View Full Version : How to get a dim horse to remember training?
2nd Feb 2005, 05:43 PM
Sweet, gentle, kind... and rather dim, bless him.
Last October he was leading well. He knew 'back up' and he'd even pick feet up without having a hissy fit. He'd stand, he'd walk, he'd trot in hand.
Then he had the winter off....
And has apparently forgotten what halters are for at all. I'd think he was trying it on but he's actually trying to step over the lead rope, has no idea about yielding to pressure and is getting all worried because he doesn't know what I'm asking of him.
After three days he's now yielding to pressure on the halter again, has just about got the hang of 'back up' again and is on the way to trot (just needs to remember he has to stay near the bod on the other end of the lead. That seemed to addle him a bit too).
So how do you get a horse to remember what he's learnt? It's not exactly practical to work him every day but it seems at the moment that unless I want to run lengthy refresher courses in Things You Know Already it's the only way he'll remember.
And this is just basic halter training... what happens when we move on to more complicated things? ;) :rolleyes:
I despair of him.... but he is such a love!
2nd Feb 2005, 05:51 PM
got one like that - she is rather dim and fizzy with it, bad combination.
2nd Feb 2005, 05:51 PM
I guess with him, theres gonna be no other way than just repeating it over and over again! Each time he should get quicker and more responsive, however youll just have to get it engrained into his head what he has to do :D
Sorry, kinda uselees, I know!
2nd Feb 2005, 06:00 PM
Regression is a normal part of the learning curve for all animals (including the human variety). Regression will occur in cycles, some cycles of regression being more severe than others. A long time between times when practicing a skill (such as haltering) will result in deeper regression. (Think of it as "out of practice".)
So how do you get a horse to remember what he's learnt?
Practice, practice, practice...
The more practice, the sooner the horse gets through the deep reocurring regression cycles, and the deeper the wanted behavior is ingrained (i.e., conditioned) into the horse.
Just like humans.
2nd Feb 2005, 06:05 PM
Originally posted by Harry Hobbes
[BThe more practice, the sooner the horse gets through the deep reocurring regression cycles, and the deeper the wanted behavior is ingrained (i.e., conditioned) into the horse.[/B]
I hope so.
The same colt touches his nose to live electric fencing at least once a week, where the others all learn to steer clear within minutes - and stay clear.
He seems to need an awful lot of practice....
4th Feb 2005, 10:36 PM
My friend has a Highland gelding who is similar. He's an 8 yr old, who has done very little, he runs out with my 2, and she's had him for about a year.
He found everything he was asked difficult, and he was quite nasty. When he was being led, he would often root, and when we eventually got him to walk on, he'd turn his head to his off side, bulge his nearside shoulder and do his best to step on our feet, and he was pretty successful on a number of occasions - he made a real mess of my foot, even the sole was bruised and I lost my big toe and the next toe nails. Picking his feet out was horrendous, his legs would be ramrod straight, and when we eventually one coaxed up he'd lean all his weight through it until he lost his balance or try and quickly whip it out of hands and paw - he caught me out with this one too, I had huge bruise the length of my thigh.
Anyway he had issues with everything, and at first I must admit we regarded him as an illmannered pig. But the more we handled and worked with him, it became obvious that though he was very illmannered he just didn't have a clue how to do the things were asking him, and his reaction is too shut down and refuse to budge. I think his lousy brutish manners come from the fact that his previous owner probably tried to force him to do things he didn't understand and he's learnt that he was the stronger.
We are overcoming his problems just as Harry Hobbes said, though I must admit its not everyday now as he now does understand the bare basics and instead of saying no and evading instantly, we now have a glimmer of willingness and he's now making an effort to try. But its been a long hard journey, and we've had to face the fact that he's one sandwich short of a picnic - and I don't mean that in a nasty way. Practise and praise has been the way through to him, I think he must have been so used to being shouted at, that he just switched off.
Good luck with Rhodri - I don't suppose he has a long lost Uncle Hamish does he?;)
5th Feb 2005, 01:34 AM
Poor Rhodri...just not the brightest bulb, huh? Sounds like it's just going to be practice, practice, practice for him...
I knew another horse who continually bumped the hotwire. She was a yearling down the street from us; any time we'd come by there, and the horses came over to say hi, she'd bump the hotwire several times. (Once she bumped the hotwire while touching noses with Kat--she didn't respond much, but Kat reacted like she'd been bitten. Kat didn't like her after that.)
She never really seemed to learn from touching the hotwire...but she didn't seem to think it was a terrible experience, either.
5th Feb 2005, 09:39 AM
Dizzy - they do sound quite similar. Rhodri really isn't a difficult lad at all - at least not in the usual sense. He's very willing to please, tries really hard, but he does exactly the same thing and 'shuts down' when confused - rearing the first time the farrier saw him is a good example. He was fine for me to pick his feet out but faced with someone new doing it he got confused, and just failed to cope at all. Generally he's not bolshy or pushy, but it does seem to take longer to get him to back up than any of the others. It's not just a people thing either - the poor sod's been booted so many times because he doesn't back off when one of the others warns him it's unreal. And yet when the penny drops he's very very submissive. It's not malicious... but it is a pain.
Galadriel - that sounds similar - except that every time Rhodri touches it he jumps a mile. He just seems to forget rather quickly. Poor Kat! - she's not intellectually challenged at all is she?!
He's going to come and stay near the house for a while soon, so I can work on all this practice. We'll see how we go from there, bless him. Difficult to know whether to laugh or cry with him sometimes :rolleyes: :D .
5th Feb 2005, 10:16 AM
yep, Molly is a bit like that - at the moment she is getting confused, aged 16, about how to go into her stable at night....she is a bit like 'special needs' - so sweet but occassionally so so vacant, love her to bits as she is so kind and gentle, but life is a bit confusing for her. she has now been totally retired for over a year, and semi retired since 1997 - worst £1800 I ever spent. She is very fragile and like rhodri stands behind Rosie just asking to be booted - no horse sense at all. Poor little love, my heart goes out to her. She gets very anxious about nothing and all she has to do everday is pick up her feet, have them cleaned, rug on or not, out to field, eat or day, come in. Not a lot to remember....but she can make a meal of even that...
5th Feb 2005, 01:06 PM
I used to have a dim one and thought she was great! She was so busy trying to figure out what to do that she never got around to figuring out ten different evasions for what I was asking for :)
Current baggage is very clever, she learns really quickly what you want then spends ages trying "can I get out of it by doing this?" "what about this then?" :rolleyes: :D
5th Feb 2005, 01:39 PM
I'm glad I'm not the only one with a dim horse! :D
What's amazing is that his mum is really quick to learn - and she looks at him sometimes in such disgust I swear she wonders where he came from.
Once he gets the idea he is absolutely unbeatable - like you say Melanie he just doesn't have the brainpower to worry about arguing much. It's just the frustration of trying to work with him after a break - and one thing I have found is that where he does have an 'evasion' - with Rhodri, if he doesn't feel like trying or he's confused he rears - it's very difficult to stop him. Lili will try an evasion, get told no, and learn fairly quickly it's not such a bright idea after all. Rhodri forgets he's tried it without success already (several times :rolleyes: ) which makes him slightly more daunting at times.
Have to admit though, he is a very special little cob.
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