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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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First Horse Help!

Hi Franklin,

I have been reading with great interest the articles on your website and plan to implement them first thing in the morning (albeit slowly!).

I just got my very first horse (2 of them, actually). One is a 20-year old QH (Sal) who is just the sweetest thing. She makes it so easy to love on her. She's a been there done that girl, which is why I got her.

The 2nd mare, a 14-year old TWH (Stormy) is blind in one eye. This concerned me until I rode her on several occasions. It didn't seem to phase her a bit. She is very good-natured as well.

I seem to be having 2 problems.

1. I introduced them slowly over a period of 5 days. Now that they're out together, Stormy will make attempts to befriend Sal, but Sal will have none of it. She'll pin her ears back and make a head nudge toward Stormy. If Sal is just standing near the entrance to the barn when I need to walk Stormy past to get to her stall, she just seems very antsy. When I cross-tie her, I make sure that she is positioned so she can see Sal with her good eye. She fidgets around when I'm trying to groom her before I put her up for the night and she's becoming a real pain. Is there any chance these two will become friends, or will Stormy always be wary of Sal?

2. At first, I seemed to be Stormy's only friend. She would come up to me in the pasture as if to say, "Oh thank God you're here! Sal has been pushing me around all day!" Now, she walks away from me. I have to coax her with grain or a treat. I always greet her first and feed her first in the stall. I thought this would send her a signal that I am on her side. I know I have to do more than that, but what can I do on a daily basis that will slowly gain her trust? At this point, I'm afraid to groom her, let alone ride her. Today, I put a bridle and saddle on her and led her around a bit, then took it off, just to get her comfortable with the new surroundings and "procedures." I just want this to work out so badly! I have waited to own horses since I was a little girl.

Any advice you can give would be GREATLY appreciated!!


HI Carrie,

I have never been a fan of cross-ties as I have seen too many very serious problems with horses being tied in such a way. I know they are 'traditional' and are used because of narrow isle-ways in barns. But, many horses never really feel comfortable not being able to turn their heads or being restrained in such a way. Partly because they are never properly trained for this sort of restraint. Consider training your horse to stand quietly while being groomed and saddled without restraint. Imagine that, no restraint and the horse standing quietly because that is how it is. This is easy and very worth while. You may find the horse stops fidgiting when being groomed, settles down and enjoys the experience. Make certain your grooming is not too vigorous or your brushes too stiff, etc. This will make the horse fidgit as well. Grooming should be a soothing, bonding and positive experience for you both. It is up to you to make it that way. Over time the horse will strengthen their bond. This is generally the case and can take as long as it will take......

Your realtionship with any horse is formed first and foremost on the ground leading and guiding the movement of the horse. One a daily basis, being able to ask for movement (leading forward, backing, changing directions, lungeing, ground driving, loading, sending the horse in front of you and bringing it back and more), receive and get some effort by the horse to comply and then immediately rewarding the horse with a break from the pressure of the request and a "Good Boy" sets up a winning cycle for the horse and begins to get it in the habit of compliance and trust (and respect). I have written extensively on this topic and there is a ton of information free for you in the archives of my Help Center. You need education about the nature of horses. Please consider the purchase of a training dvd or two to give you the knowledge you need in an efficient and cost effective way. There are many good ones found in the backs of all horse magazines. I have several in my shopping corral that would prove very helpful to you. No matter whose you get, please get them. They will really put you on the fast track to success with your horses. Get the education you need now. Why delay and miss opportunities with your horses? Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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