Trust, Training & Treats

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ParkerAlexx

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Hi guys!

My filly, Dolly, does not seem to have much training in her. I got her from a lady that breeds show ponies and she knows how to follow on a lead line but that seems to be it. Shown below is her first bath (given yesterday) and it did not go very well. We worked on desensitizing for about 20 minutes AT LEAST before we go to the rest of her body.

Her issues:

  • Over crowding- Always read that this is dominance. With my full size horses when they would do so we were taught to take "big steps" backwards until they get out of my personal space. If they did not and continued to push against us, to pop them on the chest. (We had lessons on natural horsemanship and learning to be the leader and not let your horse bully you around.) If I back into Dolly, she rears up and freaks out. Yesterday, she fell over because she was so freaked out. I think I am just moving to quickly (?) expecting her to react like Copper (my old quarter horse.)
  • standing tied (we worked on yesterday and after about 30 mins she gave up and stood still.) I think this will just take some persistence.
  • lunging... worked on that Monday... I just tried to see if she had any experience with it. She obviously does not and reared up every time I would ask her to move and show her the flag.
Am I just moving too fast? Obviously, she does not have any of the training that I am used to. What type of trust exercises do y'all do with your minis? I'm thinking that I am going have to start at the very beginning. I have never started a horse.

Also, does ANYONE use treats for anything? In my last thread, most people were saying just to praise by love.

Thanks in advance!

I have moderate experience working with a Quarter horse. . . I'm still learning


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kevin27

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I'm in a similar situation with our yearling stallion, we're new horse owners.
he has recently started rearing up on me mostly, 3 times over the last couple of days.
When I physically step in to correct him, and make him back up, for things like crowding or biting.
He's almost 100 lbs heavier than he was this time last year, and not kidding around.

I am just recently trying to get through to him, by slapping him firmly in the area where his shoulder turns into his neck, or his rump

open hand, and very quick. He sulks or he is thinking it over for a minute, and we go forward from there.
I try to be unemotional, with his acting out, but he's bitten me good a couple of times,
sneaky, back of my bicep or the calf on my leg.

we have some young teen sisters, next door that help out a lot, and I dont want anyone getting hurt.

He seems to morph into a boxing kangaroo, tracking me with his eyes, standing there,
like he's trying to calculate the distance needed to take me out.

In our case it's some bad manners, that have not been properly addressed yet, and male hormones,
the vet is coming July 5th for that.

nice to hear from you and welcome, ParkerAlexx
 

ParkerAlexx

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Okay, it's nice to know I'm not the only one having problems with a yearling! Lol!

She rears up a LOT. She kicked me last night when I was trying to wash her and I open palm, smacked her rump. She seemed to sulk for a bit and didn't do it again.

I cant figure out if she is acting out in fear or if she is just acting out in "teenage attitude."
 

Magic Marker Minis

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Some may be fear, but most are testing you. They want to see what they can get away with.

For your filly, I'd work on the problem that is the worse. Work for ten-fifteen minutes and always leave on a good note. Your filly is still a baby and her attention span is limited.

We had our first halter training with our two banies from this year. The baby we thought would be the best, leads okay but throws temper tatrums while tied. We left her tied until she stood quietly for at least five minutes, than released her. The colt hated leading but tied better than expected.

Just have patience with them.
 

Marsha Cassada

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Something that has worked well for me when I get a new horse that doesn't like something: ears handled, fly spray, bath-- I do not tie, but hold the lead rope and allow the horse to move away. Usually they back up some, but they don't really like backing so they begin to stand still. Amazingly, it just takes a couple of times of this till they tolerate. I think this has something to do with the flight reflex; if he feels he can escape he doesn't panic. Your baby may be panicking. A trainer told me that she believes miniatures are more feral, which means their instincts are closer to wild horses than, say a QH.

I think tying and have them jerk and pull does two things: it throws their poll and neck out of whack, and it teaches them to jerk and pull when tied. Yes, they need to learn patience but throwing themselves around at the end of a halter does not seem constructive to me.

The one I have now is 7 this year and had never had a bath. I had to pursue him with the water hose around in circles, but by the end he was tolerating it pretty well. He even allowed me to run the water over his forelock. Since I only have two horses, I can afford to take time for this rigamarole. Folks with several horses have to use other methods.

I think scratches are better than treats as a reward.

Good luck, and keep us posted!
 

ParkerAlexx

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Thanks Marsha and Magic!

I'm going to work with her tonight. She stood pretty well after tossing her head around for a little bit.

If minis are more feral, that would make sense. I will keep that in mind next time she and I are working together. For now, I will work on just walking around with her and sitting with her while she gets to know me. And I will definitely keep the sessions to a max of 15-20 mins. Hopefully I will be able to keep her attention. She and Diesel bonded really quick which at first I thought was good but is now causing problems. I have been doing some exercises to keep them from getting entirely buddy sour.

While bathing last night, I had her tied really loose and was holding the lead rope and letting her move around. Not sure if it made a difference or not.
 

FurstPlaceMiniatures

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Get and read Temple Grandins book Animals Make Us Human. It tells you how each species works and how to meet their needs. Most pet people don't like her though, because she's NOT about being lovey nice and cookies and wove - she's about getting your crqp together and meeting your animals needs.

That being said trust in all species is built on respect. You can't win trust with cookies. You can win attention - but in your ponies eyes you aren't a leader. You're either the creepy guy with a van offering candy (aka up to something that they don't want to do) or that sweet old grandma that spoils and fills the grandkids with treats (key word here is spoils.)

I rescued a hound dog. I didn't pull him from a shelter, I went to a sketchy butt trailer park at night and pounded on a door. He was 8 mos old and a complete basket case. Over the top abused. He feared everything - especially plastic bags and tinfoil - would throw himself on the ground and scream periodically, work himself up to a point of hysteria constantly, and had every bad habit a dog could have. If you moved too fast he'd flinch, throw himself to the ground and Yelp.

I've hit that dog harder and more often than any animal in the world. You couldn't praise him. No meant nothing, nor did he care I was saying it. What was I supposed to praise? You aren't peeing or counter surfing or bawling? No. He also didn't really care about my approval. Once he learned there were rules, and boundaries, and consequences he became the best dog In the world. Bonded to me is an understatement. He only trusts or has any respect for me. He's fended off home intruders, nursed me through a bad brain injury, and even turned on an ex boyfriend he really liked when he got violent and protected me.

As I write this he's curled up on my legs.

As far as the rearing, I've broke a few of it and have had to do it differently every time. My mini stud was a boxing kangaroo - the first time he did it I yelled and went right at him. The second time we were in an indoor arena with soft footing - I yelled and threw him off balance. Then immediately lunged him until he was foamy sweaty. Never did it again.

My pony filly was light in the front end. Every thing made her rear. Touching her ears, lifting a foot, etc. I ignored it. She wasnt violent just stupid. My attitude with her was 'Really dummy?'

Standing tied was another struggle for my filly - so she learned about the patience pole! It's a wonderful spot that can be both a punishment and reward. I put down mats so they can't paw, and have even put a grazing muzzle on some of my serial chewers. They stand on it as long as it takes to learn patience. With a baby that should be pretty much every time you're in the barn. But only ever untie if they're being good.

With the lunging, start on a short rope. As they 'get it' go out to a 30' circle. They sometimes just don't get it at first wayyyy out there!

Good luck with your girly - she is cute!
 

paintponylvr

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LOVE FurstPlaceMiniatures response and I have some to add.

I have been training ponies for a long time. I do not profess to know everything about them, nor am I a professional. Some of the NH techniques work for me and my ponies/horses - some do not. Not all horses/ponies can/will fit into the "mold" - not every training procedure will work on every mini horse/pony. THANK THE LORDS above that they are all individuals - that is what is great about them!! They are smart (too smart?) and they think (too much??)... They simply are not "old quarter horses".

I grew up using a combination of "old school" cowboy techniques (some considered rough, but DID achieve results often faster and SAFER than the lovey/dovey treat ways currently used) and dressage techniques. Now understand - a lot of the NH techniques now used and currently "loved" by so many CAME FROM procedures that have been done with horses for many, many 100s of years (often by cowboys - who could not afford to be stranded far from the place of work/living - those high heeled boots are murder to walk far in) - they have just been given new names and laid out in easy to understand lessons FOR THE HUMAN. To me, it is both good and bad - because some of these NH people seem to lead you to believe that every horse will react (or should) the same way to THEIR TRAINING PROCEDURES. If you really study - you will find that they (NH person) DO NOT say that. In fact, if you dig - you will eventually find where they admit that the procedure may not work on all horses and in that case, you need to find one that does. BUT you have to dig to find that and if you don't know to look deeper for that, well, you are stuck.

Every good trainer (at least in the day that I was a youngster) understood that not every horse personality would work with/follow every procedure. If one way didn't work, they tried another. Even pros sometimes ran up against one they could not get "thru to" and would consult with others, looking for ideas to try next to achieve what they wanted. I'm pretty certain that pros still do this.

Training can be frustrating.

You are training or un-training every time you handle your baby (and mature horse).

But that isn't a reason to be upset or scared of trying something new.

****

Many of my ponies are well trained to lounge. They work on line w/ a tied, knotted halter; a bridle w/ a snaffle bit (dressage/driving); a flat nylon or leather halter with a chain either over the nose or under the chin. They work on a combination of voice commands and hand/body and whip signals - some more on one than the other. As they (and I) become more advanced - those signals become less noticeable and the observer may think I'm performing "magic" or "whispering" to my ponies - as it SHOULD LOOK. It may take months and years to reach that level. It takes me longer to achieve that level than it would for a pro - but I enjoy every step of the journey - even the frustrating parts and the part where "they just don't get it" or maybe I don't, LOL.

I DO use some NH techniques. I don't use a flag for direction - at all. If I took a flag out there right now - half of my well trained, lounging ponies would totally "freak out" (the other 1/2 would go with the flow and immediately accept the flag and take direction from it - at least from someone who knows how to use/deal with it. I don't). Of those, 1/2 would spook in place - show that they are upset and concerned but not try to leave for the next county. They will realize/think "OK, we are doing something new - what/how am I supposed to respond? What in the world is my crazy owner expecting of me now". 1/2 of the rest would spend a while running on the line - snorting and blowing - totally upset and acting like they know nothing (made worse by the fact that I don't know what I'm doing with the flag and it may take awhile for me to figure out). I know that I have/or have had at least 2 that would try their darndest to leave and if already in "panic mode" - will drag you thru fences, bad ground and rocks to get away - especially if you didn't have something on their heads that will allow you (a youth?) to use your body weight to get them stopped and thinking thru the panic at that point. You would think they knew nothing and were total, blithering idiots. Yet they are/were two of my most brilliant (and "hottest", most "sensitive" or "over-reactive") ponies - one rides and one drives. They are very light and responsive to riding and driving cues - over do it - and they will leave you in the dust. I do not put any beginner anywhere near them - I want that performance and that lightness. They weren't, are not and never will be considered "packers" or good beginner ponies. They are advanced performance ponies.

I will/would work with them on flags - on my terms - if I felt it necessary. They knew flags were to be used to carry in rodeo and show performances - flapping and snapping above or next to their heads (on the right side) as they walked or galloped; or were hanging pennants on the show arena and grounds or as markers on Xcountry hazard elements (CDE driving) and markers for Xcountry jumps (3 day eventing) - NOT as directional signals to perform by.

It most certainly does not mean my ponies are not trained to lounge!

**********

Go back to the other NH techniques and properly introduce the flag to your little girl. Have her touch it with her muzzle. Rub it on her forehead between her eyes. rub her neck with it and then her body. Switch sides and do the same. Touch her bum with it - O no - she just clamped her tail down on it and "grabbed" it away from you. Stay with her when she panics. When her tail releases it, pick it back up and continue until she no longer clamps her tail down or rears or tries to run away. Touch her front legs with it - she rears? Stay with her, if you can, keep the flag on the leg she found it offensive with. Hind legs - she kicks (don't be behind her when you touch her - she will/can break YOUR leg/or hip if she connects) and minis ARE FAST with kicking. There is a LOT OF POWER packed into that ITTY BITTY hoof print!! Keep at it until she no longer kicks. You could even braid her tail, remove the flag from your stick (I assume you have the removable kind?) and attach it to her braided tail and let her kick to her heart's delight - she will get tired! When she stops - praise her, treat her (if that's what you do) and remove it.

NOW - introduce it as a body directional tool! and start teaching her to lounge.

*****

Even if your yearling was "trained" - it was no more than an introduction to that training. She is a BABY. She is still learning. She has not had enough exposure to any one training technique to have her responses "cemented in place" or automatic. Main thing is to be consistent with how you not only "teach her", but every time she does something AND every time you handle her. Make sure she's not responding totally due to panic. IF she's rearing due to panic, YES, slow down a bit and continue with her until she understands that rearing isn't the correct response and (indeed) is the totally wrong response. If she's rearing as an avoidance, your response should be a bit different and more firm/correcting in response BUT still consistent. As her new human (handler, trainer, friend, confidant), it is your job to figure out which it is and to then find a way to fix it.

We can only offer advice - and examples - since we aren't there.

*****

Tying - take her a lot of places and teach her to tie. IF she is pulling back - use a system that will NOT pull her head or neck. There are two ways - a rope around her neck behind her pole (a thick, soft one OR a wide canvas strap OR we used to use burlap sacks - can even use a bike innertube) or a body rope around her girth, run up between her front legs, thru her halter and tied high. IF you use a body rope, make sure that the snap is large enough to allow the body rope to slide and loosen again when the horse is standing quietly/not pulling back. If the snap isn't, use a ring that the rope will slide thru. A horse should always be tied higher than their withers and fairly short - if they set back - they will actually lift their front legs off the ground and will USUALLY quit setting back (unless they are already a "taught/confirmed" halter puller that thinks they will get loose if they set back). They can get no purchase on the ground to pull when their front legs come off the ground.

ALWAYS be there with them w/i sight. they can still have a problem or accident - you may have to help. Even well trained horses can have a tie up accident or panic.

*****

Even with basic introductions to water and hose spraying - a yearling may not yet stand. They may have been introduced to a bath by a bucket and sponge/brush - not a hose or spraying - which is totally different. Also consider how powerful or hot or cold that spray is from your hose. Our previous property - the pressure was such that a nozzle directing the spray was painful and could leave bruises on us humans on one of the nozzle settings - I'm sure it was the same for the ponies. Yesterday - I picked up the hose to rinse the sand off my legs (wearing shorts) - forgot that the hose had been sitting there a bit (it was around 90* at the time) and the water turned off at the nozzle (water was sitting in over 100' of black hose in direct sunlight/heat). I have a burn mark on my shin where that water scalded the "bejeebers" out of me. IT HURT! (This was an hour after the below incident - for as long as we were outside feeding and working with 30+ head of ponies, it wasn't a bad day, overall.)

*****

Treats -

I am usually one to say "NO". For several reasons. I have had ponies and horses as a riding business and have had rank/new beginners come out. I've found that especially minis and ponies, can/will become mouthy and nippy (shetland/arab xs are WORSE, LOL) - if they smell a hand or a pocket or a FANNY PACK with a "known treat".

I have experienced (thankfully only 2x in 40 yrs of being around horses) having 1 PONY and 1 MINI bite, not let go and REMOVE a young persons finger. It was not fun, pretty or pleasant. Both times the pony/mini and child in question was not mine. BUT did have one welsh/TB orphan FOAL clamp down and not turn loose of my 3 yr old daughter's fingers one time - it took a while for me to teach her it was her fault for sticking her hand thru the fence (and mine for letting her get away from my heavily pregnant self while carrying her 6 month old sister on my hip) and it was still not fun to deal with. Nowadays - that could be a crashing insurance thing. Even 1x in a lifetime is one too many to experience that, let me tell you.


I have had mini/shetland foals and horses that seem to delight in biting. Treats, fed by hand, make them worse. Just as many fillies/mares as colts/stallions. Over the last 21 years, I've found this to also run in certain bloodlines on a pretty consistent basis - passed on by either or both parents.

Just yesterday, our farrier was out. We did the hooves on the two "new" fillies. These girls are TINY - I sit on a heavy duty bucket and hold them while they are haltered and have either a body rope or a butt rope to help steady and hold them. The smaller filly, "Jynx" (we are regretting that name, aren't we??) - is also the one who has had her dam *savaging" her with her teeth and hooves both while nursing and eating. She "got away" from me and BIT the farrier. Her body stayed in place, but I'd turned her halter/head loose and she reached, snapped and broke the skin on my farrier's arm. It bled. It wasn't a large wound and on an adult, didn't require stitches. My 4 yr old grand daughter was right there too, and a bit freaked out by the blood and how the injury happened. The two girls (4 & 5) do handle the babies (with supervision). Had that happened to my grand daughter - we'd have been heading to the drs office (wow - it happened in the morning of a weekday - we'd have been seen w/o going to the ER - MAYBE) - for stitches and possibly a tetanus shot. Social Services would have gotten involved and I have no doubt that Animal Control would have been called. Our tiny little filly may have had to be euthanized - thru no REAL fault of her own!! But it was an animal bite and had it happened to a child - there you have it. Not every state/county handles this the same way, either, but that is probably how ours would have been - especially since this baby is NOT old enough for a rabies vaccination. She turned 7 weeks old yesterday - and here is a pic of her taken on Tuesday while doing "water worx" (it was her 1st time w/o a body or butt rope in the pics, but I did drop one around her butt a couple of times to direct her movement w/o pulling on her head).





That said, I was "caught" a couple of months ago "treating" my ponies. My girl friend suddenly turned to me and stated "what ARE you doing???? You ARE TREATING your ponies!!! U, so CON-TREATING are TREATING your ponies!!! WHAT HAPPENED?" As it turns out, nothing had happened. I have always, on occasion (not regularly) taken a bucket of feed or alfalfa pellets out to check a pasture or paddock of ponies. 1 - it gets them used to hearing hard feed make noise in a bucket and it's a good thing (wonderful if you have a bunch get out of where they are supposed to be and then will follow the bucket back home) and 2 - it brings a whole group up to me so I can check their condition. Some may need to be brought in for fly spray, injury treatment or more/less feed. 3 - I don't usually feed them by hand - even when i take a "treat" bucket out. The feed bucket is offered, not my hand with feed in it. Does make a difference. 4 - YES, sometimes I do treat by hand - I do want a pony to learn to take feed or a treat from my hand - calmly and sensibly w/o grabbing or biting. THAT is part of my training, but is not done every day or a lot and I try to remember to actually wash my hands between ponies or even while handling that same pony - to reduce/remove the scent of the "treat".

Have more but this is enough...
 

sayyadina

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If she truly is fearful, then clicker training can be helpful. So long as its done in a disciplined, correct way. One of my minis was absolutely terrified of halters when I got her, and clicker training is the only way I was able to get near her with a halter. Now, she's much better.

Personally, I prefer training methods built on mutual trust and respect. Force never has any positive result. One of my favorite training books is "True Horsemanship through Feel" by one of the Dorrance brothers. First, I get to know each horse as an individual. They all have different personalities, and that'll shape how you approach a training situation. Some horses respond to too much pressure by exploding, while others become evasive when pressured too much. And both require a different approach. Read up on horse behavior. You want to establish yourself as the lead mare. Its not at all about dominance, and its not easy for me to explain.

There's 4 reasons why a horse can give you trouble. They're afraid, They don't understand. They're in pain. Or they're being dominant/aggressive on purpose. My experience is that its usually a combination of fear and not understanding, so I always work from that perspective first.

My younger mini is a more dominant type and will act out when pushed too hard. She was bad about crowding and begging for treats when I got her. Giving her a slap or backing her off didn't get me anywhere, since she took those as me initiating play. Then I tried something a little different. I'd walk up to her and started grooming her, and she'd start grooming me back. If she got too hard or pushy, I stopped and backed away from her. I faced her until she lowered her head and sighed. Then I resumed grooming. It took a while, but she's not a pushy, nippy mini anymore.

She has a tooth issue now, and I have to brush her teeth once a day. Clicker training helped get her used to that. When its time, I halter her and she stands next to me without being tied. I brush for a bit, give her a treat, brush, treat, etc until I'm done. She stands next to me the whole time and doesn't push me around or go for the treat container.

As far as lunging goes, using a corner can help at first. I used a rope halter, lead and dressage whip. She needs to understand "Halt' before you start lunging. Teach 'Halt' and "Walk" voice commands when leading her. I'm not stationary when I lunge. I walk in a smaller circle. This helps with any confusion on the horse's part, since they should be used to stoping next to you when lead before you lunge. Start walking on a small circle, and ask the horse to start moving away from you with the "Out' command. Reinforce it with a gentle push out with your hand (or the whip as she gets farther out).

Crowding can be dominance, but it can also be insecurity. As in the horse is nervous and feels safer closer to you. Being calm helps. As the horse to be a little way off, just far enough that you won't get run over. As they gain confidence, they'll feel more comfortable staying out.

A horse needs to know how to lead correctly and yield to pressure before you tie, so I'd focus more on lead training now.
 

Debby - LB

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Wow good information and recommendations from all!

Kevin I'm glad you are being proactive. Don't take the abuse your little guy is dishing out personally it's hormones and as much as it hurts our feelings for our sweet babies to grow up and turn into raging lunatics it happens. SO happy to see you having him gelded. You, your family, and Katz will be better off for it... not to mention Winston!

ParkerAlexx she's definitely testing you. You have excellent mentors here! You won't go wrong by applying these methods.
 

ParkerAlexx

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Wow! Thanks for all of the feed back, guys! I will read through this all tonight and see if there's something she and I can do to work on it all.
 
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