Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by Heifer, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    This isnt really a problem horse thing, and its not a "how do i fix my horse" kind of question, more general. Its sparked by me having a youngster who is lacking confidence, and I need to work on our bond etc. He's respectful and not scared of humans, just jumpy and sensitive. I'm just after ideas of things to try if what I have planned doesnt work, or to get max results. so...:}

    What kind of exercises do you do with a horse who is nervous and lacking confidence? How do you bond with your horse? Joinup? 7 games? Routine?
  2. madcow

    madcow Guest

    Just Time............babies eventually get there by themselves and with good riding and handling:)

    don't start twirling no ropes or anything!:p:eek:*#)
  3. wattle6180

    wattle6180 Gold Member

    I paddock a non-confident with an extrovert. This way the bold personality runs up at the sight of humans and gets loads of praise/pats. The aloof horse generally wants a piece of the action in a very short time.

    Many short grooms helps build trust. Even just a minute and then leave, building up to the horse wanting more from you than you're giving. Never giving more than the horse actually wants.

    If the horse is on agistment, I imagine it could be a lot harder to build the foundation relationship :(
  4. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    Yep on agistment, but i am going morning and night to do everything (have decided to stable to begin with to increase amount of handling he gets, fussing around the place, getting use to strange things humans do etc). He's not scared of humans, just of new things - timid i guess is the right word. I think he is just a little freaked out at the moment - alot of big changes for a baby horse!

    But yep agree on the grooming thing, the more fussing and stuff that is gentle and not hurting the better. And also not doing anything to push the situation further before he is 100% happy with the basics.
  5. dopeyqh

    dopeyqh Active Member

    I try and keep my NH views mostly to myself, but I do think that the 7 games and Join-up are great things for bonding between you and your horse, however if he's a baby I probably wouldn't try it quite yet... maybe wait a while until he's mentally ready to handle a bit of pressure. I like the idea of Wattle's post, though. very logical :)
  6. Sugar's Mum

    Sugar's Mum Gold Member

    I am a real fan of join up.
    You dont need to do it all the time but it really helps let a horse and trainer develop a bond.

    As to things you can do first I would be looking at how old the horse is.

    All I would ask a young horse to do is walk and trot and lead with nice manners, stand up when required for feet farrier and vet and then I like them to be a horse. Let the other horses teach the young one the things it needs to know.

    then once I bring them in to work I would be doing things like playing with tarps, playing with all sorts of things that make noise and rustle and look scary so they realise that you are not going to hurt them even if things look a little strange.
    I use advance and retreat to get the horse used to things it doesn't like or is concerned about.

    for example in working with tarps I get one person to hold the lead line and one corner of the tarp then then other person holds another corner and moves toward the horse. If the horse moves away I follow until it stands still then the instant it stops moving away I turn and walk away with the tarp. If the horse looks away I move toward it with the tarp if it looks toward me I move away.

    So the horse was rewarded for courage by the stress dropping and the stress is not encouraged by removing the thing causing it.

    I use all sorts of things. Tarps, drums, whips (whip cracking sounds I mean here as well as touching the horse all over with the whip) tambourine, rythm sticks, anything the horse is concerned about.

    THe more you expose the horse to and reward its courage the more couragous s/he will get.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  7. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    Sorry need to give more info i think :) Not that i was meaning this to be a "fix my horse" thing, rather a general discussion on things to help build a horse's confidence.

    He's 3, broken in, very respectful on ground, ties up etc etc. Just a little freaked out from moving and coming off a nice holiday (i was injured, not ideal to spell a youngster but unavoidable :( his mindset only confirms my beliefs regarding spelling youngsters though)
  8. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    some good ideas SM. start easy and build the pressuer as the confidence builds
  9. Your stabling idea is a good one. Having them brought in, brought out, fed, people around etc is really useful in helping build confidence - even if you're really strapped for time one day the horse still gets handled at least twice which is better than not at all if they're in the paddock 24/7.

    I found John O'Leary's join up exercise REALLY awesome. He has a vid on his site on how its done.

    Having a good one rein stop installed helps by giving you confidence which in turn gives the horse confidence as well as having emergency breaks if the horse decides to completely freak at something!

    With Lucky who was very spooky/non confident I found that working on him daily and being a leader helped no end. I worked hard to never overface him with anything, I worked really hard to ensure my 'quit' was spot on in timing, and that he was always rewarded for every try.

    This really built up a good relationship and just by doing this I got him from a fidgety, herd-bound, ignorant, spooky horse that would have a freakout even being ridden down the driveway into a horse I could take out to see the scary sheep and the big scary dogs up the road with barely an ear-flick. He even forgot his great love next door long enough for us to get some work done instead of going completely mental at not being able to see her!
  10. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    nice one ML :)

    *scurries off to HP website to see vid*
  11. Bethy

    Bethy Gold Member

    Hondy can be a bit of a pansy and would be with new things, especially when he was younger.

    I found that staying calm, showing him that it was ok but still being a leader was really good for him.

    When he was quite young (about 2-ish so not broken in) I would take him for walks. I didn't have a dog to walk and was home alone a lot of the time so it was fantastic for him. I was living in North QLD and my place wasn't far from the main highway and railway that runs from Townsville to Mt Isa. So we would walk on the side of the road (not the highway, one on the other side of the railway line) and he was exposed to big trucks, trains, cars, motor bikes plus cows, sheep, rock wallabies, roo's and other horses etc etc.
    If something would give him a fright then we would investigate it further until he was ok about it. It was never a rush, just let him take his time.
    Sometimes I would also do things like getting him to yeild towards and away from me but I would weave him in and out of the white lines on the road. No real point to it other than to ask him to do something other than just walk next to me. It kept it a bit interesting.

    Then once he was back here under saddle it was the same thing. Take it slowly, let him figure out that it was ok and let him know that he was always safe if he's with me.

    It takes time, repitition and patience. He'll settle into the routine and be fine, he's just got to learn that this new lifestyle is a good one.

    Though... I'll never forget the time that Hondy decided that a set of seats at the SEC (near the hill at the entrance to the internation arena) were scary. We were standing near them and he was snorting and sniffing them. Then he farted and that scared him even worse!! It was hilarious!!

    I've found that the main thing that I need to do is keep calm and relaxed, no matter if I'm nervous or not. If I'm worried then he will worry. If I'm calm then he'll be calm.
    And when he gets a bit worried I often laugh at him. It means that I'm still breathing and am relaxed and he instantly chills.
  12. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    I'm trying to put this the right way. But here goes. For a young horse (or any horse for that matter) to be confident in strange places it has to have confidence in its handler. Obviously tieing up, leading correctly, being polite at feed time, float loading (I could go on) is how this is taught initially. It is not unusual for a young horse to be unsure of itself in new surrounds. But there is a difference of unsure and being naughty. So am going to stick with unsure. I have found that initially ignoring the horse being unsure and ask it to do something it is confident in. I have found that standing them and patting them does nothing to gain trust or respect or whatever you want to call it. They usually just ignore whoever is patting it.

    At the end of the day exposure will help a nervous horse. But some horses no matter how much training they have had will become nervous in new and unusual surrounds until their handler redirects the horses attention onto the handler rather than the surrounds.

    As for what youy ask the horse to do. I think that it dependant on the horse, handler and situation.

    I do however agree with madcow sometimes a nervous or timid young horse needs nothing special just someone to take it out and wait for the horse to grow up. At the end of the day they are just babies learning there place in the world.
  13. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    thanks Beth :)
    yep ive done stacks of walking him, both on foot (and even jogging), and ponying. Might do a bit more before i take him out of arena.

    Its so long since i've had a breaker! Last time i had a breaker (and no i dont count Buckley LOL) was when i was about 16! And that was a 4yr old not a 3yr old. And arab not WB (they so think differently).

    Its funny, I got on him yesterday and was riding him and subconciously used my inside leg to push him out which he thought ment go faster, and i woahed him and he was a bit confused - i have to take my riding back to basics and try not to ask for things that arent there yet, get his go, stop, turn worked out and then start thinking about other stuff! Its so hard to ride a baby after riding advanced horses for so long!
  14. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    thanks KP :)
    Yeh its not naughty behaviour, just timid/nervous. And i agree about redirecting their attention being a good thing.
  15. Sim

    Sim Well-known Member

    Ha ha, when I first read this I though your were talking about short people grooming horses!!!! Made me feel very good about myself!!! ( I am scraping in at 5'1'.!)
  16. wattle6180

    wattle6180 Gold Member

    Hahahaha nooooo :eek: That would be "many short grooms bearing carrots build trust" LOL :))
  17. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    hmmm i couldnt find the HP joinup... got a link?
  18. Heifer

    Heifer Gold Member

    ta, similar pinciples to join up that Q's breaker has had me doing.
  19. valdez

    valdez Well-known Member

    Hi Hef,

    I have a similar horse. When i bought her the guys from the trucking company handed me her lead and said " good luck with this one" they basically halter broke her across the nullabour LOL.

    She is an alpha mare, i had to prove to her 100% that I was worthy of her trust. We did all the ground work stuff you have put in place with your boy and all was good until she was broken in, It then became a case of, well i can't see you so i must be the boss again!! It took time in an arena introducing various stimuli slowly for her to believe that even though she couldn't see me she had to listen to me and trust i wouldnt put her in a position she couldnt handle. I have had to make sure i have breaks- good ones- as a one rein stop was useless to us because she would tangle her legs up and fall over (NOT FUN) especially at a canter!!! Standing still DID help us as her reaction was to bolt away (very high flight instinct), making her stand until she had calmed down and then approaching the scary thing was the best way to build her confidence in me. I also have a very steady lead horse that helped alot to get her used to going out in the bush. It has been a slow road but i will happily take this horse out along the roads alone and in company and she is like an old hand but only because she now trusts me.

    I think your horse must be a very intelligent and sensitive type :) (the best type) I believe if he trusts you on the ground then more ground work wont help the situation, it is in the saddle now that it counts so clock up those hours :)

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