View Full Version : headshy?
7th Jan 2000, 03:52 AM
question for everyone regarding headshy-ness. Raven (16 yr. old 17hh TB gelding) seems to be, a bit. it could be that he's simply one of those horses that's not terribly affectionate, but i'd like it if he didn't typically shy away from my hand when i just want to pet him on his muzzle or behind the ears, etc. usually when he's very relaxed, he's *fine* with it, even gets that calm, almost-tired look in his eyes when i'm petting him. he's also fine about being bridled; accepts the bit with no problem whatsoever, but is *not* a tremendous fan of having his face brushed or even rubbed clean with a rag - usually i only get to do it when he's involved with something much more exciting, like, say, his hay. :rolleyes:
normally, though, he'll throw his head up or away when i reach toward it to just pet him or give him a treat - even when i move slowly. i tend to talk to him calmly, and just be real gentle with his face, no sudden movements, etc.
but... what can i do to perhaps cure him of this headshy-ness, if anything? it's not a really horrible problem, but i wonder if there's something i can do to make him react a little more calmly as a general rule. perhaps he just needs to get more used to me (i've only been leasing him for about 3 months, but in that time i see him just about 5 days/week, with the exception of the time i was away for Christmas). thoughts? ideas? suggestions? anything? Gayle? ;)
7th Jan 2000, 04:06 AM
Hey Cyn, how are ya?? Raven sounds a LOT like my mare. But in her case, she is headshy (not with me anymore after 9 years) because a dufus (sp?) split her head open with a stud chain before I owned her (the a$$hole was trying to outmuscle her). Raven will accecpt his headpettings in time, but you will need to show him at every opportu;nity that you mean him no harm. Is he headshy when you bridle him also??
7th Jan 2000, 04:45 AM
When you are petting Raven, are you stretching your fingers out towards him, or closing your fist when you move your hand towards him? I know that sounds wierd, but horses are prey animals, and when you move your hands towards them with your fingers outstretched, their instincts tell them your fingers are claws, and they should move away. Try keeping your fist closed until it is actually on his head, and see if that helps.
Other than that, keep petting him while he's munching hay, or feed him a carrot with one hand and pet him with the other.
When you have a halter and lead on him, hold it so he can't raise his head too far, and slowly move your hand towards his face. As soon as he starts to shy, leave your hand suspended in midair until he relaxes, and then slowly work your way closer, keeping him relaxed.
My 4 year old mare was slightly headshy when I bought her, due to rough handling by inexperienced people (she was being catch-ridden whenever someone needed an extra horse, and that was about it). By following these methods, and being patient, she gradually got better, and is now pretty happy having her ears handled. Good luck with Raven.
7th Jan 2000, 07:35 AM
hey, gayle! thanks for the reply, and yeah, like i said, he's just peachy with bridling; no problems at all. i mean, he won't usually stand there stock-still unless i get in his face and *tell* him to, but he's not running away from the bit or anything... opens his mouth willingly and all that.
and allie... good thought about the closed fist thing, i never would have thought of that, but it does make sense! i'll try to keep that in mind now that you mention.
good idea also about leaving my hand off of his face directly when he starts to get spooky, amd moving it closer when he relaxes. you know, now that i think about it, that sort of fits with his personality - he's real spooky about things that he doesn't understand or isn't too sure about, but once he knows that whatever it is he's scared of can't/wouldn't hurt him, he softens and calms down. now that you mention it, there's no reason that him being headshy should be any different - in that once he realizes there's no problem and my hand's not going to do anything bad, he'd be fine.
cool. thanks again, you two... i'll keep an extra eye on this tomorrow when i see him! :D
p.s. sorry, Mike, about the other thread... i admit i get annoyed or too sarcastic sometimes; it's usually all in good fun, but i understand what you mean. i'll play nice, i promise. :cool:
[This message has been edited by cynthia (edited 07 January 2000).]
7th Jan 2000, 08:28 AM
Cyn, don't get discouraged if it seems to take a long time (in our case it was YEARS...but then my mare is not a "people" horse...and I respect that about her and she seems to know it!) Duh, I see now in your original post that he bridles fine...I have a bad habit of not reading thoroughly, lol! He may have had a bad experience, or maybe he's just somewhat headshy by nature...really hard to tell for sure with these darn horse creatures, and they sure can't tell us! (well with words anyway).
Allie, that makes a lot of sense about the open/closed hand thing, I'll experiment tomorrow with my old broad!
7th Jan 2000, 09:13 AM
yeah, isn't that interesting, about the claw/predator thing? it's funny; i'm sure most of us humans that know *anything* about animals have this almost-instinctive thing where we extend an opened palm to an animal as a gesture of peace and greeting... particularly with "strange" dogs, you know? i remember being taught as a little kid to never go right up and pet a dog i didn't know, and to use the palm thing first.
funny (but perfectly reasonable) to think that horses might see this differently!
7th Jan 2000, 01:30 PM
The suggestions that Allie made are exactly what i would say too. It could be worth trying the approach and retreat method up his neck instead of in the air on the way to his face. Stroke his neck and work up to his head, wehen he pulls away, just keep your hand there, then move in further up till you have reached his face.
8th Jan 2000, 01:09 AM
Everyone who said they would try the open hand/closed hand thing, please let me know what happened. I'd be interested to see if it works as well with your horses as it did with my two. Sarah's idea about trying the spproach/retreat on the neck is also a really good idea. I guess we are all just feeling exceptionally brilliant lately! :rolleyes: Anyways, good luck everyone.
8th Jan 2000, 05:09 AM
A friend of mine has a horse that gnashes his teeth, pins his ears back, and avoids the hand of the person reaching out to pet him. What I've found to be somewhat useful is to just place my hand flat on something near his head (such as a stall wall) so that he can come to investigate my hand before I try to touch him. While he's getting a good sniff of my hand, he'll let me rub his nose if I don't move too fast. Then I can usually continue to pet him for a minute or two. Sometimes nothing works, and I'm lucky to escape with all of my fingers attached! I'll definitely try the closed-fist tip; it certainly makes perfect sense. :)
31st Jan 2000, 07:13 AM
I know this sounds kind of basic but noone else has brought it up yet. When you try to touch her face are you approaching her head from the side? Horses cannot see what is directly in front of them, so if you are trying to approach her nose from the front this could be why she is so jumpy. So my suggestion is to try and approach her head fronm the side so that she can see it coming.
2nd Feb 2000, 12:08 PM
My horse hated his ears touched...I tried to be patient and do slow steps with him for months with no luck..Then I bought the Step By Step book for TTouch with Linda Tellington-Jones..It is a big picture book with steps to touch your horse and gain trust & muscle awareness and relaxation with your horse..It has a little massage to it. I have been doing it for 3 days & immediately I see a drastic change. I start with a push/pull inchworm movement up the neck till my horse relaxes his head down. and then massage in small circles around the base of the ears. Starting over if he raises his head. And then run hand outsid and up ear...etc. But before I did the ears, I did the face and nose touches that really loosened my horse up. He actually likes that part firm...if you want more details let me know or look for the book. I really recomend it for bonding & trust.
2nd Feb 2000, 01:59 PM
I used TTouch on my previously head-shy mare - took a few months, but she's not head-shy anymore and has even become quite affectionate, begging for attention.
7th Feb 2000, 02:57 AM
ya know, as much as I've heard/read/seen about TTouch, it never really occurred to me to actually give it a try. good thoughts; maybe i'll go ahead and at least get the book. i've only really seen the book/video in her infomercial, which kind of frightens me... are they generally available in bookstores as well? haven't seen it in my local tack shop. anyone have a phone number to order from? thanks. :cool:
7th Feb 2000, 06:11 AM
Check your local library! Then if you really think its a good deal and you are going to use it a lot then buy it!
7th Feb 2000, 10:00 AM
Cynthia - You helped me with the Bates Dressage Saddle.
TTEAM USA - 1800 854-TEAM
The Book with lots of pictures that I recommend (if you are not a video buyer)...is Improve Your Horse's Well-Being A step by Step guide to TTouch and TTeam Training. Good Luck! :)
Videos - TTOUCH of Magic for Horses
TTouch for Dressage*
And others...I am not thrilled with the names of her techniques...animal related...but my horse responded so quickly with his headshyness. It felt rediculously elementary to me in somes ways....and I am not a professional with horses ...but it worked! My horses attitude changed before my eyes.
[This message has been edited by michal (edited 07 February 2000).]
7th Feb 2000, 01:08 PM
sorry cyn, this message is not really 4 u, more for allie.
Allie, have u read the monty roberts book? Is that where u got the idea, it works doesn't it.
Cyn if u can get hold of it u should read montey roberts the man who listens to horses.
A) it is a really good book and B) it hel;ps with things like headshyness and other things.
Wellk, c u later, Kathie
8th Feb 2000, 01:36 AM
Yes, I have read the book. John Lyons (who I like as a person a lot more than Monty, but we won't go into that) also expresses these ideas. Most of it is common sense, only we don't think about things that way, so we never realize it. John Lyons is a really good trainer, excellent advice, has a website at www.johnlyons.com (http://www.johnlyons.com)
10th Feb 2000, 05:06 PM
Hi Allie, thanks for the address no time now but I will look at it soon, sorry cyn, I know this is your forum. Hope the headshyness is getting better. Allie, has that guy got a book? well gotta go, kathie
11th Feb 2000, 01:29 AM
kathie- he has several books, all part of a collection. I think total there are something like 26 books, although only 6 or 7 are available so far. They all focus on a different aspect of training. I have two- Communicating With Cues part 1 and part2. They are both very good, I'm sure the rest are too.
11th Feb 2000, 10:33 AM
kathie: every thread is for discussion with anyone who wishes to respond to the original poster. you need not apologize to me - this is simply the way BBs work. back and forth discussion about a particular topic, regardless of the original question or poster, is simply the nature of the beast. if, on the other hand, you feel you're veering enough away from the original topic of discussion, you might want to go ahead and start a new thread (that's the "POST TOPIC" button in each of the individual forums - Training of the Rider , Horse Care , and so on).
12th Feb 2000, 04:30 AM
Hi Cyn, thanks 4 being understanding, though I know it must be annoying if u get a message saying someone has posted a letter, then when u get online u actually find that it is not advivce 4 u but someone talking about something entirely different. How is your horse doing? Did the finger thing make any difference? Well, gotta go, kathie
By the way if u just wanna chat i have a disscusion in general, called hello, I would love 2 hear from u here or there!!!!!!!!
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