Basic training for mini gelding

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NoahG

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Hello Everyone,
I have had Winston and Aggie for nearly an entire year, and a large portion of that time has been spent loving on them and letting them know they're safe and can enjoy being horses. Now that Winston has put on a healthy amount of weight and gotten stronger, I have recently found him to be incredibly... 'independent' we shall say. When we go for walks he'll lunge ahead, tugging with everything he's got, or he'll plant his feet and refuse to move. This is more an annoyance than anything for me. I'm 6' and 210 pounds so he's not got much of or any advantage on me. I defiantly want him to work on behavior though if he's ever with little kids.

It is just my personal opinion but I will not train my minis with any methods that involve striking, yanking, or screaming at my minis. I want to teach Winston just basic instructions to follow me, without needing excessive force or punishment. I know there's the whole argument of 'but horses kick and bite each other in the wild' but I am not a horse, I am their human. I want them to know and trust me, and I am hoping to go about Winston's training as gently as possible. I had someone watch him while I was gone and they explained that you needed force and dominance to get them to cooperate. It took months for him to stop wincing and shying from the lead rope if it accidentally came out of my hand or swung. Sorry if this sounds like a bit of a rant. Any help is greatly appreciated.
 
I completely recommend reading Connection Training by Hannah Weston! You can purchase the book for like $12 on Kindle and it comes with links to free YouTube videos that go along with the content. That book completely forever changed how I train horses when I read it four years ago, and is how I became a force free, positive reinforcement trainer. 💕🐴 I wish you the best! Please let me know if you have any questions. I would love to help out in anyway that I can, and have tons of force free resources to recommend if you would like more.
 
I would first get him use to a whip, not to “strike” him but to be used as an extension of your arm. If my horses lunge forward or tug with everything they got, I would do one of two things depending on their energy and their force.

Option one: I would simply let them continue and turn their energy into a lunging session. I would plant my feet and have them lunge around me. I use a whip when I lunge. The position of my whip helps me cue them as to whether I want a walk, trot, or canter.

Option two: if I were able to stop them, then I would back them up several steps. Ask them to walk forward and if they lunge forward again, then I would stop them and back them again. And continue and repeat.

If my horse plants his feet and refuses to walk, I would tap him with my whip to get him to move forward. I would test his sensitivity, a light tap might be all it takes depending on the horse. My horse Breezy responds to a light tap whereas my Stormy needs a good smack.
 
I would also remind you that the horse has its own language and social dynamic. The horse can't look at you and understand you're its Human, as it's unfair of us to anthropomorphize a horse to human behaviors. Whatever you choice for training is, it needs to be understandable for the animal. All they know is herd dynamics and, if you're not the leader, they have to be. I am not at all saying you need to "show who's boss" and beat them. I'm saying, you may have better luck with an independent horse by demonstrating your leadership and problem solving. For example, opening a gate, or directing the horse through problem solving. Once they start looking to you for problem solving or direction, they will respect your leadership more, and even relax more in your presence.
Remember, the alpha mare does not walk around anyone. She walks from point A to B and the herd moves out of her way. That is her unspoken communication and respect from the herd. The Alpha mare does not beat everyone in the herd up, she simply doesn't tolerate disrespect.

Anyways, that's all nice fluff and puff. I hope you find the result you're looking for with a method that feels good to you.
 
Wow. I understand not wanting to use force. As I have learned myself it never works with my mini. Their have been times I have lost it. And I jerk the lead or try to force her to do something 😔. Never works… I don’t really do that anymore but their is the occasional time of weakness. But then I tell myself to quit doing that and pretend those frustration feelings don’t exist. That usually works. Now I am calmer and more confident most of the time around my mini ( I’m always learning though) I hope you do a great job teaching your mini! Since you already don’t want to make those mistakes.
With time and patience and good training your mini will be the best to you!

I really like this saying “ it takes years to make a great horse” Hope you and your horse have a amazing journey together 😊
 
I completely recommend reading Connection Training by Hannah Weston! You can purchase the book for like $12 on Kindle and it comes with links to free YouTube videos that go along with the content. That book completely forever changed how I train horses when I read it four years ago, and is how I became a force free, positive reinforcement trainer. 💕🐴 I wish you the best! Please let me know if you have any questions. I would love to help out in anyway that I can, and have tons of force free resources to recommend if you would like more.
I'll look into that! Thank you!
 
Substitute the word "wand" or "arm extender" in your mind for the word "whip". Whip has such visceral mental pictures. I like to use a dressage whip from Tractor Supply or Attwoods. It is a good length and ergonomic for me. You can buy a wand from Parrelli.
I cannot reach a horse's chest or shoulder to ask him to move out of my space with my hand, but my arm extender works well for that. Just an idea.
I was where you are 20 years ago with my headstrong stallion (soon gelding). He is still headstrong 20 years later, but he respects my arm extender.
 
Since you don't want to yank, how do you feel about them yanking themselves? This is already happening on your walks.
You should teach him to lunge. Since you say his yanking is an annoyance, and I assume that it cannot pull you off your feet, then just stand your ground.
10-15ft line, send him out or if not possible, just walk away or let him walk that distance away. Then ask, tell, demand, with a lunge whip that he move, either to the left or the right, by whipping the ground.
You should not have to hit him, ever. Just be serious, big, loud. Even get near his heels on the ground. Since he likes to zoom off, then he will move. Let him go around, do not let him drag you, let him hit the end/yanking on his terms(you are a fence post, unmoving, not yanking him, that arm does not pull back), and keep going. Ask again. He'll soon get the general idea to move when you say so and it'll become easier.
Alternatively, if you have long, narrow pathways, like a horse track, you can "ground drive" him through. Over time, he'll understand when you ask for movement.
All of this starts respect. And that's what you need to stop him bolting off, doing as he pleases and refusing to move forward.
You could also ask for hip, shoulder movement, backing up, at a stand still, tapping or pressing a crop. Again, you never whip, unless he lunges or kicks at you.
 
"Pressure and Release" will help with those that refuse to go forward. It takes patience. If mini does not want to step forward while being led, put a steady pull on the lead line, not a hard pull, just enough so you have their attention. Now the patience part comes in to play, keep the pressure on the halter until mini offers to step forward, then release the "pressure" on the lead line immediately. The release is the reward (along with a pat) Rinse and repeat. This takes awhile but it's low key. I keep the lessons short, I bet there are some youtube videos out there that explain it visually pretty well. Warrwick Schiller may have some on it or some similar methods.
Backing them up will work too if they decide to plant the feet and not move, as does turning sharply left or right, it gets the mind and the feet "unstuck".
 
Just in case anyone is interested, the Miniature Horse Community group on FB is about to do a free book club with discussions on the Connection Training Book. ❤️ I will be taking part, but won't be able to be live for the discussions due to church. The discussions will be available to view anytime afterwards. 😊
 

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