Daughter's mini horse is difficult to work with

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lmboesze

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My 12 year old daughter recently acquired a 10 year old former brood mare that has only had one previous home, the farm where she was born. We have not owned a horse before, but my daughter has ridden for the past 4 years. The mare nickers when she sees my daughter and is generally more accepting of her than of me. I tend to be the "heavy" when she needs to be held to have something done, so I am not her favorite person and she isn't very trusting of me. She is not a cuddly horse and doesn't like to be pet or groomed. She recently had lice and needed a bath, which required my husband and myself to hose and wash her and she reared and bucked the entire time. She has bitten my daughter 3 times around food, so we took all the treats away, which has helped. We are a little afraid of her and she probably knows that. She tries to push her way out of her stall when she wants to get out, and the other day her foot was caught between the door and the stall. The best we could do was hose her foot and put her on stall rest. We can't get near her foot to feel it or really look at it, but she is putting weight on it and it doesn't appear swollen. It is not a comfortable situation for us to not be able to touch her and be fearful every time we have to do something or want to touch her. We do communicate with her former owner, who is able to offer advice and is a calming influence. My daughter also belongs to 4-H and her leader is a great help to us, however, in this pandemic, she can not come to our house right now. We have looked online for advice, but we were hoping to find some support here. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
 

dalvers63

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It can be very hard when they don't trust you, which is what it appears is this mare's issue. I highly recommend some type of positive reinforcement training. While I have been doing R+ training for awhile, I just recently started with Connection Training and I think it might work for you and your little mare. Spending some time to figure out why she is like this and working with her emotional state can make a big difference. You can find more info on CT from their website. www.connectiontraining.com
 

chandab

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I'm afraid, I'm lousy at putting my ideas into words, I do better with showing.
Kendra Gale has written a book about minis, and writes a blog and I believe does on-line training videos, she is very good and patient. I'll try to find her website address, so I can put it here so you can contact her. I'm not sure if some of her videos are free or if there is a fee for them, but I'll wager they are worth the investment. {I've seen a few self-proclaimed minis trainers that I will not and can not endorse, as their methods are awful. If I recommend, it should be pretty safe.}
Mindy Schroeder puts out a blog that is quite good as well, and has a driving book on the market. [Not sure if I spelled her name right or not.] I'll see if I can get a link to her blog or at least the title of her book.
 

Ryan Johnson

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Welcome to the forum Imboesze.

I am going to be really honest with what I write. I am not meaning to come across as rude or to tell you what to do and by no means am I an expert. I have had horses for 35 years and to this day, Im still learning.

Reading your post above, In my honest opinion, this is not a horse I would let my kids anywhere near as a first pony/horse. She has already bitten your daughter 3 times and I can sense by your post, you are all fearful of her. When a child gets their first pony, it should be one that loves to be doted on, brushed, groomed etc. A first pony needs to be one that is quiet enough that your daughter is able to learn from, not worry if she is going to be bitten or to have to do things in fear around the mare.

If I was in this situation , Id be ringing the former owner and explaining what has been happening. If the previous owner had any conscious , they would clearly understand and worry for your daughters safety & offer to take or purchase the mare back.

Sorry, just my opinion, but this mare is not suitable for your daughter , as first time horse owners.

Ryan
 

Taz

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I'm going to add my two cents about where to go to find help, all the above are good. I send people to warwickschiller.com. He has online video lessons that are very well explained. Go to the 'realtionship path', it's great for developing trust and understanding on both sides. Clicker training(positive reinforcement) is wonderful too.
Good luck and don't give up, you'll all get there.
 
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Imboesze, where are you located? Keep in mind her view point if you can. She has been uprooted from everything and everyone she knew and is trying to find her "fit." I think I would try a natural horsemanship trainer. I still consider myself a beginner with horses, although I have had Welsh Cobb ponies and now 4 minis. My Cobb gelding was aggressive when I first got him and I got really bad advice from a community member, who was thought to be "good" with horses. She was aggressive, which set me back about 6 months. At this point, your mare is the leader. She may be scared and trying to see where she fits in. I like to sit in the paddock often (I'm getting older, so I use a chair), especially if this is a mini. Let her see you, smell you, hear you talk in a smooth, calming voice. I would bring a "carrot stick" and a gentle brush. Even if she never comes near you, she has to get used to you. Claim your space though if there is a challenge, but stand down when she softens. Lunging might be a good idea too. I just got a nice little book called Liberty in Miniature by Pat Elder that describes a lot of this. I am still learning myself and have a very long way to go!I had to stop with the treats. They had come to expect treats every single time someone came near them so when I brought them home I got mugged constantly, bitten and kicked even, if I didn't have them. I don't bring treats in any more and now they come running to me for affection! Keep us informed, will you? It will get better.
 
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I have to agree Ryan Johnson.

But if you want to continue with this horse I highly suggest watch on YouTube Clinton Anderson downunder horsemanship. He has multiple videos on a rescue horse (Palomino mare) and there is also a video he does with a younger girl and her horse. Watch, study, take notes. Horses trust once they respect. Gaining a horses respect is huge!
 

lmboesze

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It can be very hard when they don't trust you, which is what it appears is this mare's issue. I highly recommend some type of positive reinforcement training. While I have been doing R+ training for awhile, I just recently started with Connection Training and I think it might work for you and your little mare. Spending some time to figure out why she is like this and working with her emotional state can make a big difference. You can find more info on CT from their website. www.connectiontraining.com

Thank you so much! I looked up the connections training and recieved their first 4 videos as a free download, so we are going to be looking at those.
 

lmboesze

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Imboesze, where are you located? Keep in mind her view point if you can. She has been uprooted from everything and everyone she knew and is trying to find her "fit." I think I would try a natural horsemanship trainer. I still consider myself a beginner with horses, although I have had Welsh Cobb ponies and now 4 minis. My Cobb gelding was aggressive when I first got him and I got really bad advice from a community member, who was thought to be "good" with horses. She was aggressive, which set me back about 6 months. At this point, your mare is the leader. She may be scared and trying to see where she fits in. I like to sit in the paddock often (I'm getting older, so I use a chair), especially if this is a mini. Let her see you, smell you, hear you talk in a smooth, calming voice. I would bring a "carrot stick" and a gentle brush. Even if she never comes near you, she has to get used to you. Claim your space though if there is a challenge, but stand down when she softens. Lunging might be a good idea too. I just got a nice little book called Liberty in Miniature by Pat Elder that describes a lot of this. I am still learning myself and have a very long way to go!I had to stop with the treats. They had come to expect treats every single time someone came near them so when I brought them home I got mugged constantly, bitten and kicked even, if I didn't have them. I don't bring treats in any more and now they come running to me for affection! Keep us informed, will you? It will get better.

Thank you very much! I really want to give it a shot with her, so I think we will try the connections training videos and look into the suggestions that others have offered. I will keep you posted. Thanks again!
 

lmboesze

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I'm going to add my two cents about where to go to find help, all the above are good. I send people to warwickschiller.com. He has online video lessons that are very well explained. Go to the 'realtionship path', it's great for developing trust and understanding on both sides. Clicker training(positive reinforcement) is wonderful too.
Good luck and don't give up, you'll all get there.
Thank you! We will look into it!
 

lmboesze

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Welcome to the forum Imboesze.

I am going to be really honest with what I write. I am not meaning to come across as rude or to tell you what to do and by no means am I an expert. I have had horses for 35 years and to this day, Im still learning.

Reading your post above, In my honest opinion, this is not a horse I would let my kids anywhere near as a first pony/horse. She has already bitten your daughter 3 times and I can sense by your post, you are all fearful of her. When a child gets their first pony, it should be one that loves to be doted on, brushed, groomed etc. A first pony needs to be one that is quiet enough that your daughter is able to learn from, not worry if she is going to be bitten or to have to do things in fear around the mare.

If I was in this situation , Id be ringing the former owner and explaining what has been happening. If the previous owner had any conscious , they would clearly understand and worry for your daughters safety & offer to take or purchase the mare back.

Sorry, just my opinion, but this mare is not suitable for your daughter , as first time horse owners.

Ryan
Thank you very much! Your advice is greatly appreciated. I feel somewhat the same as you do, and my daughter definitely feels the same way and is heartbroken and barely going through the motions with her pony. I am caught between not wanting to teach her that giving up is okay without trying and the allure of "that first pony love". She was much better when we went to see her at her old barn. She was a 4-H pony for years and was a show jumper and always around children. We are wondering if she was at the bottom of the herd and now sees the chance to assert her independence. The vet made a passing comment about her being a brood mare and that her "attitude" is because of that. It would be so much easier to just give up, but I really would like to give it the "old college try" with some of the suggestions that have been offered. I just don't want to wind up in a similar situation with another pony because we are the ignorant ones and the pony has one over on us.
 

chandab

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The thought crossed my mind, but I did not articulate my thoughts...
She was a broodmare, only had one home, and she's been uprooted; so my first question is... how much time was she given to settle into her new, unfamiliar home, before she was worked with and expected to behave a certain way? A day? A week? A month? Some settle quickly, others do not.
I have two mares that I bought when a bit old, both have different stories and different results, but both kind of fit your scenario...
First mare, I bought as an 8 year old broodmare from her breeder, so she only knew one home, one owner (and her grand daughter that liked the horses). She was a little stand-offish when I met her at the breeder's, but she was ok, did need to be cornered to be caught. It took her a year to decide I was not a pony eating monster; it did not help, as it was the same time I was dealing with a young stallion that also thought I was a pony-eating monster, so he needs came first as he had the potential to be dangerous. She eventually came around to being caught, handled, groomed; but can still sometimes be a bit stand-offish. [I don't have kids, so don't know how she would have handled that.]
Second mare, I bought as a 12 year old broodmare, she'd had a couple owners. Person I bought her from, said she was difficult to catch, but once caught, just fine; which was how she reacted when I went to see her. I had her home for less than a week, and I could walk up and catch her in a small pen, and she was good to work with. Moved to a larger pen with the other mares, some days she proves difficult to catch, but can usually get it done. She settle in much more quickly than the above mare. Only a slight hitch when she foaled, we temporarily lost the trust we had gained during the previous 5 months (I bought her bred); but she came back around fairly quick. [I was going somewhere with all of this, but seem to have lost my train of thought. Main point is that some take more time than others.] If you can find a good trainer close to you that can work with you, that would be helpful; someone that can train you as much as her would be beneficial. [I'm going to close this before I lose it, and really get side tracked.]
 

lmboesze

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lmboesze

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The thought crossed my mind, but I did not articulate my thoughts...
She was a broodmare, only had one home, and she's been uprooted; so my first question is... how much time was she given to settle into her new, unfamiliar home, before she was worked with and expected to behave a certain way? A day? A week? A month? Some settle quickly, others do not.
I have two mares that I bought when a bit old, both have different stories and different results, but both kind of fit your scenario...
First mare, I bought as an 8 year old broodmare from her breeder, so she only knew one home, one owner (and her grand daughter that liked the horses). She was a little stand-offish when I met her at the breeder's, but she was ok, did need to be cornered to be caught. It took her a year to decide I was not a pony eating monster; it did not help, as it was the same time I was dealing with a young stallion that also thought I was a pony-eating monster, so he needs came first as he had the potential to be dangerous. She eventually came around to being caught, handled, groomed; but can still sometimes be a bit stand-offish. [I don't have kids, so don't know how she would have handled that.]
Second mare, I bought as a 12 year old broodmare, she'd had a couple owners. Person I bought her from, said she was difficult to catch, but once caught, just fine; which was how she reacted when I went to see her. I had her home for less than a week, and I could walk up and catch her in a small pen, and she was good to work with. Moved to a larger pen with the other mares, some days she proves difficult to catch, but can usually get it done. She settle in much more quickly than the above mare. Only a slight hitch when she foaled, we temporarily lost the trust we had gained during the previous 5 months (I bought her bred); but she came back around fairly quick. [I was going somewhere with all of this, but seem to have lost my train of thought. Main point is that some take more time than others.] If you can find a good trainer close to you that can work with you, that would be helpful; someone that can train you as much as her would be beneficial. [I'm going to close this before I lose it, and really get side tracked.]
We have had her for almost 3 months. Now we have been home daily with her for about 5 weeks since schools closed for the virus. We have more time to spend with her which is good, but unfortunately, my daughter's 4-H leader who was going to be helping to train us and her can not come to the house now because of the virus. We are going to bulk up on the training videos and sites that have been suggested and see how that will help. I never would have done this without the support of 4-H, but unfortunately, right now because of the virus we don't have that support like we would if we weren't under restrictions. We aren't opposed to selling her back to her former owner, but I would rather try and see how some of these methods work to train us to be better owners before we give up completely.
 

Taz

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Good for you giving it a try. It really sounds like she came to you and was very unsure/scared about being there and with your inexperience she wasn't given enough leadership so took over being in charge(someone always is with horses) but still needs to learn to trust, and let you be in charge. The natural horsesmanship type work is amazing for both horse and person. It's going to take a bit for you to figure it out in the beginning but if you stick with it it REALLY works. With this virus you can't have someone out to help you in person to see where you're having problems(even when you think you've got it normally there are little things that need to be fixed). I think there are enough people here who have experience with it that you can ask if you are having problems or confused about something and hopefully someone can explain it in a way that makes sense. Some of the online courses have video lessons where you send in a video of what you're doing and they give you feedback on it. You might find that a good substitute for having someone there for now. Just remember that if anyone wants you to be aggressive with her walk away. I always tell people to think of their horse when they are afraid as they would a three year old child that doesn't know/trust them and doesn't speak the same language, it helps how you see what they are doing. Ooops, starting to babble and lecture, time to go. Good luck and please let us know how it's going.
 

lmboesze

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I have to agree Ryan Johnson.

But if you want to continue with this horse I highly suggest watch on YouTube Clinton Anderson downunder horsemanship. He has multiple videos on a rescue horse (Palomino mare) and there is also a video he does with a younger girl and her horse. Watch, study, take notes. Horses trust once they respect. Gaining a horses respect is huge!
Thank you! My daughter has watched Clinton Anderson before. We will look into that.
 

MindySchroder

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Hi @Imboesze! This kind of thing doesn't only happen to beginners ;)

I have a mare that we have owned for 18 years. She is 18. LOL So her entire life. And these last 3 years have been very difficult with her. She lost her best friend (I had to put her down due to health issues) and it seemed to throw her into a tail spin. So losing their friends is actually quite a big deal and should not be taken lightly. In a similar way to us, they do mourn their loved ones. And we need to keep that in mind.

I have spent the last two months really working on relationship. This looks like doing a lot of nothing but let me tell you, it has made all the difference for my mare. I will share a few blog posts I wrote about our little journey. In these blogs there are links to a few of the things I have been implementing.

First up is this one: Softness
The next one is: This Training Method vs. That Training Method
And this is the most recent one: The Result of Undemanding Time

Warwick Schiller has a wonderful new video out about gaining our horse's attention. This video was helpful in more ways than one. He practices mirroring the horse a little bit in it and it also shows how quickly a horse can come around when our timing is good. Without using force at all!


I am 100% on board with Connection Training and am in a book club in which we are reading the book together and then talking about it on Zoom. Such a great book. I HIGHLY recommend it for you and your daughter! I do mention it in the above blogs, as the techniques in the book have really helped my mare.

Several things need to be considered, the safety of your daughter as well as managing her confidence, while balancing the mare and her needs and the speed at which she can move through her emotions. It is mind blowing how much doing little to nothing, in the from of Undemanding time, can do. To us it seems like nothing but it is huge for the pony.
 

lmboesze

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Hi @Imboesze! This kind of thing doesn't only happen to beginners ;)

I have a mare that we have owned for 18 years. She is 18. LOL So her entire life. And these last 3 years have been very difficult with her. She lost her best friend (I had to put her down due to health issues) and it seemed to throw her into a tail spin. So losing their friends is actually quite a big deal and should not be taken lightly. In a similar way to us, they do mourn their loved ones. And we need to keep that in mind.

I have spent the last two months really working on relationship. This looks like doing a lot of nothing but let me tell you, it has made all the difference for my mare. I will share a few blog posts I wrote about our little journey. In these blogs there are links to a few of the things I have been implementing.

First up is this one: Softness
The next one is: This Training Method vs. That Training Method
And this is the most recent one: The Result of Undemanding Time

Warwick Schiller has a wonderful new video out about gaining our horse's attention. This video was helpful in more ways than one. He practices mirroring the horse a little bit in it and it also shows how quickly a horse can come around when our timing is good. Without using force at all!


I am 100% on board with Connection Training and am in a book club in which we are reading the book together and then talking about it on Zoom. Such a great book. I HIGHLY recommend it for you and your daughter! I do mention it in the above blogs, as the techniques in the book have really helped my mare.

Several things need to be considered, the safety of your daughter as well as managing her confidence, while balancing the mare and her needs and the speed at which she can move through her emotions. It is mind blowing how much doing little to nothing, in the from of Undemanding time, can do. To us it seems like nothing but it is huge for the pony.

Thank you very much! We have watched some videos and webinars from all of the suggestions offered to us and have found Connections Training, Kendra Gale and Warwick Schiller to be most helpful so far. We tried targeting with her yesterday with treats and she caught on very quickly, which has been very encouraging for my daughter. We also had a chance to Zoom with her 4-H leader today, which was also very encouraging for my daughter. We look forward to a rainy afternoon of watching some more videos and trying some things out if the rain stops.
 

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