Implement Some Groundwork
Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has a tried and true method for training horses. It’s training the owners that poses a real problem. Join him as he tackles some of the most challenging situations with problem horses and with problem owners. This week, Clinton will show us what to do when a horse paws while tied up.
Clinton starts the episode by reminding us the importance of tying your horse up at the end of each training session. This gives them a chance to sit and reflect on their training for the day. Unfortunately, horses sometimes start to paw the ground and dig big holes while they’re tied up. This can be dangerous because horses can dig through railway ties and cause a nuisance around your ranch or home. While he mentions that you could essentially put a rubber mat down to avoid any problems, it’s not going to correct the behavior. Instead, you should focus on implementing some groundwork to get your horse to use the thinking side of their brain.
The main thing to keep in mind here is consistency. Every time you see your horse pawing the ground, go over and do more groundwork. Do Sending Exercise, Lunging for Respect Stage One and Two, and just work your horse so they have a reason that they want to stand still and relax when it’s done.
If your horse is pawing at the ground because they want to get back to the barn, try untying them and taking them back to the barn. Once there, proceed to put their feet to work. This eliminates that connection of a place with laziness and strengthens the thinking side of the brain. When you do this repeatedly over time, eventually they’ll learn to relax wherever you put them. Your horse needs to learn patience and obedience and they’re not going to accomplish that if they don’t respect you. If you submit to your horse’s bad behavior, the bad behavior will only get worse. Figure out why your horse is pawing and then work from there. It’s going to take some time to understand, but it’ll help your training in the long run. The best way to get an idea of where your horse wants to go if they’re pawing is to just untie the horse mid-paw. Your horse will run to wherever it is they’re trying to go, and you just need to follow them and then put them to work. Just make sure that you’re on your own property and all of the gates are shut before doing this. By creating a safe environment for your training sessions, you’ll strengthen correct behavior without risking any problems.
As with all of Clinton’s training methods, you’re going to need to focus on repetitive practices and have the patience it takes for these methods to work their magic.
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