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View Full Version : I'm doubting my choices lately... vent and would love advice



buck22
Aug. 14, 2009, 03:40 PM
I apologize for the length. I'm hoping in my vent the answer will present itself.

I was bucked off my gelding today. What upsets me is two-fold: Now that he's managed to get me off, its 'game on' as he is/was a career bucker with his former owner and managed to dislodge every rider... every ride... except me.... until today. And two, he had finally gotten better about it, and I was feeling as if we were over the hump so to speak (the thought of bucking all but gone) but the advice I'd been taking lately had been bringing his bucking back to the surface, and today he just exploded.

The back story is that I've had him for 2.5 yrs, he's 11. He was completely and utterly ruined by the former owners, in every way you can possibly imagine. In addition to his bucking, rearing, flipping, spooking, bolting, he is a true balker.

It took me a long time to discover the key to getting him willing to work, and the key was quiet yet determined patience. Aggression causes him to shut down. More aggression causes him to defend himself. Whips caused him to become unglued.

2.5 yrs later, he's a pleasure on the ground, forward and excitable but manageable on the trail, and in the ring he's mostly agreeable, but very behind my leg. Quick to balk, easy to work through, but impulsion is lacking so much I don't even bother asking for canter as it results in a bucking tantrum. I break up his work often (every 20 min) with hacks out on the trail to keep him forward and pleasant. I pick up canters only when he is forward and willing out on the trails.

This history has resulted in my tending to avoid confrontation. I try to keep things pleasant, and not get after him. Mainly because its the only thing thats worked, but also conveniently because I have become fearful of his past outbursts. I have inadvertently become a weenie.

I recently introduced the whip to our work. Used sparingly, it was effective without him being overly defensive. But it was always a fine line. We were starting to go places, albeit very slowly.

In the last few weeks, I've started with a trainer. Her background is xc, but she's got the basics down very solidly. She has a take no crap attitude, so when I mentioned we don't canter and why, she immediately suggested we get him over this. At her advice, I applied the whip repeatedly and sat the bucking until he broke to canter. We've been keeping this up, treating him as if he's a spoiled naughty lazy pony, and whipping him through. Though he's increasingly more willing to canter on when we break to it finally, the bucking has steadily intensified.

It has advanced to the point where he is resentful of the whip, and now my leg (again). Resentful of any driving aids. He has become obsessed with the whip and is in a constant state of anticipation of my asking him to canter (battle). This is ancient history happening all over again. So today, just schooling w/t and working on getting him ahead of my leg (he was doing VERY well), doing some actually really nice long and low, he finally decided he couldn't take the suspense any longer, got his head down between his knees, tore off bucking, slipped in deep wet footing, and off I came (I was doing well for a while too).

So here is my dilemma. How do I progress from here?

Do I start all over, tone things back down, etc? Avoid battles using tact instead, and deal with the slow progression? Get his faith back, and quit using the whip as an 'or else' weapon? Or attack full on with the help of the trainer, keep up the whipping until he's broke of the idea and keep doing what I can to ride it out? Accepting the reality that bucking will now, and probably for a while, permeate all riding, as it once did.

Part of me wants to be aggressive and is recognizing the enabling weenie I've become. My gut however is telling me this aggression has gone too far, and will just be counter productive long term (he'll always harbor resentment, and won't be a horse I can rely on). A little voice way down deep inside is saying "he's crap, throw in the towel and get something that doesn't scare you half to death". :no:

His teeth are well attended to, his diet is appropriate for his IR needs, ulcers were present and attended to, his lifestyle is appropriate for him, his saddle is a reasonably wonderful fit. I've had a chiro (found nothing), vet several times (found nothing), acupuncture (did nothing).

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to anyone who is willing to read and offer advice. Between my paddocks being under water, my hay molding before my eyes, my tack turning a different shade of green every day, manure wars, todays event has gotten me feeling rock bottom. :(:(:(

btw, does anyone know if alcohol is bad for a possible concussion? I did whack my head pretty good but never loss consciousness and want a frosty one in the worst way :lol:

redears
Aug. 14, 2009, 03:46 PM
Trust your gut, you've gotten farther with this horse than anyone. Trainers only see what's in front of them, not the past, not what appears to be gone, and that can sometimes be a good thing, but in this case, I think it's not.

I would tone it back down and just give him sometime to build that trust back up, you had it before, it won't take long to get it back. My gelding is 6 and I've owned him since he was born, and I can't even ride him with a dressage whip and he was never mistreated, he just gets very upset about them and to me it's not about battling him, it's about being his partner, when I school, I use a short crop (which is okay) showing, no whip at all.

Good luck, and don't be too hard on yourself, it's always one step forward and two steps back with horses, but stick with him and I think you'll be okay :)

lizathenag
Aug. 14, 2009, 03:50 PM
if you think you have a concussion, please go see a doctor.

one of life's great joys is going for a canter in the countryside (or anywhere else).

I am glad you weren't hurt.

this sounds like a bad match.

there are too many nice horses to be wrongly mounted.

just my 2 cents.

Hawkridge
Aug. 14, 2009, 03:52 PM
Oh my... :(

Sorry to hear things are going not-so-well for you and your gelding. Honestly, if I were you I would find myself another horse. You sound like you've done alot for this gelding and put a fair amount of time and money into him already....thus given him/yourself a fair chance. You only live once and the last thing you need is to become scared of riding altogether and/or to get seriously hurt. It's not worth it. I know I will have others disagree with me, but he's already 11 (I know that's not old, but it's not young either) and I would not be too keen on continuing on at this point. The only other option is to send him to a trainer (one that knows his issues) to get him through this....that is, IF he can get though this.

Anyhow, that's just my honest view on things....sorry :(

twofatponies
Aug. 14, 2009, 03:52 PM
I guess my question would be not what can you do to work through this, but why would you want to? There are thousands of horses out there who will not put your safety at risk just to do a (sorry!) stupid walk, trot, canter. Or do you love the challenge? I'm not that kind of rider - I like to work on things, but not struggle. Some people like that. That's cool if it's working for you.

But have you thought that part through? What are you getting out of this? If it is making you feel satisfied and happy, then go for it. But it's completely possible this horse just has an innately cantankerous temperament, or whatever you want to call it. I don't think it's about his previous treatment - I've seen many, many horses with "bad histories" that move on and blossom and don't need half the struggle and compromise you seem to have gone through. And I've seen some with lovely, kind owners all their lives that are bad tempered, stubborn, annoying, hard to work with etc. Heck, yearlings with bad attitudes show up once in a while! Not common, but I'm sure it can be just an inborn characteristic of temperament.

I think you need to pick your battles - do you want to compete or progress in eventing, for example? Then get yourself a horse that can take you there so you can have fun and be safe. If you want to work on training a difficult horse, then keep working on this guy.

I rarely offer such a strong opinion on this sort of thing, but I've seen *several* dear friends hurt in situations like this, trying to turn incompatible horses into something they can't be, and ending up with broken bones and lost confidence, when what they really wanted was to trail ride or go to some schooling shows and have fun riding with their friends. Wrong horse for that person, and they were too stubborn or proud to give it up and get something more suitable. And these were good riders who could stick a horse, but they got in over their heads with a horse that just wasn't right for what they wanted to do.

Good luck. Maybe others will have some better suggestions! :D

dressagerose
Aug. 14, 2009, 03:54 PM
I agree with redears. You know him best and you were making progress. The only thing you may have to accept is that he will never be much of a dressage horse. If you can have fun with him and accept him for what he is, then you will be fine. If you insist that he be a dressage horse and always in front of your leg (right this very second, no matter what), you are probably doomed to failure because of his history.

I have a tricky horse (not as bad as this, but still tricky). It has been very difficult to ride her with instructors and clinicians. She requires lots of finessing and they are about getting it done. Cried a lot of tears and finally have an uncomplicated horse for most things and ride her on my own most of the time or in very controlled circumstances and let her be her.

Good luck. I know it is hard.

Dressagerose

EqTrainer
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:05 PM
Some horses are willing to work harder to not work, then you would ever have asked them to work in the first place.

It's called low rideability, amongst other things.

I'd call it a day. What is the point, really? Maybe it is something physical.. if it is, you probably won't find it. Maybe it's baggage. If so, you've done your best to overcome it. Maybe it's just who he is. Once again, you'll never overcome that.

Life is too short for this.

WWYD?
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:14 PM
If you want to continue working with this horse, my suggestion would be to go back to groundwork in the roundpen. With saddle and side-reins attached, make him go forward at the canter. Use the whip if you need to and get him to accept that he must go forward. Once he is cantering, keep him cantering - for at least 5 minutes, let him rest briefly, and start it up again. He will probably argue with you, so have your trainer available to help. I suspect it will take you several months or more to accomplish this.

This exercise will also tell you if he is genuinely afraid of the whip, or just trying to avoid work. If he is genuinely afraid, then carefully get him used to the longe whip in the roundpen.

Once he is agreeable to cantering on the ground, then it might be possible to go back to trying it out again with a rider. But make sure he has been properly longed first, and longe before every ride. The ground work should not hurt your horse, and will likely improve him. You know your horse best, and I think you will be able to tell when the right time will be to try again from the saddle.

Good Luck!!

BuddyRoo
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:15 PM
I feel like I could've written your post myself last fall.

There is a very subtle difference between choosing your battles and avoiding battles altogether. The latter is tip toeing around and does nothing for you as far as progressing nor does it really help the horse "get over it". The former is wise when you have a reactive horse. IMHO, of course.

I remember quite vividly being in a lesson with my good friend who had leased this particular mare from me and experienced a total meltdown. She was on her gelding, me on my mare, and the trainer was helping me work on a new skill--new to me and the horse. The horse was becoming frustrated and felt like she was about to explode. I was trying to mitigate some risk so instead of doing as instructed in that moment, I kind of eased off.

Of course this resulted in trainer barking at me and asking why I didn't do X, to which I replied, "She's about ready to blow. She's really getting frustrated."

The trainer said something to the effect of, "She's fine. She looks just fine."

My friend, the more advanced rider who had experience with the mare, saved me, "If she says the mare is about to blow, she's probably right. You won't get it unless you get on."

Well, trainer didn't ride, so that didn't happen. And she insisted that it would be fine. It wasn't. Mare lost it. That was a major set back to our training. From then on for several weeks, it was if we'd regressed back to day one with the behavior. I had pushed too far. She was confused about what I was asking, got frustrated, and acted out. Not okay, but definitely a known response. That was on me.

Fast forward to this spring...having been out of work over the winter, I was bringing her back. It went well at first in our WT work. But when I asked for the canter, I'd start getting the kick out and if I pushed on, a little bucking/crowhopping garbage, ending with a full brakes and a rear. THAT was not frustration. THAT was "I don't WANNA work!"

At that point, I had a choice. Choice 1 was to address this from the saddle where I potentially could get dumped or flipped over on. Choice 2 was to make her wish I WERE in the saddle because that was a heck of a lot easier than what I was going to make her do (safely) from the ground.

We had a serious CTJ meeting and I played Jesus. I jumped off (not something I had EVER done before because it is contrary to everything I've ever been taught) and put the longe line on and I got big and scary for a second...then we worked. HARD. For the next few days, I worked her only from the ground. If she gave ANY hesitation when I was asking for forward, I really got after her. (did not beat her...raising my voice or getting growly was more than sufficient) I made her work VERY hard on the ground.

4 days into this, I got back on. Guess what? Perfect freaking angel. Back to where we started. I won that one.

I don't know if you can ever totally get rid of their default reactions...once it's in their bag of tricks, it's there. BUT, I think you CAN choose your battles by knowing the difference between "oh crap, yeah, I screwed up. I'm sorry I freaked you out. let's slow down" and "no really, I'm not doing anything to you here that warrants this, man up already".

If I were in your shoes right now, I'd take a break from the lessons, get back to basics a bit--things you KNOW he can do quietly and well. THEN if he reacts poorly, you can make him wish he hadn't. Then ease into the other stuff a little more slowly.

I think he has your number a bit with this cantering thing. If you've ruled out other issues like pain and it's just a matter of "I don't wanna" then I think you'd be better off getting on the ground with him and making him WISH you were in the saddle cuz it's so. much. easier.

I don't think you need to whip the snot out of him and ride through potentially injuring yourself...but I think that you need to make sure he's doing great canter transitions on the ground before doing it again in the saddle. Make him trot, canter, trot, canter, trot, canter. Make him WORK. And then when you get back on, ask for just a little.

My two cents. But I'm not a trainer and I have one like yours at home that is NOT totally over it. I think there will always be a very fine line for us.

EiRide
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:28 PM
Gosh, deciding to sell a horse for a non-pro starts to look like those check lists people do when they are contemplating divorce. :-(

1) What are your goals? Can you achieve them with this horse, given his personality?

2) Have you had a thorough vet exam? Pain causes a lot of nappy, balky behavior. Kissing spine is an elusive one which can result in explosions.

3) Tack fit?

4) Get a calendar. Mark on it the really good days where you get off grinning, the neutral days where you are fine and dandy but not happy happy joy joy after your ride, and the number of negative days, where interacting with your horse has bummed you out to some extent, whether because you didn't do something you wanted, you felt unsafe, whatever. Have a look at how those days balance out over time--it this the way you want it to be? How likely is it you will change that? Tracking stuff like this over time can really help you get past a bad bad day here or there, or even a good good day here or there to see what you really have.

Obviously, you don't feel safe to do fairly normal horse activities with this fellow, like canter for instance. And by avoiding confrontation, what you've created is a certain degree of compliance, but NOT acceptance of you as the leader. I think that puts you in a dangerous place every time you ride, because the horse will always look to his own plan instead of following your plan when the chips are down. This is how we can get dead in an emergency situation, IMHO.

I guess what to do circles back to you and your goals. Are you meeting them? If not, how badly are you off? Do you mind changing your personal hopes or expectations for the rest of this relatively young horse's riding career with you to accommodate the fact that he is the leader here, not you?

Now, if you really want to solve it, I would put a canter on him on the ground by pressuring him as much as it took from my own two feet, best in a well built round pen. And be careful, because I know more than one very lazy, willful horse who charged the trainer when really pressured to work. Another thing would be to look for a very good cowboy type trainer who won't back down (I know one in Maryland who is great--no whips, does ride in a spur, all horses in snaffles. He is the last stop before the meat man for a lot of horses).

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.

ASBJumper
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:29 PM
Ditto what pretty much everyone is saying. I think you need another horse.

Look, as someone who was one-horse kinda gal for years, got my first horse after years of daydreaming about it, I had sworn up and down I would never sell her, that I would do right by her til the end and that she would live out her days with me. But I outgrew her, bred her, and she produced two lovely babies for me in the past 5 years. I rode her a bit in between, but.. she really loved attention, and I couldn't devote much to her with having eager young horses to work with. Not saying she was miserable, but when the right situation presented itself, I sold her. To a good friend. And now she is someone's Number 1 horse again, and she is fit (at 14), happy, shiny and being loved on. The decision was only made difficult for my own selfish reasons. She is perfectly happy with someone else. ;)

Your gelding sounds inherently lazy, and doesn't like to work hard. Find him a home where he can take people on occasional trail rides, be a therapeutic leadline mount, a companion to recently-weaned babies, etc etc... if he's not mean on the ground (biter, kicker, etc), and is relatively pleasant, you can find him a home where he'll be happy. Don't stubbornly cling to the idea of keeping him just because you feel responsible, ok? Some horses just have no work ethic, period. Some people are in even worse situations than you and end up with horses that are downright nasty and dangerous to handle (in that case, my ever-controversial advice is to put them down).

There are hordes of sound, loving, gentle, RELIABLE horses out there desperate for caring homes like the one they would have with you. There are even (like one previous poster pointed out) horses who have come from abusive/neglectful homes that are still willing to trust and try their hearts out for a caring owner.

Food for thought - a lot of people assume that when a horse came from a bad situation, and was maybe trained/treated harshly, that that treatment is what caused the horse to be fearful/nasty/unreliable/nappy.... sometimes the horse was always like that, and that's why the previous owners resorted to whips/spurs/yelling/smacking, etc .... While I'm not condoning that, I'm just saying... don't always assume that the horse was once a loving, trustworthy animal with a fab work ethic, and that you can "rehab" it with love and patience. It may have *always* been a lazy+nappy thing, since birth - you have no way of knowing.

Gloria
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:33 PM
Ohhh I'm so sorry.... I don't think I am qualified to give you any advices because I don't have experiences with difficult horses of this degree. However, here is what I feel and think that might prove useful...

1. Others have suggested that you find another horse.. I have to agree... If I were you, I would find one that I can enjoy on... Its no fun riding a scary horse.

But since you are asking these questions here, I assume you are in love with him, and want to keep him, nothing wrong with that, so ...

2. I think you are right as to that whipping has gone overboard and he is resentful. One big tap can get you respect from the horse but whipping is another story. So I will definitely not go that route again.

3. Find someone who is really really good at reading horses and helping horses/riders to get through sticky spots. Eddo Hoekstra has helped me to get left lead canter out of my horse, without any whipping, just various simply mounted exercises. A little bit background, this horse is a gentle horse but he plain refused to take left lead canter, or canter at all. Once I resorted to whipping and I got instant bucking instead. Imagine my shock.. This horse has no meanness in him...

I took him to Eddo's clinic where we were asked to do a lot of very very simple exercises, all in walk and trot, then all the sudden he asked me to squeeze with my left leg, and, bam, to my utter shock, my horse took the left lead canter instantly!!! I almost weeped (how embarassing:winkgrin:). During the whole exercise, there was not whipping or any rough aids, only light tap behind my legs here and there. That was a year ago when I started to go to him. Now the canter problem is way behind us.

Please find someone who is really really good to help you, someone who will attack a problem from many different angles, someone who can see the root of the problem not just the symptom of the problems. You see, refusing to take canter is the sympton no the cause....

Good luck.

twofatponies
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:40 PM
Food for thought - a lot of people assume that when a horse came from a bad situation, and was maybe trained/treated harshly, that that treatment is what caused the horse to be fearful/nasty/unreliable/nappy.... sometimes the horse was always like that, and that's why the previous owners resorted to whips/spurs/yelling/smacking, etc .... While I'm not condoning that, I'm just saying... don't always assume that the horse was once a loving, trustworthy animal with a fab work ethic, and that you can "rehab" it with love and patience. It may have *always* been a lazy+nappy thing, since birth - you have no way of knowing.

Also very true, I think.

BuddyRoo
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:42 PM
The "sell the horse" route gets pretty complicated when you have one like this.

A) there's the liability--you KNOW that the horse has a propensity to blow. That's typically not what people are looking for as buyers.

B) there's the horse--when you've seen a horse go through person after person and have all sorts of issues, there's sometimes a piece of you that says, "if not me, then who?" When I was seriously re evaluating my mare last year, I can honestly say that I would've sooner put her down than risk her ending up in an abusive situation again.

C) there's the challenge/black stallion fantasy crap. Deep down inside, you really want to be the one to figure the horse out and make it work. When it goes well, it's a cool feeling. You did it. Flip side black stallion syndrome. If anyone keeps a nutty horse around, you can bet that consciously or not, they really WANT to be the one to finally succeed with the horse and there is some fantasy land stuff going on there.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:43 PM
I know you've done the vet stuff, so bear with me. Knew a horse that was very similar to what's described. Felt it HAD to be some physical issue, even though no lame steps, saddlefit double checked, teeth done, etc. Horse vetted clean with flying colors (x-rays, the whole she-bang). Vet said horse knows your number, it's ok to push.

Decided to try one more thing. Bute/ulcergard for two days (night before, then morning, then rode that evening).

Horse was an angel.

Get your head checked out. Too many news stories about people who thought they were ok, right before they crashed. :-(

Seriously, for those saying sell, to who? How would that be ethical to the buyer (because I doubt anyone would buy a horse with these issues) or fair to the horse?

EiRide
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:58 PM
Food for thought - a lot of people assume that when a horse came from a bad situation, and was maybe trained/treated harshly, that that treatment is what caused the horse to be fearful/nasty/unreliable/nappy.... sometimes the horse was always like that, and that's why the previous owners resorted to whips/spurs/yelling/smacking, etc .... While I'm not condoning that, I'm just saying... don't always assume that the horse was once a loving, trustworthy animal with a fab work ethic, and that you can "rehab" it with love and patience. It may have *always* been a lazy+nappy thing, since birth - you have no way of knowing.

They do come with their own minds and attitudes! I've bred four so far and have really enjoyed bringing them on, but they sure are their own selves right from the get-go. My colt was born with a lazy streak a mile wide and a big fat Make Me sign on his butt. I know he was never beaten about, treated harshly, etc to get him like that, he just came that way. When he was a foal he used to bite and kick his mother and she did not correct him (see what permissive parenting does for you??). I started him slowly and carefully with lots of ground work and a gentle, firm approach with the help of a very good pro after I put the first six weeks on him as a three year old and then laid him off for the winter. He never would work harder than X, and once his quarter ran out he was a monster (being over 17 hands didn't help with this). I free leased him to a lesson barn where he was great with the kids because they didn't really make him work--put someone with serious goals on him who asked him to really *do* something and he would buck and rear.

He went on to be a wheel horse, and was good at that, but would not drive alone. An injury ended the driver's career for four in hands and my guy obseleted himself with his attitude, so he moved on to do trails for someone. He always liked that and did well in that job.

Two of my other three are under saddle (the third just hit 10 weeks). #2, half sister to the colt, is the most agreeable packer the world has known. #3 is a real pistol, but getting easier by the day.

So there is my long winded example of how three youngsters raised in a similar environment can be three very different sorts, one of which was nappy with no work ethic.

luise
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:58 PM
I read your post thinking, "why is she riding this horse?" sorry, but he does not sound like fun! Too dangerous. Life is too short to ride a horse like that.

ASBJumper
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:00 PM
I never said sell. I said "find him another home". Big difference. No, there aren't many people who would pay money for a horse like this - but take him for free? If what the OP has stated is all true, then heck yes. He seems pleasant enough to handle, quiet enough at walk and trot, albeit a bit lazy, and game on the trails. That would suit plenty of purposes, and heck, maybe he'd even make a nice driving horse! I have recently seen a couple of ads looking for herd babysitters that could do an occasional leisurely trail ride as well. Sounds to me like the horse is fine until he's asked to really work - using his hind end, going forward with impulsion, going in a frame (I assume), bending, etc... plenty of homes don't ever ask that of their horses. Just that they accept a saddle and a rider at a leisurely pace for a bit.

Edited to add - EiRide illustrated my post perfectly.. we were obviously posting at the same time.. :D

twofatponies
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:03 PM
The "sell the horse" route gets pretty complicated when you have one like this.

A) there's the liability--you KNOW that the horse has a propensity to blow. That's typically not what people are looking for as buyers.

B) there's the horse--when you've seen a horse go through person after person and have all sorts of issues, there's sometimes a piece of you that says, "if not me, then who?" When I was seriously re evaluating my mare last year, I can honestly say that I would've sooner put her down than risk her ending up in an abusive situation again.

C) there's the challenge/black stallion fantasy crap. Deep down inside, you really want to be the one to figure the horse out and make it work. When it goes well, it's a cool feeling. You did it. Flip side black stallion syndrome. If anyone keeps a nutty horse around, you can bet that consciously or not, they really WANT to be the one to finally succeed with the horse and there is some fantasy land stuff going on there.

Getting another one doesn't necessarily mean selling this one. Find a retirement situation, giveaway, pasture buddy situation, etc.? Something like that - just think, the money you spend on trainers would probably cover a low cost retirement board situation! Then he's got his mellow happy life, and you can move on. There have been successful giveaways listed here on COTh where the horse was complicated or difficult, and that was all spelled out clearly, if I recall.

The fantasy thing is probably the hardest obstacle to overcome! Those darn childhood books where the kid tames the wild horse... puts these ideas in our heads! :D

ASBJumper
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:09 PM
The fantasy thing is probably the hardest obstacle to overcome! Those darn childhood books where the kid tames the wild horse... puts these ideas in our heads! :D

You know something funny? I was never one to be influenced by that with animals - I have never had any use/patience for nappy/aggressive cats/dogs/horses... BIG turn-off for me.

However - I fell prey to a similar syndrome with guys when I was on the dating scene (happily attached now)... I used to always stick with guys who were horrible at relationships because I heard stories about how awful their previous gfs were, and I kept thinking that if I simply behaved like a model girlfriend and treated them like kings, that they would magically wake up one morning and realize they loved me and would stop treating me like dirt. :rolleyes: Yeeeah.... NOT SO MUCH.

:winkgrin: :lol:

twofatponies
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:11 PM
You know something funny? I was never one to be influenced by that with animals - I have never had any use/patience for nappy/aggressive cats/dogs/horses... BIG turn-off for me.

However - I fell prey to a similar syndrome with guys when I was on the dating scene (happily attached now)... I used to always stick with guys who were horrible at relationships because I heard stories about how awful their previous gfs were, and I kept thinking that if I simply behaved like a model girlfriend and treated them like kings, that they would magically wake up one morning and realize they loved me and would stop treating me like dirt. :rolleyes: Yeeeah.... NOT SO MUCH.

:winkgrin: :lol:

Didn't someone earlier say this horse-relationship evaluation process was similar to the process of deciding if you need a divorce? LOL

jumpingmaya
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:18 PM
I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time!!!
It's definitely not fun... but here is my 2 cents...
I read through most responses on here... (won't claim that I read all of them because I didn't)...
I'm not sure that the whole "there are tons of nice horses out there, why stick to one that doesn't want to work..." approach is right for everyone!!!
It sounds like you've put a lot of time and effort into this guy... and you've been successful at it!! I know working with one for a couple of years to get what you have with this guy might sound like a lot... but you have to consider where the horse came from...
I would say, go back to what you were doing... he's responding to your communication much better than the A** beating that he's getting in lessons obviously... and try to find a trainer that is known/respected for working with hard to deal horses...
You don't even want to get me started on how hard of a time I had, finding a trainer that I could ride with... Now mind you, I compete in show jumping... but ride a LOT of dressage... Couldn't find a trainer that would let my RED head thoroughbred MARE be... well herself...
It was always: don't let her do that, pull her back, more leg... bla bla bla...
until I found a wonderful lady that is a GP dressage rider as well... watched me warm her up and go... "Oh she's one of those huh.., ok, let's try this out" and whenever my mare lost her mind, we went back to something she could do, and then asked again... rather than PUSH, PUSH, PUSH...
I think you were on the right path with your guy... now that you need a little help "fixing and tweaking" things, find a trainer that will understand HIM!
And btw, I could be wrong... but by reading your post, I honestly felt like you really cared about this guy and had a good bond with him...
Best of luck... and once again just my 2 cents. :D

BuddyRoo
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:18 PM
We might be onto something here folks....

:lol:

I can see it now:

Horsewoman's Guide to Dating and Divorce: Deciding whether or not to keep your horse. Or husband. Or boyfriend.

SprinklerBandit
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:19 PM
Stop and ask yourself: is there something special about this horse to you? If there is, then keep him. Work with him. Accept that maybe he's more a trail horse than a dressage horse, at least for now.

I'm not in your situation, but I'm not that far out. When I got my mare, she had learned a really fun game from her previous owner: she reared up, the owner screamed, and then she didn't have to do any work. Really, it was great from her point of view.

That means, when I got my mare, I had to completely start over with her. She didn't do anything, and she still has moments where she tries to intimidate me, though those are becoming fewer and fewer.

We work with a trainer sometimes. The trainer knows this horse's history and has watched me work with her from the very beginning. She does a lot of remedial work, so she knows when to push and when to stop. If I have any questions, I can talk with her about them. We have goals, but if something comes up, we don't stress about it.

If I were you, I would maybe not take lessons from that particular trainer right now. Find someone who knows you need to take your time. If you do continue with this trainer, let her know (POLITELY) that you are not comfortable pushing your horse too hard right now. Follow that up with being willing to excuse yourself from a lesson if and when you need to. Just because a trainer wants you to do something does not mean you have to, especially in this type of situation.

Can it be done? Yes. Can you do it? Sounds like. Do you want to? That's for you to answer.

SprinklerBandit
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:20 PM
Looks like jumpingmaya and I were typing at the same time. ;-) Well said.

jumpingmaya
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:22 PM
Can it be done? Yes. Can you do it? Sounds like. Do you want to? That's for you to answer.
BINGO
that's exactly it :yes:

rileyt
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:33 PM
arghhh. Sell the horse, or if you can't do it in good conscience... put him down. Life it too damn short.

There are two basic possibilities here: 1) You are one of those wimpy riders who only trots dear Smokey on non-windy, non-muddy, perfect days... and has made a whole lot of progress with him in the last year (meaning, he now trots 3 times around the ring willingly before stopping). The eventing teacher was too liberal with her whip and got you bucked off. or, 2) the event rider knows what she's doing, recognizes Smokey has your number, and took a "take no prisoners" approach (because she rightly deduces that you've made a deal with the Devil), tried to fix it, and you got bucked off.

Obviously, there are lots of degrees of variation on these two themes, and without knowing you or your horse, none of us will really know whether you are the best/only trainer for the horse, or whether you are deluding yourself.

That sounds more harsh than I mean... but you get the idea.

The bottom line though: It's irrelevant.

Someone asked you what your goals are. I'd say unless your goal is to be miserable, you have the wrong horse. If you're looking to be a serious competitor, you need a horse who can handle training, and is rideable, and has a work ethic. Your's doesn't. It may be for a perfectly good reason: pain, past experience, etc. But he's 11... and he's not going to change now. He really isn't.

Or your goal may be just to have a pleasant horse to hack around on and have fun on. He's not good for that either. He's a confirmed bucker who has dumped everyone one of his riders. That you've stayed on this long is a tribute to your riding skills... don't waste them on an animal who is likely to get you killed, and isn't worth the effort.

I say this from experience. I have ridden a lot of really rank horses in my life. I have survived all of them. Looking back on it, I realize how lucky I am. So when I started riding a really aggressive horse last summer, I had "the talk" with myself. Why was I riding this horse? Was he beyond my skill level? no. I've handled tough horses before. But really, why did I want to? I decided that even though I am serious about my riding, I ultimately do this for fun. And its no fun when you're on your toes every second waiting for the horse to try to kill you. Fortunately for me, he wasn't my horse. Just last week he went after his owner and broke her arm in the stall. She was an experienced horsewoman. It could've been me.

This sport has enough risks in it. Don't add unnecessary ones. There are so many nice horses out there. Go find one, ride it, and be happy. As for this one... you've done him a service by giving him a chance. That is all you owe him. If you can't afford to retire him permanently, put him down and move on.

Good luck to you. These are such hard decisions.

Gloria
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:34 PM
You don't even want to get me started on how hard of a time I had, finding a trainer that I could ride with... Now mind you, I compete in show jumping... but ride a LOT of dressage... Couldn't find a trainer that would let my RED head thoroughbred MARE be... well herself...
It was always: don't let her do that, pull her back, more leg... bla bla bla...
until I found a wonderful lady that is a GP dressage rider as well... watched me warm her up and go... "Oh she's one of those huh.., ok, let's try this out" and whenever my mare lost her mind, we went back to something she could do, and then asked again... rather than PUSH, PUSH, PUSH...

You know, I had exactly the same experiences, the same common advices of "whip him till he take left lead!!!" Well, for what is worth, my horse went from refusing to take left lead canter to plain ole refuse to canter.

It was so refreshing and what a relief when I finally found someone who is so talented to read the horses/riders combinations and skilled at his craft that he was able to make difficult things so simple and easy! I have to say that kind of trainers are very difficult to find though.

jumpingmaya
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:39 PM
arghhh. Sell the horse, or if you can't do it in good conscience... put him down. Life it too damn short.

There are two basic possibilities here: 1) You are one of those wimpy riders who only trots dear Smokey on non-windy, non-muddy, perfect days... and has made a whole lot of progress with him in the last year (meaning, he now trots 3 times around the ring willingly before stopping). The eventing teacher was too liberal with her whip and got you bucked off. or, 2) the event rider knows what she's doing, recognizes Smokey has your number, and took a "take no prisoners" approach (because she rightly deduces that you've made a deal with the Devil), tried to fix it, and you got bucked off.

Obviously, there are lots of degrees of variation on these two themes, and without knowing you or your horse, none of us will really know whether you are the best/only trainer for the horse, or whether you are deluding yourself.

That sounds more harsh than I mean... but you get the idea.

The bottom line though: It's irrelevant.

Someone asked you what your goals are. I'd say unless your goal is to be miserable, you have the wrong horse. If you're looking to be a serious competitor, you need a horse who can handle training, and is rideable, and has a work ethic. Your's doesn't. It may be for a perfectly good reason: pain, past experience, etc. But he's 11... and he's not going to change now. He really isn't.

Or your goal may be just to have a pleasant horse to hack around on and have fun on. He's not good for that either. He's a confirmed bucker who has dumped everyone one of his riders. That you've stayed on this long is a tribute to your riding skills... don't waste them on an animal who is likely to get you killed, and isn't worth the effort.

I say this from experience. I have ridden a lot of really rank horses in my life. I have survived all of them. Looking back on it, I realize how lucky I am. So when I started riding a really aggressive horse last summer, I had "the talk" with myself. Why was I riding this horse? Was he beyond my skill level? no. I've handled tough horses before. But really, why did I want to? I decided that even though I am serious about my riding, I ultimately do this for fun. And its no fun when you're on your toes every second waiting for the horse to try to kill you. Fortunately for me, he wasn't my horse. Just last week he went after his owner and broke her arm in the stall. She was an experienced horsewoman. It could've been me.

This sport has enough risks in it. Don't add unnecessary ones. There are so many nice horses out there. Go find one, ride it, and be happy. As for this one... you've done him a service by giving him a chance. That is all you owe him. If you can't afford to retire him permanently, put him down and move on.

Good luck to you. These are such hard decisions.

Sounds like you've never had a special relationship with one... I feel sorry for you... :no:
that's what makes this sport...
BTW, your example doesn't exactly relate to the OP's horse...
He came with a package that she knew about when she bought him...

SprinklerBandit
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:00 PM
There are two basic possibilities here: 1) You are one of those wimpy riders who only trots dear Smokey on non-windy, non-muddy, perfect days... and has made a whole lot of progress with him in the last year (meaning, he now trots 3 times around the ring willingly before stopping). The eventing teacher was too liberal with her whip and got you bucked off. or, 2) the event rider knows what she's doing, recognizes Smokey has your number, and took a "take no prisoners" approach (because she rightly deduces that you've made a deal with the Devil), tried to fix it, and you got bucked off.

I disagree. Strongly.

As to #1, OP has ridden this horse's bucks before and stayed on. Hence, she's put him in situations where he would buck, he did buck, and she was fine. Not every horse can be pushed and pushed and pushed and still do well. Some can. Most need more time. Some need lots more time.

For #2, Smokey does not "have her number". He's bucked her off once. Who among us hasn't come off their horse of choice at least once? I don't doubt that the event trainer knows what she's doing, I'm just suggesting that her training style conflicts with what this horse needs right now, and maybe ever. Clearly, this isn't the horse for you. That would matter if it were your horse. I think OP can do a good job with him if she takes her time and thinks about it, like she has been doing all along.

Sorry if that came off as harsh, but I couldn't disagree more with what you were saying or how you were saying it.

paintlady
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:00 PM
Well, I have a pretty rank mare who put me through just about every test you can imagine. I got her as a very green 4 y/o. I knew her entire history. She wasn't abused - just lazy, opinionated and too darn smart for her own good. I shed a lot of tears over her during the past 8 years. However, looking back, I wouldn't trade a second of it. She almost broke my confidence early on, but I can be pretty stubborn too.

The thing that really helped me was finding what my mare enjoyed doing. I rode hunters for 20+ years. My mare's sire was a H/J National Champion. Yet, turns out, my mare HATES H/J. We were butting heads because my mare wasn't happy with her job. I stumbled into dressage quite by accident. It turns out my mare really likes it. She'll never be a "top" dressage horse by any means of the imagination, but we do enjoy schooling and doing local shows. She's a happier horse now. My mare's other passions... trail riding and team penning (absolutely loves cows). Go figure!

I wouldn't trade my mare for the world now. She's a blast and we are really having fun together. It wasn't an easy path. She still "enjoys" testing me on ocassion, but I know her well enough to know how much I can push back without getting hurt. My mare backs down pretty easily now because she knows she's not going to win.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do. Selling/giving away/retiring the horse might be the best option. But... I can also understand your desire to stick things out too.

Mozart
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:10 PM
It's been 2.5 years and she still can't ask him to canter unless he wants to????

OP you are a saint. I got to that point in your post and thought...she's riding this horse because???????

Are you excited and happy about the prospect of swinging your leg over his saddle? Do you look forward to riding him? Or do you find that you have to sort of talk yourself into it and "firm your resolve" to get out to the barn and ride?

Ask yourself that question and I belive you will have your answer.

WWYD?
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:10 PM
OP, there are conflicted responses to your question. To help you resolve them, I am going to recommend a book called “Training the Young Horse: the First Two Years” by Anthony Crossley. In this book, the author explains how to start working an unbroke horse. The author has over seventy years experience working with horses, and I think his training advice is spot on.

I think you may have essentially an unbroke horse. As explained in the above book, the basis for all training is the desire to move forward. Number 1, paramount. If you have the opportunity to read the first two chapters or so, it may help you to decide how to proceed.

ASBJumper
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:14 PM
I disagree. Strongly.

As to #1, OP has ridden this horse's bucks before and stayed on. Hence, she's put him in situations where he would buck, he did buck, and she was fine. Not every horse can be pushed and pushed and pushed and still do well. Some can. Most need more time. Some need lots more time.

For #2, Smokey does not "have her number". He's bucked her off once. Who among us hasn't come off their horse of choice at least once? I don't doubt that the event trainer knows what she's doing, I'm just suggesting that her training style conflicts with what this horse needs right now, and maybe ever. Clearly, this isn't the horse for you. That would matter if it were your horse. I think OP can do a good job with him if she takes her time and thinks about it, like she has been doing all along.

Sorry if that came off as harsh, but I couldn't disagree more with what you were saying or how you were saying it.

And I disagree with you, sorry.
I will put up my hand and say I have only owned *one* horse out of 5 (and 4 out of those 5 were young horses I started myself) that have ever deliberately tried to unseat me. Too many riders believe that occasionally being "bucked off" or otherwise unseated or put in a dangerous situation for no apparent reason is part and parcel of owning/riding horses.. Well, it's not.
Falling off because you lost balance? Yes. Getting deep to a fence and slipping off when your horse stops? Yes. Other miscellaneous accidents? Yes.
But having to deal with deliberate "f*** you's" from your horse? NO. That is NOT normal, nor should it be "accepted as normal". If you relish a dangerous challenge, then have at it - but nobody who chooses to walk away from that should be deemed a quitter or be made to feel guilty in any way, shape or form.

I agree with rileyt that this horse most definitely has her number - he has her well trained not to ask *anything* more of him than he feels like doing - OR ELSE. :no:

lizathenag
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:20 PM
This sport has enough risks in it. Don't add unnecessary ones.

This bears repeating.

I hadn't ridden my 13 year old OTTB for a few weeks and I was wondering if I could handle him as he was screaming for his pasture mate, doing a tense piaffe in the cross ties as I was hosing off the dried sweat and generally being out of focus.

15 minutes of longeing in sidereins and I went for a nice trail ride.

I bring this up because for a few minutes I was thinking I needed to get a horse I could be comfortable with. I can't imagine thinking that for months.

ASBJumper
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:24 PM
Are you excited and happy about the prospect of swinging your leg over his saddle? Do you look forward to riding him? Or do you find that you have to sort of talk yourself into it and "firm your resolve" to get out to the barn and ride?

Ask yourself that question and I belive you will have your answer.

Yes yes yes. Being able to trust your horse and merrily mounting up with a smile on your face is the way riding SHOULD be. :yes:

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:32 PM
Hi there, firstly, make sure you're ok after coming off. It's always better to check with a Dr.

And then, I can somewhat relate to your woes. My recommendation is: If you love this horse and you are committed to him, tone it down. Don't ride. Ride at the walk only. Do whatever is save for both or you. It's just not worth losing your health or even your life over. (I've had several times where I "retired" my horse, just to slowly start stuff again months later, and now at 7 years, he still gets annoyed when I get after him a little bit, but he loves it when I'm in "bossy" mode, a level of energetic and physical getting after him that is way beyond what I would have ever dared, but doesn't come from a fearful or angry place. I know I'm there when my SO says " Geez, you're bossy today! :winkgrin:) Stop with the trainer. Just have someone there to watch your ride (a friend), don't ride alone, maybe have them tell you to breathe here and there.:yes: But really, you don't HAVE TO get on.

If you feel like you've had it, turn him out to pasture. There is no shame in that. Get or lease a nice horse that will build your confidence. There are plenty of them out there. And they deserve someone to love them, too! :)

Trevelyan96
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:34 PM
I can't offer specific advice, as I'm not a pro and don't play one on TV. I can only offer moral support and a compassionate point of view.

As many say, life is too short to have a horse you're afraid of, but I think you need to think about the negative impact the trainer had on the progress you made. Even if I got another horse, I wouldn't go back to that trainer. JMHO

It sounds like you were doing a good job of working with the horse you had, and understood himwell. It was the trainers' "Make him submit, or else.' attitutde that destroyed the progress you'd made with him. As happens to so many of us, we let the 'professionals' convince us that there is no way we can ever understand what our horses need better than they. This is JUST NOT TRUE! There's a difference between 'tactful' and 'weenie'. If you can stick that kind of bucking, you know how to ride, so I would definitely put you in the 'tactful' category!

If you don't think you'll ever be able to enjoy this horse, then send him on, although you'll have to accept that with his history his options are so limited that its doubtful he'll find a good home. If you can't live with that, then go back to work with him on the ground on rebuilding trust, then take it from there. The great thing about horses is the DO forgive, and its in their nature to prefer peaceful cooperation. Its just harder with some than others to figure out how to show them that cooperating won't result in pain or fear.

Your horse has a 'trigger' somewhere. It may be physical or emotional. You used good instincts, horsemanship, and tact to keep him happy for a while. There's no rule that says you can't do it again. But if you've decided that you can't continue, you owe this horse nothing more than as humane a solution as possible for his future.

2ndyrgal
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:46 PM
You said that he's "forward and exciteable, but manageable" on the trails. Take off you spurs, drop your whip, find a big hill (preferrably heading towards home) and canter up it. I've had horses that can buck going uphill at a canter, but they are few and far between.
The anticipation isn't just his, it's yours as well, chances are you are riding him forward into a fixed hand, he doesn;'t have anywhere to go and he's pissed. I've had some chronic buckers, bolters, you name it, if there is a problem, real or perceived, in the canter, we all, every single one of us, don't let the horse go freely into it. He's obviously been spoiled to the whip, I've had horses that were so resentful of it, (spoiled well before I got them) they wouldn't even tolerate a tap on the shoulder without going ballistic. The whip may never be a useful tool for this horse again, that said, if you have a good enough leg, it isn't the end of the world. If he canters under tack on the longe, without incident, try having someone on the ground. The alternative, if you love this horse and think he has talent enough to be worth the heartbreak, send him to a good trainer and spend the money and realize it isn't going to be fixed in a week. He has to KNOW he is allowed to canter, you have to trust him to do it, even if he throws a buck in on the way. Good luck, and no, don't drink if you hit your head, you can have a concussion and NOT lose conciousness. Be careful, but if you made it this far, you can get back to where you were.
Stop taking advice that has you going backwards.

buck22
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:50 PM
WOW! well, I just got back from the ER... scanned my brain (didn't take hardly any time at all :) ) and all is well, so I've got my cocktail, my tylenol, and will be eagerly reading through the TWO PAGES OF RESPONSES in just a few hours.

Thankyou all so much for taking the time to read and respond. Its been a crap day. I love this board. :)

Arizona DQ
Aug. 14, 2009, 06:50 PM
We might be onto something here folks....

:lol:

I can see it now:

Horsewoman's Guide to Dating and Divorce: Deciding whether or not to keep your horse. Or husband. Or boyfriend.

HA! If that book were in existence years (and I mean years!) ago, I would have had a great time with my little POA mare and never married husband #1..... :mad:

BuddyRoo
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:00 PM
Glad you're okay, OP.

TSWJB
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:06 PM
Ditto what pretty much everyone is saying. I think you need another horse.

Your gelding sounds inherently lazy, and doesn't like to work hard. Find him a home where he can take people on occasional trail rides, be a therapeutic leadline mount, a companion to recently-weaned babies, etc etc... if he's not mean on the ground (biter, kicker, etc), and is relatively pleasant, you can find him a home where he'll be happy. Don't stubbornly cling to the idea of keeping him just because you feel responsible, ok? Some horses just have no work ethic, period.There are hordes of sound, loving, gentle, RELIABLE horses out there desperate for caring homes like the one they would have with you. There are even (like one previous poster pointed out) horses who have come from abusive/neglectful homes that are still willing to trust and try their hearts out for a caring owner.

don't always assume that the horse was once a loving, trustworthy animal with a fab work ethic, and that you can "rehab" it with love and patience. It may have *always* been a lazy+nappy thing, since birth - you have no way of knowing.

this is fantastic advice! i had a horse that was lazy. he didnt want to go forward. and i worked sooooo hard to get him to understand leg means forward and he had a job to do. but the horse did not have a good work ethic. he should have been able to jump 4ft and he did for me a few times like when i tried him! but i gave him 2 programs and 6.5 years and the best i could get out of him was a pretty reliable 2.6ft horse. i was well capable of jumping much more. so i sold him as a 2.6ft horse. it broke my heart. he screamed when he saw his trailer leaving as he was in the paddock by the road. i drove off with my horse screaming behind me and running towards the trailer. i cried all the way home. but the girl who bought him liked him. she did not have the high pressure atmosphere that i did. busy show barn, going to A rated shows. well thats what i wanted.
i bought a new horse and he has the most fantastic work ethic that he makes me cry from joy, not sadness about how much i love my horse but he will not play.
this horse may do well with someone who just wants to plod around the ring and an occassional trail ride. he may be happy as a clam.
i always want to keep trying with my horses but since i bought my new one, its hard to want to keep trying with a partner that just doesnt want to play. the ones that do want to play are more fun than i ever imagined!

Trevelyan96
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:10 PM
arghhh. Sell the horse, or if you can't do it in good conscience... put him down. Life it too damn short.

There are two basic possibilities here: 1) You are one of those wimpy riders who only trots dear Smokey on non-windy, non-muddy, perfect days... and has made a whole lot of progress with him in the last year (meaning, he now trots 3 times around the ring willingly before stopping). The eventing teacher was too liberal with her whip and got you bucked off. or, 2) the event rider knows what she's doing, recognizes Smokey has your number, and took a "take no prisoners" approach (because she rightly deduces that you've made a deal with the Devil), tried to fix it, and you got bucked off.
.


Arghh... !!! Anyone who knows diddly about a horse knows that they're just not capable of that sophisticated a thought process! They react, pure and simple. They don't sit around thinking... "if I do this... she'll put me away".

Ugh... this attitude it what turns out so many BAD trainers who think that they're true horsemen just because they can stick a buck while whipping the snot out of a frightened, confused, reactive animal.

Gloria
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:15 PM
i had a horse that was lazy. he didnt want to go forward. and i worked sooooo hard to get him to understand leg means forward and he had a job to do. but the horse did not have a good work ethic.


Um I don't think I agree with this 100%. I agree that OP's horse is probably lazy but there could be more to simple laziness. I thought my horse was lazy until my clinician pointed to me that, he was actually very sensitive, well, sensitive and kind. If my butt is any little bit tight, he kind of freezes up and since he is kind and gentle, he refuses to move forward. Other horses of that sensitivity will probably bolt. Same cause, opposite result.

Arizona DQ
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:16 PM
Arghh... !!! Anyone who knows diddly about a horse knows that they're just not capable of that sophisticated a thought process! They react, pure and simple. They don't sit around thinking... "if I do this... she'll put me away".
.


That is not a sophisticated thought process..... "I buck, rider is off my back".. Reward for bucking.... or "I buck, I get put away". Simple reward for behavior..... Now this behavior is trained.

stolensilver
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:16 PM
My take on this situation is that this horse currently has no future at all if the OP cannot sort him out. In her shoes I'd feel that I had to find a way to make this horse rideable otherwise he's going to be looking down the wrong end of a lethal injection. It's too easy to say "sell" or "give away". There are NO HOMES for horses like this.

So since the OP sounds capable of working through this problem what she needs to do is swing the odds in her favour. This horse's evasion is bucking. The way to swing the odds in favour of the rider is to fit a bucking strap. They work like magic and cost pennies to make. Go and buy an 8' piece of thin, soft rope. Tie one end of the rope to the D ring on your saddle. Thread it up your horse's neck, through the loop on the end of the browband, down the side of his face and across his mouth. The most important part is to tuck the rope between his top teeth and top lip so it runs along his top gum. Then run the rope up the other side of his face, through the loop on the other end of his browband, down his neck (it can help to tie a loose knot round the rope running up his neck as this helps to keep them together) and then finally tie the end to the other D ring. This is known as a bucking strap or a gum line. When the horse is behaving himself it will do nothing. If he tries to put his head down to buck he will give himself a sharp jolt on his top gum. That is sore but it is self inflicted. Most horses learn not to buck from a single encounter with a gum line. Really hardened buckers may try two or three times before quitting.

What is important about the gum line is that if the horse is behaving himself it does nothing at all. If the horse chooses to buck he gives himself a jolt across the gums. It works because its actions have nothing to do with the rider and everything to do with what the horse chooses to do. And it is a whole lot better than the future that this horse faces if the OP gives up on him. The other advantage of a gum line is that it gives the rider a load of confidence. With the gum line on the horse isn't going to throw them so they can ride more positively.

From what the OP posted I'm not sure if she is asking too little which is why the horse still isn't reliable at going into canter after 2 1/2 years together or whether getting after him with a whip was too much for his brain to cope with. Either way the gum line will help because it will give the rider more confidence. It is worth trying.

Dressage Art
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:23 PM
It took me a long time to discover the key to getting him willing to work, and the key was quiet yet determined patience. Aggression causes him to shut down. More aggression causes him to defend himself. Whips caused him to become unglued.good for you!


Do I start all over, tone things back down, etc? Avoid battles using tact instead, and deal with the slow progression? Get his faith back, and quit using the whip as an 'or else' weapon? Or attack full on with the help of the trainer, keep up the whipping until he's broke of the idea and keep doing what I can to ride it out? Accepting the reality that bucking will now, and probably for a while, permeate all riding, as it once did.You know that he is a handfull that most riders will sell, by keeping him you signed up for the slower progression = If you had enough, you can terminate your riding contract, but there is no way of changing that contract:
There are NO HOMES for horses like this.yes...
Trust yourself, and not your trainer. May be you have a better feel than that trainer, even if that trainer has more knowledge than you do.

slc2
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:42 PM
You will have enough people who will tell you to 'start him over' and 'win his trust' and 'put away that evil whip'.

I won't do that, because I know it doesn't work. It's that simple. It doesn't work. You can't avoid problems. You can't compromise on problems. You can't put off fixing problems. It is just that simple.

Either you are the boss, or you aren't. It IS that simple.

I think the reason 'being tough' didn't work is you aren't being tough enough. You have to be tougher than him, braver than him, bolder than him, quicker than him. And if you really love that horse, you will find all of that in yourself.

Your horse has drawn a line in the sand. He is challenging you. It is time to fight back.

The next step for him, is a dog food can. Sure, you won't send him to the killers. But if you don't stop this, he eventually WILL wind up in a can. You'll have to sell him if you don't fix this, and where's he going after you have him? Only down the hill.

Fight for him, and fight hard, and don't give an inch. Get a bucking strap, and get him moving. He can't buck when he's moving forward. And I mean forward enough. Learn to get out of his mouth and throw all caution to the wind and make him go. He needs to respect that when you tell him something to do, he has to do it. It is that simple. And if he doesn't respond instantly, you are going to get into him big time.

Get someone who can help you, and can get on him, and do it, and shout out, 'See! You can do this too!'.

The bottom line is that you have spoiled your horse. What you are describing is spoiling the horse. Not cantering, half measures, all those compromises to 'avoid fights'....you're riding an animal that is a herd animal, and if he wants to survive in a herd, get food, not get kicked, he has to be tough. And he is. and you have to be tougher.

Now you need to turn that around. For the good of the horse as well as for yourself. Because once you give up on one, things are never again the same. Do it for yourself, and for the horse.

buck22
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:45 PM
WOW there are some responses here. WOW. wow. wow.

Thanks all, I've just managed to read through it all and there is so much to respond to. I really really really appreciate each and every response here.

I want to take the time to respond individually to posts, because there are some GREAT thoughts happening, but in a nutshell:

Why? ha. Because. :lol: I don't have any specific goals. I've spent the last several years rehabbing hard cases. I don't do it for the challenge. I do it because I love horses, and when the rank ones come around, they are the most loyal, devoted and amazing creatures ever on this planet. They give you their heart without questions. Its amazing. I had a string of success, I guess they were easy ones. :lol: After my last one, I was cocky :no: and I went searching - searching - for the baddest horse I could find. Not the smartest thing, I admit. Foolish and cocky? surely. I had indeed gotten too big for my britches, and this horse has knocked me down to size. Knocked the confidence right out me in fact. I've had this coming, I don't deserve a pity party. I brought this on myself.

Does he have my #? Yes indeedy he does. I push, don't get me wrong. I do. I don't completely and utterly lay down. But I've been playing it safe. A little too safe too. I do ride on windy days, when the horses in other paddocks are up and running, etc, etc, but I do play it safe.

Also, this horse was a monster on the ground. Really. Anything you can imagine, he did, rear strike bite buck turn and give you both barrels, didn't tie, flipped, broke everything, when through fences, came at you and attacked. And everytime absolute intent to do harm. There was no calling his bluff, there was no bluff. Scared the crap out of me.

But when I presented my ability to be consistent, predictable, firm YET fair, I suddenly had a horse that was interested in what I was about. Suddenly, he realized I had something to offer him. And learning commenced. And it was beautiful. And he is a love, any time other than being ridden :lol:

Do I think there is pain? Yeah I do. He has a response that is likely from pain upon dismount. But I'll be dammed if anyone can find it. Not for lack of trying. But you know what? This horse's laundry list of problems has made me one heck of a horsewoman. Ulcers? who wouldda thunk it? Yep, made a huge difference. Saddle fit? Who cared? Now I do... now I've got a dandy education in tack too. :lol: And an admirable collection :lol:

I'm not going to break my back on this horse - well figuratively. If he is the one I can't *fix*, so be it. BUT, seeing how isolated his problems are (riding only, canter primarily). Seeing how willing he is in all other instances. And seeing how some seemingly insurmountable problems were solved *so* easily (panicky 'tude = ulcers = fixed, bucking when girthed = saddle fit = fixed, hyperactive all the time = diet & lifestyle = fixed, would not accept contact = teeth = fixed)..... there is a part of me that doesn't want to give up hope. His myriad other issues have been dropping like flies. There *has* to be something that has a answer - or at least I tell myself.

Now, whether that something is due to lack of trust in a rider? baggage from having rider after rider land on his neck and bounce off ever since a wee young lad? something like kissing spines? or he is just so convinced about having my # and I'm not assertive enough?

Its something. And I just don't know whether its time to take the gloves off, or ease back and restore his fleeting confidence. I don't know.

Random thoughts to add: The trainer is awesome, not an ass, not mean. She's seen shitty horses before with weak riders, that all. She's insisting I take charge. I would too were I on the ground watching one of my friends. She doesn't know the history, and to her credit, she doesn't want to hear it. She wants to deal with what she has now.

Yes, pony is being primed for an alternate career. I'm not THAT wrapped up to not realize that perhaps this just isn't for him. Therapeutic riding was my first though, and I'm breaking him to drive just as soon as I can. He would be OUTSTANDING for therapeautic riding... he thrives on attention and stimulation, the contraptions and kids playing ball and throwing hoola hoops and pool noodles would be just his cup of tea. Walking around all day in circles, he'd be happy as a clam.

So why bother pushing him? he has ability, and adores to jump xc as well.

Oh, one more thought.... I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to take his sorry ass and boot it up hill and run the snot out of him in the mountains and let him buck his little pea-brain out :lol: I would love nothing more. Way back back, I used to routinely buck out the hack string when they were getting snotty with the beginners... and a nice steep long grade was just the ticket... buck and bolt your dear little heart out, and I won't yank you around one bit. Problem is there isn't one mountain where I live now. Not even a hill. Seriously..... People call my paddock "on the hill" ... its barely a "rise"... there is nothing but miles and miles of long flat sandy trails and pine trees, as far as the eye can see....

Thank you all SOOOOOOOOO much. I'd like to respond individually, but BLT's and beer, and an upset SO (were you wearing a helmet? no... :no:) are calling me.

Thank you all for the sanity, frankness, support, advice, and stories. I really appreciate every word written.

slc2
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:59 PM
I can't imagine a horse that is that difficult in a therapeutic riding facility. That makes no sense, inflicting that on handicapped kids and a stream of inexperienced handlers each expecting something else and using different methods.

Spoiled horses do NOT 'get better' when given easier work. They start objecting to THAT work. Ask me how I know.

buck22
Aug. 14, 2009, 08:01 PM
I thought my horse was lazy until my clinician pointed to me that, he was actually very sensitive
yup. I'm convinced of this too... I don't believe he was born lazy, I believe he was born sensitive and then ruined.


oh, and I'll be wearing a helmet for now on. promise.

buck22
Aug. 14, 2009, 08:03 PM
I can't imagine a horse that is that difficult in a therapeutic riding facility. That makes no sense, inflicting that on handicapped kids and a stream of inexperienced handlers each expecting something else and using different methods.

Spoiled horses do NOT 'get better' when given easier work. They start objecting to THAT work. Ask me how I know.
quite possible!!!! I don't know frankly, but on the outside he seems as if he might have the makings. I don't know though. Would have to learn more about what types end up there.

buck22
Aug. 14, 2009, 08:08 PM
oh, and I have no intention of selling the horse. give him up? sure, I love him loads, but I'm not going to kid myself either. He's not saleable and never will be, and the day he does become saleable is the day he's earned the title of "my friend" and I don't put a price on my friends either...

if it comes to giving him up, thats fine, we may just be mismatched. I can take that, but I"m not quite ready to cry uncle yet.

I just am unsure how to proceed after today. Its a real shame I came off.

J-Lu
Aug. 14, 2009, 08:52 PM
Well firstly, I am very glad that you went to the ER to get your head checked out. Secondly, I am very very happy to hear you are OK.

It is hard to figure out what is really going on with your horse from your post, but my gut tells me that you are not dealing with a spoiled horse. You are dealing with a horse who has genuine fear issues and likely has genuine musculoskeletal issues somewhere that is not easily diagnosed by your vet or chiro but is aleviated by tossing the rider.

My experience tells me that horses that are so behind the leg until "coaxed" to go forward through a trail ride have a reason...they are likely uncomfortable. If he doesn't want to pick up the canter readily undersaddle, or requires a whip to smack him into a canter, it again points to a genuine problem that is exacerbated by the weight of the rider. You said he used to flip over...there is a good chance he was injured during one of those episodes.

I have known several very well bred and well cared for horses who had serious behavioral issues that after LOTS of $$ in diagnostics came down to bona-fide diagnosed health problems.

Alternatively/in addition, I wonder if you horse used to have some injuries due to his previous trainer and absolutely hates being pushed because it reminds him of pain. I once rode a very talented dressage TB who was originally trained in a chambon rig. We knew he flipped and freaked out in it and was sold as a "dangerous horse". My old trainer purchased him and brought him up to third or fourth level through kind and patient riding and she let me take lessons on him. However, if you got in his face, if you used a whip on him, or otherwise made him feel confined in the bridle, *your ride was over*. He became a tense, rearing, excitable, nut case. Your ride was over. You get off, you put him away, you start over the next day. It really wasn't his fault and he wasn't being mean, he had really bad experiences. I wonder if the same thing is going on with your horse. If your horse is truly healthy and sound, you can get more than sufficient 'forward' through exercises and without the use of a whip.

Maybe this doesn't apply to your horse but most horses, even the jerks I've met, tend to be honest jerks and will work with you provided they are comfortable/sound and treated fairly.

FWIW, I don't agree with the tactics of your "trainer". That is the WRONG use of the *aid* that is the whip.

What to do next? A good vet diagnostic with a good vet or your local state vet hospital. If you can't afford that, try a different vet. (BTW, what did they do to diagnose your horse?) If I were you, I would immediately start with a different trainer. No other trainer in the area? I would stop riding with this trainer or at least draw a firm line in the sand about what you will or won't do with your horse. You are his advocate and no GOOD trainer will intentionally pick a fight with a horse that belongs to a student or has latent behavioral problems. I would start back a few steps and regain your horse's trust. I would again check the bridle fit, the bit fit, the saddle fit, etc. I would also save my pennies and have a friend videotape me and send the videotape to a bigger trainer for evaluation. Some people have good luck with this.

ToN Farm
Aug. 14, 2009, 09:27 PM
My experience tells me that horses that are so behind the leg until "coaxed" to go forward through a trail ride have a reason...they are likely uncomfortable. If he doesn't want to pick up the canter readily undersaddle, or requires a whip to smack him into a canter, it again points to a genuine problem that is exacerbated by the weight of the rider. Like what? The only thing that could be so painful as to give a horse an excuse to misbehave to that degree with be a kissing spine problem or a cracked vertebrae. Anything really serious would be more obvious to diagnose. There are many, many balky horses. Maybe they are 'uncomfortable' in that they are a 'little' sore, stiff, or what have you. However, I believe horses that have problems under saddle and none on the lunge or at freedom are behavior problems, not physical problems.

As for the OP's problem, I am just shaking my head that someone would actually look for horses with problems to fix.

sid
Aug. 14, 2009, 09:47 PM
Yeah, some people do want to take on this sort of thing. Speaking from personal experience, it's supremely rewarding to change their attitude about life and work. It can be very "heady" when one turns a horse around, regardless of it's past handling...or genetic predispostion to "object" in this way.

But sometimes, fantasy (or past successes) meets with reality with one that may require MORE than the person has in their arsenal of re-training...even if put their "past" behind in your methods of retraining.

These are the best teachers, but not without danger and the need to have the patience and creative effort needed to eliminate the dangerous behaviour.

Just depends how much risk one wants to take and how much patience and time they want to devote to it ...;)

J-Lu
Aug. 14, 2009, 10:04 PM
Like what? The only thing that could be so painful as to give a horse an excuse to misbehave to that degree with be a kissing spine problem or a cracked vertebrae. Anything really serious would be more obvious to diagnose. There are many, many balky horses. Maybe they are 'uncomfortable' in that they are a 'little' sore, stiff, or what have you. However, I believe horses that have problems under saddle and none on the lunge or at freedom are behavior problems, not physical problems.

As for the OP's problem, I am just shaking my head that someone would actually look for horses with problems to fix.

Hi ToN Farm,

Well, the OP said she isn't going to sell this horse so that doesn't seem to be an option!

Ummmm, yea, what you said. I have known 2 horses eventually diagnosed with degrees of kissing spines that explained their terrible and progressively awful undersaddle behavior. It took taking both horses to Texas A&M vet hospital for an actual diagnosis. Local vets had no idea and local trainers tried to 'work through' the problem. One had serious degeneration and it was a wonder he didn't kill his owners out of pain. The other was a competition horse whose problems come on with training. She looked fine on the longe and in side reins but had a problem with rider weight. Horse was labeled "a bitch" by several until vets started understanding the source of her problems.

I knew one horse who was also very problematic. I talked to previous trainer who remembered when owner took horse to State Vet Hospital and was diagnosed with an old fractured vertebrae in the neck that likely happened while horse was a foal abroad. Never showed up in typical yearling PPE but became problematic later in life. Subsequent trainer "pushed" horse through problem, not knowing about the previous diagnostic, and couldn't understand why the horse was so resistant.

Another big problem horse worked with a very BNT in Florida - couldn't figure out the horse's behavioral problem - horse was eventually diagnosed with Lyme's disease from a stint in the North East that was affecting his joints and improved greatly after treatment.

My friend's TB that I took lessons on was fine on the longe but was a tricky ride because of previous training and flipping in the Chambon. Sure, behavior problem but associated with real pain and it was not something you could *demand obedience* about. He would rear straight up if you made demands. You couldn't fix that, and his owner is a professional who has trained horses to GP. She avoided his buttons and learned to work with him-getting a regional championship at third level. I was never able to get more than first level work out of him because I didn't give him the ride that he wanted.

I firmly believe there are horses out there that you can't dominate, but rather, you have to earn the trust and work ethic on. I believe that lots of Arabians and lots of the hotter TBs and warmblood lines fall into this category. They are hot and or smart, and it doesn't take much for a horse to understand that they outweigh you by at least 10 fold. These are what people call 'professional' horses. I also believe that alot of horses have baggage because of previous bad training that was their *first* training so they never really shake it. Anyone who has trained OTTBs in thier first stints after the track (I have) can attest to the fact that you have to be patient with these guys or else you can get hurt. They aren't bad horses, they are just jaded. I also believe that alot of horses get belligerent because they have good work ethics but hurt. And they don't like doing things that hurt. Like I said, some of the most problematic horses I've known ended up being diagnosed with a problem that explained their attitude...and they were matched with people who thought they were dealing soley with an attitude problem and tried to dominate the horse through it. Generally, the people lost the argument.

My experience,
J.

PS. I also know a horse who was eventually diagnosed with progressive cataracts - explained the horse's spooky behavior with shadows and in strange places. He couldn't see well. This was disagnosed because the owner could afford to do it.

WW_Queen
Aug. 14, 2009, 10:41 PM
I would do some trainer shopping (ie, auditing clinics, word of mouth) in your area. Send him away for 30 days OR commit to 1-2 pro rides a WEEK for 30 days.

A second opinion by someone who has BTDT, that you respect and who has probably seen their fair share of horses like this will most likely be your best ally.

If someone looks you in the eye and says the horse is a bad egg, don't keep (for lack of a better expression) beating a dead horse. That's how you'll get yourself seriously injured/killed.

GallantGesture
Aug. 14, 2009, 11:21 PM
I have 3 difficult horse stories for you, all three with different results.

Horse #1 is my own, he came off the track with every problem in the book, and people thought he was going to kill me. I promised him forever, and we took a long, slow road, but I learned a TON. I got his ground manners fixed up, made a trail horse out of him, got him over little jumps, and started dressage basics. Most of his issues were emotional (so head shy he reared) from a past I knew little about, and I had the patience to get him through that stuff. But I couldn't get the canter fixed, he grabbed the bit in his teeth and ran, and if I tried to force something with him, he bucked me off. It wasn't that it was impossible to fix him, I just didn't have the right tools. Finally I found a trainer with enough knowledge and experience to give me the tools I needed to work successfully with him, and I showed him successfully this past summer at training level, and was hoping to do first with him but we still don't have good lengthenings! He's my best friend, and the safest, sanest horse in the world.

Horse #2 would walk and trot quietly and calmly. He seemed a good citizen and happy enough to work. His owner (my client) could ride him around no problem. But when I did training rides on him, he would explode. This didn't make sense to me, I didn't feel I was pushing him past where he should be capable of working, I wasn't beating him, etc. I started taking careful mental notes when it happened. When I got him round and asked him to bend. If I asked for a little leg yield. Canter transitions. Things that should have been pretty simple made him leap and buck and spin around and stand up. Pushing it made it worse. I talked to the owner and vet, said I was unwilling to continue riding the horse the way he was because I felt he was unsafe, but that I also felt it was because something was wrong, he was in pain. My feeling was "when he moves the wrong way, it's like something pinches him and he explodes." It took a lot of confidence to say that and stand by the way I was riding him, especially since he didn't do it to the owner! Took some time, but he was finally diagnosed with kissing spines. They only "kissed" when he used his back correctly, which he didn't do for his owner. He was treated, and now is still in training with me and doing quite well. Owner did her first recognized show with him 3 weeks ago and took home lots of ribbons!

Horse #3 was a lazy paint that would walk around all day long, jog til he got bored, and fuss and fight and get naughty if anything more was asked of him. I rode him, I lunged him, I used spurs, I carried a whip. I got him more sensitive, taught him to move forward. It was a LOT of work to ride this horse, but he did improve. His owner still could not get him to trot forward. Finally one day when I was wanting him to canter and he would either buck and/or slam on the brakes every time I tried to get him going, my trainer told me the "make him go forward, I'm the boss not him" thing. Well, I got him cantering, and he was bucking a lot, but he had an easy buck to ride, and he kept trying to stop so I kept making him canter. Finally, he bucked and ended up in a cross-canter going into a corner, lost his balance and wiped out. I stayed on him. I got really lucky I didn't get seriously hurt, because I ended up on the ground with one leg under him (I was still in the saddle!). He got up, I got up, got back on, and we cantered again until he quit trying to stop. Then I stopped him, told him good boy, and put him away. After that, we decided that for one, even if I did get him to canter and quit bucking, his owner still wouldn't be able to. And a horse that is THAT much work to ride is not fun. And even if you can ride the buck, is still dangerous. We could spend a ton of time and energy just to get a basic walk/trot/canter on that horse, or we could find a horse that wanted to do the job. So that horse went to be a trail horse, and at his new barn everyone just loves him. He is a super star trail horse, happy in his work walking at a snail's pace and ignoring the person on his back. It's just who he is, and training could have changed how he behaved, but it never would have changed HIM. Everyday would have been a battle. (Owner now has a tb she loves!)

There's no one answer to difficult horses. You have to identify what CAUSES the problem behavior and fix that (or recognize that it can't be fixed), instead of trying to fix JUST the behavior. If you can't identify the cause, find a trainer that can help you. Maybe it's physical, maybe it's emotional, maybe it's behavioral, maybe it's a combo. Then decide if you are capable of fixing it and willing to put the time and effort (and endure the frustration, etc), or if you are willing to spend the money to have someone else fix it, or if you are not the right home for this horse.

In any case, please be careful with your current trainer's strategy. Even if you can ride the buck, it is still not safe. In your situation, I would check again for anything physical, then get an evaluation from a REALLY good trainer. Good luck!

Ambrey
Aug. 15, 2009, 12:36 AM
I'm just gonna say that sometimes the advice you get to these threads is very colored by the mood you were in when you wrote it. I had pretty much the same advice 1 1/2 years ago when my horse bucked me off and I was injured.

But just because one trainer's methods won't help doesn't mean nothing will. My spooky, difficult, intimidating horse has turned into a sweetheart and a pretty easy ride for the most part. I think maybe you need to find a trainer who won't resort to power struggles, but might have other methods when he gets balky.

And if you think there is something physical going on, definitely follow your gut :)

TSWJB
Aug. 15, 2009, 12:45 PM
You will have enough people who will tell you to 'start him over' and 'win his trust' and 'put away that evil whip'.

I won't do that, because I know it doesn't work. It's that simple. It doesn't work. You can't avoid problems. You can't compromise on problems. You can't put off fixing problems. It is just that simple.

Either you are the boss, or you aren't. It IS that simple.

I think the reason 'being tough' didn't work is you aren't being tough enough. You have to be tougher than him, braver than him, bolder than him, quicker than him. And if you really love that horse, you will find all of that in yourself.

Your horse has drawn a line in the sand. He is challenging you. It is time to fight back.


okay i agee with this. my horse was not dangerous, but he did challenge me about going forward. he would kick out when i tapped him with the whip instead of responding and going forward. i had attended a dressage clinic and the clinician told me that many people would think it was cruel but this horse has your number and you need to gain control. he is to move off your leg the minute you ask him to. and if not. you give him a tap with the whip. and if he gives you the horsie finger, take the whip and lay into him behind your leg once. but sting him. my whole lesson was walk, trot off. he didnt listen and i took the whip and stung him and he was galloping around the ring like a mad man. the dressage clinician did not want me riding my horse the next day without the trainer. then we would walk and repeat. well it got him listening to my leg. he would jump into the canter. but he also did not try to launch me. he didnt do anything dangerous. not sure i would want to sting my horse with the whip if he would launch me in the air.
this method did produce results. my next horse show i was champion in the schooling hunters. my first champion with him! the problem was that i had to keep up this type of bold riding. and as the jumps got higher, back into the 3ft, i just didnt have the courage at the time to sting him once and get him running to the jumps. i could do it at home, but at the shows in the indoor it was a bit harder. he would suck back at the fences 4 strides out. and with a crowd in the ring schooling, i could not take my whip and sting him to get him moving. i think if i could have, the horse would have gone.
his comfort zone was 2.6ft and thats what i sold him as. i did give up. but really you either get after the horse and battle him like slc says or your sunk. and i dont think i would have the courage to do this with a horse that would launch me like a rocket if i tried. but it does work.

slc2
Aug. 15, 2009, 02:01 PM
You're right though. A person has to be practical. If you're scared to death, in danger, or not willing to throw yourself into it, it's best to sell the horse. But one thing I think is really better for the horse - six months or so of full training with a professional, to guarantee the habit is addressed, and that the horse will wind up in a good home, not going down the hill.

Ambrey
Aug. 15, 2009, 02:08 PM
You're right though. A person has to be practical. If you're scared to death, in danger, or not willing to throw yourself into it, it's best to sell the horse. But one thing I think is really better for the horse - six months or so of full training with a professional, to guarantee the habit is addressed, and that the horse will wind up in a good home, not going down the hill.

A good trainer that gets along with him and will make steady progress!

Yes, best thing I ever did for my horse :yes::yes::yes: That and keeping said trainer riding while I addressed my fear so I didn't get back into the fear cycle again (horse gets anxious, rider gets anxious that horse will act up, horse senses rider anxiety and gets more anxious, rider gets tense, horse becomes insane).

Dressage Art
Aug. 15, 2009, 04:34 PM
i did give up. but really you either get after the horse and battle him like slc says or your sunk. and i dont think i would have the courage to do this with a horse that would launch me like a rocket if i tried. but it does work.

Lets just rebalance this...I would disagree. I didn't gave up on my horse and I didn't use the harsh methods and I didn't "get after my horse" after a GP trainer told me that I should give up - on contrary, I went steady and patient. Trained her up to showing 4th level with 60%+. So I would not agree with you that "you will sunk" if you will not go the harsh training way. (I don't know to what levels SLC trained-up her horses or she trained them down by buying a GP schoolmasters and showing Training level on them - who knows... may be gentle approach didn't work with any of SLC or your horses, but it did on mine)

Harsh training and getting after your horse will get you only that far. Your horse's cup will fill up and one day your whip will deliver the final drop that.... you fill-in the blank.... Horse really needs to be an equally interested partner in work and have the desire to work for a carrot, not for a stick.

I definitely use the stick when I need to, but the balance between the carrot and a stick in strongly waited to carrots, rather than sticks.

This kinds of threads make me really, really sad... it just shows how much harsh riding and strong handed training there is out there and most shockingly people think that it OK and that's the only thing that works... sad, very sad...

Dressage Art
Aug. 15, 2009, 04:52 PM
I would look at the whole situation a bit differently. There are horses that are only comfortable on a certain level of work b/c of their confirmation that eventually can progress to pain. No amount of whips and spurs will force horses like that to do the job that they are uncomfortable doing. That means some horses will top out on a certain level and then you’ll have to live with it or just retire/sell the horse. And I’m not talking about the show dressage levels – some horses can still progress in some movements, yet not be comfortable in others.

It’s not really about how much force will take to break that horse. It’s about how much that horse can handle. You can’t take a foot from some horses, but you can take an inch every ride slowly that will eventually add up to a foot. Knowing when to push and when to quit pushing is the key in this situation... hope that makes sense.

twofatponies
Aug. 15, 2009, 06:00 PM
I think there's a range of "getting after" a horse and being effective about it. Using the whip (a single sharp sting done without anger when the horse does not listen to the leg, for example, while *also* giving them complete freedom with the reins) is miles away from "beating the snot out of him" or "being harsh". To my mind the latter is multiple blows that are more about the rider venting frustration than communicating with the horse, or blows delivered while preventing the horse from moving forward (negating the whole concept of leg=forward). To my mind, in a scenario where the horse will not move forward from the leg, the stick is the stick, and the "carrot" is the release of the driving aids and big praise and a rest from work when he obeys.

What is hard to understand on this (and other) threads sometimes is whether a given person, when they say "beat the crap out of him" or similar, means literally beating the horse, or do they mean "give him a well-timed and effective whack". And when someone says "use the whip effectively" are they imagining a single slap, or an angry beating?

slc2
Aug. 15, 2009, 06:19 PM
Um...The gentle approach didn't work with my horses? You really are good at making stuff up. You're making an awful lot things up about me. Someone asks an opinion about what sounds like a thoroughly spoiled, naughty horse they are overmounted on, and your fancy takes flight from there, ;).

Actually, the gentle approach does work with my horses. And if someone doesn't think it does, they can find some other customer than me.

Gentleness is just right for some horses, others need a firm approach occasionally, usually because they have been spoiled....or it only SEEMS like they need a firm hand, and actually, they've been pressured so hard, they started fighting back, and more pressure isn't going to fix that. Once a horse is ruined like that, it's a long long road back to get that generous spirit back. Other horses are sore or hurting, and much of the time, the horse is simply doing exactly what the rider is TELLING him to do, and the rider just doesn't realize he's making a mistake.

And most horses need a firm hand from time to time, and a rider who's willing to consider maybe HE made a mistake, 99% of the time (instead of blaming the saddle, the instructor, etc). It is just as wrong to beat one's chest nobly and claim no horse ever needs any correction, as to claim all they all need all the time is corrections. Nothing is that black and white.

Dressage Art
Aug. 15, 2009, 06:41 PM
a thoroughly spoiled, naughty horse they are overmounted on...And most horses need a firm hand from time to time

I don't see OPs horse as "a thoroughly spoiled, naughty horse" and I don't se OP as an "overmounted on" rider. OP comes like a very capable rider who was the only one so far to be able to stay on the horse. So far she was able to train up her horse steady up, until the trainer came in to the picture and decided to speed up the process and may be just pushed the horse over the edge?

Me think you are the one who is making the stuff up about the OP and her horse ;)

You can't have it both waysSLC, if you are suggesting to OP to get after her horse "even harder" and saying that there is no other way b/c you know so = you are not suggesting the steady and patient approach. But I think that with OPs horse your & TSWJB method will NOT work. Horses do shut down after repeated beating and it just becomes painfull nagging.
You will have enough people who will tell you to 'start him over' and 'win his trust' and 'put away that evil whip'.

I won't do that, because I know it doesn't work. It's that simple. It doesn't work. You can't avoid problems. You can't compromise on problems. You can't put off fixing problems. It is just that simple.

Either you are the boss, or you aren't. It IS that simple.

I think the reason 'being tough' didn't work is you aren't being tough enough. You have to be tougher than him, braver than him, bolder than him, quicker than him. And if you really love that horse, you will find all of that in yourself.

Your horse has drawn a line in the sand. He is challenging you. It is time to fight back.

The next step for him, is a dog food can. Sure, you won't send him to the killers. But if you don't stop this, he eventually WILL wind up in a can. You'll have to sell him if you don't fix this, and where's he going after you have him? Only down the hill.

Fight for him, and fight hard, and don't give an inch. Get a bucking strap, and get him moving. He can't buck when he's moving forward. And I mean forward enough. Learn to get out of his mouth and throw all caution to the wind and make him go. He needs to respect that when you tell him something to do, he has to do it. It is that simple. And if he doesn't respond instantly, you are going to get into him big time.

True, twofatponies and with out a video we will never know how really "thoroughly spoiled, naughty horse with overmounted on" rider - as SLC suggesting the OP is or not or she is somewhere in the middle...

buck22
Aug. 15, 2009, 08:20 PM
Again, a thousand thanks to everyone. Really, each and every response is helpful, encouraging and give food for thought.




True, twofatponies and with out a video we will never know how really "thoroughly spoiled, naughty horse with overmounted on" rider - as SLC suggesting the OP is or not or she is somewhere in the middle...

I am squarely in the middle. :D I'm no Betty Big Balls, but I'm not a push over either. I've spent the last several years dealing with these sorts of behaviors, and I'm quite comfortable sitting out a buck, or galloping out, etc.,. Though I'm not the most accomplished or decorated rider either. Just a dedicated hack :lol:

But in the last year, I've gotten into a rut. I've been treading water and making measurable, but slow progress. And i was not unhappy. :D:D:D It wasn't till it was pointed out to me that perhaps I should be progressing faster (cantering reliably in the ring) that I became open to the idea that perhaps I've been to cautious. Perhaps I really am a weenie. :winkgrin: Hey, I can wear my big girl panties and call a spade a spade. I'm still young enough to be cocky, but old enough to check my ego at the barn door ;)

So when I met a gung-ho take no prisoners trainer who was more than willing to help me out, I took the opportunity. It was frankly, refreshing to be around someone a bit more rough and tumble and roll up your sleeves than I'd been surrounded by in recent years.

I wanted to believe that I was just a wimpy rider, I was more than happy to try to buck him out, in terms of it being a solution. But my gut is telling me its not right for this horse. Lazy stubbornness is only a portion of the entire picture. It is underscored by a deep lack of confidence in the rider. The unpredictability brings out the strong need for self-preservation.

I feel now, looking back, the whip was not used as judiciously as it should've been, at least for this horse. A canter aid would be given, and then immediately followed up with a smack, which would result in a buck, and then smacking would continue until the horse broke to canter. As pointed out how one person's tap can be another person's wallop, on a scale from 1-5 (1 a tickle with the lash, 5 hard enough to leave evidence in the hair) the tapping is a 2-3, about as much as I can muster with a flick of my wrist while still keeping my hands out in front of me, reins bridged and short enough to keep his head out from between his knees, but long enough to have complete slack to move into.

Where I think I've gone wrong is by my not making things crystal clear for him. And I'm fairly certain this is what resulted in my flying dismount yesterday. :lol:

I think the whip lost its status of an aid. I think the request to canter wasn't made crystal clear, and it dissolved to a battle of wills instead. It should be "canter, CANTER, WHIP" instead it became "canter, whip, whip whip, whip, oh you little bastard, whip, whip, whip, whip, whip, ah there you go, good boy, see its easier this way..."

Yesterday, as I rode, he was very balled up. He was watching the whip like a hawk, flattening an ear and swishing the tail, each time I changed sides with it. I knew this was going on in my gut. I was schooling lightness and my being extremely predictable so he would 'get it'. Leg, LEG, whip. Leg, LEG, whip. Leg, LEG, ahh good boy :lol: And he was, to the casual viewer, doing *quite* well, forward, tracking up nicely, but balled up emotionally. tense tense tense. and watching that whip.

It was this tension that led me to lengthenings and then long n' low, as I finally had a well-spring of impulsion to work with. but it was when my reins were long, and he was following the bit down, and began to suck back as we crossed the center in our figure of eight, and I went leg, LEG.... blamo!

He was seething with anticipation of my asking him for the canter, he was waiting for the hammer to drop, and the not knowing, the suspense of when it would come just drove him bonkers. It is this reflection that leads me to feel that he has not been understanding the lessons. That the aid has not been applied in a manner that is productive for him.

I love all of the suggestions here. I really feel the outpouring of care, sagacity, been there done that, are you nucking futz, hang in there kid, get your head examined girl :lol: its all good, and I'm really awfully grateful that everyone took the time to write. And the pm's with help too. Lots of good horsepeople here, caring about horses, caring about people.

The trainer is a good egg. I'm going to suggest we switch gears and do some seriously fun stuff. In the jump ring, if I jump him very well he will often pick up canter effortlessly and beautifully just with pure pleasure of having sailed through the air. I think I shall suggest we work on some fun exercises, some gymnastics, broken up by a bit of flat schooling, but putting the emphasis of ear pricking forwardness and joie de vivre, rather than absolutes.

In the meanwhile, its back to boot-camp for the two of us. I have gotten lax, and he is a little big for his britches lately. Time for some more advanced work on the lines. I adore the idea of developing a cue from the ground. Though we w/t/c on the longe and in the round pen, etc, its been eons since I've longed or worked him in a rp. I think I shall take advantage of anticipation and teach him a solid cue for canter. I will get him excellent at it on the ground, at the precise location of the outburst, and then try to get it to carry over mounted. Perhaps, I can employ a friend and actually longe him while I ride ( my dream, a LL lessons w/o irons or reins :) )

This horse is awfully peculiar in how he learns and what lights his fancy. He likes the new, and slightly daring, and mentally challenging, but only if it comes with a rider that has absolute consistency in requests. 1+1 shall always, without question, under any circumstance, equal 2. And he fishes me for exceptions to the rule. He needs to be absolutely certain in his rider.

He's a big ol' pile of manure of a horse :lol: stubborn as the day is long, and absolutely unfathomable at times, but he has been the *second* best schoolmaster of the general-horsemanship-schoool-of-hard-knocks I have ever met. The first was Buck :lol: he taught me the value of the shitty ones.

Thank you thankyou thankyou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

threedogpack
Aug. 16, 2009, 10:16 PM
Before I even start to address some of the points in these posts….lemme tellya Buck, I’m mighty impressed with you on a number of levels.

1. you are kind. It should go without saying that kindness matters…..both to horses and people.
2. you are open minded. This is a really hard thing to keep up when you’ve “put yourself out there”.
3. you are an advocate for this horse. I firmly believe that many, if not most, horses (and especially the difficult ones) NEED advocates.

That said, as many others have pointed out, you’ve had some success with him and that does not come by accident. It comes with miles and hard thinking and paying attention to what works, what doesn’t work and knowing the horse.

Post #49 SLC says: “You will have enough people who will tell you to 'start him over' and 'win his trust' and 'put away that evil whip'.

I won't do that, because I know it doesn't work. It's that simple. It doesn't work. You can't avoid problems. You can't compromise on problems. You can't put off fixing problems. It is just that simple.

Either you are the boss, or you aren't. It IS that simple.”

Sometimes fear will manifest in aggression (and I have to consider this when the OP pointed out how far he’s come on the ground from where he started), sometimes not, but it is very seldom that things are this black and white. Could he have a tough-guy attitude? Absolutely. But remember that she’s had him for 2.5 years and that whole ‘tude thing on the ground disappeared and had diminished under saddle.

In post #55 J-Lu said: “You said he used to flip over...there is a good chance he was injured during one of those episodes.”

Good point! And it probably scared him too.

In post #65 Dressage Art wrote: “I firmly believe there are horses out there that you can't dominate, but rather, you have to earn the trust and work ethic on. “

I don’t care how good you are, how strong you are or how determined you are, even a small horse is stronger than you are and when they get scared, or angry (and yes, I do know this is anthropomorphism at it’s best), the smaller being will lose. So you have to use something other than brute strength to make this partnership work. In addition, I know I won’t get hurt just to make a point, I would hope none of us here would.

In post #70 Buck wrote: “I wanted to believe that I was just a wimpy rider, I was more than happy to try to buck him out, in terms of it being a solution. But my gut is telling me its not right for this horse. Lazy stubbornness is only a portion of the entire picture. It is underscored by a deep lack of confidence in the rider. The unpredictability brings out the strong need for self-preservation.”

This is not just a gut feeling….it’s also noticing things that you haven’t been able to gather all together yet. You were making “measurable, but slow progress”. I would bet that he has some learned behavior as well as some associations and if it were all attitude, you would have made NO progress.

“This horse is awfully peculiar in how he learns and what lights his fancy.”

Then find a way to make it crystal clear when he has done what you want. Let there be no doubt what is right, because that also illuminates what is wrong. Some coin, different sides. Use a marker, use food, use xc jumps, find something that he wants badly enough to work for it and give it to him when he does something right. The very very very best trainers of ALL species do this.

Good luck to you Buck, I think that when this horse comes around to you, you will own his soul. This was a set-back, not the end of everything between you. Now you know what NOT to do and that is damn near as important as knowing what TO do!

katarine
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:14 AM
EVERYTHING Threedog said, in spades.

Please take care of yourself. A trainer I know who's more talented than I'll ever comprehend being- had his kneecap utterly destroyed while haltering a mule, a mule he was not told had a rough history. There came a hind foot in a man-killing cow kick- he's out. Just that quick.

You balance that rod, you hear me? Just be careful.

cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:56 AM
If you get rid of the horse who will take him and love him? Probably no one. And he will end up being euthanized or worse. You can stick it out! I wish I could hop on the horse and show you what was wrong and inspire you to move forward with him! He needs to love to work. What is his motivation now? Does he like to be out? Does he like the love and attention and pats you give him when you are riding? Find out what inspires him and give that too him. Sugar cubes when he does something you like? I had a spooky horse, so I taught him spanish walk, and other tricks and rewarded with sugar. After that, all he wanted to do was find out how to get those sugars from me. He became so focused on me and figuring out what I wanted that he no longer spooked. He knew what is job was and he grew more confident, he had a purpose. He also had a problem with bolting, and getting stronger and stronger, so I would halt him, and give him a sugar every time. After that, anytime I would hint at a halt with my seat, he would immediately halt, and then half halts became a dream as well!
So I hate to see horses thrown away. So many really good horses have such a hard time finding good riders, there is no hope for the "bad ones" (which aren't really bad at all, but have had unfortunate life experiences, or have a personality which is not conducive to the way most humans approach horses). I really hope something in my post inspires you to work through it and find a new way to approach your horse.
Horses and other animals are not boys or men. Boys and men you need to beat to get them to behave, horses you need to love. (Just kidding :-) ...but not really...)

samd
Aug. 17, 2009, 02:41 AM
First off I'm sorry you fell off today. Falling off is never fun!

I can relate to exactly what you are saying. When I bought my horse who is 11 now she had a terrible bucking problem. She was 8 at the time. Everyone in the barn when I bought her had been bucked off. She got me off once. I climbed back on and it was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do. As she continued to buck I figured out that I could ride it. But one of the biggest things I learned is that with a horse with a bucking problem(this is in my opinion and experience) you can not get aggresive with. Aggresion only makes it worse. Another recommendation I have is work him either in long lines or a pessoa because then you can get him were you want him when you are riding but don't have to try to ride everything he does. And that way he can figure it out for himself without getting defensive against you.

vestito
Aug. 17, 2009, 08:39 AM
Glad you are ok and that you will be wearing a helmet.

I went off my problem mare last week and I feel your pain.

Today I will be letting her be naughty and bucking on the line. I will be using a line that will be going under her lip so when she sticks her head between her front legs she will be punishing herself. I think this is a Monty Roberts thing.
I will let you know how it works. I am too old to hit the ground hard like last week.
Keep us posted on your boy and good luck

shawneeAcres
Aug. 17, 2009, 09:38 AM
I did not read this whole thread (all the replies etc), but my take on it is 1) get a GOOD COWBOY to ride him thru this for about a month. Not someone who "abuses" but one that is very firm but fair. If you need suggestions I know of a good one in NC! 2) if this doesnt work and he just doesn't WANT to be a dressage horse (and some horses simply dont deal with what they consider monotony), then he may be an excellent candidate for foxhunter career. Sounds like he needs motivation and that probably would do it.

JB
Aug. 17, 2009, 09:45 AM
slipped in deep wet footing, and off I came (I was doing well for a while too).
I think this point was missed by everyone. From what I gathered, Buck has been, including this incident, able to stick with the horse during the bucking episodes. It was the slipping that caused her to come off. That probably makes it much less likely that the horse will "get her number" and work harder to buck her off next time.

What I'm not clear about is whether the actual bucking is intensifying (bigger and badder) or whether it's the frequency. That might make a big difference in the approach from here.

The fact that the horse will canter sometimes, apparently willingly, likely rules out something physically wrong. But not entirely, as a tenseness could cause something to be sore.

The June issue of Dressage Today has an article on "How to Train a Fearful Horse". Not entirely this horse's situation, but it might offer some insight.

Buck - knowing you, knowing your history with this horse, my advice would be to take several steps back. Right now you have a horse who has become so anticipatory of the use of the whip that he probably can't think beyond that. So, back is where I'd go until you're back at the point where all this started.

I tried to catch all the points in your posts on this thread, but might have missed this. So I'll just say it, and if you've already stated something about it, sorry :)

There are times when he is forward and willing to canter out, right? You say he loves to jump XC, so I think by default that has to be the case. So, the question is - can you take him back in an arena, after a nice ride in the field, and ask him to canter?

If yes, and he's fine, then it could be several things:
- something physical that requires him to go galloping around a big field to work out of
- something mental in that he's fine because he's just had his fun galloping around and isn't too put off by being asked to work in a ring.

If he is angry about it though, it just about has to be mental.

Have you had a chance to discuss all this with your trainer since it all happened?

Thank GOODNESS you are ok though, and I'm very, very glad to hear you will be helmeted from now on :winkgrin: How is your head feeling today?


Like what? The only thing that could be so painful as to give a horse an excuse to misbehave to that degree with be a kissing spine problem or a cracked vertebrae. Anything really serious would be more obvious to diagnose.
I don't know about that - my own horse has had some muscle issues that, if he were anything less than so trainable and such a saint, could have easily been a valid excuse to "misbehave" to such a degree when pushed to do what he didn't want to do


However, I believe horses that have problems under saddle and none on the lunge or at freedom are behavior problems, not physical problems.
My horse right now has a major issue under saddle that does not show up in a major way anywhere else. The average rider wouldn't even see it on the lunge, and likely wouldn't even see it at liberty. His issue is absolutely physical. What, exactly, is what we're trying to figure out. Yes, some issues really manifest under a rider's weight.


As for the OP's problem, I am just shaking my head that someone would actually look for horses with problems to fix.
Thank goodness there are people like that ;)

meupatdoes
Aug. 17, 2009, 09:55 AM
I agree with DressageArt.

I don't necessarily think that coming out guns blazin' with a big honkin' whip is going to suddenly fix this horse. It seems to me that the horse is not happy to work for whatever reason and beating it into him is not going to be the answer. If the OP was happy doing what she was doing before then why change it? Who says either of them HAS to canter? If she is frustrated that is one thing, but if she was perfectly happy before then I don't see any reason to suddenly have an issue.

One of mine starts off the first five minutes extremely lazy. He creaks around the ring and shuffles along. If you get after him he swishes his tail and acts grumpy. If you 'pop' him with your leg at this stage he pointedly slows down. Etc. There are a lot of people on this board who would knee jerk bring out the whip and lay it on him because 'The horse MUST go forward!" blah blah blah and every horse is the same formula to them who OWES them instant obedience.

My way of handling it is to let him creak around with the reins on the buckle until he feels he is warmed up. If I ask him to pick up a trot, and he does but five strides later he slows to the walk again, that's ok and I give him another half a long side in the walk before asking for trot again and seeing if he's ready then. I explain to every new trainer or clinician that this horse does his own warmup so give us five minutes. My trainer is very good about standing in the middle of the ring and reserving comment while we do our three to five glacially slow laps around the perimeter and big circles, because after a lesson or two he figured out that, hey, it's what the horse needs.

When the horse is ready he is forward and very light to ride. All of mine are, and I do not carry a whip. It is possible to ride horses for weeks and months on end without ever using or carrying a whip. I own one and am not morally opposed to its use but I haven't found it necessary.
It is possible to cut a horse some slack without losing face, the respect from the horse, or the respect of one's trainer. It is possible to cut a horse some slack and still have good results and good harmonious progress.

When we are seven years old, or older beginners, our instructors have to tell us, "MAKE HIM do it!", "KICK HIM!", "ASK HIM AND MEAN IT!!!" because otherwise we would never learn how to get a cagey old lesson pony to do anything.

However, I think a lot of people get stuck in that mentality. Years later they continue to knee jerk solicit obedience, when they should be riding well enough by now to have the feel (and the confidence) to adjust their approach to each horse and solicit a partnership instead. Fundamentally they don't have the confidence in their own ability, or the experience of riding hundreds of different horses, to solicit a partnership to think that a horse will still willingly tune in to them if they 'show weakness' and cut him some slack. They never refine the dialog, all they know is what they were learning when they were seven: KICK HIM AND MAKE HIM GO.

FlashGordon
Aug. 17, 2009, 11:04 AM
I don't believe he was born lazy, I believe he was born sensitive and then ruined.


I agree with this. Horses like this end up this way through a combo of genetics, upbringing and training.

I've been where you are now, twice, with two different horses. The thing is you will not be able to avoid his explosions for ever, even if you are walking on eggshells, and eventually You Will Get Hurt. The first time, I did get hurt. The second time, I was smarter, and quit before it happened.

Life is too short. Retire him or give him to a pro. Find something fun to ride. 90% of horses are not like him-- you will be amazed at how easy other horses are in comparison! Why toil away with this one who has the potential to kill you.

TSWJB
Aug. 17, 2009, 11:23 AM
Oh please dressage art! Where did I say I beat the snot out of my horse???? One sting behind the leg on a horse that would kick out at the whip and squeal does not equate to beating the snot out of a horse. If you have to resort to beating the snot out of a horse, then that horse is not for you or its job. Find a new job.
The bottom line is the OP horse is dangerous. She did the slow gentle approach for quite some time. And yes the new trainer pushed the envelope maybe a bit too fast, but the net result is the horse launched his rider! You cannot do proper dessage if you when you put your leg on the horse says NO!. the OP has been really careful about not using much leg and go forward buttons. And she has made mediocre progess. So she contacted a trainer to see if she could make better progress. And she got bucked off. I think she saved herself some time to come to the same fork in the road that she is at now.
So she has 2 choices.
Give up on dressage and give the horse an easier life where he will not be pushed past his comfort zone.
Or sell the horse and find one that is more suitable for her chosen discipline. That’s what I did with my horse and he was not dangerous at all. Just would stop at the jumps 4 strides out unless I legged him all the way to it. And he would test me. And sometimes I was brave and got it done and sometimes I had to go back at the jump and ride him hard and tap the whip to get it done the second time. I always got it done the second time around. But not always the first and it was taking my confidence away from me.
I had retrained him patiently to the 2.6ft level. We were hoping to go back to 3ft. when I had the dressage clinician come in and give her 2 cents on the horse. My conclusion was that I could not hit him in a crowded schooling area. So he was not reliable at the 3ft. I sold him to the easier job of 2.6ft. broke my heart. I loved the horse. But I wanted more and was not satisfied as a 2.6ft rider. I gave this horse 6.5 years. So I do understand where the OP is coming from. Its heartbreaking.
Why would you label SLC2 as using harsh approaches on all her horses because she recommended a last ditch effort of getting after this belligerent horse? I personally would sell the horse to a trail riding home because it seems that the horse will not accept leg.
But SLC2 was offering a one last chance method. Any horse that baulks at the leg is not a reliable mount and can potentially be dangerous. Hmm rearing is a horse baulking about going forward. Sometimes those types of horses can be reclaimed by getting after them. Sometimes not. But OP has tried the gentle method and its not working.
And for your information, my new horse has the best work ethic ever and if I tap with the crop I use it light a feather.. The dressage coach gets after me to only tap like a feather or my horse reacts too much! I have so much joy and happiness working with my new willing partner.

Dressage Art
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:31 PM
When he is readily submitting on the lunge, try again under saddle. As one other poster said, and I heartily agree with this method, when he starts to show signs of grunge when you ask him to do something under saddle (i.e. canter), you hop off, and out comes the lunge line and he is worked on the same item on the lunge line. He learns -- This behaviour be bad=I be worked. Ok, I won't do this thing anymore. He will then try something else. LOL Same technique with each unsuitable attitude and behaviour he presents. Until he learns - - Every bad behaviour=I be worked hard. After you work it out on the lunge, right away hop back on him and continue asking what it was you wanted the first time around. If he snarks again, hop off and ask for it on the lunge. Hop back on and ask for it pleasantly under saddle yet again. When he gives it to you pleasantly, stop, reward him profusely, hop off and put him away for the day. If he starts licking and chewing... he's thinking about what just happened!

Smacking him will not work with this horse. You've answering your musing on that point. He doesn't want to work, so he will have to learn that hard work comes when he's snippy, bossy, and nasty. And during all of his snippiness, nastiness, and grouching, you must remain pleasant in the face, voice and attitude. He must learn he's doing it to himself.

Ditto that. And this is exactly what worked with my mare when I was teaching her not to balk and rear-up. Round pen lunging under the tack with sliding side reins as soon as she would start arguing. Get on and ask for simple trot circle = put her away if she is WILLING. If not, go back to the round pen lunging. Several times per ride. My horse was abused before I bought her and she was beaten as harsh as you can beat any horse, she was yanked on her mouth and spurred to blood = the result was that she hated any saddle work, she anticipated pain and she was able to withstand the beating, the spurring, the mouth jabbing - it didn't make any difference for her toward positive change. She become stoic and learned how to almost ignore the pain.

Ambrey
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:33 PM
It is also possible that at one time he had a painful issue at the canter, and those two things have remained linked in his mind all this time even though he no longer has pain. If this was the case, pairing another painful/uncomfortable stimuli with the canter might very well be counterproductive.

If he's linking the canter with discomfort now, you'd want to do what you were doing, but maybe pushing it a little further- let him canter when he feels it will be comfortable, but pushing that envelope a little bit more each time so that he no longer pairs the canter with the discomfort.

How about trying arena canter in a western saddle for a while? More secure for you, and if the problem has been saddle fit (in his past) maybe the increased weight distribution will make him think less about it.

Dressage Art
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:48 PM
One sting behind the leg on a horse that would kick out at the whip and squeal does not equate to beating the snot out of a horse.When the horse kicks out on the whip and squeals that clearly shows the disobedience/pain. The aid was too harsh for that horse at that time. I do consider that as "harsh" training methods that are NOT necessary. More than that, any judge will down score you in the test if your horse kicks out on your harsh leg and squeals or on your harsh whip during the test and your rider score will be lower as well. If you will repeatedly whip your horse and she/he will kick out and squeal you might be eliminated for cruelty.

I know classical masters who asked harsh riders like that to leave, since some riders honestly don't take the responsibility of causing the pain to their horses and just blaming the horses for making them to use those harsh methods. (aka "make me" attitude)

It's a different mindset that I do not endorse and I do not endorse sting whipping a horse that results in squeals and kicks = that is unquestionably harsh in my book. And I'm shocked, SHOCKED that you think it's OK to do and even write that for everybody to read!!!!

There are various degrees of harsh training, cruel training and abusive training – no matter what pretty name you’ll give to those methods of training, at the end of the day you do not have a happy horse, but a horse that goes out to work in a daily pain. This is very, very sad.

TSWJB
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:53 PM
a long time ago i read a practical horseman and i am pretty sure it was leslie webb and titan. the article was called no horse for a lady.
she would ride the horse and if he reared or bucked which he did. she would get off and lunge him in sidereins and work him really really hard. so it was safe for her and the horse learned that being bad undersaddle would not get him out of work. he had to work harder on the lunge in side reins.
also if he was bad undersaddle she would not give him love and affection and treats in the barn that day. if he was good he got treats and affection.
she eventually got through to the horse. it was alot of work. she had to lunge alot. like at the show etc. but i never forgot the article. its another option for the OP. if its too dangerous under saddle, work the horse good and hard on the ground. so that he cries uncle and wants to do the undersaddle work. that is what worked for titan. it was a great article, but like i said it was alot of work.

Dressage Art
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:57 PM
Why would you label SLC2 as using harsh approaches on all her horses because she recommended a last ditch effort of getting after this belligerent horse? I personally would sell the horse to a trail riding home because it seems that the horse will not accept leg.
But SLC2 was offering a one last chance method. Any horse that baulks at the leg is not a reliable mount and can potentially be dangerous. Hmm rearing is a horse baulking about going forward. Sometimes those types of horses can be reclaimed by getting after them. Sometimes not. But OP has tried the gentle method and its not working.B/c I know that the harsh method that SLC offered doesn’t NOT work. I know that some horses can NOT "be reclaimed by getting after them" I believe that this is a totally wrong direction and approach for that horse. I want to voice my opinion and clearly give another, more humane option to OP & for everybody who is reading. The option that did WORK for me. And if that'll ease a pain of a horse, I’ll call it a good day.

JB
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:06 PM
When the horse kicks out on the whip and squeals that clearly shows the disobedience/pain. The aid was too harsh for that horse at that time.
Not necessarily. Some horses have such an attitude of "g'head, MAKE me" that what might seem incredibly harsh to one person for one horse may be simply annoying to another horse so he kicks out. Not all kicking out and squealing is because the horse was unfairly or harshly disciplined or asked to do something. Often it's the horse saying "F-U you can't make me and if I kick and squeal you will back off and let me do it my way."

TSWJB
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:15 PM
It's a different mindset that I do not endorse and I do not endorse sting whipping a horse that results in squeals and kicks = that is unquestionably harsh in my book. And I'm shocked, SHOCKED that you think it's OK to do and even write that for everybody to read!!!!

.
you are really narrow minded. you obviously have never met a horse like my last horse. he did not squeal at the sting once behind the leg. so i guess i need to explain further since you are misrepresenting my words and the only way to you is the gentle method which actually is the method that i prescribe too. (i dont use spurs, i use a short bat, i use the softest of soft bits oval mouth loose ring for dressage, and a full check snaffle for hunters.)

MY HORSE SQUEALED AND KICKED OUT USING THE SOFT METHOD! he was showing me that i was irritating him and daring me to stop irritating him. thats just the kind of horse he was. i loved him dearly but he was extremely opinionated and he taught me to not work him hard. and i am not talking about doing upper level dressage. i am talking walk trot canter around a ring and jump 1x a week over a 2.6ft course. i also paid money to have hocks injected and vet evaluations to make sure he was not hurting.
so back to the story,i was in a dressage clinic. i worked hard with my trainer to reclaim my horse. we were getting stuck. she asked me to trot. which i did. horse ignored me, i asked again and light tapped with my stick. he squealed and kicked out. i had worked with this clinician in the past and she had given me methods to work through the kinks. she observed that day and told me my horse was giving me the horsie finger.
he did not squeal or kick out when i applied the whip once with a sharp sting. he moved off in a hurry. i was now the boss! and he was well behaved from that point on. actually he was the best behaved he had ever been when i used her method. i won champion the following weekend. no stops whatsoever. it was great! no repeated beatings. i wish you would read my posts instead of reinventing them!!!
the problem was that it didnt last. he needed refresher courses. and i could not use the method when i was at a horse show and he was baulking at the jumps. so i sold him where he was comfortable a 2.6ft horse.
in the future can you please not reinvent my words. one sting behind the leg does not equate to sting whipping a horse until he squeals. you are entitled to your opinion and i am entitled to mine. the OP can sort through all the methods and decide what is best for her. i decided that my horse needed a much easier job than i wanted to do. and i sold him to an owner that knew the whole story with him.

AppendixQHLover
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:15 PM
I had my old horse for 2 years before I cried Uncle and had him sold. He would jig with aniexty if other horses were around him. In the canter he would completely flip out and bolt.

I did get him going in the canter nicely one minute and the next minute there was a diconnect in his brain and evil horse came out. I finally sold him to my trainer for 1.00 and he was given away. He has a happy new life being a fox hunter and getting to go full-out in the field. He hated the ring and anything to do with it.

It has taken me a year to canter going to the left without goosing my horse. I still have my moments but I am rmembering to breathe while cantering and that my hand can actually move.

My old horses biggest problem was the feeling of legs on his side. So for the longest time I did liberty work with my saddle on and the stirrups hitting him on the sides. Was it the best way to handle it probably not, but I could act bang the stirrup on his sie and he didn't lose his mind anymore.

And I did get several professionals on him to try to fix the issue. None of them could resolve it, and that is when I cried uncle. Also riding my current horse for an hour and just having fun. i can take my current horse anywhere and not worry. I love the feeling of cantering across a field, and not hearing my own screech of DEAR God where are my brakes.

Gloria
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:15 PM
I'm a firm believer that if you want to make any progress, you need to push the horse "to" the limit, but never "over" the limit. When a horse explodes, you have pushed too far. To push harder is to put both rider and horse in danger. Besides, there are only so many pushes any given horse can take. The more you push him over the limit, you have less a horse to push next time.

The OP's horse' explosive behaviors show that he had been pushed one too many times. That explained a lot why OP's gentle (but painfully slow) approach worked so well with this horse.

Harsh methods come only when knowlege ends. Why resort to something potentailly destructive when there are other many many far more superior methods to use? I will never ever ever battle with a horse. If I feel I need to "show" him who is the boss, I know my knowlege ends and I'm going to the wrong direction. It does not mean I should not be firm. But being firm is being fair and matter of factly. If I start to believe I need to "show" him, there is anger in me and I'm no longer fair.

Really really you don't need to whip a horse into canter. You don't. You just need a right approach. And any horse can canter. As a matter of fact, canter is more natural to them than trot is. It is something they learn as foals before they learnt how to trot..

TSWJB
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:20 PM
Often it's the horse saying "F-U you can't make me and if I kick and squeal you will back off and let me do it my way."
this was exactly the scenario i was describing. he would not only do it to me, but he did it to the trainer as well. trainer was very strong rider and he would back talk him as well. he was teaching us to let him do what he wanted. and that was not work hard at all. that i am sure was the reason i ended up getting him as he was a nice horse and he should have been priced more expensively for what he was.

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:24 PM
its going to take an awfully long time, :lol: but I'd like to respond to each post because each of you took the time to share you thoughts with me.


Trust your gut, you've gotten farther with this horse than anyone. Trainers only see what's in front of them, not the past, not what appears to be gone, and that can sometimes be a good thing, but in this case, I think it's not.

I would tone it back down and just give him sometime to build that trust back up, you had it before, it won't take long to get it back. ..........
thank you very much. I'm going to keep the faith, and be more resolute in trusting my instincts.


if you think you have a concussion, please go see a doctor.

one of life's great joys is going for a canter in the countryside (or anywhere else).

I am glad you weren't hurt.

this sounds like a bad match.

there are too many nice horses to be wrongly mounted.

just my 2 cents.
I had mounting headache and did go to an er for a ct scan. Dr cleared me to go back to riding immediately as long as I wear headgear :lol: he told me how is his Mom is a rider too and how he's always after her to wear a helmet also :lol: a canter in the countryside is indeed one of the great joys. but so is experiencing the generosity of spirit of a damaged horse willing to try again.

I really appreciate your candor, and a good hard look at reality is never a bad thing. I appreciate the wake up call.


Oh my... :(

Sorry to hear things are going not-so-well for you and your gelding. Honestly, if I were you I would find myself another horse. You sound like you've done alot for this gelding and put a fair amount of time and money into him already....thus given him/yourself a fair chance. You only live once and the last thing you need is to become scared of riding altogether and/or to get seriously hurt. It's not worth it. I know I will have others disagree with me, but he's already 11 (I know that's not old, but it's not young either) and I would not be too keen on continuing on at this point. The only other option is to send him to a trainer (one that knows his issues) to get him through this....that is, IF he can get though this.

Anyhow, that's just my honest view on things....sorry :(
Please don't ever be sorry for sharing an honest view! :lol: Thats why I aired my laundry here, to receive this kind of feedback. I'm absolutely willing to acknowledge being wrong, and more than willing to consider vastly different views. There are a tremendous amount of horsemen here with experience that vastly exceeds what I'm ever likely to achieve, and I want to take advantage of this remarkable resource. Thank you so much.




I guess my question would be not what can you do to work through this, but why would you want to? ....Or do you love the challenge?

But have you thought that part through? What are you getting out of this? If it is making you feel satisfied and happy, then go for it. .....I don't think it's about his previous treatment - I've seen many, many horses with "bad histories" that move on and blossom and don't need half the struggle and compromise you seem to have gone through. ...... do you want to compete or progress in eventing, for example? Then get yourself a horse that can take you there..... I rarely offer such a strong opinion on this sort of thing, but I've seen *several* dear friends hurt in situations like this, trying to turn incompatible horses into something they can't be, and ending up with broken bones and lost confidence, when what they really wanted was to trail ride or go to some schooling shows and have fun riding with their friends. .......
Thank you so much for this, it really came from the heart, and I appreciate it. Why? because. :lol: I do love challenges, but I love the reward of helping an animal come around more. I don't just get satisfaction from it, I get the honor of experiencing an animal try for me. Its humbling in a deeply moving way to me. I am a person who is all about the journey and I am simply devoted for the sake of the horse. I have no set discipline.

Though I aspire to a certain level of "brokeness", an ability to handle the basics, he gets to choose his discipline, I will not be disappointed if he doesn't like dressage :lol: its all about him.

Were he to go "poof" and vanish from my barn tomorrow, I'd go out and get another rotten one :lol: I don't feel ready for a good one yet. I don't feel I've learned what I need to learn yet. I was a heavy unrelenting hand with horses when I first started (as an adult), perhaps this is my way of paying penance? :winkgrin: At any rate, I really appreciate your help.



I agree with redears. You know him best and you were making progress. The only thing you may have to accept is that he will never be much of a dressage horse. If you can have fun with him and accept him for what he is, then you will be fine. If you insist that he be a dressage horse and always in front of your leg (right this very second, no matter what), you are probably doomed to failure because of his history.
Quite possible. Thank you so very much



I'd call it a day. What is the point, really? Maybe it is something physical.. if it is, you probably won't find it. Maybe it's baggage. If so, you've done your best to overcome it. Maybe it's just who he is. Once again, you'll never overcome that.

Life is too short for this.
All the more reason to explore all possible options further. Perhaps he'd love to be a driving horse. Perhaps he has no future. Regardless he's in my barn, he's my responsibility, I can't just set him free. I have to do something, but moreover I want to :lol: Thank you for this though. I really appreciate the hard look.




There is a very subtle difference between choosing your battles and avoiding battles altogether. The latter is tip toeing around and does nothing for you as far as progressing nor does it really help the horse "get over it". The former is wise when you have a reactive horse. IMHO, of course.

I remember quite vividly being in a lesson with my good friend who had leased this particular mare from me and experienced a total meltdown... I was bringing her back. It went well at first in our WT work. But when I asked for the canter, I'd start getting the kick out and if I pushed on, a little bucking/crowhopping garbage, ending with a full brakes and a rear. THAT was not frustration. THAT was "I don't WANNA work!"

At that point, I had a choice. Choice 1 was to address this from the saddle where I potentially could get dumped or flipped over on. Choice 2 was to make her wish I WERE in the saddle because that was a heck of a lot easier than what I was going to make her do (safely) from the ground.....
If I were in your shoes right now, I'd take a break from the lessons, get back to basics a bit--things you KNOW he can do quietly and well. THEN if he reacts poorly, you can make him wish he hadn't. Then ease into the other stuff a little more slowly....
I think he has your number a bit with this cantering thing. If you've ruled out other issues like pain and it's just a matter of "I don't wanna" then I think you'd be better off getting on the ground with him and making him WISH you were in the saddle cuz it's so. much. easier.
Thank you, this is EXACTLY the route I'm going to take at the moment, started yesterday. I have gotten complacent, we don't work hard enough. Its not all about him flipping me the bird, there is more to it than that, but there is a level of having my # too, which stops now. :lol: Thank you!




1) What are your goals? Can you achieve them with this horse, given his personality?

2) Have you had a thorough vet exam? Pain causes a lot of nappy, balky behavior. Kissing spine is an elusive one which can result in explosions.

3) Tack fit?

4) Get a calendar. Mark on it the really good days where you get off grinning, the neutral days where you are fine and dandy but not happy happy joy joy after your ride, and the number of negative days

And by avoiding confrontation, what you've created is a certain degree of compliance, but NOT acceptance of you as the leader. I think that puts you in a dangerous place every time you ride, because the horse will always look to his own plan instead of following your plan when the chips are down. This is how we can get dead in an emergency situation, IMHO.

I guess what to do circles back to you and your goals. Are you meeting them? If not, how badly are you off? Do you mind changing your personal hopes or expectations for the rest of this relatively young horse's riding career with you to accommodate the fact that he is the leader here, not you?

Now, if you really want to solve it, I would put a canter on him on the ground
Thank you so much for this. My goal is the journey, wherever it leads, so yes, I'm on target.:lol:

Several thorough vet exams. The horse has a history that begs for back trouble, but can find none. Kissing spines is frankly the last thing I can think of to check for, and I'm not going to rule it out. Tack fit is quite good, not perfect, but well within reason. He is extremely quick to tell me if he approves of the tack or not. :D

I think you are right, I've not been a push over, but haven't put too many demands on him either, resulting in compliance. My hopes and expectations are all about him, I have no problem changing game plans. We have commenced ground work boot camp again. And he's doing well. :cool: Thank you!



Ditto what pretty much everyone is saying. I think you need another horse.

Food for thought - a lot of people assume that when a horse came from a bad situation, and was maybe trained/treated harshly, that that treatment is what caused the horse to be fearful/nasty/unreliable/nappy.... sometimes the horse was always like that, and that's why the previous owners resorted to whips/spurs/yelling/smacking, etc .... While I'm not condoning that, I'm just saying... don't always assume that the horse was once a loving, trustworthy animal with a fab work ethic, and that you can "rehab" it with love and patience. It may have *always* been a lazy+nappy thing, since birth - you have no way of knowing.
haha, I'd just get another like him :lol: I don't have to assume his past, his previous owners told me in full gory detail, they were not embarrassed about how they handled him and were frankly confused by him :D They loved him dearly too. They were just sorely mismatched, and its a shame.

I'm not as experienced as many here, so perhaps I'm being foolish, but I think 99.99% of horses want to oblige and get a long, and work at something that interests them. Horses are lazy by nature, thats why the training philosophy of making the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult works so well, they want to do the easy thing naturally, it is part of how they have survived as a species.

I don't think love and kisses and cookies will heal all, :lol: but I don't in my heart believe he's a lost cause either. Thank you!!!!!!!!



Ohhh I'm so sorry.... I don't think I am qualified to give you any advices because I don't have experiences with difficult horses of this degree....
Please find someone who is really really good to help you, someone who will attack a problem from many different angles, someone who can see the root of the problem not just the symptom of the problems. You see, refusing to take canter is the sympton no the cause....
everyone is qualified to give an opinion :lol: and I value yours.

imho, you are 10000% correct that refusing canter is a symptom of a larger problem. I have more sleuthing to do. :lol: thank you!



The "sell the horse" route gets pretty complicated when you have one like this.

A) there's the liability--you KNOW that the horse has a propensity to blow. That's typically not what people are looking for as buyers.

B) there's the horse--when you've seen a horse go through person after person and have all sorts of issues, there's sometimes a piece of you that says, "if not me, then who?"

C) there's the challenge/black stallion fantasy crap. Deep down inside, you really want to be the one to figure the horse out and make it work.

it is complicated, I had to think very long and hard before agreeing to take him on. I am stuck with this animal for better or worse. Sure he could make a fine pasture ornament, or babysitter for foals, etc, but more than likely I'm stuck with him. So he's in my barn, he's sound to what anyone can find, and he's athletic and does enjoy certain things. The horse will not be sold. If a new home suits him best, then maybe so, but he's not for sale. And indeed, if not me, then who. Black stallion? eh, with my first one definitely so, but he taught me to transcend my ego in the end. :lol: thank you!!!!!!!!



I know you've done the vet stuff, so bear with me. Knew a horse that was very similar to what's described. Felt it HAD to be some physical issue, even though no lame steps, saddlefit double checked, teeth done, etc. Horse vetted clean with flying colors (x-rays, the whole she-bang). Vet said horse knows your number, it's ok to push.

Decided to try one more thing. Bute/ulcergard for two days (night before, then morning, then rode that evening).

Horse was an angel.

Get your head checked out. Too many news stories about people who thought they were ok, right before they crashed. :-(

Seriously, for those saying sell, to who? How would that be ethical to the buyer (because I doubt anyone would buy a horse with these issues) or fair to the horse?

attending to this horse's ulcers, his teeth (he *had* an overbite when I got him, now its gone, thats how bad his teeth were), and saddle fit have all had profound affects on him. Other than his markings he does not even remotely resemble the whirling dervish I unloaded 2.5 years ago. He is calm, quiet, interested, fun, trustworthy (on the ground :lol:) a true gentleman and pleasure to be around. He can be led, tied, ridden away from the group, loaded on a trailer like a sane creature, doctored by a vet, is serviceable on the ground (drags logs and tarps for me). He's not public enemy #1 any more.

Ulcers were a huge huge issue, and our progress catapulted after I made that discovery (thanks to a kindly person here ;))



They do come with their own minds and attitudes!
So there is my long winded example of how three youngsters raised in a similar environment can be three very different sorts, one of which was nappy with no work ethic.
I may come to realize this, but not yet. Thank you!

JB
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:30 PM
I think Buck deserves a huge gold medal for taking all these comments for what they are worth - honest opinions and thoughts without merely saying "there there, it will be alright". Some of these comments could have been cause for a "fight" in how they were worded, but they weren't taken that way.

So Bravo to Buck for all that :)

meupatdoes
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:32 PM
Not necessarily. Some horses have such an attitude of "g'head, MAKE me" that what might seem incredibly harsh to one person for one horse may be simply annoying to another horse so he kicks out. Not all kicking out and squealing is because the horse was unfairly or harshly disciplined or asked to do something. Often it's the horse saying "F-U you can't make me and if I kick and squeal you will back off and let me do it my way."

In my experience, which I feel to further qualify this statement I should note that it includes hundreds of horses, spanning groups of six or seven that came in on the stock trailer from the auction every weekend to the GP schoolmaster, with hunter/jumpers, ottbs, and ottsbs in between, horses that truly say "MAKE ME" are very rare. I have encountered one. As in one, singular.

At some point it is the riders job to elevate the dialog, and if you find yourself frequently having the "Go ahead MAKE ME" conversation with multiple horses...
it ain't the pony.

ETA:
Not to say that I don't think it never happens. Even I carry a whip or crop an average of three or four times a year.
I just think that the dogmatic way some people are responding to this thread establishes this conversation as the default response, not the very rare occurrence.

JB
Aug. 17, 2009, 01:40 PM
meupatdoes, very true, if a given person finds themselves in a "make me" situation frequently, then it's either something they are creating, OR that is their business, trying to fix horses who are in, for whatever reason, a "make me" frame of mind due to past training.

I think a lot of riders inadvertenly make their "make me" horses due to being soft and unassertive early on. I certainly fall into that category - didn't know better and was just happy to have a big young WB gelding who would slowly get going, never getting in a hurry. I though it was nice ;) :rolleyes: When I realized how nice it was for me but sucky for our progression, and I "suddenly" changed the rules, he most certainly was a "MAKE ME" horse. He learned I would and could "make" him, and when he realizes that, he's quite ok with it.

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 02:12 PM
It is also possible that at one time he had a painful issue at the canter,
Oh heck yeah! the story goes, he was purchased as a 2.5 yr old with 30 days w/t/c undersaddle. The prev owner admitted to having overwhelmed him. They gamed him right off the bat, and took him on long trail rides. He always bucked his way into the canter, and the riders (who were not Ty Murray) always came off. Usually on his neck before hitting the ground. The bucking and dislodging of the rider at canter has been since day one. He also was ridden in a semi qh bar western saddle, this horse is incredibly wide. He's a little horse (14.3, 850#) and was ridden by very full sized adults. The pain must've been excruciating. When the horse removed his rider, he would be led back to the barn and then whipped. This didn't happen just once.

Finally he took to bucking at a trot, then from a walk/stand still. Then he finally got smart enough to not leave the barn at all, and finally resent being tacked, then resent being led.

He was bargy and bolshy and just a general hazard. I witnessed with my own eyes, the prev owner attempting to lead him, him biting her, she slapping him in the face with a lead rope repeatedly until he decided to run her over, then she shrieking and jumping out of the way.

This is how life was for this horse. Cattle prods, cowboys getting on saying "i can ride 'em' and getting bucked off, cathedral port bits, narrow saddles, roweled spurs, whips and sticks 30 min to an hour after the *crime*.

Despite aaaalll of this, the fact he's tried and been so willing to come this far, is amazing.



and those two things have remained linked in his mind all this time even though he no longer has pain. If this was the case, pairing another painful/uncomfortable stimuli with the canter might very well be counterproductive.
that is exactly what I've been thinking, exactly.


If he's linking the canter with discomfort now, you'd want to do what you were doing, but maybe pushing it a little further- let him canter when he feels it will be comfortable, but pushing that envelope a little bit more each time so that he no longer pairs the canter with the discomfort.
thats PRECISELY what I've been doing :lol::lol: We trot out, he's forward and ears pricked and interested and happy, I offer the option of canter, if he takes it, great, if not, thats fine too.... my plan was to make it a non-issue. That any time canter should happen under rider, it should be a thing of willing forward joy, not because I made him do it. That was my thinking anyhow. And it had been working, but very slowly.




How about trying arena canter in a western saddle for a while? More secure for you, and if the problem has been saddle fit (in his past) maybe the increased weight distribution will make him think less about it.
I actually feel more secure in my dressage saddle, but I do put the western saddle on him from time to time (it fits him quite well actually). I swing ropes off of him, drag logs and stuff, and I really wanted to get him on cows eventually.
thank you

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 03:16 PM
I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time!!!
It's definitely not fun... but here is my 2 cents...
I read through most responses on here... (won't claim that I read all of them because I didn't)...
I'm not sure that the whole "there are tons of nice horses out there, why stick to one that doesn't want to work..." approach is right for everyone!!!
It sounds like you've put a lot of time and effort into this guy... and you've been successful at it!! I know working with one for a couple of years to get what you have with this guy might sound like a lot... but you have to consider where the horse came from...
I would say, go back to what you were doing... he's responding to your communication much better than the A** beating that he's getting in lessons obviously... and try to find a trainer that is known/respected for working with hard to deal horses...
thank you so much for this.


Stop and ask yourself: is there something special about this horse to you? If there is, then keep him. Work with him. Accept that maybe he's more a trail horse than a dressage horse, at least for now.

If I were you, I would maybe not take lessons from that particular trainer right now. Find someone who knows you need to take your time. If you do continue with this trainer, let her know (POLITELY) that you are not comfortable pushing your horse too hard right now. Follow that up with being willing to excuse yourself from a lesson if and when you need to. Just because a trainer wants you to do something does not mean you have to, especially in this type of situation.

Can it be done? Yes. Can you do it? Sounds like. Do you want to? That's for you to answer.
this is great advice, thank you. Yes, he's special because he's a horse in my barn and in my care. :lol: I'm going to have a chat with the trainer, she's extremely open minded. Thank you for this.



arghhh. Sell the horse, or if you can't do it in good conscience... put him down. Life it too damn short.

There are two basic possibilities here: 1) You are one of those wimpy riders who only trots dear Smokey on non-windy, non-muddy, perfect days... and has made a whole lot of progress with him in the last year (meaning, he now trots 3 times around the ring willingly before stopping). The eventing teacher was too liberal with her whip and got you bucked off. or, 2) the event rider knows what she's doing, recognizes Smokey has your number, and took a "take no prisoners" approach (because she rightly deduces that you've made a deal with the Devil), tried to fix it, and you got bucked off.

Obviously, there are lots of degrees of variation on these two themes, and without knowing you or your horse, none of us will really know whether you are the best/only trainer for the horse, or whether you are deluding yourself.

That sounds more harsh than I mean... but you get the idea.

The bottom line though: It's irrelevant.

Someone asked you what your goals are. I'd say unless your goal is to be miserable, you have the wrong horse.
thank you for taking the time to write this. I'm in teh middle, not a super wimp, but not a super hero either. Am I the best trainer for this horse? likely not, I'm nobody. But I'm all he's got :lol: I'll have to do :lol:

Thing is though, I'm not miserable. Someone asked about keeping a calendar of all of the unhappy days, vs happy days, etc, there are no unhappy days. Even friday, ending up in an ER, was not an unhappy day. It was a valuable wake up call. What I was doing was not working, and wear a damn helmet. :cool:


She'll never be a "top" dressage horse by any means of the imagination, but we do enjoy schooling and doing local shows. She's a happier horse now. My mare's other passions... trail riding and team penning (absolutely loves cows). Go figure!
thank you for reminding me to keep my mind open. I love team penning, and hoped to get him on cows this year, but perhaps not. We will be trying driving soon though.




It's been 2.5 years and she still can't ask him to canter unless he wants to????

OP you are a saint. I got to that point in your post and thought...she's riding this horse because???????

Are you excited and happy about the prospect of swinging your leg over his saddle? Do you look forward to riding him? Or do you find that you have to sort of talk yourself into it and "firm your resolve" to get out to the barn and ride?

Ask yourself that question and I belive you will have your answer.
Very insightful. He used to terrify me and I am still very guarded. Back in our early relationship, things got really physical. I used to wear a helmet for groundwork and considered getting a vest. I never was around him without a whip in hand. :no: it was a dark time, and my heart would race as I drove to the barn 4x a week to work him. I strongly contemplated putting him down.

Then I discovered he was being fed grain against my orders. Which lead to discovering ulcers, among other things. The change within 6 months was profound. An absolute 360°. That, coupled with what I learned about toning things down for him, and not locking horns, but being supportive and firm, really lit my fire.

Now, I'm happy to swing a leg over. BUT, I have not yet shaken my own baggage of the horrible episodes we had. It got western, and it wasn't pretty. An neither of us were better off for it. It was bad.



And then, I can somewhat relate to your woes. My recommendation is: If you love this horse and you are committed to him, tone it down. Don't ride. Ride at the walk only. Do whatever is save for both or you. It's just not worth losing your health or even your life over. (I've had several times where I "retired" my horse, just to slowly start stuff again months later, and now at 7 years, he still gets annoyed when I get after him a little bit, but he loves it when I'm in "bossy" mode, a level of energetic and physical getting after him that is way beyond what I would have ever dared, but doesn't come from a fearful or angry place. I know I'm there when my SO says " Geez, you're bossy today! :winkgrin:) Stop with the trainer. Just have someone there to watch your ride (a friend), don't ride alone, maybe have them tell you to breathe here and there.:yes: But really, you don't HAVE TO get on. :)

thank you sooo much for this!





As many say, life is too short to have a horse you're afraid of, but I think you need to think about the negative impact the trainer had on the progress you made. Even if I got another horse, I wouldn't go back to that trainer. JMHO

It sounds like you were doing a good job of working with the horse you had, and understood himwell. It was the trainers' "Make him submit, or else.' attitutde that destroyed the progress you'd made with him. As happens to so many of us, we let the 'professionals' convince us that there is no way we can ever understand what our horses need better than they. This is JUST NOT TRUE! There's a difference between 'tactful' and 'weenie'. If you can stick that kind of bucking, you know how to ride, so I would definitely put you in the 'tactful' category!

If you don't think you'll ever be able to enjoy this horse, then send him on, although you'll have to accept that with his history his options are so limited that its doubtful he'll find a good home. If you can't live with that, then go back to work with him on the ground on rebuilding trust, then take it from there. The great thing about horses is the DO forgive, and its in their nature to prefer peaceful cooperation. Its just harder with some than others to figure out how to show them that cooperating won't result in pain or fear.

Your horse has a 'trigger' somewhere. It may be physical or emotional. You used good instincts, horsemanship, and tact to keep him happy for a while. There's no rule that says you can't do it again. But if you've decided that you can't continue, you owe this horse nothing more than as humane a solution as possible for his future.

this is really spot on, thank you. I'm going to defend the trainer for now. She didn't do anything I wouldn't have done, or didn't do previously. Thank you so much though for this!


You said that he's "forward and exciteable, but manageable" on the trails. Take off you spurs, drop your whip, find a big hill (preferrably heading towards home) and canter up it. I've had horses that can buck going uphill at a canter, but they are few and far between.
The anticipation isn't just his, it's yours as well, chances are you are riding him forward into a fixed hand, he doesn;'t have anywhere to go and he's pissed. I've had some chronic buckers, bolters, you name it, if there is a problem, real or perceived, in the canter, we all, every single one of us, don't let the horse go freely into it. He's obviously been spoiled to the whip, I've had horses that were so resentful of it, (spoiled well before I got them) they wouldn't even tolerate a tap on the shoulder without going ballistic. The whip may never be a useful tool for this horse again, that said, if you have a good enough leg, it isn't the end of the world. If he canters under tack on the longe, without incident, try having someone on the ground. The alternative, if you love this horse and think he has talent enough to be worth the heartbreak, send him to a good trainer and spend the money and realize it isn't going to be fixed in a week. He has to KNOW he is allowed to canter, you have to trust him to do it, even if he throws a buck in on the way. Good luck, and no, don't drink if you hit your head, you can have a concussion and NOT lose conciousness. Be careful, but if you made it this far, you can get back to where you were.
Stop taking advice that has you going backwards.

this is HUGE. HUGE. thank you for this. I am contributing to the problem by carrying a fear factor. I am on guard when he canters, or rather, when I ask for canter because I expect the explosion. When we blissfully trot out and roll into canter, we're all happy. I'm shocked I haven't read the questioning of my ability as a rider yet :lol::lol::lol: because I'm definitely a hindrance!

My plan now is 3 fold: establish absolute obedience on the ground, many transitions, etc. Crisp cues, 100% on. work with the trainer on doing fun, non-issue work. He like jumping and grid work, etc. He likes a puzzle. So lets drop the demanding flat work for the moment. And 3, get myself some longe line lessons no reins/stirrups so I'm a better rider for him, and can find more confidence in my seat.

thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 03:40 PM
Sometimes fear will manifest in aggression (and I have to consider this when the OP pointed out how far he’s come on the ground from where he started), sometimes not, but it is very seldom that things are this black and white.
I find this quite often to be true.


Could he have a tough-guy attitude? Absolutely. But remember that she’s had him for 2.5 years and that whole ‘tude thing on the ground disappeared and had diminished under saddle.
imho, tough-guy isn't for the sheer sake of it. A horse will buffalo to see who's in charge. Thats self-preservation. Being a herd animal means putting your life in the hands of a leader.

This horse is a *huge* coward. :lol: Alpha among other horses, but afraid of his own shadow once leaving the confines of his safety zone paddock. He needs a heck of a leader, just any ol one won't do. This is why, imho, communication is so critical. He's afraid of the violence from people, its been irrational. He's afraid of not knowing. If I give him rules to live by, he'll test and test and test to be sure I mean it, and then live happily and peacefully inside the rules. This (in addition to changing his lifestyle) is why he's come so far in every other aspect.

Really, canter on demand is basically the last brick in the wall.

Yes, the chronically behind my leg at all other gaits is sheer laziness that I've allowed to continue whilst my mind was occupied with other things.



In post #55 J-Lu said: “You said he used to flip over...there is a good chance he was injured during one of those episodes.”
my goodness, sure!




Then find a way to make it crystal clear when he has done what you want. Let there be no doubt what is right, because that also illuminates what is wrong. Some coin, different sides. Use a marker, use food, use xc jumps, find something that he wants badly enough to work for it and give it to him when he does something right. The very very very best trainers of ALL species do this.
this is what this thread has helped me to realize. thank you so much.


Good luck to you Buck, I think that when this horse comes around to you, you will own his soul. This was a set-back, not the end of everything between you. Now you know what NOT to do and that is damn near as important as knowing what TO do!
thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 04:26 PM
I'm not entirely convinced today's episode will result in a total regression and that he'll once again become a bucking dynamo. He had one little thing to his advantage - - he slipped in the mud. That's the ONLY reason you came off. You've learned how to sit through his tantrums before and you can do it again.
thanks I needed to hear this. thats what got me down mostly.


I sure wish I could actually see this horse in action and see his eyes during the behaviour. That would tell me more on how I might want to progress were I in your shoes. To give you some advice here is a little like walking blindfolded.
the action is skilled and practiced, he's got a series of 'moves'. his eyes are distressed, concerned and thinking. huge, wide, whites, wrinkles.


If he does this with hard, black icy eyes, I would be hesitant to continue with this horse. It shows a mean streak that says he's not bluffing and he will render you if given the chance - it could land you seriously hurt the next time around.
if I saw that, I never would've taken him on. I've not seen these eyes in a horse, but have seen them in animals.



He does have a dominant temperament, however. You must realize this, of course, or you would not have gone or gotten as far as you have. You will have to have considerable dominance in your own attitude/behaviour/personality. He's the real deal and you can't just have it for show. Your own dominance has to be the real deal too.
I would be crippled and he dead by now.


I can see your perspective. But I can also see your trainer's perspective. The best advice I saw in the long, long pages of postings here that I think has a real chance of working, was the one that suggested you get going on some ground work with him on the lunge. You must get his absolute respect on the ground. Then, you must gain his respect under saddle; however, you won't have respect under saddle unless you first have absolute respect on the ground. And sometimes, sad to say, there is a very fine line between fear and respect and with some horses that line can be rather blurry. You have to make sure you keep that line in very clear focus. If your little quiet inner voice says "hold it", then hold it. That voice is there for a reason!
my plan.


Pay to have your trainer present, and put him to work in the round pen. But, do be guardedly safe and even though you're working him on the ground, do please wear a helmet and an eventing sport vest, in case he does charge at you - in which case you should be very willing to literally take no prisoners with your whip across his face to back him off you - self defence. ok? You're not beating him, you're defending yourself. He will understand the difference because he was the aggressor, not you. Once he backs off, you do nothing.
already well versed, and well beyond this.


Do push some of his buttons on the ground, but I would absolutely not let your "take-no-prisoners" trainer push him to complete melt-downs. When he starts to show signs of mini-tantrums, you've pushed his limit and you're getting the point across, albeit slowly. Keep going without pushing harder. Just be persistently gentle, until he acquieses.
this is the method that I find works best. Quiet, determined, supportive, persistence.


It's okay to have a backtrack.
I needed to hear that.


As you were telling the original story, I was wondering how it was he hadn't attempted to backtrack sooner than this point. Well, you were being a bit of a weenie, that's why.
yup :lol:



When he is readily submitting on the lunge, try again under saddle. As one other poster said, and I heartily agree with this method, when he starts to show signs of grunge when you ask him to do something under saddle (i.e. canter), you hop off, and out comes the lunge line and he is worked on the same item on the lunge line. He learns -- This behaviour be bad=I be worked. Ok, I won't do this thing anymore. He will then try something else. LOL
this advice (given by many) has been worth my sore fingers and angry ignored clients from all ths typing :lol:


Same technique with each unsuitable attitude and behaviour he presents. Until he learns - - Every bad behaviour=I be worked hard. After you work it out on the lunge, right away hop back on him and continue asking what it was you wanted the first time around. If he snarks again, hop off and ask for it on the lunge. Hop back on and ask for it pleasantly under saddle yet again. When he gives it to you pleasantly, stop, reward him profusely, hop off and put him away for the day. If he starts licking and chewing... he's thinking about what just happened!
I'm eager to give this a go!


Work on one attitude and behaviour at a time. They're all linked so this may be more difficult than at first glance. After today's backtrack, get him to trot pleasantly, then put away. The next day if he readily trots pleasantly, then ask for the canter. The minute he gripes, hop off and go for the lunge and hard work.
valuable advice thank you.


And during all of his snippiness, nastiness, and grouching, you must remain pleasant in the face, voice and attitude. He must learn he's doing it to himself.
this is so spot on. the instant I loose my cool, he's got my number and will push and push and push. If I am pleasant, and unaffected he is disarmed.


That's assuming you even want to continue trying.
my resolve has never been stronger. :lol:


You know the horse. You know what he's capable of. You knew this before you started. You know without a doubt that for every inch of progress, he has made you pay quite a price to achieve. To sit through his bucking tantrums thus far means you have an exceptional seat on you, so use that to your advantage, but intelligently so.
I wouldnt' say exceptional :lol: tactful. Yes, I have paid a price for every achievement, and I knew it was going to more or less be like this going in. He's just much more, and much odder, than any i've met to date.


You know how hard it will be to continue with this horse. You know as you progress deeper into his uncomfortable zones, the battle will get tougher as he tries to defend his position. You will have to persist and break down the barriers. I assure you, it will continue to take years. Are you prepared for that?
my goodness of course.


You have to decide whether the toll on your body is worth it.
grumble. I know. :(


He is not sellable. You know that too. Should you decide not to continue with him, the only place for him might be out to pasture as a pet and lawn mower.
yup.

thank you so much.

EiRide
Aug. 17, 2009, 05:31 PM
imho, tough-guy isn't for the sheer sake of it. A horse will buffalo to see who's in charge. Thats self-preservation. Being a herd animal means putting your life in the hands of a leader.

This horse is a *huge* coward. :lol: Alpha among other horses, but afraid of his own shadow once leaving the confines of his safety zone paddock.


I call that personality a false or an insecure alpha. They rule, but like a cheesy dictator from a tiny country--in great fear of handing over any ounce of power. A true alpha is the confident boss who doesn't need to bully the other horses, just give them The Look. And the true alpha also takes that calm, protective attitude on the road in trails, shows, etc.

So your false alpha, like an insecure boyfriend, wants to control everything all the time to assure himself all is well in the world. This, of course, makes everything in the world NOT all right.

I would do a lot of ground work, not only with GO FORWARD and change direction and look to me, Mister, but also trail class in hand things, lots of desensitizing, lots of showing him that he has all these experiences and chilling out and accepting them and handing the control over to you is where the sweet spot is. Make sure when you longe and lead that he is not pointing his shoulder at you, but is rather bending slightly away from you--the shoulder pointing at you is a defensive posture (can strike from there) and while he may never actually dream of doing it, his posture is saying "I must have elements of control here." Make sure you lead from both sides so he yields from both eyes--some horses are really different about things from the left eye to the right eye. My last challenging one was really bad--I finally realized she was actually turning her head on the longe and in the round pen to put her dominant eye on me when it was facing out.

One thing I've found with horses is if you put them in a posture of relaxation or submission, the emotions will often follow the body language rather than the other way around. It works the other way, too--ever watch a horse jazz herself up more and more as she assumes an excited, head up posture?

Good luck.

Long Spot
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:19 PM
Buck, you are one class act. I just needed to say that.

myhorsefaith
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:24 PM
However, I believe horses that have problems under saddle and none on the lunge or at freedom are behavior problems, not physical problems.

As for the OP's problem, I am just shaking my head that someone would actually look for horses with problems to fix.

I am just like the OP. My 2 personal horses are fixer uppers and for good reason. My appy mare could be this horses' sibling LOL.

But i will disagree with the comment above...last year i was rehabbing a friends horse that was leased out and took to bucking and balking which just added to his portfolio of chronic bolting, LOL. He DID have mental issues- which were addressed. He got to the point where he was fine on the longe, but under saddle a complete mess. I too thought he was behaving badly, and several trainers did too...until one day i decided to give him some bute, wait an hour...and try riding. The horse was completely fine.

BuddyRoo
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:31 PM
EiRide--loved the description!

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:51 PM
I call that personality a false or an insecure alpha. They rule, but like a cheesy dictator from a tiny country--in great fear of handing over any ounce of power. A true alpha is the confident boss who doesn't need to bully the other horses, just give them The Look. And the true alpha also takes that calm, protective attitude on the road in trails, shows, etc.
ha! excellent! and accurate!


So your false alpha, like an insecure boyfriend, wants to control everything all the time to assure himself all is well in the world. This, of course, makes everything in the world NOT all right.
eww, had a few of those too... hmm, pattern developing :lol:


I would do a lot of ground work, not only with GO FORWARD and change direction and look to me, Mister,
started yesterday, resuming tomorrow.


but also trail class in hand things, lots of desensitizing, lots of showing him that he has all these experiences and chilling out and accepting them and handing the control over to you is where the sweet spot is.
that we have down pat, while in hand. Ridden is different, but closer all the time.


Make sure when you longe and lead that he is not pointing his shoulder at you, but is rather bending slightly away from you--the shoulder pointing at you is a defensive posture (can strike from there) and while he may never actually dream of doing it, his posture is saying "I must have elements of control here."
very insightful, and very true, and he really does does want to do this. He wants to position *me* and ideally keep me out of certain driving positions. It is such a subtle but significant tussle we go through.


Make sure you lead from both sides so he yields from both eyes--some horses are really different about things from the left eye to the right eye. My last challenging one was really bad--I finally realized she was actually turning her head on the longe and in the round pen to put her dominant eye on me when it was facing out.
I've noticed this quite a bit. Most of his riders have been right hand dominant, including me, so the whipping, etc, has occurred on the right most of his life. He was at one point, savage in his attempts to protect his right side. I finally, in the last 6 months, have had him break down and offer his right eye to me. I teach all of my horses to turn and face me, look at me with both eyes, on command, no matter what. For 2 years, he'd turn 360° if needed to face me with his left eye first. :lol: When he started giving me his right eye it was like we turned a corner. Thats when the idea of bucking as a defense really started to melt away for the first time too.


One thing I've found with horses is if you put them in a posture of relaxation or submission, the emotions will often follow the body language rather than the other way around.
I spent a year teaching him to be light to the lead rope and have a lowered head while I'm working with him (on the ground or ground tying, like tacking, grooming, bathing). He was wound so tight for so long, keeping his head lowered, was the most consistent way I could get him to be even remotely calm.

Poor little guy, so many times he'd be nervous or high strung, but being a 'good boy' and standing with his head dropped as I'd instructed, anxious expression "i'm petrified but I can't lift my head!" poor little dude... he cracks me up.:lol:

threedogpack
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:52 PM
I think Buck deserves a huge gold medal for taking all these comments for what they are worth - honest opinions and thoughts without merely saying "there there, it will be alright". Some of these comments could have been cause for a "fight" in how they were worded, but they weren't taken that way.

So Bravo to Buck for all that :)

oh boy do I agree with this. Some of this is hard for ME to hear!

Alpha Mare
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:54 PM
Buck, I have two ideas for you not from experience with any horses like yours but just general training. Kudos to you for coming so far with this one who was manhandled soooo poorly in the past (am feeling very sorry for the horse but also that those riders will apparently continue their 'training' methods).

I second the posters who said work on the ground and get obedience to 'canter' on the longer.

Ideas for in the saddle (assuming you can get him cantering on the longe).

1. Try riding without a whip at all. If balky or needs to be urged to respond to the legs, could you take the reins in one hand and with the other slap the rein ends on either side of his wither/shoulder? Sometimes that is done for a time or two with a young horse to say 'yes, I meant 'move'' it should not hurt or be at all violent but WILL be an aid to say
'get going'.

2. When schooling the canter depart under saddle try doing it in the SAME PLACE in the arena every time for at least 2 weeks, and maybe forever in your warm ups. Trot really forward to that location and ask for the canter - can be again with one hand on both reins (sometimes that helps you not to be too tense). If he is anticipating things he may get to anticipate that canter depart - then you can practice happily picking it up when he knows that it's coming. (this may or may not work, but has helped others with a 'confused' horse & rider pair that were making too big a deal of the canter depart).

Lastly, if he does what you want, BIG hurrah and ATTA Boy !!!. Get off soon and give him sugar/carrots and many praises IN THE RING. so that something good happens to him there.

Best wishes for your success

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:54 PM
But i will disagree with the comment above...last year i was rehabbing a friends horse that was leased out and took to bucking and balking which just added to his portfolio of chronic bolting, LOL. He DID have mental issues- which were addressed. He got to the point where he was fine on the longe, but under saddle a complete mess. I too thought he was behaving badly, and several trainers did too...until one day i decided to give him some bute, wait an hour...and try riding. The horse was completely fine.
a friend wrote me saying how she had a similar case as mine, turned out to be hock pain. My boy is cow hocked :confused: and a bit sickle hocked. not terrible, but noticeable. Perhaps.... might give him some feed thru joint stuff and see what develops...

irishmusic
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:59 PM
It is very difficult to diagnose the problems with your horse without seeing the horse in action. When reading your original posting, "ring sour" kept going through my head. The best treatment for a ring sour horse is to change it up. Get them out of the ring and do other things. Trail riding jumping, long lines, do compliance work on the trail, etc.

I agree with WWYD. Back to basics and ground work. Is your horse too fresh when you ride? A very fresh, forward horse can make a lot of mischief for his rider. Is he kept in a stall, paddock or field? Like WWYD, I would lunge with side reins, but really give him a workout. My OTTB's are a handful right out of the field. Better to take the edge off first with some lungeing, than me going tail over tincups.

buck22
Aug. 17, 2009, 07:06 PM
Ideas for in the saddle (assuming you can get him cantering on the longe).
I did yesterday, we worked quite a while yesterday in hand. Left lead, sticky, a little "do I have to" but quite nice after very little firmness. Not bad for the first time longed in nearly a year. Right lead, I got big repeated double barrel FU's with the most worried expression on his face. After persistent firmness on my part, we got some nice transitions to the right. Poor boy.


1. Try riding without a whip at all. If balky or needs to be urged to respond to the legs, could you take the reins in one hand and with the other slap the rein ends on either side of his wither/shoulder? Sometimes that is done for a time or two with a young horse to say 'yes, I meant 'move'' it should not hurt or be at all violent but WILL be an aid to say
'get going'.
for the same idea, I bought a little clappy bat, to make a smack on the shoulder, and I can tuck in my half chap if not needed or diverging out to hack, but excellent, thank you.


2. When schooling the canter depart under saddle try doing it in the SAME PLACE in the arena every time for at least 2 weeks, and maybe forever in your warm ups. Trot really forward to that location and ask for the canter - can be again with one hand on both reins (sometimes that helps you not to be too tense). If he is anticipating things he may get to anticipate that canter depart - then you can practice happily picking it up when he knows that it's coming. (this may or may not work, but has helped others with a 'confused' horse & rider pair that were making too big a deal of the canter depart).
tee hee hee, that was going to be my secret weapon :lol: the power of anticipation. I'm gonna get him solid in a "spooky" ring where I have more forward to begin with. Then work him at the precise location of our little circus act. And make it *very* predictable and easy to figure out the pattern :D:D:D Then I'll get on :D:D:D And, if we're still stuck, perhaps have a friend replicate the longing by standing in the middle giving my cues.


Lastly, if he does what you want, BIG hurrah and ATTA Boy !!!. Get off soon and give him sugar/carrots and many praises IN THE RING. so that something good happens to him there.
Thats exactly what I do and, I should really remember to do it more. Hop off, loosen the girth, and a good 10 minute soak time to bask in the glory of his good deed. It really really helps him. He *wants* to earn that

I've half-way taught him a lot of parlor tricks, spanish walking, bowing, ground tying, parking out, stretching, etc... all these tricks involved huge praises, a nibble of a snack, etc,. When we're working in hand, or if he's on the xties while I'm gabbing and he's forgotten about, he will often *beg* for a bit of huge praise by suddenly displaying a "trick". He loves it. His little face lights right up... he is so expressive in the face.

thank you!

threedogpack
Aug. 17, 2009, 08:37 PM
I've half-way taught him a lot of parlor tricks, spanish walking, bowing, ground tying, parking out, stretching, etc... all these tricks involved huge praises, a nibble of a snack, etc,. When we're working in hand, or if he's on the xties while I'm gabbing and he's forgotten about, he will often *beg* for a bit of huge praise by suddenly displaying a "trick". He loves it. His little face lights right up... he is so expressive in the face.

thank you!

You know, a LOT of dog trainers use these "tricks" to release tension in their dogs. It's a way of re-directing the dog when the dog is worried about what is coming, to something they are very familiar with doing and know they can do it right. It becomes a conditioned reinforcer. I might use something like that and I'd choose a trick that you can do without dismounting (stretching sounds like something that would work, and it might be counter productive to bucking).

This poor horse reminds me so much of a little dog I have at my house right now. For about 8 years, he lived with a family that decided he said FU to them over a lot of things so they were going to "show him who is boss". Everything became grounds for arguing with people. :no: So by the time he came to me, he just assumed that he needed to be defensive about his feet, going in and out of his crate, eating....everything. I did what I had to do for us to be safe together, and I taught him some simple things...sit and down and target. It was a safe way for him to earn a few cookies, and learn that I was ok. Today, he's good with me, good with one or two other people and he's a happy dog. He'll never be normal, he can never go to anyone else but for today, he's a good boy for me. I firmly believe you will get at least to this place with your gelding.....if you just keep on keepin' on.

nero
Aug. 18, 2009, 02:53 AM
Buck, I'm going to say stick with him, as long as you are happy to live with the realistic goals this horse allows that is. I don’t have any specific advice for your horse, but I can truly empathise with your mental state right now.

Some horses need guardian angles like you to save them from not-so-nice fates.

I have a 17.3hh wb who was with pro riders for the first four years I had him. Got progressively worse under saddle and more and more dangerous, got rid of me several times with a broken rib and two concussions a result. I was terrified of him and had panic attacks every time I was to ride him. He made me miserable - no one it seemed could solve him. He was lovely on the ground but just a monster under saddle on his bad days. After all the vet checking and change-ups in training he was finally diagnosed with EPSM - my 'aha' moment. He was retired pretty soon after (didn't respond to the diet change at the time and BNT ran out of patience with him) and for three years he was a paddock ornament. I loved him dearly so would not get rid of him, I knew that if I sent him elsewhere he'd be tormented at best, and the worst, well that wasn't worth considering. I owed this horse as I had put him under stress for those four years, unknowingly, but it I still did it. He deserved to be let off the hook and shown some compassion. Then at the end of last year, after being on a solid EPSM diet for almost two years I started bringing him back slowly, first on lunge then I worked up the courage to get back on him - don't know how I did it, but if I can get through that fear anyone can. Terrified for the first ride, but he was a bloody angel - quiet as a lamb. Went on a trial ride, didn't miss a beat. Fast forward seven months and we are working well in the arena - lower level dressage training. I just love this horse, we trust each other and he is fun, fun, fun - but still limited because of his past and a disease that will not ever go away 100% - but I don't mind, we'll never compete but we still have great fun. Loving the lessons and he is making great progress, and my riding is sooo much better. He hasn't objected once to me asking him to work (even though some things are still hard for him, he tries his heart out), so by being aware of his limitations, not pushing beyond his limits and taking him slow he has trust in me I think. After most rides I am beaming with pride in him.

Stick with it, you know you are not going to get rid of him, you know you can get results and there is nothing more rewarding than finding solutions to puzzles. My trainer jokes my horse is a Rubik’s cube, but when you get all the colours on the right sides it’s worth it.

Making progress with and getting the trust of a horse that most would have said get rid off can be just as rewarding as winning a ribbon. And if I had a dollar for every person who told me to get rid of my horse and get another one, I'd have , oooh, 48 bucks!

My 'difficult' horse has actually changed my life (significantly for the better)and showed that a real relationship with an animal can be one of the most rewarding experiences going.

Finding a trainer that is happy to go on the journey with you and work to your schedule is important too, as many have said here. I have two trainers that are just amazing and really respect my horse's past and limitations, and they, along with little ole me who isn’t that great a rider, are the ones getting the results, not the BNRs that used to train him!!

The very best of luck and good for you that you are so open minded and care so much about this animal. You are an asset to this forum and to your horses no doubt.

Marengo
Aug. 18, 2009, 05:01 AM
It took me a long time to learn that if I can't get on a horse and do a simply walk, trot, canter then I need to walk away. It can unbalanced, the horse can be super unfit but if you can't get a few steps of each gait in either direction you're setting yourself up for failure. A lot of horses with physical or mental problems are fine at the walk and trot, its at the canter that these issues crop up. Others might judge me but I rather spend my time on horses that at least try to meet you half way. Your situation sounds bad. Bless you for giving this horse a chance, but if the horse is still saying 'no' please for your own safety do not ride this horse anymore.

slc2
Aug. 18, 2009, 07:47 AM
Bute does not take effect in one hour. Something else was going on.

Long Spot
Aug. 18, 2009, 05:15 PM
Bute does not take effect in one hour. Something else was going on.

Could have been injected...she didn't say she fed it. She said she gave it. I don't know whether she fed it or gave it in a shot. Nor do you.

myhorsefaith
Aug. 18, 2009, 05:32 PM
Could have been injected...she didn't say she fed it. She said she gave it. I don't know whether she fed it or gave it in a shot. Nor do you.

thanks for the catch- i wrote this post not paying 100% attention. It was longer than an hour after giving him oral bute. should've typed "hours" hehehe.

BrenderGal
Aug. 18, 2009, 08:41 PM
There's a big difference between a horse that bucks, and a horse that bucks in a meanspirited way. The key question is: was the horse merely bucking, or legitimately trying to get you off? There's a difference.

The first horse I ever owned was a spitfire. He was an unbroke breeding stallion until he was 5. Then he was gelded one day shipped to me the next (a gift from a well intentioned grandmother). That horse was a perpetual wild-man, until I finally figured him out. When we started work I needed to let him respond to my requests by letting him buck and rear and generally goof off for about 10 minutes. Then I'd collect the reins and we could go to work. He was impossible if I didn't let him go through his initial antics...but an angel if I did. The only thing I could figure out is that he needed to prove to himself that he was still a stud and was only 'letting' me ride him. However, the key thing in this illustration is that although he bucked, he never, ever was meanspirited in trying to buck me off. I kept that horse until the day he died at 29.

I was given another horse who also bucked at the start of work. But this horse meant it. Pretty soon she figured out that the way to truly make the session stop was to flip over backwards onto me. I didn't ever ask her to do anything complicated or unreasonable, just simple things she didn't want to do. If I got back on she'd do it again. Tried 'working her down' by lunging her and she'd charge me as soon as I snapped the whip to let her know I was serious about getting more effort (note: just made the snapping noise, didn't hit her). I got rid of that one to someone who wouldn't ever put any serious demands on her.

It sounds like the entire "relationship" this poster described centers on what the horse wants. A one way relationship is not a "relationship" at all. As for that "we have a special connection" stuff...sure, sometimes it happens. But I'd argue that often it's nothing more than the rider projecting their emotions on to the horse. In this case, it sounds like the horse didn't have a problem trying to hurt her if she crossed his "boundaries". That speaks not of a "relationship" or "special connection" but of a horse that needs a new home that's more to his liking. It's not your 'fault'... he will just be happier with an environment that doesn't even touch his 'boundaries'.

I'm so sorry to have to say that, but I've had both types of 'buckers'. The freespirited ones can still be a joy to ride once you figure them out. But life's too short for the rank ones. Eventually you either decide to live life on their terms, or they'll find a way to hurt you.

BrenderGal
Aug. 18, 2009, 10:52 PM
Ok, so I got a little hasty and posted before reading all the way to the end. It doesn't sound like your horse is necessarily rank. But the question that comes to mind is that if there's a discipline he loves doing, would it do him any harm if you just focused on that? Does it hurt him in any way by NOT making him learn to work in the arena?

Maybe a year just having fun would be just what the doctor ordered!

AnotherRound
Aug. 19, 2009, 12:25 AM
Bute does not take effect in one hour. Something else was going on.

Slick, you spew the stupidest things. Like you know what you are saying. But don't. Unreal.

slc2
Aug. 19, 2009, 08:09 AM
Guess what, another round? Bute does not take affect in one hour. e Do a little studying.

buck22
Aug. 19, 2009, 08:45 AM
Ok, so I got a little hasty and posted before reading all the way to the end. It doesn't sound like your horse is necessarily rank. But the question that comes to mind is that if there's a discipline he loves doing, would it do him any harm if you just focused on that? Does it hurt him in any way by NOT making him learn to work in the arena?

Maybe a year just having fun would be just what the doctor ordered!

He loves to hit the trails and go tooling and snaking around the skinny little windy deer trails at a fast clip. :lol: taking the odd log. Zigzagging and bending through the trees. He's a hoot to ride when he's loving life. He can get a little wound up but is not a hot horse per se, just easily fired up and a little snorty.

But he likes to naturally whiz around high headed and inverted. Quite so. Bad, especially for a possible back problem horse. And he's only recently accepted me to having contact and have a dialogue through the reins.

So what we do, to keep his interest in work, is flat for a bit, so we can learn a nicer way of traveling, then go hack for a bit so he can refresh himself and not get stressed.

Thats why the ring. Though he's fun on the trail, its limited as well without having established more conversation and understanding between each other.

Schooling his flat work on the trail doesn't always work in my favor. He's easily upset when the rider is unclear, or he feels he's being muscled. In the ring, I can use 'forward' to fix a lot of that up and manage the part of him that is spoilt and nasty laziness. However, on the trail, he's dishonest enough to dart through the trees and runaway with me if he can, or at least bash me into a tree. So, I put myself at a disadvantage, and could possibly reinforce bad behaviors.

The whole reason I lament at all is because I finally was bucked off. Not for fear of hitting dirt, but for fear of his accomplishment and how thats going to influence him going forth.

What I do do is practice flat work on the trail, but only for short stints because the trail is a reward from work.

What he also loves to do is be part of a project, and he loves to be taught tricks.

When I first got him, he was miserable to lead, anywhere at all for any reason. Just a dangerous, unpredictable hazard. Easily made upset, and then biting or kicking at the closest object to him in his 'spook', etc. So, after teaching him how he should behave on the lead, I'd 'school' him by taking him on made up 'errands' that involved my doing something physical and scary. For instance, I'd go move logs from one pile to another and stack them. Or I'd go and shake out tarps, then refold them. Take him down the street to check the mail, drag and wind up hoses, move other horses from one pen to another, sweep alleys, move farm equipment, etc.

I love using this trick on horses that are too self absorbed to behave while being led :lol: It gets them paying attention to whats going on, and forgetting about their own problems. I'm just scary enough, and just active enough, taht they have to constant mind where they are or they'll be accidentally clobbered. They get the message. :lol: Suddenly, I get a horse who is acutely aware of where he is in relationship to me at all times, careful and polite with his feet and body, and paying attention because he doesn't know what is coming next. :lol: This trick works every time.

My boy loved this, which is what led me to doing "ranch" work with him early on, clearing brush, dragging logs, dragging tarps, roping off him, etc. He's highly interested in be a part of something getting done. Wherever the tractor goes, he wasts to go, etc. He carries sticks around like a dog in his paddock, building things, he arranges leaf piles, etc. He's very, constructive. :lol: I think he is going to adore driving, (also because it removes the human on my back factor, which, really, is the only problem, he's a gem otherwise) and I think he'll love working cattle too.

I also think he's ready for some simple jump gymnastics, I think he'll get a kick out of the problem solving.

He has a very active mind, and when its put to use, he's very very happy.

Thats why I also thought he'd love therapeutic riding. He loves attention, petting, cuddling, kissey lovey stuff. He lays his head in my lap for cuddling. He's very well behaved and trustworthy on the ground. Children could handle his feet and lead him. He doesn't bite or kick and will accept a treat politely. He does NOT get broncy or spooky with 'human' objects, and he can be handled absolutely everywhere.

He absolutely loves to go to work, well, he loves to be saddled and taken to work:lol: He sometimes begs, stands at the 'tacking station' and paws if I cannot ride. And if he sees me preparing his saddle, he'll linger waiting to be asked to come over and be groomed.

Its just the actual work we have differences of opinion on. :lol:

I think everyone here has given me excellent food for thought. I need to be tougher and firmer in many instances, we've been so close lately that I've been lax. I also need to be clearer in what I want and really establish a solid canter cue, the lack of clarity I think was the main issue. I need to get saddle time on some other horses, and be a better rider for him as well, to help him understand and not feel the need to defend himself and not be so defensive myself. And I think driving and really getting good at long lining is going to be a really welcomed vacation from it all too. I think he'll get a kick out of it.

thank you!

Petstorejunkie
Aug. 19, 2009, 12:56 PM
I obviously have not taken the time to read the novel in front of this post but wanted to offer a bit of suggestion. I have a horse that was deemed doggy food once upon a time. We now do tack free demonstrations for groups, and are schooling 1st level. what I've learned in 9 years of partnership with this horse is battles do not solve anything. period. they are not satisfying, productive, or needed in any way.

1. get a trainer that 'gets' your horse. the one you have now may be a great trainer for some, or even many, but not you and THIS horse. she doesnt 'get it'

2. get rid of the whip. you can accomplish the same results without it. literally stash it away for the next 5 years, develop a relationship with this horse and learn to use tools he's okay with. you should never use any piece of equipment that you or the horse are not 100% comfortable with. temper tantrums and bucking fits are not symptoms of "comfortable with"

3. you gotta trust me on this one. ;) grab your body protector, your helmet and your guardian angel. lunge this horse for 10 minutes, calm calm calm pokey trot, you can be looky, i dont care. get some licking and chewing relaxation going on. Once he's all snuggly, hop on. no halter, no saddle, no nothing. AND ASK NOTHING! just sit there, breathe deeply and enjoy the view. Let him graze on some grass, walk a few steps, whatever. If he starts to trot, well you can either enjoy the ride, or emergency dismount, whatever keeps you relaxed. If you dont know how to emergency dismount, have someone teach you on a seasoned horse.
I know this has to sound like the goofiest damn advice in the world, and on paper, it makes no sense.... but it works... every time. I've rehabbed many glass minded horses with this. you need to lay down your sword and mean it in order for them to lay down theirs and talk to you. No horse has every failed, or taken advantage of this situation, and it's the only way that you can show them 100% that you mean no harm, and for you to really say "this is me, do you accept me?"

4. Okay I read your latest post and this really needed to be said. I was a fantastic rider when i got my horse 9 years ago. i can turn anything with 4 legs and a tail into a round forward buttery dream, so when i asked for something of him and he didnt do as i asked i'd insist, and the battle would begin. you know what i learned? I was not a precise enough rider for HIM. It took me lessoning with an psg level instructor to get my horse to seek contact. Dont blame your horse, he sounds brilliant, and if i had the time i'd snatch him up in a heartbeat! When he resists ask yourself what you are doing. i bet there is an amazing horse in there waiting to be commanded subtly enough that he can know exactly what you want. My horse has temper tantrums if he doesnt understand, and takes great pride in his own athleticism too.

buck22
Aug. 19, 2009, 02:04 PM
THANK YOU!! This post was like a breath of fresh air, not to imply that there hasn't been a ton of help here, but your post really resonated.



1. get a trainer that 'gets' your horse. the one you have now may be a great trainer for some, or even many, but not you and THIS horse. she doesnt 'get it'
I think you have a very good point.


2. get rid of the whip. you can accomplish the same results without it. literally stash it away for the next 5 years, develop a relationship with this horse and learn to use tools he's okay with. you should never use any piece of equipment that you or the horse are not 100% comfortable with. temper tantrums and bucking fits are not symptoms of "comfortable with"
he had finally become accepting of a whip in recent months, but it was abused. I won't be using it any time soon at all.


3. you gotta trust me on this one. ;) grab your body protector, your helmet and your guardian angel. lunge this horse for 10 minutes, calm calm calm pokey trot, you can be looky, i dont care. get some licking and chewing relaxation going on. Once he's all snuggly, hop on. no halter, no saddle, no nothing. AND ASK NOTHING! just sit there, breathe deeply and enjoy the view. I did this for a while, this is what helped me get over his balking. No tack of any kind, and I didn't ask anything. Just wanted to show him that he could move with me there, and that I wasn't going to demand anything he wasn't ready for.


Let him graze on some grass, walk a few steps, whatever. If he starts to trot, well you can either enjoy the ride, or emergency dismount, whatever keeps you relaxed. If you dont know how to emergency dismount, have someone teach you on a seasoned horse.
This is actually why I stopped doing this. :lol: We had a high time just playing tackless once in the riding ring at a place I used to board. One day, naked in the ring, a buddy of his was led away. He panicked and ran the fence with me aboard (GLORIOUS extended trot!). I managed to say with him, and he didn't pay me much mind, as if I didn't exist as he was so focused elsewhere. But I was a little concerned for my safety, as we did a few rollbacks, and I'm lucky I stayed on. I also felt as if I was okay'ing the behavior. So at one point, he went to dart off again, and I did an emergency dismount (I know it well :lol:), that set him off as if a hot poker had hit him in the behind. Bucking, kicking out, and just terrorized looking. Didn't want to approach me afterwards, etc. He was deeply bothered by my dismount. So we worked on that a bit from then on - in fact, I like to teach my horses to stop when I begin to dismount from w/t/c - but that didn't set well with him at all. He would become panicked and explosive if I attempted a surprise dismount.

He also used to become unglued when I posted the trot. He was just terrified, sweating terrified, when I would post. So we worked on that in the round pen, no bridle or bit, just going around, me in a light seat, post a stride here and there and soothe him.

I can now post or sit the trot on him, but any huge movements at any gait other than walk causes him alarm.

I attribute this to his having his riders come off spectacularly as a young horse. It must've been very traumatizing, and is probably likely why he continued bucking. The viscous cycle of forcing the very thing that frightens you to happen, over and over.

Though his bucking is with absolute intent to remove the rider, I don't feel viscousness from him, I feel fear and acquired habit. There are times its a big FU, there is that aspect too, I won't make excuses, he does prefer to be lazy when he can.



I know this has to sound like the goofiest damn advice in the world, and on paper, it makes no sense.... but it works... every time. I've rehabbed many glass minded horses with this. you need to lay down your sword and mean it in order for them to lay down theirs and talk to you. No horse has every failed, or taken advantage of this situation, and it's the only way that you can show them 100% that you mean no harm, and for you to really say "this is me, do you accept me?"
its superb advice, and I've done it for years myself. Honestly, I haven't done any of the bond building exercises we used to do in the last year+. In the last year, he's finally become a 'normal' enough horse that I don't need to build up his confidence and my resolve for every ride with groundwork, I can put a saddle on him and go. But, I think your help is very insightful and its time to renew old bonds, and review this.

You know, another exercise I used to do with him was following each others 'feel'. When around him, on teh ground or riding, I'd follow his rhythm and blend in with him. Then, when a free and easy feeling flowing, I'd start my rhythm and ask him to follow me. You might find this goofy, but we had things so nice at one point, that I could regulate our trot speed with the most subtle of cues, like breathing deeply, etc. It was very cool. But then we moved stables, and I lost the unique situation that had an area that allowed me that quiet calm focus (a small slightly spooky indoor, too small to get out of control in, but spooky enough that I had plenty of impulsion to work with).


4. Okay I read your latest post and this really needed to be said. I was a fantastic rider when i got my horse 9 years ago. i can turn anything with 4 legs and a tail into a round forward buttery dream, so when i asked for something of him and he didnt do as i asked i'd insist, and the battle would begin. you know what i learned? I was not a precise enough rider for HIM. It took me lessoning with an psg level instructor to get my horse to seek contact. Dont blame your horse, he sounds brilliant, and if i had the time i'd snatch him up in a heartbeat! When he resists ask yourself what you are doing. i bet there is an amazing horse in there waiting to be commanded subtly enough that he can know exactly what you want. My horse has temper tantrums if he doesnt understand, and takes great pride in his own athleticism too.
I think this is absolutely dead on. And this is why I've been gravitating towards dressage so much.

thank you a thousand times.

Twiliath
Aug. 19, 2009, 02:14 PM
This is the best advice I've ever heard!!!

:yes::yes::yes:

lstevenson
Aug. 19, 2009, 03:01 PM
First of all, I am going to assume that you have ruled out things like saddle fit, lameness, back soreness, ect. Make sure you have an experienced vet look at his SI joints as well. The SI is often overlooked, as the horse is often sound but quite sore. And when the SI is sore, they get crabby about going forward, particularly into the canter.

Then as I see it, you have two choices, get rid of this horse or step up and fix the problem for good.

I have dealt with plenty of balkers who buck from the whip in my day. What works great for me is to teach the horse to have an immediate forward reaction from the cluck noise. You then use the cluck noise to bridge the correct response from your leg.

Start on the ground in hand or ground driving, and progress to lunging free in a round pen or on a lunge line. Cluck loudly and immediately smack the horse with the lunge whip from behind. If they buck, so what, but they better go forward or they get it again. Believe me, it only takes a couple of times and they get the message that the cluck means go now or else! When your horse goes from walk to gallop on the lunge at a cluck, you are ready to get on. Get on in the round pen, or having someone lunging you on the horse. This time you cluck (with no leg or any other aids), and your helper who is lunging or standing in the middle will go after the horse with the whip if the horse doesn't shoot forward immediately. Then when that is going well, you put your leg on to ask the horse to go, then cluck, and if you don't get a quick response, tap the horse with a dressage whip right behind your leg (not on the top of his butt, which encourages horses to buck). This cluck training will have taught your horse to have the proper (forward) response to the whip by this point, and you can then more safely use it to get the horse in front of your leg.

You may have to begin every ride reminding the horse about going foward from the light leg aid by clucking and going to the whip on a loose rein at the walk. And when the horse is walking forward on his own like he has somewhere he wants to go, you will know that you are good to go.

This method, done correctly and with conviction, works every time and is not mean, as once the horse understands the correct response to the cluck, leg, and whip, the battle is over and riding becomes pleasurable for both horse and rider.

D_BaldStockings
Aug. 19, 2009, 03:06 PM
Apologies for coming late to the thread, I thought someone would express this point of view before now.

This entire relationship between you and your horse needs an overhaul in thinking.

You are the one working with this horse now. Have been for two years.
Your perception of his behavior and your reactions to his behavior are not changing the behavior you want to change in him.

From my perspective you describe the horse as confrontational, violent, dominant, pushy, stubborn…
These are all negative emotions people attach to his physical actions, as if he needs to be psychoanalyzed. He doesn’t.

You give him cues and signals.
He reaches into his repertoire of ‘things that work/ things I’ve done/ things a horse does’ and he reacts with some action. Then you react and sometimes go ballistic on him.

Stop.

If the horse isn’t ‘getting it’ there is only one party at fault: The trainer on the ground, on his back or in the driver’s seat. The communication is going badly if at all. The cues don’t mean to the horse what the trainer wants them to mean.

The trainer runs out of options and reacts with anger and gets punitive. That’s normal. And unproductive, usually sets your intended training back weeks or months and establishes unwanted habits ‘entrenched resistance’ in its’ hundreds of forms.

You need to drop the negative psychological associations you’ve attached to the horse’s behavior patterns from your thinking. Just the actions themselves are what need to change.

You need to drop the word punishment from your thinking. It ruins your communication. Stop entering dominance and strength battles with your horse. Completely unproductive and elicit anger and frustration from both of you.

Replace punishment with correction, simplification, clarifying the earlier lessons to increase the horse’s understanding of what is being asked in this different lesson. Give him positive things to build from. Let him know success.

Your focus right now is on the cantering problem which he has substituted bucking for as a trained response. How would you teach a horse to buck that didn’t? Look carefully at your actions.

I don’t think that canter is the original problem. Under saddle your horse is somewhat erratic, he rushes at times, balks at others, sounds like transitions are a problem and he doesn’t go at faster/slower, longer/shorter strides within his gaits at the rider’s request.

If he isn’t there at a walk, you won’t get him to do it right at a canter. This horse needs consistent messages from you and consistent releases from requests when he gets the right answer. Nothing more. Not ten minutes to let it soak in. Ten or fifteen seconds of free walk is plenty. No horrible reactions from you when he gets the answer wrong, just a calm request to try something else. And if he still doesn’t get it and gets frustrated, find a question that he can answer right and ask that. It is very important that a horse with this much bad training learns there is a reward somewhere if he finds the right response. Extinguishing wrong responses by ignoring them and continuing to ask and reward correct responses will get you results quickest.

You already know how to do this. You are good at it. And so is he. You’ve replaced much of his mis-learned ground behavior and added tricks.
You can both reach your goal if you are consistent, patient and have a realistic step by step program. Get a book by Podhajsky, or Littauer, or Klimke or Richard Young or…
Turn off your TV. Follow the schooling program in the book. Vent anger and frustration somewhere other than your horse.

jumpingmaya
Aug. 19, 2009, 03:08 PM
Petstorejunkie...
That was a greatly needed breath of fresh air!! WONDERFUL advice... I think your advice is just what the OP needed (even though she was definitely on the right track by implementing a LOT of it alreay...)
Sounds like you "understand" this type of horse :yes:

buck22
Aug. 19, 2009, 03:17 PM
He reaches into his repertoire of ‘things that work/ things I’ve done/ things a horse does’ and he reacts with some action. Then you react and sometimes go ballistic on him.

wonderful advice, and thank you, your entire post, thank you. And my goodness I take 100% responsibility, of course, how could anything be "his fault'? He's in my barn because I put him there, everything, for ever, is my fault :)

Just want to point that no one is venting frustration on the animal. There is never a place for that, and I would never allow that. There is never any room for anger.


Get a book by Podhajsky, or Littauer, or Klimke or Richard Young or…
Turn off your TV. Follow the schooling program in the book. Vent anger and frustration somewhere other than your horse.

I have all but young

thankou!




This method, done correctly and with conviction, works every time and is not mean, as once the horse understands the correct response to the cluck, leg, and whip, the battle is over and riding becomes pleasurable for both horse and rider.
thank you for your help as well. Establishing more consistent cues with 100% obedience really is what I need to do, and on the ground first. thank you.

I've never felt that reinforcing is 'mean' in any way. I don't think the events leading up as of late were mean either, nobody is being mean to the horse. It just wasn't clear and was naturally resented.

Petstorejunkie
Aug. 19, 2009, 04:07 PM
THANK YOU!! This post was like a breath of fresh air, not to imply that there hasn't been a ton of help here, but your post really resonated.

You are most welcome.
sound aloud to yourself every day before you go to play with him "It takes as long as it takes" :cool:
My horse is 15, it took 9 years to get to where we school 1st level, and we just started 1st level stuff a few weeks ago. Most of the horse world would see this as completely unreasonable and entirely too long, so effin what. go have fun, the canter will come, and so will the level headedness.
I was tossed through a fence and wound up with 12 stitches... it took 2 years to rebuild the trust we have in each other now from that indecent. dont expect your next ride to be void of fear, just realize it's there, it is a burden to overcome, and breathe through it.

People will always ask "well, why put up with all that and put yourself at risk when there are thousands of sane horses out there?!?!?" Again, it doesnt make sense on paper, but unless someone has taken a horse through all of this, they'll never really understand the payoff or benefit.


:lol: I just read your OP to my non horsey boyfriend and his response was "what is she doing to tell her horse he's doing right?"