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Head Throwing Filly

We were given a 2yr old filly that had never been in what I would call a real barn. The problem with her is that at every loud or unexpected noise she hears she throws her head and has actually hit her head on the low rafters (barn is 150 + yrs). The first time we let her out to pasture she shied and ran into a piece of farm equipment and has been recovering from some pretty bad cuts. We have several other horses and one that is a champion jumper so its not that we don’t have some idea about horse care. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Cindy

Hi Cindy,

Thank you for your question. Obviously your horse is still a baby. It is unfortunate she has had these traumas already. They will need to be overcome by your filly (and you). Right away I would begin a lot of ground schooling. I would give her daily sessions of 20 to 30 minutes a session and even twice a day if you have the time. Lots of this ground schooling will get your bond and connection with the filly at a higher level where it needs to go. She needs to trust you like her mother or herd leader. She needs that relationship for her to settle into trust she is safe. Without that kind of relationship, you will continue to have a rocky road with her and it will get worse. Someone has to step up to the plate with the filly and take the time and responsibility for this relationship of trust and respect to develop. Are you that ‘someone’?

Many very experienced riders and also those well versed in the maintenance and physical care of the horse are not that knowledgeable or aware of the importance of the primary relationships in their horse’s life. With youngsters in particular, these relationships are paramount. If you put the time in now, it will really pay of in the long run. Think of becoming more of the herd leader for this horse (like a great horse parent). Sounds like you already have a lot of experience. You do not need to be a disciplinarian or show her who is boss. If someone did that with you, it didn’t feel very good, did it? She needs confident, quietly strong and skilled leadership to come through her fear to a place of trust. Lots of appropriate interaction like what happens in good ground schooling will get her through this. Having her primary handler and all her handlers be extremely compassionate and consistent will help her tremendously. Does she have equine companions she is turned out with and if she does what are their ages and genders? Are they rough or aggressive with her? It is important they are not making her more afraid.

Please let me know how it all goes. I appreciate you asking for assistance. I travel a lot these days to present clinics and seminars and just to train privately. If you think there may be interest in your area, please let me know. As I am based in Colorado mostly these days, it is easy to travel to other states. Good Luck and keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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