Fear of crops, whips, etc.

This topic contains 30 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Lizzie Lou 1 year, 10 months ago.

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  • Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    My mare had been owned by people who did little but hit and jump, to the point that she is terrified of anything that looks like some sort of thing with which she might be hit (she is getting over her fear of jumps, because we just don’t do that). She is doing nicely with lateral movements, and I’d like to progress to some more advanced things. Most of the books and videos recommend tapping the horse with a whip, very gently. Anyone have some helpful advice on how to get her over this fear? Just carry something around with me until she realizes that I would never, ever hit her? Use the lead instead of a whiplike thing?

    She is very responsive to the leg, and I do not even need to use my heels on her, so she is sensitive, and she is willing to try new things, so long as jumping isn’t involved.

    It is never the horse's fault

    mtraylor67@gmail.com
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Hi Joe Joe,
    I had a horse one time that was literally petrified of a whip, much like you described. He actually never got over it, but I gradually incorporated it into my ride. He sometimes needed just a little push while I was riding, but I just used a lead rope on the ground. I used a small riding crop, and I would put it in my back pocket until I was on his back ready to go. Then, I would slide it out and keep it very close to his right leg near the shoulder. I tapped him so lightly while riding, he really didn’t even seem bothered by it. I was trying to cross over a creek one time, and I moved it out about 5″ from his leg and he saw it. For a second, I thought I had a reining prospect, but I immediately gave him his head by loosening the reins, and dropped the crop to eliminate the panic. After I got him calmed down, I got off, picked it back up, and we finally made it over the creek. Good luck with your mare. Hopefully, she can overcome her fear! ~ Molly

    Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Thanks Molly. In addition to the abuse, she is an Arabian. We are working on it, but it is a very slow process. At least she now (after 7 months) allows me to touch, rub, pet and put fly stuff on her ears. The first month, just getting a halter over them was a serious hassle. Hoping to work our way up to fly masks.

    I do not understand why anyone would ever hit a horse. Meaning, serious smacking, until the poor thing is a basket case.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    There will always be people who have such a low self-esteem that they believe they can only control others (both humans and animals) through fear. Undoing the damage can take much longer than one expects, especially with Arabians, who, probably because the ability to bond with humans has been bred into them, have a harder time learning to trust. The bonding ability can be a 2 edged sword – – once trust is abused or broken, the human has to prove himself/herself over and over before the horse will even begin to have any trust in any human. It will happen, but on the horse’s schedule, not the human’s. Reward baby steps, ignore back sliding. The ability to bond is still there, just buried under layers of anger and hurt, both physical and mental.

    Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    G&S – thank you. We mostly work on that, not under saddle, but just in the barn with grooming and spending time together as our primary activity. She does come when called if she is not at the gate waiting for me, which is a huge step. It is so heartbreaking to see any animal so damaged. Not that I don’t ride her – I do, but generally at a walk so she will relax and learn that we are not in any rush to do anything. She stands quietly for me to get on her, but then starts sidepassing as soon as I am in the saddle, so some days all I do is get on and ask her to stand. She is flexible and talented, so at some point she was treated well and taught to be very responsive, but somewhere someone abused that trust. She is an outstandingly beautiful horse, but at times a nervous wreck. I hope to have enough time to make her outstanding in all facets of her life, because she has a lot of talent and when relaxed moves beautifully.

    I hope I am attaching a picture of her first show (handled by my neighbor), where she won her two in-hand classes. Did not take her in any other classes, merely wanted her to be able to go in the ring and be calm about it.

    It is never the horse's fault

    barrel_racer15 barrel_racer15
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 7

    I am leasing a horse that is the exact same way but is afraid of just about everything not even just whips. I found the best thing to do was to just have whips, empty grain bags (whatever the horse is afraid of) in your riding arena. I started off lunging him with a whip next to my feet. Then after he was comfortable with that i would hold it in my hand (NOT USING IT) then i would start to rub it on his legs and just slowly move forward as he felt comfortable. DO NOT try to rush this process the faster you try to go the worse your horses experience will be. Also, make sure to not have the scary item with you every time you work your horse because then your horse will start to associate work with the scary item and will not longer want to work. Best of luck to you!

    Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Arabians can find all sorts of things of which they can pretend to be “afraid” (for instance, dirt which is a different shade from the other dirt), but this isn’t just fear, she is terrified, and gets into a state of panic when she sees any sort of whip in a hand. She doesn’t seem to mind them laying around (kids never pick anything up and put it away). I am working with her to lessen the reaction, and wondered what suggestions others might have.

    Thank you for your reply. I think it will be a long slog.

    It is never the horse's fault

    carrie_dobrin
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 19

    My mare had been owned by people who did little but hit and jump, to the point that she is terrified of anything that looks like some sort of thing with which she might be hit (she is getting over her fear of jumps, because we just don’t do that). She is doing nicely with lateral movements, and I’d like to progress to some more advanced things. Most of the books and videos recommend tapping the horse with a whip, very gently. Anyone have some helpful advice on how to get her over this fear? Just carry something around with me until she realizes that I would never, ever hit her? Use the lead instead of a whiplike thing?

    She is very responsive to the leg, and I do not even need to use my heels on her, so she is sensitive, and she is willing to try new things, so long as jumping isn’t involved.

    I have a 3 year-old gelding who was very afraid of whips. Start with a dressage whip, or some other short crop type whip, and just start touching your girl on the nose with it, and move it away. I used a dressage whip, as it had a short lash that I started with. I would touch him and move the whip away immediately, praise him, and repeat. It took a few weeks of starting with his nose, then moving to his face, neck, body … slow but steady, talking to him constantly, letting him sniff it and mouth it, praising, rewarding (treats work amazing with him, but might not for every horse), and continuing on … he now uses longe whips, dressage whips and any other whip in reach as a toy. He had clearly had someone in his short past use a whip on him in a heavy handed manner (he was only 2 when I got him). I just recently was able to clean his stall using a fork and muck bucket in his stall with him in it. That took a full year, he was that terrified of the forks.

    As far as using the whip for some of the more advanced stuff you want to do, if she responds without the whip, then you don’t need it, but I do recommend getting her past that fear. You may not need a whip with her, but someone else nearby might be using one, which could bother her, or she might accidentally get touched with one … things happen. Time and patience and exposure ….

    carrie_dobrin
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 19

    With the touching with the lash of a dressage whip, I would start with just the very tip of it, and he wouldn’t even see the whole whip. Just a few minutes every day as part of your routine before tacking up, after riding, or whenever it makes the most sense to work on it.

    Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    It has taken me 7 months to get her so that she will allow me to touch her face and ears – don’t think touching her anywhere near there with a whip is the right place to start, but we are working on it.

    She is also afraid of eggs, but the stallion doesn’t bother her at all.

    It is never the horse's fault

    IrinaS
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    If your horse is afraid of whips, crops, or spurs and is responsive to your leg don’t use them. Using crops, whips, and spurs will make her nervous even more.

    Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    IrinaS – there are some things I’d like to teach her that require a touch, and my arms are rather short for them. Besides, I would prefer that she not be afraid of so many things. I never even use my heels while riding, never mind spurs or crops.

    It is never the horse's fault

    riding for Christ riding for Christ
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 118

    Before you tack up you should just gently rub him with the whip as if you were petting him. Do this on both sides till he is very calm and likes it. I did this to the young green horses that I would start to lead. And I would use this to get a horse that was hit with a whip used to it. Hope this helps! Ask any questions.

    Joe-Joe Original Poster Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    My mare is a she. Calm is not a thing she ever is, and there is a huge difference between young horses and older horses who have been abused. I appreciate that you offer so many suggestions, but perhaps it would help if you read all the posts on a topic as many of us do add more information after the initial post. As for “petting” her with a whip, it would cause a panic attack if I were to just hold one anywhere near her. We have a very long way to go before reaching that point.

    It is never the horse's fault

    riding for Christ riding for Christ
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 118

    Sorry for calling your horse a he, all of my animals are boys. Yes there is a difference between young and old horses. I use it on old horses too. You just have to get her over the fear of the whip, by petting her with it. start by petting her on the legs she may kick at it, but keep doing it. The end result is always good.

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