up with.

Anonymous said...

Mug - Do you free longe? If so, any particular reason why?

Kel - I have a horse with an abusive history who was a terror to worm. One day I had the bright idea to try it from the off side. He was prefect.

mugwump said...

Anon -Depends on the setup I have available.
Working them in a round pen has the advantage of getting the horse to work with me instead because of my rope.
But I still teach them to work on a longe line anyway.

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

I'm going to work on sidepassing this week. Should be interesting.

I get disrespect from my mare when I give the cue to canter from the trot. I get it - she would rather trot at top speed, she's not built especially well to canter, but darn it - she will canter. I'm wondering how much is a respect issue and how much is a training/my riding issue. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have.

We've had problems cantering and I've used your methods in previous posts with great success. She now will canter under saddle, but is ungrateful about it. I set her up with my legs and then kiss (stage 1). She swings her neck around and gives me mare ears. I immediately drive her forward and get that canter NOW (stage 2). I haven't had to go to stage 3 for a while which is a good wack on the rump, going holy hell on her etc. Maybe my stage 2 should involve a crop?

If I do go to stage 3 or a strong stage 2, I have to remember to keep my weight back and not have any pressure on her mouth, otherwise she bucks. She also bucks at the canter if my balance gets off too much (to side for example). This makes me think that some of the issues are training - maybe she's travelling heavy in the front and it's hard to transfer weight to the hindend in preperation for cantering? Maybe she's unbalenaced enough at cantering that any unbalance on my part makes her totally lose it?

I find that doing lots of halt-trot-halt-trot transitions before aking for a canter improves my trot-canter transitions.

Any ideas what could be going on? I'ma confident rider and she bucks "cute" - I'm not going any where. It's more of telling me somethings wrong - my weight was wrong, my hands were wrong, or a asked wrong. She isn't bucking *just* because I'm asking for a canter. The mare ears/pissiness when I do ask for a canter irritates me though.

She's a fit horse (100 mile endurance horse) who seems perfectly sound, the saddle fits etc.

mugwump said...

BootsandSaddles- I would not change my stages. The horses get to count on the consistancy of them. I think it's a matter of practice, practice, practice. When I lope a stinky horse I release all cues once they are motoring along, but expect them to hold the lope for as long as I want. Average 10 to 15 minutes on each lead once they are conditioned.
They learn I'm prety easy to get along with iff they will just go- and they usually do.

badges blues N jazz said...

i KNOW THIS has probably already been asked but: I plan on starting my colt in January with lunging, driving etc. He will be 18 months old. How long should our work periods be? Thanks!

mugwump said...

badges-I'm no help. I don't start any of that stuff until I'm ready to ride, at around three. 36 months.

mugwump said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mugwump said...

Badges - I take that back. My daughter is going to put the first few rides on my colt this fall. He'll be two and a half.
We'll get him to accept the saddle, then a rider. He will be longed or worked in the round pen long enough to get him used to the saddle.
So probably two to three 15 minute sessions.
Then Kidlette will get on. She'll let him walk around the first day. He'll walk trot and maybe lope the next ride. Then we'll ride him twice a week for 30 days.Each ride will last about 15 to 20 minutes.
He'll know his leads, go left and right and stop off our seat.
Then I'll take him back to pasture until next spring.He'll really start with school then.

Winter Storm Ranch said...

My mare is ridiculous when it comes to shots. She freaks out like a moron and has no reason for it. Once you get her calm enough she tightens every inch of her skin and you can't get the needle in. She bent 3 needles last year. We were able to get west Nile and 5 way in her but that was it. Next year it's off to the vets were they can get her in the stocks and give her a mild sedation. She over reacts to other thing, when I bring out the fly spray all hell breaks loose for the first 5 minutes. I am not nice about this and people have told me that I need to work with her more. They just don't understand I have been fly spraying the idiot for 2 years. I spray and any reaction out of her she gets backed very aggressively and hollered at. It takes about three attempts then she licks her lips and cocks her back leg. Talk about making an ass off me. This mare only had 60 days of training when I started working with her and it was all abuse. I gained her trust and now it is time to lay down the law. If I ever had to sell her she would never go to a submissive owner because she would walk over the top of them.


Tansy said...

This post is very useful! I'm about to start getting my horse fit again for summer (in the southern hemisphere) and he's both lazy and disrespectful. I'm not a dominant person, and the woman who's been looking after him isn't either. This is something I'm going to have to work on. He walked all over his previous owner too, so it should be interesting. My First problem is, as you say, making him move. He would much prefer to stand still, and one of the reasons I bought this horse is because NOTHING freaks him out. He will stand in the middle of the beach with cars racing round him, throwing up sand and honking horns, and cock a back leg. Also over winter he's decided he likes his paddock mate too much to leave. So. We have work to do and your three steps will come in handy I'm sure!

cdncowgirl said...

"Keep in mind, this is not cruel. It's to the point.
Your horse won't hate you. As a matter of fact, he'll be friendlier"
I LOVE this statement. It basically says what I heard a long time ago and have usually found true. That (most) horses don't want to be 'Boss Hoss' they would much rather someone (human or horse) take over that leadership role. However because horses NEED a clear leader they will step up and be that leader if they think there isn't one (ie an owner who lets his/her horse get too pushy is NOT a leader)

Sorry if that seems a bit muddles, its almost 2 am here :)

Diane I. said...

It took me quite a long time to realize that being mugged for treats, crowded in the corral and other such behavior was not *cute* or meant that my horses loved was rude and dangerous. Once I taught them to respect my space, it was an easy step to get after my new TWH mare, after she cowkicked me not once, but twice.
A few days and several come-to-Jesus meetings with Mr. Dressage Whip.....the minute I speak her name, she whirls to face me.

I like that.

Worming. Every horse but one will worm with no problem. And then there is 2Sox, my old arab mare. She hates wormer, has always hated wormer....and probably always will. It got to the point where I knew one of us was going to get hurt, and I was pretty sure it would NOT be her. How can such a sweet old lady, who stands for the vet....who adores the farrier.....turn into such a raging bitch when she sees me coming with a tube of wormer????

I wimped out. I bought an Easy Wormer. I know, it's a gimmick...but I really was deperate. It's worth 10X what I paid for it. No muss, no fuss.....apparently putting a *bit* in her mouth that tastes of wormer doesn't bother her. She can't spit it out....she doesn't even try. It's been a lifesaver (mine).

kel said...

Mugs.. I do feel my horses relax and every one is different. My reining horse is very willing (sometimes to willing), a fast learner who is extremely athletic. He is also very easy to read. Kind of wears his heart on his sleeve. Great combo but when he doesn't get something he is a bundle of nerves and his answer to the situation is to add speed. I will push him through whatever it is he is struggling with and then let him stop and relax. When we stop, he will do a combo of drop his head, take a deep breath/exhale, lick and chew, shake his whole body. I hate the whole body shakes. He does it often and it makes him feel better - so be it!

What the trainer was saying is that the time it takes between stopping and then relaxing is the length of time it takes them to learn or absorb what they did.

mugwump said...

Winterstorm Ranch - I understand your frustration. Maybe you could try one more thing.
Pick a hot day.
Plan on spending the whole afternoon if you need to.
Fill a spray bottle with water.
Hold one end of the leadrope in one hand and the bottle in the other.
Then proceed to spray your mare.
She'll freak and try to leave, just go with her, spraying all the way.
The second she hesitates, stop spraying and look away from her.
No kind words, she doesn't deserve them, but don't get after her either.
Let both of you have a minute to think, air up and refill the spray bottle.
Then spray again.
Stop spraying the second she stands still or hesitates.
Keep it up until she stops jumping around.
Then spray a few sprays, rest, spray a few sprays, rest.
I'm about 99% sure you can get her this way.
Her issues are there because someone put them there (not you) but usually these things come from a sensitive nature. Your mare has never been able to figure out fly spray = no flies, which is when they usually learn to stand still.
Instead, she equates fly spray with getting yelled at and yanked back.
So by ignoring her spazzy behavior and simplt spraying until she stands still, she'll have a chance to sort things out.
It will spill over to her trusting you enough to do other things to her.

mugwump said...


Half Dozen Farm said...

Hi Mugs:

Just wanted to give you a quick update on my TB mare that was bucking on right lead lope departs.
I ended up working her on the lungeline and doing lots of transitions. When she bucked or crossfired, she got to run like a bat out of hell around the pen. When she did a nice transition and loped quietly she got left alone and got to quit loping quicker. During my next lesson, she loped under saddle both directions very quiet, very collected and very soft! She's still dropping her shoulder a tad, but I decided to pick my battles and just leave her alone for now. YAY!!! Thanks so much for your help and advice!

mugwump said...

Woo hoo Half Dozen!

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

Hey mug - wanted to give you a little update.

I went to my first lesson last night (whoohoo!). I trotted and walked both directions and then the trainer asked me to canter....and she did pick up the correct lead both directions no fuss at all (whew!). The trainer said "I can see where that's uncomfortable to ride". Yep. Apparently she's stepping through nicely at a walk, not so much at a trot, and at a lope/canter she's so strung out, her hind and front may well by in different counties. So she was fussying because she isn't balanced, it was hard for her, and kept asking her to do it over and over and over.....I'm going to stick to the walk and trot for now and encourage roundness, stepping through etc. with just enough loping during the warm up to make sure she remembers the leads. Then after a quality trot I'll start working on the canter. She's built light in the hind end and I think she just needs a little work to strengthen in and encourage her to "get under herself". Whoohoo! So happy that it something more serious. Just a typical horse/rider combo that hasn't had any formal training. I'm excited to see what impact dressage is going to have on our endurance riding.

Cassandra said...

I'm just offering this as an alternative to the whack-whack-stab method of giving shots. I used to do the whack-whack-stab method with my mare and found that each time she had to get a shot she was was worse than the last time. She would panic, no matter how much I persisted. She is a smart and sensitive mare and started reacting at the first whack. Shots HURT.

Instead, I do this:
I make sure my horse is standing calmly. She already respects me on the ground (moving off of pressure from just pointing at her, or giving a light touch, stays of of my space, etc. etc.). I (gently) pick up a piece of skin in the "shot zone" of the of the neck. This numbs the area and distracts her from the needle. I then slowly (no stabbing) insert the needle directly into the muscle (make sure it is into the muscle and not the skin flap). Praise if they did well. And voila! No more needle drama. Sometimes cookies help too, as a distraction. Just make sure not to give them when they are being naughty! I know Mugwump doesn't like giving treats but sometimes it really does help. ;)

Joy said...

I wholeheartedly agree with every word of this post. My horse got injured and I nursed him for a while (over a year) and got very lax with him. Once he was feeling better, I was terrified of him. We have since worked through all of this, but the butt head trys me every single day. Sometimes its just an attempt to rub his head on me (SO RUDE) and other days, he may move his feet into my space once I've let him know that he must stand. He's so much happier when I'm "crabby" and make him behave. And he's so much more fun to be around and ride as well.

They try us from the moment we step into their stall/pasture etc.

Liked this a lot!

Winter Storm Ranch said...

Mugs- thanks for the wonderful tip but we have done that. Actually on several occasions and she will act like a moron for a bit then stop and stand there. I just got sick of wasting the time. It just came down to you will knock your **** off and I mean now. You should see her with a damn hose its the same thing.

Thanks for the advice I love your post keep it up. I think I can learn a lot from you and everyone on here.


anon #2 said...

Thanks Mugwump, i figured it would be something like that.

Cant wait till the next Sonita post!

Anonymous said...

Although I loved this post, I can't help chanting "I want Sonita!" until you finish that story!
I am currently a student and horseless in my city (I have access to about four horses of varying quality when I'm home, but that's not frequent), so your stories keep my horse fever to a minimum.

Can't Wait!

autumnblaze said...

Cassandra/mugs - I know mugs doesn't condone treats but I wanted to offer this story about a horse and shots I read somewhere when I was still workign as a vet tech.

The horse was insanely dangerous to himself and humans over shots. Full on panic. They tried the method mugs suggested, twitching, stud chain etc etc. and nothing worked. Hired trainers to work with the horse to have no improvement.

What worked?

One day the lady was out at the barn, in a hurry, brought her PB and J sandwhich and was eating it I guess as she grabbed her horse. He was intrigued. She gave him a bite and the happiest look ever crossed his face.

It was near shot time and she just happened to have the idea to try bites of PB & J when the vet came. I don't think she was a treat person either and hated trying this but was sort of at her wits end.

Lo and behold, he stood like a stone while being fed PB & J sandwhich bites for the shots. She said the rest of his life she had to do this - if she didn't have them he'd revert back to beign insane. Angel if he got his PB & J sandwhiches. It was the only time he got those treats.

I think the vet wrote the story because it was sucha peculiar 'fix' to the situation. Holding hundreds of horses for shots myself, it stuck with me cuz it cracked me up. Funny creatures are horses.

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

FWIW - both my horses responded very well to the pinch and prick method. My standardbred was off the track and knew what was up as soon as I stepped up with the needle. The whack whack technique just made her more tense. When I pinch I hold it and wiggle it for a moment, then stick the needle in.

The downside of the pinch technique is that it requires two hands to do. I've been in situations where I needed a firm hold on the horses head, so I used the whack whack method. It's also difficult to do if you're giving an injection in the thigh etc. It works best on the neck.

Disclaimer - I'm neither a vet nor a trainer nor even a particularly intellegent person. This study was done using a redicously small sample size and therefore probably means nothing. Thank you.

Juli said...

Ugh. I wish I could get a friend to read this blog post, and actually take it to heart. I keep my horse with her, and she is quite the permissive horse owner. I am not the permissive horse owner. It's becoming an issue because I feed the horses more often than not, and her mares are pushy, rude, and in some in instances downright dangerous.

Case in point, feeding the 26 yr old crabby old bat horse who isn't too bad in the pushy department and the 7 year old appy/tb cross who is the dangerous one. 7 yr old attempts to get her dinner faster than I am putting it down, I shoo her away, so she turns and fires a leg at me. I reacted quite explosively to this little manuever, and it involved chasing the 7 year old around the pasture for a couple of minutes screaming like a banshee and whacking her repeatedly with the feed bucket. 7 year old's mom informes me that the correct response to being kicked at would have been to just ignore it and continue on with what I was doing. Um.... No.

So, I comprimised. I now drop the feed buckets over the fence, and if horse mom wants to get kicked, run over, mugged, or otherwise stomped, that's her perogative. I'm not doing it.

In the mean time, I have been told I'm too hard on my colt. He's not allowed to graze if he is attached in any way to a human. He has to stand quietly when I say stand quietly. I expect him to stand tied for as long as I want. He's not allowed to buck, kick, do the snakey head thing, or anything like that when under saddle. Ever. Period. The consequences of doing these things involves a lot of running at a high rate of speed with mom chasing you with a lunge whip. Or being whapped with the lunge whip, which results in running at a high rate of speed. Either way.

It's just funny, because according to her, I'm too hard on my colt. Two sentences later, I get told it's nice to work with a horse that has such pleasant manners. I just have to shake my head.

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks Mugs! I am sure your bareback riding would work out just perfect!

Isn't it with horses as with many other things - you get what you expect?
If you get to work just in a matter-of-fact way and you expect the horse to behave, they most often do.
But if we expect trouble, the horse picks it up as on radar. Red alert, somethings scary is coming up!
And you get trouble.

autumnblaze said...

I should also point out after my little 'treat' story I don't take any crap - espeically on the ground from my boy. The barn owners not even 5 year old son can lead him in (I only worry Gator my accidentally step on him). I convinced him, a horse who DESPISED and had nearly killed dogs before, that because I said so he had to tolerate my labX. Guess who came to love the lab - especially when trailing? Yup. You have to have boundaries when they outweigh and are that much stronger than you. Period. The End. Great post mugs!!!

mugwump said...

Only one more comment on the giving shots techniques. Or fly spray or whatever.
It all comes down to timing and patience.
I don't bribe.
I don't beat.
I just gave rabies shots to nine horses. I walked into their pens or out in the pasture and gave them their shots. Fly sprayed them too.
No halters.
No treats.
4 of them weren't mine.
I had trained 3 of the 4.
Now could I have given 2 shots without a halter? Probably not.
But none of them even walked off when I was done.
Just saying.

HorseOfCourse said...

...which is a very good example of expecting them to behave, which they consequently did - though I am not sure all horses would have accepted shots without even a halter!

Cassandra said...

I'm not saying my way is the only way to do it, but not all horses are the same and I have a less stressed out horse as a result.

mlks said...

Re: vaxing.

For whatever reason, my teenaged gelding, who had always been a breeze to vax, wigged out hardcore when the vet tried to do an intranasal live strangles vax on him for the first time. He wigged to the point where he picked up two of us--two of us who subscribe to the Mugwump school of consistency and respect and "stay the hell out of my space, stand up, and behave when I'm talking to you" when handling the horses--and carried us 20 yards before we could get him settled again.

To say that his annual vaccination experience that year was a rout is quite the understatement.

This year my trainer and I did him ourselves, with the rest of her horses, out in the pasture.

He started to melt down again when he realized it was vax time once again, but we had all the space and all the time in the world, so it was not as big a deal. Once we got the first neck shot in he just...stopped. Sighed. Settled.

And stood like a rock for the other four pokes.

I don't know what happened that day when he freaked out for the vet, but I do know that I will be doing him myself or having my trainer do him for the rest of his shot-life.

And that I hope they never discontinue carrying strangles vaxes in IM form.

It's terrifying when they cross the boundary from being little disrespectful shits to being genuinely panicked.

Another great post, Mugwump. Thanks for writing them!

anniebanannie said...

I do treats against all advice to the contrary. I guess I'm a contrarian.

BUT and this is a big one, my horses do not bug or search for treats. They are ONLY allowed to reach for my hand if I offer it open and palm up. Any other time they get wholloped hard.

I have been recently vindicated as studies indicate that horses learn faster if given treats.

HorseOfCourse said...

anniebanannie- I use treats when I train too.
I believe there is a difference between giving them treats at all times where they don't have to work for it, or using it as a tool to reward a desired behaviour.
I feel that using it in a structured manner helps me to - as you say - speed up the learning process.
My horses still have to behave!

mugwump said...

oh anniebanannie- I work for a newspaper now. What studies? Who ran them, What were the intended results? Were the treats food, or , the treats I use, rest and release?
Want to get me going? Say studies show... or they said... without the who, what, when, where and why behind the comment.

Horseartist said...

Thanks for this post. I made me realize that my guy and I were getting lazy...

Maddywithay said...

Ok mugs I have a question for you... I'm starting a 7 year old ex-stallion for a friend, and it appears he is a rearer... The worst kind of rearer you can get. I had NO contact with his mouth and asked him to go forward, nicely, then with a big ole thunk to the sides (he knows what leg means)he went all the way up... Not even the warning pop then going all the way up, straight to throwing himself in the air, no balance, no nothing. Needless to say it was a bit scary, I can't stand rearing horses, especially ones that dont think and balance themselves... He came down and got a good solid spinning accompanied by whacking with a crop. He didn't try going up again for the rest of the session, just a few nasty bucks met with discipline and then he cut it out. My question for you is, how can I better handle this behavior and prevent it while still being firm and making him do as he is asked? He has a novice owner and I'm afraid this behavior will reappear down the road and cause both of them to be seriously hurt.

mugwump said...

Maddy - AAAAAHHH! Green owner? Rearing horse? AAAAAHHHHH!!!! I can only give you minimal advice on this. I would need to be there to truly help and I don't want to get anyone hurt.
When horses rear they lose their forward.
The hind feet lock. So when the rider cues with both legs the direction left to the horse is staraight up.
I work on rearing by getting control of each part of the horse, especially the hind legs. Lots of lateral work, turns on the forhand, side pass.
I also work hard on getting the horse to give his rib and his shoulders.
You can do a lot of this on the ground at first.
I warm the horse up on the longe line first, then take him through the ground maneuvers I've taught him.
Then I get on the horse and immediately get the hindquarters working. Turn on the forhand first, then half pass and diagonal work. The thought being, loosen, loosen, loosen,more than forward.
Then I beg the owner to sell this horse and get something they can ride.
Be very careful.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

The VLC hated learning to sidepass. He is big and young and not exactly catty and it did not come easy to him.

My trainer threw spurs on, for the very first time.

He sidepasses now, and does not need spurs to do so. Problem solved. As you say, respect.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Oh, Maddy, that is so NOT the horse for the novice favor you could do for her is to convince her to let you put a few months on him then sell him and get herself a nice horse with lots of mileage and experience on it.

You might save her life. Seriously.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

A tip on shots:

Cover the horse's eye on the side you are going to give the shot. Take your closed fist and rap, rap, rap a few times firmly but not hard enough to feel like discipline (amount of pressure that doesn't hurt you in the least when you do it to yourself). Then the shot.

99% of the time I find this works. If they cannot see what I am doing, they do not have a hissy fit. The rapping desensitizes them for the prick of the needle.

mugwump said...

Thank you for that Fugs.

Cassandra said...

I have used the eye covering with success as well. Unfortunately my horse was not desensitized by the whaps but came to realize that whap meant POKE! Maybe it's the overly intelligent (and sometimes overly drama!) Arab...

Anonymous said...

Fugs and mugs, I totally agree. This is not the right horse for her and I pretty much knew it the moment he set foot on the property. Luckily I think she has decided to sell him after he's had some training put into him. Thanks for the advice :]

anniebanannie said...

Mugwump it was a paraphrased article in that online equine mag... Crap I forget the name now... could it be The Horse? Yeah, I think that was it.

Anyway, as an ex-scientist I don't usually NOT make a reference. However, if I remember the gist of the article, they were testing the learning time based for horses given treats versus not. Not only did horses learn the behavior faster with treats but they were more likely to repeat the behaviors faster after time off.

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