Pony getting a bit pushy

Jan 20, 2020
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So, I'm one week in with Cleggy and we're starting to get to know each other. His personality is coming out and mainly hes very sweet. Hes started to associate me with treats I think and has begun to frisk me a bit when I first go to him in the morning - I have stopped feeding him treats in his stable or at the door to stop that. Someone has suggested having a treat bucket so he realises hes not going to find anything in my coat pockets.

What I'm more worried about is that he gets impatient to be off when I take him to his turn out field. I have to make sure I shut the gate before I unclip his lead rope and in his option this takes too long! He pulls quite hard.

He does listen to the stand command but I'm starting to worry when hes wanting to immediately dash off from my side as when he sets off, he sometimes does an excited gallop lap and kicks both back legs out when he first sets off. I get that hes giddy but I'd like a bit more control. Any ideas???

Hes great to catch when it's time to bring him in and plods back to the stable very calmly, even when other ponies have been racing around their neighbouring fields.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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Are you leaving the headcollar on in the field? Unless it's yard rules I really wouldn't, I've seen too many accidents from this. If you have to then please make sure it's either a field safe one with a built in breaking point or a cheap thin leather one that will break if it needs to.

When you turn him out turn him to face the gate and have your back to it with you holding it shut rather than bolted. I know you're trying to avoid hand feeding but this is a really useful time for him to now you have some goodies. Show him a treat, unclip his rope and take a step back before giving it to him. Hopefully if he's greedy he'll be very focused on that treat and wait for it which gives you a breathing space - it might not hurt to have another for him once you're the other side of the gate so he learns to wait longer. By facing him towards the gate he's going to have to take a step back and turn before setting off down the field, much safer for you, and if your back is to the gateway it's easy for you to get out quickly. Also while I don't it might not be a bad idea to wear your hat unti things have settled down.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Yes, agree. Give a treat after the headcollar comes off, this will discourage bombing straight off. The first few times, I'd also treat before the headcollar comes off too.... it keeps them interested in you for the release (a crinkly bag or noisy wrapper usually works). Then drop the first one after a few days but keep rattling that bag so he knows to stay interested in you and treat after release.

And give a treat when you put the headcollar in to bring in too. As a thank you for allowing the headcollar.
 

Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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Agree with both of the above. I had the problem in reverse - Hogan was very impatient for his bucket when I brought him in. Very bargy and ill mannered! To this day, I don't give him it straight away - he's tied up and has to wait. They do learn quite quickly with consistent reinforcement.
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I agree with above to try. Also you say hes pulling you. If so id say back him up several steps, so that hes not allowed to get in front of you. He must learn to walk at your side or behind. Thats your choice peoples views vary on this, but not in front. Putting them in reverse is uncomfortable for them so they learn not to rush. I use this as well in riding when my horse wants to go into trot and ive just asked for a forward walk, he gets a bit cheeky. I will ask first for walk and if he switches off and leans on the bit to trot, then i ask for a back up. This stops him rushing, as it gets them nowhere.
If hes pulling away from you as you try taking the head collar off then ask for a short sharp authoritive stand voice. Once stood tell him hes a good boy in a calm soothing voice and reward with the treat once you take the headcollar off.
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Agree with both of the above. I had the problem in reverse - Hogan was very impatient for his bucket when I brought him in. Very bargy and ill mannered! To this day, I don't give him it straight away - he's tied up and has to wait. They do learn quite quickly with consistent reinforcement.
Billy isnt bargy but you can see his impatience. I feed in the field and always feed chunky first. So billy respects that but then as i walk away from chunky to put the feed bowl down for billy he paces and can swing round on a sixpence. I was already barrelled when i first had him over the food, so im all to aware of those back legs. Every so often i have to reinforce his manners and respect to me. This week ive had to reinforce that he waits for me to invite him to his food. So i put his bowl down and ask for several steps of back up. Then momentarily he stands then i tell him and arm gesture and a step to the side that he can have it. Its like training a big dog.
 
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Jan 20, 2020
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Super advice, will try these pointers in the morning
@carthourse, yes I'd been leaving the headcollar on but it's too risky, I know. As hes coming back to me happily I'll take off from tomorrow. I like the idea of passing him a treat when I'm safely through the gate - hes greedy so I think that would work. Will use a noisy bag for treats to rustle @domane

And @chunky monkey I'll practise my authoritative voice - it works for my naughty german shepherd dog x
 

Kite_Rider

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May 18, 2009
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A rustly bag or a click noise then treat, didn’t take Belle long at all to figure out the click is followed by a treat and she only ever gets a treat following the click noise, so no frisking. She was like this when i first got her, it took all of about three days for her to figure out if she waited patiently for the click she got a tasty treat, I’ve also used it as an emergency stop out hacking, one click from me and it’s instant stop and wait. Food orientated horses learn very fast.
 
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Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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All great advice there, one of my ponies is terrible so he's a nil by hand guy now, ever. It's just easier than all the pocket checking which often leads to nipping.

The general testing behaviour is absolutely normal for this point in a relationship, they have to push the boundaries to see where they really are. Decide what behaviour you want and set it in stone now, get you, your daughter and anyone else that will handle him on the same page and be very strict about what is and is not acceptable behaviour, if you do i'll bet he will fall in line very quickly :)
 
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