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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As of late I have "inherited" ,of sorts, two horses. They technically belong to the neighbors and I have been around them for a year now. I've gotten to know them very well and love them to pieces. All if the responsibilities have fallen on me, and I have taken them on gladly. I exercise the older mare, twelve year old daisy, frequently. She lunges well and I ride her daily when possible. The yearling is a bit different. She had hardly any contact with people before we got hold of her. (This was before the neighbors bought her for me) she was ind when we got her and us almost two now. She takes a saddle but she is very ear shy. I've been around horses since I was six but I still don't know everything!!! I need tips on what ground work I should start with her. I also need some tips to get her to stop nipping when I lead her. Any info on training young horses is much appreciated. I have a starting idea on what to do but need more info. Thank you all in advance!
 

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Shy around the ears can be anything. Make sure there isn't something wrong with her ears such as mites or an infection. If not.... Just touch her ears very, very quickly. Rub your hand up her nose and over her ears very fast. By the time she reacts, the contact is already gone. As she settles down to it, go slower and slower. Only do it a few times each work period. I had a horse that was head shy once and tried an old trick I'd heard years before that. Tie a rope to the halter take it between the front legs, up over her back and back between the front legs and tie to the halter again. When she throws her head, it puts pressure between the legs, over the back on her head all at the same time. My gelding quit pulling away after 45 or 6 times of doing this and I never had a problem with him after. I would only use this as a last resort for this young horse tho....

To stop the nipping is harder. Can you tell when she's going to do it? If you can see it coming, get your elbow up there to block her. She'll really slam into your elbow the first couple times, but remember that in HER mind...it will be her fault. If that isn't working, do NOT be afraid to smack her in the mouth when she actually bites. If you do it instantly (and I do mean instantly...not a second or 2 later you do not have time to say ow and rub it) she'll associate being smacked only with that particular behaviour....and I also don't mean a gentle tap, I mean smack her (you really can't hurt her if you only do it once). If you are in the habit of handfeeding treats....stop until you can get the nipping under control.
 

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If she belonged to someone else before the neighbors she could have been "eared down" at some time, meaning someone grabbed her ear and used it to get her head down to halter her, worm her, etc. I had an Arab that was that way, with him if I ran my hand up his neck, very slowly getting closer and closer to his ear if he started to react I would just stop with my hand in place and wait until he relaxed, as soon as he did I took my hand away, waited a minute and started again. Eventually he learned that if he just relaxed I would stop touching him. For the biting, if you can tell when it is coming either jerk on her rope or smack her in the mouth. She needs to learn that biting hurts her. If she were to bite at another horse she would probably end up being bitten back or with a hoof in her mouth, so if you get onto her hard she will learn that you are not a play mate.
 

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The yearling should not be saddled. She's way too young and sounds like she needs a ton of ground work and desensitizing prior to any under saddle training. She should be worked with regularly on just being around people, haltering, rubbing her all over, get her used to her ears being touched, leading, picking up her feet, being brushed...just basics and once she's good with that then you can move onto simple ground work. Getting used to tarps, sacks, walking over things, giving to pressue, flexing, etc.

She also needs time to just be a horse. At only a year, I don't expect much from babies. I don't start mine under saddle until they're 3 or 4. For the first couple years I like to keep them out with the herd mostly, letting them grow and just be a horse, it's good for them and teaches them a lot. Of course they get attention and learn the basics, but the majority of that time, they're growing up.

For the nipping, as soon as she goes to nip you, she should get a smack. Usually on the neck or shoulder is good. Don't smack her face, but she needs to know that there are consequences for biting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Heather is two, just for clarification. :) I've heard a lot about when and how to place a saddle. To be clear we are not riding her. She is simply having a saddle, that fits, placed gently on her back! I really appreciate your input and would like to ask you a question. How should I start ground work? What specifics and what methods do u use? Like I said my trainer left me hanging and I have limited knowledge about training. I can ride with the best if them. But training a two year old is my blurry point.
 

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google "lunging for respect". It's a great method and gets your horse working well with you. Start lunging just like you do the older horse. Set up an obstacle course and lead or lunge her over it. How's she doing on the nipping? I agree with you on the saddle. You CAN start a 2 yr old, but just need to be very, very slow about it.
 

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If you don't have anyone to give you tips I would suggest maybe picking up some training videos from some reputable trainers. It's not as good as having a trainer to look over you shoulder but it would at least give you some ideas for groundwork and training. Sorry to hear your trainer left you hanging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
He had to move. After he moved back he was too busy for horses. He's giving up horses almost completely...thank you so much for the help.
 

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I worked with a lot of young thoroughbred race horses for a couple of year. If you had a good "ranch" horse, we use to pony a lot and talk to them a lot. A calm voice and a calm body language goes a long way with most young horses.
I agree with the statements on the biting. She has to respect you and know that is not ok. My Phire had one touchy ear when I got her. Just be gentle and a lot of patience.
I would suggest exposing her to as much as possible. Phire is 3 almost 4 and I take her everywhere. Up north, rodeos, around cattle, around dogs, trail riding, everything and anything. Needless to say she doesn't scare at hardly anything now (except puddles but we are working on that). The best advice I would give is to be consistent though. If you start rewarding something, keep rewarding so she'll understand. ( of course the reward can change ie: from treats to just praise)
 

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Some basic tips are
Don't ever tie your lead to your saddle horn as tempting as it is.
I usually pony in a large circle. I click or say the command I want to use. I usually have my lead rope under my horses neck ( not through my reigns) so his chest takes most of the pressure and I'm not breaking an arm if the youngster doesn't follow immediately.
If they aren't moving forward either have a "chaser" who can come up behind on another horse and encourage them to move or have a stick you and gently tap the hind quarters with. As you go, if you have the stick rub him with it to reassure and desensitize. I usually have a chaser so I just reach over and pay and touch.
If they are running out a head, tighten your circle up.
Start slow. Walk. When it's consistent move to a jog.
We do this with saddles and without. We even do it with riders so they get use to what their cues are going to be. We start with a lead rope and eventually transition to bit and reign.
 

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For ground manners we work them in a round pen lunging them. After a little work they are more willing to follow you and obey it takes alot of patients. Take one thing at a time
 

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I don't know much about training horses although I have been around then a lot. I used to be a hot walker for race horses ( that Job didn't last long after I seen what they do) there was one horse that EVERYONE was told to avoid cause he was a biter and not nice easy nip,, the I'll do as much damage to you kind of bit. After having to walk the horses around this one all the time and him lunging toward you to get you, I balled up my fist and as soon as he tried I popped him as hard and fast as I could in the mouth. He never gave me ANY guff after that. The owner actually asked me what I did, I was afraid to tell him, but he wanted to know cause I was the only one he wouldn't try and bite. So I told him. Got a raise and asked to do more work around him, 2 days later I quit.. that's another story.....
 

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As far as being goofy around the ears, I agree with the above poster about her possibly have been eared down. Just work slowly with her, petting her other places, and slowly work your way to her ears, slow and gentle. It will take a while, but she will come around if you take your time and are gentle towards her.

As for the nipping, I have found that slapping a horse on the shoulder does little to no good for stopping nipping, and if you slap them on the nose, your at risk of making them head shy. I have 2 methods to stop biting that have worked fairly well for me. The first one is to carry a spray bottle of water on your hip, and if she reaches over to bite you, spray her right in the face with the water. You have to be watching, And you have to do it immeadietely after she bites at you, or right before.
The other is when they bite you or at you, put them into a lunge, right then right there, lunge them both ways 2-3 times, and then go on, if she does it again, do the same thing. I had a gelding that was so bad to bite when you were leading him, and I did this with him. It took forever to get anywhere with him for a while, but after just a few days, he got the idea. Both of these have worked for me on different occasions with different horses, and neither one will make them head shy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you guys so much! We're moving soon and we can't afford to tralier two horses, six goats(or more with babies coming), thirty odd chickens, four dogs, two cats, two rabbits and more. Heather, the biter, is going to a new home. The people are nice and we know the family well enough so she should have a good life. Only problem is they have about as much training experiance as I do. They know what they are getting into though! Bye and thanks again!
 
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