Sneaky Sneaky

I’ve found myself to be exceedingly lucky with the amount of quirks I’ve so far uncovered with O.  She doesn’t have too many irrational fears (I once rode a mare who was afraid of yellow), and typically gives me a heads up when something is bothering her.  Thank goodness.

However, just this past week I’ve discovered her new, and very sneaky bad habit.  I’m sad to say I played a major part in starting this habit, and am now desperately trying to stop her from doing it.  Just over a week ago, I had her tied to the edge of a stall  for a quick fly spray session.  During the course of my full-body hose down I accidentially sprayed her too close to her face, something I knew already that she wasn’t a fan of.  Like any rational 1200lb animal she had a meltdown right smack dab in the middle of the stable aisle.  It consisted of a series of head tossing before she literally planted her hindquarters in the dirt, sat down and threw her weight back thru the halter that was keeping her near my evil fly spraying.  Of course the metal tie down creaked, but held, I was busy “whhooooaa”ing her and couldn’t get her untied due to all the pressure.  So POP went the halter and she flopped over on her right side completely free of anything.  I’m pretty sure she was more embarrassed than anything at that moment, and immediately turned looked at me.  I grabbed a spare halter and snagged my escape artist before something else scary happened.  After that she got a nice walk and really seemed totally unfazed by her recent ability to 1. sit 2. get her own halter off.  Besides being worried about her I clocked this event up as a “oops-let’s not do that again moment”.

WRONG.  After that day O has now done it twice more.  Yes, that makes 3 halters we’ve gone thru in just about a week.  Only the issue is now, she thinks it’s fun.  The last one happened because she didn’t want her mane pulled.  As soon as I turned my back to pull some hair from my comb she calmly lifted her head, pulled back, broke her halter and walked 3 or 4 steps away before proceeding to lick at the stall wall.  The latest was when I was attempting to wrap her feet.  Nothing scary or interesting happening, and this time I was looking right at her.  And yes, she gave me a snort of victory that time.  You could practically see the lightbulb.  O has figured out how to get away from the things she doesn’t like- goody for me.  This week I’m going to try a variety of techniques to discourage this type of behavior, but please feel free to send me other ideas too-I’m up for anything!

7 thoughts on “Sneaky Sneaky

  1. Yuck, not a fun habit to start. I had a horse fake faint once when he wanted off the wall. He kindly sat on a bench and broke it into a million pieces. He only did it once, though.

    Good luck! Make sure your knots are quick slip ones!

    • That poor bench! I’m surprised mine hasn’t hurt herself or something around her yet. I’m going to try doing a different knot, and an extra looped rope around her ears/halter to see what happens. I’m really hoping if she discovers it’s harder than it was, she’ll leave it alone. That or we are going to learn to ground tie like a pro!

      • Tying is just one of those scary necessary evils in the horse world. It sounds like you know what you’re doing and have the patience and resources to figure out what’s best for you and O in the long run! Good luck!

  2. Oh no!! I rode a mustang last year who had learned to do this. If I left him alone for five seconds he’d calmly pop his head back and pop the halter off and walk into the grass… If he had been my horse, I’ve heard cowboys take rope halters and tie their horses to a tree or something heavy like a tire (well, when they are babies, I guess horses could drag around tires), that way when they pull back, they get the pressure, but it doesn’t break, and they learn to give to the pressure. Sounds kind of mean, but I’ve never done it, just heard about it. I always thought I’d just loop a rope around a tree, so that when they pull, I have leverage, but if they start to get into a sticky situation I can let go. But anyway- with the mustang, I just stopped tying him and taught him to ground tie instead. Eventually, when he got really good at ground tying, I tied him back up and he never popped his halter off again.

    Also, if you’re tired of breaking halters, just leave the cheek piece unclipped. That’s what I do with my baby, so that JUST in case he pulls back, it’ll just slip off instead of break.

  3. Great point on the check piece! I’ll give that a try as we work thru this. My in-laws are ranchers and they actually suggested the tire technique as well-they say that it essentially gives them soemthing to pull on, but they “fail” at getting loose so it should discourage the behavior. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve and hopefully will make it as difficult and uninteresting to her as possible. I figure that she needs to learn how to ground tie anyway, so if that’s what ends up happening I’m okay with it! Thanks for the advice!

    • Well good luck! I think the ground tying just helped him learn respect, and then he didn’t try to break out of his halter anymore… ha! Even when I shaved him! (Which he was deathly afraid of). I taught Wiz how to ground tie first, and so I’ve never had any issues with him pulling back. Let’s hope he never learns like O!

  4. Pingback: Win a Horze leather halter! | A Gift Horse

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