Hi! Looking for a bit of tips/advice. I have an 8 month old weanling colt I’ve recently bought who is already fairly well mannered except for not really grasping the concept of “personal space” or not crashing into people. When being led and stopped he will not stop until his shoulder runs into you, or he will just push through you. This is not an entirely new experience for me but what IS new is that this colt seems to have no fear/shyness of anything. Plastic bags, velcro, weird noises, flying ropes, spray. Nothing phases this dude. My horses in the past have always been pretty flighty/easily spooked, and a quick wave of the hand and maybe a sharp voice was always more than enough to back them up if they’re pushing into my space, and they picked up on the cue to back up very quickly. Thus, I find myself a bit perplexed by this unflappable nature of this colt lol.
We have been practicing leading, stopping, backing up, yielding hindquarters, etc. He does not react to shaking the lead, stepping into him, gentle pokes, waving flags. He will move back/over only when I get to putting fairy moderate-heavy pressure on him by hand. I would like to encourage him to be a bit more responsive so that I can more easily direct him over/backwards without having to touch him, both while leading and when entering his stall.
During our leading sessions he does get better about stopping at an appropriate distance after a few times of doing the whole stop, back up, stand here routine, usually. But so far it doesn’t really seem to be “sticking”, and it is sometimes a challenge to get him to back up away from the stall door so that you can open it & enter with ease.
I am an experienced lifetime horse owner, but this is my first weanling that I’m raising on my own, and the first time I’ve had a horse that was so stoic about seemingly everything. So I’m both looking for some tips and also reassurance. I am worried about hitting the right balance of being patient as his lil baby brain learns, and not tolerating being bowled over. He’s not at all being aggressive about it, just seems oblivious. We have access to a large arena but there is not really a round pen situation where we currently are. He is a BIG fan of food, but has no concept of taking treats/anything from peoples hands yet, and I’m wary of offering treats and teaching that as while he’s not shown much tendency to being nippy I’d rather not encourage it for now.
I suspect at least part of the issue is I’m not getting him 100% focused on me, successfully, as the barn we are at is busy, there are kids doing summer camp right now, lots of distractions and insanity going on all over the place, so there are a lot of things for him to be distracted by and he’s often more interested in whatever else is going on than listening to me.
So I guess my question is, for anyone who’s dealt with similar things, how long did it take you to see significant progress at this age? What techniques do you find most effective? How do you keep them focused when there are lots of distractions going on?
I have some anxiety that I’m not doing the right things, I don’t want to push/expect too much out of him, but I also am wary of letting him “get away” with too much of this and establishing that it’s okay. I always make him back up out of my space when he comes in too close, and I keep our training sessions short and always end on a good note, but I’m just afraid it’s not really sinking in and am not sure if I need to try a different method or just remain patient/consistent and keep at it. Greatly appreciate any advice/tips/stories/reassurance!