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Horse Behavior and Training

Pawing

Hello!
Hi guys,


I need help with a behaviour that my youngster is doing.


She has always pawed at the ground when she is getting impatient, for example when tied up or you have asked her to stand still and she wants to go and investigate. However over the past few days when I give her a treat she eats it and then tries to paw me to get another one ( I appreciate a lot of people will say don’t give treats and if this is what I need to do to stop the behaviour then that is what I will do but I do like to reward her with a treat when we are training)


But I was wondering... I have read online that if a youngster gets nippy when teething to never tell them off as it can become a game to them and I was wondering if instead of telling her off (when she has pawed towards me I have been telling her no in a firm voice and making her take 2 steps backwards) would it be possible to use this to train her something new instead of telling her off. So when she paws to pick up the leg and tell her paw as we would a dog and then give her a reward for this or would this encourage an unwanted behaviour and therefore it’s best to let her no that in no circumstances is it ok to lift a leg in my direction? 
conniemacklill
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Sara

Horses develop bad habits because of Human error. Your youngster is a smart little girl.
She is so smart she is testing you and demanding the treat. I don't need to tell you that giving treats is not a good thing. You already are finding that out for yourself. The only time I use treats at all is when I'm on a trail ride, I will give my horse one along with a lot of rubbing, to settle him down if he gets upset over something
Horses paw for several reasons. Being anxious, excided, want to be somewhere else, tired of just standing,  and a number of other.
You need to try to figure out why and when she paws and for what reason. If it's after you have worked her and have her tied up, Instead of giving her a treat, I would suggest you work her more. I don't mean a hard work out but just get her back to doing something else.
Get her mind off pawing and listening to you. You are in control, not her. Don't let her tell you what to do. Look at it this way. You are the teacher and she is the student in this case. Although I have become the student in many cases myself. The main thing is it sounds like she has found a way to get your attention. Get ready because if she gets away with this, she will find something else later and it may not be as simple.
Be very firm while in control, but be patient and understanding, and most of all be quick to respond and when she listens and cooperates, give her plenty,  plenty of praise.
I hope this helps in some way.
Connie Mack
sara.garrett
Hello!
Hi Connie


Thank you for your reply.


I had thought she was probably doing it through disrespect. 


How would you correct this? Assuming we are in her stable and she has nothing on? Is telling her no and making her step back enough or do I need to do more ie make her work?
conniemacklill
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Sara

 Disrespect, maybe so, maybe not.
Pawing is a natural behavior for most horses. But not consistent pawing.
 One thing I have noticed over the years is if they arch their neck up and straighten their front legs while pawing is they are trying to be dominant. Maybe over you or another horse stalled close to it. Sometimes it's pain that causes them to do it. Check with the Vet if you haven't done that already.
Is she doing it after feeding or before feeding. If before then she's hungry. If after, and there is no pain issue, then I would take her back out to work. Maybe increase your work out from the start if time is no issue.
I think you're doing the right thing by telling her no and especially making her back up but you have to find a way to slowly let her know that this or any sign of disrespect,  if that's the cause, is not acceptable and at the same time reassure her that you mean business. Never forget as I said earlier, to praise when she cooperates. And be very quick to "Praise".  I hope this helps some.
If there's some type of behavioral specialist close by it would be a good idea to check with them. It sounds like you are building a long lasting relationship with her and one that will last for the life of the horse. I praise you for that and pray you find a way to help build it much stronger. 
Remember, you have to find out the reason to solve the issue. 
Let me know if that works please.
Connie Mack
sara.garrett
Hello!
Hi Connie


Thank you very much for your advice. 


So far the backing up and telling her no and then when she steps back and licks and chews I rub her on the head and tell her she is a good girl and there is a significant reduction in how often she paws, I have also eased right up on the treats and it seems to be working 👍🏼
conniemacklill
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Sara

I'm glad to hear of the progress you're making with her. You are finding a way to cause her to want to be good!!  Keep up the good work, and be very quick to respond to her moves.
It sounds like she trust you and feels secure around you. That's a good thing. I'm also glad to hear you cut back on treats. There's good and bad in treats, but only you, can work that out with any horse and the less the better if it was me.
Holler back anytime.
Please stay safe and well. 

Connie Mack
veroclu.liber
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Hi Sarah
I hope by now the pawing problem is solved, but having read the help so far I would like to add a bit more even though your youngster is probably perfect in behaviour by now.  
On one of Monty's demos in the UK one of the horses was frightened of tractors, and so the feed bucket was put on the rear of the tractor and the horse followed etc. One of the comments that came up somewhere was to ask the horse in walk only, to 'chase' the monster until the monster (disappears) ie: gets faster, and then the horse finds it has chased it away successfully.   This may sound remote to your by now old problem or anyone else, but READ ON:
I rode a friend's horse for a good number of years, and after a ride, or about to be turned out, and tied up in the yard, he would paw the ground impatiently.  The same thing happened if I came out of the stables with a bucket of food - usually before the ride.  So my tactic every time, as soon as he pawed was to turn around sometime at a run and disappear completely hidden from him until the pawing stopped.  After a few moments = timing? - I would reappear and walk straight up to him and make a big fuss of him and usually there was no pawing at this stage.  If the bucket of food was involved I would drop the bucket immediately and quickly turn and disappear in the opposite direction.  The concern here is not to make it look like teasing. I assure you when I returned to the bucket it was given to him, provided I didn't have to do that procedure again.  However, this method proved very successful, presumably because he thought HE was chasing me away!  My body language is read by him like a book, as he can remind me of his presence this way before untying when I suddenly turn and go and chat to my friends.  However, if the pawing starts I'm very rude to my friends and say 'I have to disappear for a minute'.  Nowadays, as I don't see him that often, in these situations, he looks at me, and may faintly raise a leg muscle as if to start pawing and remembers actually that doesn't work so relaxes the leg. Kind horse.
Hope this helps some people.  No teasing.
Christine