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Do you know the body language for this?
#1
Does anyone know the proper body language communication that the horse will interpret as "Trust me and don't worry, it's okay - everything is alright." And, "I am the dominant one - there's nothing at all to fear, so follow me."

My lesson challenge with Newt is to overcome a fear of a particular wooded area inhabited by deer. There is a gravel road leading from the stable yard to the ranch headquarters one mile away. I have ridden him several times last fall through this, though always with a group. Here's the scenario: About 200 feet just south of the stable yard and on both sides of the road, is a brushy old growth area, with a dry creek bed deer frequent a lot. To the south of this area, it is open road and grazing psture forever it seems. When we approach this wooded area,Newt stops dead in his tracks and he refuses to go forward, even with another horse present. It is back stepping and tossing his head, he wants to go back. Newt picks up the scent, flares his nostrils and holds his head way high because he knows the white tails - or something- are out there somewhere. Once we get by this place, he is fine, but in the past it has been a terrible amount of work. This time of year I take him out for walks on lead rope only as the roads have a lot of ice and black ice, not safe at all for saddle riding. We walk in the snow along the roadside, but it is quite the challenge. Last night, we must have backed up at least a 100 feet to go forward only 10 feet. I just kept him backing until he stopped, and boy, we really got the "Back!" lesson down pat. WE also worked on left turns for some time until it was by then, almost dark. We did hoever, manage to go 10 feet forward at which time I called it good and we headed back to the stable. I intended to stay until midnight if I had to until he went forward. So I ask you, if I am to be the alpha here, how can I communicate to him to trust me? We use alot of body language, but I am at a loss with this one. Can anyone help? He is a huge quarterhorse, and I do use the lunge whip to occasionaly tap his back legs for forward motion, not as an irritant. Making it past the wooded area using the whip would require way more tapping which much more force than I ever want to use. I don't want to use any sort of threatening hits or slaps or abusive touches either. What is the positive reinforcement I can use to get through this? Even the jackpot treats of all time for him - dates - don't work. He just wants to go back! back! back! Help!
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#2
This sounds like one that you have to back up and wait for better weather. You can't do anything with your body that is going to make him think those things if his mind and body is telling them something else.

So pick you battle. Wait until it is good enough footing to longe him and then take him out on a long lead or longe line and work him. Not lead him, work him. Make him get his mind on you not the woods and deer. If he has to keep his mind on you he will forget those things. He will learn to look to you for to tell him what to do when he is scared.

Do not set the goal as getting him to go into or past the woods. The goal(as far as he knows) is to get him moving his feet in a new safe area. But the goal you don't tell him is that his new safe area is going to grow right into the spot he now thinks of as scary.
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#3
Can you explain what you mean by working and lounging him on the road instead of walking beside him on the lead line? If it's not too icy, or toomuch snow, I do work him regularly in the round pen, and he does great. But as far as working on the gravel road, would this be like plow reining him with him in front of me? I know he'll want to go 90 degrees left up a side road just at the beginning of the wooded area, or want to return to the stable yard - he will not want to go straight ahead on the road past the wooded area. I would like to teach him the area is safe so he doesn't need to fear. But how, if I'm not right beside him leading him, can I have the dominant force to get him to proceed straight ahead? He merely stops, and pulls backward, so we do the back back back until he stops. I have tried placing a horse and rider up ahead on the other side of the woods, and he refuses to go. Same if we have someone right beside us, too. A good challenge indeed, but I think the achievement will establish a good mark for both of us, but now - just to get there! I've only been a horse owner since July, so there's a lot I still don't know, but I really want to understand your suggestion so I can try it tonight. Can you walk me though this?
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#4
You are probably already doing this, but I have to ask; Do you tense up when you are riding him and nearing this area that he's afraid of? If you do, you are relaying to him that something is wrong and there is definitely something to be afraid of in the area. In this case, try to relax your body and act like there is absolutely nothing wrong. This will tell him that you don't think there is anything there to get upset about and everything is fine. Sorta like the alpha mare in a herd of horses. If she gets nervous every horse in the herd will be looking for what is wrong and be ready to bolt and run. If she's relax and just moseying along in the herd, the rest of the herd will be at ease, too.

This doesn't always work, but I have found it does put my horse more at ease than if I'm telegraphing, loud and clear, that there is definitely something to fear and to be ready to run away from it. Otherwise, I totally agree with Stormie[Smile].
"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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#5
quote:
Originally posted by meadowinds

Making it past the wooded area using the whip would require way more tapping which much more force than I ever want to use. I don't want to use any sort of threatening hits or slaps or abusive touches either.



In the herd environment, what do you think the dominant animal would do, ask him to please go? No. Wait til better weather and try the other suggestions. If they don't work get some help and motivate him.
My horses try to teach me something every day.
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#6
In wild the dom. horse would not be besides him leading him. There is no way that you can take a horse that is truly scare and knows that he can get away with things and lead him in the manner you want to. He knows that if he doesn't want to go all he has to do is back up and you back him up more and that he can turn away from you and get away or go where every he wants. He knows this because the way you are handling him is reinforcing that.

Longing is when you make him go in circles around you. One long line and a halter and maybe a training stick or whip is all you need. Teach him this at home first or it will never work near this scary area.

Teach him the basics of longing and to yield his hindquarters. Look up Clinton Andersons methods on this. Then when you get to something like this scary spot you longe him. So that he is not heading right at that scary thing. He is going back and forther in front of it, inbetween you and it. He is listening to you because he has to. And because he is listening to you he doesn't have his mind on that scary thing. You already know that going straight ahead is not going to work and he knows how to get away from you when you try it but with this method he is not going straight ahead. He is going around you or in half circles in front of you. The idea is to get his mind on you and keep it on you so that he forgets about the thing he is scared of. Then you work him closer without him even known that he is getting closer. You just move your body closer, still making him longe and this will force him closer to it. As he handles that you move again. You probably won't make it past the scarey spot on the first try and don't try to do that. Just work a little at a time.

Ground Driving(what I think you mean by Plow reining) won't work until he is okay with longing and then leading past that spot. Then if he is trained for ground driving you can ground drive him past it before riding to make sure he is okay with it.

You have to be brave and act as if nothing he is scared of scares you and that nothing he does scares you. Clinton Anderson has some great methods for handling spooks like this. You really have to keep the feet moving but it doesn't have to be straight at the scary thing. Actually horses do not normally go straight at something if it is really scary. They try to dart past it if they have to go past it or if they really want to check it out they will go back and forth checking it out. Some will go straight at something but most won't and really won't if forced to. It shouldn't be away from the scary thing because that is inforcing that it is scary and that you are scared and want to get away from it too.
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#7
Sorry I was doing three things at once and I wanted to look something up.

I would side line the walks on the round until you get better control over him. You will not be able to do any type of longing on the walks until you get it solid at home. I don't know how many cars are on this road but you should only work on the road with him when you have someone there as a spotter for cars. Also before you try longing on the road work on it with scary things at home like a tarp, 4 wheeler whatever is something he doesnt' want to go by, even if you can walk him up to it do the longing thing to work on it.


You asked "if I'm not right beside him leading him, can I have the dominant force to get him to proceed straight ahead?"

The "dominant force" that you would use in this longing method is your space. He should not enter your personal space unless you ask so as you move closer to the scary thing he should move closer to it also to stay out of your space the whole time you are also driving him around you. I can't explain it as well as Anderson does so look into his vidoes, books and articles.
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