Nervous but pushy Mustang - re-starting

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by Galexious, Jan 13, 2019 at 3:20 PM.

  1. Galexious

    Galexious Senior Member+

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    8 days ago, I aquired a 7 year old mustang who was in the Extreme Mustang Makeover in 2017. He didn't place well enough to make top 10, he was hesitant to tackle certain obstacles there. He was purchased following the competition by a family who didn't go over what he'd learned with him, and he went from desiring to be with people to not allowing himself to be caught. He bucked with them, and he had no desire to be in thier space to the point that he would try going over or through a round pen when they brought him in one. I was told the reason for his rehoming was he didn't want to be caught (and had lost weight which he gained some back before he was hauled my way. ) I wasn't informed of bucking at all until he was in my possession. He went from his owners to a trainer who didn't train him, but housed him to put wight on before placing him. Anyhow, because he'd only had the start that prepped him for the mustang makeover, and wasn't regularly asked to be a partner after that, I planned / plan on starting him from square one. I sat/walked/ spent time in his area to ensure I was seen as a familiarity in his new environment and randomly walked around or approached him with equipment just to walk away or start to put it in and walk away, or briefly lead him to remove it, just so that he will allow himself to be caught and not associate equipment with negativity or work if he grew to have that connection with his former owners. For me, he has been easy to approach and I have worked on being in his space without being demanding but also working on minor things that are important. He can be a nervous horse, but he is also willing to try and unfortunately is frustrated when asked for specific things. Like backing or moving over when he's coming in to closely so that he's brushing by or physically bumping into you. I made sure to move him out/away when this was done but it's obvious he dislikes being told to respect space. There is some head shaking, tail swishing, head rubbing, cocking a back leg as a threat (not to rest) I don't own a round pen, but I have been able to ask him to move his shoulders or hips over and am making an effort to send him on a bigger circle when asking him for forward movement. He is doing everything at liberty so he's willingly returning to this training space, and I'm trying to be kind without being a pushover so that he knows to respect space and human leader without creating a fight or unwillingness for him to be around me. He is 7 years old and was started as a 5 year old with a year off minus what was done by last owners. I know they had an issue with pawing and would leave him tied full days to in their words get him content with himself (not being in a herd environment) I think he had a wonderful start though trainer said he did need to go over foundation work at a slower pace, but then his owner unintentionally gave him a bad place to be for being furthered. I have focused on being able to approach, walking, stopping, backing (without trying to make it boring or be seen as punishment) I have days 1-7 recorded in written and photo or video form. Anyway... I always loved this site and I found lot of knowledgeable and encouraging individuals, so I decided to share his journey with you all. The goal is to create a calm, willing, understanding partner. Fingers crossed! :)
     

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  2. Faster Horses

    Faster Horses Senior Member

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    Phew, that is a LOT for a horse to go through in two years. Your photo confirms my thoughts.

    Treat the little man for gastric and hindgut ulcers. He's had a heck of a life, he's displaying all the symptoms, and he is very tucked up in the hind.
     
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  3. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Well, 7 years old and only FORCED to accept extremely sped up, mindboggling Mustang make over training, and he really doesn't have a mind to be a riding horse....you will get seriously hurt if you don't end up dead.

    I realize this is not what you want to hear and you want to test yourself to see if you can make a riding horse out of him, but it's not very likely.

    He was at a professional trainer's and THEY wouldn't mess with him, “just fed him and passed him on“, you said. Some horses are not meant, do not have the mind, and were wild for too long, have too high of a preservation drive, to become good riding horses.

    I would send him off. You need to evaluate your priorities. Is it worth a serious injury to mess with this one?

    I personally know of an 8yo Mustang mare that can not be broke. Many good and even a couple well known trainers have tried to break her. She will run into you, wheel and kick. It's what horses do to another one that's annoying them. Don't be a target. Targets tend to get very badly hurt.
     
  4. Galexious

    Galexious Senior Member+

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    He was just vetted prior to coming my way, but thank you.
     
  5. Galexious

    Galexious Senior Member+

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    I'm not trying to test myself. I have no interest in being hurt, but I realize it's a risk we take pursuing interaction with horses. The trainer that had him who didn't work with him also does mustang makeovers. He was in too poor of body condition to be ridden, and because he'd not had interest in being with people, she wanted to just be in human company without worry. She said if I wasn't interested in him, she'd put time on him and sell for a higher price, so I took him as he was. He definitely has try in him so to me it's largely about connection, and being a fair leader. I have so far only done ground work and the majority at liberty. I don't own a round pen so much of my communication is based on developing a desire for the horse to find interaction enjoyable.
     
  6. Galexious

    Galexious Senior Member+

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    Day 1-He was delivered at one pm and the day consisted of 1pm-6:17 sitting with him, walking around in his space, approaching him empty handed and with a carrot stick and halter to make sure he'd allow those things without becoming fearful. With him at liberty when he was readily following on his own and comfortable with me in his space I asked him to back up with pressure on his chest, move his shoulder and hip over from left side. (Bc it was the side I was on) will add other side tomorrow) and asked him to move his face away bc he is pushy and mouthy both. Not giving him food rewards until I get a better handle on him moving his face away respectfully when it's requested. Touched him with the carrot stick, but didn't do more than just try to pet him, be around him, chew hay with him (lol) just be in his space in a way that said I'm not threatening and can be enjoyable. I did bring him to hay or water and just stand around or sit so he sees that "catching him or getting him" doesn't mean "work"
    Day 2 consisted of walking with, (stopping with and backing with are struggles ) so we did quite a bit of that with pressure from hand, stick, rein layed on his neck, also worked on him backing away or shoulders away for getting grain as he is known to be pushy and bull himself into buckets in hand when fed. Asked him to side up to a pedestal, but didn't get on. Did serveral walk ups and then walk away or just scratched, loved on him / stood or sat nearby. Gave him more time with my other horse today too. Nothing major has been done yet, but this part I find hugely beneficial later on when trust in you is needed, and all the bonding hours we're invested.
    Day 3-Did our first session on line today. (Lead ropes on halter) walked him in and over things in the smaller pen and then walked fence perimeter on electric line area. He walked in the pond. Learned he kicks at rope on his back legs. (He allowed it to touch himself with what was dragging behind him as I gave him slack to explore a small area while on line. And did the same kicking at little brush he was walking in. Was trying to walk forward of me so kept asking him to back up and move shoulders away so I wasn't crowded. It wasn't as fun as I'd like lessons to be. He also wanted to move his head/ rub his head when I was untying the halter so we just kept hold of it while he wasn't cooperating and then released when he kept it still for a second. Did that a few times and then removed it and was happy when he didn't walk/trot away like I'm done with you! Our afternoon session consisted of a lot of work (non-work) by hay.. it was sliding hands down all his legs along with ropes so that he is calm about legs and feet being handled without shooting them up like he's expected to lift them immediately when they're touched. Did some weight on his back with the pedestal right next to him just so he's having it from early on and it's not in a frightening manner. I took my sweater off and twirled it to see his reaction and he moved away, so I followed him with it and stopped and walked away when he'd stop. Then treated it like a saddle pad and touched him all over with it before tossing it on his back (both sides) worked on him softening his tail as he wanted to clamp it down when I tried to lift it and that will calm a horse down (IMO) the more I can do all over with them at ease or relaxing for unusual requests. Jogged up to him and did small jumping jacks in the same area just so he knows bigger or faster movements from me don't mean he needs to become fearful.
    Day 4- Did a lay over his back (just folded over) for all of half a second and came down. Head went up and he wanted to back up so when he stepped forward again, I pet him for doing so, and then did it again so that he has more exposure to that and softens /relaxes/ sees it isn't a big deal. Did a little little askinbg him to back, but not a whole lot of that. Don't want to become boring in sessions so primarily focused on desensitization to ropes/ carrot stick on those back legs. He wants to pick it up at kick the pressure away. (Low kicks) but still. Did a lot of walking after him and removing it when he'd allow it to touch him while feet were grounded and would walk away when he was calm about it. Usually in the mornings when I let Amocean in the same space, he trots around until he calms down. So today, he started to get his head high when I opened the gate to take the wagon out and when I came back in, I didn't bring Amocean. I think I'll do that a few more times so that he doesn't associate gate with anything unnerving. He doesn't yet cone when called. He will walk up to me on his own accord or allow me to approach him, but he doesnt come when his name is called. I hope that changes. I am watching his topline closely. He has 24/7 access to hay and I love seeing him eating! :p I'm like yes! Let me continue improvement there! :) He isn't running fencelines or calling out to neighbors horses anymore. Though, they've been quiet so I'm curious to see if he would if they did again. Going to clean house as much as I hate leaving him so I can find that darn camera cord and send you real footage! :pHe only trotted around day one or when I let Amocean in and only for a couple/few minutes when he has. It's never taken him several minutes to calm down. I did a wiggle with the carrot stick on front of his chest to get him to stop, and then pressured the opposite shoulder to get him to turn back my direction if he's moving away or further forward than I'd like him to. I think liberty work with him on the ground will help both connection and his understanding in a manner that doesn't frighten him. I have to be calm enough in all of my requests that I get the desired response without causing a blow up. I don't hesitate to use a halter and lead rope either and understand its necessary or desirable to use at times.Also when I say walking after him (I'm not directly behind him) I'm walking with him at his side with a (soft/flexible) stick underneath him touching back legs. I don't remove it until he is calm and accepting of it. It is an odd thing to do but, it's how I'm getting him not to feel rattled by things touching those back feet weather his stationary or in motion.
    Day 5- Set up a robotic cameraman and all the beacons and brought out equipment only to find the batteries on my camera didn't charge! Spent the morning with him following me around to set it all up and then did an unrecorded liberty session with just asking shoulders over, hips over, allow everything to be touched, lower head, back up, walk forward and travel around me at center (no ropes) he is doing this one very closely to me so I'm tying to send him on a slightly bigger circle without him feeling frustrated or having him lose that willingness to be with me. I also walk up to him with a halter and lead at random and just "catch" him to release him so that he doesn't have any anxiety about being caught or equipment being carried out to him. I was told he was impossible to catch at his last place, so I'm making sure that's not an issue!
    Day 6- it was a long rainy work day. It's the first day I went to work instead of spending the day (or multiple times of the day with him) I did however call him up for the 1st time today. Usually I walk out to where he is or walk halfway and then he comes the other half, but today I called him, and he came from the far end to the front end. That was my day's highlight.
    Day 7- I turned him out for the first time today into the electric fence area. I have it at the top of the pen he was in to this point and I'd walked him the fence perimeter days prior. He ran and trotted and slid stopped as the ground is muddy. He carried on for a bit and came up to me a few times as I stood in the middle watching. Then we walked to hay ring and he ate while I took photos. I'd already gotten up on the pedestal and hung weight over him, so I wanted him to be accepting of that same thing from different places and took the opportunity to use the hay ring as a mounting place. I don't yet have enough ground work done to ride him, bit just to sit on him even for a split second was awesome. I did the folded hang a couple of times before putting one leg over and got down and rubbed him and then put weight mostly on but not all the way, and then got down and rubbed him and then got all the way on, sat up, and got down. I was REALLY really happy with just doing that. :) Later in the day I went out and did a liberty session with him of just be with me, stop and back with me, move hip my way if his nose is to me but hip is away so that he's side by side instead of facing me. For it all being done in a new enclosure he did extremely well.
    Day 8- last night was the 1st time River was entrusted out of the smaller paddock through the night, so he respected electric fencing even in darkness. Yay! During the day, I did a few sessions of approaching carrying equipment. I did some shoulders and hips away and towards me on the hip. Forward , back, and face me- all at liberty. It was very muddy from the recent rain, but he went where I did even if it meant walking through puddles or muddier sections. He did brush by in a way that caused me to move over, so I immediately asked him to rotate shoulders over as I want him to know he doesn't tell me to move my feet with that behavior. It will be in the 60s later this week, so I'll happily spend more time with him this week.
     

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  7. Galexious

    Galexious Senior Member+

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    Just a peaceful moment in the setting sun . :) Day 9- it warmed up slightly later in the day and I took advantage of that! As usual, approached random times of day. Often times, I walk out, or jog our and stop and allow him to come the remainder of the way. Today, I carried a bucket of feed out and walked around with it asking him to keep his distance, or back up. When he did so, I would give him a handful so he saw he could get it by being respectful. I think if he feels he can do something that wins it for him, that will lead to calm compliance! (Or so is the hope!) :) When he was doing as was requested, I poured it out before he lost interest and snapped some pictures of them sharing. He has the tendancy of kicking that back foot out even when no one is behind him and he's not liking what he's being asked, so I'm working really hard to make sure my requests are small, so that he doesn't feel I get too big too fast without giving him the opportunity to respond to a suggestion. It's all still new to him, so I'm not expecting perfection by any means. I do however want for him not to do anything that endangers me being in his space, so I am asking him to move those hips and shoulders over or keep a respectful distance if he approaches straight on. The smallest improvements are considered a win, and I can only try building on those with routine effort. :)
     

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  8. Garfield70

    Garfield70 Senior Member

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    And again you are going about this MUCH too fast. On the first day when he arrives you already pestering him with exercises. And after 7 days you are thinking abour riding him. That's just WRONG.

    Turn him out with some buddies, let him get used to the new place and then start working with him.
     
  9. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    I agree with Garfield. You are “Mustang Challenging “ his already broken Mustang Challenged brain. The horse should only be groomed right now. Messed with for a few minutes multiple times a day for only grooming. If he won't stand there while you touch him all over, without moving, he isn't ready for anything else.

    Treat him like a foal that's had ZERO human contact.

    The trainer who had him did not just feed him up because he was so thin. How long did she have have him? He was no rack of bones, was he?. Horses don't put on 300lbs in a few weeks. She didn't mess with him because she didn't want hospital food. You do understand that, to get rid of a horse, you say just what she told you about this horse.
     
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  10. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    I hate those darn mustang challenges. Since when was it ever a good idea to train a horse in a minimal amount of time? Turns the whole idea of training - a clear, slow progression that the horse is able to understand and master in stages - on its head. Yeah, lots of the horses are able to do the exercises. But is that a good thing? I don't think so.

    I agree with manes and Garfield. Slow down. Back off. Work on horse time, not human time.
     

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