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Horse Behavior and Training

Mustang decided not to respect me

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Lately I have had some behavioral/respect issues with our Mustang. First here is some background on him and the training we have given him:

Back in late November my wife and I adopted gelding BLM Mustang. While I have had experience in the realm of working with livestock, the only equine experience either of us had at that point is working with our donkeys (we had a Quarter Horse for 3 months before she died of a brain tumor so not enough time to really get great experience). As with most things I (we) do I researched everything about gentling and training a Mustang. Within 1 month of gentling we trusted him enough to let him out of the holding/training pen and into the pasture. He trusted and respected us very much. I had to continually reinforce that I was in charge as in the beginning he challenged my herd rank, but after quick ground work we were back to normal. From February on through late May I had absolutely no behavioral or respect issues, and if I was trying something new with training he always trusted me and worked very well with me. There was even a mishap on our second day of saddle training in which I still had his trust and respect well afterwards. To make a long story short I had already mounted him and was sitting on him for 1 minute when one of our donkeys spooked him fairly badly and I went for a wild ride. He was very on edge and running around the pen even after I dismounted him, but I was able to get a hold of the lead rope and control him and calm him down very quickly. He even let me put the saddle back on him 2 days later. For a week after that I had to put training on hold due to my work schedule, but I still spent time with him every day by petting and brushing him. Once my schedule was normal again I haltered him and took him for a walk outside of the pasture where the grass was much taller (and of course, in his mind, greener) as that is always great bonding time for the 2 of us (not to mention he loves those walks). The walk went normal and well as it usually is, I brought him back to the pasture, took off the halter and praised him, and went inside to get ready for bed. The next day I went out to his pen to do some saddle training and brought the saddle out as I usually do before starting. He sniffed it as is normal before starting and acted no differently than usual.

This is where the issues started:
Once I brought out the halter his entire attitude changed and he refused to let me put it on him. I checked him for any injuries or sores that may make the halter uncomfortable, but he checked out with nothing wrong physically. The halter is also very well fitting for him and couldn't fit any better on him. Since then he has turned his back to me unless it was feeding time. He has not shown me any respect and hasn't wanted to spend any time with me. I have tried everything from attempting Monty's Join-up to just general pressure and release, but nothing seems to work. When doing Join-up, once he stops to look at me and I turn he never really walks up to me and if I put my hand out he just starts frantically trying to find a way out of the pen. Sometimes he is hard to get going and to keep him loping around the pen. It is almost as if we are back at square 1 except unlike in the beginning I am getting absolutely nowhere and is like all the training that has been done up to this point has gone down the drain. I have watched and read every guide I can find and have tried most of the recommendations that the videos and guides give (including the videos posted on this site). I am very patient when I am in the pen working and never show anger or frustration to him when training (I learned not to show negative emotion as a kid growing up around livestock). I am very open to any suggestions.
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Hi. Trust has to be earned and having had a fright, the donkey and possibly your reactions to and during your wild ride, this horse has taken a significant step backwards. I want to help you and your horse but first I want you to realise that nothing I say is an accusation. You have done the best you can so far. You now have a significant bump in your road of training. How you respond will be very telling to this horse. Most men want to control their environment, you'll gather I'm not male but please don't hold that against me. You will have been adrenaline fuelled during your wild ride, that's natural, self preservation. You probably clung to the horse, like a predator, his worst nightmare. Go back to square one and don't ask anything of the horse, no tack, no pressure. If necessary, take a container of carrot pieces with you and drop them on the ground in a trail so he follows you, even if just a few strides. There is no quick fix in this situation, you need patience by the shed load. You can put this right but you'll need to get your breathing, your body language, your eyes, your attitude and expectations under control. The first move needs to be your horse choosing to come to you and your calm and simple acceptance of that huge move on his part. Greeting  that really significant move on his part by an appreciative rub and then moving a stride or two away with a body language invite to stay with you. Once you have his confidence in you again, which will likely take several if not many days of simple accepting to be in each other's company, without any further obligation, you will have established a toehold on which you can then slowly, gently and progressively build on. Remember, this is not a domestic animal you have taken on. He was born wild, was rounded up, terrifying to him, experienced more terrifying things before coming into your hands. Now he feels unsafe with you, through no fault of his or yours. Humans have caused all this in his life. Give him time, respect, affection and attention and he will eventually reward you. Good luck and let us know how you get on. We are here on the forum to support efforts and help as much as possible. Cheers, Jo.
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Thanks a bunch (and no offense taken, I can't be offended). I was afraid I was going to need to start at the beginning, I wanted to make sure it wasn't something I did outside of the saddle incident that flipped his switch. As for the donkey, lets just say if it wasn't for her 3 year old daughter loving her company as well as being the only donkey for her companionship, she would have been gone in a hurry (very long story behind her as even the best donkey handlers in our area have not had any luck with her). Our Mustang (Maverick) still knows his ques when I was able to get a halter on him (once after he started "ignoring" me, but it was no easy task), but I know I will get nowhere without him wanted to be with me or respecting me. I figured me being on top during the wild ride did not help at all. One thing I am able to do well is, even when adrenaline is flowing high, stay calm, move slowly if needed, and think quickly to find a practical and safe solution (things that were very handy when I was a volunteer firefighter in college and helps alot in my profession of weather forecasting). Even with that I know he still sensed it all. Thanks again, it's not easy finding someone elsewhere that can give advice on Mustangs as either that deal with purely domestic breeds or they look down on Mustangs as unworthy (even with the hard work and the recent setback I have fallen in love with the "breed" and don't plan on buying/adopting anything different).
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Hello, first of all, what is your name, so we might address you cordially.
Jo is right on in her assessment of what happened on what your eventual path might be to put a FIX on your relationship with your horse [mustang]  I am sure that you have been doing a lot of head scratching since the round pen incident and the ultimate aftermath of  how your mustang views your efforts to continue the training.  YOU MUST FIND A WAY TO BACK-UP AND GO AROUND THE EMOTIONAL BUMP IN THE ROAD OF LEARNING THAT WAS CREATED FOR YOUR HORSE.  I would STRONGLY SUGGEST that you follow Jo`s strategy and take the time that is needed for you to fit back into the ROLE OF LEADERSHIP  for this individual.  I will say that you can do this because the forgiving nature of these animals, but you will have to find the right approach for this particular horse.  When he is ready to allow you back into that role of leadership in HIS WORLD, he will tell you.  You will have to listen.
  The road back is through friendship and trust.  It`s a brick and mortar foundation the MUST BE LAID OUT by you for him.  Given enough time, he will follow, but being of a wild nature, that foundation MUST BE STRONG.  Think out every move that you make with him before you make the move.  You are dealing with a ZEN MASTER OF BODY LANGUAGE AND INTENTION.  So, as Jo stated, keep the expectations out of your thoughts other than friendliness.  Stay in the moment with your thinking.
You stated that you both enjoy the walks out of the fenced area in the tall grasses.  I call them SPIRIT WALKS.  That would be a great place to start.  I would always have conversation with him during these walks. YOU MUST LISTEN CAREFULLY for it to be a two-way conversation.
You have learned a powerful lesson here and that lesson has probably shaken your confidence.  You will need that confidence back to continue on your journey with this horse.  Right now, he will not allow his field to be shaped in any other way but to HIS advantage when he sees you.  So your confidence should be the number one item on your agenda.  Why?  Because he will read your confidence in a heart beat when you enter into HIS WORLD.  No confidence= no leadership ability on your part in his eyes.
Getting on the back of a mustang is a HUGE step for the mustang.  Not everyone can do this.  You had an explosion of emotions, but no one got hurt.  This, in itself, is a win of sorts.  The playing field was tipped in his favor.  That needs to change for the next time you try and back this horse.  With some thought and patience on your part, you can accomplish this.  Please tread slowly and carefully and keep us posted with your progress.