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Extreme New Behavior....

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I recently purchased a 15 year old Quarter Horse gelding. I used to ride and show this horse for like 3 years before he was sold to his previous owner. She then had him for about 3 years and didn't do too much with him. She rode him maybe 20 times and most of it was walk trot. I did a prepurchase exam on the horse before I brought him home and everything was fine. I am keeping him on a small boarding stable that is just starting up. For the first week, he was completely fine, I was riding him and that was going well and he was acting like the horse that I sent this lady 3 years ago. But the last 4-5 days he has been acting up really badly. He hasnt' been standing still in the crossties and when ive been doing ground work with him he dances and wont stand or pay any attention to me. During showmanship he is trying to walk all over me and is trying to drag me wherever he wants to go. He has also started screaming to the other horses and when he urinates, he doesnt drop and it isnt very much. He just seems extremely excitable all the time now. We did change his feed when we moved him, but he was getting a sweet feed and we changed it to Purina Ultium, which I was hoping would calm him down and help him put some weight on. He gets 2lbs of ultium a day and free choice hay. He gets outside for 13-14 hours a day, which is more than he was getting before at the old home. I am only having a large issue with this behavior because on our most recent ride, I was circling him after he called to the other horses and he got angry and threw himself over backwards. I wasnt hurt thank god but also do not want it to happen again. I just find it odd that he was fine for the first week but now is acting up. Im sorry this is soo long but if anyone has any ideas that would be great. Thank you!!

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[Huggy] First off thank goodness you didn't get hurt.

Secondly read the back of your feed bag. Ultium, while a great performance feed, is made to be fed at least 5 pounds to an 800 pound horse. If your horse isn't getting the recommended amount, it is a good indication he/she isn't getting the guarenteed analysis and the feed isn't for the horse.

I personally would switch the horse over to a "ration balancer." These are feeds designed to be fed in smaller amounts ( 1-5 pounds a day) and give everything the horse needs in the smaller amount. Feeds like Triple Crown Lite, or Triple Crown Suppliment. Or Purina Nature's Essentials Enrich 32.

Secondly it sounds like your horse has become a bit herd bound at the new place. Is he pastured with other horses (and maybe wasn't before)? I would be doing a LOT of groundwork and making him pay attention before I took the chance of getting on his back again after such a thing happened.

Also things like being sore from getting back in shape, or incorrect saddle fit might cause something like suddenly rearing up and flipping back. But from your description I lean more towards herd bound, spoiled and wanting to go like he's been let for so long.

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I have never worried or cared what a horse did or was supposed to do in a past life. I just take them from the day I get them and fix all the holes that I encounter as I start them over.

If he has bad ground manners, start there like you would with any other spoiled or pushy horse with no manners.

When you start riding, go back to basics and build all of the steps that need to be there. If you encounter good behavior, you can go from step to step quite quickly. You will find the holes there too and can fix them as you go.

What you do not want to do is just start out like you are riding a show horse that has been trained right and has been ridden correctly in the recent past. Start out taking nothing for granted.

If this horse was put into enough of a bind to go over backwards, he is either very spoiled and you need to go back and start him over; or you pushed way to fast, asked for way too much and put him into a corner that he thought he had no way out of but to go up or backward until he came over on you.

I also think he is probably very herd bound and resents having to go back to work. I would tie him up in a safe place away from any other horses and let him settle down there before I went to work on his behavior and performance issues. He may need to stand tied all day for 3 or 4 days before he is ready to listen to you.

Edited by Cheri Wolfe

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..........certainly have to agree about 'take nothing for granted"

I had a solid chestnut BS appie mare that I bred and green broke.........had about sixty days of non-regular riding on her.

Calm, unflappable, smooth, never challenged. I was riding her out in the open within five rides at all gaits. Sold her to an acquaintance after a cowboy friend of hers came and watched me work with the mare and ride her - as what was to eventually become her young son's horse.

Fast forward one year.

I normally went to their family's ranch for branding in July. She phoned me up and said - hey - don't bother hauling a horse - you can ride the mare.

Great.

I guess it's a comment for how calm and trusting I was of this horse that I knew as bomb proof.........that I made it as far as I did in the ride.

In retrospect, I then KNEW why the girl turned around several times asking "how are you doing? "

Because while heading out the day before the branding to gather the cattle in to a closer field.........and while all the riders were waiting for the one big gate to be opened ?

The horse blew up.

After about an hour of riding.

From a quiet standing still look around with other horses right next.........to jerking her head down grabbing the rein slack from my hands and bucking like a Calgary Stampede bronc. I stayed on for about four..........and then went off the side.

I'll never forget the girl saying after (because the horse was bucking in the one spot not moving ahead) that from her angle it looked like the horse stepped on my head.

Then the horse started moving forward - bucking all the way - right thru a barb wire fence and off into the distance - gallop gallop buck buck buck.

You can imagine how angry I was (while the rider's ran over to see if I was all right) hearing her say "ya - she bucked me off last Tuesday"

!!!!!!!!!

And not a WORD to me about it.

And ME - carrying on as if this was the same quiet horse I sold her.

I won't bother going into the long drawn out saga of what happened to this horse over the ensuing years........and why or how I pieced together what the cause was (in my mind anyway).

But one day the horse was found dead out in a field. Which was IMO the best thing that could have happened for everyone concerned.

Anyway - long story long - only the skin of the horse is the same as what you sold. Everything else..........new.....different......and not what left your place three years ago.

Be safe.

Edited by Cactus Rose

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Thanks everyone for your input! I might have been pushing him too fast. I guess I was just impressed by how well he was behaving for the first week, I might have been taking it for granted. I just thought it was really weird how he was soo good for a week and then had an instant turnaround. I will be extremely careful before I get on him again, I don't want anything like that to happen again. Also, someone mentioned if he is kept with other horses and he is turned out next to the only other horses on the farm, a group of three mares, but he is out in a paddock by himself. At the old owners place, he was kept by himself but there was another horse on the property. Thanks again

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Hi.

A horse like yours may act totally different with someone else.

The reason could possibly be... that type of indivdual has all of the correct and useful tools such as clear and consistent communication that is fair, but firm with them seeking to bridge the gap between animal and human and with trying to make any and all lessons easier to understand and

that should cause the horse to feel it has now attain an camaaraderie with that person.

Requires steady patience alone with real training knowlegde which could include having more than one teaching method under your belt that can cause the horse to take notice and comply with the indivdual's directives.

My suggestion and best advice would be to find an local knowledgeable and competent trainer that can walk you thru the whole process of learning and training.

I hope this insight helps.

Edited by BW7

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Ditto everyone else.

I also want to add to your mentioning that he's not really dropping and only a little comes out..

If you haven't cleaned his sheath, clean it.. (if you know how) or get someone else to clean it. If he's being a dangerous P.I.G., you might want the vet to sedate a little so you can clean it..

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I think your horse is really happy and content with his new "girls".

"But the last 4-5 days he has been acting up really badly. He hasnt' been standing still in the crossties and when ive been doing ground work with him he dances and wont stand or pay any attention to me. During showmanship he is trying to walk all over me and is trying to drag me wherever he wants to go."

Okay, right here. You don't have this horse's mind. He's still out in the pasture looking at the ladies and you are putting him in cross ties. You have a "new" horse and he needs you to be his guide. You can't put him into your routine until it is HIS routine. When faced with a situation like you have had this week, getting control of your horse's feet should be your only priority. No cross ties, no tying, no riding if you cannot get between those ears. He is far to interested in looking over the fence so that is what he needs you to work on.

This won't be easy because he spends every waking moment looking at those girls and he wants to socialize. This is his nature and coming from being virtually alone to this, he's in heaven to a certain extent, and you don't mean very much to him. You can change that but you are going to have to move his feet effectively to get him to focus on and respect you.

I don't know anything about you so it's a little hard to suggest specific exercises. Are you familiar with Clinton Anderson and his ground work techniques?

If you would be willing to offer up more about your experience it would be much easier to help. You might need someone in person so I wonder what the owners of this up and coming boarding farm have to offer you?

The sooner you fix this the better and it won't fix itself. Horses can't really think about two things at one time, so. When you can tell that your horse is not thinking about you, that's when you must step up and change that before you try and do anything else.

William (historyrider)

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I like and agree with several things already mentioned but I'm not a big fan of tying for whole days.

I will sit with a horse and have them tied while I groom, eat lunch and chat with barn-mates but to tie for hours alone with nothing going on isn't safe and from my experience only teaches them to mentally shut down. I do my tying supervised only and make sure that the horse is protected from the elements and has had water.

Another thing I like to do with new to me horses that I own is to let them get used to a new barn for a couple of weeks, then start to work with them, first from the ground like Cheri Wolfe said "taking nothing for granted".

Maybe he just needs some time to hang out with the girls before you can get into his head better. I think if I were in solitary confinement then was moved to where I could see other people the first thing I would want to do was talk and get a hug. They are living things after all and need other horses to stay sane. I would be tempted to let him get some good horse to horse contact with ample wither scratches from the girls for a few days. After he has met his quota for needing a horse to touch then I would get to the ground work. It is the same theory as taking a young stalled horse & letting them run a few laps in a pen before you work them on a line or under saddle. They need to get the tickle out, sounds like your boy needs to get a good few scratches from the other horses first before he can consentrate.

I've worked with horses for over 20 years and have come across a few that were alone for long stretches of time. I bet he would calm down a lot after he gets to actually be with them for a few days. You may have to do some easy no fight herd bound work just to reassure him that his new horse friends aren't going anywhere but he will have his very real need for companionship taken care of and will be confident that they aren't leaving or that you aren't going to take him away from them permanently.

Try that before you try the tying thing. I bet you both will have a better experience.

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Sorry< i don't accept a horse showing extreme mis behavior just because he is in a new location

A horse that throws himself over backwards, drags a person around, is a spoiled horse, and not one that is just adjusting to a new place, mares or no mares

The person who bought him, didn't 'do much with him' Well, you can't park a horse for several years like a car, He probably got quite fine with his easy lifestyle

When you first got him, he had not really settled into his new surroundings, such as bonding with the mares, and didn't try you

Once he got comfortable with his new surroundings and friends, I think his true colors came out, and the holes in his training

Nothing wrong with tying a horse for several hours-all horses need to learn to accept this. I would not use cross ties

If one has ever ridden in the mountains, then a horse that does not stand tied without supervision is a horse with not just a hole, but a crater in his training. I for one am going to sleep in that warm tent and not outside beside a tree my horse is tied to !

All the horses I trained over A 30 year time frame, spent a few hours tied up in a stall, alone in the barn

Thus they all tie, whether to a trailer at a day show, or to a tree in the mountains

Yes, horses are herd animals, but part of their training is to understand that when they are handled or ridden, you are their herd, and they must ignor their equine companions while ridden or handle -no calling, and no worrying where the other horses are-mind focused on you.

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One can always check testosterone level, but I doubt he is proud cut

When a gelding mis behaves, the first assumption often is that he is proud cut. A mare-in heat

Even a well mannered intact horse does not drag a handler, nor flip over backwards

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Thank you everyone for your opinions. I went back out there last night and we found that his problem is the lack of other horses when Im working him. The facility has two barns and right now all of the horses are in the second barn. So when I bring him into the indoor arena, all of the other horses are in the other barn. I was walking him out by his stall and he was just fine, calm and quiet, paying attention to me. But the second we left that barn and went to the indoor, the old behavior resumed. Does anyone have any ideas how to fix this?? How to get him away from his dependency on other horses? Thanks again everyone!!

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Oh and he has always been a little pig headed he wasnt gelded till he was four, but I have never noticed his issues being female related. Just a little bit more pushy and of course really built, especially through his neck.

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I also think he is probably very herd bound and resents having to go back to work. I would tie him up in a safe place away from any other horses and let him settle down there before I went to work on his behavior and performance issues. He may need to stand tied all day for 3 or 4 days before he is ready to listen to you.

I think Cheri already answered this one, about the "buddy sour" thing. Maybe tying in that "empty" barn a few days will change his mind about it?

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I don't stand by the whole "let the horse settle in" thing myself. If that were the case, that everytime the horse moved/changed environments he had to have days or weeks to settle in, then forget showing, camping, hauling off to trail ride.

A good buddy sour technique is to ride the horse near the other horses, making the horse WORK. Think trotting figure 8s, sidepassing, transitions. Things that are a lot of mental and physical work. Then ride away from the horses to relax, walk slow and stand quiet to rest out of site of the other horses. Ride back to horses and work again. Away to rest. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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This horse would benefit more from tying until he stands quietly than anything else you can do. People who are against tying a horse just do not understand the way it works in a horse's mind.

You have to go back into horse's very nature to understand why it works.

Horses have two different modes that they relate to people with.

One is a reactive mode. The horse that is mad, upset, very nervous, lonesome, in great pain, very afraid or any other thing that overtakes all listening and reason is in a reacting mode. A HORSE THAT IS REACTING CANNOT THINK OR LEARN. I think this is a hold-over from an animal that is hard-wired as an animal of prey. Their 'flight mode' is their life-saving 'reaction'. When unable to flee the predator, they are hard-wired to stand and fight. These are the two reactions that we work a horse's lifetime and our lifetime to train around. These should be the two reactions we should do everything to avoid.

The other is a responding mode. A horse that is in a responding mode can think, learn and respond to very light stimulus. Very simply put -- you can have his undivided attention and can teach him anything you both are ready for. You 'have his mind'. Every positive thing we teach a horse is taught while a horse is in a responding mode -- whether we know it or not.

When we get in a fight with a horse, not only are we supporting his reacting, we are interacting with him in a way that encourages more reaction and fighting. We are not only getting nowhere, we are actually taking him backwards in his training.

Everyone has seen people that get a horse out and they are 'on the fight' from that moment forward until one of them gives up for that time. The horse has sweat pouring off of him and the handler is probably cussing and bloody and not one positive thing has been learned by either. Not only that, they both 'brace' for the fight the next time they interact.

I found out years ago that a reacting horse can be tied up away from other horses and totally left alone until they settle down. There is no downside that I have ever found. The horse becomes a responding horse with no negative interaction with a handler. Horses go from frantic, running back and forth, pawing and digging holes, whinnying frantically, sweating profusely, rearing up and kicking out to standing quietly, hind leg relaxed, head down and completely settled. I have seen it take an hour and I have seen it take 6 hours a day for 3 or 4 days straight.

Husband took a herd-bound finished cutting mare that had become unshowable and pretty much impossible to ride because she was so herd-bound. She would stop working a cow in the middle of the class or a workout. She would whinny in the middle of the pen, get high headed trying to find her friends, etc. They could not ride her hard enough or 'work her down' enough to get her attention. The owners could not haul her and could not even ride her anywhere unless her friends were right there and then she still rode like a pig. When Pete started working for this mare's owner, she was the first spoiled horse (of many) that he tackled. He tied her to a tree limb about 100 yards from the barn. She frantically screamed, reared and dug a hole about 4 feet deep and 7 or 8 feet in diameter. He had to move her and fill up the hole with a tractor and front end loader 3 or 4 times that first day. He put her up at chore time that night and started back out the next morning. He only had to fill up the hole once but she was still fussing and walking in circles that second night. Halfway through the next day he called me to tell me that he went out there and she was standing quietly with her head down and a hind leg cocked. She 'gave it up' and finally figured out that she could leave her friends and the world did not end. People became her herd when they put a halter on her head and she was happy with them until she was put up or turned put. They went on to win NCHA money with her and she even qualified for the Area Work-offs that year. You could ride her anywhere or tie her up anywhere and she was happy.

There are several ways to get a horse out of a reacting mode. You can run them around in circles until they are happy to stand. You can beat them up until you finally have their attention -- or not. Or, you can just tie them up in a safe place somewhere and let them figure it out until they give it up.

I think so much is gained by tying a horse up that I tie every horse up for hours at a time when they are green. Most never do anything except stand there, but I want to be sure they accept it and don't mind when all the other horses are gone and they are left alone. If I ride off and leave one alone and if he fusses or whinnies, he will get to stand there until feeding time, even if he has already been ridden.

Letting a horse settle and give up all anxiety before a training session makes each training session more productive and more positive. The fewer confrontations you have with any horse, the more he learns and the less dramatic your horse interactions become. It is a win / win for everyone.

I sold several horses to a lady from San Diego a few years ago. [same lady that had her place burn down in the big fires a few years back.] She called 2 weeks ago and said she wanted to come in from CA to ride in an AQHA 2 day trail ride near here. She did not want to haul a horse that far so she wanted to lease one for 2 days. I had a big trail ride going out that Saturday and all of my regular guest horses would be busy. I hooked up my Sooner slant trailer, (that I never use any more), loaded up a 3 year old gelding by 'Drifter' that had a current Coggins and hauled him to the trail site Friday Evening. I dropped the trailer with some grain, a bale of hay, a hay net and a water bucket and the horse's bridle. He stood tied to the trailer all night for two nights, strange horses and people all around, saddled up the next morning and rode all day for a total stranger among a large herd of strange horses. She said he never made a single mistake. She said no one there could believe he was just 3 years old. When I left him, I had no doubts that he would be OK. I knew how broke he was and that he would tolerate about anything that would come along -- and he did. Did I worry about him standing tied all night for 2 nights? Not for a minute.

I just cannot imagine why anyone would not want a horse to accept being tied up for whatever length of time it takes to teach him to stand quietly anywhere, anyplace, anytime.

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We go camping ALL the time.. the horses ride all day and then stand tied to the trailer, all evening, all night and in the AM until we saddle up and ride again.. Never had any issues..

Never hurts a horse to stand tied... Period

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Big, big ditto to Cheri

Part of training any horse is having them accept working away from buddies and standing tied patiently

A horse is not broke if he doesn't work away from buddies, screams for buddies and dosen't stand tied

Standing tied only while being watched, or afraid to tie the horse solid, thus the horse is only ground tied, is not the same as accepting being tied away from buddies, standing quietly until turned out again

We also have taken friends out riding in the mountains, and the horses didn't freak because someone else was on their back and they were on new trails

I don't haul my horses days in advance to a show or a trail ride, so they can 'settle ' into a new enviroment

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I've got to ditto everyone about tying. Manners and attitude aside, there have been times when both my safety and the safety of my animal depended on the animal being reliable in standing tied. They just have to, no other way to be. Just like loading, they better get in/on whatever I point them at as soon as I point. I feel this way about my horses, mules and dogs. If there is a fire out here (again), I need to be able to handle the animals and they need to be cooperative.

Cherie hit the nail on the head, as usual, with tying allowing the animal to work it out. This works wonders for mules too and can make all sorts of reacting without thinking just go away. The key is to tie them safely and to not release them until they are standing quietly, no matter how long it takes. Our animals are pastured and go for many, many hours without water by their own choice so 5 or 6 hours tied without water will not hurt an otherwise healthy animal.

To the OP, bad manners rarely come on "suddenly". My feeling is that your horse has been getting away with little infractions and has/is escalating due to lack of immediate correction. I also agree that a new environment is no excuse for a change in behavior. A respectful horse will remain respectful even in cases of extreme pain. Being herd bound might be a reason but his actions cannot be excused and must be corrected no matter wich methods presented here that you chose. A herd bound animal that is allowed to escalate can become a danger to not only himself but to everybody and everything around him.

Cheri gives great advice and always says it so clearly! I always have to look when I see that she or Smilie have posted about a training issue. I would love to spend some time with both of them!

Cheri, you're not that far from me!!!!!

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I'm a fan of leaving a horse tied for as long as it takes, as many times as it takes, for them to learn some patience. When they are tied, about the only thing I do, besides keep an eye on them, is make sure they have some water to drink. Two or three hours ( or more if necessary) of standing tied in the shade, doesn't do them any harm.

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I guess this is still on topic but I want to point out an excellent benefit from this tying training. Many at my farm claim that they do not tie their horses. No reason, just fear and laziness to train in my opinion. Many it seem consider this a vital skill for any horse but, these days I guess it seems superfluous with our arena loving set. I like to ride into "town". Town for me now is the city of Bel Air, Maryland. It's a compact metropolis but I have found a green way into the heart of it. Once there, it's so much fun interacting with the "muggles" who didn't know horses exist off-the-track or as an amusement device in front of the Wal Mart. The trick is that if you are going to ride "into town" with me, your horse needs to know how to go to sleep when tied up. After socializing with the town folk we take the horses to a county field next to their parking lot for city vehicles and tie them up to tree limbs. There is a tavern just across the field with a nice bay window where we usually sit and watch the fun. The "fun" being all the passersby who can't decide if they should call 911 or PETA. The point of this is, a horse needs to learn that they are safe and can relax when they are tied FAST. They aren't going anywhere for an hour and once they understand this, all they do is sleep and stand quiet and patient. It only takes practice, at home first, and then out for them to "Get it."

Practice makes perfect.

William (historyrider)

Edited by historyrider

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Great points HistoryRider!

It's very true that many people just work around their horse not accepting to be tied solid.

Some even suggest that ground tying is a substitute. It is not, just a separate skill I also use when tacking up, grooming etc, but I would not expect aground tied horse to be there after I was out of sight for hours at a time

We have gone on many hunts where we leave the horses tied to trees, somewhere on the trail, going on by foot to where there is a blind to watch elk coming out at dusk. Often we return after several hours, in the dark, and our horses are still there-thank goodness, as it is along walk in the dark back to camp!

I show with people on both the breed circuit and also on some one day all breed type of show where horses have to be tied to trailers.

I used to show both a jr and a senior horse, so one had to stay at the trailer while I showed the other one. Neither fussed when buddy was taken away

Many horses there could not be left tied alone, so that someone held a buddy in the hitching ring, while a friend showed the other horse-neither horse focused on the human, but rather on their buddy

On trial rides, my horse is tied at noon, while I stretch out and relax after eating. Often ride with people that need to hold their horse the entire time because the horse just can't be tied

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You've gotten some great advice.

I will say that if he got angry enough to flip over backwards then he definitely has the potential to pull back severely when he's tied. So I would definitely tie him with something that gives but holds--tree limb or 2 tractor trailer intertubes are my favorites -- so that he doesn't hurt himself. Better safe than sorry. And tie short so that he can't get up underneath the lead rope.

Time on the thinking post does wonders!

Another thing too... Before I would get on him or even tack him up, I'd work with him on the ground just getting his mind. Lunge at a walk/trot on a short lead and make sure his head is bent around towards you and his body his bent and his eye, inside ear are on you. It probably won't be at first, so do a lot of direction changes. When he's on you for 2 seconds, let him walk but if his mind drifts elsewhere, plant your feet and make him change directions.

When you go to ride, the second you put your foot in the stirrup, do the same thing you just did on the ground.

When you're out riding and he gets upset, don't circle because he's going to anticipate that and it doesn't make him think and use his brain. Do something different so that he's having to use his brain. For example, first time back up 3 steps and move the shoulders over and then circle. The second time move the hip over, then the shoulder then circle. The next time after that back up move the hip, circle, then move the shoulders -- keep him guessing what you're going to do next and keep his feet moving and make him work.

Three key things to that --- already have his face, shoulders, hips light and easily moveable. You can do a lot from the ground to get that. Secondly, timing is everything. The first second you feel him get tense start working. Lastly, the second you feel him relax, stop and relax your body as a reward.

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Hey,

Ive been trying to cross tie him untill he settles down, because I do agree that horses need to learn patience and how to stand. I have figured out that it is the barn that he doesn't like, because if I tie him in the other barn he stands like a champ. However the indoor arena is in the barn he has a problem with so I would really like to resolve this issue. Like I said I have been tying him for several days in the crossties and sitting 20 feet in front of him in a chair. Each day I have left him in the cross ties until I get a calm four feet on the ground stand. I am in school and I work so I do not currently have all day to sit around in the barn until he completely relaxes, hopefully this weekend will give me some more time. But when hes in the cross ties he spends basically the entire time rearing and dancing and working up a sweat which is also a problem cuz we are in the midwest and it is very cold here right now. He isnt showing any less reactive behavior even though ive been cross tying him like this for five days now. Do I just need to keep trying and wait for it to work or should I try something different??? Thanks again guys for all your help.

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Oh and by the way he does not pull back or anything like that in the cross ties even when he is rearing he still gives to the pressure on the cross ties. The girl that runs the boarding stable keeps telling me that I have a very talented horse lol!!!!

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I have never seen tying in cross tie work nor does it work to babysit one. They need to be abandoned until they rest and totally 'give it up'.

And, it has nothing to do with pulling back. Most horses that get that worked up never tighten the rope. They just dance, scream, jump up and down, kick out, etc.

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