Pouring my heart out... sorry this is long!

WelshD

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Ok deep breath and here we go. bear with me! I have mentioned various parts of this in passing but have hid the full extent of how much I have failed with this pony. I'm happy to take flack over this but would appreciate it if people could make it a bit constructive.

I bought a (section B type) welsh yearling colt about 20 months ago. the last owners bought him unhandled straight from the hills at an auction, they had him about a year before I bought him.

Pic on his advert was him tied up wearing a saddle girthed up, relaxed, ears pricked and leg rested. On viewing he was an absolute angel, loaded well and travelled happily. no sign of any problems.

All ok for the first couple of days then I couldnt get near him, any attempt to get a leadrope on him led to him pulling away and legging it

I left him a while 'to mature' (read - scared of him) managed to get him in a stable to be gelded, jabs etc and bribed him with food to stand for the farrier etc so his basic needs were met

As the land was so wet I started bringing him in at night over winter and things got a lot better, he will now be rugged (very slowly!) when needed and I can get a headcollar on and off in the stable. he led ok apart from running through gateways which we worked on and which improved. but every bit of progress is still met with wide nostrils, heavy breathing and a tense manner (on his part!)

Since he has been out 24/7 again he has started to pull away again. realising that I have neglected the handling while I was distracted by my lambing sheep I have bought him in a few times just to handle him more but he has started to panic in the stable when I am in there with him (happy to stay in overnight though) I have never hit him or been agressive towards him

One of his biggest problems is his back end, he cringes his quarters when you go near them, he tucks his back legs right under him till his quarters are vertical and hates anyone near his tail. one side is worse than the other. One hind hoof in particular I can only pick out if I bribe him. There is no stiffness/lameness though.

He knows I am scared of him when he moves suddenly and so I am not sure how much of this is him taking the mickey. He has never shown any aggression or kicked out, he just looks scared and tense unless he is in his field loose and chooses to approach me

I have dilly-dallyed over this many times so apologies if you have read parts of this before

I know I am going to have to invest some serious time and probably money in to sorting this out but where to start? Vet/physio? behaviourist? natural horsemanship person? old fashioned tough love type person? or should I just start bringing him in more and chipping away at the situation myself?

I have the 'no fear no force' book and have used several of the methods but things that may help such as the 'hand on a stick' the pony absolutely freaks out over to the point where he tries to jump out of the stable, I cant even approach the stable with any type of stick

he gets the correct amount of lo-cal balancer with brewers yeast, Valerian and salt added and a compressed high fibre hay block once a day

I realise he was not a good buy, I saw myself as reasonably knowledgeable but in reality he was not at all right for me, I should have known better but realistically he wont sell to a secure home as he stands and I feel I owe it to him to sort this out.

The other pony I bought from the same people at the same time has been a joy, he has had his moments but has been fab

thanks
 

AmyMay

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Don't beat yourself up - they're not all easy. But the more you do with him, the more confident you'll get, and so will he. So, deep breath, and crack on.

It does sound as if youcould do with a confident and knowledgeable friend on the ground with you. And that's the route I'd go down.
 

MrsMozart

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No flack m'duck. You've recognized you have an issue and now you're looking for help. Simples.

I'd get the vet and then the chiro, if they can get close, to make sure there's no physical issue. Then I'd send him to someone like Mickey Gavin, i.e. someone who helps this sort of horse for a living, so experienced and knowledgeable.
 

southerncomfort

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I won't attempt to advise other than to say I have a welsh B and as a breeder once said to me 'They are more arab-like than the arabs!'. (No offence to arabs anywhere!) :) They take a while to come round but when they do they are your friend for life.

x
 

blitznbobs

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If you've got the cash full livery on a professional yard for 6 to 8 weeks - they usually have a strict routine and won't be scared... Which is half the battle...
 

DanceswithCows

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Yeah like amy says, don't beat yourself up. I had a similar situation with my filly, and a lot of the problem was not having any back up on the ground from somebody horse-savvy. I completely underestimated how important it would be to just have somebody to hold them while I do stuff, who isn't going to freak out and start cranking in the rope in terror.... Do you know anyone who can help you?
 

MrsMozart

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I sent my big lad to MG. He had issues and I know I don't bounce as well as I used to, nor do I have the time, and my skills are rusty, so off to MG he went.

I could have equally had DarkKnight do it and have as good an outcome, but I needed him out of my sphere of influence as I'm a bit of a control freak, plus I wanted the Western angle that he does as well (hope that all made sense!).
 

chrilaur

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A friend of mine had a shire cross that had been beaten. So this was a big horse with problems. The main things I noticed was the more she did with her the better she got. Keep calm and patient. Really key. Eventually she was really good, you could cuddle her, pick her feet out fine, which initially you couldn't even touch the feather. However over winter she neglected her, it was like but I'll have to get wet so no thanks. Then when she tried to do things with her again she was back to her old self. It was as though she had finally been loved and then neglected so was like no way. However the other thing was my friend was scared of this mare. You definitely need to remain calm, patient and confident, and keep trying, don't give up. Hope it all goes well. :)
 

be positive

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As amymay has said don't beat yourself up, you are not the first and certainly will not be the last person to get themselves into this type of pickle, he is nervy and feeds off your nervousness, this is a vicious circle with this type of pony.
They usually need a sensible confident no nonsense approach, no need for spending money on behaviourists yet just a sensible person experienced with starting young ponies that can help get both you and him more confident.
 

exmoorponyprincess1

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We have socialised a number of moorbred Exmoors and they displayed similar traits as you describe above - and worse!!! The key things that we abide by now are that we do things in pairs where possible...one person to be at the front end and giving relaxing scratches whilst the other goes about whatever business we are attempting for that lesson...and the other thing we insist on is consistency and repetition. Consistent in that we all approach things in a similar manner (there are 3 of us who deal with the ponies so we need to be sure we don't confuse anything!) and repetition so that the ponies realise that nothing bad is going to happen to them when they have their legs touched/tails brushed/ears tickled etc etc For our last moorbred we had the help of "Mavis" who was a stuffed glove on the end of a stick approximately 2' long...the stick was short enough to conceal up your sleeve and you could ease Mavis out when you needed a bit more length in your arm! Might work for your boy if he isn't keen on seeing the stick itself? Goes without saying we do things quite quietly as the moorbreds are very strong in their flight response, keeping them as relaxed as possible usually means we have a good learning session...that said, if they start to play up we do ensure we still finish the lesson on a good note - there are always two ways to achieve the end result as far as our ponies are concerned...the easy way or the long way!!! My yearling has been a nightmare to catch when she decides the field is a much nicer place than wherever I plan to take her and it has required everyone else to be removed from the field on occasion to actually catch her...but I spent the weekend with her putting her headcollar on and off in the stable until she was bored to tears with it and this evening I walked into the field with the headcollar and she stuck her nose straight in it!
Don't beat yourself up about this situation - you sound like the kind of person who can get the best out of this pony as you clearly care enough to ask for help when you think you need it and that it always the most difficult thing to do!! Best of luck and keep us posted!
 

Goldenstar

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I would speculate that the freaking out at the glove on the stick means he's not as unhandled as perhaps you thought .
The question is how much time do you want to spend and what do you want to achieve .
If you have time and just want him for him get someone to help you at home with the handling .
You might need this almost daily for a while they teach you what you need to know it's time you know with most of these types time and repetition and having the right set up to help them which might mean the use of a very small paddock for a while .
Calmness and confidence comes with knowing what you are trying to achieve and how to get there someone suitable can teach you this.
These type of issues don't go away they need time and daily commitment to get the issue cracked .
 

Urban Horse

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Firstly, horses don't 'take the mickey', so if he's telling you he's got a problem at the rear end, you can take it face value that he has... Generally horses don't lie, but (and it's a big but) they tell the truth as they see it, and that may not be completely in agreement with the actual truth. Personally I won't generally use the 'hand on a stick' approach, I know it's popular with a lot of trainers, but for me it means the horse learning something twice, first to accept the stick, then to accept the proximity of the human body and then the feel of a real hand. Were I working with your pony, I'd start by running a hand along his flank, until it started to reach the area he feels uncomfortable, I'd leave it there for a second or two before rewarding, then moving the hand slowly back along the flank... Just let him know that standing quietly is what you're after. As with all these things timing is the key.

Eventually you'll get to a stage, by tiny increments, where he feels secure enough to have his rear end handled... The process will take time, but it's far easier on both you and the horse to accomplish the job in tiny stages, rather than trying to build Rome in a day. The rewards you give him needn't be food, just a kind word and a scratch in a favourite place will often do just as well. His obvious fear of sticks could be handled in a similar way, by gradual desensitisation, once again well rewarded...

Contrary to what a lot of people say and teach (Don't let the horse know you're frightened) I've always found that being totally honest with a horse is the best way foward... horses know if you're scared and worried (Reading strangers has kept them alive for millions of years - and they are the absolute masters at reading intent) so just tell him you're worried and don't try to be something you're not, that only confuses and worries them. Better to be open and chat away, describing what you're doing and why... that may seem strange, but talking helps you breathe and relax, and that passes down to the horse.

Frankly I think you're doing a pretty good job, under what must be fairly trying and difficult circumstances... just remember that horses do change, often quite significately when they settle in a new home... It's like starting a new job, initially you don't know your workmates, nor do you fully understand the filing system, and you sometimes miss your old friends and wish you were back at your old job. He feels exactly the same, but, he can only tell you in ways that make sense to him. Just take your time, be pleased with small steps, build your relationship with him and it will come right. Just remember that your favouite and most memorable horses will always be those that have given you the most trouble.
 

TarrSteps

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As amymay has said don't beat yourself up, you are not the first and certainly will not be the last person to get themselves into this type of pickle, he is nervy and feeds off your nervousness, this is a vicious circle with this type of pony.
They usually need a sensible confident no nonsense approach, no need for spending money on behaviourists yet just a sensible person experienced with starting young ponies that can help get both you and him more confident.

That. You've not done anything all that out of the ordinary and sometimes we have to learn these things from experience.

Get someone experienced to help you. I'm not sure I would send the pony away at this point for a number of reasons. One, he needs how to cope in the situation he's in, two, you need training on how to train him. Done right, this can be a valuable learning experience.

I also wouldn't assume he's been abused. I've known many horses with similar reactions who have definitely not been harmed in any way.

If it's any consolation, the last horse I worked with who was at least that bad had lived its whole life in a nice place with nice people. But she was sharply bred and they had little experience with young horses. She was out showing in hand within months and is now backed and going, started by the owners and an experienced friend. Once she was on track it was just a case of keeping up the work and giving the owners support.

Re the vet, I can't really see how they would assess him with any ease. They couldn't do flexion tests or longe or even palpate him. There is simply no point trying to vet a horse that can't be handled - at best you're wasting your money. He doesn't sound in pain and, even if he is, you're going to have to get the manners in before you can sort it.

I applaud you for holding your hand up and trying to do right by the pony. Don't despair, lots of people and ponies have been where you are.
 

WelshD

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Thank you all. Lots of excellent and useful advice there - things to try on a daily basis which is great. I would rather the pony stay at home but will take steps to find someone to help me

I am extremely grateful for all of the advice and to all of you who have taken the time to post
 

Hetsmum

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Firstly, horses don't 'take the mickey', so if he's telling you he's got a problem at the rear end, you can take it face value that he has... Generally horses don't lie, but (and it's a big but) they tell the truth as they see it, and that may not be completely in agreement with the actual truth. Personally I won't generally use the 'hand on a stick' approach, I know it's popular with a lot of trainers, but for me it means the horse learning something twice, first to accept the stick, then to accept the proximity of the human body and then the feel of a real hand. Were I working with your pony, I'd start by running a hand along his flank, until it started to reach the area he feels uncomfortable, I'd leave it there for a second or two before rewarding, then moving the hand slowly back along the flank... Just let him know that standing quietly is what you're after. As with all these things timing is the key.

Eventually you'll get to a stage, by tiny increments, where he feels secure enough to have his rear end handled... The process will take time, but it's far easier on both you and the horse to accomplish the job in tiny stages, rather than trying to build Rome in a day. The rewards you give him needn't be food, just a kind word and a scratch in a favourite place will often do just as well. His obvious fear of sticks could be handled in a similar way, by gradual desensitisation, once again well rewarded...

Contrary to what a lot of people say and teach (Don't let the horse know you're frightened) I've always found that being totally honest with a horse is the best way foward... horses know if you're scared and worried (Reading strangers has kept them alive for millions of years - and they are the absolute masters at reading intent) so just tell him you're worried and don't try to be something you're not, that only confuses and worries them. Better to be open and chat away, describing what you're doing and why... that may seem strange, but talking helps you breathe and relax, and that passes down to the horse.

Frankly I think you're doing a pretty good job, under what must be fairly trying and difficult circumstances... just remember that horses do change, often quite significately when they settle in a new home... It's like starting a new job, initially you don't know your workmates, nor do you fully understand the filing system, and you sometimes miss your old friends and wish you were back at your old job. He feels exactly the same, but, he can only tell you in ways that make sense to him. Just take your time, be pleased with small steps, build your relationship with him and it will come right. Just remember that your favouite and most memorable horses will always be those that have given you the most trouble.

Mostly this ^^^^^^^^^^ Don't beat yourself up. I 'rescued' a 2 year old colt who had problems. I had owned horses 30 years and worked with stallions - all no problems. This lad though had me in tears and quite frankly scared. A behaviourist helped me and within 2 weeks I felt such a relief. My boy is still with me and whilst 'cheeky' is the darling of the yard! This happens to all of us at some point in time and if it hasn't well you just haven't been challenged enough. Good luck but I recon your on the right track anyway xxx
 

Tobiano

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Thank you all. Lots of excellent and useful advice there - things to try on a daily basis which is great. I would rather the pony stay at home but will take steps to find someone to help me

I am extremely grateful for all of the advice and to all of you who have taken the time to post

I think this is a really good way to go WelshD - you will have control over what happens to your pony as you will be there, and you will also learn how to deal with things yourself. Sounds like your pony has a wonderful caring owner and I am sure with patience and some expert help you will do brilliantly together. Good luck x x
 

Hippona

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Time....consistency....regular handling and one to one.
Trust me...you'll get there and the bond when you do will be phenomenal.
He needs to get his confidence from you do little goals and tiny steps xx
 

Echo Bravo

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Welcome to my world, have had my boy from 4 months old and still on his mum and had never been handled, he is nearly 3 now and still thinks you are trying to kill him when being groomed, hates having his mane done will stand to have his feet trimmed with plenty of carrots. He does have his days and at the moment teething badly, so when you go near him with a headcollar he's freaking out and is frightened of strangers cause they are the ones that stick needles him, he had a retained testicle and a bad experience with a vet I would not touch with a bargepole when I had him microchipped. But he is cheeky happy chappy most of the time, but have learnt not to push him too much, just little at a time until he's happy with what I'm doing.
 

Bobbly

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All good advice above and what about the stuff advertised in the back of H&H called Pax? Never tried it but you put it on your hands....?
 

exmoorponyprincess1

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Re the non-hand on stick approach - totally appreciate the view but with some of our moorbreds just getting close enough as a human to even get "Mavis" to touch can be something to celebrate!
It was all about the baby steps with that particular mare who had ran on the moor until she was a yearling and if we were able to get close enough to allow Mavis to touch her for the first few lessons we were doing well!! Different approaches work for different horses - we were keen to ensure the stick felt as human as possible (hence the stuffed glove - and it was a gardening glove so it didn't "stick" the way some rubber gloves can to a horses coat) so it wasn't the usual feather duster/plastic bag approach but something more akin to what a normal hand might feel like in terms of size and shape.
This trick might work for OP and this boy - especially if he can be distracted at the front end with chest scratches :D it also gives OP the opportunity to build her confidence as she knows she is that extra step away until the bond is established and her confidence around the youngster is reclaimed.
I really like the idea of talking through exactly what you are doing - I am going to try that when I am schooling to help me keep my shoulders back and head up!!! :D
 

Slightlyconfused

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Seriously don't beat your self up. He just needs time.

here is what i would do.

1) get pony in smaller paddock and build a route of coming in/out

2) de sensitize him starting with his head and neck and slowly working your way back. Doing it all at once will be to.much for pony to cope with.

3) as you say he is scared of sticks/whip type things leave one near him while he is loose and let him be the one to go and investigate it. Then progress yo having it meant somewhere and slowly move ig closer when he isn't worried about it (this worked on my mare who was petrified of whips. Took us six months to ride with one)

4)just spend time, doesn't even have to be doing anything with him directly but in his eyesight or even in the smaller paddock. If he thinks you aren't there to catch him all the time and just have a stroke and walk away it means he doesn't see you and think he is coming in. Then put head collar on at odd points, lead him around/to the gate then let him go (did this with the tanks last year when we first got them. Took a few weeks before they would walk up to us)

5) focus on your breathing, he is going to respond to your engery to make it small, quiet and non intrusive. If you aren't worried he isn't going to be.

i have used all of the above on a few of my rescues even my petrified wb who didn't know how to pick up hooves, lead or be groomed etc and would panic if you went near her ears.

the trick is not to see the ponies issues as a whole, but break it down into managable prices so you don't over whelm both of you.
then you can string things together.

hope this helps.
 

cambrica

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Please don't be hard on yourself. Anybody on here that reads your posts know that your ponies mean the world to you.
Some, especially youngsters, will always be more challenging than others. I learnt the hard way with the one that we bred who became a bit of a spoilt brat. That had to be put right with the 'tough love' approach !
I'm not sure if I can help in anyway but I don't think I am too far from you. Also, if you decide on getting expert advice why not try this lady. Welsh ponies are her speciality I think and I have only ever heard good things! http://www.thompson-ponies.com/
 

amandap

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Echo a lot of what has been said but I wouldn't get vets or chiros etc. at this stage as it will be too stressful for him and there don't appear to be any urgent physical problems. Nor would I send him away or to a tough love approach person as it sounds like fear to me. A behaviourist or someone like Sarah Weston for an on site visit is a good move I think.

A slow, low stress approach starting with getting him happy to have you nearer to him slowly and if you have an open safe area (school?) that he can get used to first and then work with him in there rather than the stable as frightened horses often feel trapped in a small enclosed area especially if there are negative associations.
Don't run before you can walk and try and avoid things he finds stressful such as rugging for eg. Ask yourself if things are really necessary for his welfare, or can it be left out until he is able to cope.
I would also look at some gut support while he is stressed assuming he gets a little feed/balancer.

Just try and chill, take tiny, tiny steps and you will be rewarded in good time. x
 

STRIKER

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I would do in hand grazing and whilst grazing i would rub my hand all over him, i would lunge him, i would long rein him this will make him have to accept someone walking behind him. I would do the long stick with the hand around his hind quarters and back legs. Stop being afraid he is more scared of your poor thing. Breathe and enjoy it, he will feel you are happy and go from there
 

honetpot

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I got a welsh pony off the hills last spring, he had been chased and a bit of a handful but thankfully small, I would say he's street wise, not nasty. I always put them in with something older, so when they come in they can see the older pony is too busy eating to be bothered with you. As always consistency and being exactly the same no matter how worried or anxious you are and do not do much but do it often. When I tried to get a head collar on him it took 20mins of walking round the stable with him , he's now lost it so I will have to corner him and see how long it takes the next time, he's about a hand bigger so lets hope he's better. I can now go up to him in the field, touch him and he walks into the stable as he knows he will be fed and he is not anxious when I am near him.
I would not beat yourself up, but think perhaps no matter how wild he is he hasn't had a go at you so thats a result and actually you have done a lot with him so give yourself a pat on the back
 

WelshD

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thank you all for the additional comments. I am very grateful. I think part of the problem is making it 'a thing' to bring him in and do something with him. Today we had a short session of leading and letting go in the field. I have made a couple of calls and sent a couple of emails to people who may be able to help.

Its all so sad as the pony clearly wants to be involved, he is the first at the gate and always has his ears pricked and interested in everything, this is him (dark grey one)

43ae16a5-f2f9-4b47-a355-484b2413e883_zpscf53589e.jpg
 

Urban Horse

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thank you all for the additional comments. I am very grateful. I think part of the problem is making it 'a thing' to bring him in and do something with him. Today we had a short session of leading and letting go in the field. I have made a couple of calls and sent a couple of emails to people who may be able to help.

Its all so sad as the pony clearly wants to be involved, he is the first at the gate and always has his ears pricked and interested in everything, this is him (dark grey one)

If you get someone in to help, make sure that they teach you as much as they teach him. I know from experience that sometimes when you help with other people's 'problem' horses, the problems often magically disappear while you're there, but re-appear as soon as you've gone.... Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need, and be 'proactive', making sure that you end up being able to do what the 'help' does, and understanding why you're doing what you're doing. Any horse(wo)man should enjoy time with you just talking horse.

He really is a lovely little chap
 

amandap

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If you get someone in to help, make sure that they teach you as much as they teach him. I know from experience that sometimes when you help with other people's 'problem' horses, the problems often magically disappear while you're there, but re-appear as soon as you've gone.... Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need, and be 'proactive', making sure that you end up being able to do what the 'help' does, and understanding why you're doing what you're doing. Any horse(wo)man should enjoy time with you just talking horse.

He really is a lovely little chap
Very good advice, behavioural help should really always be teaching and advising the owner using demonstration, if appropriate, as well imho.

He is gorgeous.
 
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