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horse behavior: Very Head Shy Horse

Hi, my name is travis. I'm 15 and I recently bought a 6 year old gelding quaterhorse and it is very head shy. It jumps back at every movement once you can catch it. It is a nice ride and you can rope off of him. I'm worried tho because we will use him for hunting and I'm afraid he will spook with all the branches. If you have any ideas please tell me.

Thanks, tman

Hey tman,

Lead the horse normally around the round pen (hopefully you have access to one) or paddock. Stand on his left side and hold lead rope in your left hand, leaving your right hand free. Put your right hand on his neck and keep him leading normally. Gently and gradually move your hand up his neck. At about half way up his neck you take the lead rope shorter in your left hand, just under his chin and begin to move towards his head (tight turning to the right, away from you and into his head space) gently keep turning him in tight circles to the right with your right hand on his neck. Once he relaxes into the sharp right turns (cued very gently), begin again to move your right hand up his neck closer and closer to his ears. If he freaks at all back the right hand off until he settles into turning again. Begin again to gently ease that right hand higher and higher until you are actually touching his poll, face and/or his left or right ear. Keep moving and when he relaxes to your touch, lead him straight off and no more circle to the right. At some point, when he allows your hand to rest at his ear while moving forward, ask for a stop (HO!) with your hand still touching the poll or ear. If he balks or shows more fear, begin the process again until you feel him let go of his fear. Horses can really only focus on one thing at a time. Keeping him moving while you begin to handle his ear, head, face, etc., keeps his mind on movment and not on your toucing him. By the time you get your hand to his ear and keep him moving, he will beign to acclimate to being touched there. He was obviously abused, eared down or some such abusive and outdated way of handling him. You perhaps can rehab this horse yourself if you are patient, kind, skillful and steady.

This process takes time and skill. It has an element of risk. Do not attempt this if you do not understand all of my descriptions and the process. You are young and without much experience as yet. BE CAREFUL. Never blame the horse for anything. They are either fearful or trusting. Never take anything a horse does personally. It is just a horse and does not do things to you personally (bad horse, willful, stubborn or anything like that). Any resistance is fear pure and simple. If you remember this you will generally respond with compassion and kindness. Always respond this way, no matter what. Horses do not understand punishment and it DOES NOT WORK & IS ABUSE. You have only two seconds to repremand a horse other wise they do not know why they are being repremanded. Repremands are different, more appropriate and more immediate than punishment. Never punish a horse, they are too innocent for punishment and do not deserve it or understand it.

Please let me know how it all goes.

Good Luck, Sincerely, Franklin

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