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Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

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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Hey Cherry, I have a filly, not sure about her age but we think she is almost a year old, around 10 mnths. Anyways, she has never been properly handled, so she is scared of humans. However, she will come up and sniff me, but if i move even just a finger she jumps back and takes off to the other side of the corral. I have tried just sitting on a stool in the corral with some treats, and when she would come to me i would offer her the treat but she justs runs away again. But, we had gotten another filly at the same time we got her and this other one, Willow, is much more outgoing at will let you scratch her head, so we put the two together hoping that she (autumn) would follow willow’s example, and she has started to not get scared as easily, but we still cant get close to her. I dont know what to do, i ve never had such a shy foal before! PLease help!  Miki

Hi Miki,

If you wait for a fearful foal to approach you, it might never happen. And in the meantime, it reinforces the foal’s fear through repetition. What you need to do is show the foal there is nothing to fear, that a human’s touch can be soothing and pleasurable. Until the foal knows this, it has no reason to approach.

So I like to get such a foal in a safe small enclosure such as a box stall. Then with the help of a capable friend, gradually corner the foal so that one of you can touch the foal and rub it. You want to touch and rub in a place that the foal inherently likes to be touched such as up on the top of the hindquarters, just in front of the tail head, on the neck or withers…….but NOT anywhere on the head, belly or legs to start with. Most foals LOVE to be scratched over the tail head, so that is a great place to start. Once the foal begins to calm down and enjoy the rubbing, gradually back away and “release” the foal. Then approach again. Once you’ve done this a few times, the foal will see there is nothing to fear from you approaching, that something good comes from it.

Repeat this type of approaching and touching several times of day, daily until the foal starts looking to you, turns toward you or starts coming to you.

Although I prefer to handle each foal alone, you could start this whole procedure with the other foal along with her in the stall if you think the other foal would add calmness and not calamity to the situation.

Restriction and the touch of humans are some of the first things every horse should know.

 

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My friend has a 5 year old filly.  When he puts her out in the pasture she will stay by the back door unless another horse or even one of the llamas is out.  When he tries to walk her out in the pasture she goes in circles and tires him out by pushing on him to get him to go back to the barn. Daryl

Hi Daryl,

Horses are herd animals so seek comfort and security in numbers. This filly lacks confidence so just for safety sake, she would benefit from a companion animal (llama or another horse) when out on pasture.

To build her confidence, your friend could hold her training and riding sessions out in the pasture, building a strong bond with her out there. It sounds like she needs a thorough ground training review if she whirls or pushes when he tries to lead her. There are many articles on this blog (use the search tool in the right hand column) and my website horsekeeping.com related to behavior and ground training.

 

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The word submissive can sometimes have an undeserved bad connotation.  If we are talking about a bully who is forcing another person into submission and fear, yes, that is a bad thing, a very bad thing.

But when it comes to horses and their interaction with people, submission is not only necessary from a safety standpoint, it is desirable from the horse’s perspective.

Horses feel the most secure, content and untroubled when they have a fair and capable leader. When there are no questions, when roles are clear, when the (human-horse) pecking order is established, a horse is submissive, calm and content.

Once the partnership is established, often, all it takes is the touch of a hand to elicit that calmness.

Zipper and Cherry

Enjoy that good horse,

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Dear Cherry,

I’ve just started loping recently and when i do i feel like im gonna fall out of the saddle, and it makes me nervous. And sometimes i find it more difficult to steer my horse. Do you have any tips on this? And also what’s the differences between loping, cantering and galloping?

Desirae

Hi Desirae,

Your nervousness when loping is a common anxiety with new riders. I’ve answered similar questions on this blog.

To search for topics, just type the subject in the search box (there is one at the top of the page and one in the right hand column) and click on Search.

For example, entering loping, you will find the following articles:

Overcoming the Fear of Loping

Aids for the Canter or Lope and Sitting the Canter or Lope

Overcoming the Fear of Loping (another rider, another reply)

Here are  the difference in the terms you ask about.

The canter and lope are both a three-beat gait with the following foot fall pattern:

1.         initiating hind leg or outside hind

2.         the diagonal pair or inside hind and outside foreleg

3.         leading foreleg or inside foreleg

4.         regrouping of legs or a moment of suspension.

If the initiating hind leg is the left, the diagonal pair will consist of the right hind and the left front, the leading foreleg will be the right front and the horse will be on the right lead.  When observing a horse on the right lead from the side, his right legs will reach farther forward than his left legs.  The right hind will reach under his belly farther than the left hind; the right front will reach out in front of his body farther than the left front.  When turning to the right, normally the horse should be on the right lead.

The canter has an alternating rolling and floating feeling to it.  The energy rolls from rear to front, then during a moment of suspension, the horse gathers his legs up underneath himself to get organized for the next set of leg movements.  The rider seems to glide for a moment until the initiating hind lands and begins the cycle again.

Canter is the term generally used to describe the gait of an English horse.

Lope is the term associated with a Western horse and is a relaxed version of the canter with less rein contact and a lower overall body carriage.

An extended canter or lope (sometime called a “run”) is a canter/lope with a long, strong stride, head and neck reaching forward.  The extended canter/run has maximum ground coverage per stride while retaining the tempo of the ordinary canter/lope.

There should be no increase in the rhythm of the hoofbeats from a canter/lope to an extended canter/run  – just an increase in reach. There should not be a shift into the gallop.

The gallop occurs when the horse increases tempo AND length of stride so is maximally extended at full speed. It is a 4 beat gait because the diagonal pair work separately.

The term hand gallop is often called for in the hunter show ring.  In many cases what is really desired is an extended canter.

RELATED TERMS

Disunited is when a horse is on one lead in front and another behind.  Also called cross-leaded.  This is very rough to ride.

Counter-cantering is cantering on the “outside” lead on purpose as a means of developing obedience, strength, balance, and suppleness.  If counter-cantering on a circle to the right, the horse would be on the left lead and he would be flexed left.


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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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Backing Up a Horse Trailer:

Advice for New Truck and Trailer Drivers

If you have never backed up a trailer, it can be a confusing and non-intuitive maneuver. If you want the trailer to turn left, the rear end of your rig must go right. You often gauge your progress by looking in a side or rear view mirror, which reverses things. So, how do you manage it? By going slow, practicing, using a helpful ground person and/or frequently putting the truck in park, getting out and walking walking around the trailer to see what’s happening. Here’s some tips from Equipping Your Horse Farm that will help make the maneuver second nature:

Equipping Your Horse Farm by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

 

  • Put your hand in the center of the bottom of the steering wheel. If you want the back of the trailer to move to the left, move your hand to the left.
  • If you want the back of the trailer to go to the right, move your hand to the right.
  • For a sharp turn, turn the steering wheel before you press the accelerator.
  • For a gradual turn, turn the steering wheel and press the accelerator at the same time.
  • Once the trailer is going in the direction you want, you need to straighten out the truck wheels to have your truck follow the trailer.

©  2010 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com


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Hi Cherry,

I rescued two horses- a large Fell pony and a mini. Both had been abused and were starving. I’ve got their weight up, their hooves cared for, shots, worming etc.
But it has been almost 3 months and they are still very hard to halter, to clean their feet ( both have thrush) and to separate them to work with them ( just the simplest ground work in a nearby round pen)! When I have someone else, we can work it out fairly well but usually I am alone. I have few expectations, maybe short rides or a little pulling a cart ( both had some draft experience) – I’m now 65, and even though i had been a horse professional teaching in riding stables, training and judging in dressage,  I’m having an awful time with them. I need encouragement to keep them. It has been very expensive and wonder if others have rescue horse experience. Eileen

HI Eileen,

Just in my email box this morning was an article from The Horse which states that

Each year there are about 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States, too many for the registered equine rescue and sanctuary groups to handle, according to a recent survey by experts at the University of California, Davis. They found that the 236 registered rescue and sanctuary organizations could only help about 13,400 horses a year.

I have no personal experience with rescue horses but wanted to post your note so that if others want to reply, they can do so here.

I do know that retraining any horse can seem like it takes twice as long as it does to train a horse from scratch. Some of my colleagues say ten times as long !

When I taught in college and university equine programs, one of the ways we would get horses for the training and riding classes was through donations. Well, we received some wonderful horses and also some with interesting previous experiences and challenging behaviors. Some took several semesters to sort out and even then, might not be trustworthy with novice riders.

I do encourage you and applaud you for your efforts. It will take time, repetition and very frequent regular handling to alter their suspicious behavior. But it can be done.

Please refer to the many useful articles here on this blog related to ground training, desensitization and more. Here are some examples:

Head Handling

Horse Training – Handling, Gentling, Desensitization, Sacking Out, Flooding

Horse Behavior – Licking and Chewing

Also visit my Horse Information Roundup where I have posted hundreds of free articles related to behavior and training.

Best of luck and let me know if you have specific questions.

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Dear Cherry,

I recently bought a horse that is petrified of puddles.How can I remedy his fears without making him more afraid? I want to trail ride him and we have to cross a lot of small streams. I don’t want to get out there and have a bad situation develop.


Shari from Connecticut


Hi Shari,

Luckily, this is one of those fears that can be overcome by using a progressive ground training and riding program.  Here’s what I do.

First, I make sure I can lead the horse over suspicious, but safe, obstacles on the ground such as a sturdy wooden bridge, a rubber mat placed in the middle of a grassy area, various sizes of plastic or canvas, even an old horse blanket or coat.  Be sure you are careful as to what you choose for your obstacles.  You want your horse to learn to trust your judgment so you don’t want to choose something that he would fall through or get his legs tangled up in.  You want the horse to approach the obstacle with his body straight, take a look at it as he approaches and then walk straight across it without veering his hind legs off to one side as he crosses.  The goal is to have all four feet on an obstacle at once with the horse walking calmly forward.

Horses CANNOT see things directly below their heads so as you approach an obstacle, let the horse start lowering his head (and remember this when you are riding) so he can get his eyes down to where they can do him some good.  Since the partnership with your horse should be based on mutual trust, you need to trust him by “giving him his head” somewhat and he needs to trust you that you will never ask him to do something dangerous.

Once you can negotiate obstacles in-hand, then begin riding the horse across these obstacles as part of his at-home training.  But don’t just work on obstacles over and over and over. Instead, ride a little, come to the obstacle and work it, then take a spin around the pasture or arena and come back later.  This will be more like trail conditions where you ride a while and then encounter a stream.

If you live in a place that has rain (lucky you!) then you will have puddles to practice in for the next stage.  I start with the largest puddle I can find – it is easier to get a horse to walk THROUGH a large puddle – when puddles are small, they want to step over or around them or HOP!  You will use the same technique as with the obstacles.  Start by leading the horse across puddles. Let him take his time to inspect – be sure to let him put his head down so he can look at the puddle.  Step into the puddle yourself to show him it is safe, then ask him to walk forward with you.  If he veers, balks or rushes, go back to one of the previous obstacles and work on one step at a time, proper position, moving forward at an even pace and calmness. The return to the puddles.  Like before, once you feel the horse is very calm about crossing puddles in-hand, then begin riding him over them.  If you use this type of progressive training to build your horse’s confidence in you and in unusual things, he will trust your judgment when you come to a new stream on the trail that needs crossing.

Cherry Hill

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Teaching a Horse to “Spook in Place”

Hi Cherry,

First off, thank you so much for creating and maintaining such an extensive informative website. This is a tremendous and very precious resource for every rider and horse owner.

Like many of your other readers, I have a question regarding a spooky horse and after reading your related articles, I still feel I’d like to send you my specific issue hoping that perhaps you have another tip for me.

I have a 5-year-old fairly inexperienced filly who shies on the trail. Having known me since she was only a few hours old, she trusts me completely. I have done a lot of groundwork with her (including sacking out, just like you describe it in your article). At age 4, I asked the rancher to start riding her and to give me arena lessons to improve my own skills so I don’t make mistakes with such a young horse. I have been riding her for the last 2 years myself, always starting in the arena before we ride out on the trail. I try to have another rider on an older calm horse with me and when I’m alone, I ride one of my other horses and just lead her along so she can get used to the sights and sounds and wildlife. (Note: We’re in a remote area of British Columbia, Canada, none of my three horses has ever seen a stable, and both my mare and filly were born on the open range.)

She is calm and willing in the arena but very nervous in the forest. She shies away from tree trunks and large rocks, sometimes even the sudden appearance of her own shadow. Usually, I’m able to stay in the saddle and remain calm. It’s not too bad when she’s following another horse, but it’s terrible when I ride her in the lead. I have experienced spookiness with her mother, whom I purchased at a young age and she naturally settled down over time. However, this filly is much more athletic and extremely fast, and every once in a while she shies so hard that can’t stay in the saddle (and I’m not the only one). She sort of “sucks back”, spins, and takes off in the opposite direction within a split second. I have landed pretty hard several times and even torn an MCL once. I am not afraid of riding her but don’t want to get injured again either.

So, my question is, do you have any suggestions? Is there a way to teach her to “spook in place” rather than spin and run?

Thank you in advance for your time!

Warm regards,
Ulrike

©  2010 Cherry Hill   © Copyright Information

Hi Ulrike,

Always in the case of extreme spooking, be sure there is not a problem with your horse’s vision. If your horse spooks from one side and not the other, and especially if you see How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hillany unusual marks or cloudy areas in your horse’s eyes, you might want your veterinarian to take a look at her eyes for damage. Horses have blind spots and vision that is different than ours so be sure you understand how your horse sees – I discuss this in How to Think Like a Horse.The best way to prepare your horse and yourself for these unexpected sights on the trail is to set things up in your arena to simulate the bears she is imagining when she sees a tree stump.

Horses are such creatures of habit that if she is used to going along in your arena day after day with things virtually unchanged, if you add something new every day, you will build up her tolerance for these visual surprises. And it will give you a more controlled format to learn how to deal with her usual reaction.

Making Not Breaking by Cherry HillI like to start out by hanging a jacket or blanket on the rail, then add something on the ground like a bright white bucket “out of place”. You can get creative by devising things that you know YOUR horse might react to – perhaps tie a helium balloon on one of the rails, or teach her to approach a person that is opening and closing an umbrella. And of course, once a horse is used to a certain thing in a certain spot, all you have to do is move it to get their attention again.

While you are unlikely to encounter buckets and umbrellas in the forest, using them as props can help you learn to predict your horse and to develop desirable patterns in your horse and you.

Now, before you get started, here are a couple of reminders:
  • You never want to intentionally scare your horse.
  • You want your horse to be able to trust your judgment so never ask her to approach or walk over something dangerous.
  • Start small and gradually build your horse’s tolerance to odd things.
  • You might choose to lead her past these things in your arena before riding her past them. And like you do on the trail, it helps to have a calm, seasoned horse nearby as a role model.
  • Have a plan in mind for when she whirls – if she tends to usually go to the right, be ready for that with a solid seat slightly to the left and keep you legs long and heels deep. Also be ready with the opposing rein, especially if you use a snaffle – if the horse whirls to the right, have the left rein ready to hold her straight.

One other thing you should emphasize in your arena work – forward motion. Be sure you can send your horse forward to any gait and within any gait. In other words, be sure she positively knows to move forward from your seat and leg aids. Work to develop upward transitions with instant response from your horse:

  • halt to walk
  • walk to trot
  • trot to canter
Then, be sure you can extend the walk, extend the trot and extend the canter or lope. What does this have to do with spooking? Usually when horses spook, they do “suck back” like you say and try to retreat. This is a backward behavior. You want forward 101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises thinking behavior. You want absolute obedience to forward movement and the best way to instill this in your horse is by frequent repetition of forward moving exercises. Not the same one over and over but a variety of them in a variety of situations. To get some more ideas along this line, you can refer to 101 Arena Exercises.

I hope this helps and you have safe riding.
Please let me know how you make out.

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