Posted by: Diane | May 9, 2013

Horse training update

Ollie is quickly growing more trusting of me.  I was able to put a rope halter on her last Saturday.  We put it on and took it off three times.

On Monday, I went out and put the halter on her again and this time attached the lead rope.  She backed herself into a corner twice when I tried to get her to lead, but wasn’t totally freaked out.  We ended on a good note and she got some treats.  The hardest part of getting the halter on is that she likes to mouth everything: the halter, my pants, the zipper pull on my jacket…I have to work quickly and smoothly to get it on her, cinched up and tied before she senses pressure and backs away.  Even if she does back away, I just let her go and she stops and moves back towards me again.  She never runs away.

Today I went out in the pasture with the halter and rope, I put the halter on her without much trouble, snapped the lead on and we walked around the pasture for a while.  I’m not going to say that I was leading her, because she tends to like to follow me around anyway, but that’s ok.  She’ll get the idea.  I also spent time working on “back up” because she likes to get in my space.  We also need to work on that while she is following me; sometimes I feel like she’s right on my shoulder. 

After that we took the rope halter off and tried on a flat halter.  No problem there.  A flat halter is the kind that you typically see horses wearing, especially if they wear a halter out to pasture.  It has buckles and metal fittings and the straps are flat.  A rope halter is more for training a horse to respond to pressure and signals.  It is easily made from 1/2″ diameter rope and you can find the directions online.  I even made one once.  It is a length of rope that is knotted in a certain way to make a halter.  When put on the horse, the knots are easily felt by the horse, especially when the lead rope is pulled.  The horse quickly learns to “give” to the pressure and turn or stop or lower his head.  With a flat halter, it’s easier for the horse to pull back and not give.  This also makes the halter more likely to break in a high stress situation.

The man who gave me the horse also gave me the flat halter and a lead rope.  I prefer not to leave a halter on a horse in the pasture as it could easily snag on something and the horse could get caught and panic, causing injury.  So I just put it on her to see how it fit (I don’t think it will fit too much longer) and then I took it off of her.  After that we just kinda hung out together and I rubbed her nose and neck alot.  She also let me rub her chest, her withers and down the side of her belly to right behind her leg.  Since I was on the other side of the fence I couldn’t reach much further than that.  When she had enough socializing and scratching, she turned and started to walk along the fence away from me, I let my hand trail along her side and over her backside.  She didn’t flinch or hurry.  More good progress today!


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