Walking Calmly Through Gates

This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Joe-Joe Joe-Joe 2 years, 5 months ago.

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  • erin_h Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 3

    I’m currently at school so I’ve not been around my horse for a while, but my mother told me today that he kicked her, and I’m hoping to find some advice on how to solve this problem for her since it’ll be a couple weeks before I can get my hands on him again.

    The situation is this:
    My horse blows up like a blimp if he’s allowed to eat all day, and so he gets put in a dry lot at night. In the mornings, he gets released (at a probably irregular timetable, which may be part of the problem). Mom says he runs out bucking, etc. And today when he was bucking she got hit.

    Now, she tells me she’s going to leave him in the pen all day because of this, which I don’t think is a good solution. He won’t know that it’s a consequence of his bucking, and so he’ll just get more frustrated.

    I told her she should try to keep leading him through the gate until he goes calmly, or, if she doesn’t have time for that, bring a crop with her and pop him if he gets too close to her while he’s being an idiot.

    Any other ideas? Are the things I suggested good, or should we try something else?

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    The horse seems to have learned some bad behavior while you were away from school, but it may not be possible for your mother to deal with the problem. The horse scared her, and with reason. The problem is that horses determine pecking order by mentally and physically establishing his or her place in the pecking order of the herd, which includes us humans. The horse has already clearly established for himself and for your mother that he is higher in the pecking order than she is. Horses read body language far too well for any human, not just your mother, to re-establish the proper pecking order when the human is afraid (with reason) of the horse. So you may have to postpone retraining the horse until you can do it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. The trainer, regardless of whether it is you, your mother or a hired trainer, has to go into the situation confident and in charge, or the horse will treat the human as he would treat a horse who is lower in the pecking order than he is. Since the grass is coming back up now, that may mean him living in a dry lot with hay & grain, and the person feeding him carrying a whip for defense.

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    The safety of your mother has to be paramount. She’s afraid of your horse for good reason, she can’t handle him, and frankly I’m afraid for her too. I’m not sure that even a whip would help because it works if the horse respects the person wielding it. Improperly handled, it can be quite deleterious to the horse causing worse future handling problems. Let’s not have a fight between an inexperienced handler and a scared/anxious horse.

    It’s spring and they all want to get to that fresh pasture – greedy and grouchy – my horses too. When my husband releases my horses into pasture, he’s instructed to stand behind the gate. I do, too, and mine are not likely to kick anyone, but they might strike at each other instinctively as they go through, and I don’t risk being in the line of fire. If your mother can’t stand behind the gate, and if he won’t be led calmly, then he needs to stay put unless you can get an experienced handler to do your turnout for you, maybe a friend or neighbor?

    If nothing else then your mother needs to show up early not late as they know very well when they are due to get out. If your mother is late, she’ll get far more attitude than if she is early.

    Good luck and stay safe. Your horse not getting turnout isn’t optimal, but having your mother badly hurt is far worse.

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

    erin_h Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 3

    Thanks for the help, guys! I’ll let her know.

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

    I agree with G&S and with Mapale, but did the horse kick her intentionally, or was he just acting stupid and she was where he was kicking? If it wasn’t intentional, there are ways to ensure her safety, but she would definitely need a helper to is experienced and strong enough to get the horse’s attention and respect. Is it possible to just put a grazing muzzle on him for part of the day, so she does not have to move him? Will he tolerate that?

    I’ve been successful with bribery – mine get a peppermint when I am on the other side of the gate. They know this (and they can smell it quite well, so it was easy) and will stand facing the gate until they get it. Until he learns to stand facing the gate quietly, whoever is working with him (not your mother!) could put the rope over his nose or something to make him mind. I don’t think anyone will win a physical disagreement with a horse, so we have to outwit them.

    It is never the horse's fault

    erin_h Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 3

    I don’t believe it was intentional, no.

    We’ve tried using grazing muzzles in the past, and I think we have one remaining. The other one mysteriously vanished one day. We have no idea what he did with it. So I’m not sure a grazing muzzle would be a lasting solution. I suppose it could work until I get back.

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

    Unintentional is much easier to fix. He most likely put his grazing muzzle in the same place our horses put surcingles, buckles and fly masks. Somewhere there is a plethora of these things, and we will never figure out how they got there.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    I had assumed it was an accident, not intentional. It is, after all, spring, and even usually well behaved horses can get a bit uppity at this time of year, especially if the care giver is not perceived to be the alpha of the “herd”. The problem now is what to do until the OP can be home long enough to restore the horse’s respect for humans in general. If he is by nature a horse who will graze himself sick on spring grass, then he either has to be in a dry paddock or his grass intake has to be limited some other way, such as a grazing muzzle. You may have to do some experimenting to find what will work, and find somebody other than your mother to get the grazing muzzle on him. The alpha horse in a herd dominates as much mentally as he/she does physically – – most of the time he/she only has to glare at a would-be usurper, & the would-be usurper backs off, but if that does not happen, the alpha horse will defend his position physically. This is the language horses understand. The best temporary solution will be one that keeps everybody intact & uninjured and not colic-ing on spring grass until the horse’s normal alpha human can get home & sort out his correct place in the “herd”. Are we talking weeks or months here? And is there someone else who can care for the horse until that happens, and who is a sufficiently alpha personality to be safe around the horse?

    erin_h Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 3

    I just have one week left, and then I’ll be home. We do have some neighbors experienced with horses that might be able to help. My mom’s also coming up this weekend to take some of my stuff back home, so I can talk to her then and figure out what happened more in-depth.

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

    Hope all works out well for you, your mother and the horse.

    It is never the horse's fault

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