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Horse Behavior and Training


Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed

I have a 3 year old mare who is just wonderful full of grace and always willing to please. the problem is if someone even a mile away makes a throwing motion twards her she spooks so bad that we had a fall together both of us she crow hopped and slipped on a icy patch and before i knew it we were down and i was on the bottom!!! don't worry i broke her fall and she is fine me well i am working on it i just need to help her get over this fear and spookyness

MaggieF, Melbourne - Australia
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed

Oh wjchapman2 I am so sorry to hear this. What an awful accident - I do hope you are OK as it sounds bad. The ice must have been so hard to fall on. I am assuming that as you have made this post that you are a real toughy and have survived. Lucky for your horse that you broke her fall eh!! Tricka shyed badly at a megaphone in the middle of last year on slippery grass. I was thrown off her first so didn't help her out! That fall actually mended a sciatic nerve problem I had suffered from a previous fall but Tricka came off badly. Six months later her back is still playing up as she landed on top of her saddle with her four hooves in the air. She was slow to get up and I was so scared she had broken her back. At least it is not broken but she gets recurring pain. I was going to ride her to-day but realised she was sore so called the physio again. Back to your problem - apologies for the aside. I think your mare will take a long time to get over this real scare of people making throwing motions. She has obviously had things thrown at her in the past by kids or adults which have hurt her and scared her. I suggest you use Monty's approach of incremental learning. I would start by putting the dually on her and then have someone else make the throwing motion while you try to keep her reassured with the help of the dually - lots of talking to her and stroking. I would stand in front of her so as to keep out of the range of her head if she throws it sidewards which spooky horses are prone to do when they are trying to escape from something. Start your arm throwing companion well back. Take it very slowly over a number of lessons. Once she stands still for you then end of lesson for the day and proceed next day or as soon as you can again with another lesson starting well back again initially but this time moving a bit closer. It takes along time for them to recover from such fear. I am lucky with Tricka as she is pretty relaxed over most things but she has even learnt to mistrust and fear my farrier which is really sad. My fault - when he was shoeing her front hooves about two months ago I turned to tell my kelpie to drop and at that moment Tricka chose to muzzle his ear. He got a huge fright as he thought she was going to bite him and lept up hitting with the rasp and then across her nose as hard as he could with his hand. He gave me a fright too as I have known him for 15 years and he has never shown any aggression towards horses in the past. It was an over reaction. Tricka was head shy with me for a few days but then got over it. However yesterday when he came again it all came back to her and she was very scared. Jumping back every time he went to pat her on the nose - and even jumping back if I lifted my had to pat her too quickly. My farrier couldn't understand what her trouble was until I reminded him as gently as I could about last time. Horses may have a million good experiences but it is the one bad one they tend to remember! Horses never really forget scary times and even once you believe that they are re-conditioned it doesn't take much to set them off again. The best we can do is try to re-assure them that it is OK and the best way to do this is by repetitive training via incremental learning. A little bit at a time and then slowly making it more intense for them. Always rewarding them with an end of lesson when they have responded positively. Good luck with this. I am sure you will corrent your mare's spookiness at this throwing motion especially if it is the only thing that spooks her.
Good luck and look after those bruises - plenty of ice but I guess you have that!! Do hope there are no broken bones and your backs OK.
PS I have a quarter horse, Uggs, who is easily spooked and I have tried to recondition him to many things with some success. However this morning Tricka was eating corn plants which I had broken the roots off to throw over the fence for her. Uggs has usually been spooked by them so usually waites for me to feed them to him. However this morning he decided he was hungry and he would just have to try one by himself. As soon as he had the end of the corn stick in his mouth he spooked really badly from the russling leaves and stalk hanging down out of him mouth and flew around in a circle bucking still with the stalk in his mouth until he finally dropped it. I had to go out quieten him down, then break it the stalk into small pieces and feed it to him - just like last year. I increased the size of the pieces as I fed them to him and he didn't spook again even with a whole stalk but I am sure he will next year if we have corn!

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed

It may take awaile but your horse will get through it in time. My mustang was incredibly spooky when i first took him in. I dont know much of his past, but I do believe he was abused.I couldn't touch his face, muzzle, feet or even think about showing my face around his left side. I couldn't even clip the lead onto his halter without him striking at me and running off. I've actually had recommendations to put him down. That was a year ago, and now, thanks to working with the Join-up methods and taking my time he's become a calm, pleasant horse to be around.

Kleinne - Utah, U.S.A.
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed

Make sure that when your working with your horse to desensitize her that your working in an enclosed area where she can't run off or get away from you and I would also suggest that you use a long lead line like the one Monty uses so if she rears up or pulls back, she doesn't pull the line out of your hands or hurt you. I would also suggest starting out with very small throwing movements. I really think you can make great improvements with her in a short amount of time but don't overwhelm her give her a chance to get used to each movement and correct her when she needs it.

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed

Hi wj,
My little mare was very spooky. Was afraid of her own shadow but now I can introduce her to just about anything.
To desentize a horse we have to start off with the basics.
While the horse is on halter, take the lead line and rub it ALL over, when they stand compeletly still stop and rub their head.
Next a plastic bag, so on..... rub all items until they stand completely still.
Next uing the lead line, which is still attached to the horse, GENTLY throw the rope at the ground, about 20 feet away, when they stand completely still, rub them.....
Now find other objects, rub them.....GENTLY throw them, again about 20 feet away....
Eventually the horse will stand completely still, no matter what you expose them to.
Do not do this on an icy surface, if there is snow, make sure it is solid in base, not slippery.
I introduced STAR to a ball yesterday, she was nervous. I put it in her small paddock, off her stall, with her and she is now playing with it.
I like to give a horse time to digest any new thing, it may take longer but they are happier. Take day breaks between anything new !!!
They have a way of getting use to anything as long as we allow them time to trust us to protect them.
Be their partner and their friend.
PS: Remember we do not want the horse to rear, if it does it is because it is frightened. Read the body language to see if what you are doing is causing fear. If so STOP and wait for another day. Meanwhile walk with your horse, be friends.
Reward the positive ignore the negetive. Horses always remember and associate.

Please upload your photo 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed
I would like to make a donation to one of your programs(first responders therapy). I would like to speak with someone on the phone, which I have done in the past. By making it difficult to contact you, you are doing yourself more harm than good. Please give me a call
Art Bertolina 909 297 3117  
Miriam (Holland&Germany)
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed 600 lessons completed 650 lessons completed
Hi Art Bertolina,
Please click the Support button at he bottom of each page and ask for whatever help you need! I'm sure the Support team will get in touch with you.
By posting your request here on the forum you have found a group of dedicated students, that would be more than willing to give you all their knowledge and insights, but for your special request I'm sure the Support button is the way to go.
Hope this helps,
Please upload your photo 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed
         Hello, My name is Angie and I have a question for you. I have done all the lessons etc,and have the ribbon with 500. What I am wondering is what is that ribbon for  under Your picture  & Monty's that is red/white/&/blue with a 5 on it? May be a stupid question but just wondering. Is there something else I should be doing? Thanks, Angie (Canada)