Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crossing The Highway - Also Need Advice!

I had a stressful day at work, so I decided I would not waste the rest of the beautiful (only slightly chilly) sunny day. I decided to take Chrome for a walk. I decided to take him in his pretty new blue Christmas halter. I also decided to take him across the highway for his second time ever (because we have to go that way to get to a neighbor's house where he will be having his teeth floated when we can get it rescheduled, so might as well practice).

It almost looks like his front legs are crossed because of the shadow lol!

I completely did not take into account the fact that Chrome has not been for a walk in over a month and that we haven't practiced in the new halter, so he was very dull to it (used to his rope halter) as well as being very up since we went a new way he's never been before. He really was not horrible, just very distracted. On a good note though he did not step on me or run in to me (and he's never tried to drag me), not even when he spooked once when a huge truck drove up behind us (then proceeded to ignore the other four we saw; it was one of those huge round silver eighteen wheeler trucks).

I got some video, but I don't have time to edit it right now, so I'll share it later. So anyway when we got to the end of our road our neighbors were driving by and stopped for a chat and so that their kids could say hi to Chrome. When we got done talking we went to cross the highway. It was a lot busier than I thought it was going to be, but we waited for a big break in traffic and crossed.

On the other side we walked the ditch, which was very wide and gradually climbs uphill with a four foot drop back down to the road. I thought that it eventually ran into a side road, but there was a line of trees and thickets that went all the way to the ditch, so we had to climb down the ditch back to the road to go around. Chrome did really well and made his way slowly down into the ditch. We hurried to the side road, went around the corner store to the road behind it. I didn't want to cross the parking lot because people fly into there to park. We went behind the store and back into the ditch across the road from the local elementary school.

There were a bunch of kids screaming, running and jumping on the playground across the street at the school. Chrome totally ignored them. We crossed another road into a large grassy area that was part of a cow pasture, but they cut the corner with the fencing instead of going to the road for some reason. I got him away from the road and let him graze as a reward for being calm. Here are some pictures of him grazing. I was trying to be artistic lol.

I'll have to go back down there, but I'm pretty sure the ground wasn't sloped . . . is he really that butt high??

Doesn't his blue halter looks great with the blue sky? :)

That's the school behind him, across the street. :)

So anyway, next we have the bad news. I told him it was time to go and he completely ignored me. Brat! I tried pulling his head up, but he ignored it. So I reached down to grab his halter right as he finally decided to go with me and popped his head up . . . directly into my face!!! Luckily it was the soft part of his nose into my lower jaw and lip. I bit my lip bad enough to fill my mouth with blood. I'm fine though. Wasn't as bad as it felt at the time. I know it was totally an accident, so I'm not mad at him. It was simply us moving into the same space at the same time.

So what is the best method for making a horse lighter to pressure off of a flat nylon halter? I've been using a rope halter with him for so long (because it's adjustable and I didn't want to buy a bunch of halters that he would outgrow) that he thinks he can just ignore the blue one. Sigh. Any hints? Anyway here are some more pictures, but keep reading because I'll tell you below what we worked on when we got back home.

He did a lot better going home. I think the grazing really helped him calm down.

Instead of climbing the four foot ditch again we crossed the road early and cut across the church parking lot. I love the above picture and the one below because another one of those huge trucks went by and he went into big time FFA (Full Friesian Alert). Too cute!

So cute!!

I still love that halter!!

Silly boy decided the church flowers tasted good LOL!

Also when I have time we had some fun in a puddle in the church parking lot that I'll have to share. He was very uncertain about it (never seen a puddle on pavement before), but did go through it and was so cute!

When I got hot I threw my jacket over Chrome's back so he could carry it for me. :)

The jacket looks like saddlebags lol.

Checking out the neighbor on his four wheeler.

His expression isn't good in this one but I included it because it looks like he's carrying the sun on his back lol.

Handsome boy.

So I guess I'm a little frustrated for myself for not teaching him how to respond to a flat halter. It just never crossed my mind. I was happy with the majority of his behavior on the walk though.


  1. Sorry I don't have an suggestions to offer, I need help, with the boundaries, too!

    But Chrome is a handsome boy! Sorry you got hurt, I hope your lip heals quick!

  2. Full Friesian Alert. I know all about that high head! My guy is a bit older - 4-1/2. The trainer has been working him for almost four months now and I will ride him for the first time in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I am ground working him. I am NO expert but here are my toughts.

    The fact you could walk him away from his herd to a new place is amazing. I walked Sebastian away (on the farm) to a patch of grass and he got a bit high headed and nervous. I can't imagine doing that without a rope halter on one so young and the stick and string would help communicate, I agree. Of course, not as a "whip", but you know that. It is about keeping him in his space and would help when you want him to raise his head... a tap on the rump would bring that head up when he doesn't respond to the halter pressure. But again, with one so young, I would suggest continue using the rope halter.

    Would the donkey be a good buddy for him to walk with to the house? Maybe your husband could help with that. Again, one so young (and strong) being led with a nylon halter to a strange place with cars, etc... Wow.

  3. Allison, make sure to come back and check my comments on this post. Maybe it will have some info that will help you to. :D Thank you for your comment. My lip feels better already.

    Aww, thanks Margaret! He was totally fine with leaving the herd because we've been doing that since he was five months old. He loves going out and has no herd bound tendencies at all. The only time he was a problem was when he first got excited about the neighbor's horses (but he listened and kept going), when he spooked at the big rig (but he didn't touch me and settled immediately) and when he was trying to graze/wouldn't leave the grass (bad planning on my part). I'll definitely walk him in the rope halter from now on, but I still would like to practice him being more responsive off a flat nylon halter at home. I don't even know why I did that except I think it's just so cute on him and I wanted pictures of him in it. I think I was wanting to do two different things (walk someplace new we've never been and get cute pictures of cute Chrome in his new halter) and tried to do them all at once lol. In my defence I had to get up really early for work so maybe I'm foggy headed lol. It all turned out okay. My lip is fine and doesn't hurt anymore (although I'll definitely be swishing salt water since it's cut). I've learned my lesson about leading him out without the rope halter and a whip (as you said, not for whipping, just for getting his attention when he won't leave the grass). I guess even though I've been around horses my whole life I still just have to learn my lesson the hard way sometimes lol. Thank you for your comment. It made me feel better about how Chrome did. He's a great horse and I haven't totally ruined him (which is how I felt earlier), I just need to refresh some of his lessons and teach him to respect my space and listen to me. :)

  4. Margaret gave some very good advice. If he is trained to the rope halter, he should wear that halter on unusual outings. I believe that carrying a whip or line with a leather popper is even more critical than the halter. Your boy should still move his feet for you even if he is not wearing a pressure halter. If you can control the feet the choice of halter should be a minor issue.

  5. Val, I completely agree. I don't know why I took him out in the flat halter. I was just tired and not thinking straight I guess. I have no doubt I could have gotten him to move if I had yielded his hindquarters, but I got smacked in the face before I got that far. I will definitely use the rope halter from now on when we go walking. I just forgot that he hasn't been in a flat halter since he was a foal, so he needs work in it. The only reason I was using a rope halter is because it's so adjustable while he was growing. So my question is when I start working with him at home in his flat halter do I just practice what he already knows (leading, halts, yields, backing) and he'll learn to respond to it or is there something specific I need to do to get him responsive from it? I am definitely going to get a whip for carrying with us. I had a short bat with a leather popper on the end, but I have no idea where it is. I need a new leash for the dogs anyway, so I'll just go to the feed store after work and get both. Thank you for your comment!

  6. I KNOW everyone has a preference, but I am just curious. Why are you switching halters? Do you consider a rope halter just for training ... I know many people do and some people hate them altogether. Just wondering... :)

  7. Margaret, Oh no, I don't hate rope halters at all. I love them and am perfectly content to always use one with him. I just really love the color and style of the new halter. It's my favorite colors and pops against his coat, so I wanted pictures of him in it on a walk. I just should have gone for a walk somewhere we've already been (with no grass lol). I still plan to use my rope halter, probably for his whole life, but I like to mix it up for pictures because he's so cute in it. :D It was just a lapse of judgement on my part trying to mix something new with a new halter.

  8. How did you train him to respond to the pressure of the rope halter? Do the same thing with the flat halter.

    Use a whip or lead with a leather popper on the end to encourage him to move his feet when you ask him to move. The pressure on the halter should be secondary. When I handgraze Harley, I always use my long lead line (14 feet or so) partly becuase it has a popper on the end (basically a crop attached to the line). When I was training him to graze with manners, if he did not follow me when I asked him to stop grazing, I would swing the line. After a swing or two I would make contact on his hindquarters, which meant "move it". He learned the progression very quickly. I cluck, then I swing the line, then I make contact. He learned to move off the cluck and stop grazing but sometimes we have to move up to step two and even less frequently step three. He grazes in his flat halter, but the halter is not really part of the cue. If I do not have a reliable way to move his feet, he can ignore me all day long in whichever halter I use.

    I do not know how to translate that into clicker-training, so I will leave that to you!

  9. I also would use the rope halter in different situations. By the way, the new medications are generic, LOL. The regular was 200 hundred dollars!! But I am seeing my gastric doctor on jan 20th and we will see what he says anyway. These meds help more with people who have stones. I don't have stones! So maybe he will say I don't need this med anyway. Have fun!

  10. Val, That makes sense. I didn't teach him to lead. He already knew how when I bought him at five months old. The clicker training was done with a target for teaching him to trot in hand. Now he responds off of my jogging and clucking. In fact I rarely ever take contact with his head while leading (in fact a friend of mine who has a habit of dragging on her horses can't even lead him because he balks when she starts pulling on his head for no reason; he does tie really well in both halters though and immediately steps up off of pressure if he steps back too far). He's really good at keeping slack in the rope, so maybe he doesn't know how to move off of pressure in the rope halter either . . . in fact I just realized this may be why he was so confused when we tried ground driving . . . If he ignores me while grazing again I'll definitely use a whip or the rope to get him moving forward instead of trying to pull on his head. Now I'm off to research teaching a horse to respond to halter pressure, because he does his lateral flexes perfectly so for all intents and purposes he does seem to understand it. It may just be that the grass was too much temptation. Anyway, thanks for answering my question!

  11. Ok, here's my 2-cents for what they are worth.

    1. They always behave more predictably in the environment they are used to working in. So, it's to be expected that he'd be "rusty" and easily distracted off the property. Just means that you should take him off more often and keep exploring new places. Also, longeing him first to get him good an tired might help too.

    2. When using a flat halter with young horses you have to teach them to respect it, since it is so much more gentle on the bridge of the nose and pole than a rope halter. Properly using a stud chain with your flat halter will cause him to learn to listen to the smallest amount of pressure from the flat halter and will not hurt him.

    A rope halter, in it's essence, has a built in stud chain that is always there. Some go so far as to add extra knots and metal pieces. Once he's listening reliably to pressure from the stud chain, usually a couple weeks time depending on your training regime, you won't need it but on occasion in a high stress situation (like arriving at his first horse show). You can always switch back to your rope halter of course, but then he'll never learn to listen to you when he has a flat halter on. The nice thing about stud chains is you can put them on when you need them and take them off when you don't. They aren't built into the halter, so you have lots of options.

    Although I have trained Rose to a rope halter, I'm a non-rope halter person b/c I've seen far too many accidents with them. However, I think it's good for a well rounded horse to be familiar with any equipment/tack that they might encounter in their life. So, Rose does have a rope halter that hangs on her paddock gate for emergencies, but I use my nice padded leather halter on a daily basis. I like to protect the pole and bridge and not have all that pressure on them all the time. She drops her head nicely when asked and listens just as well in a flat halter as she does in her rope halter.

    Oh, and if you do go out an buy a stud chain, get the long one, they come in far more useful for other tasks as well, and the short ones aren't very versatile.

    Food for thought anyway.
    Adventures In Colt Starting

  12. DS, I do need to take Chrome to different places. When we go walking we do always seem to go to the same places. I try not to go by the highway when it's really busy. I will try to start hauling him new places and walking him further to areas where we haven't been before. He does need the practice.

    My rope halter is homemade and it's a LOT softer rope than what most rope halters are. Also I rarely ever have to put any pressure on the halter. He's usually really good about keeping slack in the rope. I think that's one reason I was having problems in the flat halter because he was trying to snatch at grass and normally we walk on the road where there isn't any (can't do that on the highway obviously). So I'm going to take him to places where there is grass and practice on this not snatching thing. We've never had any reason to practice it before because we're normally on the road or out in my pasture where he isn't interested in the grass. I explain some more in my other comments on this post if you're interested. The reason I was using a rope halter is because it's so adjustable for while he was growing.

    I already have a stud chain that I got years and years and years ago and never used, but I can dig it out if I need some extra leverage to get his attention. How is the best way to use it? Where should I attach it? I think it's a short one, but I'm not going to go buy a new one since I already have this one. Anyway thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. :)

  13. My method for using a stud chain:

    1. Stand next to him on the left side (since that's the side one usually lead from)take the end with the clip and run it through the ring that you attach the lead line too, and then up through the ring (or square) located on the left side of his nose.

    2. Drape the chain over the top of his nose and through the ring on the far side. The chain should diagonally cross over the top of the halter, providing a bit of extra protection to his bridge.

    3. If it is long enough, clip it onto the ring that is by his cheek on the right side. If is is not long enough, then continue down and clip it to the the ring that you attach the lead line too.

    Never tie him with a stud chain attached! That could turn out very bad. There are other ways of using a stud chain, but this is the method I prefer as it gives you leverage but still protects the bridge. Good luck.

    Adventures In Colt Starting

  14. DS, thanks, that's sounds familiar actually. I didn't know about wrapping the noseband to protect the nose so that's good to know. Thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it. :)

  15. Since Chrome is mostly a good boy, I wouldn't worry about having a bad day once in a while. I'm sure it was because of the new halter being milder than the rope one. Also, gelding may have slowed his senses down a bit so instead of ALWAYS being on game, he may need a bit of encouragement once in a while. This isn't a bad thing by any means so please don't take it wrong. Your lesson ended good anyway. Wish you were here to work with my Yalla! I just never seem to have enough time.
    Hope you're lip is feeling better.

  16. Okay - just my opinion, but you don't have his halter on correctly, or it does not fit him. (Somewhat hard to tell with pics)Please look at the second picture, and all the others at a profile. The "jaw strap" is falling forward way too much. It should fit without choking, and stay behind the jaw bone. Being lose like that would not give you any hold on him should he freak, and he could way too easily get his head out.Again - it should not be choking him, but a little tighter would be better and give you more contact/control.

    My understanding is that they grow rear, and then front, and then rear, and front, so don't worry about a high rear, or any of that now. Pippi was downhill and then uphill several times.

    I know what you mean about cuddling, I love to hug and pet too. A friend told me to cut it out when she saw Pippi acting out: "she is a teenager right now, you don't hug a kid that is acting out, you show them who is boss." Easier said that done tho......

  17. Emme, thanks for the comment. Good eye, you're right the new blue halter doesn't fit him. I actually have it set on the smallest setting, so there isn't much I can do right now to make it fit better. That's why I wrote what I did in the Christmas post about hoping he would grow into it. I'm going to refrain from using it in any high intensity situations since it doesn't fit and he doesn't know how to respond to it right now. :) I probably could look up ways to punch a hole in the crown piece so I could make it tighter, but I've only ever punched holes in leather. Do you know how to do nylon without it fraying or ruining the halter? Thanks again for you comment!!

    Aww glad to hear I'm not the only "cuddler". Are you to the stage now to where you can cuddle with Pippi without her taking advantage of it or is she still in her troublesome teenager stage?


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