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mad for mini's

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2006
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I am working with my yearling stud colt, trying to get ready for our first show. I have been working on his leading manners and have a few things I am questioning myself about and I wanted to get a few opinions. For the most part my colt is well behaved on lead but he likes to pull ahead and crowd me. I started walking him in circles away from me and when he pulls ahead or crowds me I give him a light slap on the neck, he is a very fast learner and it seems to be working good but do you see a problem with this correction that may cause problems in the future ? And when training to "whoa" I give a light snap on the lead when he moves but this is causing a head toss that I don't care for, will the light slap on his shoulder work for that too or will it just make him move away ? ( I haven't tried the slap for the whoa yet) And he is a squeeler ! :DOH! do you allow your stallions to be vocal while in halter even if they are behaving? If not, how to correct that?

And a dumb question about the show ring , what happens if your horse soils the ring ? Is it like dogs and you get disqualified ? and should I be embarrased if he does?
I have only been to one show and never noticed any horse "going" in the ring.

Stormy: please comment too or e-mail me please. Thanks !
First, I do not allow any talking in the show ring. None. In fact, the ONLY time squealing and carrying on is acceptable is when we are teasing/breeding mares. Then and only then. Stallions can be very difficult to show and if you are new to showing, I really recommend a mare or gelding. You will be nervous and all those nerves travel down your lead straight to your horse.

Many horses crowd their handlers. Be it nerves or dominance. If a sharp snap of the stud chain, stab of the elbow, or a slap in the chest doesn't back them off, then I turn and face them pushing them away from me (moving backwards). I will continue to do this repeatedly until they respect my space. It's extremely important that stallions respect your space.

Snapping the lead for a whoa depends on how hard you snap it. You should always give the verbal command first followed by the actual cue (shanking or snapping the lead). However, you should only apply as much pressure as is needed. Some horses take just barely a tug but then there are others who require their head to be tugged off to get their attention.

Please remember that even mini yearling stallions can hurt you and it's my advice to start with a gelding or mare.

It doesn't matter if they urinate or defecate in the ring.
I've never seen a horse DQ for not being able to "hold it". It's as embarssing or more so for the stallions to "display their wares!".

Instead of a SNAP with the lead try just a firm tug. I find that if I say whoa and stop moving my body at the same time they get the picture quickly.

Now if it's standing still you're having trouble with that's a bit different. You have to get him stopped and try the Lyons method of "if he moves at 15 seconds then at 14 seconds you let him relax and praise him like mad". It's difficult finding the moment before they move but with practice you'll get it and so will he. Then you build the time longer and longer.

For the walking with you - you might try a long stick (broom handle) or whip. Hold it so it extends out from your side and in front of him. If he goes ahead of you he "runs into it" or if he crowds you he gets poked by it. That way he's causing his own discomfort rather than you slaping him and perhaps making him head shy.
Thanks for the replies, I need to clarify a few things though, he does stop when I do, it is just getting him to stay stopped. ( I use my body language and voice to let him know what I want first and only reprimand if necessary) , I thought when you teach "whoa" it is to get the horse to stop and not move until asked. The slap on the neck is farther down, more on his shoulder than by his head. I do not want a head shy horse, that is also why I don't like to yank or snap on the lead. It makes him toss his head.

I do praise him as he is standing still and only reprimand when he finally moves. Should I ask him to move before he decides to on his own or let him make the mistake and correct him? I'm not sure which will teach him to stay put. I will definitely work on his talking while in halter, what reprimands have you found works well to curb that ?

About showing his "wares" I read in a topic here that sticking your finger in his mouth will distract him from doing that so I tried it and it does work.
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I agree with everything said so far, but wanted to add that when I'm teaching whoa and a horse has stood still and I am ready for them to move I never let them walk forward out of the position they were in. I make them back up a few steps and then turn before moving forward.

Hope that makes sense. I do it because I don't want them to get into the habit of walking forward when I want them to stand.

Also, if my horse crowds me while walking I turn to face them and back them up quickly. This was already mentioned, but consistency is the key
what happens if your horse soils the ring ? Is it like dogs and you get disqualified ?
While this does fall into answering you I thought it might be good to comment on the above about DQ.

In conformation judging dogs don't get DQ'd for pottying in the ring....

the other rings well that's another story
When i am leading a horse and he starts to croud him, i hip check him over and push his shoulder out of my way. When your taping his neck ..all your doing is pushing his head / neck away ..push his whole body over. All of my horses are really resonsive to pressure on the halter. Teach him that when he feels pressure on that noseband of the halter to slow down and when he does slow down, release pressure off that noseband. That is somewhat how i teach them to whoa. I apply pressure to the noseband and stop ...if they tug on it ..the pressure stays. Once they stop tugging and stop trying to pull ..i release that pressure off the noseband. If they try to walk forward once i release that pressure ..pressure back on.

Horses poo and pea in the show ring, actually i have a few boys who will "play" (lol) before they go in the ring and even during the time inside the ring.

On another note ..make sure the horses has good manners but DO NOT overwork it to the point they are dull and a deadhead. My horses all have manners, but they still have spark and attitude
IMO your little guy needs to find out who's boss mare. If he's not responding to a "Light Tug" on the lead strap, give him a sharp one. If you want to show, he will need to stand. I train my horses to not move when I am facing them, no matter where I am standing. I can be by their hip and they shouldnt' move.

I do this by facing them, and keeping their attention on me at all times. I give quick tugs every time their attention wanders, even when they just glance away. I only work about 5-8 minutes at a time to start with. The tugs are strong enough to jerk their heads, but not pull them off balance.

To answer your other question - putting your thumb inside their cheek will cause them to "rein in" their equipment!
When a horse crowds me I lead him/her with a crop or stick. If I use a crop I face the handle out. Every time they step into my space or crowd me I will give a quick jab with the stick. I don't make a big deal of it and I keep going. the jab is uncomfortable and they learn quick that they can't crowd without a consequence. If I have a horse who gets ahead of me I will make the horse back up a few steps everytime the horse goes ahead. Horses don't like to back up, so they will figure out soon not to pull you or get ahead. For a horse that steps sideways I work on Whoa, and if they move to the side I place them back where I originally put them. Can be a long and tedious process but they learn, some quicker than others.

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