Update on Sugarfoot! He is home!

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pondfire.farm

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HI, everyone!
Monday: Sugarfoot is home! We had quite a time convincing him to go into the trailer. It took 3 of us to finally get him in the trailer with the help of a spare gate that the previous owner used to hem him up so Sugarfoot had no choice but to finally go in the trailer. He bucked and reared quite a bit in the trailer, as well as actually rearing up and sticking his head out the side windows a number of times. He finally settled down for the 3.5 hour ride home until my traveling buddy and I just had to go through a drive-thru for food. He made the trailer rock for a bit while we were going through the line but settled down quickly once the truck was rolling again. My new little trailer (new to me) pulls like a dream, even though Sugarfoot could make it rock n roll. Once we got home, I was able to get a lead on him to get him out of the trailer. He acted fairly nice with me while I let him graze before putting him in the goat pen as a temporary home. The new fence is under construction so his pen mates for now are the goats, which he lived with along with several donkeys previously so he doesn't have a problem with my goats.

Honestly, I grew up with horses but haven't had one in years, nor have I ever had to break a horse. Sugarfoot shows signs of fear of petting and definitely does not like a halter or lead. He is eating good from my hand and his feed bowl if I hold it. He doesn't like the bowl on the ground at all. Suggestions and advice are needed! I already love him but want to train him properly.
 
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dalvers63

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He is adorable! My little gelding hates not being able to see out of the trailer and when he is riding by himself he will rear to see out when we stop. If my girl is in there with him then he's happy to just ride.

When it comes to training, especially a horse with fear and trust issues as it seems Sugarfoot has, I highly recommend clicker training and positive reinforcement. He needs to learn he is safe with you and that you will never hurt him. Alexandra Kurland has been working with horses for many years using just the clicker. Check out her website for some basics. Her book is a great start and there is a lot of info on her website, too. https://www.theclickercenter.com/what-is-clicker-training
 

pondfire.farm

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oh, I'm so glad to know I don't have the only horse in the world that behaves so badly in the trailer! Guess I know have an excuse for another mini horse... Sugarfoot needs a traveling companion. ;)

I'm going to try to order the clicker today and read Alexandra Kurland's book and website too! thank you so much Dalvers63!
 

Cayuse

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Don't worry too much about the trailer. My two minis were a little "lively" in transport when I first got them. I have to tie them and keep a hay net in front of them and they now ride ok. They have learned to settle down.
I feed them a lot in the trailer in the summer months so they associate the trailer with goodies.
 

Maryann at MiniV

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It really isn't uncommon for horses to HATE trailering....You are asking them to go into this dark cave like place. But once you are rolling, their focus is more about keeping their balance. (My husband used to transport minis for a living.)

Until your training book arrives, I'd recommend a couple things to do to build his trust and comfort with you..... One is tie him and curry comb him and brush him, very slowly. Talk to him while doing it. The other is to sit in his pen while he is UNtied and talk to him quietly...Put a dish of grain on your lap and let him come to YOU. Always move SLOWLY. Once he comes close to you, SLOWLY bring your hand up and give him scritches on his neck. (He will probably LOVE being scritched under his mane....and down between his front legs.)
 

Ryan Johnson

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You have been given some great advice already. When I got a mare I currently have, she was petrified. I went in and sat in her paddock and just talked to her. I did this over a week until she got used to my voice and realized I wasn't an enemy. Gradually she came closer to me as she started to trust me (this is when I started to give the occasional carrot). Some horses, especially those that have been moved around a lot, suffer initial fear and can take some time to bond with their owners.

I agree with Maryann in doing everything "slowly" :)
 

pondfire.farm

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Don't worry too much about the trailer. My two minis were a little "lively" in transport when I first got them. I have to tie them and keep a hay net in front of them and they now ride ok. They have learned to settle down.
I feed them a lot in the trailer in the summer months so they associate the trailer with goodies.

I love your method of happy horse travelers! I think I'll move the trailer down to the garden area and put his food and water in there. It will also provide him with shelter in the garden area during grazing time. :)
 

pondfire.farm

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He is adorable! My little gelding hates not being able to see out of the trailer and when he is riding by himself he will rear to see out when we stop. If my girl is in there with him then he's happy to just ride.

When it comes to training, especially a horse with fear and trust issues as it seems Sugarfoot has, I highly recommend clicker training and positive reinforcement. He needs to learn he is safe with you and that you will never hurt him. Alexandra Kurland has been working with horses for many years using just the clicker. Check out her website for some basics. Her book is a great start and there is a lot of info on her website, too. https://www.theclickercenter.com/what-is-clicker-training
'
My clickers and book is ordered! I can't wait to get them so he and I can have clicker games!
 

pondfire.farm

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It really isn't uncommon for horses to HATE trailering....You are asking them to go into this dark cave like place. But once you are rolling, their focus is more about keeping their balance. (My husband used to transport minis for a living.)

Until your training book arrives, I'd recommend a couple things to do to build his trust and comfort with you..... One is tie him and curry comb him and brush him, very slowly. Talk to him while doing it. The other is to sit in his pen while he is UNtied and talk to him quietly...Put a dish of grain on your lap and let him come to YOU. Always move SLOWLY. Once he comes close to you, SLOWLY bring your hand up and give him scritches on his neck. (He will probably LOVE being scritched under his mane....and down between his front legs.)

I'm going to sit down on the log in the pen tomorrow. I've been holding his bowl while he eats but sitting there might be less stressful for him. That will give me the opportunity to give him scritches without him feeling like my hand is being raised above him. thank you!
 

pondfire.farm

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You have been given some great advice already. When I got a mare I currently have, she was petrified. I went in and sat in her paddock and just talked to her. I did this over a week until she got used to my voice and realized I wasn't an enemy. Gradually she came closer to me as she started to trust me (this is when I started to give the occasional carrot). Some horses, especially those that have been moved around a lot, suffer initial fear and can take some time to bond with their owners.

I agree with Maryann in doing everything "slowly" :)

Y'all are great! I think I could have been moving too fast for him as well as his unknown past. he does come to eat when I hold his bowl, but I've been standing while he ate so yes, I will be sitting tomorrow morning. :) I think a bit of carrot is in order too. :)
thank you, Ryan.
 

Marsha Cassada

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I sold a miniature horse a couple of years ago and he traveled from OK to AZ. I have an open side stock trailer and my horses have never minded it. The new owner had an enclosed regular horse trailer. She said every time she stopped on the way to AZ he climbed up on hay bales so he could see out the big horse windows.
 

pondfire.farm

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I sold a miniature horse a couple of years ago and he traveled from OK to AZ. I have an open side stock trailer and my horses have never minded it. The new owner had an enclosed regular horse trailer. She said every time she stopped on the way to AZ he climbed up on hay bales so he could see out the big horse windows.


Goodness! I'm glad I didn't have any hay bales in the trailer. Sugarfoot can see out the back windows but seeing him stick his head out of the tall windows really worried me, but we made it home! Next up... getting his halter back on him! :)
 

chandab

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Many minis with their small stature are hyper aware and take a bit more time to settle in to their new homes, so give him time to settle in at least for a few days.
 

pondfire.farm

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Many minis with their small stature are hyper aware and take a bit more time to settle in to their new homes, so give him time to settle in at least for a few days.

Very reassuring, Chanda, Thank you! He ran over to the gate when I went out to check on him. It didn't hurt that I had a couple treats in my pocket. Later when I took his breakfast out to him, he let me scratch him under the chin briefly, then he allowed me to pet him under his mane very briefly but I'll gladly take the slow but steady bonding process! :)
 

Joanna Cooke

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Congratulations!! I really can’t offer any advice because I am about in the same place you are with all this stuff. However, I have already had a few trials, and right now (considering my stallion is still pretty new to our place) I’m just kind of letting him be a horse, and I will go in there and sit with him almost every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, anything is better than nothing! I’m sure he will learn to trust you and you guys will become best buds!:D Congrats again!!
 

pondfire.farm

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great reminder, thanks, Marsha! Sugarfoot let me give him scritches this afternoon under his chin, down one side of his neck and his T-spot on his forehead. Periodically, he would nose bump my hand lightly then continue to eat. I think he is calming down a bit, but still no go on the halter and/or the lead.
 

pondfire.farm

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Congratulations!! I really can’t offer any advice because I am about in the same place you are with all this stuff. However, I have already had a few trials, and right now (considering my stallion is still pretty new to our place) I’m just kind of letting him be a horse, and I will go in there and sit with him almost every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, anything is better than nothing! I’m sure he will learn to trust you and you guys will become best buds!:D Congrats again!!

I see teeny tiny baby steps in our bonding process already. I think the trust has a ways to go but he does come trotting up to the gate when I come out in the mornings. It doesn't hurt that I have a treat ready, but today, he did allow me to scratch under his chin, rub under his mane and rub his T-spot. :)
 

pondfire.farm

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Joanna, since we are both in the kind of the same place with our minis, we might make great support for each other! I felt like Sugarfoot and I made a teeny bit of progress yesterday and I'm so thankful! It made for a great ending of the day. I know he wants out to be able to graze and run abit but until I can get the halter and/or lead back on him, I just can't let him out. Everyday, I think this is the day, but I'm so thankful for each step forward! Let me know how your lil guy is doing. Stallions are a bit more difficult than geldings so I imagine you are having a bit more challenge than I am. :)


Congratulations!! I really can’t offer any advice because I am about in the same place you are with all this stuff. However, I have already had a few trials, and right now (considering my stallion is still pretty new to our place) I’m just kind of letting him be a horse, and I will go in there and sit with him almost every day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, anything is better than nothing! I’m sure he will learn to trust you and you guys will become best buds!:D Congrats again!!
 

Joanna Cooke

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Joanna, since we are both in the kind of the same place with our minis, we might make great support for each other! I felt like Sugarfoot and I made a teeny bit of progress yesterday and I'm so thankful! It made for a great ending of the day. I know he wants out to be able to graze and run abit but until I can get the halter and/or lead back on him, I just can't let him out. Everyday, I think this is the day, but I'm so thankful for each step forward! Let me know how your lil guy is doing. Stallions are a bit more difficult than geldings so I imagine you are having a bit more challenge than I am. :)
That sounds great! I can use all the support I can get, and would love to relate with you in whatever! Sugarfoot will probably end up being nicer in the long run, just because he won’t have the hormones to struggle with.;) I am still having some trouble with Buddy. He tried to kick me yesterday when I went out to feed him (which, according to his previous owner, he has NEVER done before). It caught me off guard and I had to get him out of the way before I could give him his bit of grain, and throw his hay in his shelter. I’m pretty sure it was just a reaction to all the new that’s been happening. He just came to a new place, he doesn’t have any friends of his own kind (I don’t have any other horses yet), we just had a cold snap so he might have been in a little shock (this darn Kansas weather:p), and he was probably trying to “guard” his food. Either way I’m not angry with him or anything, and he was fine today when I dewormed him. However, he does still nip at me, and I don’t fully trust him, which I don’t like. I feel like I can’t turn my back on him because he might bite or rear up on me (like out of play or something). We are both working on trusting each other, but I don’t think he’ll ever be that “perfect little pony”. I am just REALLY going to hope that he will get better overtime. I’m so glad that you and Sugarfoot are making progress, though! That’s awesome!
 

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