Any tips on dealing with an in your face horse?

Annagain

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Charlie is driving me mad. He's always been quite busy and I've always tried to ignore him / push him away calmly but he seems to be taking things to the next level, almost deliberately to get a reaction. If he's in the right mood he's perfect, I can pull his mane without tying him up, I clipped him with the leadrope over my shoulder. If he's bored, however, he's in my face, rubbing his head on me, stealing my gloves from my pockets and hitting me across the face with them, chewing leadropes, picking things up and throwing them (sometimes at me, sometimes just anywhere), grabbing the strings of my hoodies and refusing to let go, grabbing the noseband of his bridle when I'm trying to tack up. If I wasn't trying to do things with him, it would be hilarious but it's seriously annoying when I am. He has a haynet 99% of the time which keeps him occupied for longer but once he's bored of eating he starts and if I just want to tie him up quickly to pick his feet out or brush him before he goes into his stable so he doesn't have anything, he's a nightmare. I've tried tying him up short and he just unties himself. Last time the farrier was here, I left him for less than a minute to get the brush as he'd pooed. He undid the farrier's belt. He's so quick with it, he's got stuff before you notice. He gets one treat when I catch him in the field (at non-coming in time or in the summer) but otherwise gets nothing from the hand. He doesn't do it to horses in the field but if he's tied near one on the yard / at the trailer or there's one tied outside his stable, he's nagging at them too.

Occasionally I've had to speak to him quite sharply to get him to let go of stuff and he's then got a bit panicky (he's a typical Irish horse and was a bit headshy when he arrived) and not wanted to let me near him again. He doesn't try to bite but has caught a bit of skin now and again and is then beside himself expecting a beating. I dread to think what he'd be like if I actually tapped him on the nose. A well timed block with the elbow can work in the moment but he doesn't seem to learn from it, he's back 30 seconds later doing the same thing. He shoved me in the back the other day as I was closing the gate and it's sore at the minute (I get spasms on and off and it was a bad day) so I did shout at him a bit. He looked shocked and ran to the end of his lead rope but wasn't as terrified as he has been in the past. He was soon grabbing my coat again though so it didn't have much long term effect either. He's rising 8 now. Will he ever grow out of it? Is there anything I can do? Do I need to stop ignoring and actively doing something to show my displeasure but in a way that's not going to make him headshy again? What is that something? He's not a nasty horse at all, it's just all a bit of a game.
 

Annagain

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Ground work lots of it.

Look up things like the TRT method.
We do that - in fact I think starting that is when it started escalating. Almost like he's got it a bit muddled in his head and thinks that's the behaviour I'm rewarding rather than when he stops. Maybe my timing's wrong?
 

milliepops

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he sounds like he needs to learn a dose of patience. the mouthyness may just be a symptom and solve itself if you can teach him to just *exist* without needing crutches. whats he like if you tie him up in a way that he can't untie himself? He sounds a bit like a baby horse that never learned to just accept a situation, i'm thinking of the little tantrum my yearling had when she was tied up for the first time, after a little while she figured that wriggling about didn't achieve anything so she just stands quietly and waits. It sounds like that would be a starting point for him.

Later on you could possibly use clicker training to stop the mouthy stuff, same way you can teach a horse to face away when you have treats instead of just mugging you. but this seems like a bigger issue than just putting stuff in his mouth?
 

Polos Mum

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I would start with teaching him to tie up and wait. find a way of tying that he can't undo even if not a perfect BHS quick release knot this is a means to an end so something he can't get undone. Even a piece of baler twine fully tied up or a trailer tie if you have one to hand.
Not too short to start because he might panic if it's the first time he's really tied.
Then short enough to have his teeth out of the way while you do feet / groom etc.

My yearling was very mouthy and I had a groundwork instructor (mostly leading practice) she taught me to wave my hand around - sort of flapping - not with the intention of touching him. The theory was they had to move away from you to learn, if you push them away - you are moving and they think it's a game. Something along the lines of in horse phycology the winner is still and the loser moves around them.

Mine was trying to nibble as I undid the stable bolt to get him out - so I hold my other hand over the top and flap / wave. it's really working and you can see him come in to nibble then back off and now less attempts to nibble.
 

Annagain

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he sounds like he needs to learn a dose of patience. the mouthyness may just be a symptom and solve itself if you can teach him to just *exist* without needing crutches. whats he like if you tie him up in a way that he can't untie himself? He sounds a bit like a baby horse that never learned to just accept a situation, i'm thinking of the little tantrum my yearling had when she was tied up for the first time, after a little while she figured that wriggling about didn't achieve anything so she just stands quietly and waits. It sounds like that would be a starting point for him.

Later on you could possibly use clicker training to stop the mouthy stuff, same way you can teach a horse to face away when you have treats instead of just mugging you. but this seems like a bigger issue than just putting stuff in his mouth?
We've had broken tie string, broken leadropes and even a broken headcollar although he is much better at standing on his own now and hasn't broken anything for months. I've started using one of those bungy tie things but got the velcro one as I was worried he'd do some serious damage with a solid one. He's worked out how to fidget and rub against it until the velcro opens. I bought one of those pully type tie rings thinking if he didn't feel the pull he wouldn't fight - and he didn't but he learned if he jerked and fidgeted enough he could pull it all the way through, even a really long rope. Leave him with nothing and he's ok, the problem is when he's got something to distract him, even me, he'll use it. He's almost too clever for his own good.
 

spotty_pony

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Teaching him to go back on command is always my first of call. They need to
learn there is a certain space they are allowed in and they mustn’t invade your personal space. If he takes a step forward into your space, send him back and make him go back - the trick is for you to never give in and move away else he will see this as it is ok for him to move you, and not the other way round.
 

vhf

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I had one I used to tie up with the clip on the bale string and the knot under his chin, otherwise he was loose so fast it was ridiculous. it was a pain, and I always fretted it could be dangerous, but needs must. A panic release clip at the other end instead of a knot might work to break the habit? Mine was a pain when he was bored, much better when in hard work. Current mare has also become a lot less annoying as she's been given other stuff to think about. I have decided to consider it a sign of intelligence!
 

Polos Mum

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Maybe break it down and work on one thing at a time - which is most annoying - not standing tied up, biting or chucking stuff or something else.

Biting objects you could try bite stop (Or I had joy with hairspray on rugs that were being chewed by field mates)
Biting you - I think I would be tempted to over react a few times - not touch him but shout or jump to startle him into realising it's not a fun reaction from you. Ignoring is hard if he's actually pulling on your clothes !

tying up - I'd go back to foal training and see what's recommended. I've seen a lunge line through a tie up ring then person on the end far away so they can't pull away or break stuff / themselves but they can't get near you and in short sessions you teach them just to stand. I'm sure there;s loads of books on teaching foals to tie up.
 

Slightlyconfused

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We do that - in fact I think starting that is when it started escalating. Almost like he's got it a bit muddled in his head and thinks that's the behaviour I'm rewarding rather than when he stops. Maybe my timing's wrong?

Maybe, it shouldn't make a behaviour escalate.

He needs to learn a 'settle' to just stand on the end of the rope and be still.

How do you do it?

Can you find a ground work instructor in your area?
 

J&S

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I agree with spotty_pony, the first things I teach a young, or new, horse is to Go Back and then Move Over. They should move away with just a tiny hand movement, not even any need to speak once they get the drift.
 

Annagain

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Teaching him to go back on command is always my first of call. They need to
learn there is a certain space they are allowed in and they mustn’t invade your personal space. If he takes a step forward into your space, send him back and make him go back - the trick is for you to never give in and move away else he will see this as it is ok for him to move you, and not the other way round.
He's quite good at not coming into my space, the issue is more when I need to into his - so brushing his face, tacking up or doing up the chest of his rugs etc. e.g. the glove out of the pocket and across my face was when I was trying to get a big clump of mud out of his forlelock. I'd taken my glove off to get more control with my fingers. He must have seen me put it in my pocket and decided he wanted it. The farrier was just too tempting I think with his backside in C's face.
 

Annagain

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Maybe, it shouldn't make a behaviour escalate.

He needs to learn a 'settle' to just stand on the end of the rope and be still.

How do you do it?

Can you find a ground work instructor in your area?
It's hard to explain but that's what I try to do - so move him around me while he's fussy and when he's calm let him stand and give him a pat or a scratch. I don't let him approach me but I approach him when I feel he's stopped looking for me. He's pretty good in the school but it doesn't seem to translate to when he's tied up. He doesn't do it if he's loose in the stable but I can't do everything in the stable all the time.
 

Slightlyconfused

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It's hard to explain but that's what I try to do - so move him around me while he's fussy and when he's calm let him stand and give him a pat or a scratch. I don't let him approach me but I approach him when I feel he's stopped looking for me. He's pretty good in the school but it doesn't seem to translate to when he's tied up. He doesn't do it if he's loose in the stable but I can't do everything in the stable all the time.

You need to do it on the yard, round fields etc. So it becomes normal everywhere not just the school.

When he is calm don't pat him. Just let him rest and chill. He needs to learn to do it without a reward of you touching. Once settled just stay still and let him be quiet. As soon as he starts to move again move his feet and then ask for a stand and again ignore him if he does.


Mine likes to be close to me but i can put him into a settle and he will stand and nod and then i will ask for something else.


The quiet is to teach them they are ok just standing and do not need their humans attention on them.
 

milliepops

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The quiet is to teach them they are ok just standing and do not need their humans attention on them.
exactly this.
I try and do this with mine so e.g. they don't need cwtching to stand for farrier etc. it's tempting to scratch and soothe them when they tend to being unsettled but you're really just replacing the mouthing crutch with a contact crutch. Sooner or later they have to learn to just *deal* quietly.
 

Alibear

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Just a suggesteion. Put headcollar on, long lead rope and put him where ever it is that you need him to behave out of the stable. You stand out of reach but you have the lead rope so he's under control but have slack in the lead rope so he's not held/restrained. Every time he goes to move or nibble something or do any behaviour you don't want, then put him back. Start with a reward for a very short time stood away from you and behaving (so a pat or a scratch etc) then build up the length of time he has to behave before you reward him. You might have to team up with a friend so someone holds him and is in charge and someone else moves around him but he's not allowed to interfere with them. To start with it's best for you to stand still and not fidget either, some pick up on that and join in. Eventually, you want him to stand still and ignore whatever you are up to, but that's a step further. It sounds tiresome but start with a 5 min daily session and they usually pick it up quite quickly.
 

silv

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Yes, me too. I am sorry I am no help here as I am too busy laughing at just what a character he seems to be.
Sounds just like my horse, probably horrify folk on here by saying I find it funny, but he does tie up fine and I do the knot so he cannot undo it, in his last home he used to let himself out of his stable then go around and let all the others out too. I always say that if he was a child I would hate him as he would be a nightmare. He is a total gentleman but always needs to be fiddling with things.
 

splashgirl45

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i would suggest looking at steve young horsemanship on facebook, i watched one of his videos which came up after i was watching something else and found it very interesting and i now keep popping back to watch as he deals with lots of different problems..
 

PurBee

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My gelding was/is a bit similar. All up to around age 8. Now 9.5 he’s much more mature. Although yours sounds even more into ‘playing’ with stuff, mouthing than mine - mine still got a bit much.
Mine isnt headshy so a well time flick of my finger on his lip when he went for my coat strings to play with, was enough of a deterrent to know he didnt have full freedom to mess with me. It turned into a game of ‘can i get your coat strings before you flick my lip?’ for a while….but he soon got the message backed up with a stern “no!’
Occassionally he can still be at times like it but much less. I didnt do anything overt except have a serious word while trimming him and him biting my bum. I used my ’stern’ voice. He does listen. I threatened the meat man….he complied instantly with my request!
It’s generally me applying a sudden firmness to my handling/voice, and he gets im being serious.

Mostly he grew out of it eventually. I wondered if he ever would. His personality is a really curious horse, fearless too. loves to approach strangers etc to suss them out. Approached a bucket fire i had going to dispel midges using smoke!
He’s smart whenever he’s in a pickle though…caught escaping fencing found himself between ditches…he’ll stand and wait for me, than fight/flight the situation.
Maybe its a really active brain that causes the fidgeters? He’s lovely to train, excellent memory for commands weeks after use. Have to train intensely otherwise he gets bored.

I used to give a hay net when younger, but didnt want that to be a crutch, wanted the freedom to do what needed doing without having to NEED a haynet, as sometimes there cant be one. He became fidgety when haynets stopped…but with firmness of voice, he complied eventually. Now i trim him without him needing a net or being tied.
One really good method i stumbled on was to massage him a bit…get on with trimming or grooming…then massage muscles a bit more…just 30 seconds….he’d relax and like it. I could bring his energy ‘down’ to relax via massage. Im not an expert…just firmish slow finger runs over major muscle groups..he decided that felt nice…stood still. Calm quiet voice”good boy’….yawn….then i do what i need to for a bit….then a bit more massage, another muscle…it just happened to get him very at ease in the moment, being loose, and me moving about him doing a trim or groom…the fidgets got less the deeper relaxed he was…to the point of dozing.

Sometimes if he literally put his face into mine, i whistle in his nostril….he likes it. Becomes like a still statue feeling the vibration flutter up his nose lol! Daft b*gger… 😂
 

Lois Lame

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Sorry, I only just saw your question now Auslander. I was doing a search and found this thread.

Placing a leadrope on our person like that can cause a nasty accident if the horse moves in such a way that we get caught up.
 

Kaylum

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I was watching a fb video of these people who were hand rearing a foal. They had it in the house drinking its milk pushing everyone around and laying on the floor and thought that foal.is going to be as pushy as hell when it's older. I don't know why people do it.

Yes have a look at Steve Young Facebook. He helps owners understand horses.
 
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Gingerwitch

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Oh dear, it does sound as if you have a character on your hands! I have to admit I had a bit of a chuckle at his
My tb is like this, I however manage it, have taught him numerous tricks, but all he actually wants is fuss and attention. I won't put up with causing issues for the farrier or vets, j have brought him one of those bottle toys and a jolly ball.
 
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