Essentials for a safe mannerly horse?

oldie48

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Thinking specifically of ground manners, I feel there's a number of absolute basics to ensure you have a safe horse eg tie up and stand, lead and turn out politely, load and unload when asked, be caught, pick up feet when asked and stand nicely to be tacked up and untacked. I'm sure there's lots more I haven't thought of but I'm often surprised at what some people will put up with. I'm not bothered if a horse needs to be sedated to have his teeth done or clipped and I'm also happy to work round a horse who doesn't like his mane and tail pulled.. Having a sick horse ATM I also appreciate the fact that he will allow me to syringe his medicines down his throat, he doesn't like it and I don't blame him, I'm sure they taste vile but he puts up with it. I know lots of people who struggle to get wormer down their horses and I just don't know how they would cope with a horse that needed 4 syringes of meds a day.What else do you feel is essential?
 

FlyingCircus

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If I say do something, he atleast tries to cooperate.
I'm never going to ask anything of him that is outside of his capabilities or is going to be of detriment to him...So he has to realise that and trust me. There's a good reason for me trying to get him to do things! Eg, standing still to be mounted, not galloping off as soon as I undo headcollar, not trying to sod off when he gets spooked, etc.
 

TickyTavey

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Probably rare to get the full gamete, there's usually a pay-off somewhere! However, I think it's essential for horse not to invade your space. Can't abide bargy, treat hungry horses. I like them to stay at arms' length when leading, back up as I go into the stable and move themselves over when working around them without having to be constantly asked. I reckon if they are respectful of your space then most of the other ground manners stuff falls into place. Standing still for mounting is another essential imo.
 

applecart14

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My horse will stand still without pawing the ground - one of my bug bears. He doesn't kick the **** out of the stable door, he doesn't attack you from over the door with ears flat back, he is good to lead, and will stand tied up for hours on the back of the trailer.He will also move backwards if you take a haynet into his stable just by saying back and gesturing with your hand near his point of shoulder. In fact to me he is absolutely perfect in everyway.

Last week he was in the sandpit with a strand of electric between him and a in season mare. THe mare was squealing at him and spinning and squirting at him. She was launching herself at him over the fence and he just stood with his ears forward nose outstretched trying to say 'hello' and wondering why she was being such a cow! His generosity and kindness of heart actually made me well up and I thought to myself "how lucky are you to have such a lovely kind horse".



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poiuytrewq

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Applecart he's also beautiful!

I think being caught easily is a major thing. Coming to call is lovely but I can handle walking to a horse as long as it doesn't disappear into the distance once I get there!
 

Meowy Catkin

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I'm unsteady on my feet due to neurological issues. Due to this I have trained my horses to lead as close by me as possible, generally touching. I often use them to steady myself and have one hand on their neck by the withers whenever the footing is dodgy. They've saved me from falling over loads of times. If I do go splat, they are very good at waiting for me to get up again, or even for me to use them to help me get up - those long manes are invaluable.

It wasn't until a horsey acquaintance came over that I realised just how much their training had been adapted from the norm. The acquaintance was very much in the same vein as TickyTavey and wanted them at arms length. Cue three very confused horses.
 

LHIS

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Standing still at the mounting block and not walking off until asked. Knowing the 'back' command for distributing feed or hay nets. I don't mind a horse being affectionate but they need to do it on invitation only. When being led not barging me about, I have one I handle regularly who needs some work on this - gets too close and if he spooked I'd be flattened - it's a work in progress. Not doing one when a head collar is taken off or stable door opened - my gelding just stands there like a dobbin waiting to be invited to move. Ridden - having the right temperament to build a bond of trust.
Generally I've learnt that if you can control their feet you've got them, both on the ground and ridden.
My gelding on the whole is fabulous and ticks all of these boxes, but he does need reminding on occasion because he will 'debate' things with me from time to time. Once he's matured (he's 5 currently) I'm confident he'll be an absolute poppet.
 

Damnation

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I agree with the space thing, I cannot stand bargey in your face horses.

My girl is very very good on the ground.

In hand if I stop she stops if I walk backwards so does she, if I look at her hindquaters and say "over" and moves her bum. She is polite to turn out and bring in, knowing she has to turn around in the gateway, let me close the gate, then take her headcollar off, if I say "wait" (I have a bad back and I am 5 ft 3, she is 16.2hh I can't walk as fast as her! Also very handy in a muddy field!) she will stop and wait for me to get to just infront of her then walk again. If I walk to her stable door she backs up.

I can muck out around her whilst she is eating, asking her to swing her bum one way or the other to muck out the bit she is stoot on with not so much as a tail swish as she knows I won't take her food away!

She loads, unloads, good to clip, shoe and tie up, never kicks, or bites.

I trust her so much that my friends 8 year old Autistic daughter can come up and I am happy to let her groom, go into the stable with and lead Buffy. (Obviously never unattended)

OH has however taught her how to guess which hand a mint is in! 90 % Accuracy rate! :D

ETA: She is also incredible to catch, comes to call in winter. I cannot stand ill mannered horses, they are too big to be walking all over you!
 
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Goldenstar

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I hate horses that are bad to catch .
I am not that bothered if they are sharp to get on I used to very sharp project types my horses of a lifetime could only ne mounted by me standing in the lorry and jumping on her as she was lead past .
Happily the ones ATM are easy .
I don't like horses with poor foreleg technique or those so bold they are thoughtless those are things that truly make horses dangerous so I will cut horses slack in other areas if they do the things that really matter right .
I won't deal with bad in traffic horses I don't mind horses who have never seen traffic but I won't sort out others screw ups in this area it too dangerous .
I like friendly happy to deal with horses ( who does not ) but if a horse produces the goods ridden I will tolerate having to handle issues in other areas like stable manners .
 

AShetlandBitMeOnce

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The essentials for a safe mannerly horse will vary from person to person, but I have one cardinal rule really..

- he respects that what I ask needs to be done and I respect that sometimes he needs time to figure what I have asked of him.

For example: he will not leave his stable unless led out, even when I leave the door wide open (which I regularly do for hours haha) and his dinner is in reach. He will always be caught (I cannot bear horses that are difficult to catch! Personal bug bear). He moves over to voice command if I am wheeling a wheelbarrow behind him. He respects my personal space, and I respect his. He is never rude or bargey on the ground.

He is basically just the ultimate gentleman and I love the bones of him!
 
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Annagain

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I've had it all in the 4 horses I've had over the years. I've inherited all these I hasten to add, I didn't have them early enough to have much influence. I'm not sure there is ever such a thing as a perfect horse.

My first pony was Bitey McBiter. You could do anything with him once you'd got past his teeth - literally. He'd never turn round to bite but getting into his stable was quite a challenge. If you showed one ounce of uncertainty, he'd pounce.

Number two would never do anything aggressive (as in biting or kicking) but he was so bolshy. He'd walk over you rather than round you, could be a nightmare to catch, would drag you wherever he wanted to go and thought feet were targets for standing on. He was fine for the farrier but had to be pinned in the corner by 3 people for the dentist and my vet would phone when he was on his way so we could cross tie and blindfold him before he arrived. If he even saw the vet's car we were in trouble.

Then came my current boy. A darling to lead, catch, load, shoe etc and loves a cwtch but is a nightmare to brush. He's just so ticklish he can't tolerate it. I have to use a rubber mitten on him, he turns himself inside out if a brush goes near him. In the 11 years I've had him, he's improved no end and I know he's not doing it maliciously, he just can't bear it. Sometimes you can't eradicate an element of their behaviour, all you can do is manage it.

Finally there's my share horse. The one to make all the others look 10 times worse. You can do almost anything with him. The only things he hates are having his mane pulled - no problem to use a solo comb - and being wormed. You have to get into his stable with the wormer stuffed down the back of your trousers and take him by surprise. Unfortunately at 17hh and 700kg+ he has to have more than one tube so the second one is a lot more difficult! He doesn't do anything nasty, just sticks his head on the ceiling and there's nothing you can do to get it down.
 

Bernster

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Mine is no paragon of virtue ! But he's learning, improving and has the most amazing attitude, so I can work with that. Current annoying habit is being fidgety to mount - he's fine at home but loses his focus when we are at exciting events.
 

Embo

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B is almost perfect at home, but will often forget himself, so needs constant reminding of the 'rules'.

Take him out, though, and he's a menace! Starts off well enough, but his excitement gets the better of him and there's nothing that can be done. All rational thought goes out the window. Until you've finished doing whatever it was you were out for and you're back at the trailer - then he mellows out again with a sigh, as if to say "well, that was fun!".
 

Embo

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...Current annoying habit is being fidgety to mount - he's fine at home but loses his focus when we are at exciting events.

Yes, this is Bowser, too. Stands like a rock at home. Out and about, can't stand still if his life depends on it. You have to leap and hope for the best. Not sure how to fix that one lol :D
 

pennandh

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My list ends up looking something like this:

- Respects personal space (snuggles are fine; walking over people/barging is not)
- Stands sensibly to mount, under saddle, and in the stable (even with the door open)
- Goes in approximately the direction you point it, at approximately the speed you asked for
- Displays some sense of self-preservation (the famed 'fifth leg' for XC, and the brains not to agree to go into a bog etc.)
- Doesn't try to murder vet/farrier/EDT/clipper-wielding-person, because that's just rude
- Catches and loads with a fair degree of reliability

And if it does all those, I'm pretty happy. It by no means has to be perfect, just safe and reasonably polite.
 

FfionWinnie

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Probably rare to get the full gamete, there's usually a pay-off somewhere! However, I think it's essential for horse not to invade your space. Can't abide bargy, treat hungry horses. I like them to stay at arms' length when leading, back up as I go into the stable and move themselves over when working around them without having to be constantly asked. I reckon if they are respectful of your space then most of the other ground manners stuff falls into place. Standing still for mounting is another essential imo.

Any horse can be well behaved. It's just training and consistency. All of mine behave impeccably and I'm not amazing horse whisperer (neither am I just "lucky" as people keep telling me!). I am boringly consistent and more stubborn than any horse. If I start something I will finish it. Playing the patience game pays off in spades with any horse (and indeed children and dogs!). They like calm, similar behaviour from humans. Sheep are the same, studies have shown that sheep prefer the farmer to be consistent, whether that's over excited and angry or calm and quiet. They don't like change. I think horses are similar but they do thrive best with a very calm handler who they can look to for protection rather than one that elicits a nervous feeling from them.
 

Bernster

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Yes, this is Bowser, too. Stands like a rock at home. Out and about, can't stand still if his life depends on it. You have to leap and hope for the best. Not sure how to fix that one lol :D

Aye, we revert to fidget bum, nipping and generally being a pain. Tbh I've not spent enough time working on it and we don't go out enough for it to be boring yet. He's def improved though as before he was a bit of a thug the whole time we were out, whereas now he settles pretty quick so it's just the getting on phase. So part of it is I think it will just improve with time, experience, and consistency on my part. If not then I'll need to do more ground work, yawn !
 

Dubsie

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One thing I don't think I saw mentioned is when out and about at shows they do not snatch at the grass or even attempt to do so. Our New Forest used to be terrible, but over time we taught him that he was never allowed to eat the grass when he was working ie had bridle on. Also that they don't stop to do a poo - can't get away with it in a competition.

If tall they must lower their head for the bridle too.
 

Pearlsasinger

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Any horse can be well behaved. It's just training and consistency. All of mine behave impeccably and I'm not amazing horse whisperer (neither am I just "lucky" as people keep telling me!). I am boringly consistent and more stubborn than any horse. If I start something I will finish it. Playing the patience game pays off in spades with any horse (and indeed children and dogs!). They like calm, similar behaviour from humans. Sheep are the same, studies have shown that sheep prefer the farmer to be consistent, whether that's over excited and angry or calm and quiet. They don't like change. I think horses are similar but they do thrive best with a very calm handler who they can look to for protection rather than one that elicits a nervous feeling from them.

This^^^^^^^^

I expect my horses to be co-operative and in return they can expect me to be consistent. I don't do panic and I appreciate it if they don't either! As FW says having well-mannered horses isn't a matter of luck (no matter what those who have rude horses tell you!)
 

TickyTavey

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Any horse can be well behaved. It's just training and consistency. All of mine behave impeccably
Yep, agreed. And likewise. I meant there's always something to work on though (I think). Interesting re sheep handling and consistency trumping, even if consistently angry etc.
 

rachk89

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You guys would all hate my horse lol. It's not from lack of trying either i have tried a lot to get him to behave on the ground but some days he simply doesn't want to and no amount of persuasion will change that. He is better than he used to be which says a lot but he thinks he has to be in charge all of the time. My yard owner puts up with a lot from him really, but he understands now that that is just the horse he will never change. At least he isn't nasty about it and if you do shout at him for something really bad he does listen and calms down. He then acts like a lamb no problems at all.

Reason i put up with it? He is a darling to ride rarely does something bad and his 'spooks' are generally pathetic. He has so much power when being ridden and yet never uses it against you even though he could no problem. He doesn't even get angry at you if he is in pain like recently I rode him when his back was a bit tender although the lumps hadn't appeared yet so I wasn't to know. He kicked his back legs out a couple of times but otherwise he just put up with it. I would never give him up just because he sometimes won't stand still when being groomed/washed/tacked up. I know it's stupid to put up with it but what I get from his riding ability is worth it.
 

Clare85

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Bargy horses I can't bear. Esme is extremely food orientated and got very bargy when she started getting a little handful of chaff at dinner time over winter. It was easily rectified and after a couple of days of being made to step back before she got her food, the problem was no more and she picked up the "back" command very quickly. Now, my two children (4 and 20 months) can feed her (supervised, of course) with no trouble at all.

I have to say, I do feel that most ground manners issues can be rectified fairly easily with calm, consistent handling, as FW has said. Some just take longer to improve than others, depending on their past experiences and the attitude of the individual animal.
 
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