Hello! I need some advice on two horses and their behaviors.

First one is a mare named Sensation. I'm not sure about her age but she's still pretty young, maybe 4 or 5 now but for the first year of her life, she ran wild with her mother in a pasture. She is a difficult horse to understand. In a small pen she is easy to catch and will sometimes even come right up to you. Recently she was put out into a larger paddock with other ponies and is now near impossible to catch unless you run her into exhaustion which isn't really a method I enjoy. She is INCREDIBLY smart and is not afraid to bowl you over if you happen to be in the way when she makes a run for it. If cornered, she gets really flighty and forces her way through. It took us 5 people on foot and 1 on a cutting horse and about an hour and a half of trying to corner her putting her into exhaustion, to finally catch her.
Once you get a hand on her halter or manage to scratch her butt or something, you've got complete control but the hard part is getting within an inch of her.
We've tried aggressive force, the patience method and even bribery to get her to comply. Nothing really works.

My question is, Do you think that she will ever be easy to catch or will remain difficult for the rest of her life?

The other horses name is Dots. She's my yearling in my profile picture. This one is probably easier to understand and come up with a solution but the explanation might be a little lengthy. Anyway, She's a year and a half, was never handled once when she was born but she lived with horses that were so she was easy to approach. Her first owner never touched her so coming spring, I saw her in a paddock with huge mats of fur on her belly about an inch thick. I spent the next few days shedding it off with a blade. I believe this to be the time that we truly bonded.
Anyway, so I do a lot of groundwork with her. She's patient and brave in the arena but the main problem lies in...getting her out of the front pasture where the other horses are. She is halter broke and follows the lead VERY well...in the arena. You put that halter on her outside, she'll obviously step sideways when you go to lead her away but then she'll plant her feet and not move an inch. I've tried many ways to get her to move. She's very sassy and I believe her to be trying to teach me something when she rebels like this.

Some ways i've tried was just standing there and waiting till she gave to the pressure. Another was holding the leadshank in my right hand and holding the excess with my left and flipping it around behind me to spank her lightly in the butt to get her to move. Don't even mention taking a whip out. Just recently we had a HUGE fight in which we couldn't decide who was the leader. She got mad, swung her bum to me and nearly kicked me but I was standing more off to the side so I could dodge, I then sent her forward and tried to get her butt off me. After, like, a minute of this very serious fight (it felt like forever D:), we made up and we were good for the rest of the walk but honestly...

I don't want to be the leader per se. I want to be the partner. If she makes a decision, I want to approve and if I make a decision, I want her to approve. I don't want to be all 'this is how I want it done MY way and my way only, slave!' Ya know? I want to meet half way.

Do you think I'm being too much of a push over or do you think she just needs more training or perhaps she's just young and doesn't want to leave the herd? Got any suggestions on how to teach a horse to lead, new or altered suggestions are always welcome. =)

I can make videos too if you can't quite visualize what they do. It's hard for me to describe it without going overboard.

Thanks for the help! ^^

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Replies to This Discussion

hello there Tiffany,
Although I dont have your specific problems with my horse, the root may be the same. When you described how you would like it to be with your horse (a two way street) that describes my approach very well. My horse is very well trained, responsive and also can take off with me when he decides hes had enough. Up to that point everything is great, then we have a discussion about what we should do, then Discussions Over.....he takes over. Very scary , as Im getting better in saddle hes getting better at taking over. So sorry to butt in Tiffany especially with no solid answers but I understand the way you would like it to be...
I agree with this and have done it - it works.
A very stubborn and spoiled Haflinger was brought to me for starting and he would plant his feet and refuse to move. I would simply force him to move backwards. The last time I backed him about 100' from the round pen into the barn aisleway. After that he gave up and never did that again.
He also had other respect issues which I had to deal with as well.
You have to be strong with certain horses and sometimes you will have to be very firm.
They need to see you are someone who can lead them. Once they learn you are leader you can be their partner. That is until something happens to make them unsure, then you have to be leader again.
Do not feel bad for properly disciplining your horse.
Thanks Tamara ^^ Yeah sometimes it feels like a frivolous dream. =(


Hmm Candace. =) Hi. The funny thing is, sometimes she will come with me, albeit very reluctant, she will sidepass while backing up all the way to the gate. She will refuse to turn towards me. It's kind of strange but effective haha. At least she moves but the second she is facing forward, she stops. So If I were to back her all the way out of the pasture each time because she won't go forward, will I have to worry about her always backing out or will she eventually just walk forward for once?

When I step to her shoulder, she backs up really quickly and I just follow her and then she'll lurch forward really fast like she's afraid I'm going to hit her. Usually when I do get her moving forward, she crowds me and pushes me to the side and I just push her back and sometimes I'll yell or something but seriously, she has no respect for my space lol. Only in the arena... Any other time outside in the pasture is all her playground. That's how we got into a fight because she pushed me all the way into a barbed wire fence and pissed me off. X__x

She's such a sweet sweet horse but sometimes I just can't figure out what she's thinking. Is she playing with me like a horse would? Is she testing me? Are we best pals but when it comes down to decision making, we cant decide who calls the shots?
Hey Tiffany, you sound like such a sweet sweet spirit and want to do the very best for your horses and I commend you for that. Having horses is all about learning to be part of the herd and what your position is. Horses are large animals, much larger than us humans and that can be intimidating sometimes but more to the point it can be dangerous when there is a communication gap, which you and your horses seem to have. As you have said they are young and being herd animals they need a leader or one of them will be the leader. In order for you to be safe around them...you need to be the leader and as much as you don't want it to make "slaves" out of your horses and have an equal give and take relationship with them, there are times when they need to be confident that you know what you are doing and by standing your ground on what you know to be true and right for your little herd gives them the confidence they need in you that you will make decisions for them that won't harm them, this builds their trust in you. From what I am sensing from what you say they don't have confidence so they can't respect you or trust you. You need to set down some ground rules and stick to them. You might want to explore some Parelli Natural Horsemanship with both of them, it will definitely help you all. Sensation - To me this mare hasn't earned the right to be out in the pasture with the others yet. She needs round pen time, so she can learn who is the herd leader. She obviously has distain for anyone or anything when she is running free, she needs to know that is a privilege not a right. This applies to Dots as well. Watch a herd of horses and watch their pecking order, look for the leader, look for the one who is always picked on (lowest in the pecking order), watch how they relate to each other. This exercise will teach you alot about how to be one with your horses and remember you need to step up and be the leader or they will and hurt you and others. Stepping up doesn't mean violence or abuse, neither does discipline. There are many kind horsemen and women who use non of that and are successful herd leaders and are safe.
Thank you for the Input! ^^ It is much appreciated. I've looked into Parelli before but I never bought anything. I have a hard time trusting international clinicians. Not sure why. I can see the results with other horses but somehow I'm not sure if I could do the same with my horses because I feel like I'm lacking something all the time lol.. :P

I'm still doing tons of groundwork with Dots and it pays off...in the arena lol. Because she lacks confidence in me is one of the possible reasons that she will never leave the other group of horses when I go to take her in? Do you think I should put her in a smaller pen like a paddock with another horse or leave her out in the large pasture? Dots doesn't run away but it literally can take me 1 hour to get her out of there when she's being especially stubborn around the hay.

I've noticed something once though. One time I smacked her bum with the leadrope to show her I meant business when I told her to move forward with me and she, er, did follow but she was VERY pushy and kept stepping into my space and nudging me towards the fence. The second time I tried something which was teaching her to give to pressure on the leadrope. She gives to pressure easily but just not forward haha. Anyway, so I would turn her head slightly and wait, and repeat this process over and over until we were out of the feed gate and into the larger dirt pasture. After we were out of the feed gates she followed quietly, head down, albeit somewhat slow but the fact that she didn't push me around was amazing. This is why I think she's trying to teach me to control my temper and maybe.. slow down? It might sound strange to some but seriously any time I'm fuming and breathe to calm down or take a slower and more respectful approach, she's compliant.

I'll try to be more of a leader next time but I honestly have no idea how to go about teaching myself that haha. I'll watch a herd too.. although, all they do all day is sit there and eat lol.

As for Sensation...I've never thought of it that way. She was in a small pen before and then suddenly just thrown out into a big paddock with ponies. Nat, one of the young trainers, works with Sensation and lunges her in a roundpen. Do you think she will ever be catch-able? or do you think that her year of running wild with her mom might have a huge imprint in her and make it an on-going... er... issue?

Thank you so much! I really enjoy the responses! =)
Hi Tiffany, I agree with everything that Cindy Jeffery said to you. Someone has to be the leader, either you or your horse. As you are already experiencing, the horse can't be your leader if you are to be safe. And really if you think about it, if you can't control your horses, none of you is safe...you or the horses. It's not much different then raising kids, the little ones need to respect to obey and obey to be safe but the parent should be loving, kind, fair, nurturing and strong.
The one year old isn't being naughty because of being with it's mum for a year. That's pretty common to be with their mum for that long from what I understand. But people can teach a young horse alot about ground manners when they are really young like that. Especially with some of the larger breeds, if you don't teach them groundmanners while they are younger and smaller it gets really harder and less safe as the horse just gets too big to control.
I think you'd really get a lot out of the parelli Level one home course. The theme of it is safety and it gives 'good' solutions to all of the things you have mentioned. You should be able to get one reasonable on EBAY. Maybe for the same cost as one or two lessons. If you were to see how many people are following their courses and how well they do with their horses, you'd have to know that there must be alot to be learned there. Pat is an international clinician because he's good enough to have become that. If he wasn't helping so many people be successful, he wouldn't have the money to be traveling all around the world helping other people.
I love the relationship that I have with my horse. I don't have to chase him around the pasture cause he comes when he hears me arrive at the barn. Something that I cherish. And I don't use treats or a snack pail to get him to the gate.
Parelli teachs you how to use as little force as needed but as much force as necessary. They help people to recognize if a horse is doing something cause he's being naughty or if it's scared and then how to do things different for each one. Two horses can be doing the exact same thing but for different reasons and you have to know how to deal with each type (scared or naughty) I love the horse psychology of it.
Ride On! and Enjoy the journey!!
Hi slc2!

Thanks for the advice.

I agree with the whole 'just missed' being kicked thing. It's the first time she's ever done it and it really caught me off guard. The thing is, I was actually walking a step infront of her at the time. She stopped. I took a step backwards to line up with her shoulder and she bolted forward and bam, I'm near her bum lol. She has this thing where she pulls against the pressure too sometimes which makes it difficult to circle her unless I step sideways and pull with all my might. If I take a whip out, she has her head in the air, she's rearing and backing up really quickly into anything: fences, the huge ditch, etc. It doesn't scare me but I just don't want her to get hurt. It's just weird how she knows to follow pressure and she's very obedient in the arena but in the pasture she's like a whole 'nother horse. =(

The pressure thing, yeah I know all about the see-saw. Eh.. It doesn't really work unfortunately. I started off on the side and she'd step, then plant again, so I'd move back a bit and make her step to the side again, she'd step then plant. So I tried the other side, etc, rinse and repeat lol. She won't step forward. More or less, she kind of just pivots on her back foot from side to side...But once you do knock her off balance, she will step forward... but then just plant again. It kinda goes no where most times.

It's very easy to get her inside when two people are out there. One just taps her bum and she walks but ya know, i cant always bring someone out there with me. But I was wondering...do you think if I brought someone out for a while to help me get her in, would she learn to just follow beside me eventually or would she only go if there was another person there to spur her on?

Thank you for your input!
Hello Shirley! =)

Thanks for the input. I'll look into the mechanics of Parelli Level 1 then and research it a little. You'd be surprised at how many, er, clinicians I've seen and tried their methods on Dots.
None really have the desired results I want. =/

Hmm It was the 5 year old, Sensation, that ran with her mom for a year. The thing is, her mom is a completely wild horse. No human contact and that's why, I think, Sensation is just a little apprehensive. We worked on her for a bit and she's doing SO much better but she can't be put into a pasture because then she loses all that training and just runs free lol.

Thanks for your opinion ^^
I am afraid that the only way for your horse to become your partner is to be a firm leader, then the horse sort of relaxes and starts working for you. I think that horses feel that it is below their dignity to cooperate with a human without SOME form of compulsion. This compulsion does not have to be violent, but without it your horse will continually test you. Either you are in charge or the horse is in charge, this is just the way horses work. They have no concept of an "equal partnership" as this was never necessary to avoid getting eaten by predators.
There is an aspect of dominance in horses that people rarely discuss. The dominant horse (stallion or lead mare in the absence of a stallion) is the one that will fight with predators if that becomes necessary. The price for being a boss is that occasionally you put your life in danger to fight a predator. Horses do not think that it is a good idea to discuss who is boss in an emergency, this is why a horse will keep on testing a human until dominance is settled, so that when there IS an emergency, each member of the "herd" knows what to do--if you are the dominant animal you fight the danger (if necessary), and if you are not the boss you run away. Well, bosses run away too, but if the chips are down the boss is the one who risks severe injury or death.
As long as the horse has any doubt about who is boss, your horse will not willingly cooperate with you all the time. Why should they? By your actions you are telling the horse that when that awful predator appears that you expect the horse to protect you, with all the risks of severe injury and death. Therefore their responsibility is to keep an outlook for predators, not to listen to you, and the horse can get REALLY irritated with you if you insist that the horse look at you instead, because then whose responsibility is it to protect the herd?
I give the horses I ride the right to their own opinions, and I value their good opinion of me. BUT I AM THE BOSS, and so long I treat the horse humanely they do not seem to mind. Since I have Multiple Sclerosis the horse's cooperation is really important to me. If I was not boss, the horses would not cooperate with me. I EXPECT the horse to obey me, and if they do not I insist on obedience. This way the horse feels more secure.
By all means learn from any effective method of horsemanship. There seem to be a few hundred out there in the past two centuries. Any non-painful method will work (an occasional whack is permissible), if applied regularly and consistently. It takes hours and hours of work over many months to develop a partnership with a horse, it can take that long until they are confident that you will protect them from predators by being THE BOSS.
Jackie, Great explanation of the horse mind and instinct which we ALL have to recognize and work with if we are to be successful horse-people.
I aways say to my students " That for this time, (usually 1 hour riding time ) the horse must respect you. You feed and care for them, they in turn should respect you, as the other 23 or so hours they generally get to do what they want to. You must be number 1 they number 2. Having started a few hunderd horses I know that like children they need structure. Wanting to be "one" with them will never work. They need your help in knowning what is right and wrong, you must help them.

Sensation, needs to be in a much smaller encloser,preferably by herself for 1-2 weeks, as long as she can see other horses, with an older (soft) leather halter on. On the halter put a short piece on binder twine. This will help out about halfway in the catching process. Then go in the paddock and just hang out. Pick a spot and sit down ( if you are worry about it sit on a fence) do nothing! Sooner or later she will come to you, again do nothing. Let her sniff you. Keep this up for a few days, then start to touch her, then lead her around the paddock just by the halter. Make all your time spent with her enjoyable. She will learn to trust her but it will take time. Feed her while you spend time with her. My friend has trained wild mustangs to do Dressage to a fairly high level, they are very nice horses, so no I do not think your horse is always going to be difficult if you train her right.

As for Dot she is young and not schooled in leading, don't blame her! The best way to teach a horse to lead is with her moma but as she is now older this is not an option. Next best methiod is having a horse in front of you being lead. Horses will follow other horses. As with your other mare reward her alot! And like some of the other anwsers, get her "unstuck" when she balks, backing up is always good, as they soon realise that going forward is much better!.

As for videos/ DVD's with famous horse trainers, it's like so many things, they often make it look easy. One older book I can suggest is by Monty Roberts, who until I read it, I thought I was the only one who thought like him! The Man Who Listens To Horses,He makes lots of sense. Horses are flight animals, always remember this. So when they are being "bad" they are usually (but not always) scared. They run away. I don't know what kind of boarding place you are at but taking so many people and such a long time to catch one horse does not sound too great for these two very young mares. Good luck, Tilka

As for dot, she is a bit spoiled.
Wow....

This input is really inspirational. I actually never thought of it like that before. I don't have a problem with getting dominant it's just that I have no real idea on how to go about it.

I'm going to take all of these opinions and think them through. I can tell that you are all just trying to tell me to stop being such a softie and harden up a bit haha.

Thanks so much everyone. ^^

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