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Head lowering
#1
I have a 3 year old Mustang gelding who I started gentling in March. He used to love to have his face petted. Now when I approach him and try to touch his head, he lowers his head almost to the ground. I'm trying to figure out what this means. I thought submission, but with any subsequent touch to the head he bobs his head as if he doesn't want to be touched on the face. The only negative experience he had with his face is when I applied fly spray with a clot (not sprayed) or used the roll-on fly repellant. I applied it about 3" below his eyes and now am wondering if this caused any sensitivity which has resulted in his being a little head shy. He does love his poll brushed, and cheeks are OK, but he no longer wants his nose or forehead touched.

Another interesting thing is that when I move back behind his shoulder he backs up to put me closer to his face.

Does anyone have any ideas about the head shyness and backing up? Thanks for any input. I appreciate it!
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#2
The fly spray probably didn't cause it. He has more then likely learned how to get out of having you do things with his head. The backing up thing could be him wanting to face you, as in respect but I don't think so because of what you said on the other post. He propably doesn't feel right about you near his body.

Have you do any round penning with him or sacking out? Sounds like he needs to build more trust and respect.
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#3
Maybe he just doesn't like his face being petted! And maybe he's finally comfortable enough with you to let you know! My son does dog agility and he was constantly trying to praise his Sheltie by patting her, meanwhile she was backing away and trying to avoid the contact...well the instructor said something that really struck a cord with me...she said "Why are you trying to reward her with something that she is obviously trying to tell you she doesn't like? Find something she DOES like and do that instead!"

I think it was Julie Goodnight(a trainer) who said that same thing about horses...after a successful run or workout we often will pat the horse on its shoulder when in truth many horses really don't like it. You see it all the time...the ears pin and the horse will flinch...so why do we do it?

So "listen" to your horse, yes you have to be able to handle his head but you don't have to pat or brush him there every time you groom if he doesn't like it.... Maybe he'd "suffer" through a little more if it was only on an occasional basis. Try a softer brush

As to the backing up, I think that's probably just a trust issue. Horses have a blind spot there and he just is more comfortable with you in his sights...it will probably disappear as he gets more comfortable with you. Ever notice what happens when a horse perceives a threat? Typically they turn and face it and if they still can't "decode" it then they bolt!
<'\__~
_(( // ====

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#4
Stormie & S Bower;
Thanks for the input. I think he is very comfortable with me. I can even sit on him when he is lying down. Strange that he really loved being petted on the face before. One thought is that he might be begging for hay that is just outside his gait on the ground.

Yes, I've done round pen work, taken him for long walks, turned him out and easily re-haltered him. I've experimented with just talking to him and not touching, walking away and sitting on his water trough. He'll come up and put his face in my chest. Oh I wish I were psychic! :oD
Linda
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#5
When did this start? Could it be a tooth issues. Since you do have other respect issues I still think that this could be part of that.
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#6
Stormie,
I'm glad you mentioned a tooth issue, as I am now suspecting that. I posted on the Caring forum about a new problem Bo has with swollen nasal passages which is pending diagnosis. The head "shyness" started weeks ago, but just last night he had the swelling.
Thanks,
Linda

quote:
Originally posted by Stormie

When did this start? Could it be a tooth issues. Since you do have other respect issues I still think that this could be part of that.

Linda
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#7
check his eyes, he may have vision problems!
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#8
Interesting....if his nose is stuffed up ( swollen nasal passages)that explains why he doesn't want his nose petted. : )

On the body thing I'm sure it's a sight line. I have a mare that has been raised with people and is used to having humans all over her. I was brushing out her tail by standing directly behind her. She finally started to 'tell' me to stand a bit to the side ( where she can see me ) by stepping sideways when I went back there. Duh!

She also has a face issue which we haven't diagnosed. One side of her face and jaw is very stiff- no apparent nerve damage or swelling /infection. Vet thinks it may be an old injury. As soon as we can I'll have the chiro out to check her out.

It really sounds like you've made some great progress with Bo.
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#9
quote:
Originally posted by Annie Oakley

Interesting....if his nose is stuffed up ( swollen nasal passages)that explains why he doesn't want his nose petted. : )

On the body thing I'm sure it's a sight line. I have a mare that has been raised with people and is used to having humans all over her. I was brushing out her tail by standing directly behind her. She finally started to 'tell' me to stand a bit to the side ( where she can see me ) by stepping sideways when I went back there. Duh!

She also has a face issue which we haven't diagnosed. One side of her face and jaw is very stiff- no apparent nerve damage or swelling /infection. Vet thinks it may be an old injury. As soon as we can I'll have the chiro out to check her out.

It really sounds like you've made some great progress with Bo.



I'm just curious more than anything else, but why would you ever stand directly behind your horse? That's a prime location to get kicked. When I brush my horse's tail, I always stand off to one side.
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#10
I was taught from day one( by men who had years and years of experience-my Dad, Grandfather and Uncles were all show horse trainers ) to stand directly behind and close to the horse and NOT off to the side as that was the more dangerous place.... horses can kick out as easily as they can kick back.
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