To stop my filly from crowding while I feed an elderly horse from a bucket is it proper to wave my arm at her or tap lightly on her chest with a crop? She’s a hot-head and don’t want to over -do it, but I’m worried about her crowding since she’s getting big fast-23mo. old. I’m a greenhorn too. we’re both learning as she grows. i can’t afford a trainer. so far no injuries!yaaay! thank you so much. love your work. also is it o.k. to free lunge the horses with a yellow plastic sack on the end of the trainer’s whip? a trainer told me to use it.
Christine P., Red Bluff, CA
Thank you for the email and I hope you enjoyed the website. I will try to help you all I can.
First off it really would be better if you could separate the filly from the older horse when you are feeding him his grain. That way you do not have to worry about affecting your horse in a poor way.
But if this is not an option I will try to tell you the best thing to do.
One thing you can do is put a halter on your filly, then teach her how to back away from you when you wiggle the lead line. Here is how you teach this: Start with out the other horse and as few a distractions around you. Stand in front of your horse and start wiggling your wrist side to side which will wiggle the rope side to side. What we eventually want is for us to be able to just wiggle our wrist and the horse to back up to the end of the lead line and then stand there until asked to come forward. So start wiggling your wrist side to side, if your horse does not move back then start wiggling your elbow side to side which will wiggle the lead line even more. If the horse still does not more wiggle harder and harder until she moves her feet. If she comes forward or goes to the side just keep wiggling until she moves her feet in the correct direction. Horses learn off the release of pressure. That means that when you put pressure on them they will try to find the answer to make the pressure go away. So if the pressure goes away when she comes forward or just stands still you are teaching her to come forward or just stand still which is not the correct answer to the wiggling. So once she moves even just one step back stop wiggling to let her know that she did the right thing. Then start again. Do this over and over again until she can back all the way out to the end of the lead line and stand there calmly.
Now you can back her out to the end of the lead line and give your other horse grain. Then after he is done or you are done giving him his bucket I would go to her and give her a treat or cookie for being good.
The other way you could handle it is by doing what you said with a stick tapping her and keeping her out of your space. But by doing this if she is very sensitive you could upset her and really are not teaching her very much. Also there is the potential that she could turn and kick or run away and kick. Now lots of people say that there horse would never kick them. And that may be true! But sometimes horses do things even out of fun and do not really mean to hurt us or even get us but things like this can happen. So just be careful with this.
As for the circling with the plastic bag. I use bags to desensitize horse to so that they are not fearful of the bag. If you use the bag to get them to move you are creating the wrong responds to flee from the bag. This is just my opinion. So I never use bags to get horses to move their feet. If your horses are moving at a fast pace with their tails high then they are not moving out of respect and willingness but rather out of fear and excitement. This is also not the correct desire that we want our horses to learn. Horses need to be taught how to walk trot and canter with out getting on adrenaline. If we use things like the bag we most always create adrenaline in our horses. Also I do not know if you are doing this or not but just as a word of caution, do not free lunge your horses together. Do one at a time. This will also help create a more relaxed environment and get your horses softer mentally in the end.
So if you want to free circle your horse use a stick and string. Ask your horse to move forward with your energy and word cue and point in the direction that you want your horse to go. If they do not go lift your stick and push your horses shoulder away. If you want to bring them up into a trot or canter. Use these phases consistently to get your horse to move: Voice (one click for trot, two for canter. Or say walk trot and canter) Lift stick, slap ground with string behind horse, then if horse still does not listen tap horse on hind quarters with string until horse goes forward in the gait you want. Remember to stay out of the kick zone when doing this. Also if your horse moves forward at any point in your phases do not go to the next phase because the horse did what you asked for. Then let horse just cruise in the gait. Do not force horse to stay in the gait. If they break gait, let them go a few strides and then just ask again. By doing this you will get a soft, relaxed horse and eventually you will only need your voice and no stick to get your horse to do what you want.
Let me know if you have any other question, and I hope this helps you out.
Folow up from Chrisie:
i hun their buckets on wood posts around 15′ apart and it seems to be working out. thank you! as soon as her cut cannon heals i will begin the backup training you explained to me. oh i wish i could bring her all the way to arizona to work with you there. i will be getting one of your lovely halters for my best friend laurie down there in pheonix for her birthday.
Response from Chelsie:
I am glad things are going well for you.
If you are interested in a clinic with me you can always host a clinic. The clinic host gets to ride for free. The host has to get the facility, put out fliers in the local area to help advertise the clinic and organize the clinic. Let me know if this might be something you would be interested in and I will get you more info.