Thursday, March 19, 2009

Issues with Yielding in Front

I went out yesterday, and the night before, to work with Beautiful and try on her new halter. (Fits great, btw, but sorry I forgot my camera).

We have an issue.

When she balks while being led, she is starting to jump up with her front hooves. She's doing it a lot when I ask her to move her front quarters away. It's completely defiant.

So, I've been working her hind quarters asking her to disengage, backing her up and keeping to her side. (When she rears up she bounces around to try to face me.)
She does eventually stop and give in to moving away.

Has anyone else had this issue? None of my horses have been this front forward and full of it.


  1. When she pops up, can you get her head down and make her back? And after she relaxes and backs, then ask her to move her hip and then the front end?

  2. Yes, she'll back and move her hip--but when I ask for the front, she pretty much braces. I apply pressure with my hand (though I'll probably switch to the carrot stick) and I release when she moves. But she doesn't like it one bit and tries to flip around or back up and pop up.

  3. When you ask for the front, meaning you are asking her to step sideways or ? If it's moving sideways, I've been kind of tapping his shoulder with the handle of the stick or my hand and also my hand with the rope up by his face. Guess lately, if there is resistance if I can get his head down, that seems to help getting him unstuck. But it also sounds like you have a sassy little filly who says spring is coming and is feeling full of it, lol.

    I've been running into Cody deciding to take off out into the not really fenced field. Things will be going along fine working outside his pen, and then I'm not sure what and he takes off and rips the rope out of my hands. Has done that to me two days in a row now the rat.

  4. I'm new to your blog, but not to Mustangs. I'm not quite sure of your problem, but thought I would try to help, if I understand it correctly. You can use her front shoulder as a pivot point. Stay by her shoulder and ask her to turn with you, as in turning to the left, and then move forward a few steps. While she is turning, you are in a very solid position. You can use her own body against her to move her around, if need be. If she balks again while going forward, make her turn again. In this way, she can't strike out because you are right by her shoulder. It's a leverage point. Just keep making turns with her until she understands that she has to move forward gently, with you. I have used this on several Mustangs, all previously wild, and it works great. It only takes a few times until they realize what the concept is that you are asking for. I'm not sure I'm explaining it well - long day - so please email me ( if I don't make any sense, and I'll try to explain it better. LOL

  5. No, that makes sense--ask her to move to the left with me--take a few steps--she'll be moving rather than rigid-- and then ask her to move to the right away from me--using my body at her side, if need be. Does this sound right? I'm going to try it tomorrow. She is striking, but at a distance--as if she's warning me.

  6. Actually, you can keep moving her to the left, around you. So you're the pivot post, so to speak. You're doing several things: You're letting her know that you're the leader at that point, and that she needs to follow your lead; you're also engaging her mind and making her move, even if it's to the side, and then asking her to move forward. Also, being by her shoulder, she can't strike out and hurt you. You can always hug her shoulder, so to speak, and all she can do is turn around you. So, pretty soon, she goes, "Oh, ok, no more of that."

  7. Jo--I was just out there doing this and I really focused on staying at her side. Before, I was walking out in front of her and letting her come behind on a slack rope--but it turns out, she wasn't really leading--she was just following.

    So, I went back to the basics--after all, it is Spring and it's not like she's been doing anything since last Fall.

    It's like starting over, except now she knows people aren't going to kill her and she accepts the halter, grooming, and picking up her feet. But the leading is like starting over.

    I think I assumed too much.

    So, moving her to the left, at her side, like you suggested--I then asked her to move to the right. She would take one step over and I'd reward her. And, that's how I ended it. She was walking at my side and backing up very nicely.

    You're right, too, that staying at her side and pivoting with her seems to keep her on the ground.

    Have you had this issue with Mustangs? Do you think they're more willing to rear and strike than domestic born and raised horses?

  8. Linda, did you get the post I did yesterday in reply to yours? If not, I'll redo it. I hope cyberspace didn't eat it.

  9. Well, it looks like my reply got lost, so I'll try to recreate it.

    I had a similar issue with my first Mustang. I was trying to lead her like I would any domestic horse, figuring she would feel the pressure and just move, eventually. But she didn't understand what I was asking. She struck out, not with any kind of maliciousness, but out of simple confusion and frustration. And that's how horses play and communicate with each other, if you think about it.

    By standing at her shoulder, I did several things. One was that I could use my weight to move her, if need be, because she was a yearling. Second, it was that pivot point I mentioned, so I could get her to move around me. Third, she could move around me without any opportunity to strike out because of my position. If you can just get a horse to move, even if it's only to the side for a step or two, than you can use that to work on the rest. And it's those little steps that add up to the big ones.

    One thing I have learned with Mustangs when teaching them to lead is not to simply walk in front of them. Horse leaders use the technique of pushing other horses from behind to get them to move. So, if I let her walk behind me, at least at first, she may think that she is pushing me along and is therefore the leader. I want her walking beside me, as my partner. I actually make my Mustangs who I am starting to train move in front of me at times so that they know I am the leader (at least most of the time - I believe there are times when our horses know better and should lead us).

    To me, it's all about communication and building relationship. I have 2 domestic horses who I adore, and they have taught me things that are invaluable. But my communication with my Mustangs is at another level. We've bred a lot out of domestic horses. I don't think that Mustangs strike out more, I think they just communicate more honestly.

  10. Very interesting. Thanks so much for rewriting that.

    Last year, when I first started leading her--I used the Kitty Lauman methods--I'd used the bamboo pole method for gentling. So, I had a small pole with a flag and I'd swish it behind her to get going when I applied pressure.

    But since then--and winter--I started treating her like a full-broke domestic horse.

    I didn't even consider that she might think she is leading ME by coming up behind--but I'm sure now that you say that, that she does.

    As for the rearing and striking--I'm sure you're right about that, too. Because a horse who really wants to strike will find its target--where she is jumping back and rearing up--more like communication than aggression.

    I really appreciate your feedback--thanks for taking the time to share it with me.

  11. No problem. I love working with horses and talking to people about horses. :-) I can't wait to read more as you keep going on your journey with Beautiful. Great name, too!


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.