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Horse Paws and Runs From Me

15 August 2011 No Comment

Horse Paws and Runs From Me
We asked horse training expert Rhett Russell.
More on Rhett.

Question:
Dear Rhett:
I have a 2-year-old paint that is constantly pawing. She paws at the
fence and has cut her legs. I don’t know how to stop her.. She even tries to
paw at me when I am putting the harness on her.
Also, she is very difficult to catch. She is in the field with an older horse and it when we go to halter her to work with her, she runs away. The older horse is also very hard to catch. I do not want this to become a bad and annoying habit.
I appreciate any advice you can offer,
Gina

Answer:
Hi Gina:
Both of your issues are very common problems. Your horse has taught you how to catch them. This is a game to your horse and you are doing exactly what the horse wants – running around until maybe, if the horse wants, she’ll let you catch her. Think of this in terms of leadership. If the horse truly believed that you were the leader of the herd, would she put you through this?
Many people fall into the habit of using grain to catch their horse because it gets the job done. Unfortunately, this makes the problem even worse.
You need to gain your horse’s respect. You will do this through building trust, working on ground manners, teaching the horse to yield, and especially round pen work. The round pen work will get the horse used to the idea that YOU control where the horse goes and what he does from your posture and energy. With these tools you will then be able to have your horse come to you instead of you chasing the horse.
Pawing at the ground is normally attributed to either being bored or anxious. Either way you need to address this through ground work. Building patience in your horse is one of the key foundation training exercises that many people overlook. In the old west, one of the first things that the vacquero’s would do with a horse that they were starting is to teach him how to tie from above. There were a lot of reasons for this, but the main idea was to teach the horse to yield and have patience on their own before they ever started working with them. They would tie a horse to a tree branch that had a lot of room for the horse to maneuver underneath. They would tie him 9-10 feet above their head with just enough slack so that the horse could lower his head about the level of his wither. Then they would leave the horse alone to work out these issues on his own.
They would start slowly and have the horse stand tied for a short period of time, but work up to 8-10 hours of standing tied from above.
This technique is the same as used by backcountry horsemen to high tie a horse to a high line. It is a wonderful training tool to have. I would suggest using this technique if you can find someone to help you with it.
For detailed information on this, you can visit my web site at www.naturalhorsesupply.com.
Good luck,
Rhett

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