HORSES NOT STANDING STILL
My horse won’t stand still to be saddled, mounted, have his feet handled, brushed etc etc etc.
One of the more commonly asked questions is “How do I get my horse to stand still?”
If you watch people with this problem, they will physically try to cause the horse to stand still and not move his feet.
The more they try, the more the horse seems to move around as they are trying to make the body stand still when the mind is unable to do so.
What they really should be thinking of is “How can I prepare my horse so that he does not need to move?” rather than “How can I make him stand still?”.
My own belief is that if he needs to move then I can be of some help to him.
Let me give you an example.
Some time ago I started a large Warmblood gelding who was a pretty gentle horse and quite straightforward to start.
He was with us for five or six weeks and going very nicely.
The owner came to ride him and everything went very well.
A few weeks later she phoned to say that she was having a few problems and could I help.
We arranged a timeframe to bring the horse back to help with the problems.
When we talked about the list of problems, the main one was that he would not stand still to be saddled.
Even when he was tied up he would swing around so that she could not get the saddle on.
I watched and sure enough he would move every time the owner went to put the saddle on.
I took the horse to show how I would deal with this problem.
Problems with Horses
Horses Not Standing Still
HORSES NOT STANDING STILL
Firstly, I need to tell you that stallions require a great deal more skill and understanding to be safe around.
I have personally had a stallion grab me by the arm and keep going, dragging me along underneath him. It was lightning fast and totally unexpected at the time. My arm was black all the way around, and he stood on my legs as he was dragging me. Then he let me go and just walked off.
I crawled out of the yard under the fence thinking to myself that I was lucky to be able to do so.
It took me many weeks before I wanted to go back and do anything with him.
I began to look for someone to help me with him.
Kicking and Striking Horse
Kicking and Striking
The most common reason for horses kicking is fear.
They may also kick or strike to assert leadership.
When working with horses that are defensive, you will notice that they tend to drop a hip, bend their rib cage towards you and take their heads away from you as they prepare to kick.
If you know the signs, you will see that the nose moves to the outside first. This leads to the shoulder coming closer to you, then they will bring their hindquarters around to kick at you.
This gives you time to bring the head back towards you and move the hindquarters away to keep yourself safe.
These techniques need to be practiced on a quiet horse, before handling horses that act in a defensive manner.
Herd Bound Horses
Handling Horses who are Herd Bound
Herd bound is a general term used when a horse would rather be somewhere else than with you.
Sometimes he’s back in the paddock, sometimes back in the barn (barn sour) and sometimes he has paired up with another horse and has formed a strong attachment.
No matter how well trained a horse is he can become totally uncontrollable when taken far from where he feels safe (comfort zone) This is something that needs to be dealt with if you are going to have a safe riding horse. You need to remember that this is something mental and emotional that is going on with your horse and is something that cannot be fixed with tools.
By using psychology you will be able to convince your horse that he is more comfortable with you than anywhere else.
We need to become our horse’s leader so that he can be confident in our guidance. I can give you an example of a situation which often happens at home here.
Horses Head Tossing
You can often see horses in a paddock tossing their head when they want another horse to move when they don’t want to move themselves, or even when they think you’re too slow at putting their feed out.
It is just communication, the same as putting their ears back and asking you to move.
Again the answer is to become the leader, both on the ground, and in the saddle.
Bucking is another one of those words that scares horse riders.
Bucking can be caused by fear, or refusal to move forwards.
FIRST THINGS TO CHECK.
The first things you need to check is that your horse has no physical problems.
I recommend that you find a good horse chiropractor and have your horse checked before you take any other action.
Most of the time problems like this are caused by pain, fear or even a combination of both.
A good chiropractor will be able to tell you if your saddle is causing a problem which is another common cause of bucking.
I have been sure in the past that a horse that I was working with was in physical pain and have had it checked and passed as okay, only to take it to a different chiropractor that found lots of problems. I would spend some time researching to find a good qualified chiropractor with a proven track record.
Horse Crossing water
Crossing water and other obstacles can prove very frustrating for riders.They seem to believe that their horse is misbehaving, when in fact he has a real fear of the obstacle whether it be water or some other type of obstacle.
I have seen people kicking, whipping, pulling and even a combination of all at the same time in an attempt to get a horse into water. I was attending a course years ago where one of the things we needed to do was to get our horses to swim across a dam. I remember watching this lady trying to get her horse into the water. At first she would just stand at the water’s edge and kick and kick in an attempt to get her horse into the water. Then she decided to do a circle and walk into the water. The horse stopped at the edge and she started kicking again. This did not work so she trotted on a bigger circle and again the horse stopped dead on the edge of the water. This time she decided she would ride all the way to the top of the hill and then gallop down the hill flat out. The horse turned hard right at the edge of the water and this time she didn’t stop, landing nearly in the middle of the dam. She came up spluttering then she shouted “I can’t swim”. Luckily one of the spectators (who just happened to be an Australian Olympic gold medal swimmer) dived in and rescued her.
If no one else was there she would have drowned! All in an attempt to make the horse do something that it was afraid to do.
If you are having that much trouble, it would be best to deal with the problem from the ground. Of course you would need to know how to drive a horse from the ground and have all the skills in place to keep yourself safe. Then the thing that is always in my mind - what is the horse learning at this moment in time? With the situation I just explained apart from not going in the water, that horse was learning not to go forward while somebody is kicking and whipping it. These are the things that we don’t think about. We believe we can teach him to go into the water, or over a log, or through a tight place but we could be teaching our horse that our legs don’t mean anything, or to whip around away from the obstacle.
How I would deal with it?
Rearing can happen for a few reasons. Horses at play can often be seen rearing when they are blocked by another horse or when they cannot back away quickly enough. The same thing can happen when being ridden. If the horse is held back physically and his mind is going elsewhere then some horses will tend to rear. Also some horses that get stuck will rear and leap forwards when they finally make the decision to go. This is a lack of impulsion and is best dealt with on the ground. If your horse really needs to go somewhere and you’re not brave enough to allow him to go forward then it would be best to do some ground work until he is mentally and emotionally balanced. He then will not need to go forwards so much and you will not feel the need to hold on so much. The other time horses tend to rear is when being asked to move backwards while they are stuck. When the back legs do not move and you try and bring the front-end of the horse backwards there is no other place to go but up. Also if you try to force your horse forwards, towards an obstacle or place that he does not feel confident with, he may also rear. You are driving the hindquarters and the front end does not want to cross the imaginary line that your horse perceives to be dangerous.
Bolting is probably one of the most frightening experiences for a rider, This is when a horse runs at a flat gallop totally out of control.
The horse will not slow down and generally cannot be steered. This is very much a life threatening situation for both you and your horse.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
If you look at how horses behave when something frightens them, it will give you a big clue as to what is happening when a horse bolts.
The first thing that happens is that he runs away from what he does not understand (horses are survivors and they do not need to know something is scary to act like it may harm them). They will travel a certain distance before looking back to see what it is that scared them.
If it is still approaching they may leave again until they believe they are at a safe distance from whatever they perceived to be dangerous.
Think of the times that you have seen a horse bolt without a rider on its back.
Maybe he pulled away from you and the lead rope is dragging on the ground.
The horse sees the lead rope following him and tries to run away from it.
The problem is the lead rope is going to keep following and the horse does not have the chance to reach a safe distance in order to look back and see what it is.
I remember some years ago conducting a course near a racetrack.
We were desensitizing our horses to plastic tarps.
Someone at the property next door saw what we were doing, and decided to tie a plastic bag to the side of his horses rug and then turn him loose.
Catching your Horse
Catching your horse
Horse / Human Nature
Horses are by nature very sceptical. They keep a good distance from things that they don’t trust or understand. On the other hand, people are very direct line and often do not consider the horse’s need to feel secure.
What is your horse learning?
Trying to corner and trap the horse in order to catch him can cause the horses self-preservation to be aroused. This sort of pressure can teach a horse to push through you to escape, or even kick you if you continue to put pressure on him while he is in this state.
This can then become a learned behaviour, where the horse knows that you don’t know how to catch him.
Not putting too much pressure on the horse can be one of the hardest things to change. So it is important to consider what we are teaching the horse when we put so much pressure on him that he sees no other choice but to leave or fight.
Why Do Horses Bite People?
Horses can bite people for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of my thoughts and ways that you can deal with your horse if you find that he is biting you.
Your horse may want to scratch you back
Horses are very tactile animals, they like to touch, taste, and smell things.
You only have to spend a little time watching horses, to see how much they use their mouths. Horses like to groom each other. If you watch them grooming, you will see just how hard they bite each other. Sometimes when people rub and scratch their horses, the horse may groom them back. This behaviour is often misinterpreted as dominance, when all the horse really wanted to do was return the favour.
We need to be aware that when we act like a horse, there's a good chance that we will be treated like a horse!
You can of course give your horse a good scratch, but be aware that he may reach around to groom you back. Be ready to discourage this, if this behaviour is not what you want.