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dixieangel02

Ground Work Problems

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I have been working with my mothers mare for about two months getting her to calm down some. She had no idea of personal space. But now when i go to work with her she doesnt respond PERIOD AT ALL. I use a stick like Clinton Andersons and when doing desensitizing i have a platic bag on the end of it. But today i didnt have it on there i was just working on backing up but she isnt scared or responsive to it at all!!! I have used it a whip a lead rope i also put the bag on the stick and it doesnt work nothing does. I will use the lead rope and jerk it slightly to get her attention and NOTHING. I feel like i have done to much desensitizing now!!!Is there anything i can do or anything else i can use to try and get her to move? if you guys need any more info or anything just ask its hard to think of everything right off LOL

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I guarantee that you are not using it like CA does. She would have backed up for him. This is how it works:

1) Ask

2) Tell

3) Make her wish she had listened the first time.

Now, for (1) pull down and back on the lead rope and say "back!" This is what you want in the future, so give her a chance to do it this way now.

For (2), tap her on the chest with your stick. (I prefer a piece of twisted up baling wire that I keep folded up in my back pocket.) Make it a pretty good ?tap? because you know she is just going to tune it out.

Then (3), make her WANT to back up. Make her wish she had backed up instead of ignoring you. Hit her hard 3 or 4 times on her chest, jerk the lead-rope pretty hard and walk toward her in a very menacing way and TELL again. Since you have previously just nagged and pecked at her without being effective, it will take a pretty good thrashing to get her respect.

Horses learn to tune out people when the person asks for something and then does not do what it takes to get it done. People sometime just ?peck? on a horse, bump the halter lightly and ask like ?Pleeeeease ? back up? and then gives up when the horse does not do it. Spoiling and babying a horse this way means that it may take a LOT of pressure to get that first back-up.

If you still cannot get her to back up, come back on and I will tell you how to fix it if she just plants her feet and totally refuses to back from the stick. I?ve had some brought to me that were that bad or they tried to plow right over you when you asked them to back.

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I never said that i done it like he does i only use a WHIP like he does re-read it.....I dont use his techniques.....

I dont want to hurt the horse thats her problem now...she is a retired and also abused reigning horse..She has done everything i have ever asked of her before never has gave me any trouble AT ALL. The horse has had great training but she was abused and caused her to be head shy and shaky.

I do not baby her i know what it will only make her worse she just seems bored with it...

Edited by dixieangel02

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perhaps a vacation from ground work to trail rides, or riding games, or even a game of tag.. i find if i work my boy too much that he will get bored and quit responding.. in fact he just ignores completely no matter how mad you get.. in fact backing out of a trailer has been a battle of wills after standing and asking for just an inch for over an hour one day, it was me who gave up and turned him around and walked him out.. we are working on it thoug and i have not given up.but well baby steps anyway.. i think he is a mule with short ears.

if she is bored it is time to switch up the routine and make it not so routine.. what does she like to do? why are you so intent on SO much ground work?? some more information mgiht help!

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Just a quick note on the difference between abusing a horse and demanding their attention.

You CAN demand a horses attention without scaring the bejeezes out of them. Some of them NEED the bejeezus scared out of them before they will pay attention, but waking them up does not need to be via what I would term 'abuse'.

Well timed, and properly applied pressure that is released appropriately is NOT abusive in my book. If a horse tries to bite me, and he gets a major butt whopping as his head is swinging my way, not abusive in my book. If he bit me 3 days ago and I'm still ticked and still have him tied up in the stall w/no food or water... that's abusive. Notice that in the second scenario the horse was never even touched, and THAT is the abusive situation in my book.

Really, I think it boils down to being able to read your horse to understand the amount of pressure you need to apply, and being able to TIME your application of pressure appropriately.

That's not something that can be taught via books or videos or online. It is an experiential thing. Having someone standing with you coaching can help... but a big part of it is examining what is happening and making adjustments. Experience and natural ability both come in to play.

Based on your description, you are not applying enough pressure to this horse. I can't comment on your timing w/out seeing it in action... but if she is still blase about what you are doing, you have to at the very least increase the pressure.

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Stop with the abused horse excuse Dixie. You didn't do that (whatever it was) and today is a new day. He can't get over past experiences until you give him new ones. I do think you are babying him now and he doesn't respect you. You don't get respect by beating or hurting a horse, you get respect by asking them to move their feet and being absolutely consistent in not quiting until you get the right answer. Then you reward them for trying. The timing of your rewards for their slightest trys is what teaches. Whips, ropes and bags are all tools that only should serve to exaggerate your body language. That is what your horse needs to learn. You have done to much desenstizing now because it's easier. It's now time to focus on sensitizing. Ask softly, in a round pen for example, by just pointing your arm. Then hold that direction arm up while focusing on the body part you mean to move and twirl your tool, then strike the ground with your tool and finally, tap the horse with it. You must us a consistent escalation of aids to get your horse to focus on the softer cues. You will have to get to tap and WHACK a few times I promise you but you MUST get a response so that you can reward. Don't quit until you get movement in the right direction and be consistent.

Don't worry about his past so much. Focus on the relationship between you and him. Do you think another horse cares if this guy has had a rough life. Nope. It's all about right now and him needing to move his feet. Whether it's a dominant horse or a human trainer, he needs to pay attention to body language in order to avoid unpleasant ramifications. Have you ever seen an Alpha horse tell another to move away from the hay feeder but then quit asking and change their mind? You never will. It is this consistency that this horse needs to learn from you too.

Become the leader that this horse needs you to be.

William (historyrider)

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I understand what you are saying about not focussing on the "abused" part But that is why i had to do so much ground work. She didnt trust a human what so ever! She would run from you when it came time to catch her, she would throw her head anytime you went near it, she flinched and jumped everytime you brushed her or put tack on her. There is no riding her if you cant touch her without her going bonkars!

and to the question of me not riding her- I will ocasionally take her out on a trail but she hates to be rode in the arena. Not just mine any. I think she is just burnt out but who am i right.....

I do think she is bored. I have tried doing other exercises but she doesnt respond to the pressure that i am giving her...I have tapped the ground or whacked it whatever, then she still dont respond i whack her....she dont care!

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II have tapped the ground or whacked it whatever, then she still dont respond i whack her....she dont care!

harder, faster, more aggressive body language. Don't tap the ground. She doesn't care... you know this, you have observed this.

A smart rap on the chest is NOT going to send her spiralling down into a black abyss of dispair. It may suprise the HECK out of her... but that is what you want.

She is IGNORING you. Time to remind her that you are there, and expect to be attended to.

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I understand what you are saying about not focussing on the "abused" part But that is why i had to do so much ground work. She didnt trust a human what so ever! She would run from you when it came time to catch her, she would throw her head anytime you went near it, she flinched and jumped everytime you brushed her or put tack on her. There is no riding her if you cant touch her without her going bonkars!

and to the question of me not riding her- I will ocasionally take her out on a trail but she hates to be rode in the arena. Not just mine any. I think she is just burnt out but who am i right.....

I do think she is bored. I have tried doing other exercises but she doesnt respond to the pressure that i am giving her...I have tapped the ground or whacked it whatever, then she still dont respond i whack her....she dont care!

Skew your view of the "abuse" for a minute, she is running away, balking, tossing her head and protesting being touched because she is a brat. "she hates being ridden itn an arena" well you know what, I would NEVER ride her ANYWHERE else until she got over that Cr*P! I think this is a common problem with people who have horses that don't compete, there is no reason to make them do something, it is hard so people just find a way not to ask for that thing.

EVERY horse should allow touching, trail riding, arena riding, loading and catching absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS!

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Consider this, perhaps your horse developed those behaviors because it has what I call "a poor work ethic" that means the horse would really rather not do anything, and your asking might annoy it, but if you don't follow through when you ask it, it is also a desinitizing lesson. If you say "whoa" a 100 times and the horse never stops you will effectively teach your horse that who means keep doing whatever you are doing and ignore the word. If you then change and when you say "whoa" you MAKE the horse stop and continue to enforce STOP until the horse does and repeat this the horse will stop when you say "whoa" but it will not come instantly, and it will take less and less each time you ask, but you cannot ask if you do not intend to enforce it every time.

A helpful note might be to separate the training sessons from the affection and grooming. Make it "work" time and "down" time. In my experience horses do not hold grudes, they actually like leaders and will do better and better with leadership. THink of the boss mare in a pasture, she doesn't go "aaww come on let me drink" instead she says "my drink" and give the other horse about a second to move, then gives both barrels. This works so well that the boss horse can just flick her tail and it is understood, it is black and white, not sometimes or maybe.

I use many techniques that I see successful horse people use, but you might try the Clinton method because he addresses both the sensitizing and desensitizing BOTH are necessary. Especially for a horse as you describe, that over reacts sometimes and not at all other times.

PS when a horse throws it's head around and you quit with it doing that you have taught that horse that "throwing my head around got me the relief and I shall do that every time she does that to me"

It's going to get worse before it gets better....

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Is this the same horse that was charging you? Sounds to me that the horse is running the show and she knows it. By not responding to you, she's giving you the middle finger, and one of these days she's going to jump in the middle of you. Right now you are her underling and you are allowing her to get away with it.

There's a big difference between abuse and discipline. When horses are loose together and the one highest on the scale tells another to move and the lesser horse refuses, the lead horse MAKES that horse move! A mouthful or teeth on the butt is the usual way. That's discipline. That's what you have to do. I have rescue horses here who have been so abused their brains were fried, but they learned very quickly the difference between being disciplined and being beaten or continually picked at. Not a viable excuse.

The others have already given you some very valuable information, but I would also suggest you find someone close by for some hands on help.

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OK EVERYONE if you will read my OP you will find that the mare no longer does all them things she done them when i first got her. The reason that she is that way about an arena is because she was kept in one all the time she is a retired reigning horse. The man that had her kept her in a stall and arena she never had any pasture time what so ever.

I am not having trouble with her throwing her at all none of those things she done that when i got her. She is just not responding to my cues to make her move away such like when i want to lunge her or back her something like that.

No this is not the same horse that was charging. And by the way she doesnt do that anymore either thanks to some good advice she has quit being such a brat LOL

Her training is not done at grooming time. I groom all my horses in the evening..

Edited by dixieangel02

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OK EVERYONE if you will read my OP you will find that the mare no longer does all them things she done them when i first got her.

Hmmm, I did read the post, and responded as such. You have a horse that used to do certain things. She doesn't do those things now. You have a 'new' problem. My reply was specifically addressing the new problem.

The reason that she is that way about an arena is because she was kept in one all the time she is a retired reigning horse.

I haven't met a horse that when properly mentally engaged and challenged during arena work didn't like it just fine. I've met plenty that get really pissy when they are bored. Challenge her. Engage her brain, make her THINK in the arena, and you will be fine. Not to say that trail rides aren't a great tool... but not working in the arena because she 'doesn't like it', limits you a lot.

She is just not responding to my cues to make her move away such like when i want to lunge her or back her something like that.

Not sure what else to say. You've gotten quite a bit of feedback. What are you going to do? Are you going to try any of the suggestions made? Do something else that you feel is better? You've been getting pretty much the same answer from everyone, are you looking for a different answer?

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I guess that the only thing that i have left to choose from is apply MORE presure to her.

Everyone here is telling you that that is NOT the root of the problem. What did you want to hear? Because when given a choice, horses will choose to do: A) nothing, or B) do something just to bother you, cause it is easy and fun. :confused0024:

Have fun being ignored and whatever else this horse wants to do to you, because that is what you are teaching it to do.

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I guess that the only thing that i have left to choose from is apply MORE presure to her.

I agree and disagree. From the description you've provided, more pressure is definately order in my opinion. However, timing and method of the application is just as important.

I'm going to use my lovely mother as an example. She and I can be working with the same horse. I can stomp my foot and snarl at him, and he will snap to! My Mom, on the other hand, has to make physical contact (rope, crop) with the same horse to get the same level of response I get from a stomped foot.

Why? Do you understand the dynamics and body language that may be playing into the situation I described above? Why is it that the SAME horse requires different levels of pressure from 2 different people in order to achieve the same response? What is going on here? Can you analyze your own body language as compared to the horses and make appropriate adjustments? How does this mare react to OTHER people applying pressure? Why?

You don't seem like you WANT to apply pressure and get after this horse in order to achieve the response that you desire. Why not? You've stated that she is well past her fear issues, so what it is that is holding you back from laying down the law? Are you uncomfortable with the contact? Are you worried about her reaction?

It seems like you probably knew what people were going to tell you when you posted on here, you've been on the forums long enough to have a good idea of that response.

Are you just looking for validation that it really is OK to get on her *** and nail her for ignoring you? It is. Letting her be uncooperative and sullen is NOT doing her any favors in the long run.

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Dixie...

It sounds like you wore the "buttons" off your horse when you "desensitized" her. Since he's been mentioned, CA says that even though you desensitize your horse, you need to spend some time *sensitizing* your horse as well.

That said, now that you have gotten the horse to tune you out, you need to change the channel she's ignoring. You seem resistant to some of the other suggestions of increased pressure, though that would work. Perhaps its time to try a little classical conditioning. Try clicker training. Give her a reason to pay attention. Once she starts to actually look at you like you might have something interesting for her to pay attention to, you can start to move the cues/rewards around.

Just remember, that like all other training, TIMING, FEEL and REWARDS are very important. Horses are very forgiving of our mistakes, but effective training absolutely requires us to put just as much effort into trying to get this right as the horse does.

As a side note...I almost didn't respond to this post because of your resistant and sullen responses to others who are trying to help you as best they can with the limited information they have been given. Much like the mare you have taught to tune you out, you can teach this board to tune you out as well.

Good luck.

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I understand what ALL of you are saying and i do agree with you guys...I think that my timingthethat hte longer that i get aggravated with her thethat hte longer that i get aggravated with her the more she ignores me because she knows she is pushing my buttons and i may be showing that in my body language. But i realize that i need to change my body language. for lack of words "more threatening" to her. I dont know how to word it. But i am going to try what some of you have suggested when i get home. I have just tried to get as many suggestions as i can from everyone. I hope to report back with some better news...

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That's the idea Dixie. I'm sure your body language is a factor. For example, I can take a long lead line and spin it as hard as I want smacking the ground at each pass right next to a horse. He or she will stand perfectly quiet and relax because I am using PASSIVE body language. I am not looking at them, I am not crouching or moving toward any body part, I am still and tranquil yet I am smacking the heck out of the ground. Now with just a change in my posture, directed focus at the horse and perhaps a cluck or other very subtle changes in my body language, that same horse will back away from me softly or disengage his fore or hind quarters depending on where I aim my pressure. It could very well be that your horse is so used to your Passive body language from the extended desenstizing sessions that he doesn't know what Active looks like. So even though you are trying to project, "Go! or Move!" with your tool, your body language might still be saying, "Stand still and ignore what I am doing." You should offer your horse both kinds of body language at every training session so that the difference becomes clear to him. That being said, you have to make sure that there IS a difference in you. " Move when I tell you to and Stand when I let you. " Keep that in mind when working with your horse. When you want a body part to move, imagine in your mind that you are going to bite him there. That focus change might be just the change you need in your mind to be perceived by your horse. Then when he moves, be just as quick to shut that focus off again, go back to passive and rub him for a job well done. This is where you are failing. You should reward even the slightest try in order to teach your horse how to read you.

One of the most important rules of horsemanship is to "Be effective." If something isn't working then you are not asking correctly.

William (historyrider)

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Ok i went out yesterday (despite it being 25 degrees lol) and worked with her. She did do some better i did like you said i changed MY body language. She moved off but not as i thought but i still released the pressure and patted her and then went at it again. i will keep you guys posted on the progress

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Everyone else has made very good points so i'll add this.

If your impression is she needs to be afraid of you, as you stated in your subject line, you're working on the wrong premise and will never accomplish what you need.

I rarely buy into "my horse was abused" line. Even if they were, being a firm disciplinarian is the most important thing you can do to help them.

HTTY & GBTUSA

BUMPER

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When you want a body part to move, imagine in your mind that you are going to bite him there. That focus change might be just the change you need in your mind to be perceived by your horse. Then when he moves, be just as quick to shut that focus off again, go back to passive and rub him for a job well done.

Andy and I did a video of us doing this with Achilles and his front foot. Andy was working on focus within himself. He is a very loud and boisterous person so the concept of sensitizing was lost on him. He wondered why Achilles would shut him out or run from him,..but would never give him two ears and two eyes in that enagement moment that allows for learning. Achilles was obedient to an extent but was confused and frightened of him. That isn't good.

I made him crouch down in front of Achilles a few feet back from him with Achilles Jolly ball in front of him,..but still holding the lead loosely but not engaged. I told him instead of staring at Achilles and moving his head around and such,..just "think" him to put his foot on the ball.

I told him,..when you are engaged together and he is in a learning frame of mind,..he will do it.

He crouched for a mere 30 seconds,..stared at Achilles front hoof and thought,.."Put it on the ball",..next thing ya know,..Achilles pawed the ball with the foot Andy was looking at.

THAT is the kind of sensitivity you can have with a horse. They are so perceptive that they can pick up on the subtle clues of suggestion.

So you can imagine that when you are DE-sensitzing them,..alot of action,..alot of rythmic motion will have the opposite effect.

They will stand and not engage with you or get confused and mad and run off.

Clear,concise communication is what you want, but you need that sensitivity as well and need to use it productively.

Historyrider?Fantastic post!

Good advice from all actually!

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