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More books from my personal library are being added to the Buy One, Get TWO FREE page – some vintage, some New Old Stock, some just plain old NEW !

Visit the BOG2F page now.

Take a look – here are just a few of the latest additions.

 

a-horse-of-your-own complete-horse-riding-manual dark-horses-and-black-beauties essentials-of-horsekeeping george-stubbs-198w horses-for-dummies horses-hitches-rocky-trails riders-problem-solver the-horse-in-art the-horse

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Pacing
Dear Cherry,

We just purchased a two-year-old filly and brought her home. She is in a 24-foot by 12-foot outside stall. She paces back and forth. We tried putting her in a 50-foot round pen and she paced there. Do you have any suggestions? We love the filly and are getting her broke. Help!

Heidi

Hi Heidi,

Here are a series of questions that might help you pinpoint the cause and head toward a cure. Possible causes: Have you checked her ration to be sure you are not feeding her too much high energy feed, such as grain, concentrates, or alfalfa hay? Is she getting plenty of exercise with her training? Does she have time to socialize with other horses?
Possible cures: Can you turn this filly out with another horse, at least occasionally? Do you have any pastures or large paddocks that the horse can be turned out in for at least an hour or so a day? Is she the type of horse that won’t get too fat if she eats a little bit all day? If so, can you feed her some grass hay about four or five times a day?

Cherry Hill

Take advantage of our Book Sale. Buy One and Get TWO FREE on this page. New books are being added weekly in both categories.

We’ve just added some great behavior books about vices and bad habits. horse-owners-problem-solver-200hproblem-horse-200h

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Hi Cherry,

I am a very inexperienced horse person, but I want to get more involved with horses.  I had my first official training session the other day and everything went really well.  I just have a question about how the horse, a 22 yr old mare, behaved at the end of the ride.  I was leading her back to her regular stall, but had to stop walking for just a second to talk to someone.  She stopped and stood there relaxed for a few seconds, but then out of nowhere she nudged me on the side/arm.  It wasn’t rough enough to put me off balance, but it was sudden enough for me to get a little nervous.  I am wondering what this meant and when/how to react to it.  I keep reading different opinions – some saying it’s affection others saying it’s disrespect.  I doubt it was affection as this horse doesn’t know me.  All I did was tell her “hey, no girl” in a firm voice and she didn’t do it again.
She was so close to me that I couldn’t really see what the rest of her body was doing, legs, rear etc…  Any advice or interpretation?  I want to make sure I did the right thing, and if not what to do next time. Thank you!

Merri

Hi Merri,

The mare was probably testing the waters, checking to see if she could nudge into your space or push you a little bit, so in a way, it is
a form of disrespect…….like if someone interrupted you while you were talking and wanted you to get going…….you reacted perfectly.

If she, or another horse does this again, stand your ground – in other words, don’t move yourself, keep your feet planted and flick your elbow at the horse to tell it to stay in its own space, and you can use a short voice command like “No” or “Go on”. The important thing is to not move yourself or the horse “won”.

If you watch horses interact with each other, they tell other horses to stay out of their space in various ways. They might do it with a nudge or a bite, kick, lunge, strike, body slam….so this mare was using a mild form of pushiness, but pushiness nonetheless.

More articles:

Teach Your Horse Respect for Your Personal Space

Personal Space – Don’t Crowd Me

To read more about horse behavior, refer to How to Think Like a Horse.

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Dear Cherry,

I have an 8 year old mare standard bred. She is very nippy and can be aggressive. She bit my forehead a couple weeks ago. I had a bruise.
She spooks easily and I need help. She is western. The worst part is when I saddle her. She is sensitive and is cranky. Please help.

Thanks. Denver

Hi Denver,

It sounds like your mare needs to develop respect and confidence. Respect for you and confidence in herself and her surroundings. Biting and spooking are just symptoms of a horse with a lack of respect and confidence.

Have you visited my Horse Information Roundup? There you will find MANY articles related to your questions. Here are just a few

Biting and there are six more article related to Biting under Behavior

Spooking

Sacking Out

In addition, it sounds like you and your horse would benefit from you reading

What Every Horse Should Know.

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We recently brought home two horses.  The 4-year old mare is a sweetie and not issues but the 7-year old gelding is nervous and spooky. 

Three days ago during feeding he spooked and broke his halter.  (The mare flinched at something and the gelding turned it into a panic, rearing back until the halter gave way.)  I was moving slowly and deliberately around them so I am not sure what caused the mare to flinch but the gelding seems to be a bit of a basket case. 

I have worked for two days being very gentle but insistent with the halter and still have not been able to get it on him. I don’t want to press the issue because he doesn’t know me that well yet and has only had a few days to get used to our pasture. While he was eating, I had the halter nearby and would move it around so he could hear it jingle.  When he quit freaking out at every noise, I held it so that he would have to put his nose in the halter to take a bite from the bucket. 

I didn’t push the issue but slowly would move the halter around and by the time he finished eating I was scratching his jaw on the right side but was not able to get the strap over his head without him moving away from me.  I didn’t want to chase him, thinking this would cause further issues, but I was calm to the best of my ability and spoke soothingly to him.  Am I on the right track?  Do you have some advice that would help me to make this process go more smoothly?  Thanks!  Kathy

Hi Kathy,

Although you need to proceed with caution around horses for both your own safety and that of the horse, often sneaking around and being overly cautious seems to make horses more nervous and suspicious.

To me from what little you say, I’d say this. The gelding never learned to stand quietly when tied. And actually before that he never had been taught to be confident in the world of man, so is suspicious to the point of panic.

At 7 years of age, that is quite behind the program and now being a full grown, strong horse, it makes things especially more challenging and dangerous.

What I would do is start from square one with the horse free in a small, safe sturdy pen. You will have to have the time it takes with a small goal each session. Don’t use feed to distract or bribe the horse.

Perhaps at first just the goal of being in the enclosure with the horse without him trying to get away from you or turn his rump toward you.

Then a goal of him allowing you to come up to him and touch him.

From this point you can continue the lessons in the small enclosure or move to a small round pen (maybe 50 feet in diameter) where you can free longe the horse around you at a walk, trot, halt.

Eventually you will progress to putting the halter on the horse after you have halted him and walked up to him. It can be with you or an assistant holding the horse with loop around his neck or it can be with you solo and the horse free. You will put the halter on matter of factly, not using grain.

Just halter the horse using normal, safe procedures.

If the horse tries to move away, let him and send him around you free longeing. Then stop him, walk up to him and begin again.

Once you have successfully haltered the horse, unhalter him. And rehalter him. Do this until he no longer flinches or wants to move away. Haltering and unhaltering then will be you main lesson until it becomes second nature.

There are many articles on my Horse Information Roundup that will help you – just look in the Ground Training section.

And a good illustrated reference on proper handling techniques including haltering, tying and much more is  Horse Handling and Grooming.

Best of luck. Cherry Hill

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Cherry,

My question is about a riding-school horse: in the scenario below, what if anything should I have done differently?

At this school, students ride a different horse every time. Over weeks or months, a student might ride the same horse again. This was the first and only time so far I was assigned to this horse.

When I first entered her pipe-stall, she acted friendly and let me remove her blanket. But when I re-entered the stall with halter and lead rope, she nipped at the air in my direction. She did this every time I slowly moved the halter toward her nose and she became more aggressive.

My job was to catch her, lead her to cross-ties, and tack her up in time for a riding lesson 30 minutes later.

I reasoned that I should not reward her nipping by backing off or going away (to get help!). Instead I growled (yelling or shouting are expressly forbidden in this barn) and let her know she couldn’t get rid of me, by keeping my fingertips on her shoulder, at arm’s length, and following her as she rotated around her stall, away from me. After some 20 nips, she gave up and let me put the halter on her.  After that everything was fine.

What should I have done differently?  Caroline

Hi Caroline,

If the purpose of the lessons at this schools is to test a students ability to deal with various horses, then I would say in general, you did an acceptable job. But if testing was the aim, then you would have received an evaluation and critique from an instructor who was watching. It sounds as though you did not.

If the purpose of the school is to teach students how to interact with various types of horses, then I would say the school failed. With a horse like this, it should have taken one of the instructors just a few minutes to demonstrate the best way to approach, catch and halter this particular horse in her pipe stall. Then you could have done the same. An instructor would have been able to advise you whether the horse was playing a game with you or was truly aggressive, something I can not ascertain from an email.

I am positively impressed with your savvy to not reward her with backing off from her attempts at nipping.

What should you have done differently? Perhaps after catching the horse and haltering her, you could have turned her loose, left her pen and then asked an instructor to watch as you approached, caught and haltered the horse once again.

A lesson begins the moment you begin approaching a horse. A riding school should instruct from that point on, not just when you are in the saddle.

Thanks for the good question.

 

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Hello Cherry,

I had an experience last night that I do not want repeated.  I went into the pasture to feed my 3 horses their evening hay  ration and all was well until all of a sudden my 10 yr old QH/Arab mare whom I have owned for 5 years now flew at my 5 yr old daughter striking with her with her front foot on the forehead. The mare had her hay in front of her with no competition around. It came out of the blue with no warning signs.  My daughter was about 4 feet from me waiting patiently for me to finish my task.  My mare acted as if my daughter was one of the herd and she had to put her in her place.  This mare is very aggressive toward other horses (who were on the other side of the fence at the time) during feeding time but she has never shown this behavior towards humans before.  Any suggestions?  Needless to say I am questioning the wisdom of having an unpredictable horse such as this around given that I have 2 children ages 7 and 5 that I would like to experience the wonderful world of horse ownership.  Any suggestions?  My daughter was fortunate not to be hurt just very frightened.

Lee

Hi Lee,

This seems to be, as you suggest, a pecking order move and could also be caused by hormones in the mare’s cycle. So although we try to understand How to Think Like a Horse, it is essential we teach them boundaries of behavior around humans.

There are certain lessons that that every horse should know. If you are capable of conducting ground lessons such as I outline in the articles here on this blog, on my website and in my books, that would be good. I’m talking about respect and personal space lessons.

First in an enclosed area. Then in an enclosed area with feed. Then in a pasture group. Then with feed. It is a progression outlined many times before since these types of things seem to come up often as questions. I’ve hyperlinked some articles within this answer and you can go to my Horse Information Roundup to find a complete list of online articles and related Q&As.

Definitely keep you children safe and only add them to the situation if you feel confident you have established respect and personal space with this mare beforehand.

Best of luck with it.

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Help!  I have a wonderful 5 yr old QH mare that started stall kicking before feeding time and now pins her ears and bites at the stall wall while eating her grain or hay.  She is destroying the stall bit by bit.  We tried kicking chains to no avail.  Now we are using a horseshoe around her heel  and it seems to be working. However, she is still bodyslamming into the wall and pinning and biting the wall while eating.  We have no idea why she is doing this or what is causing her to be so nervous.  We purchased her in May and this didn’t begin until mid July, while we were away on vacation.  She has been treated for a capped hock numerous times and I don’t want this to get worse.  I had my trainer take her for a week and the kicking stopped.  Now that she is back in our barn it has begun again.  I have also talked with my farrier.  I need help as we love her dearly and don’t want her lame.  Unfortunately, we are stuck using our neighborhood barn and can’t really change her schedule.
She goes out at 7:30 am after feeding, to her paddock.  we bring her in at dinnertime and she stays in her stall at night. She is ridden by my 10 year old daughter and myself.  She gets 2 days off a week as be both take a lesson as well.  I would appreciate any guidance you could give.  Sincerely, Kim

Dear Kim,

Behavior such as you describe can have a variety of causes. Some are physical factors which you should discuss with your veterinarian. Others could be more psychological which can be modified with management and training. Observation and figuring out the cause is the first step.

Physical causes could include hormones and eating discomfort.

Mares can be “nervous” as you say, but usually only during certain times of their estrous cycle, so if this happens all the time year round, then hormones are probably not part of the cause.

If a horse is uncomfortable when eating, anywhere along the digestive tract from the teeth to the esophagus to the stomach to the intestines, the horse might exhibit odd body movements.

The most likely psychological explanation would be that it is an exhibition of “pecking order” behavior. At your “neighborhood” barn, if there is a horse in the next stall, your mare could be reacting to that horse’s presence. When eating, she might exhibit aggressive behavior on the stall wall with biting and body slamming to communicate to her next door neighbor – stay away, this feed is mine.

When at the trainer’s the behavior might have disappeared because there was no horse in the next stall or the horse next door was not a threat.

When working on changing a horse’s behavior, always start with the obvious things first:

Check to be sure the feed ration is appropriate

Make sure the horse is receiving adequate exercise and turnout time

Make sure the horse has no health issues such as dental problems, intestinal discomfort and the like.

Change the horse’s companions and neighbors to see if that is changes the behavior.


Best of luck and let me know what you observe and determine!

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Hi Mrs. Hill,
I have another problem. In October a crazy wind came and blew away all the leaves from the trees. The change in the way the forest looks freaked Dolly out, and she hasn’t been the same ever since. Just recently (like the beginning of this month) I’ll get to this place in the trail that is a telephone line right-of-way. It has two hills that are pretty steep and not the type you’d go cantering up and down. The second I come out of the forest trail and into this right-of-way, Dolly begins to try to gallop off with me. She’s become very agitated there. The first time I figured there was just a moose out there since I had seen three the night before.

But its continued until she actually started to rear and leap and crow hop on me. She’s never reared before and its gotten to the point where its scary. I love her and I’ve put so much work into her, but I can’t figure out a way to get her to stop, trust me, and relax. She’s sending me mixed signals. I’ll ask her to move forward and she’ll throw a tantrum and buck and spin and rear, then when I stop her all she wants to do is paw through the snow and eat. So I know somethings not out there. Do you have any suggestions? I would really appreciate it if you did. Thank you again!
Katie

Hi Katie,

You need to work on this at home first, then on the trail in “safe zones” and finally in those “hot spots”.

First you need to be very aware of your own body language when these things happen. Even if you are alarmed when your horse starts freaking, your body, your seat, legs, back and arms and hands, and most of all, your mind, must be calm, cool and collected.

Then you need to perfect a means of control and give the horse something else to do. You should learn how to do a one rein stop and then once your horse is stopped, ride her in a series of circles and half turns calmly and not in too-tight of a bend until her behavior de-escalates.

You’ve halted her freaking behavior and given her something else to do.

A one rein stop is different from a double which is kind of like a spin, what your horse does when she is frightened. In a double, the horse’s head and neck is turned rather sharply in one direction while his hindquarters are moving in the other direction. It is like a turn on the center.

A one rein stop is just the rein signal. You want the horse to stop, not keep moving.

A one rein stop is best done with a halter, bosal or snaffle bit as you will be using direct rein signals.

To initiate the head and neck bend, reach down the rein close to the horse’s head and take up the slack.

If your horse tends to spin to the right when she freaks, you want to work on this to the left. You’d grab the left rein and hold her into the turn until she stops moving her feet. Then yield – let go of the rein signal. Drive the horse forward with your legs and then do some gymnastics – circles, half turns, serpentines.

Once you’ve mastered the one rein stop at home, you should set your horse up at home to “freak” and have your aids ready. You might have someone carry a strange item toward you or try and ride her past some balloons or an opened umbrella or waving plastic sack.

Once you can control her no matter what happens at home, set up these same situations on a safe part of the trail.

Each time and in each place that you control her and give her something else to do, it will build her confidence and make it easier in the next situation.

Finally, ride to the trouble spot. It should be a piece of cake.

But take the time it takes to perfect it BEFORE you go back to your trouble spot.

Be safe and enjoy your horse.


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Hi Cherry,

I am soon to be 57 and started the horse thing 3 yrs ago due to I had lived in the city all my life.

I now live in the country with only 1 1/2 acer’s and 2 horse’s.  I work full time and I am a sissy with the extreme cold or heat.

I need incourgement with training.  Whats the least amount of time I need to spend with horse in order to get results and how many months should I look forward to the results. I am looking to get closer to the 2 I have and really get them to trust me so I will feel safer on them.  I have round bin now and am looking at some of the Perrelli DVD’s to learn.   I just got bucketed off my 10 yr old walker last wk on to my head and she has never done that or kicked at me. But we were near home and she heard the other marer and I think she just wanted to go back–I let her put her head down which I no better but just not enough experence.

What can you tell me that would help me.

Thanks, Trish

Hi Trish,

First of all, congratulations on your move to the country to make your dream come true of owning a horse !

As far as how much time? Even professional horse trainers will tell you that it takes a lot of time to get a horse to the point where the horse is confident and solid in his desirable responses.

In fact, a common answer to “How long will it take…..??” is often “Take the time it takes.” In other words, you have to measure your horse handling, training and riding by results rather than a clock or a calendar.

Your horse will tell you each day what you need to work on and when it is time to move on to something new. Start with something simple like catching and haltering. If that goes smoothly, then you can move on to some other ground work or tacking up and riding. But if the catching and haltering has some issues such as avoidance, high headedness, being distracted by other horses, invasion of your personal space or other such things, you need to iron those things out first before you move on.

Specifically in regards to your letter, the horse you were riding was exhibiting barn sour, herd bound, or buddy bound behavior. As you know from landing on your head, you need to work on that first and foremost. There are a number of articles on that topic on my Horse Information Roundup.

In addition, my latest book What Every Horse Should Know discusses the importance of developing Respect, Patience, and Partnership and NO FEAR of People, Things, Restriction or Restraint.

Best of luck,

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