"The problem we have with the new pony is that he is constantly on the lookout for some perceived danger. We have our 18 year old New Forest Pony who is completely settled in the field and we also had my daughters 27 year old who we lost last year who was also completely settled in the field.
The new pony is a 10 year old Connemara who had an eventing background. He can be spooky on hacks at silly things like a plant leaf or a log lying or different coloured grass or shadows on the ground. He will however walk past tractors, busses, motorbikes etc.
As I explained he is constantly looking all round the field, looking for danger, he stands with his head up extremely high and stares for ages all around him. Yesterday it was windy and he was awful, we tacked him up and he was shaking like a leaf. Once my daughter is on board he completely calms down and behaves apart from spooking whilst being ridden and then when we return to the field he gets agitated again.
Today was awful, again he was shaking standing at the stables to get brushed and tacked up, staring down to the bottom of the field with his head bolt upright and spinning. Once on board he behaved impeccably on the hack and we returned to the field. This time he was getting more and more agitated so we tried to put him in the stable thinking if he could not stare he would not get wound up. How wrong were we, he started rearing in the stable and trying to jump the door so we let him out. For the next hour he galloped round and round, jumped the fence into a different part of the field and tried to then jump out the field. He was lathered in sweat and was in a complete blind panic, he was shaking really badly. I tried to catch him and put his headcollar on but he reared up at me. He would just gallop and stare and then gallop and stare.
I am at a complete loss as to what to do, obviously he is distressed but I dont know how to help him or do we just have to sell him if he cannot settle in our field.
Whilst he was behaving in this way our other pony was standing happily tied up and then in his field.
I am at my wits end and would really appreciate your input.
It's too bad you cannot take him back to the places where he has been before in reverse order until he calms then take him back to the next place and see what is different.
My feeling is two fold.
First, he has no sense of place. He does not know where he belongs or where he fits in the scheme of things.
Quite often horses like this make dramatic changes when shown their place. All peace, all comfort, all security is in the herd. All horses need herds, all herds need leaders and if they don't have a leader they will become one, even in a herd of one. Sometimes they don't make the best leaders. I give them both a herd and a leader which gives them a sense of place.
When I am with the horse I am automatically a part of its herd. Because I don't do well when the horse is the leader, and since I have the more rational thinking ability, it is in my best interest to become the herd leader. I do that by mimicking the ACTIONS of the lead horse in the herd.
Contrary to what people think the herd does not exist for the herd, it exists for the individual and is governed by a dynamic referred to as the "pecking order." Simply put, you can take any rights from any of the other herd members that you want as long as you are able to and are able to resist any challenges to the taking. You can take the best food, drink before any others, occupy the choicest grazing or resting places as long as no other herd member can prevent you from doing so.
Horses are ranked within the "pecking order," also known as the herd dynamic, by their ability to take and keep rights from other herd members. Horses who can take rights from every other member of the herd are what we refer to as "Alpha." The other horses fall below the Alpha to the degree they can take rights from other herd members. The horse that EVERY other horse in the herd can can take rights from is the "Omega."
Horses understand, accept and cling to this dynamic regardless of their ability to take rights and keep them. You see, all comfort, all security, all peace is found in the herd. In the herd you have more eyes and ears watching for danger than you would if you are alone. In a herd you don't have to be the fastest horse to escape danger, you only have to be the second slowest.
The herd exists for the individual.
In a herd all horses focus on the leader and look to the leader for direction.
I become the leader. I take all rights, I defuse all challenges and get the horse to forget everything else and look to me for its direction.
I do that with a herd dynamic procedure that has come to be called "Marv Walker's Bonder." I simply give the horse a series of directions that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can get the horse to obey without touching it until the horse says by it's actions, "This being is giving me herd leadership actions and I am responding to them, therefore this being must be a herd leader and I must be a follower." To see this thoroughly explained and demonstrated a number of times I suggest my DVD Mentally Connecting With The Adult Horse.
This horse appears to be looking for a herd leader.
I would get him in an enclosure that will keep him in and that is large enough to keep the horse away yet small enough to control him and put him through the herd dynamics procedure.
For a free TEXT how-to for the "bonder," email my auto responder and READ the automated message that comes back. It contains some stuff I want you know and the URL to the procedure text. Click here to email for the bonder.
I would also have him examined by an equine chiro because abnormally spooky horses, and what you report indicates an abnormally spooky horse very often have some cervical issues in the neck that can often be corrected with chiro.
Click here if you do not know of an equine chiro in your area.
Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth.
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