Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forum › Draft Animal Power › Training Working Animals › Training to Stand
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- January 11, 2018 at 8:13 pm #96004
Anyone out there have any training tips on how to train a draft horse to stand patiently while working in the woods? Thanks. Dave R.January 12, 2018 at 1:32 pm #96005
Hi Dave, here are some strategies that you could consider. Mix and match depending on your situation:
1. Lay down a day’s worth of wood ahead of time. This keeps horses active and engaged. Standing should be associated with rest. Rest=reward.
2. Try to anticipate when the horses are going to move and ask them to move before they do. You take the initiative.
3. Tow a hard line. Any movement while standing requires a reprimand. In my case, this equals a jerk on the line followed by “Hey”. Never allow them to initiate movement. Make sure they are still before asking them to go.
4. Frequent short stops while skidding. Reward them with rest when they are doing well and start them before they want to go.
5. Consider working a single horse at a time.
6. Have a clear vision of what you want to get accomplished. Show resolve and leadership through your attitude and actions.
7. Reward every try. Small steps.
GeorgeJanuary 12, 2018 at 3:33 pm #96006
Hi George, Thank you for taking the time to reply and for the excellent suggestions you made. I have owned light horses for 37 years but this is the first time I have ever owned a draft horse. I have a six year old Percheron that I bought as a “green broke” three year old. He is a well mannered good horse but could use some fine tuning and improvement on the “stand” issue. I will certainly take your advice and work on the suggestions you made. Thanks again.
Dave R.January 12, 2018 at 8:10 pm #96007
I would second most of what George says except using the lines to reprimand. With a young horse like yours the line jerk will just confuse him. I used to be much more hard handed but I have been trying to be extra sympathetic over the last year and it works well.
I learned the method from my 4 year old son. I used to give him a list of things to do, “get on your coat and boots then meet me at the barn if you want to do chores with me” it worked 10% of the time and made him anxious. Now I say, “would you like to do chores with me” then wait patiently for an answer, then move on to each step until we are out and working. It took longer at first but now he already knows that when he answers “yes” he will be responsible to put his coat and boots on and work his way to the barn.
The same method works for horses. Once they know what you mean by “whoa, stand” you can work on the patience part with your own patience.
Lets say the horse stops and stands on command for 2 seconds then steps over to the right to see what you are doing. That is fine because he did what you asked, just not for as long as you need. So you follow that up with asking him to step back to where you need him with gentle line pressure and a voice command if you choose to use them, then release any line pressure and mental focus on the horse once he has completed the simple command that you asked.
Gentle corrections with the release of pressure the instant they follow your lead will build up over time to a good standing horse.
You also need to have reasonable expectations for a young horse and don’t take it personally when they fidget around a bit. As long as they are calm and you get the work done safely all of the kinks will work themselves out.January 14, 2018 at 7:33 am #96008
I go with all the suggestions already put out there and I would add one. I find that teaching a horse to stop and stand is one of the most important things to teach before you get to the bush with them. I train them in a coral to stand with every kind of noises and distractions I can think they might encounter before I will do any field or bush work with them. The best way to teach them to stand is each time they shy from the noise or distraction and move forward I stop them and make them back up. Backing up is not natural for a horse and they don’t much appreciate it. It does not take to long to make them understand that going ahead without a command will always end up with a long trip back wards followed by the command to stop again. Obviously this is hard to do in the bush so I like lots of repetition of this exercise in a controlled environment before I do any real work with them. This seems pretty simple but I have found it works well.
With a young green horse start and end your day with lots of small skidding logs something that will build his confidence and help him to feel good about what he is able to accomplish. For a young horse lots of easy pulls is better then one big pull and when they are ready for a rest they want to stand.
RonJanuary 14, 2018 at 11:33 am #96009
Hi Ron and Jarad,
Thank you for taking the time to offer training suggestions for training a draft to stand and wait patiently. Everyone who has commented has made excellent suggestions which I will incorporate into our training routine. Having a group such as DAPNet is an awesome resource to be able to call on the expertise of others. Regardless how long you have been around horse you can always learn a little more by listening to others.
Dave R.January 14, 2018 at 9:07 pm #96010
Another thing to think about standing is that whoa only has one meaning…. stand. That means when you use the word then you actually give them the chance to stand, even for just a second or two. Be clear that whoa is not just a transition term, but it actually has a clear meaning…. stop moving your feet, and stand. It is your choice whether it is to stand for a few seconds, a few minutes, or longer, but the meaning is the same…. stand. It may seem like semantics to humans, but if you think of the word to have two meanings, as if stop is not the same as stand, and you use it that way, then it will remain unclear to the horse, and they will not stand well.
Also, always stop the horse before they want to stop on their own. It may seem counter-intuitive to stop an animal in the midst of exertion, and many of us will continue to encourage a horse forward, as a correction for trying to stop too early. In an attempt to train a horse to have a forward attitude, we may actually be working against our own interests. Like George suggests, stopping horses frequently not only gives them a chance to practice standing, but it reinforces for them that you use that whoa command to their benefit. When they trust that you will stop them before they want/need to, then they will try harder, and they will also accept the command to stand with enthusiasm.
CarlJanuary 14, 2018 at 9:31 pm #96011
Great point. Thanks for the reminder!
Snowing now…first real snow of the winter.
MikeJanuary 15, 2018 at 10:47 am #96013
Thanks Carl for your input. I must say this thread with the responses it has generated has given me plenty of ideas to work on. Thanks to all.
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