Reply To: Disrespectfull on the Ground

Mapale Mapale
Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

I’ve had that problem but not to that degree – here’s what works for me. (I also use the treat method as my real carrot in the carrot/stick method)

If my horse runs, he is not allowed to stop running until I say he can. IOW I bring out my lunge whip (only works if you’ve never hit them with it – or if they have no phobia of it) and drive the rebellious horse around the pasture for several minutes. I don’t let him quit moving until I SAY he can stop. I want him prepared to listen, so this takes persistence and not just stopping at the first sign he’s tired. He has to turn and lick/chew with his head down, and when I stop and put the end of the lunge whip on the ground, he must come to me looking me squarely in the eye. If not he gets to run some more. This is not joining up, this lesson is: work is over there, and rest is over here next to me. You go over there and I’ll make you work your butt off.

The first few days he does this will take time and determination as he has learned that he can stall you by getting away. He will test your resolve. He needs to learn that the new rules apply !!!every time!!! he wants to play dodge ball, you play tag, and work him. Pretty soon he’ll figure there is far less effort to just come to you. (Hence the carrot).

Every so often, when the vet comes for example, my horses think maybe they’ll hang out at the end of the pasture (how do they know?!) instead of coming, but I haul out the bright blue lunge whip and they’ll come straight away, not wanting to spend the next twenty minutes at a trot/canter/run.

Be sure to desensitize with the whip on the ground as part of your ground work by using it to rub the back, withers and neck with praise. The object is not to make them fear the whip, but to decide that the choice is between running and coming, so there is less work in just coming to you. I use the same brightly colored whip because it becomes the symbol that they can see from across the pasture. (Horse thinks: Uh-oh, if I don’t get over there, I’m going to have to run for the next half hour.) I have never hit a horse with a whip in my life. I would guess that once a person has done that – this exercise is over – who is going to come to get hit with a whip? Not me. I’ll run til I drop, so remember the whip is a symbol and a tool to make them move, not a weapon for your frustration. And be consistent by keeping it still and placing the tip end on the ground when you are inviting them over.

Hope this works as well for you as it does for me. Be persistent and consistent, and gentle. Do not ever let them see frustration because that’s a negative emotion, and it is the same as saying to the horse “you win”.

And one last thing, never be in a hurry to get your horse. When they see “hurry” they think uh-oh, not good. Even if you have only ten minutes you walk over as if you’ve got all day.

As I trail ride, and sometimes with novices, I’ve had a spooked loose horse a few times over the years, and when I am in the back of beyond in bear country, that horse better come when I call, even when I’m riding another horse. This training works great for that. My horses come to a whistle, even when they are loose and know it.

I also agree with Joe-Joe about pulling him out of his pasture just for pleasure – if it’s always work the above training method will have headwinds. It will eventually work, but it will take longer. Try Joe-Joe’s “let’s go for a fun grazing walk where I give you treats and groom you and pet you and put you back” in conjunction with the ‘if you run you will have to run until I say stop’ method, and you should see a change. Good luck.

Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...