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You are in... Forums > Welcome To Your Horse Forum > Hints and Tips > Rugging up a nervous horse!!!

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ShortStuff02

Joined:

Sep 10

Posts: 10

ShortStuff02 says:

Rugging up a nervous horse!!!

 Hey guys!!

 

So iv got a very nervous young gelding and trying to get a rug on him is proving impossible... anyone got any advise? 

I managed to get a fly rug on him during the summer but once i had taken it off him he wasnt having it back on... its not like i scared him with the rug either because i was sooooo gentle because i could see he was nervous!! and now its getting very cold and i would like to put some sort of rug on him to keep the chill off! As soon as i get the rug near him he completely freaks out... i cant even touch him with it! we have even tryed just putting a bed sheet over him because its light and doesnt make any loud signs... but still nothing :( we dont have any stables so i cant keep him in either sooo i kinda need to rug him up else he is gunna end up frozen! His old owners told us he had been rugged up during last winter... i dont believe them... they also told me he has been ridden in their riding school... i dont believe that either because he barely lets you sit on him!!! (although we are overcoming that nice and slowely!) 

So pleeeease help me!!!

Thanks x

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~ Winston Churchill

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DuffyDuck

Joined:

Jul 11

Posts: 951

DuffyDuck says:

Re: Rugging up a nervous horse!!!

Firstly, I would suggest working the horse. Lunge if its easier, get rid of some of the excess energy. Lunging is a great way to build up a bond with a horse, he has to listen to you. After that, if possible you have a lunge pen, or can mark off half a school, do a semi-join up session with him. You haven't had this horse long, so you don't know what could have gone wrong. Is he alright to saddle up, brush, saddlecloth on?
If yes, then try the fleece when he's stood. If he won't stand, twitch him, even if its with your hand, so he relaxes. Tell him what a fine boy he is, run your hands all over him and slowly inch it up. Don't throw it up on him, it may be because its big and its coming towards him!
Does he have any sensitive skin conditions?

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ShortStuff02

Joined:

Sep 10

Posts: 10

ShortStuff02 says:

re: rugging up a nervous horse

 He is fine to brush and fine to put a saddle on, he isnt so great with his bridle, he is very nervous and has possible been hit around the head because it took us a while to be able to brush his forelock, however we seem to have overcome that problem too. he just seems so nervous all the time, its so sad to see!! He is such a good tempered boy but shy's away from everything! I might try him with a fleece once i have lunged him, lunging too can be a bit of a problem, he has got good at stopping and facing me, and trying to get him going again is a pain because he comes towards me... Iv had a lot of problems with this horse and i put it down to bad previous owners! its such a shame!! also no he doesnt have any skin problems he is totally healthy, the vet has been out to see him a couple of times now so we could start off his vaccinations and they checked him over for us. x

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~ Winston Churchill

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dollymix

Joined:

Oct 07

Posts: 1604

dollymix says:

Re: Rugging up a nervous horse!!!

It sounds like you could do with doing lots of ground-work to desensitise him in general.

 

With a horse who is a nervy character (like your boy sounds), ground work can really make a massive difference to them, espeically in your relationship together as he will start to trust you more which will eventually translate back to your ridden work.

 

How is he with stuff on his back in general? Will he let you put a saddle cloth up there? I would take it back to very very basics...have him in a headcollar, preferbaly in a safe area like an arena, and have your rug (use something like a light fleece/cooler which is easy to put on) on the floor in the centre of the ring, with something like come carrots on top. Lead him up to it and let him sniff it and get the treat.

 

Next pick the rug up. If he backs away, move with him but don't attempt to put it on him. Don't look him in the eye or putthe rug down. Keep your posture relaxed and your shoulders slightly turned to him...but not squared up. When he stops moving his feet, put the rug down and give him a pat. Keep lifting the rug up and repeat what I've just said until he stops reacting when you pick it up.

 

Next, put the rug against him. Not up on top...just held against him. Again, if he moves around, keep it held on him and as soon as he stops, take the rug away and give him a pat. Repeat this step until again, he does not react. When he accepts this calmly..put the rug up onto his back, near the withers...about where a saddle would sit. Repeat what I've said about leaving it there until he is still and then make a fuss of him.

 

Noticing a pattern yet??? Basically, you want to ignore bad behaviour and reward postivie behaviour. I.e. he should stand still when you put the rug on him. It will take LOTS of practise and patience....but remember that the more time that is invested in this, and the less you do it by force...the more positive the outcome is likely to be.

 

Reading your last post...re the lunging. It's important again to keep them out and stay there!! Not the easiest with a horse who likes to turn in. Most horses do this because they are confused and often, if you let them...they'll just come right up to you! If you can get a helper. Position them on the opposite side of the horse to you and have them walk round with him until he gets the idea. But remember you are controlling him NOT the handler, so lunge as you normally would...whip to his shoulder and then flick out to send him forward. Make sure that you move around to make sure you are always behind his shoulder as the second he gets behind you he'll stop and turn in.

 

With a new horse, especially one who is nervous, of who has been badly handled as a youngster, it is really important that you're fair and consistent when you handle them so they learn the boundaries nad what the expectations are.

 

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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soniadevereux

Joined:

Jun 08

Posts: 4350

Re: Rugging up a nervous horse!!!

i expect you have tried all of this but this it was i did with my foal when he was just 3 weeks old.

Put rug over the stable door inside out so the soft lining is showing and folded in half so the bottom end is folded over the top/shoulders end.

Make sure the front end with the buckles is showing.

When finished grooming brush the inside of the rug with your brushes ( this gets his scent onto the rug)

When he is comfortable gently put your arm on the stable door and gently pull it over your arm so it is still folded in hald with soft side showing.

Let him sniff it and put back on door slowly.

When ok with that. put rug on your arm like before let him sniff it and gently lift to rub neck with it. DO NOT try to place rug on yet.

Take it away and repeat until happy

Repeat above and when gently rubbing neck move it slowly and let it rest on his withers. Once happy remove slowly.

Repeat above and then gently rest the rug still folded in half on his back. and remove

When happy with that bit, try again but gently unfold rug and let it rest. take off again and repeat.

It may take a few days or it may take a week. When you do put the rug on i always fold rug in half and gently place on their backs.

He needs to know that the thing on his back is not a predator and wil not eat him. He needs to know you mean him no harm and begin to trust you.

Good luck. My lad is only 5 months old and he knows its ok to have this done to him.xx 

Horses - if God made anything more beautiful, he kept it for himself. ~Author Unknown

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wagonsroll

Joined:

Jul 11

Posts: 669

wagonsroll says:

Re: Rugging up a nervous horse!!!

I agree with Sonia, the way i do it with mine is only slightly different. i lay it over a gate as if its on the horse then i fold it in half taking the back to the front, then i halve it again taking th back to the front then i fold it towards me so i can walk to the shoulder and rest on their back, this is now saddle shaped and size so  unfold the rugover the back as if you were putting a saddle on, honestly he shouldnt have even sussed you out yet next unfold the rug until it covers his back, have someone obv to help so they can then pass straps underneath, we just get prepared to be kicked for crossing over with leg straps and we always manage, though this is chris's job and he's had some bruises i could win competitions with. then carrots, you're a good boy. I always rug up another horse at the same time so that they dont freak at being the only one.

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ShortStuff02

Joined:

Sep 10

Posts: 10

ShortStuff02 says:

re: rugging up a nervous horse

 thanks everyone thats really good advise!! 

 I think its gunna be another long slow project but like you said once he is happy having a rug on i wont ever have a problem again :) im going to re-introduce him to the rug with some carrots like you said dollymix then once he is happy being touched by it i might try folding it up like a saddle cloth then placing it on his back... fingers crossed i can then pull it right over him!! only time will tell :)

i will probably have another post up here in a few weeks time with another problem lol!!! but we are deffo getting there slowely! x

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~ Winston Churchill

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wastetech

Joined:

Feb 13

Posts: 1

wastetech says:

Nervous horse

I find that the best way to get a nervous horse de-sensitised to the 'flight from fear' is to teach them leg restraints. It is not a technique used in the UK, but in Australia and America, it is normal proceedure when training a horse and it works amazingly well.It is even shown on the film 'The Horse Whisperer'.

Firstly, get an old stirrup leather and fasten it on the middle hole. Pick the front foot up and place the loop around the outside of the hoof wall and slide the other end over the forearm. This needs to be a short enough loop so that the foot cannot be pulled out of the strap. Then, try to lunge the horse, slowly, with the leg strap on. He will hop on 3 legs and soon come to a standstill. Then, praise him, walk up to him and take it off after he has stood still for 2 minutes. Lunge again, without it, then put it back on. He will soon learn that the easiest thing to do when the strap is on, is to stand still. This 'brainwashes' the horse into thinking that with the strap on, they can't move and it makes worming, injections, rugging, etc. so easy.

It really is a none event as far as the horse is concerned and they become so calm as soon as the strap is fitted as it takes away the flight from fear option and forces them to give all decision-making re. their safety, to you. Trust is established and they come on in leaps and bounds.

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