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Tips on leading a stubborn Percheron gelding?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Lacrymosa, May 17, 2010.

  1. Lacrymosa

    Lacrymosa In the Brooder

    Mar 4, 2010
    Fort Worth
    I have this new horse (beautiful jet black Percheron gelding) and I have been working with him at the boarding stables for almost four months now. I've only been on him twice, and he is very gentle. He lets me halter or saddle him, love on him and everything...except for following me! He doesn't budge after I have the lead rope and start trying to have him walk with me. I am at the point that this is becoming a daily struggle to get him out of the pasture and into his stall. I always check the halter, the surroundings, my mood, everything. He just seems to have that mindset of, "I dare you to try to make me do it."
    I don't want to bribe him with carrots or something, because then he will only work while I have food.

    Do you guys have any tips or suggestions as to how I can get him to go more easily?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  2. CoopCrazy

    CoopCrazy Brooder Boss

    Mar 3, 2009
    Here is one option we used to use them on the stubborn studs at a thouroughbred farm I worked at.. They are called a Nose Twist , it doesnt hurt the horse just makes them listen..The one we had was just a peice of rope on a 2ft branch. Do you also use verbal; ques when you lead? Like clicking your tongue, or a gee up?


    sorry forgot the link

    Here is another link with different methods

    Last edited: May 17, 2010
  3. Shadowhills Farm

    Shadowhills Farm Songster

    Nov 14, 2009
    Crystal River, Fl
    I would stand next to him facing him and tap his withers with a lunge whip or carrot stick (whatever you use). Don't hold the lead rope too tight. Have some slack in it so he will go forward. You can also point in the direction you want to go and say "walk on". You can also help yourself by visualizing his hindquarters as his "motor". The "motor" makes him go forward.

    I hope I didnt confuse you...just send me a PM if you need more help.
  4. Fingers crossed

    Fingers crossed In the Brooder

    Mar 6, 2009
    You could try using a lunging rein (not sure if its called the same over there), you need a second person the other side of your gelding... them holding one end you the other with the rein behind his quarters.... as you say "walk on" pull on the rein to give him a bit of a push.
  5. turney31

    turney31 Songster

    Sep 14, 2008
    palestine texas
    Try to walk forward , when he stops ..immediately..turn him either right or left..try forward again without letting him stop moving. Those turns will keep him off balance until he figures out it is a whole lot less work to walk straight. the secret is to keep him moving. you don't have to strong arm him,just push his head to the side toward his hindquarters until he moves. I also cluck when i ask for forward movement. Do this in a quiet calm manner. Do it every time, be consistant. at first you will wear out faster than him, just hang in there. I used this method on a BLM mustang mare. It works!

  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Are you working with an instructor or trainer? You really really really need an instructor or trainer.

    That said, the best solution IMHO is as follows:

    1) DO NOT EVER try to pull the horse forward. That just about *guarantees* he won't go. And don't look back at him. Aim the front of your body in the direction you want to go.

    2) DO NOT use anything funky on his head, no chain over the nose or under the chin and for heaven's sake not that "nose twist" thing from a previous post, you want him to GO not stop!!!

    3) Pull him to the SIDE, make him turn. Once he is moving, turn again in the direction you want to go and encourage him to keep moving. This works with a good proportion of horses.

    4) If #3 did not work after repeated tries, either because he keeps stopping and all you can do is turn in circles on the spot, or because (in the case of a hefty draft) you just can't even get him TO turn, then you need a dressage whip or a willow switch about 3-4' long. Stand in proper leading position, next to his shoulder (not head!), with your body facing in the direction you want to go, then reach back with your left hand and give him a good whap in the side/flank with the whip. Not beating him [​IMG] but not just a little tap. Make him MOVE. And be prepared to go with him! DO NOT STOP HIM FROM GOING!!! If he jumps or scoots, that is FINE, that is GOOD. Now you are moving. Keep moving [​IMG] If he stops again, do the same thing. Never ever try to restrain his reaction; and in fact tell him what a good boy he is. Soon he will discover that you mean business and you will no longer need to use the whip, although for a while you may want to *carry* it just in case.

    Good luck, have fun, please get professional help,

    Last edited: May 17, 2010
  7. Redyre Rotties

    Redyre Rotties Songster

    Jul 8, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    Quote:You won't have to bribe him with food if you do not bribe him with it to start.

    Here is what I would do. Only do this when you have PLENTY OF TIME. You will need a clicker or a distinct marker word to use. Lots of people use the word "YEP!" said in a clipped positive tone.

    Fill your pocket with treats cut into small pieces. Even for this big guy they can be an inch square or so. Go out, put on the lead rope, go to the end of the lead with no tension on it, and wait.

    Mark and treat any movement towards you whatsoever. In the beginning no matter how small the movement towards you is, mark and reward it. Do not do anything else except stand there. Keep the treats in your pocket except to remove them to reward him.

    It might take you several sessions, but you can teach him to come with you in this way. Once he has started to understand that moving towards you gets him a reward, then you begin to diminish the rewards by only rewarding the best performances of the behavior. So once he is moving you can treat randomly, say, every 3 steps, then every 6 steps, then 2, then 5, then 8, etc. As he progresses, the rate of reinforcement (marking and treating) will diminish until you are only rewarding him when he gets back into his stall.

    I would make sure that once you start this, that EVERY time he gets back into his stall, there is a nice treat waiting for him in his grain box.

    Eventually that will be enough for him, and he will be eager to go to his stall to get this reward each time you need to put him away. This also means that you will never need to have a treat on you in order to get him to walk along nicely. He will understand that his treat is there once he gets to his stall.
    Last edited: May 17, 2010
  8. CoopCrazy

    CoopCrazy Brooder Boss

    Mar 3, 2009
    Quote:You know I would appreiatte it if you could keep your response strictly to the point of the Op's question.. Just because you feel that your way works better doesnt mean that my way is not a valid way either... I have worked , shown and bred horses for a total of 18 years (both for racing and pleasure) and feel that your comment was entirely unneccasary.. My opinion was just one of many and just because you do not agree does not mean you have the right to negate my suggestions...
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Hey, all I said was (IMO, obviously) NOT to use a pain-producing device on the head of a horse whose whole problem is that you can't get it to go.

    Really, someone who can't get their horse going by normal means is not going to have any better luck by using devices that inherently make the horse want to pull back or stop.

    I did not "negate" your suggestion, I said that in my opinion it would be a bad idea for her to try in this case. Which is *precisely* "to the point of the Op's question".

    You get to offer your experience and opinion, I get to offer mine.

    Just sayin',

    Pat, who has taught many novice riders with uncooperative horses over the years.
  10. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    You have a forward motion problem, in order to fix it you need to understand (at the most basic level) three things. 1) Pressure without physical contact 2) into/away from pressure training and instinct and 3) the location of a horse's drive line.

    First, into/away from pressure training. Horses are naturally into pressure animals we train them to be away from pressure animals. IOW, we train them to move away from pressure when their natural instincts are to move into that pressure instead. This is why constant pressure against a horse is almost never a recommended method in getting them to respond. When constant pressure is applied the horse's natural instinct tells it to move INTO the pressure. So when you pull in a constant manner on a halter, for instance, this places constant pressure on the BACK of the horse's head at the poll. The horse's instincts tell him to move into that pressure, that is, set back against it.

    So how do we train them to move away from, rather than into, pressure? Short, rhythmic taps/tugs/pressure. Do not give the horse something to set back against. It is only his nature.

    Now, lets go over pressure without physical contact. Horses communicate via body language. As humans who depend largely on spoken language to communicate however we like to have audible commands for our horses. There is nothing wrong with this, but we have to be careful not to ignore the importance of body language in their lives when training and working with them. We need to combine body language with our audible cues in order to facilitate understanding. Walk at your horse with your shoulders slightly slumped, your body soft, he should stand still. You should be able to touch him, pet him. Now step back, harden your posture, straighten your shoulders, walk into him with energy, force, expect him to move. If your body language has been inconsistent with him in the past this may take some practice to get to the point where you two can talk to each other without words, but even a rusty horse knows that a hard posture, energy coming at him from a leader means to move. Remember he's been trained to move away from pressure. What does this mean for your problem? Do NOT turn towards your horse when you're expecting him to follow. Facing him places your energy, your intent in front of him and encourages him to move back away from you. Face forward, walk with intent to go forward.

    Finally, the horse's driveline is on his ribcage. He can be trained to move off your body language alone, but when you're reinforcing his leading skills you need to do so BEHIND his driveline. Pressure in front of the driveline tells him to move backward, pressure behind it tells him to move forward. Obviously you want to be leading him at his head or in front of it. So how do you apply pressure behind the driveline to get forward motion without being back there or facing the horse? Simple, a carrot stick or other whip/crop that is several feet long.

    Now put it all together: Stand at the horse's head, hold the lead rope in your right hand leaving a few feet slack between you and the horse, hold your carrot stick (in a pinch use a long lead rope and leave a good long bit of the end of the rope) in your left hand with the business end facing back towards the horse's flank. Walk off with purpose, do not LOOK at the horse -- look forward. When the lead rope gets taut move your hand just in small pops 1, 2, 3 to apply short rhythmic pressure, when the horse does not move reinforce with the carrot stick. Pop him -- tap, tap, tap -- on his flank in time with the halter tugs. Remember do NOT look at him. As soon as he gives to the pressure and makes the smallest move forward -- even leaning his weight forward -- stop tapping and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. Repeat expecting slightly more response out of him each time.
    Last edited: May 17, 2010

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