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new to horses
Hi everyone! I am new to the board as well as to horses. I got my first horse last week-a 2 year old mare. She is halter broke but that is about it. I do have a few questions.
1. When she does nibble at me or bite me(she has done this once) do I need to give her a small wack on the behind even with her not totally trusting me yet?
2. She is spooked by lead ropes and if one touches her feet she freaks out-anyway to get her over this?
3. She needs a bath badly but she is afraid of water. She had some blood on her legs when I bought her and she has some more from all the horseflys that I have killed on her. I really need to bathe her but she does not wany any part of it. Any advice?
4. Is it okay for her to pin her ears back while eating? She has no other horses around but I think she has had to fight for her food in the past.

Hi txgal! Welcome to [de]! Glad to have you here and hope you'll stick around and tell us more. What kind of horse is your filly? What's her name? We love pictures!![Tongue]

I don't want to sound discouraging at all, as I think you are embarking on an exciting adventure with your new filly, but let me say this right off -- you have a daunting task before you! If you do not have any (or much) experience training horses, the first thing I would do is try to find some help from a good trainer that you can trust. This is very important for your safety's sake, as well as for the needs of your horse. I would also read everything I could get my hands on concerning horse behavior and how to stay safe.

Your new filly is not really broke at all. She needs lots and lots of groundwork and gentling. In fact, she probably will not be ready to ride for about another year... 2 years old is really too young, in my opinion. It appears that her fear factor is still very high at this point and that will need to be your first focus. As far as your questions, here are just a few comments (others on here will know a lot more than me):
1. Nibbling or biting can never be allowed. She has to learn to stay in her own space and out of yours. First though, think about what will happen if you smack her on the butt when you are at her head end! She will probably jump forward and knock you down. When she moves her mouth toward you, I would give her a quick poke in the cheek with your thumb. That should move her head back away from you. You will have to be ready to do this each time she moves her mouth toward you. Also, remember that any correction you give to your horse has to be within 3 seconds of the offense, otherwise she won't understand. Anytime she acts aggressive toward you, you will have to make yourself look very big and mean, and make her think you are going to kill her (not that you would) in order for her to learn that you are the alpha horse in your relationship and she is not allowed to challenge you. She will constantly test this and you always have to respond as the alpha horse.
2. I'm sure she will be spooked, not only by lead ropes, but by nearly EVERYTHING! She will need a lot of sacking out. You will need to do flag work with her, lunging, touching her all over, picking up her feet, rubbing her all over with lead ropes, etc, including up and down her legs. The key to all of this is go slowly. To learn how to do all of this, here again, I think you need a trainer's help.
3. Bathing is just another part of sacking her out. You will need to start very slowly. After her legs are used to being touched, you can start running some water around her and onto her legs. Then work up from there.
4. Pinning her ears at you when eating is another aggressive behavior that is not acceptable. However, I would imagine that this behavior might get a little better as she just learns to trust you with all the other work. In time, you should make her stay back away from you, with her ears perked forward, until you set her food before her. Then, when you move away, she can approach her food and eat.

Always remember that she is a horse.... not a big child or a puppy. She can kill you in an instant... even if not trying to. You need to learn about how a horse thinks and acts. Here is a link to a good article which has helped me a lot:

Again, I must stress, try to find some experienced help in breaking your filly.

Keep us informed as to how things go with her!
"You learn a thing a day, you store up smart" - Festus Haggen

"A man’s soul can’t be hidden,
From the creatures in his care." -
Hard Candy Cowboy by Debra Meyer

Welcome to DE!

and what Harv said.

How did you wind up with a 2 y/o filly for your first horse? If she's not been handled much and it sounds like she hasn't, you really need someone who is experienced to help you with her.

Where do you live? Maybe you're close to a DE member who can recommend a trainer.

Please keep us posted!

Karen ~ Trails  
Joe Paint Gelding
Paoli, IN

"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sun and neigh in the night."
[Image: th_horse-galloping.gif]  

Welcome to the forum and to horse ownership! It sounds like you have some good advice. I wanted to add that you might be able to bathe your horse using water in a bucket and sponges. If you're able to have someone hold her, introduce her to the sponge, let her sniff it, bite it, whatever, then slowly rub on it on her until she's used to it. Then try it wet, and work up to wetting her thoroughly all over before you introduce soap. Or, you could stick her in round pen with a sprinkler on. [Big Grin]
*Riding smoothly with Spotted Saddle Horses "Thunder" and "Sugar"*
Welcome to the board and to the wonderful world of horsemanship. I agree with hmeyer in that you do have a big job in front of you. Run, don't walk to books, videos and any training information you can find. I would look for books/videos about natural horsemanship. My favorite videos are from a trainer named Clinton Anderson. He just breaks the steps down into such simple steps that even I can understand it LOL. He is also very safety conscious. Some other great clinicians are Chris Cox, Ken McNab, and numerous others. You can get familiar with them if you have satellite TV and get RFD-TV. Then you can figure out who you understand the best. Look for videos on ground training and handling foals. Although your horse is somewhat older it sounds like it has missed out on some basic ground training such as bathing, clipping,fly spray etc. These videos/books will help you fill any groundwork gaps and help you prepare your horse to be ridden. The more groundwork you do, the easier it will be to transition to riding. I wish I had known about these wonderful trainers before I got my horse. I would probably not have had as many injuries as I did.

This is a link to the "Handling Foals, Weanlings and Yearlings" video which is where I would start. I know your horse is older but there is so much information here on basic training and safety that is too valuable to skip. Many of these exercises he uses on older horses that have not been handled much.

As far as nibbling goes, on our young ones we just bump their mouth/nose with the body part they are nibbling on. They soon learn that when they try to nibble they get bumped in the nose and it isn't comfortable. If it is in an older horse that is actually trying to nip they get a very quick, hard whack on the neck and worse if they were really serious. Try to get whichever discipline in before three seconds from the nip. Otherwise they may not associate it with the nip. Best of luck to you. Stay safe!
Thanks everyone! She has really done awesome this last week. The biting has stopped and she iws just doing great. She is definetly the horse for me and I am so thankful I found her before someone else Anyway, thanks!
Glad she is doing better! Keep us posted on her progress. And if you get a chance we would love to see pictures!!

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