Need some advice about my filly..

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by DFCottage, May 6, 2008.

  1. DFCottage

    DFCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 17, 2008
    Montpelier, Virginia
    Hi all,
    I have a question to pose to all of you (horsey or non-horsey people welcome, as everyone gives fantastic advice here!)
    I have a 2 year old filly that I've had in my care since she was about 3 months old. She's been living with me at home for about 4 months now. Being able to expose her to so much from such an early age has been very rewarding for me.. halter breaking, leading, clipping (yikes!), loads, ties, good for vet and farrier, and even will be hitting our second show next week (she's unbroke fyi, this is in-hand showing in the young horse classes at the big hunter shows). From the beginning she's had a BIG personality. She's had the 'I'll do that, but on MY TERMS' attitude, which has made training her often difficult. She is handled daily, knows right from wrong perfectly well. I have worked on establishing myself as the alpha mare from the beginning too.. she used to get VERY grumpy in her stall with her food, so when I went in to feed her, I'd keep her away from it until I felt she was calmed down and ready for it.
    I've raised plenty of babies, started and backed them, and sent them back to owners or to other bright futures. My problem is that this is MY filly, and she's been the worst I've ever had to deal with. Yeah, she's a 2 y.o. filly, so I know right there is a problem (haha) but her continued defiance is starting to really bug me. I don't know if I should send her off to a trainer, sell her, or what. I have the time to invest in her, but I think she just may be too much horse for me, in the sense that I bought her because I wanted to enjoy a baby, knowing full well they are tons of work, but she's just nuts!
    Any opinions would be helpful.. thanks so much!
     
  2. Equest94

    Equest94 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 29, 2007
    New York
    What breed is she?

    (We had a couple fillies come into heat pretty early and that turned them a bit nasty and grumpy.)


    I have worked with many babies before and from experience young mares have always been the worst on average. What is she specifically doing that's so terrible? Since, I'm not sure what the entire problem is, I can't really give great advice, but I would suggest working on the "dominance" thing again...sometimes they need re-freshers; as they get older they tend to test you more until they reach a level of respect-that they know that their place in the "herd" has been established.

    You want to back track a bit too in her training, start closer to the beginning... see if taking things slower helps...if not then I would think of sending her to a trainer...

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  3. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    Vermont
    That was going to be my first question also...

    It sounds to me like you have made quite a bit of progress already - what specifically is she being defiant about? Does she balk at everything you ask and then do it all in her own sweet time, or is she happy to do some things you ask and not others?
     
  4. DFCottage

    DFCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 17, 2008
    Montpelier, Virginia
    She's a Hanov/TB. Her TB dam was very sweet and good nature.. the sire was really a well behaved boy (as far as stallions go!)

    My issues with her are several fold. The most dangerous that we have seemed to fix was the kicking. She never did it when she was a baby, but she did it to me 3x.. in 3-4 months. There was no reason for it, and all 3 times she definitely meant to get me. I was either walking very close to her or grooming all 3 times, she wasn't sore anywhere). I think this might be done with, as it's been 4 months since the last incident. I'm convinced this was related to an alpha issue.. so we did many exercises to remind her that I was the one in charge.

    My other issues are somewhat joint.. leading is one. She KNOWS how to lead, and do it nicely. But not only does she not behave 50-75% of the time when I'm leading her (pushing into me, rushing, etc) she's starting to do it to the farm owner, who is a VET and knows how to handle these babies! Some others are invading my body space in the paddock and stall, pawing on the ties, not standing when asked, etc. I carry a whip now (just for safety, and in case) and only use it when I need to... such as really invading my space, which is a big safety issue. I always praise her when she has done something right. It's just I KEEP having to do this, and review the basics, and she still isn't getting it. I know they all go through phases, but this is silly!


    So because of these issues, I haven't attempted to teach her much new.. I was going to start long lining her soon (don't want to get on her until she's 3, her WB line is slow to develop). But because of all this I need to keep reviewing the basics.
     
  5. lizardz

    lizardz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2007
    Grass Valley, CA
    Not really knowing the challenges you're having with her makes it difficult to make suggestions, but one place I would look at is where does she consistently do as you ask, then move forward from there. Does she always do "A", but only sometimes "B" - then starting at "A" begin working towards consistent responses to "B", then to "C", etc. , always going back and reworking "A" and "B" so you have a really strong base to build from. Then again, some horses just want to challenge you more often than others. I have a 15 year old mustang gelding who every so often we need to go back and do some basic round pen work to remind him who's top horse. Although his is a more playful defience (he's quite the comedian), he still needs to remember where the boundaries are. Good luck.
     
  6. Equest94

    Equest94 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 29, 2007
    New York
    Don't forget, the most important rule in training a horse is making sure you are safe.

    This kicking issue and invading space is a huge No,no, and I am glad you are not letting her get away with it. It sounds like you are doing everything correctly... "punishing" her and reinstating your dominance when she is bad and praising her when she is good. I suggest to keep working her in this manner...it's mostly likely just a phase that she just needs to learn to get over it or just deal.

    I'm just throwing this in...not that I believe this is her problem, but she is regularly vet check? I'm asking, because a friend of mine had a young gelding who went prematurely blind (some degenerative disease) and in the beginning stages before we knew what was wrong he'd spook and kick out and was just an absolute a-hole...
     
  7. raindrop

    raindrop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    I don't know much about training horses, but if this were a dog in this situation (granted, a dog's kick can't kill you...) I would teach her a simple deference behavior (lowering her head to touch the end of a stick or your hand with her muzzle, or whatever) and then ask for this behavior before she gets anything she wants (walk, into pasture, out of stall, food, relaxing brushing). It will reinforce that she has to comply with this request prior to getting what she wants. Take a long time to teach this behavior and proof it in many situations/locations so you know she understands. If she will not comply, just turn and leave or wait (depending on if you can safely leave her). Horses are so social that isolation is a punishment, she is testing you and needs to be reminded with every interaction that you are in control. This is a gentle way of accomplishing this. She practices taking responsibility for choosing the desired behavior. A clicker would be a wonderful way to train this behavior (whatever you choose) and it works wonders in dogs.
     
  8. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    I would have your vet farm owner run a test on her and check her hormone levels. I'm wondering if she doesn't have a cyst on her ovaries or perhaps something else overactive causing her to be wenchy.

    Two year old fillies and colts can be real handfuls. It might be easier to send her off for a couple months to a trainer you respect (and who is emotionally detached) and see if she makes any progress (barring anything unusual is found in the hormone levels).
     
  9. DFCottage

    DFCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 17, 2008
    Montpelier, Virginia
    Yeah, having a vet on the farm is a huge convenience! haha She got her check up in March when she got her spring vaccs, and we floated her last Friday and took out her wolf teeth. (She was very pleasant for 2 days after that... haha) But her eyes are good, she's totally healthy. I thought it might be a food issue to, but we've got her on just a bit of beet pulp to give her a tiny bit more bulk for the in-hand classes, a 6% fat 11% protein pelleted grain, (1 qt) and 1/2qt of Ultium (12% fat, 11% protein) per feeding (2x/day). The farm owner had her mare on the same diet until she bulked back up again, and then decided to take her off the 6/11 feed, and she's been more manageable.

    I am very fair with her, just firm when I need to be. I just wish, after literally months and months and month of repeat, repeat, repeat she'd get it by now. I'm really hoping it's just a phase, but it's been a literally year long phase! My neighbor just got a round pen, and was offered to use it if I need to, so I might take advantage of that a few days a week.

    I like the filly a lot, but I honestly don't feel that love connection with her. She is the first to meet me in the paddock, seems to like seeing me, but the defiance is just really straining our relationship.
     
  10. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    I know it can be so frustrating! I don't have that connection with either of our horses right now...and I SO miss it. It makes it even harder to go out there, get the horse and do the work when you don't have that friendly feeling.

    I can honestly say I've never had a baby go through a 'phase' for that long...so I don't hold out much hope for you that she'll outgrow the behavior. I do hope you can either train it out or make a decision to sell her and try again, hard as it is. I bet she'll be quite the athlete when she starts u/s...as horses with that personality usually are condenders [​IMG]
     

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