I recently acquired a abused, 7 year old gray Arab gelding. I am working on his health, which is pitiful., but I am concerned about handling him properly. He is rude, pushy, nippy, in general a handful. He panics when my mare is taken away from him. He needs to see a chiropractor or horse massage therapist as he is tender all along the left side of his back and into his hips. He is a challenge !
I need all the help, and advice I can get!
Tracey M. from Rogue River, Oregon
Thanks for the email, I just came back from a trip in your area, it is beautiful there. I hope you enjoyed my website. Your horses are both very pretty, the gelding is lucky you took him in. With all the physical issues it sounds like he had, I am sure his behavior will get better when you help him get over those issues.
The best thing to do with the rude and pushy issue is teach him to back on the lead line and that you have authority over him. In the herd the horse that moves back first looses the game. That is all being pushy is to horses, a herd hierarchy game. So teach him to back when you wiggle the rope side to side. When teaching him this, start out in a soft side to side wiggle while standing in front of him, if he does not back, keep wiggling only now harder and harder until he moves back. As soon as he takes a step in the right direction stop wiggling and let him think for a moment. Then repeat. Soft wiggle and get stronger and stronger until he moves back and then release (stop wiggling). Horses learn on the release of pressure not the actual pressure. Meaning that if you wiggle and he comes forward but you do not stop until he goes back, he will learn that the only way to get you to stop is move back, because that was where the release was. Once he understands to take one step back from a wiggle, ask him to give you 3 steps, then 5 and then all the way out to the end of your lead line.
Now any or every time that he gets rude or pushy, back him out to the end of the lead line and make him stand out there for about 30 seconds. This will teach him to be respectful and patent.
The reason he panics when the mare is taken away is because that is his herd. Does not matter if he is the leader or last man. He is now left alone and feels uncomfortable. The best thing to do is slowly desensitize him to her leaving. Do this every day. Take her out and only go as far away as he can stand, stay there until he is calm and then bring her back. Next day go 10 feet farther. Next day go 10 feet farther than that. And so on and so on until he is fine with her being out of site. Once you get him to this point you have to keep doing it. If you stop taking her away he will go back to being upset and it all starts over again. Another easy answer is get a donkey or goat to stay behind with him so he does not feel left and alone.
Thanks for the question and I hope it helps.