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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Shy little Arab

I have always had a fascination with horses and finally 2 years ago I finally was able to pursue my dreams of riding. This fall I purchased my 1st horse, a beautiful little arab gelding. Czar has had an interesting history. He was originally owned by a gentleman who rode him in endurance trail races. From what I am told they were very closely bonded, but the man died and Czar was placed in the hands of a broker, then sold to a family who didn't really know much about horses. He spent two years living out in a pasture without any shelter and with little human contact. The contact he did get was negative. The new owner's son had some behavioral problems and would go out to the pasture and swing the lead rope in Czar's face, very effectively making him head shy and quite distrustful.

Now, I come into the picture with little very little experience but a whole lot of willingness to learn and do right by my horse. At first he was impossible to catch, but with lots of patience, we have gotton to the point where he will come to me willingly and I am trying to find more ways to gain his trust and love. Some things I am confused about are his head tossing. I find it happens most when he is nervous. I had his teeth checked-they were fine. I switched from a loose ring snaffle to a hackamore ( I was told that his original owner only rode him in a mechanical hack) . This has helped, but when we are out on the trail and he starts getting stressed, the head goes wild. The vet said his back does not seem to be the problem and his feet are fine too, which leads me to believe the behavior is based in fear not pain. I see that you refer to ground games to bond with horses and earn their trust, but I'm not sure what those games are. I don't lunge him because I'm not sure how to properly do this and I don't want to hurt him by doing it incorrectly. Also, sometimes when I am standing next to him quietly he will knock his head into me and kind of fling it up. I tell him" NO", but I am wondering if this is really aggression or is it his way of showing affection????? After I scold him sometimes he rubs his head on me again, but more gently. I don't want him to fear me, just respect me so I try not to get too uptight about this. There is so little information out there on how to really understand horses. So much of it seems to focus on the mechanics of riding. I have always been the type of person who learns better if I know the "whys" of how things work or behave and then the mechanical stuff makes more sense and gets easier. Any input you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,

Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you. With the holidays and all it has been a challenge to keep up with the emails. I am enclosing a list of DVD and video offerings about training horses. These are taped seminars of mine and would show you a lot of what you are trying to do with your new horse. They will be available for delivery in late February. As far as him hitting you with his head, that is not acceptable. Any invasion of your boundries is inappropriate and showed not be allowed. I understsand you are unsure as to how to deal with this. The DVD's and vids address this. Keeping your boundries intact is very important. You also need to respect your horse's boundries as well. This means learning how to communicate properly, how to appropriately 'lead the dance' with your horse and how to have a mutually successful communication. Head tossing can be the result of quite a few things. Arabians are known for 'snaking' and shaking the heads about more than other breeds. But you can still set boundries around this.

Here is a suggestion; make every little movement with your horse a conscious and precise request, if the horse complies this should immediately be followed by a bit of praise (Good Boy). Walking forward (leading), stopping, backing, turning, etc. all these simple moves can be clear and conscious requests that, when complied with, get immediate praise. This sets the horse up as a winner and gets the horse in the habit of doing as you request and then getting praised for trying to comply. A big reward for compliance would be to put the horse away for the day. Horses habituate quickly and setting your horse up with this winning cycle has wonderful results. Keep it simple, easy, fun and say thank you when the horse even tries to do as you are asking. Make every little movement, each and every step a clear and conscious request follow by praise. This bonds the horse to you as its leader, in trust and respect. In my DVD's are games and exercises to do with your horse on ground. It demonstrates appropriate longeing, trailer loading, feet handling, calming a nervous horse, problem solving and more. I am also available to travel to present seminars anywhere. I am in Europe these days as well. let me know if you think there may be interest in your area.

Happy New Year.....Franklin

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