Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Horse will not stand still
I have a 12 yr old thoroughbred mare who refuses to stand still at the hitching rail. Especially if I try to brush her. I have owned her for a few months. Whenever you approach her while she is tied she paces back and forth. And when you touch her with the brush she does it as well. It is extremely frustrating. And dangerous because she will run you right over. Any suggestions on how to overcome this? She is trained and was shown hunter/jumper before I bought her and I plan on doing that as well but feel unsafe around her on the ground.
First lets think about the reason your horse may have to not be standing still. She is feeling claustrophobic being tied and it sounds like she is trying to push into the pressure of the brushing which means pushing in to you! I have a few suggestions you can try and then let me know what you run into. First off, how well does she give the the pressure of the halter? This is an important thing to check before you tie your horse up. Most horses like their people enough that they follow along but when push comes to pull ( and it really can come to pull) they pull back on the halter if startled. I would work on walking with her with about three feet of rope hanging between you, don't hold her close at the buckle, then I would turn a hard left and walk off fast enough that she feels the weight of the halter behind her ears. The pressure should only last a moment so as soon as she steps towards you release the pressure. This is something you should work on for a week or so until you feel you almost have to try and trick her about where you are going because as soon as she feels weight behind her ears her feet speed up. Once she is giving to the halter you could tie her up and go do your chores, give her time to just be there. She may dig a hole or wiggle, but don't fret, if you keep this up as part of your routine she will learn to just stand on her own, that is an important piece. The second thing I would try is to go in the arena with a soft brush, stand at her shoulder with about a foot and a half of rope between you. You are the center of your circle. Start to brush her shoulder, not to make it clean but to show her how good it can feel! She will probably be nervous and walk, no worries let her walk, just keep up with soft long strokes and soothing words and when she stands still, even for a second, STOP EVERYTHING! You want to show her she controls your speed, she moves you move, she stops you stop. Soon she will calm and you can brush one or two strokes with her standing still, that is when you are done for the day.
Try some of these things out and let me know what comes up.
Caitlin Day Huntress