Pawing Horses...

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Carly Rae

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Hello,

Does anyone have some advice on teaching a horse to stop pawing?

Snickas is really bad for it, when you approach her with food, sometimes without food, she paws like crazy... She also paws the steel gate which is really loud and irritating. She is a very greedy girl, and loves her food, but it would be so much better if she didn't paw so much!

I got her a feed bucket that hangs off the fence so she couldn't paw it and break it. She ended up finishing her food, pulled it off the fence and started pawing it! She fully bent one of the hooks that goes over the fence...

You also cant leave any feed buckets in their pen with ANY of my horses, as soon as they are finished their food they paw the bucket and destroy it.

Would ignoring her when she paws help?

Thanks in advance.
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Marsha Cassada

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As a humorous former member stated: "we're doomed".

The most effective thing I've seen to work with this behavior is training. The more and better trained the horse is, the less likely he is to paw. I believe it is part of the spoiled brat syndrome. Any kind of training will help, from tricks to grooming manners. And yes, I think ignoring is the best response.

Hopefully others will chime in with solutions.

Meanwhile, just wait till they finish eating and remove the buckets. They are developing bad habits.

Good luck.
 

Magic Marker Minis

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We have a mare that usually only gets grain during late pregnancy and lactation; she paws while eating. She even tries pawing while eating hay in a feeder. We just ignore her. Couple of our yearlings are pawers as they wait for grain. We tap their leg and say no. We don't give them grain until they stop. Also have a stallion paw waiting for hay.

Our yearling colt will mess with the feeder if he is in a pen with it. Paws and flips it. We have heavy duty buckets, so no damage. Did have my Paint stallion roll on his metal water trough, destroyed it.

I'd take the buckets out when not in use.
 

amysue

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My Belgian used to paw and it was aggravated by people at my barn feeding him a flake of hay to make him stop/quiet him down. I picked one stern word command "Quit!" And was consistent with it. I also made him wait for his feed until he stopped so as not to reward that behavior. When he started doing it in his stall and while tied, I bought a pair of pawing bands and those did the trick. They're a heavy metal bracelet that you put on the fetlock. They rattle around the fetlock and pastern and the horse doesn't like it so they stop pawing. You do not use them during turnout/work, just when stalled or tied under control.
 

Cayuse

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During feeding if they paw, I just ignore it. I hate to pick at them while they are eating. I do make them stand quiet while the food is being given to them.

I am more stern about pawing from impatience when they are on the cross ties or being hitch. That gets a correction. Followed by praise when they get it right.

I have heard of people feeding off of a stall mat, no buckets to thrash that way. Just put the hay down and the grain on top. Easy to clean off if it gets dirty.
 
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TxMissy

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Bitsy has done that a few times, but generally, I just pull her feed bowl out when she's done.
 

Marsha Cassada

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The inveterate pawer I had was only with me temporarily; I think the longer he was trained in driving and tricks, here and in his later training, the less he pawed. His owner thought it was cute when he turned over his metal feed tub and "played the drums". He got praised for that cute trick and it encouraged the bad pawing habit.

If one is going to teach his horse to play the drums, I would not use a feed bucket but a special metal item used exclusively for the trick.
 

paintponylvr

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i have four "confirmed" hole diggers (out of 30 head) - at feeding time and when tied. Training has not helped, they know how far a word reaches and when I turn my back, step around the corner or into the feed room/barn they resume pawing. Bands on their legs have made no difference. Pawing chains and hobbling haven't worked either. When tied on pavement - 1 of them has pawed her fore hooves bloody - and then needed to be medically treated. A mother & daughter that both paw - when tied in the trailer on wood, can work holes into the wood in VERY short order (I had to replace part of the trailer floor that was less than a year old before I got the mats). I make sure I haul them on rubber mats - especially when they are tied.

I regularly fill holes - as now and then even the non-pawers will paw a hole. I haven't figured out why. I DID get tired of filling the holes like the one below, LOL. If you followed her pics while she was pregnant, then you would see holes go very large and then get refilled. Currently her bucket has 2 tires tied to the fence in front of her bucket. She can't paw while stretching her neck that far or she'll stand in the tires and not paw (goal accomplished, YAY!)

I once used lots of 2 ltr bottles and cardboard boxes for training. Once holes were started, I filled them with objects. They got to the point where they got over being spooky, accepted plastic & cardboard and learned to stand w/o pawing.

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipOXCZNo28XHmcDwsG5uRs1wYeaqj-9UvPD2OqiN/photo/AF1QipPeqXv9KWivrJRmZH_LJ73xSuDbUE6VPnXVKOVO

But for feeding, I put tires or a mat on the ground where they eat - they can't paw thru that while they eat. Then that pony is not allowed into the bucket area when not being fed. Heavy duty rubber buckets are used so that they can't tear them apart OR I plan on replacing the current buckets sold at the current feed & Ag stores (I have buckets I purchased in 1995 that have outlasted ANY I've purchased in the last 5 years). I can't use the mini size buckets or the hang over the fence type buckets w/ these pawers, they just don't hold up to the abuse.

Try the training. I've seen it work and had it work with some of our others and some that have come into our barns. I believe part of our problem with the current ones is lack of time to spend with those particular ponies - though with what I've tried with my four, I don't feel training is the answer for them. These 4 will also paw when they are grazing in the pasture, too, or they are constantly on the move, not standing for long and cropping grass.
 

Marsha Cassada

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Paula, do you think some of that pawing tendency could be inherited? Since I don't breed, and have had no horses related to each other, I have no idea about this. I've only had one serious pawer; he drove me crazy. I was glad when he left. Rowdy, my new one now, paws when he is impatient for supper, but no longer paws when tied. (He used to throw himself backward, too, when tied but no longer does this.) I do think training has helped him.
 

paintponylvr

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Once upon a time, I would have said "no" - not possible. Now?? Well, yes, mine seem to run in family lines...

And the ponies will paw consistently and longer/harder than any horse we ever owned or that I was around, too. A "patience pole" for training didn't work for them either. I've had horse trainers just at a loss, LOL. And one that I hauled ponies to, to get them into other arenas and around other horses/ponies for experience banned us from bringing them to that barn(I didn't blame them & it isn't an issue for us).
 

Marsha Cassada

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Remember Marty who used to be on the Forum? She is the one who summed up the pawing dilemma: "we're doomed".

The advice I got for the inveterate pawer I had from this forum was to ignore him. That saved my sanity. I realized I could not stop him, so I just let him paw. He pawed in the trailer. He pawed tied up. He pawed in his water tub, emptying it and leaving him waterless. I never knew what he was thinking. I think he was a horse that needed to be kept busy. And I had other things to do than keep him working all the time.
 

Ryan Johnson

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I had a pony many years ago that was a shocking pawer. From the moment he was tied up , it began. I tried everything from tapping him on the leg with a crop to giving him extra hay as a bribe to stand still. Both bad Ideas and only adding to the problem , I later found out.

It wasnt until a good friend of my dads who was a gifted horseman, sat me down to try and explain why they did it and how the best way was to overcome it. "Make him stand there" was his answer. Well "that seems easy" I thought at the time. Lack of training and patience is the key reason horse paw and the only way to beat it is to make him "stand"

The worst time he pawed was after i had ridden him.

"See that pole in the middle of that paddock Ryan", "Go and tie the pony to it and make him stand there for entire day" . "Ok" I thought , so I should take hay to him aswell ? "NO" Just the pony is fine and a bucket of water.

The first few hours were terrible , it looked as though he was trying to "Tunnel" himself out of the property I kept him at. But as the day went on, to my surprise the pony got better.

Now everytime you ride, I want you to tie him to the post for a few hours after each time you work him. To my surprise he improved rapidly.

One of the worst things I did as a kid and learned a very valuable lesson from it was " I got into a routine" - I would ride , then hose down ,brush, rug and feed. Obviously the last was the most appealing to my pony who couldnt wait for a feed, so would paw until I fed him.

By tying your horse up for a few hours after you work with him, gives him time to think about whats just been taught to him, teaches him respect and patience and also teaches him to relax.
 

FurstPlaceMiniatures

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As far as it being genetic - yup.

My stud will "paw" when he's irritated or eating. If he wants to come in he taps the gate with his hoof and makes 'my friend flicks' noises. When he sees me he lifts one foot and kinda waves and whinnies. When he wants something g he does the same thing.

The only times he truly paws is when he's mad (bath time is a big one, stands stockstill but his little legs GOES lol!) or eating. I just let him drag his feed bowl around. He's a saint on my time - when it's his time I could care less what he does for the most part.

His daughter was 3 hours old in the stall next to him pawing while she gummed hay. Her dam did not have that habit in the least bit. She continued it until she was sold.
 

Marsha Cassada

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I've heard of the post tying technique from several experienced horse folk. I don't think I could do it. But I think I will try the tying up after our driving workout, instead of just releasing him to roll.
 

KLJcowgirl

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Tying up for hours on end helped my QH out, but he only pawed when tied up. He used to dig holes until he was knee deep. Now he only does it when he gets left behind, which I can't really do anything about that. And so far it seems to be working with my mini. I take her to the arena when I ride and leave her tied to the fence. Rarely do I catch her pawing while tied anymore, except for when she's first tied or something excites her.

She also paws before feeding and when she wants out, but I don't feed her or let her out until she stops. I don't think that will ever stop, and I don't honestly care to much as long as she's not destructive.
 

paintponylvr

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A lot of the natural horseman type trainers now use what is known as a "paitience pole" that has a tie connected at the top that spins. The horse can walk around and around if he really wants - and goes no where. They stay tied until they stop moving &/or pawing.

We used something similar when I was growing up - with the big horses - only it was stationary w/ a fence or a wall. They weren't tied with their heads raised and they were untied and led to water at noon and again mid afternoon. I often saddled 4 -6 horses in the morning after feeding and they went out and stood tied around the round pen. The girths were just tight enough to keep a saddle from rolling under them - english or western. English stirrups were kept run up. I'd work a horse in the round pen or outside of the round pen in that particular 2 acre pasture. They learned to stand quietly, BUT, none ever pawed the way some of these ponies do now.

I went to a local trainer's barn and she had a tires in several different areas of her "training field". Attached to the tire was a lead rope. Inside the tire was a bucket for water. I couldn't figure out how she kept the horse from taking off w/ that contraption! She walked me out and picked up one of the buckets. The tire wasn't huge but it certainly wasn't small either AND it was FULL of cement. The horse is led out and hooked to the lead rope with one of the NH style halters - they may move the tire around a bit, but they sure don't move it far! To prevent pawing damage, she had mats around a couple of the tires. Hmmmm....

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/116529838407687192287/album/AF1QipNpxIPe1NsMgZ5-HmllZmsm2_HwlPoUeiIxXgUQ/AF1QipNkOQ7l4TyK_hz6LeAIqphTJPzMlSPD4wFOxkPG

Here is a link to the album I did of her working with a horse the day I was at her farm = https://get.google.com/albumarchive/116529838407687192287/album/AF1QipNpxIPe1NsMgZ5-HmllZmsm2_HwlPoUeiIxXgUQ
 

Marsha Cassada

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My concern about the pole tying is damage to the horse. I've taken horses to the chiropractor that had TMJ, polls out, dislocated shoulders, all kinds of weird physical dysfunction. A horse throwing himself around by his head just freaks me out. According to a recent QH magazine, the average life span of a horse "in the old days" was 7 years. After hearing about some of the "ol' cowboy" techniques, I'm not surprised. Maybe the cure is not worth it. I'd like mine to live longer than 7 years--they just begin to get a good brain about that age! JMO!
 

sayyadina

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I have 2 full sisters. One paws, and the other doesn't. I've tried a lot, and nothing seems to stick. Feeding her last. Feeding her first. Waiting until she's standing quietly, or put it down fast. Telling her to "stop it!". I've stuck with one method for months without any resolution. The worst is that she'll paw when I'm in the feed room prepping, and I can't do anything but listen to her banging on the barn.
 

chandab

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I have 2 full sisters. One paws, and the other doesn't. I've tried a lot, and nothing seems to stick. Feeding her last. Feeding her first. Waiting until she's standing quietly, or put it down fast. Telling her to "stop it!". I've stuck with one method for months without any resolution. The worst is that she'll paw when I'm in the feed room prepping, and I can't do anything but listen to her banging on the barn.
Can you toss her a handful of hay before she even starts, so maybe you can get in your prepwork before she realizes you are mixes goodies?
 

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