Monday, May 9, 2011

Horse With Bad Habits

I have a twelve year old fox trotter gelding and he has many bad habits that I can't seem to break. First when you try to get on him he starts to walk away as soon as you put the rains over his head, he also will not turn very well and tends to try and walk sideways trying to get to were he wants to go. Most of the time you cannot get him away from his pasture buddy without him going crazy. When I put him on a lead rope he will not walk beside me or behind me, instead he head buts me and tries to get in front of me. He also doesn't like to stop at anytime, whether he is on a lead rope or I'm ridding him. He also likes to paw at the ground when I'm leading him which has caused him to break two of my toes twice. he also likes to paw at the ground when I am riding him too. But he doesn't like to be rode without other horses around. And he also tends to be very jumpy, you cannot move your hand around his face or move a rope to fast around him or he will run away. Do you have any suggestion to help me fix these problems? if so I would truly appreciate your help.

Hello Brittany,
There are many concerns that you have to deal with. First of all, realize that your horse is not being difficult "on purpose"-he just does not know any better. You do not mention how long you have had him or where he came from, but he has either had improper handling or just not focused
training that allowed him to understand what he is SUPPOSED to be doing.

There are many good books to read that will help you...Anthony Crosley has one...."The First Four Years",...and Linda Tellington Jones method of T.E.A.M. would prove useful. My web site,, has some articles that may help.
You have to start from the beginning with him...retraining, and start with ground work.The first thing you need to do is to teach him correct leading and go on from there. Using the wand that T.E.A.M. advocates,(as an extension of your arm), will help when you are leading him. I would also teach him to lunge, and some quiet, focused light round pen work...NOT chasing him around,will help both of you to relate to each other. You will need to really read and research, and be careful. There are so many marketing techniques out there, and some are not tailored to the horse as an individual.
When you do mount him, I have always found the easiest way is at first to just lead him up to the mounting block, offer him a treat, and lead him away. Do it again when he stands for a bit, then finally when he stands for mounting.Then you only need to do this every once in a while. I have seen "natural" techniques that incorporate chasing the horse around the block.....I do not think that this makes any sense to most horses. You want to train your horse in the clearest and kindest way possible.
My email is I would like to know more about your skills and experience so I can help you more. Many times in riding we confuse our horses, as our aids are not clear to them.
You need also to desensitize your horse. You need to do this training away from other horses. As he learns to trust you and understand what you want him to do, ,he will be more confident in leaving his herd. Remember that a horse is a prey animal and his herd represents safety to him. I really think you should look for an experienced, intelligent, thoughtful professional horse trainer to help you, but this can be difficult. I admit I have much to learn, but 90 per cent of my business is in helping people retrain their horses that a "professional" has not been successful with. The first thing is to make certain that they are thoughtful, consider the horse as an individual, sentient being, and that whatever they are advocating makes sense to you and the horse. If it looks like it is cruel or forced, it probably is.
I will be glad to help you with more specific answers to each problem as it comes up. You could write to EXPERTS again. Just be sure to first start with ground work, leading and longing. If your Fox Trotter is gated you have to be really careful with any round penning or longing as small circles are difficult for him. Also, be certain that you are using your hands and body correctly when turning him when you are riding. An excellent book for you also to read is CENTERED RIDING by Sally Swift.

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