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2 years ago

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I recently bought a 9 year halflinger gelding. He was an Amish buggy horse, used for light farm work, and skidding firewood. When he first came here, he would drive fine but would not skid any dead weight . I started to work him on pulling a small tire and worked up to a 6x6 pole and was doing a good job.

then came the night of the wreck, I was ground driving him back to the barn and I stepped into a woodchuck hole and went down and spooked him. He ran off and after a mile he lost the singletree that was hitting in the back of the legs and after another mile we finally caught him.

Since that night he is very spooked. He is fine leading, grooming, working on his hoofs until the harness is on him. He will drive a short distance but spooks very easily and if something touches his hind legs he will start to shake and get very nervous.

Anybody has a idea to help him I would appreciate it. Bill

NoraWI says 2017-05-28 12:43:05 (CST)

Sorry that happened. He sounds like a very nice horse otherwise. Now you have to start from ground zero desensitizing him to touch all over, especially his hind legs. It will be slow going but the end result will be good. Start with throwing a small tarp or sack over his back (sacking him out). Have him walk over the tarp and then some crackly stuff on the ground. Be sure to repeatedly touch him, especially where he seems to be most sensitive, until he no longer reacts to the touch. It may take several weeks. Then have him drag stuff behind him such as that tire you trained him with. You know the drill. It may take a while.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

vince mautino says 2017-05-28 22:31:22 (CST)

I had a young mule that a similar thing happened to. He got away from me while initial ground driving and ran off with the singletree bouncing around and at times swatting him. Then shortly after that he ran off with me in a sleigh. I got bounced out and he continued on. During that wild run, some of the harness came undone or broke and the sleigh must have hit him a time or two.

He was 3-4 years old at the time I had to put him down when he was 24. His entire life, if I would put harness on him, he would shake and break out in a sweat. Those few times we would get the job done, but faster than I liked, and he never was a harness mule.

In all other respects he was a perfect mule , he rode well, packed, and won a lot of ribbons in competition. So good luck with fixing the haflinger. From your post ,it sounds like your haflinger might not have the best treatment from the previous owner which doesn't help. Maybe they tried to make it pull more than it could or had poor fitting collar/harness

A lot of folks think the haflingers are just downsized heavy horses, and then find out some don't have that calm demeanor as their big cousins. You have along road ahead of you now.

BTW, don' t take it bad, but someone might take you to task for spelling haflinge wrong. ( grin)

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2017-05-28 22:40:41 (CST)

I have been drug for quite a ways because I didn't loose the lines, they were wrapped around my hands. the tongue broke off of the mower and I got drug for a while. Before the tongue broke they were in a controlled runaway If you keep cutting grass they will tire out and quite running. That is why I don't drive and walk behind a single or a team because I can't walk as fast as they can and as fast as they will. I use a forecart for a team an a single cart for a single. If they run away or try to I drive until there real tired, I will drive them every day. puling a tire or something. Most of the teams that I get have a problem when I get them and I don't ever trust them until there tired ever day for a while. they have to earn my trust. I hook up against a fence and tied up with a good halter and lead rope under the bridle and unhook against a fence the same way my short lines are 25' long. If the singletree was hitting him your trace chains are to short for what your doing. when we dragging logs we used longer chains to prevent that. Now we drag the logs behind a forecart. It will take you some time to solve your problem now that he got clear away. Good luck to you on solving this problem. that is my way of dealing with this problem, take this advice for what it cost you it might help. above all be safe and don't get hurt get some help.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-05-29 16:19:36 (CST)

Bill, like Nora and Vince are saying, this will be a long way to recovery, because such a bad experience will not be wiped out so soon. Desensitizing will be necessary, but with small steps. Before you do anything that might scare your Haflinger , you have to regain his full trust. I would not put a load behind him, that he can run away with ( as K.C. correctly suggests) while you are not at the lines. Therefore a sturdy forecart with shafts would be best, because the horse should never lose connection with your hands. If the horse has never been hitched to cart with shafts, there are also several steps necessary, such as learning to tolerate the shafts, standing with them for quite a while and often, and then moving in a secure area. I also suspect that the horse was put in front of loads which were too big for him at the time, therefore the lack of confidence.
Lastly, if you are not familiar with training horses, find some experienced help. Mistakes in a situation like this make matters worse.
Vince, I appreciate the gentle reminder about the correct spelling! I do not have to step up to the plate, my goal is accomplished!

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dusty 4R says 2017-05-29 20:24:50 (CST)

If you start over, do away with the blinders so he can see and trust you again. Just suggesting.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-05-30 18:39:35 (CST)

Dusty, while I generally prefer to have horses trained without blinder, I would say, it depends on the age of the horse and how long the horse has previously been driven with blinders. My younger Percheron which I got when he was five, got used to being driven without blinders really fast, my older one, which I got when he was thirteen, cannot be driven without blinders.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Bill F says 2017-05-30 19:57:34 (CST)

I would like to thank you for the suggestions you have made about my Haflinger. I am going to continue work with to get him were he was before the accident, it will take time, something I am learning patience. If you have any more suggestions for me ley me know. Bill

By the way, I guess I need to learn how to use spell check. I will ask one of the grandkids this week end.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2017-06-01 02:27:06 (CST)

I have harnessed hooked to a forecart (tied to a strong fence short lead rope, and left them most of the day. Because I never got time to drive them. I never left them alone, I was working in sight of them all the time with other horses and mules. That teaches them patience, I had one that would put a hind foot over a quarter strap. With leather harness he would break the quarter strap, had him harness with a nylon harness he stood for about 2 hours before he went down I was there with him in about 1 minute and got him untangled he has not done that again and never tore up any harness, I train with nylon harness because of that. Time and work will fix most of the problems that they have. If you have one that gets tangled up and down cover there head with a coat or blanket and they will quit fighting it is easier (safer for both you and him) to get them untangled then. That teaches the to trust you to. Talk to him all the time your around him so he knows where you are at, before you touch him talk to him.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2017-06-01 07:26:12 (CST)

That's such good advice, K.C. Fox!

Build trust so you can help them when they get into trouble. I have had horses just stand there waiting when their foot got caught in a cattle panel or (GASP!) barbed wire. They stand placidly until I could free them. And that sometimes included the time for going into the barn for wire cutters or other tools.

And talk to them! Always talk to them. I talk to the cows, too. I have 9 equines at this time (5 horses and 4 large donkeys) and they always track me when I am moving around them. I can tell by the position of their ears. Years ago before I got so smart :), I learned my lesson when a newer horse thought I was another sneaking around behind her to get at her hay. She kicked me. Not a great big wallop but just a light tap to warn me off. But since I am just a mere human, it gave me a humongous bruise on the thigh. Never again. So I talk to them. I also touch them as soon as I am within arms' length, especially when I pass behind them. And, remember, walking close to the horse's rear end and touching them while you blabber on, is much safer than giving them wide berth while silent. An up-close kick, should it happen, does not carry as much force.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dusty 4R says 2017-06-02 12:00:38 (CST)

Also, you might want to harness the horse and let him run loose in the pen all day, saying there's nothing he can get caught on. He will learn its not going to eat him. No bridle either, let him see. Try it.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Dan in Illinois says 2017-06-03 08:44:15 (CST)

I would probably ground drive with a team mate in a round pen or enclosed area to try and gain confidence and control. Good luck be safe.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Bill F says 2017-06-05 20:04:34 (CST)

I thought I would give you a update on retraining of my haflinger. I started with what Nora said about desensitizing him by sacking him. Started out by putting plastic grocery bags on a fiberglass fence post and started with the bags far enough away not to spook him and kept working closer until he became use to the sound and movement. Now I can move them around him, rub his back, belly, and hind legs without him getting spooked.

Next I mowed a 1/2 mile path around one of my fields to lead him on. I placed the harness on him and put a 50lb feed bag folded in half off his brichen and led him around the field. At first was nervous but by the time we made half way around the field he was doing a lot better. I have been adding pieces of rope in the bag and as of now he is doing fine.

Again I would like say thanks for all of your help and suggestions, and keep them coming. Bill

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2017-06-05 21:01:39 (CST)

Good job, Bill! Just don't go too fast. And don't get discouraged by a setback should one happen. Go slow and steady with a lot of repetition. Takes a while to build trust.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum says 2017-06-08 21:47:42 (CST)

I would be inclined to work the horse with another good breaking horse to help him thru his anxiety and work him on a fore cart or other similar vehicle. I would also put a foot rope on him. Judicious use of a foot rope can accomplish amazing things.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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