Horse getting grumpy while in quarantine

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Hey there, Shawna Karrasch here with another
Ask Shawna answer. I’m coming to you from the Desert International
Horse Park, in uh, in Thermal, California, so out here by Palm Springs. So we’re out here doing a Terra Nova event,
and we’re having Terra Nova Tuesdays. So I’m just going to record from here! See, there’s my logo. Ok, I have a question here from Sarah, and
Sarah says “I just bought a horse and she’s in quarantine. When I go to see her she now pins her ears
and turns her hindquarters into me and has kicked. How should I fix this?” Ok, I think it sounds like, and of course,
this can be a lot of things, Sarah, it could be her worried about her environment, so she
could simply be over threshold and feeling kind of defensive, and worried about things
around her. It could be that she is, or feeling protective
of her stall, that maybe now she’s feeling a little territorial with this is my safe
place and I don’t know what to do, so, or it can also be a lack, and what I suspect,
or what will definitely help is probably a lack of exercise. So, she’s having too much energy and not enough
free time, and not enough grazing, not enough social time, she’s probably just, is going
into being a little a bit frustrated with the lack of freedom that she has there, so
if there’s a way, you definitely want to try to get her some exercise, and I know it’s
hard when they’re in quarantine because we go see them, and then we leave, you know,
it’s not like we’re just gonna hang out all day together, and it also isn’t like you have
all the freedom in the world. But if you could get her out, if you can do
it a couple of times a day or I don’t know if you’re riding her or longing her or doing
anything as she is in quarantine, but if you can do some of those things, and if she hasn’t
been doing it just start it slow. I’d utilize the positive reinforcement for
sure, so I’ll get into that part in a bit. But build it up slow so that she likes what
she’s doing and she sees that it’s safe and it builds a lot of confidence in her, but
you’re also letting her have some stimulation and you’re letting her get out and do things. And I think the other thing to keep in mind,
this is a statistic that’s actually about humans, and with the human, it says that like
eighty percent of our brainpower or our energy, our physical energy goes to cognitive thinking. That’s a ton! So if we can also challenge her mentally and
help get her stimulated mentally, it’ll take a lot of that physical energy and put it into
a better place. So all of that is really important. So to address the mental energy I would recommend
that you do, offer her things, like there are treat balls and hay balls, so putting
her, or a Porta-grazer is a great way to feed them and it kinda has a puzzle quality to
it, because they push it around they have to turn the little um, basket inside, I don’t
know what to call it, and that is, it does a lot to really help to have to puzzle out
how do I get this food and it gives her something to do. So, engaging her in some kind of foodie puzzles
can be quite nice and quite engaging, and the food actually helps her to learn how to
do the puzzle, you know, because if they don’t know, they’re like eh, that’s nothing, I don’t
really care, but the food kinda gets them engaged and gets them into that seeking place
where they’re kinda playing a game with a reward involved and it’s something she can
do without you. So having her feed from a uh, a hay ball or
a Porta-grazer would be a great thing. Ok, so, the other thing that is quite mentally
stimulating and this kinda encompasses what I touched on first if you haven’t done the
positive reinforcement yet, starting the positive reinforcement is a great way to go. So you can go to my podcast, and you can find
that from my website, www.on-target, you know just google Shawna Karrasch and you’re gonna
find my website, you’re gonna find Terra Nova Training Center’s website, it’ll just be easier,
but on my On Target website, you’re gonna find that there is a tab, and that tab, you’ll
have a tab for Ask Shawna, you have a tab for the podcast which is Equine Clicker 101,
so Equine Clicker 101, it has a number, I mean, we have 29 episodes now, so it’s been
going, you know twice a month for a while now, but, the first, second and third episodes
are great things to do as you’re getting started, even the fourth episode, they’re all lessons
about getting started with positive reinforcement. So I’m going to really, strongly recommend
that you go there and, and listen to those things and follow those steps. That process alone is quite engaging. So if you haven’t done positive reinforcement
with her yet, I would start utilizing the positive reinforcement and helping her to
get, to get, it’s super engaging. When I was working with John and Beezie Madden,
sometimes you’d have a horse who was an Olympic showjumping horse or and international horse
who is used to competing and going and super fit, and if they have an injury, all of a
sudden they could be in a stall for thirty days, and that could be maddening for them,
so utilizing the positive reinforcement and target training and turning their head away,
those things were actually very engaging for them and they stayed pretty sensible, so I
think engaging her in that would be really important, but, I do have a caveat. If she’s turning um, and has kicked at you,
you’ve got to start this basically from outside of her stall. So if you have a sliding door and you can’t
reach over or through, what I would do is open the door this much and try to help her
get her head away. So when she’s standing and looking at you
and weighing things and looking grumpy, maybe even turned her butt to kick you, I would
just wait all that out wait it out, wait it out, you’re in protected contact, so you’re
in a safe place. As soon as she kind of comes back to you and
she looks soft for a second, so even if she just goes, I would click and reinforce that
and start there. Once you can get, you even may start it by
giving her a handful in her bucket first, so that she kind of is a little satiated and
then maybe you can offer her food from this protected contact place, until she gets the
idea that this is what you’re doing. So starting in protected contact can be good
for both of you. It can be good for her because it is actually,
you’re not coming into her stall if she’s feeling a little protective of that stall,
a little resource guarding about her private space in her strange new world, then, that
is, you’re gonna want to be safe in that place, but you’re also saying, I’m offering you some
positive reinforcement, I’m offering you something that you like and enjoy, and a lot of times
that softens and takes that defensive edge out a bit. And then meantime, getting to be able to do
some of the work with her. So utilizing the positive reinforcement for
the work clearly is really a good idea, but it sounds like, so you need to get her out
and get her some exercise, and if you can, give her exercise where she actually gets
to run and you know, or you know, move around whether its longing or riding or something
and she gets to or playing in an arena where she gets to move and burn some energy, but
also take her for some hand walks, so I think we’re having a couple of things here, I think
the environment isn’t the best and easiest for her to cope with and it’s triggered some
insecurities. Anyway, so engaging in the positive reinforcement
and if you’ve already got started with positive reinforcement you know what this is, you’re
already on board, I would start doing things like teaching her to hold longer on the stationary
target, to learn to identify different shapes, so you start with one shape and she gets to
recognize that shape, then you introduce another shape and pretty soon you’re challenging her
to think and identify and match, we call it match to sample, so she’s matching this that
you’re holding, to the like object on the wall or whatever it is. So, if you want more about that, you go ahead
and sens me another Ask Shawna question, and I will address that, but for now, um, I think
we’ve kind of covered some bases there, so, I hope that helps you out. If you still have questions, you know where
to get a hold of me, you go to, go to the Ask Shawna tab and submit a question. So that’s for you or anybody else listening. The other thing is, uh, you can also find
out what we’re doing out here at Terra Nova, well, not here because I’m in California,
but in Terra Nova, what we’re doing there, what our schedules are, what my schedule is,
what we’re up to, so you can sign up for our newsletter there, and that is,
and again, if you google Shawna Karrasch you’ll find both of those resources. Anyway, so I hope that helps you out, uh,
let me know how you’re doing and if you have further questions, and until then, enjoy getting
your horse on target. Bye-bye!


One Response

  1. K Felts

    January 24, 2020 1:58 am

    Can I just tell you that it’s hard for me to pay attention when you have your sunglasses on 🤣 I love how you mimic the animals expressions as you describe them. You have their mannerisms nailed! You’re the best!!


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