After having received and answered questions on this blog for some time now, a recurring theme keeps popping up.
Riders of all disciplines seem to get to a certain level but never seem to be able to get past it. That’s when the questions come forth, and the frustration begins. People intuitively know, even if they don’t consciously know, that they are missing a very integral part of the “equine journey”.
It’s all fine to learn the “mechanics” of riding. We learn how to sit so that we and the horse are more comfortable and safe. We learn how to use our hands and legs to ask the horse how to do a specific task – but we really don’t feel, at a deeper level, what that truly is – to the horse. And so begins our feeling of being “stuck” and asking questions.
We brush our horses, feed them, kiss them goodnight or goodbye, and the second we step away, we move right back into our outer world beyond the horse. But our whole intention, if we search higher, of having a horse in the first place, is to connect very deeply with another spirit. Not another human or animal. Another spirit. And to retain that connection while away from them. This does not mean that you “think” about the horse. It means you bring forward “that” which you carry between you and your horse into all the other aspects of your life. Things like, patience, understanding, grounding, centeredness, unflappable and unshakeable – emotionally and ego free.
Question from New Zealand: I have been working through your site for answers to a lot of questions :-) and have found it invaluable as I work with my wild caught mare who is now 7 yrs old. She was only broken in at 5 and then we just got her home and a couple of months later she broke her foot. So after a year out with that I’m starting her all over again. She was trained by Trisha Wren who’s methods are similar to your own.
BUT the issue is with her little paddock mate. A warmblood 3yr old, almost 4yr filly (Pipsqueak) who each time I take Charity away from her gallops and bucks around her paddock. The last time she wasn’t even out of site but took off around her paddock and chest crashed a gate twice. The 3rd time she knocked it off it’s hinges. Very luck for us she didn’t cut herself but it must have bruised. Many times I thought she was going to jump the gate. Now she hasn’t always been like this.
Question: I have a 10 year old arab that I’ve switched from the Arab circuit to eventing. I bought him as a 5 yr old and did Arab shows for a couple years. He’s a gorgeous horse and an amazing mover, but has a really hard time keeping himself under control. He is always a happy horse, with ears pinned forward. My problem with him is when we get to shows he gets so excited that he literally can’t contain himself. He ends up rearing/jumping/bucking nonstop. I’ve had a chiropractor out, a vet out, and he has no issues with back or saddle fitting. If I take him to school at a place, he’s a pretty good boy. He just really feeds off the commotion of the show. Eventing has been better, he loves to jump and does great on cross country and stadium. But dressage is the first phase and he usually rears and leaps through our test. I’ve tried lunging him for an hour before, and he just gets more excited. We generally get there the night before and that hasn’t made a difference either.
If you have any suggestions on how to get him to calm down, please let me know!!!! He has amazing talent, but he is just like a child with ADHD.
Answer from April Reeves: Arabians are one of my favorite breeds: they are highly sensitive and intelligent, and learn fast. And they’re just incredibly beautiful as well.
They also can get a little out of control, which always brings me back to groundwork. An Arabian can never have enough groundwork. It’s great for their minds and they catch on to it faster than many breeds.
Posted in Breeds, Equine Behavior & Problems, Hunter/Jumper, Natural Horsemanship
Tagged behavior, bucking, english riding, foundation training, Groundwork, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, problem horse, rearing, spooky horse
Sorry everyone but I have been extremely busy lately, and I know many of you are waiting for your questions to be answered! I have been organizing this years clinic schedule and it’s a big change this year with the inclusion of open clinics. It’s more work than private clinics, but I can breathe now for a while and will be back to posting many answers for you.
This blog is insanely busy. Thanks to everyone that comes here to find answers to their horse training questions. Hopefully I will see many of you this year.
I am limiting my clinics to BC for 2010, as the US is too strict on clinicians coming in. I have always felt as though the US was my best friend I get to visit all the time. Hopefully one day we will be able to move back and forth freely again. I will miss my American friends this year!
Be first to sign up; send your email address and your location and I will contact you first if I am in your area.
Question: Hi, I hope you can help. I have had my little cob for about 9 months, at first he was very bossy and wouldn’t even let me touch his face without trying to bite and ears flat back , he got loads better and now I can stroke and even brush his face, he is great to catch and comes when called , but lately, even when I go to greet him as he comes over when I get there, he puts his ears flat back and does that trying to send me away thing , he will try to bite if I persist in trying to touch him, unless I can get to scratch him in his fave spot. I spend a lot of time with him , he will not let me pick his feet up most of the time either, I know his previous owner and I know she would hurt him too , how can I get him to respect and trust me, I am rather nervous of him now but I love him and won’t let him down.
Answer from April Reeves: Hello Carol from the UK! I’m glad you spend a lot of time with this horse. It is the best therapy you can give him, short of a few ground lessons that I will give you that should keep you busy for about half a year.
One thing you didn’t mention was whether he was gelded or not. This would make the world of difference if he wasn’t castrated yet. Once that is done, his whole attitude will change. However, even as a young male he should still show respect and manners, as it will carry forward when he is gelded.
Question: Hello April, I’m a horse girl and I always love being at the barn. I am working at my barn doing everything from helping the kids, dealing with the horses and doing all those fun barn chores :) I am hoping you could give me a few tips on the areas I would like to improve on.
I am 14 and I have been riding for about 5 yrs now. I have been told I have a riders body, which does make me proud, but I don’t have what you might call farmers muscles. I am very slim and about 5’3, so when I have to bring in the stronger more difficult horses or do hard barn chores, it can get a little difficult for my little arms.
I usually hay the horses, so I have to pull off the flakes and get them into the wheelbarrows. My huge problem is trying to rip the hay if the horses on need a half flake. I try folding the hay this way and that and putting all my weight on it but I still end up getting more hay on the floor and myself than in the stall. Do you know any techniques of tearing the hay or anything that might help ?
Also do you have any tips on keeping control over the larger more spirited horses? I am usually pretty confident while bringing in, but if I have the big ones and they are being difficult or they don’t want to stop, I’m pretty sure they will drag me with them.
Thank you for your time! I hope I can have less days of hay problems! :)
Answer from April Reeves: While you may not feel like this right now, the toughest girls are your size. It’s just a matter of time and more hay lifting and you’ll be the fittest, strongest girl in your area! The other really great thing about being strong when you’re young – muscle has memory, and when you get older you can get it back fairly quickly. Once you have it you don’t lose it.
Question: I got my horse very soft but for some reason I am having trouble teaching her to yield her shoulder. She knows how to move her back in and out of saddle. Here’s what I’ve been doing so please tell me what’s going wrong. I always start training out of saddle before I expect it to happen in saddle so I have been standing on the ground putting pressure on her shoulder trying to get her to yield her front legs but all she keeps doing is moving her back legs in a circle like I was pushing on her hindquarters but I’m not. I don’t know what to do – please help? Shes a very fast learner so I know I have to be doing it wrong.
Answer from April Reeves: Let’s start by looking at ‘pressure’. Rule #1: never push on a horse. Laying your hand on a horse and using any pressure will result in the horse pushing against you, unless the horse has been taught specifically to move away, in which case you only have to ‘touch’ the horse. I don’t know exactly what you meant by ‘putting pressure on her shoulder’ so I added this in.
Question: Hello, I have been training horses since I was 12. I’m no expert by any means and have lots to learn.
But as of right now I am currently working with a 3 year old quarter horse. She is the most nervous insecure horse I have ever worked with. Her previous owner told me they had started her under the saddle already and she had accepted it, which I found through further training was a lie. I have been constantly working with her since October and am hardly moving forward. I started right from scratch with basic halter training. Now, I have ridden her only because I was pushed into it by her owner. I stopped because I felt she was not ready, every time I sack her out its like its all new to her. I have used many objects such as a bag on a whip, a cowboy hat, a blanket, just a plain stick, and she still flips each time I bring out an object. Even if it was an object she has previously seen! She is having major difficulties with switching eye to eye. And frankly I am running out of ideas. I’m not sure if I should just move on and ride her in hopes I can work it out of her on her back.
Answer from April Reeves: I have run across a mare like this. You may have to back off from using objects to desensitize her as it makes them worse.
Where this problem originated was back in her history somewhere. Owners never tell you the whole story. It’s up to you to assume the worst and work from there. People can really ruin a young horse.
This mare will take a great deal of consistent gentle handling. Get rid of bags on the end of whips and other cool toys that work on other horses. With this mare, you will be doing basic work. But it’s not the work you are doing, it is HOW you will carry out this work.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship, Western training answers
Tagged break horse, colt starting, Equine Behavior & Problems, foundation training, Groundwork, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, problem horse, spooky horse, western training, young horse
Question: I have a 7 year old Appendix, who is in full show hunter training, and he is a fantastic hunter, but he has one major issue. He is a fairly dominant gelding and when another horse, no matter gender or size, passes him or gets too close (in either direction, although the same direction is worse) he bucks. I don’t mean like a baby or one time buck. It is a full bucking fit around the arena. The last time he bucked, it was because a pony passed him and he took 5 minutes of pure 4 feet of the ground bucking, and a run in with the fence to stop. He did NOT do this when I first bought and showed him. It started in June 2008 and that was 6 full months after I purchased him. My trainer and I have exhausted all of our options, and cannot find an answer as to why this started nor can we find a solution. We also thought it was me for a while, but I have been evaluated by a mental coach and my nerves are not the cause, they are a reaction to his bucking fits. Can you help?
Answer from April Reeves: I need a bit more information. What are the options you have exhausted? That way I won’t need to go over them again. Have you done any groundwork and if so what did you do? This is an easy fix but it will require time and probably someone with a different skill set. I will wait for your reply before suggesting a solution.
Question: Can you wash your horse to much? I have never had a problem with this but I wash my horse about once a week in the summer. I thing its good for the horse and me. lol. I turn her loose and she just roles in the dirt when I’m done but someone told me it was unhealthy to wash your horse this much. (my brothers wife said that, been eating on me, they dont like how I train or even ride my horse because I am way into Natural Horsemanship and they do things cowboy way but hay you never no she might be right so thought I’d ask. Dont want to hurt my horse)
Answer from April Reeves: If you are using soap every week, you are likely stripping away essential oils in the coat. I only use soap no more than once a month, if that. I do use water to wash away all sweat and mud on the body and legs, when it is warm enough, and I do that daily! Water alone does not damage the oils. It is important to remove sweat and mud as it will damage the coat and hairs. It also keeps the horse healthier and happier, so spray away every day if you want! Just put the soap bottle away. You will find you won’t need soap at all if you just use water. I don’t know where you live, but we can’t wash off our horses all year ‘round. I make up for it in the summer though. All my horses love to be sprayed; it’s a good thing to get a horse use to.
In order for me to make this blog valuable and useful, I need to know what YOU want to read. What YOU want to see. What YOU want to discuss. What am I missing?
You can say as little or as much as you like.
What are your goals with your horse? What are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish but are not sure of how to go about it?
Help me make this horse blog one of the best out there. What you have to say matters to me. Together, we can create a community that benefits us all, which benefits the horse. It’s all about the horse.
Thanks everyone, and a very, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Adiva Murphy and Pal
A SPECIAL POST BY ADIVA MURPHY – FOUR PART QUESTION
Question: So when they try to knock into you what is the next step? I haven’t quite figured out how to work the stick yet but I have been using my lunge line.
Answer: Get familiar with that stick – it is your new best friend. I used to stumble along with the rope for years because I felt it was too much to handle having a stick in my hand, but once you realize you use it like a longer arm….it is FANTASTIC!
Question: Hi there. I’ve been around horses all my life but to be honest, I’ve never actually trained one. I’ve only ridden and taken care of them.
I adopted a Paint Cross colt a Month ago who’s now 7 Months old. He lives out with my 4 other horses who are all way taller than him.
He’s a sweet little guy who loves attention but he has no emotion. He’s so calm and cool and thinks he is stronger than anyone. He walks into me, through me, nibbles me, pushes me with his head and all the rest. Doesn’t know his space and does everything a colt can at that age.
I know it’s normal so I’ve decided to tackle his problems NOW instead of later on when he will be stronger.
I read you’re not supposed to be violent with them when they are so young but he’s emotionless. He only responds when I smack him.
Do you think you could give me some basic tips on how to earn his respect? Am I right using physical force on him when he misbehaves?
I have no intention of training him under saddle alone but I want to at least get his ground manners in check. Thank you, Laura
Answer from April Reeves: Hi Laura. I first want to speak to your comment “I’ve never actually trained one.” I have this theory/understanding that anyone who has been in the presence of a horse has had influence on the ‘training’ of that horse (what he knows of humans). This is because horses ‘soak’ everything a human does. All your movements, signals, voice and body language ‘speak’ to a horse. That non-verbal language translates into what the horse will become. So while you may think you have never trained a horse in all your life, you have actually spent years training horses. Humans believe that training is simply a matter of learning techniques. While this is true to a point (and it’s best to learn good techniques that produce happy results) humans need to understand the horse at a much different level first before entering into a relationship of any kind. Humans must learn to speak their language first.
This is where we will start.
Posted in Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship
Tagged April Reeves, colt starting, Equine Behavior & Problems, foals, Groundwork, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, rope halter, young horse
Question: Can you give me an outline of one of your typical rides? I just want some kind of idea of what you do with the horse, what you try to do yourself, and how long you took. Oh, also what you were trying to achieve. Thanks, Mandy.
Answer from April Reeves: I will give you a day in the life of a somewhat green Andalusian that is going very nicely (Mya) and has no real issues. She already has 100 days on her. She is not being worked for anything in particular, just as a pleasure and trail horse. This is just Grade 2 foundation work. I will put links in to find the exercises in case you are not familiar with them. The writing is short, more of a guideline.
– Follow, stop, back, trot off, stop, back, turn sharp, back… Does the horse respond quickly? Obedient? Politely? Groundwork link
– Sending exercise to test if horse is fresh or ready. I will ride right away if the horse feels right. No spooking, must have both eyes on me. I don’t mind the horse having energy. I do mind if the horse is not ‘with me’. 5 minutes or more.
Posted in English Riding answers, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship, Western training answers
Tagged colt starting, foundation training, gait, Groundwork, horse forward, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, western training
Question: Can you integrate Natural Horsemanship into jumper training? I read your dressage article on blending them, but I have an 8 yr old hunter – Dutch Warmblood – thoroughbred cross mare who continues to spook at fences at shows. She’s not what you would call hot, but has lots of get-up-and-go. What Natural Horsemanship exercises or training can I start on to get my mare less spooky with more even tempo? I have tried all the traditional methods with little to no success. She also tends to walk over me too when I lead her. Thank you April.
Answer from April Reeves: Of course you can integrate NH into your program! In fact, hunter/jumper is one area of traditional training that really gets a boost and solid foundation from NH. All my H/J students go through this basic foundation before advancing into fence work. There is no technique or method in particular that works with hunter/jumpers better than dressage horses: the methods are universal to all disciplines.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship
Tagged behavior, english riding, foundation training, gait, Groundwork, hunter, jumping, Natural Horsemanship, spooky horse
Cowboy and April - The first groundwork day.
Question: How much is too much in regards to training? How often should you continue to ask a horse to do something before the horse gets fed up and quits or becomes anxious? We have a “trainer” (I say this lightly) at our barn who does the same maneuvers over and over again for up to half an hour or more. Her horses are nasty, edgy and nervous. I don’t claim to be any great horse trainer, but it makes sense to me that maybe those training methods are being overdone. What is your take on this sort of thing?
Answer from April Reeves: Hah, I get horses in who are edgy, nasty and nervous, and it’s my job to get them back to happy, useful and safe. It’s all in the eye of the trainer as to what is appropriate.
There is also common sense here, although common sense isn’t that common. In my world there is no need for repetition that is so drawn out it no longer gets the result you need (notice I didn’t say ‘want’). That simply borders on abuse, which turns the horse into nasty, edgy and nervous.
Question: I have recently brought a new 5yr old thoroughbred called Roger. We brought him off a kind lady who said he was in extremely poor condition (very skinny) when she got him, so she was fattening him up. We are now feeding him specially and he’ll look beautiful soon but I want to retrain him natural horsemanship way. I’m 15 and have just been starting with the basics like good manners and a bit of bonding time with grooming. He’s good under saddle and stops dead but I want to go further. Being a racehorse he was surly mistreated as he’s flinchy when I touch him anywhere and this happens on and off. One day he’s fine and the next he doesn’t like me. He also has a catching problem and he’s clingy to my other two horses which is really annoying. I want to have a good bond so he can be happy with me and not be so anxious. I have read everything possible but not enough. Where can I start? Who can i get lessons from in Australia?
Answer from April Reeves: Since I do not live in Australia I am not connected with too many trainers there, but I have searched the web and found numerous Natural Horsemen who give clinics and I would suggest you audit one of their clinics first, and if you like them, take your horse in one later.
Ashley and Viento from "Horse Training Chronicles"
Question: I know you talk a lot about different training techniques but my question to you is what YOU think the most important or valuable thing is or to know when training a horse?
Answer from April Reeves: I’m going to take your word “training” and expand on it first. Training is everything we do with a horse. Everything we do communicates something back to the horse, whether we’re leading them with a tight rope or just standing around in the middle of the ring talking to each other on our horses.
Everything you do is training.
The most important thing I believe, and what I also believe is missing from 90% of the horse owners?
Question: I keep reading everywhere that you should exercise your horse outdoors, but none of these sites tells me why this is better for it. May you please tell me why it is better for me to exercise a horse outdoors rather than indoors?
Answer from April Reeves: Thank you for this question; it is one of the best yet, and one that’s highly controversial.
Each breed and discipline has a different response to this question, but you need a variety of experience and length of experience with all breeds and disciplines to know how to answer it well.
I’m going to give you specific interpretations and let you decide the answers.
Question: We’ve had our 7 year old QH mare for 5 years. I love her, but she is stubborn, grouchy, and very over sensitive to touch. I have to use a soft rubber brush on her, and a brush with very soft bristles. She doesn’t like to be pet or even lightly rubbed for that matter anywhere on her body (though I have to admit, I do it anyways. My thought is if I don’t touch her, she will never get accustomed to it). She tends to threaten more than actually ever do anything about it. She will pretend to bite, or swoosh her head at you with ears flat on her head. When you tack her up, she is soooo grouchy (pretends to bite with ears back.) We’ve had her back checked by the vet, as well as an equine massage therapist. We’re told she is fine. Her tack fits well, but I’ve had that checked as well to see if I’m missing anything, but, nope, it’s fine. She’s very green, and we are not trainers ourselves, we’ve had a trainer come in to work with her, and, they GAVE UP!! She couldn’t get a response from her.
Question: I have just purchased a small gentleman’s farm that came with a horse. He is a 12-year-old gelding who has never been trained. From what I know he has had a saddle on in the past, but never has taken riders. He is very friendly, but loves to do what he wants to do. If he does not want me in the pen he is very quick to turn around. Although he has never kicked at me (I move out quick) he seems like he would. I have never owned a horse, let alone trained one. I am not looking to train him on my own but for now I would like to learn how to at least build a trust between us, as-well as have him obey at least a little any help would be greatly appreciated.
Answer from April Reeves: I’m glad you have not been kicked yet, but it is a matter of time. Let me give you some insight into how horses think and behave.
Everything you do with a horse is training. You can train a horse to be good or really bad. Horses do not have a sense of reasoning like a human has, so the horse just goes along with what is in front of him or being offered. They do not know what is right or wrong; that is a human trait only (ego). Horses have distinct herd behaviors such as dominance, leader and follower. The majority of them are followers, and they prefer to be, as horses do not handle stress well and prefer to give it to someone else (horses, humans).
Adiva Murphy enjoying a ride on Morgan mare
Question: I have a 6 year old Morgan gelding that I got last January. I ride him English and I jump him.
Ok, so here’s the problem. Every time I go out to ride him, he always has his ears and eyes on EVERYTHING around him. He rarely pays any attention to me. He practically jumps out of his skin if he sees a tree, a piece of trash, a leaf, or something that he didn’t see the day before. If I take him somewhere new, he gets soooo pushy and freezes up. I just don’t know what to do! I’ve tried taking him up to whatever it is that he seems to be afraid of. I’ve tried just riding on past it like it wasn’t there. I’ve tried turning him in tight circles, backing him, side passing, figure eights, etc to keep his mind on me instead of everything else. How do I make him relax? The only way I can get him to put his ears on me is by yanking on his mouth really hard. And then I end up losing me temper and smacking him. I feel soo bad. I feel like he doesn’t like me anymore. How can I earn his trust back? I know I’m not supposed to yank on his mouth but he makes me so mad sometimes I wanna cry!
Please help me.
Answer from April Reeves: Morgans are one of my favorite breeds, and the first one I ever owned when I was little. They can do everything. Even things you don’t want them to do. It looks as though this is where you are right now.
Question: I have been a traditional English rider for almost 30 years now. I am currently at level 2 dressage, but hope to go higher with this horse. I have also ridden the hunter circuits.
My question to you is I have no real information on how Natural Horsemanship works with the English riders. My dressage gelding right now displays some rather undesirable manners. Would learning NH help us, and is there a way English traditional riders can learn this. I’m not interested in the ‘cowboy’ way.
My trainer is also curious about whether or not NH could be integrated into our programs.
From April Reeves: Thank you for this question! Yes, Natural Horsemanship can and should be a part of all English disciplines, and especially so since many of the horses are much larger and full of personality.
Spooky Trail Horse
Question: My 5yr old has a very bad problem with things jumping out at him. The only thing is there is nothing there. He thinks the trees are going to get him. He just started doing this, every time we go up the road, he keeps his attention on the trees or the ditches. Cars don’t bother him and deer don’t one bit. I don’t know what his problem is and would like to know how to fix it. I’ve had him since he was 3; he is an excellent horse, great with cattle, barrels and responds well to leg pressure and reins.
Answer from April Reeves: This is so typical of horses right when the leaves begin to fall off the trees. Although we can’t ‘see’ anything, there are changes in the way everything smells, especially to the horse. Since we keep our horses in an environment that’s fairly sterile, in the sense that the horse does not have the ability to learn about these situations for himself in the wild, he resorts to snorting, stopping and refusing to move quietly past these things.
So what can you do?
Question: I have been around horses all my life. I currently ride in pastures. I team rope and calf rope off horses that I have trained myself. I have read many Bill Dorrance books and all Western Horseman books and feel confident in my understanding of horsemanship. The horse in question is a 5 year old quarter horse gelding which is out of my mare. I have had him in the pasture the first 2 years of his life then in the corral for 1 year. I started this gelding 2 years ago in the pasture, checking cows. I sometimes ride with 2 others on horseback and sometimes on my own. He is currently in another pasture with 3-5 other horses. He is always winnies at everything and nothing at all when I ride him. How do I break him of this habit? How can I discipline him?
Answer from April Reeves: You and your horse have not yet established the connection of “when we ride, we work”. All young horses approach this differently; some get right down to it while others take time, sometimes several years, to establish the difference between working and reacting.
A SPECIAL POST BY ADIVA MURPHY
Question: We’ve been doing a lot of road riding lately so the ditches and the grass is very long. We of course have some trouble keeping the horses from snacking all the way. Jenny is finding that her horse who is quite poky anyway is getting slower and likes to stop to eat. That means that she is either always pulling on his face or kicking or both. This causes him to get a little nervous because I am not sure if he knows what he is doing wrong. On our broke horses we have always just had the thought that if they could grab a bite and keep going no big deal. Is this the best answer or should we be approaching this differently. I don’t want our rides to always be a fight and when the grass is so long it is hard for them to not want to eat. Any suggestions?
Answer: Well it is pretty easy to stop it…you need to make it a rule that they are not allowed to eat at all. I am firm about this with my horses because it is annoying and I don’t want to pull on their face.
Here is what I do and recommend:
Question: My horse likes to buck. I was told to pull on the reins hard and lift them high, but he can pull them out of my hands. Yesterday he pulled and took off. He has not done that before.
Answer from April Reeves: I answered a post similar to this, and this is what I said:
In over 40 years of riding and teaching I have never known the ‘pull back both reins high’ technique to work, and here’s why:
A SPECIAL POST BY ADIVA MURPHY
Intoducing Pal to the Horseman's Stick
Question: I know how to get them to get their hind end away from me but what do you do when they want to run you over with their shoulders?
Answer: Mares especially will do this. You need to use the stick to be most effective. Start by being in front of her and tapping the ground between her front legs…that won’t get a response but you need a cue and a phase 1 – tap harder so it runs into her and start escalading higher until there is a try to move back. A TRY. Build on this until they are taking at least one step back and taking it RIGHT NOW. Remember to stop the pressure when you get the response you are looking for. When this is really good with the stick you can toss the rope rhythmically at the MIDDLE of the chest and it will have the same effect. (or your hand tapping the shoulder from the side etc…)
Watch Adiva's Video Here
A SPECIAL POST BY ADIVA MURPHY
Question: I am hoping that you can give us some suggestions on how to handle our three foals from this year. We are totally baffled and so have come to the expert looking for advice.
Fancee, Magpie and Missy are great once you get a halter on them. They will lead, back up, allow you to pick up their feet and yesterday they got their first official trimming and were as quiet as they could be. The problem arises when the halters come off. They will not come anywhere near either Jack or I. When I put their feed in their buckets they run from me like I am the devil. Never has this happened before. When we finally corral them and get halters on them, they will nuzzle up to me like I am their best friend in the world. Magpie scares me when we try and get a halter on her because she tries to go over the fence that is taller than I am. Again, once the halter is on she is just fine, in fact she is the smartest one of the bunch this year.
Normally by this time the foals are in my space and fighting to be the first one to get scratches from me. I am at a loss as to why these foals are acting this way. The only thing different that happened this year was that the foals were out on the hills in a herd situation but they saw me as much as any of the previous foals have.
Answer: First thing I would do is put some time aside for a few days to ‘spend undemanding time’ – grab a bucket to sit on and sit in the middle of their pen for about 30min. don’t do anything, after about 10 min they will get curious as to why you are there…let them smell you, nibble on the jacket etc. Try not to pet them until they have checked you out. Day 2 – when they come up to you sitting on your bucket – pet them in their favorite places…etc etc.
Question: My 11 year old gelding has picked up a bad habit. He is pulling back on his halter when tied, almost breaking the halter. I have to quickly release my knot. This is new, he never did this before, just stood quietly being tied. I just give up after awhile and give in.
Answer from April Reeves: Assuming your horse had good manners from the start, he may not be as difficult as some horses can be. Let’s start with knowing the horse use to tie before.