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Nervous mare in round pen and with vet

Hello Franklin,

I have a mare that really is a great horse. She does everything I ask and usually a little more. She is the type of horse that takes little pressure to get her to understand what im asking. But I have started to see that some problems are starting. Like one would be when I put her in the round pen she full out runs for like 10 mins. and I never really push her to run I ask for a canter after she warms up but never right at first. And now as soon as I unsnap the lead rope she takes off. So I am not sure if she needs to be worked more or if she is just acting out. But she is very respectful at all times even when she is running around the round pen I can say Whoa and she will stop and face me everytime. I just dont understnad why she is taking off like she is.

And another problem I had with her is the other day the vet came out and I have a gelding that does not act the best for the vet but he is not dangerous he just does not like shots and acts a little unsure well my mare is usually really great for the vet but this time she saw my gelding acting the way he does and when we went to take her coggins she started acting like him so I lunged her and got her listening again and we tried agian and again and she would not let the vet take the coggins so I put a chain across her nose and back her up everytime she acted up and we still could not get the coggins takin so finally I had to put the chain like a twitch and then we finally got the coggins takin. And now since then she acts like I am going to hurt her and is a little unsure about me now. And when I used the chain in her it was not in a bad manner. I was forceful but not abusive but I think since she is so touchy with pressure anyway I think it was just a little to much for her. What do you think?

Thank you so very much for your thoughts

Hi Christina,

She is getting unwanted habitual behavior. So, to change these you need to change routine a bit. Keep her on a long lead for a while and let her move on the lead. Do not let her off at first. Occasionally, you can, but not always. Heep her guessing about what will happen next. If a horse does the same routene it becomes habit very quickly. They anitcipate things very quickly. Horses are extremely empathytic as well. Also, they pic up emotinal distress or calmness from others around them (unless they are so mature and confident that they are not so influenced by the others around them or that their bond with their human leader is so strong, they look to that human leader for all matters of concern). So, you horse's response mirroring the other horse is not unusual.

Again, they habituate to something really fast (only takes one time). You need to now go back to square one a bit to move through this. Before the vet is there, before he attempts to do anything with your horse, you need to have some play/action with your horse to get your connection/engagement strong. You will need to do this as the vet is there working with other horses, even if he is not to work with yours. Again, changing the pattern/routene. You can introduce needles by using a toothpick to provide a small 'bite' and immediately smoothing over the spot with your hand. This is for in the vein shot (coggins). For muscle shot preparation, 'thump' your horse all over where muscle shots are generally given to get them not so anticipating the bite of the needle. Also, have your vet handle the horse a little himself when he has nothing to do with your horse. This way the animal learns not to anticipate someting bad just because this guy is next to it. He always will smell as he does. The horse will learn not to associate his smell/look/presence with a bite or some such unpleasantness. Good Luck.....

Sincerely, Franklikn

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