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Franklin Levinson's

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Stubborn Gelding.

Hi there.

I bought a 4 year old paint gelding last year. When I purchase him he was broke, easy to ride and gentle. I'm kind of just getting back into riding and had horses growing up but its been a few years since I have been around them again. When I saw Casey (my gelding) it was an instant bond. The lady that had him gave me lessons on how she was training him for an hour so I would have a idea how to work with him. I thought that would work out great. When getting him to my place, it was pretty much winter and we had gotten freezing rain. I didn't want to ride him for the fact I could barely walk on the ground. So spring time comes and he started to refuse the bit. When we did get him to accept the bit he would start to act in weird ways like pawing the ground, chewing on the bit, throwing his head around and so on. Last time we tried riding him he ended up kicking my dad with his front leg while we were trying to take the bridle off. Now this winter I have a different problem with him and that's not even being able to get into the pen with him. If I go into his pen he'll start running and bucking and kicking. I'm worried he's going to connect on of these times. Anytime I try to pet him or touch him he try's to bite. He has never acted this way in the year I have had him and I haven't change the way I act around him. I have never hit him. He was a little head shy when I did get him. So I'm kind of lost on what to do with him, I'm almost to the point of wanting to sell him for the fact I can't ride him, But I have grown so attached to him that I can't. Where I live there aren't any trainers around. I'm kind of in the middle of nowhere. Its a lot to take him anywhere. The closet town is 8 hours away. I do have someone going to train him in April but I can't go all winter not being able to go into his pen. I hope you could suggest something that might help me out. Thank you for your time.

Hi Katie,

   Here is a really good way to get what you need (EDUCATION about horses and their training), purchase one or two training DVD's. They are found in the backs of all horse magazines. I have several in my shopping corral. You are spending good money on your horse in maintenance, equipment and such. However, the best money you will spend is for your own education. It will save you tons of money in the long run, and time and wasted effort as well. If you are going to have someone train him in April, you need to get trained along with the horse so you understand and can replicate the process yourself. It will do you and the horse little good for him to come back all trained and for you not to understand the appropriate steps to successful communication with him. The horse is simply afraid because no good leader is around. A good leader for a horse is someone who really understands horses and can interact successfully with them. You need to become this. It happens through education, coupled with experiece over time. Your hrose is not bad. He is fending for himself as no one else is around who can interact with him in such a way as to make him feel secure that a leader is present. It is not domination, but rather leadership, good appropriate and compassionate leadership.

A few basic principles are to learn not to crowd the horse, but always leave some direction open so he feels he can get away if need be. Your father probably crowded the horse by standing nearly in front of him when taking off that bridle and that is why he got struck. Appropriate positioning of your body when with the horse is extremely important as the horse is very claustrophic. Asking the horse to yield a few steps away from you and getting what you request is very important. Its called setting boundries and develops trust and respect with horses. Not scaring him so he wants to run away. Just enough pressure that he backs a step or two. If he complies he should get an immediate break from the pressure of the request, a very brief rest (20-30 seconds) and a Good Boy. Trying to learn horsemanship by reading about it has some value. But it is like trying to learn ballroom dancing from a book. You need to SEE the process to really get it. This is why I suggest several training DVD's, mine or someone elses, it doesn't matter. It would really up your level of horsemanship immediately upon viewing it. Be conscious always when with your horse. Don't be daydreaming. Your horse is always very present with anyone with it and consciously noticing everything. You need to be that with the horse. How you angle your body, where you are looking, your attitude, breathing, heart rate, confidence level....all these things and more your horse knows all the time. He is looking to be connected to the leader. If you do not understand how to be that, you will not be connected appropriately with him.

To go into his pen, try carrying a wand or leadrope in your hand. To activiate it simply raise your hand that is holding the item and shake it, but only if need be to fend him off. As soon as he backs a step, lower your hand and say Good Boy. Repeat this a lot until he easily backs and/or moves around you in a small circle.

Offer lots of breaks and total removal of pressure when he even tries to do as requested. This is a basic principle of all training (the application and release of pressure). Horse learn when the pressure of the request is released, not form the pressure itself. That is how they know they have tried to do as you have requested. If he runs around, jumps and bucks when you first go in to his paddock, do nothing. Its not a big deal. Just keep him away from you by activitating the wand or leadrope. He will stop running around eventually, I promise. So long as you can keep him from running at you, you will be fine. Once he stops moving, offer a bit or praise and let him stand quietly for a few minutes. Then activate the wand or leadrope and send him off to moving around you. If he complies for a circle or even a few steps, lower the aid and say HO and you stop moving totally. He will stop. Offer a rest and a little praise. This is how you begin to develop a winning cycle with your horse. A winning cycle is you appropriately asking for something (a little movement), he tries to comply and immdiately gets a rewaard of the release of the pressure of the request, a brief rest and a bit of praise. This make the horse want to continue trying to do as you are requesting.

Horses are never bad. They are merely fearful. Without a good leader around they get frustrated and more fearful as they attempt to fend for themselves. This is what your horse seems to be doing. I hear of many horses that are great when first acquired and begin to slip into problems over a brief period of time. This is because of inappropriate, unskilled handling by someone who knows little of horses. It is like someone who is a great ballroom dancer (a horse) and is forced to dance with someone who doesn't know anything about ballroom dancing (a human) and that unskilled partner is stepping on toes and kicking shins. The good dancer begins to resist dancing after only a little time dancing with an unskilled partner. It is the same thing. It is never about the horse actually. It is always about the attitude, knowledge and skill of the human. Get EDUCATED. That will put you and your horse on the fast track to success.Get yourself a DVD or two and then watch it a fwe times. You will be safer, happier and your horse will love you, trust you and respect you quicker. Your horse is not "stubborn" or being bad in any way. That is an incorrect and inappropriate judgement. It is afraid and trying to take care of itself as nobody is interacting with him appropriately. Do not blame your horse. Take responsibility and get EDUCATED and do it now. Keep in touch.

Sincerely, Franklin

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