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Teaching Basic Manners & Gaining Trust.

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Rae

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I am looking for tips/advice on teaching basic manners. I work with Sky daily but am wondering what you all would suggest doing. He came from a bad situation and is very head shy. He also tries to nip from time to time. When I let him know I am the boss he holds a grudge. Yesterday I posted that he had a bad attitude for a short time and tried to bite me. Today he wants nothing to do with me. I am getting very frustrated because I feel like we are taking steps back rather than forward. I would really, really appreciate any advice anyone can give me with this. Just remember that I am new to horses. I love this guy and really want to gain his trust but he is not making it easy. Thanks!
 

Rae

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He is a 2 year old stallion that will be gelded on July 15th. I have had him for 6 weeks.
 

Jacquee'

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Well, aside from going to a trainer or instructor and learning basic horse care, I think I can make the following suggestions.

If your horse nips, and you know he is already head shy, for heaven sake don't hit him. Sometimes you can pop them on the nose directly from the front - they can't see you coming from straight in front and it is a big surprise to them - but if you are new to horses the timing can be tough. Try this instead: when he nips, grab his whiskers and pull out a hair or two. It takes a little longer, but it is uncomfortable and they eventually get it. Another thing to try is the old trick of using Binaca. Get some Binaca spray that is for your breath. When he opens his mouth to bite, spray some in. It won't take long with this; for some reason they really don't like this. You just have to make sure you have the Binaca with you. And remember: he has to have his mouth OPEN, even if it is just a little bit.

Don't worry about him holding a grudge...... didn't you get mad at your teacher at some point? But you got over it, right? So will he. I bet when you got mad at your teacher, the teacher did not suddenly stop teaching and get all mushy. You should be the same way - keep teaching. There is no need to be mean, but just insist that things have to be the way you say. He might be grumpy for a little while, but the main reason he is grumpy is because he wants to be the leader. If you are just persistent he will accept you as leader and start being a cheery team player. Don't expect him to change over night though; you have not really had him all that long, AND he came from a not-so-great situation. (Otherwise he would not be head shy.) So he has a lot to overcome, and what you need to do is handle him firmly but fairly. You might have to wait on the hugging and kissing until later, but I am sure that will come in time!


Naturally you love him and you want him to love you...... but first, you need to have mutual respect. You need to respect him, but HE needs to respect YOU. Once you have respect, you are on the right track!!! By being a fair and consistent leader, you will start to gain his respect.
 

wcr

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I have had some tough minis to deal with and one of the things I have tried that has worked pretty well is putting them in a stall where I am the only living contact they have. I will go in 5-6 times daily and just visit. This is especially good for horses that don't want to be caught. I get my hands on them and scratch in all the good places and walk out just as they are getting into it. I recently had a mare about to foal that I had in the barn for about a month(with turn out in paddocks behind the stall) It took a long time as she is an older mare and used to running away in the pasture. I can now walk up to her in the pasture and put the halter on.

Back to the subject. Headshy? Too bad. Deal with it, get over it. I scratch and rub their heads anyway. I do this every time I visit any of my horses. No one is headshy and they really start to enjoy it.

Biting, not acceptable. Let God get him by popping him under the chin when he goes to bite. He won't see you coming and you're not hitting his head. What would the alpha mare do? Bite him on the neck and charge. It is amazing how well an immediate pinch on the neck and aggressively yelling quit, knock it off, growling ect will work. It puts you in the position of being the alpha mare and this is the language horses understand. My horses are well loved and frequently visited during the day but when I growl and say quit they stop what they are doing immediately. 90% love and scratches and 10% Wrath of God for bad behavior. Make a big impression the first couple times and they will remember it. This certainly doesn't mean hitting or beating them but leave a lasting impression.
 

Marty

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I feel very strongly that most newbies should enlist the help of a professional trainer. It helps a lot to be "shown" what to do and when to do it and to take lessons on basic ground school.

The horse is young, and you are new, and I think you both need training.

I would go to Breeder's Connect and locate someone that is close to you and ask them to recommend a trainer, someone that can help you out, and offer you a few lessons to get you on the right track. This would be the best money you may ever spend on your horse.
 

rabbitsfizz

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Now hold on everyone, lets get a few things straight. Full On tactics will not work with an already shy, already living on it's own, two year old. I agree with Marty, if not a "professional" is there some local "fountain of wisdom" you could tap for help?? You need someone who has been there and will help in a gentle, every day way. If he had equine company it would be a huge help too.
 

Rae

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Thank you all for your advice! I went out right before dark last night and spent some good quaity loving time with Sky. He was the perfect gentlemen as he was this morning when I went out to put his halter on and turn him out for the day. My hubby also went out with me and lifted all of his feet to check his hooves. This actually relaxes him. When the farrier was out the last time he fell asleep leaning on him. He also got sprayed for flies. We have come a long way with that. When I first started spraying him we went round and round. But not anymore. He just stands there. So we have made some progress. I have great faith in a good change once he is gelded in two weeks. It just seems to me that he has raging hormones from time to time. I will also take your suggestion of a professional trainer coming out. I was talking to my hubby about this last night. I need someone to come out and work with both of us. I will check into that in a few weeks. As for equine company, I would love to get another mini but I think I need to get this one under control first
Thanks again!!
 

Marsha Cassada

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Mainly work on just getting used to each other until the gelding. I'll bet you find the biting will go away with time. It is a basically a stallion thing. DO find someone who has mini experience to give you a few lessons. It will probably only be a few lessons, and you will be amazed at what you learn. (I think owners and dogs should go to class, too!) Big horse people know a lot, but much of their training is done on the horse's back. Mini things are all ground lessons, so try to find someone who has experience with minis. It will give you confidence. You will enjoy your gelding! Have fun!

Marsha
 

ClickMini

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Rae, where are you located? I use clicker training to teach manners myself. You can get a fantastic book at http://www.theclickercenter.com called, "The Click That Teaches, a Step-by-Step Guide in Pictures," that will help you teach your new little fellow how to behave in human company, using positive reinforcement.

If you post your location, you might find some folks willing to give you a hand. I live in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, and would be happy to help via phone support.
 

capall beag

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I have owned a mare for just over 2 months who was similar to your little guy.

She was very head shy and naughty, nippy and would try to kick. She had been neglected and was very thin. She became kind of pushy and nippy once she discovered that food came at regular intervals and plenty of it!!

\The best advice I can give is Patience and kindness!!!!!!!!!

I knew there was a great horse under all that matted hair & naughty exterior!

She is now a sweet, gentle trusting mare and very beautiful.

I spent lots of time with her rubbing her neck and talking to her and I did give her treats but I used a clicker when I gave them to her so she knew when to expect them! It took close to 2 months but she now trusts me and follows me around in a non aggressive way! Once in a while when I am mucking them out she will act head shy when I lift the rack but for the most part she is great.

The huge BONUS here is to see a horse blossom and to trust you and to see them finally relax!!

Hang in there and work with him gently but firmly. I NEVER hit her but would tap her on the nose when she was being too pushy and would say a firm "NO"!

My mare is not trusting of other people yet but she definately trusts and loves me now! It is awesome!!

IMO when working with a shy or abused horse you need to work with them not against them and once they gain their confidence they will be able to trust you!!

Good Luck!! I am sure the gelding will help too!
 

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