How would you handle this?

Fools Motto

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Young mare, just starting back in work after being broken lightly last year. She is very good to catch, and a fantastic hack, bold, forward, and nothing phases her regarding traffic of all sorts. She is clearly very green in the school, but happy with short bursts of education.
The one thing that is very new to her, is rugging. I introduced this in 'the correct way' (folded in half, rubbed it against her, put it on, (not thrown), and she was very happy, not fussed. Took it off carefully. Again not fussed. About day 3 of rugs, I started being a bit more 'normal', and threw it on, and whisked it off - she was fine, if a little head tossy and ears went back - could be normal for many horses. I then didn't do her for 2 days (owner and other groom did). Wow. Was warned she wasn't good, but didn't expect what happened. Pick up the rug outside of her stable, and she's trying to launch at you with mouth open... hind leg lashing out. Approach her with rug, and you get the attack side of horses no-one wants to see or experience. She did bite the other groom, so this wasn't just a threat.
I like to think I don't take no nonsense. I make sure she's got hay, is on her head collar - yet to learn to tie up, but equally I don't want her to feel trapped, so happy just to hold the lead rope. I make sure 'no' is a word that means no, phrase her when she eats hay or is ignoring me and the rug. (light wieght sheets). I never would have thought she would be so reactive so quickly.
Just would like opinions on how others would handle this scene?
 

palo1

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Gosh, that is extreme. FWIW I would probably have followed a different sequence tbh only in that I would definately teach to tie up very, very early on as I have found that yes, you never want a young horse to feel trapped but on the other hand it is hugely helpful if they know that tied up means to stand still and relax. You have much more scope to do stuff a bit more safely then I think. In fact I am impressed that you have hacked, schooled, feet? etc without HAVING to teach a solid tie up:) :) At this point I wouldn't bother rugging at all until I had established very happy, relaxed tying up and that a few other new things have been introduced happily. The mare needs to remember that you are all nice, kind and trustworthy after having had something go wrong for whatever reason! Having done that my way out of a problem would be to deploy a 2 man approach if possible with one person holding a likit or similar whilst rugging was re-introduced in teeny, tiny stages over however long it took (possibly a tiny step a day for some weeks) and with many, many treats and much praise; ordinarily maybe not so much but in this instance it sounds like the mare has had a bad response somehow so you have to persuade her in any way that actually having a rug on is a good thing!

Do you have any idea what happened to make her go from ok to really cross about the issue of rugging? Most horses really don't mind if it is done carefully and incrementally - could she have got a leg caught on one of the straps at some point or something?
 

Patterdale

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Sorry I missed the not learning to tie up bit...it’s the first thing I teach as young as yearlings, to stand for hours tied up with a haynet. It’s not about feeling trapped, it’s about teaching them to accept being trapped without fear, to put it bluntly.
To safely handle and ride any size horse, they need to have a level of submission and I find tying up from an early age invaluable for this.
 

Polos Mum

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I don't like to 'do' them in the stable. I find it better to tie up outside for whatever it is I'm asking. They know that's thinking time where as food / stable is eating / relaxing time.
Even if the 'ask' is a feet pick out. My youngster is more of a too cheeky nibbling rather than attack biting but the effect would be the same, so he has to tie and not be able to reach around to pull on my coat. I don't have the luxury of a helper.

Clearly something upset her - I would want to know what so I'd speak to whoever has handled her to I knew what went on.
I'd maybe leave rugs of now (assuming no pressing need to suddenly rug) and go back a step. Youngsters are often (IMHO) two steps forward and one back. Flick they saddle on and see what reaction that gets, or roller, or numnah on it's own. leave an old rug over her stable do for her to chew, kick hate.

Def get her well used to tie up
 
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Lady Jane

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I accidently flicked my boy with the tail strap recently and he hasn't forgiven me (not as bad as your situation). I bet someone has been too rough and it will take a while to get confidence back. Some horse just aren't bothered and some sensitive souls care a lot
 

ihatework

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Take a step back and try and think why she is behaving like this - she clearly doesn’t want the rug on.

How thick is it, could she be hot & uncomfortable. When they aren’t used to wearing rugs they cook quite easily.

Is she sore anywhere, either over her back from coming into work/wearing a saddle or pressure point from rug on her withers? Have a really good feel and press of all areas where the rug might come into contact.

If nothing obvious, then 10 steps back and restart the rugging process. But first there are some basic boundaries on behaviour that need to be reinforced. She needs to tie up quietly. Then go back to the desensitisation work. She can let you know she is unsure but flying at you with teeth and/or feet is a hard boundary no.
 

Leah3horses

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As palo1 said. People don't realise that we tend to flood horses when teaching new things, even if we think we're taking it slow. We have to look for the signs the horse is under threshold, is totally accepting of a new procedure, before we try to do more. They're all different, and some are below threshold with learning about rugs from the start, but most need to start accepting a numnah in session 1, if that, then incrementally increase duration with the numnah before introducing a quarter sheet, then a rug,very slowly over days and weeks, not in one or two sessions , and always at the horses pace ....stop at a positive point, set horses up for success by avoiding any anxiety or stress response from them. Stress / anxiety means they're over threshold and the opportunity to learn has gone for that session, go back to where they calmly accepted the new thing. It's how all mammals learn. Always remove leg straps with youngsters , easy to have a tail strap instead ...makes it safer and much easier.
 

Julie Ole Girl

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I think they tell you when they don't want the rug on. My 20 year old either loves it when its cold and wet but shows her displeasure if not needed. But I'm an anti 'over rugger' anyway.
 
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Forgive me - I'm about to get on one of my biggest bug-bears! I am assuming you rug from the near side (which, I know is correct in BHS terms)? This means throwing the belly straps over the horse and they often catch legs or belly on the way. I know the majority of horses put up with this and the straps aren't going to cause injury (though I did witness a horse getting a nasty bang in an eye as it looked round just at the wrong time). If you rug from the off-side, you eliminate this happening.

I have said this before on the forum and got some fairly sharp comments. No-one's doing anything 'wrong' by rugging from the near side. But, I looked after a previous YO's horse when she was on holiday for two weeks. He was notorious for being bad to rug - faces, biting if he could and sometimes aiming a back leg in your direction. After the first three days of this usual behaviour, he changed completely. I could rug whilst he stayed relaxed and ears pricked. This enforced my belief that throwing belly straps over the horse isn't kind and a few will react if they're touched by them. If they can feel a fly, they'll feel a metal fastener for sure.

Hope it's this simple in your girl's case ;)
 

splashgirl45

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a good way to start with tying up is to use her normal headcollar and a lungeline, put the lunge line through the tie up ring and hold it about the normal length you would tie up, that means you have control of the front end and can then touch all over, groom, or eventually try rugging again.. why not try with a summer sheet first as that is very light .. because you have the lunge line if she panics you can let the line out and then bring her back to where you want her..does she have to be rugged?
 

Apercrumbie

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Forgive me - I'm about to get on one of my biggest bug-bears! I am assuming you rug from the near side (which, I know is correct in BHS terms)? This means throwing the belly straps over the horse and they often catch legs or belly on the way. I know the majority of horses put up with this and the straps aren't going to cause injury (though I did witness a horse getting a nasty bang in an eye as it looked round just at the wrong time). If you rug from the off-side, you eliminate this happening.

I have said this before on the forum and got some fairly sharp comments. No-one's doing anything 'wrong' by rugging from the near side. But, I looked after a previous YO's horse when she was on holiday for two weeks. He was notorious for being bad to rug - faces, biting if he could and sometimes aiming a back leg in your direction. After the first three days of this usual behaviour, he changed completely. I could rug whilst he stayed relaxed and ears pricked. This enforced my belief that throwing belly straps over the horse isn't kind and a few will react if they're touched by them. If they can feel a fly, they'll feel a metal fastener for sure.

Hope it's this simple in your girl's case ;)
Thank you Mucking out - I have never considered this before! It seems so obvious and yet we (nearly) all do it from the near side.

OP I would highly recommend the above when you attempt rugging again, as well as going back to your previous method of folding. However, tying up is an important skill so I would start teaching that sooner rather than later to avoid problems.
 

Lois Lame

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Just for the record, I don't think the OP has left the rug on, she's put it on but taken if off. I don't know what the others did though in those two days that OP didn't do the horse.

I agree with those who wonder about the lack of being taught to tie up. This is an early lesson in my book, but one that can be dangerous. Approach with caution. Needs an expert IMO.
 

View

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Forgive me - I'm about to get on one of my biggest bug-bears! I am assuming you rug from the near side (which, I know is correct in BHS terms)? This means throwing the belly straps over the horse and they often catch legs or belly on the way. I know the majority of horses put up with this and the straps aren't going to cause injury (though I did witness a horse getting a nasty bang in an eye as it looked round just at the wrong time). If you rug from the off-side, you eliminate this happening.

I have said this before on the forum and got some fairly sharp comments. No-one's doing anything 'wrong' by rugging from the near side. But, I looked after a previous YO's horse when she was on holiday for two weeks. He was notorious for being bad to rug - faces, biting if he could and sometimes aiming a back leg in your direction. After the first three days of this usual behaviour, he changed completely. I could rug whilst he stayed relaxed and ears pricked. This enforced my belief that throwing belly straps over the horse isn't kind and a few will react if they're touched by them. If they can feel a fly, they'll feel a metal fastener for sure.

Hope it's this simple in your girl's case ;)
Really good point about the straps. They create a risk for both horse and handler, and for that reason I have always undone them, straight round the other side and tied them up before removing. I always check they remain tied up before I put a rug on. And I teach people to do this.

I also wonder what happened in the two days that OP didn't handle the horse.
 

cauda equina

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Really good point about the straps. They create a risk for both horse and handler, and for that reason I have always undone them, straight round the other side and tied them up before removing. I always check they remain tied up before I put a rug on. And I teach people to do this.

I also wonder what happened in the two days that OP didn't handle the horse.
Me too; if she could find out that might be a useful staring point to undoing the damage
 

pansymouse

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I think I'd start with a very light soft fleece rug and just lay it over her whilst she ate or had a treat (or a head scratch if she's not food orientated) and take it off again, then over the course of a few weeks progress to doing it up, leaving it on a bit longer, the move onto a bit heavier rug and so on. I'm not a great one for forcing the pace I like to get them on message gradually through reward and creating a positive association.
 

SlinkyMinxy

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Years ago, I knew a horse that suddenly developed an aversion to being rugged and it turned out that static electricity was building up in the rug and he was actually getting a small shock off it, particularly when you took it off. Not surprisingly, he associated the rug with this unpleasant experience and decided he'd rather not wear one!
 

Fools Motto

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Sorry for delay. This young mare is in the yard for a little bit of schooling before going to a new home. She has been broken by someone very good previous, and knows way more than I thought! She does tie up in the stable nicely. It's just been a case of getting to know her, and avoiding issues - habit for me to hold horses as my personal old girl never tied.
She is continuing to be amazing when working. Dream to long line. clearly has had a very good start. Sadly she was quite grumpy producing the saddle cloth, and if the nashers or hind legs cow kicking don't get ya then the shoulder squashing has started. Once the saddle pad is on, she is fine! Girthed up no problems and away you go like a different horse.
Anyway, long story short, we've recommended a vet visit, to check for ulcers. Hope to find the reason, she is so lovely otherwise.
 

JanetGeorge

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I think I'd start with a very light soft fleece rug and just lay it over her whilst she ate or had a treat (or a head scratch if she's not food orientated) and take it off again, then over the course of a few weeks progress to doing it up, leaving it on a bit longer, the move onto a bit heavier rug and so on. I'm not a great one for forcing the pace I like to get them on message gradually through reward and creating a positive association.
Absolutely - I couldn't have put it better myself. (And I am currently having trouble with a potty p/b Arab who is 6 years old! I suspect the cause in his case is the fact he IS potty, and he has a calcified ligament in his back (from when he threw himself over backwards when first mounted in the stable.) We are just quietly throwing a fleece over him when he's in and NOT tied up, giving a treat and making a fuss. Hope to be able to work up to the Equissage, but he doesn't like girths either! And - Fools Motto, while ulcers are always a possibility, the fact that she is good ridden makes them much less likely. It certainly might be static from the rug - definitely try with a fleece and see if that is better.
 
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