My YO has a very sweet pony who has had a bad start in life and she seems to do so well 1 minute then the next she takes 10 steps back. She has a huge fear of being caught and now the nearest we can get to her is a little touch on her nose, we was talking today and had the thought of taking her to clevedon in February to see monty do you think this is the best idea for her and how does it all work when it comes to horses being picked ect. Any tips would be great we have literally tried everything with her and even now we are so desperate to get a farrier to her but like I said we can't catch her.
Hi natty, poor pony, she hasn't had a good start has she? I'd have to suggest getting an RA out to be honest, as she needs a farrier. It's not unusual at all to have progress then they revert to being scared again, but any little bit of positivity she gets will start to make a difference. Until then, and I know the weather's not ideal now but...Have you tried sitting in the field with her, a distance away that she feels completely comfortable with, and without looking directly at her, then if she takes a step in your direction move away? You can keep it going as long as you want as there's no pressure on her, so you could do it daily. Maybe fiddle with a plastic bag in your pocket every so often so it catches her attention and may peak her curiosity. If you do let her come quite close to you, gently put her a treat down and then slowly just walk away from her out the field. You can progress to letting her touch you with her nose instead of the other way round. Is she on her own or with other horses?
If she badly needs a farrier now by February surely she will be a lot worse? If her feet are sore or even uncomfortable that will make her feel even more vulnerable and less trusting. Can you not gently herd her into somewhere smaller or somewhere that there is a better chance of catching her? I have had a pony like that and she was lame too, 4 people in a small 15x15m area all with food took an age to catch her-and she was very lame! She even kicked the vet oops but for her welfare it was more important to get her treated, so once we had caught her we did just sedate her to treat her (foot abscess) and then put her back in that small paddock, the sedation makes them forget any of the work the vet did so when she woke up back in there I had some feed and I know she wasn't stupid and knew what had happened but honestly within days we were able to catch her in a much shorter time frame, and even if it took longer it didn't matter because the urgency was gone. I had only rescues that pony 24 hours before she went lame, when I got her she'd been knee deep in mud for months, so was easy to catch!! Because she couldn't get away! It took time and it was often more steps back than forward but that pony a year later was broken, riding and being handled and ridden by novice kids. If it was me I would get her feet etc sorted and then take more time to win her trust, rather than wait until she's lame like poor Holly was! Aaw I miss my Holly, she was what made me decide to rescue ponies who had been treated bad as opposed to starved/neglected, ones that have lost all trust in humans are the toughest challenge but most def the most rewarding! lots of time and patience and understanding....ooh good luck with pony....I've not helped much but just to say it can be done!!
If she does need attention it can be more settling for an untouched horse/manhandled horse to sensitively manoeuvred to somewhere she can have attention under sedation (feet, dentist, any vet attention). Was so impressed with how the vets were with my friend's wild NF and we knew when we were starting working we weren't working against pain. Sarah Weston's book - No fear, no force - and Kelly's handling the untouched horse - are invaluable sources of information.
Ben Hart has written some really good shaping plans for all sorts of training task - his catching plan is designed for those that have never been trained to be caught, and those that have developed a problem. I have been working on a couple of plans with three of my horses and I am very pleased with the results - it really helps you see where you left the gaps in the training and how best to fill them in. All the details can be seen here www.hartshorsemanship.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=controller.viewPageShop#0D5EBC51-7F06-A794-E5D4CD56BC4162E4 and the plans can be downloaded from his website.
I don't think she would be a candidate for Monty's tour - can you imagine her trying to deal with an arena, peole sat all around her, having to get into the pen etc.
However, probably would be an ideal candidate for Untouched Horse course - I know she has been touched, but she will get a couple of really intensive days of IH style handling. I did the course a couple of years ago and it was fascingating watching the progress of the horses that had problems. I took my neighbour's girl down (cattle market rescue), and whilst I wouldn't say she is a changed pony, she is certainly softer, happier, more relaxed and easier than she was before.
Thanks guys I will def look into Sarah's book! It's quite mad to think that 12 years ago I got a pony straight from dartmoor and gained such a bond with her that within 4 weeks of having her she was being led out on a busy road yet this pony seems to be so messed up it seems impossible! It's hard to believe that a year ago she was being ridden when now we can't even get close to her! My YO slipped over in the field a few weeks ago and we went back to square one and we can't go near her yet my 3 year old daughter can walk over to the fence and stroke her if she is near the fence! Unfortunately due to a lot of circumstances my YO cannot afford to have an RA come out although we know that is the best thing as this pony could be the perfect pony but unfortunately her last owner just left her in a field with a stallion and her 2 year old colt who was still having milk and she was also pregnant which was when my YO stepped in and paid an awful lot of money to get her out of that situation. We have put her in a small patch in the field with a shelter just so we can try to get close to her and now with lack of grass is being given hay and hard feed but she won't come over to get it she hides behind her companion till my YO has left the field. I am going to move her companion out of her patch this weekend and see if that will make any difference but I don't think it will as I took him to another field for a while and we still couldn't do much with her.
I would try keep her routine the same every day, as in if humans appear and take away her comfort-her friends she's going to feel even more vulnerable, if she's already hiding behind them then they help her deal with you guys there, she needs maybe one companion who doesnt need to leave for a while, who is super friendly and won't learn her nervousness, make a little fuss of the friendly pony so she'll happily come over for tlc so nervous pony can see that ye come, are nice, and leave. Also spending time in the field just sitting and nit putting any pressure on her. Every new thing you try and fail shes learning more ways to avoid, if she's had good times before you need to help her remember the good times. If she likes little kids-which I have also found with the most abused ponies-you need to try find a small person who can go in, sit, sing or talk to her etc, a small person may have a better chance restoring her trust enough for others to start, so long as it's safe..
I have found her confidence in people has got worse since her companion came back (it's her son). If we go anywhere near the field he is there we make a fuss over him till his mum comes down and I just put my hand out to see if she wants to no (I don't put any pressure on her) and if she does want to be touched after a few minutes her son sends her away, he's also not a very good doer so would rather he had a bit of grass as well as hay and feed
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