new horse, terrified and uncatchable :(

Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by moccona, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Little birdie

    Little birdie New Member

    Moccona, are you related to cazzarane? You sound so much alike!:)
  2. LittleTM

    LittleTM New Member

    what about some portable yard panels to create a race to the yards... and let her walk to the yards under her own steam. She definitely needs to get out of the stable for you to progress any further.
  3. sunline

    sunline Well-known Member

    good on you for saving a horses life.

    I feel sad that others all just jump on the "yeh it was off to the knackers for a reason" bandwagon, simply because the horse is scared of people?

    No horse is born with a problem. People create the problems in the horse.

    Good luck with this horse, reminds me of something I read the other week:

    A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
    Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.

    As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

    The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,"I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference."
    The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,
    "I made a huge difference to that one!"

    Author Unknown
  4. TopstockWA

    TopstockWA New Member

    Lots of advice/opinions but what is the answer?

    Hello - I have rescued a number of horses on their way to the knackery. Most people are keen to give you an opinion or advice but what is the answer in this case?
    Each horse is an individual needing specific handling to get them through moment to moment. Many behavioural issues can actually be resolved quite quickly, however, others can take a bit more time. I have not yet come across a horse that could not get going nicely with the right person.
    I would recommend you give Kellie Stewart a call at Saltriver Performance Horses as she may be able to give you an over the phone assessment and consultation. Saltriver also offer private lessons and a monthly club called the cadence club of which I am a member. Kellie has helped me with a horse that was recommended to be sent to the knackers by another horse trainer. She is coming along nicely.
    If you chose to come to the club meets, there are also 2 other people I know of with rescue horses - so you won't be alone.
    The web site is Saltriver Performance Horses - industry leaders in Advanced reproduction and breeders of quality Australian Stock Horses - Welcome to Saltriver Performance Horses
    Please be careful accepting advice from unknowns or taking other people's opinions to heart as they don't know you or the horse. Having said that, I pass no judgment on other people's opinions or advice.
    Best of luck with everything - every horse that has come into my life has come for a reason, so hopefully you can see the one behind this.
  5. moccona

    moccona New Member

    Thanks guys :)

    Ok, Sugar's Mum you have a lovely approach. Slow and steady wins the race! The "join up" process is beautiful, I remember reading the Monty Roberts Book many years ago and being sceptical - untill I tried it! The unfortunate problem atm is that I am going to have to put her through a bit more stress to catch her and get her tho the big yards - then she can have as much time as she needs.

    Little birdie nope I'm not related to CazzaRanne :)

    LittleTM that would be a fabulous idea but it's just to far, like I said it is a really dumb set up :rolleyes:

    Sunline your story nearly brought tears to my eyes. Not all can be saved, and the ones that are sick or severly damaged are probably better off as long as they are not treated badly during those last few days. But I have seen the way some doggers are with their bought stock, they are animal food, not animals :(

    TopstockWA I WISH I was in WA, sadly NSW instead but thank you so much for those contact details!!
    And yes I agree that most horse problems are in fact people problems.
    When I hear people say that horses go to the knackers for a reason I think, well, I know several... disinterest, boredom and ignorance for a start.
    Twice in my life I have had to make the decision to put horses down, the first was a ancient mare, rescued starving and riddled with cancer. The second a broodmare of mine who had a bad accident. Both those gorgeous girls were put to sleep in their paddocks, with cuddles and kind words and they were not afraid. For the joy these animals give us the last thing they deserve is to be hauled of in a truck for a few dollars ';'

    I don't mean this to be a debate though, for whatever reason I have the horse now and I will do what I can.

    It's great to know there are so many here willing to share ideas and experiences, its a wonderful boost for someone like me :)
  6. BigRed

    BigRed Active Member

    I have handled a few of these types of horses, I really enjoy it! and good on you for giving her a go but you really need to 100% sure you can handle this horse and you wont get anywhere if your not. You really do need to get hold of her, she will continue to retreat for as long as you don't approach, so you could be doing that for a while and getting no where, so I would be thinking of ideas to do that and it might be that you will have to use a pole to get a rope on her as she turns her butt to you, that is very scary in a stable! It may scare the crap out of her but she needs to be caught and leave the halter on with a short strap. Then work on her everyday 3 times a day just doing the basic stuff, start from scratch as you would a youngster, some days you could be there 2 hours others 2 minutes but get a routine happening like just running your hands over her and thats it until she is comfortable with that and you end on a good note. I know it would be good to put another quiet horse in there with her but you'll find she will hide behind her and use the other horse to keep away from you or try to stir her up into a panic. Putting them next to each other still provides her with security. How big is the yard you will keep her in, ideally it should be small enough that she cant gallop off and big enough that she can avoid you without having to go through you. And you do need to push her somewhat as you will need to initiate things because she wont! You will find that she will at some point chuck the shits and this is where you will need to have a set of balls so to speak, I have found that when these types of horses seem to be going ok after maybe a few days or a week they spit it and I have actually found this to be a good thing if you handle it and she learns that it will get her no where, they actually come on quite quick after that! Not all do this but alot do so just be wary, these scared types are quite unpredicable so you must always be aware of where you are positioned around her, they will often take advantage if your guard is down depending on there temparments. Catching her in the yard may take some time but worth the effort if you use approach and retreat keeping side on to her and not full frontal if she moves back you move back to block her, you dont need to be close for this keeping eye contact to a minimum, its almost like you are directing her from where you are and not her running away, if that makes sense, so hard to put into words! Approach her as you would at the shoulder and just to where she is comfortable stand there not looking at her, if she moves off retreat and and do again, dont even try to put a hand on her, continue to do this until she show less fear then end it, just walk out then the next time put a bit more pressure on her get a bit closer eventually you will be at her shoulder, still dont put a hand on her until you have achieved this a few times Make sure its you who walks off first not her.. This could be one of those spit it times to so just be aware. She may realize its you doing all the directing and not her! This can be time consuming but it can be very rewarding as it is gaining trust between you 2 and will make things easier later on I have caught a good many uncatchable horses this way. At feed times just put the feed in and go, make no contact what so ever, ignore her, its just that if you try and coax her with feed and she backs away and you then leave thats a bad lesson learnt. Often if these horses have been abused they will have triggers it could be as simple as the way you are standing or the way you approached, the way you carry a bucket, they will react first , I dont know how mant times I've heard the comment this horse has a circit breaker in its head! something triggers that circit breaker, thats another thing to be aware of. This is not a quick fix thing you will be working with the horse for a long time and even if she does come to hand, there could be times where that circit breaker goes off, horses don't forget. I wish you all the very best and please put your safety first always think "where am I standing!"
  7. Deb2

    Deb2 Guest

    Very well said Big Red.:)*

    Not having a go at anyone in particular, but just wondering about peoples thoughts on what you consider to be 'approach and retreat'?

    (example one) I read a lot about people who approach a scared horse to the point where they can see the horse is either about to move away or does move away, and thats when the person retreats to a position that the horse is comfortable with, then they start the whole process again.

    (example two) I do it like this:- I approach the scared horse, a little at a time, and the moment the horse offers me any desireable signs, like looking towards me, resting a leg, licking lips, reaching out to sniff me, sighing, that is the time that I would stop and/or retreat. If the horse moves away I will not retreat, I will stay with the horse until I get a desireable sign, then retreat as a form of praise, then start the whole process again.

    I have found this to consolodate the desirable things that I am wanting from the horse in a much better way than in the first example, whereby you move away when the horse is doing what you dont want.

    Does anyone else use the second example, or do you all use the first example?

    I hope you dont mind me asking origonal poster, but it seems to be an appropriate question within this thread.
  8. Sugar's Mum

    Sugar's Mum Gold Member

    Good question deb2.
    If I am having trouble approaching a horse that is happy enough with people(Usually I find this when giving a horse it's first ever clip) I start walking toward it and BEFORE it has a chance to try to turn away I turn away and walk away. rinse and repeat. and repeat and repeat.

    What I find is that if I do this quickly enough that it is not too long at all before I can approach closer.

    Then at some stage I push the envelope and stay closer to the horse. If it turns away then I keep myself at that distance from her and the instant the horse pauses I turn and walk away. again rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat.

    I would not use this approach in a small area. The horse needs to be able to leave you. Usually I find that the horse is happy to be held they are only frightened of the clippers so I have someone on the end of a lead rope and when the horse wants to leave it leaves in a circle around the handler. Gradually as the horse gets less anxious then I get the handler to use the lead rope to get them to pause and think about what they are doing.

    but this is a horse that is not scared of people just of the clippers. What I have found is that a horse that was fighting to get away from the clippers will be standing still and happy within 10 minutes, being clipped on the body happily. And they dont have any trauma so next time clipping is easier.

    If the horse is simply not wanting to be caught then I send it away. I say to it if it wants to leave then it can leave, and leave and leave and leave and in the end they start saying please can I come and talk to you.

    It's not a case of running them to exhaustion. It's just if you send them away then they want to be with you. Just like kids and their Mum's the child could be happily playing all day and the minute the phone rings the child is a pain in the behind lol clingy and demanding attention.

    However for a frightened horse I would be more gentle and use the firmer sending away once the horse knows I dont bite, kick or hit out.

    Once they realise you are reasonable and predictable then they are more comfortable but it can take a long time.

    It all takes time, listening to the horse and having the strength of self belief enough to know when to stand up and say Oi you are being an idiot.

    But I dont say that to them when they are scared. When they are scared they need to realise they aren't going to be eaten.

    What I have found with the small number of traumatised horses I have worked with is that the HUGE breakthroughs come when the horse is pushed to the point of explosion and intense fear only to find that they have not been punished or hurt, that they simply have to do what they are being asked.

    However it takes knowledge, timing, strength of mind and self belief and access to wonderful support for those times when you dont have the info you need.

    If your knowledge is lacking, timing is wrong or you over estimate your skills it can be a disaster.
  9. BigRed

    BigRed Active Member

    Thats the way I usually do it and I will often stay there a bit longer if he has relaxed. Next time I ask for a bit more. If the horse is very timid I will back off somewhat and approach again to that distance

    Your very last line Sugar is absolutely spot on!
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  10. Paddys girl

    Paddys girl Well-known Member

    Please be very careful with things like 'join up' or anything like it with a horse like this. Sounds as though this horse doesn't have a great deal of self preservation atm and unless you have the right sort of facilities it could get quite dangerous very quickly. The idea of turning him out with your mare is a good one, spending time brushing your mare in the paddock and giving her tidbits etc with the other horse looking on will help. No matter how much experience we think we have - its always better to seek help of another great trainer to help you out with these sorts of 'tough' cases. If you are not sure where to go from the stage you are at now - I can guarantee you need someone else who knows there stuff to help you out as well :) No shame in it.
  11. Paddys girl

    Paddys girl Well-known Member

    yup - well said.
  12. moccona

    moccona New Member

    An update...

    I have been trying for 3 weeks to find someone capable to help me. Either by giving me instructions, or showing me while actually working with her. I had a couple of "horsemen" come see her, the first as I mentioned earlier told me she was completely wild (not true), the second told me to sell her and buy something else as she will never be any good. This is why I figured I would be going it alone!
    THANK GOODNESS the third time was a charm, a local man and his wife came to see her this morning who caught her, moved her to a big yard, lunged her and taught her how to yield her hindquarters - in about an hour. I was so relieved and impressed it was all I could do not to bawl my eyes out while I was watching. These people are nothing short of insprirational, and they are taking her to their place tomorrow to get her to a point I can take over without making a mess of it.
    Like it or not my confidence is not what it once was, and while I would have muddled through with this little mare she will end up a better horse from having these people involved. And I am going to learn a lot from them also.

    Incidentally he caught her (after some careful observation) by using a long stick to rub her down from a safe distance, gradually bringing a rope in in then haltering her up. All seemed as if in slow motion and was beautiful to watch. What made me want to cry was seeing this horse at first literally crouching in the stable, muscles bulging and totally petrified - and then slowly relaxing and wanting to follow him anywhere by the time he left. Sure she has a way to go, and a lot to forgive people for but she is going to be fine. Oh no I'm going to cry again :eek:
  13. beagle

    beagle Well-known Member

    that's lovely moccona - I hope these people really help the horse, & help you too.
    they sound like they're just what she needs!:)
  14. NumidianHorse

    NumidianHorse Active Member

    Wonderful! Am so glad for you - keep us posted on how you go ...

    Getting help / another set of hands or eyes can be a great thing to do ... both the mare and you will benefit.

    Sounds like you've done a great thing **)
  15. Sugar's Mum

    Sugar's Mum Gold Member

    Moccona I am so pleased to hear that you have such wonderful help.**)

    It is fantastic to watch a real horseman work a horse and I have no doubt you have learned so much just watching her with this guy.

    She is so lucky to have found you. Knowing when you are overwhelmed is fabulous because you can look at the situation and get the help you need :)

    I hope to hear more of your updates with this girl
  16. BigRed

    BigRed Active Member

    Well done moccona! That is awsome news sounds like she is showing good signs that she can and wants to be helped. :))
  17. moccona

    moccona New Member

    Thanks again everyone :)

    When I took her feed tonight she was so calm, she wasn't willing to let me approach her immediately but a few circuits of the yard had her coming in nicely. She is uncomfortable being touched on the face so I just gave her a little rub on the shoulder and a few mouthfuls of chaff from the tub while I was holding it :eek: and then I left her to eat in peace. A lot of the spook has gone already, she isn't what I would call hypersensitive like she seemed only a day ago.

    One more night and she's off to stay with the trainers for a while. Thankfully less than 5 minutes drive away so I can be there often
  18. NumidianHorse

    NumidianHorse Active Member

    ... might sound silly - but you could consider leaving an old towel which stinks of your hard earned sweat with the trainer (to hang on a rail near the mare's feed or water). Then every time you go over to see her - keep building the scent on it by wiping your hands / face on it.

    I've found this useful as the smell is "available" to her even when you're not there and she can touch / smell it when she chooses ... Then when you show up you may get an "oh - it's YOU" response.

    ... The towel may also come in handy later for when you're touching her body / doing feet / teaching something she finds a bit confronting ... (can explain later). As I said - it has worked for me.

    ... best wishes. Agree with the others - this little mare is lucky to have found you ;)
  19. moccona

    moccona New Member

    That's a good idea :)

    She got picked up yesterday lunchtime.
    Funny little horse was full of herself and kicking her heels up in the yard but this time in fun - not fear.
    The wonderful trainer is enjoying her already as she has surprised us all with her progress so far.
    Without wanting to push her but curious he tried a saddle which she accepted. From the way she moved with the saddle on we can see she has been ridden before (so much for the "pro" who told me she was unhandled) but she is not relaxed enough for anyone to get on again yet. She has been through so much trauma it very nearly destroyed her and there is no need to rush her from here. Everything she does screams "this scares the poop out of me but you haven't hurt me yet so I will let you".
    The main thing is that she is realising we are not all trying to eat her and I'm also grateful that people besides me are seeing her worth and her potential now.
    A little part of me does wish that I was better equipped to deal with her level of emotional damage and that I could have done this on my own but I am gaining back a lot of confidence even just watching atm. Damn the aging process and getting cautious lol
  20. Sugar's Mum

    Sugar's Mum Gold Member

    moccona it sounds like you are going to be learning so much from her and this man who is helping you with her.

    How lovely that she is coming along so fast. I am glad that you have hte help to go far fast :)

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