I've been working with the "G" Man for the pasted several weeks and he is making really good progress.
As you may remember, he is very nervous about any one handling his head, and mostly when you want to put the halter on. He has very little trouble with having the bridle put on. Go figure.
Anyway, I have a few methods for helping a horse with this issue, but the bottom line is, it takes time and understanding. You have to be firm but you have to be fair.
He has a ways to go but he will get there and I know that his owner, Norma, will do her best to help him down the trail.
Most of the time here, I get horses that have some sort of issue. Most of the time it is cause by the owner, but not always. Sometimes the horse does something that the owner does not expect and the owners reaction causes the horse to react in a way that neither the horse or the owner expected. That causes the owner to react a certain way each time the horse reacts and it is a never ending cycle.
That's kind of what has happened to "G". He is head shy. Not because the owner has ever hit this horse. I know "G's" mom and she just does not have it in her to do that. But, "G" has worked himself up so much that every time his mom would try to put a halter on him, he freaks.
So, how do you fix a problem like this. Great question and I'm glad you asked, other wise I would not have anything to write about.
I think that most, want to work on "just" the problem. In his case his being head shy and, yes, we're going to have to work on that. But, if we make that the focus of our attention, every time we approach or work with the horse, he's going to know that and, his reaction is just going to keep getting harder and harder to control or fix. So, here is how I would, and have been, working on this for "G".
I teach him to be caught. That means I'm going to have to get a halter on him. This took a little work and understanding. Once I had the halter on him, I did not spend much time with his head. He let me put the halter on and that's good enough. From here we go and work on something else. He is learning to flex his head from side to side. When he is working on this exercise, and we can talk about that at another time if your interested, it gives me a chance to work with his head and ears, without him knowing I'm working with his head and ears. He is so focused on what he is doing at the time, he cares little what I'm doing with his ears. Pretty soon he realizes what's going on but by then he has figured out that it's not going to kill him and, he has other things that he needs to be thinking about.
I use this technique in other aspects of his training. A little at a time, understanding that it's a big deal to him. If I make it a big deal to me, he is going to have a harder time getting past his fears and worries. Before long, he may not be perfect, but he is seeing a way past being afraid and worried.
In time, by helping the owner to understand this process, the owner will learn how to work with the horse. Problems like this are not fixed over night. For some horses it will require helping them the rest of their life. But, it can be done and we can make the horse's life with us, a little easier.
Got a chance to work with Kai and Cody on Saturday. I was teaching them a little about the round pen and it's use. They have worked in the round pen before, about two years ago, and I was surprised at how much they remembered. Here is Kai after putting Zeb on the pedestal on her own.
Here Cody, puts Zeb up on the pedestal on his own. You're probably thinking that the horse already knew how to get up on the pedestal, and that's true. But, if you don't have the skill to direct the horse, the horse won't get up on the pedestal.
I just wanted to show off the skill that these two 12 year old kids have and to illustrate what I can do to help you become a better horseman.
Yesterday I worked with "G", getting him to accept the snaffle bit. As you may remember he is having a little trouble with letting folks touch his head. Mostly just at the very top of his head, his poll.
Well with just a little time and understanding he took the bit with out much of a problem. We worked on some flexing and he did pretty darn good.
Later today I'll put a saddle on him and start to work on collection and carrying the double reins. I don't expect much of a problem riding him. We have done that in the pasted when he was here before.
Keep looking for updates.
Oh, almost forgot to mention that "G"'s Mom and Dad stopped by last weekend to see how he was getting a long and Norma got a chance to work with her horse. I think she is happy with his progress.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.