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What to do to de-spook a pony?

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Ashley

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I got a pony in yesterday that is here for awhile. I am going to break him to ride then hope to sell him back out.

He is just a two year old, and figured I would work on de spooking him and break him to ride next spring.

ONe thing I did, which might sound cruel but really isnt, I took a small branch with dead leaves on it, tied it to his tail and let it drag behind him. We had some intresting side stepping, lots of circles but after about 15 mins he calmed down.

Any other ideas?
 

Keri

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Tarps are a big "scary!". Make him walk over it, wear it, and pull it over his head.

Also, I take my ponies on walks. They get dogs, cars passing them, "scary" objects coming out of nowhere. A few times walking, they'll calm down tons. And its good exercise.
 

disneyhorse

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I suggest checking out some Natural Horsemanship methods (and i am generally against the Natural horsemanship crap that they try to sell) but Robert Miller has some good information on habituation and desensitization you might want to check out.

Tying scary things to your pony isn't what I would recommend. I would rather see you try to get your horse to trust you, and slowly introduce him to things that he finds scary, so that he will be your partner and have trust, not just run away from something tied to him until he's physically and mentally exhausted.

I personally just try to work with my ponies every day, and see what they are uncomfortable with and we work on it. I take them for walks around the neighborhood, we go by traffic, over painted "STOP" lines on the street, by construction areas, by barking dogs behind a fence, etc. and they follow me and realize that they aren't getting hurt. I let them stop and look at things, and see if we can go over and touch the "scary" thing or get a better look so they can realize it won't hurt them.

Horses are pretty smart, some do overcome and habituate faster than others but generally the more you work with them and provide a good learning environment, the better they will do for you.

Good luck,

Andrea
 

Ashley

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He is actually doing really well. I got him Friday. HE has gone from haveing to be cornered to be caught to me with a little time being able to catch him in the open pasture.

We have been working on tarps. I hung one in there paddock just to get used to the noise when its windy, and the looks.

We went for a walk today. I led him, my helper drug a tarp across the ground. He was more afraid of the movement from the wind then anything else. He walked fine next to it and haveing it on him like a blanket.
 

JMS Miniatures

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I agree I wouldn't tie anything on him.

What I do is throw the lead rope all over him, around his legs, around his neck, everywhere. Also get like a lounge whip touch the whip all over his body and down his legs, throw the string of the lounge whip all around him pretty much like the lead rope. Then smack the lounge whip on the ground near him pretty much all around him, so he can get use to the noise. Also get plastic bags, attatch it to your lounge whip, smack it on the ground, smack the whip with the bag, rub the bag all over him, even on his face, and even flap the bag on him. Another thing is get 2 feed bags together, one on top of the other one, roll one end up and this end will be what you are holding, and smack him all over it, not to hurt him, but its an object and it will make noise. Water is another good thing too, give him a bath while he isn't tied, even let the water run down his face. When you get ready to saddle him up throw the saddle blanket around alot on him, getting him use to the motions, same with the saddle. Of course all of these things you want him to stand there. He will probably move just make sure he is facing you, keep doing these things until he competely stops moving and looks relaxed.

You can pretty much use anything as long as it doesn't hurt the horse. But please don't tie anything on him.
 

ckmini

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My pony is extremely reactive. . . especially to anything that blows in the wind. So he sleeps with a couble of plastic shaving bags tied in his stall at night
 

Ashley

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I havent got a chance to work with him as of late due to many reasons, mainly school. HOwever need to get back on that and am actually a bit ahead of schedual so might do that tommorow. I do have tarps hanging all over the paddock, however they dont spend much time in there. He would rather spend his time in the pond/mud hole right now.
 
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krissy3

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when I walk with my ponys and they are fearful of something , I stop let them check it out , then back them up and have them take a closer look at whatever they are freaked about , and spend some time just looking and figuring things out on their own..I would never force a horse to get over their problem by tieing something to their room , or to their body ..how cruel is that. Their stall is for their down time and a good night sleep . How would you like it if someone hung a freddy crugger mask over your bed.
 

Ashley

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Thats not cruel in my opinion. They have to be well trained and not afraid of anything to be a rideing pony and that is my plan for him. He has no future with out it other then be bounced from home to home so he is going to learn a job so he has a better future and doesnt end up as somebodys starved pasture pet.
 

disneyhorse

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Well... cruel or not... there are two different "methods" used to reduce the flight response of the horse.

"Progressive desensitization" is the process in which you slowly introduce the animal to the stimuli that most evokes the flight response. Eventually the horse will get used to it.

"Flooding" is when you continually apply the stimulus to the horse until it no longer reacts. Is quicker and sometimes more successful than the gradual method above... but you can also set the horse up for failure if it is able to escape the stimuli before it "gets over" them.

Both obviously are used to some success, as they have been experimented with by natural horsemanship folks and others who don't even realize what exactly it is they are doing.

Andrea
 

tracerace

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Well... cruel or not... there are two different "methods" used to reduce the flight response of the horse.
"Progressive desensitization" is the process in which you slowly introduce the animal to the stimuli that most evokes the flight response. Eventually the horse will get used to it.

"Flooding" is when you continually apply the stimulus to the horse until it no longer reacts. Is quicker and sometimes more successful than the gradual method above... but you can also set the horse up for failure if it is able to escape the stimuli before it "gets over" them.

Both obviously are used to some success, as they have been experimented with by natural horsemanship folks and others who don't even realize what exactly it is they are doing.

Andrea
I have a neighbor that uses the "flooding" method and it scares the heck out of me. Not to mention the poor horse that is terrified and running at a full gallop in a round pen trying to escape whatever it is she decides to tie to it's saddle. She has some seriously dead-broke horses at her place but she also has shipped some off the the kill buyer and deemed them "too dangerous" when they went nuts after one of her flooding sessions. She ruined a horse that I had helped her start and she shipped it to the KB.


I have a POA that is jumpy. She spook at most anything...butterflies, that 4 wheeler that was 10 feet to the left earlier, the car that she see's every day of her life parked near her paddock....the floodlight 12 feet above her head. Yep, she's somethin' else.

I have had serious success with clicker training her and teaching her to "touch" what scares her. When she startles now, I click and say "touch" and she pulls herself together to ease up to it and touch it for praise or treat. She is getting SO much better that all Ii do is make the clicking sound (not to be confused with clucking!) and she settles down. I think it has become a "calm down" cue over time.

Recently she was freaked out by a swingset. She didn't want to pass 10 feet from it. With 3-4 minutes I had her standing under it with the swings moving on both sides of her. I did this progressively by clicking as she eased up to it.

If your pony is interested in treats and praise, clicker training can do wonders. I have some horses that could care less about clicking and treats though - so I think it has to be the right type of personality to work well.
 
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krissy3

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yes i understand both types of training ..however if you have a shy quiet, horse that is sensitive and you use the "flooding " training , you could really ruin your horse, not to mention never building trust between you. I would prefer to hear that someone takes the time to get to know the personality of the horse FIRST , then decide what method suits him /her best. Choosing a softer more gentile training method doesnt mean that they will have a starving pasture pet that cant work...where did that idea come from.
 

ChrystalPaths

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Why not talk to him, explain everything in minute detail and go as quickly as he is able and no faster?
 

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