Training question

Discussion in 'Miniature Horse Forum' started by Marsha Cassada, Oct 2, 2019.

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  1. Oct 2, 2019 #1

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

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    I was always told that when one asks a horse to do something, one must follow through no matter how long it takes. I've tried to do that and am usually successful.
    Sorry for the long post, but I could use some pointers.
    I took Dapper Dan and Midnight for a friendly walk on Monday. We passed a property that has a neglected pear tree and I thought we would mosey over and choose a nice pear for a snack. Dapper Dan went through the ditch by the dirt road, no problem. Midnight refused. I checked the ditch for critters. It is a steepish ditch and sort of overgrown, but she has gone through ditches before. I tried standing next to her and urging her. No luck. I turned Dapper Dan loose so I could focus on Midnight. No luck. I had not taken a whip with me, so I found a sturdy weed stem to use for a cue. No luck. I tried pressure-and-release. No luck. I tried tug of war. No luck. I had to laugh at her because she looked so funny with all 4 little feet planted and her little determined nose stuck out. It reminded me of putting a cat in a tub of bathwater. So, I led her around to the driveway of the property and she went over the culvert and up to the pear tree. We had a nice nibble. Tried to cross the ditch again. No way. I tried tying her to Dapper Dan's halter, thinking that if she sees him go over again it would help. And maybe he would just tow her. No luck. So, I thought, I'll just leave her. She'll be sure to follow after because she can't bear to be left behind. She cried for a while and we were out of sight. No Midnight following. So we went back and she was gone, over the culvert and headed for home. She stopped at a neighbor's yard and I caught her easily and we went on home.
    Today I took her with the golf cart. First we had a nice pear nibble. Then I asked her to cross the ditch in hand. Nothing doing. I tied her to the golf cart and drove through the ditch. I thought the golf cart wasn't going to do the job (she is only 33", but very strong!). We went through the ditch. I put her back in hand and tried the ditch again. No luck. Tied her to the golf cart again and we drove through it. Tried her in hand again. no luck. Did the golf cart again and she broke the metal clip on the halter resisting. She looked at me for a moment, then high tailed it for home. She stopped by the neighbor's because his cattle were by the fence. (One had her head through the the wire and one was lowing like an elk.) I caught her easily, did a makeshift tie and we went home.
    So, the next thing I will try is having a helper get behind her. How about taking along a long lead rope to maybe put around her rump? I am open to training tips for this. I don't like to let her get away with it, but I also cannot risk getting ditch refusal set in concrete in her mind.
     
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  2. Oct 2, 2019 #2

    chandab

    chandab

    chandab

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    How well does she back? Perhaps back her into the ditch, just a few steps to start, then walk her back out the way she is facing; keeping adding steps backwards til she is at the bottom and go out forwards the direction she is already facing.
    A longer lead that would reach around her rump, just don't tie hard and fast, so you can release if she panics; sounds like a plan to me.
    I do lots of circling when they refuse. Although, I don't do as much with mine as others do, my biggest hurdle is the platform scale and getting them to stand on it; so we do lots of circling around and back to the scale to walk on. Also put one or two hooves on the scale to give them the right directions.
     
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  3. Oct 2, 2019 #3

    Ryan Johnson

    Ryan Johnson

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    Instead of going straight down into the ditch , maybe she would go through if you descended into the ditch on an angle and back out on an angle. ?
     
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  4. Oct 2, 2019 #4

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

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    She backs well. i will try that. i did not think of backing her. we tried all angles and all along the property bouñdary. the only way was the driveway. my neighbor is helping me tomorrow. She may have ideas also. two of us should be able to get the cat into the bath!
     
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  5. Oct 2, 2019 #5

    Willow Flats

    Willow Flats

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    Sometimes the horse is not refusing out of disobedience, but fear. I use a lot of advance and retreat or circle them closer and closer to the thing they are afraid of so they are between me and the area they are afraid of until they show signs of relaxation. Then I have them stand next to the thing I want them to cross until they are relaxed. Then I step into or onto the place I want them to go holding the lead and encourage them to take one step. I get best results when I go slowly, let them think it through and break things down into smaller steps. Sometimes it takes a while longer than I would like. Good luck tomorrow and let us know how it goes!
     
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  6. Oct 3, 2019 #6

    plaid mare

    plaid mare

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    All good feedback so I've nothing new to offer. I wonder why she is frightened? What is she smelling or perceiving that Dapper Dan doesn't seem to mind? Is it possible to clear that small area of ditch just to see? You have already expended time, and energy,it might reveal some answers. I wouldn't normally suggest it. but you and your team are seasoned. Midnight won't even respond on a lead, that's out of character for her, maybe she senses something amiss.
     
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  7. Oct 3, 2019 #7

    Willow Flats

    Willow Flats

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    I have a big drainage ditch that runs along my property which fills with water in the winter. One of my horses was terrified of going in it so I just went in and stood there for a bit and gently swished the water with my foot. He stood there watching me and then when he saw I didn't sink and die he stepped in. They each walk the length of it now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
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  8. Oct 3, 2019 #8

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

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    Yes, I believe she was afraid. But of what I have no idea. Dapper Dan and I went through the ditch several times. It's only about 2 feet wide; she could have jumped over it--which is usually what they do. I might also try standing in the ditch and see if she eventually will come to it. Good idea. Need to allow quite a lot of time for that, of course! That's the problem with these situations: they don't always happen when one has time to work on them. Wish I had thought of that the first time, as we were basically out for a leisurely walk. I could have just turned Dapper Dan loose to graze while Midnight and I worked it out.
     
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  9. Oct 3, 2019 #9

    Willow Flats

    Willow Flats

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    You mentioned growth in the ditch, maybe she is afraid of what could be lurking in the shrubs? Scuff your feet around in it and show her it's nothing to be afraid of it, if you think that's it. I know what you mean about the time factor. So many times I think why did I start this now?!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2019
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  10. Oct 3, 2019 #10

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

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    We did it! My neighbor was coming over this evening but I thought I'd try one more time by myself, since I had a spare hour. There are ditches on both sides of the country road on the way to the jinx spot. She refused to enter the grassy ditch (she runs in a grassy pasture every day, for pete's sake). She wouldn't back into it. So I sat down on the ground at the edge. After a few minutes she came up to me. So I got up and moved farther into the ditch. I lifted each of her feet and put them closer to the ditch. Nope. We went a little farther and there was a spot with bare ground. She went into the ditch there. We walked around in it for a while then headed up the road to the jinx spot. We went into the ditch in several places. At first I had to sit down on the ground (ants!), sometimes lift her foot. Then she would go in. We got to the jinx spot. No way. We walked up and down the ditch and I sat on the ground again. She pawed. I kept pressure if she tried to back away, but released if she stood. She pawed some more. Finally she came a step toward me. I moved back a little. She came again. I stood up and asked her to walk across the ditch with me and she did! We went through it 3 times with no problem. On the way home, we went through some more ditches and she had no trouble. So, tomorrow is a new day and she may forget that the ditch wasn't scary, but for today we were successful. I told her she was a good brave Midnight!
    Thank you for all the suggestions and support!
     
  11. Oct 3, 2019 #11

    Ryan Johnson

    Ryan Johnson

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    Great news Marsha & Midnight :)
     
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  12. Oct 3, 2019 #12

    Willow Flats

    Willow Flats

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    Yay!!!!! So rewarding when they trust you and try new scary things. She just gained a little more confidence!
     
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  13. Oct 4, 2019 #13

    Marsha Cassada

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    Have you noticed that when you have an intense and successful training session with your horse that there is a bond forming? When we got home from our ditch outing, I took off her lead in the yard and she stayed right by me. I stopped, started, turned. My husband said she looked like a dog heeling.
    Then, she caught sight of herself in the house windows and started chatting with her reflection. We were afraid she might break the window, so she had to go back to the pasture.
     
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  14. Oct 4, 2019 #14

    Cayuse

    Cayuse

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    Yes, depending on the horse. I think they are showing trust, and acknowledging a shift in the dynamics of the relationship. It is very obvious with Peanut when we have a breakthrough, not so much with Cappy, lol. Cappy will give up a little love, but basically he's his own man :).
    You and Midnight are making lots of progress!
     
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  15. Oct 4, 2019 #15

    Willow Flats

    Willow Flats

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    Yes Marcia, I was thinking the same thing. And Cayuse I have something similar; two very different personality types. I'm having a training issue with a new horse and would like some input from you all. Do I need to start a new thread?
     
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  16. Oct 5, 2019 #16

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

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    I think you could just add it to this thread. People could then scroll through training issues and perhaps pick up tips.
    I live in cowboy country. Natural horsemanship surfaces a little here, but overall it is rough and ready rodeo country. There are still cowboys here who hire out to local ranchers to work cattle on horseback. Training advice I often receive from horse folk here is the cowboy kind. I love having this forum to acquire other viewpoints on effective training.
     
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  17. Oct 6, 2019 #17

    Willow Flats

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    I have acquired a new driving horse that I have been working with. She is green broke to drive and when I got her she had really bad ground manners. Spoiled rotten! No respect for humans...just bash em with your head and they will give you a treat, walk over them or just bite them. I took her on because I liked that she is a larger mini and that is very hard to find around here.

    She has come a long way. No more biting or pawing on the gate at feed time, is leading well and she is a work horse when hitched. Really forward and super fun to drive and seems to enjoy it and is doing well, but still needs work with the stand. When she sees me take out the harness she comes right over.

    I am not yet to the point where I want to drive her when I am home alone like I do with my gelding. So in between drives I have been ground driving her but she is horrible at grass snatching! (She rarely tries it when I'm driving her.) We haven't had any rain yet so it is pretty barren but that one weed here and there and she throws her head down and it has become a real fight. Personally I don't allow my horses to eat with a bit in their mouth. A tap on the hind end does nothing. I have never used a side check before but think maybe that is what I need to do....just for ground driving, not with the cart. Suggestions?
     
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  18. Oct 7, 2019 #18

    Marsha Cassada

    Marsha Cassada

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    I would use an overcheck. Let her discipline herself. This is what I have to do with my avatar horse, Dapper Dan. He is hardheaded and resistant. Continuing to whack with the whip is the pits and ultimately useless, IMO. Some horses just don't care about that. I know that isn't the purpose of the overcheck and I know that isn't the ideal solution, but it works for my difficult guy. I suggest using the overcheck instead of the sidecheck; he can reach down farther with the side check.
    After I use the overcheck a few times, he stops snatching--for a while. Eventually he goes back to his old ways and I reattach the overcheck. I still have to stay out of tall grass, though. Little rascal!
     
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  19. Oct 7, 2019 #19

    Cayuse

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    I agree with Marsha, an over check is the way to go. I have to use them on both of mine. One isn't so bad, he will usually respond to a tap on the bum, but Peanut is a demon about grass snatching. He is really bad. When I was taking lessons the instructor wanted him to go without an over check and it was a constant battle to keep his head up and a battle that I ultimately decided not to fight as it made my hand ache (arthritis). Over checks when used properly are a good tool. I think they are happier with the over check as I am not picking at them all the time. Like Marsha said, they correct themselves.
     
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  20. Oct 8, 2019 #20

    Willow Flats

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    I'll try an over check then, but I need you to school me on how to correctly use one and where to order one. I am currently using a Comfy Fit Bridle and Harness. My gelding had been trained as a roaster before I got him and he had major issues with his poll and his neck was built upside down. (Paper thin at the top and all the muscle was at the underside.) It took a year to strengthen his neck but he is turned around now and has a nice way of going. I don't think I have anything to worry about if I use one correctly and as a training aid, so any pictures or instruction would be greatly appreciated.
     
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