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Heinz 57
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:01 PM
UPDATED! See my most recent post at the end of this thread.


Today is my birthday, hooray. It is overshadowed by the feeling that I've run out of patience and lost a lot of faith in my horse.

Saturday afternoon we hauled over to a friend's to ride and use her washrack - we had signed up for a dressage schooling show on Sunday and needed to clean the beasts up a bit.

My mare will be 5 in April. She's a TB, about 16.1 and slight of build. I bought her out of a field as a scrawny and wormy misfit last February - and the prior owner had purchased her as a two year old living in yet another field and done next to nothing with her in the time between. Next month, she will have about a year under saddle. We showed consistently last year at schooling shows with more success than not - she attended at least a dozen shows and came home with at least one ribbon every time, sometimes many more.

She's a pretty horse, a nice mover, a catty, scopey jumper and generally willing, although with a hell-on-wheels attitude that makes her one of those mares that isn't for everybody and requires some serious brass at times. She's athletic and must somehow be related to one of the great bareback broncs.

Back to Saturday. We tacked up, she lunged pretty quietly with just a few buck-leap-run moments, and I hopped on. She was basically quiet, nothing more than her usual tense/nervous moments, which usually work themselves out if we warm up slowly. At a walk or trot, I don't exactly recall - another horse cantered by and she reared, almost flipped, regained her balance and flailed around before finally returning to the ground. I exited stage left at the peak of the rear, inserting myself directly into the arena footing on my head and left shoulder at which point my flustered steed stepped on my left thigh in her haste to exit the scene.

I'm bruised and beaten but not broken, fortunately. She attemped this maneuver once more during the ride (again, while another horse passed) before I convinced her to pursue other avenues of disobedience and focus on the work at hand. She put in some nice work and stood quiet as a church mouse. Rearing is not a new disobedience to her; it has been her first reaction from day one. 99.9% of the time they are controlled, calculated moves and have become less and less frequent as she becomes more sensible - mostly just threats these days that are easily thwarted by being pushed forward and made to work. I can't recall the last time she actually went up, and even the threats don't occur often anymore.

This jekyll-hyde behavior is what concerns me. Her actions on Saturday were without warning, and she returned to her quiet church mouse state within seconds afterwards both times. She's had no diet changes, no atmosphere/turnout changes, nothing. She's worked 4-5 days a week, mostly flatwork (schooling first level) with the occasional o/f school once a month or so.

We went to the show Sunday, rode a little in the warmup area but it was just too much for her to handle. There was a heavier gelding being warmed up that was very uptight and hitting the ground hard with each stride that bothered her in particular. The rider seemed oblivious to my horse's plight when she persisted in doing multiple walk-canter departs within a horse length behind my poor mare. We retired to a secluded, empty warmup area to get some decent work accomplished - but in the end, I scratched. I wasn't confident that I could hold her together and hadn't yet found the return of my youthful courage.

I just couldn't do it. I feel like I'm out of patience with this mare and her quirks, and I don't know if I can trust her in the future. She has a lot of talent, and the road to where she's at hasn't always been easy. I've worked my ass off. She's getting her teeth done this week, and I'm planning on having the chiropractor out to see if she's out anywhere.

I'm considering my options this week, and hope to make a decision by the end of the month. Either I find some renewed patience, or she goes off to the trainer's for 30 days. At the end of that 30 days I'd re-evaluate her progress and discuss her potential as an eventer with said trainer. If I'm still not satisfied, she'll either be put up for sale or thrown out to pasture.

I'm not sure what kind of guidance or advice I'm looking for here, but at the very least it was helpful to vent.

Beam Me Up
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:10 PM
Happy Birthday and I'm sorry.

It really doesn't get much less fun than hot green horses in crowded warm-ups.
Was this your first time out this year? If she was generally good last year perhaps just a cobweb issue?

All I can really think to offer, is that the few times I've decided to give up on a horse, or send them for training, it's been because I've finally reached that point where NOT having to keep trying was actually a relief.

It sounds like you're reaching that point. Try to think about how much better it will be to get to watch these formative experiences from a safe spot on the ground.

Highflyer
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:14 PM
On the one hand, she's only 5, and this is probably your first time out in a bit, so it's not too unexpected that she'd be green and unsettled. It may be that, because she was tense, you were tense, and you didn't really get her going forward, hence the rearing. OTOH, nothing scares me like a rearer. If that is her go to method of resistance, and she's coming close to going over backward, and she keeps doing it, eventually she will flip, and break your neck or hers or both.

It's a tough position to be in! I think your plan sounds realistic.

Heinz 57
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:21 PM
You guys are quick! :)

That was not her first outing of the year. We went to a schooling show back in mid January where she was equally as tense, so I can agree with the whole cobweb/rusty issue as far as nervousness at shows, and I can cope with that.

However, as far as the outing on Saturday - we don't have an arena at home right now so she gets hauled to another farm 4-5 nights a week to be ridden. Travel is not an issue with her, or at least it shouldn't be. She's been to that arena a number of times and isn't a spooky horse.

Keep the thoughts coming, nothing like collective COTH wisdom to help think through an issue!

magnolia73
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:21 PM
I used to keep a journal on my horse. OTTB mare. Got her just when she had turned 5. She did all sorts of random naughty things, including rearing and generally being unpleasant and unpredictable. Full time turnout, longing, longing, longing, a big slug of patience, a can of smart calm, a couple of brave friends for back up....

2 years later, she's sweet as a lamb. Kind, quiet and reliable. High winds, rain, stuck in a stall for a week. Throw a saddle on and she is a good egg. Was reserve champ at her first show, did not step a hoof wrong. LOL, no smart calm or longing necessary.

You know, you have a young horse and young horses do unreliable things. Most grow up. Hopefully yours will.

bornfreenowexpensive
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:28 PM
she's a mare...this time of year she could be coming into season...most of mine are a bit more reactive this time of year.

I think you are putting too much emotion into....she sounds like she is progressing and improving. I'd just take it a ride at a time. If you are not enjoying the process...and enjoying her...then sell her or give her away.

Honestly...one year under saddle isn't a lot of time for some horses....and 5 is still young. I'd give it more time...and change your expectations a bit. Try not to put emotion into...just ride the horse you have at that moment and work to improve her....which it sounds like you have. (and make sure you are checking saddle fit and soreness.....I had one mare that would get back sore with her first few cycles every year....putting her on Regumate helped that a ton).

Peggy
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:35 PM
She's five. Not a great year for many horses, as you probably know. She's a mare. Spring is coming. She probably feels a heck of a lot better with your good care than she did even six months ago.

Has she always been tense about other horses, even at times? I have one that has issues about horses coming towards him, esp larger more ponderous horses (we had a Friesian at our barn for awhile, and adding hair and an inconsiderate rider really put poor Star over the top). I have left show warmup rings to stand around and chill. It's worse when he's high, as are most horse issues. Ear plugs (which I know you can't use in dressage, but maybe you could try for schooling) help him. He will sometimes come out a bit "up" but walking around the ring or the property on a long rein will usually settle him. I know that there's a school of thought that says you should put them right to work, but that doesn't work with him.

I share your pain WRT the less-than-helpful rider. I had an FEI rider on a large thundery horse come right at Star repeatedly in a warmup, despite my frantic gestures and the fact that the FEI riders had their own warmup area that the peons weren't allowed to use. The inevitable finally happened--he lept, spun, bucked, and fired out. Whereupon she yelled at me "get THAT THING out of here!" Yeah, that was helpful.

RAyers
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:36 PM
I used to throw my jumper mare out in the pasture from late February until early April she was so bad when she was in heat!

Time and patience.

Reed

Heinz 57
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:46 PM
Has she always been tense about other horses, even at times?

Just wanted to answer this. No, she's not. I've had her packed into a small warmup arena with 30 pleasure horses, boxed in nose to tail rubbing stirrups and she's an angel hacking along on a loose rein. Rarely is she reactive to other horses, even naughty misbehaving ones. I made a point to ride her in groups with other naughty babies early on so she would learn that it doesn't matter what the others are doing, whether we're in a show warmup or elsewhere. Apparently we need to revisit that lesson. A friend of mine ropes and they have practice every Friday at a local arena - we've been considering hauling over and paying to warmup with them and then just stand in the corner while they do their thing.

Also hadn't thought of the ear plug thing. Might be helpful for those schooling shows where they would be allowed.

flabbergasted
Feb. 22, 2010, 02:56 PM
I read your post and a question immediately poped into my mind: why are you showing her? She is barely 5, has been under saddle for only a year and is having significant training issues...it sounds to me that showing should be the last thing on your mind right now.

I think you should take her to a trainer that you respect to get some help.

Take her to shows when she is going consistently well under saddle at home for you. Shows can be a positive learning experience, but a horse that is having the issues you describe probably doesn't need the additional distractions and challenges that shows present. Everything in due time.

ETA: WRT the warm up at shows. Your horse is your responsibility in a warm up. You cannot expect other riders to look out for you. It is wonderful if they do, but warm up is an every-man-for-himself type of experience, right or wrong, at every show.

frugalannie
Feb. 22, 2010, 03:00 PM
1. If you really feel (after a glass of wine or two) like you're getting nowhere and trying to figure her out isn't fun but has become something you dread, it may be time to move on.

2. If you are still interested in working with her, I agree with everyone else who said 1 year of work for a now 5 yo (mare!) is just a beginning. I always tell people that somewhere 6 months to a year after they acquire a young, green or OTTB horse, they will hit a wall and wonder if they did the right thing and should they just cash it all in and leave the game NOW. You may be hitting that wall. If you are willing to take a step back and then continue, you just might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

In either event, best of luck.

Jleegriffith
Feb. 22, 2010, 03:02 PM
All of the other posters have been very wise but I will suggest that 30 days of training for an evaluation.

I sold this lovely horse who I had for 8 months or so in training. He had been to tons of places-shows, clinics, lessons and more in those 8 months and was a 5 yr ottb but very quiet. He was sold and about4-5 months down the road I got the call that he had begun to do all sort of crazy behavior in the warm up but just at shows. He came back to me and was then resold and the problem as not resurfaced. I believed all along that he learned he could intimidate and he knew what worked because it was just not like him.

I would take the pressure off yourself as far as competing and just go to some local hunter shows or something where she can learn to become bored with herslef. Lunge a bit, hang out, ride, hang out and ride again. Some of them just take a long time to relax and perhaps she knows you are tense? She could be using the other horses coming at her as an excuse or maybe she is in season.

When mine start the idiot behavior I pick a small area and keep working but make them go forward and focus on ME. They can't look around because I have them working every second. If I see something that might scare them then I am leg yeilding them or doing something to make them stay focused.

Maybe even having someone else ride her at a show? Sounds like you have done a great job but there could be a bit of fear or nerves with you and she is playing off of that. Some of them can be so tough so I understand the dilemma. At the end of the day riding is supposed to be fun and if you don't feel like dealing with it then move on. There are so many less complicated horses out there!

Eventer55
Feb. 22, 2010, 03:19 PM
I feel your pain and you should peruse the other thread about giving up on a naughty mare, I can't for the life of me remember what the title is, but it's a current thread.

I ended up sending my mare out to a cowboy who basically read her the riot act and she had a come to Jesus meeting. He found her temper button and pushed it, after all if there isn't a problem you can't correct it. I still work on problems, but her renewed respect for the human is invaluable. She basically had no respect for humans and also had never bonded with one. She now respects me and we spend a lot of quality time bonding.

Interestingly, she turns out to be a fairly quiet horse. . . who knew???

Having said that, I'm not too thrilled about her (your horse) rearing problem.

Happy birthday too!!!

La Chasse
Feb. 22, 2010, 03:39 PM
in virginia, we are still snowed under and all the horses are bucking bronco, pogo-pistols... Any chance she has been snowbound/mud/whateverbound and just had a isolated brain meltdown w/ the show?

Might want to consider having the vet come check her out- acute behavior changes could be symptoms of an infection or dental issue (and the eq.dentist is coming already :)). I would also consider an ovarian abnormality, which could alter hormonal levels and given the fact that baseline mares get wacko as they begin cycling, similar explosive reactions wouldn't be too far fetched.

In the meantime, lunge???;)

NMK
Feb. 22, 2010, 04:21 PM
I have one like this. He had to spend a winter at the hunter-jumper barn to get over his crowd phobia. He also had quite a lot of antics in the warm up at events. He even got a "do over" once down the center line-- at training level, but I digress.

Now that's older I am actually proud of the way he handles himself, most times. It was a long haul and required mucho patience and a tight chin strap.

The patience was easier to bear because my solution was to get horse #2. It was a good solution for me because my confidence didnt' take a total hit.

I can tell you that I am closer to the horse with the antics than the horse without them. Once he let me "in" there has been a good parternship.

These kind are not for everybody, and may be tough if its your only horse. Sometimes it's hard to wait it out, especially on your birthday--don't mark time, mark progress.

Nancy

purplnurpl
Feb. 22, 2010, 04:34 PM
Horses cost a lot and they should be fun.
Period, end of story.
It's a hobbie, not a job.
Being stepped on is unacceptable for any age of horse at ANY experience level. That shows lack of thought on the horse's part and lack of thought = dead or injured rider.

You could try regumate if the suspect is the season. (sp?)

But I think sending her to a trainer for 30 days would be wise. She what she pulls there. You may not want to play this game.

There are more than plenty of 5 year old OTTBs out there that are pleasant.

Heinz 57
Feb. 22, 2010, 05:08 PM
I'm going to see if I can arrange for more turnout time for her, switch her from orchard to grass, and see about having a good saddle fitter out. I had intended to go saddle shopping this spring anyway. If I can get her closer to at least half day or 24 hour turnout, she would likely benefit greatly. The barn is literally 15' from my back door, and I feed in the AM most days so seeing that she's fed in turnout isn't an issue. Her diet aside from orchard consists mostly of beet pulp, sunnies, flax and vitamins (including vitamin B, which has helped her considerably).

She sounds a lot like many of the horses mentioned, and I do hope that with age will come some sensibility. Belligerent is a good descriptor of her when she's having a fit.

Flabbergasted, as far as why I've been showing her - we're not talking recognized HT's here. Her show season last year consisted mainly of in hand and walk/trot classes at open schooling shows (think 4H and some stock-type breed shows).

Part of the intention of showing her last year was to get her familiar and comfortable with working in a busy arena full of stressed out people and horses. Obviously we need to work on that some more and IME the best way to do that is to get her out there as much as possible, lunging and hacking in warmups until she's confident enough to go in the ring again and do it there too. I'm trying to set her up for success; when she's ready to start competing at recognized events, showing will be an old hat. The stressed out atmosphere will be old hat. Dressage test, dressage arena, scary judges stand? Old hat. Stupid kid on minibike with yappy dog? Old hat. The more scary moments and issues we can work through individually, the more successful she will be when they all appear at once. She doesn't get worked any harder at a show than she would in an everyday ride; I'm not campaigning her in 10 classes a day.

I really appreciate everyone's thoughts, suggestions, and advice thus far - the encouragement and the honesty/reality checks. I think one of the determining factors here is going to be whether or not I get that 'youthful courage' of mine back soon. I suspect it will return as the bruises fade. :) The vet doing her dental work is also the local track vet - I'm interested to see what he thinks of her royal highness.

deltawave
Feb. 22, 2010, 06:37 PM
I'm sorry, and happy birthday. Green horse blues are no fun. :( If she's a horse you really enjoy, for sure see if the "best management possible" (turnout, saddle, feed change, patient exposure to the world) makes a difference in a time frame that is reasonable. But ultimately you have to really want to go ride her every day, and if you don't, well, maybe she's that horse for someone else. :)

WNT
Feb. 22, 2010, 07:25 PM
I too got to experience the 5-year-old loopies. I had an OTTB gelding I got as a 4-y.o. that was sweet as pie, easy going and went to his first couple of schooling shows the fall of his 4-y.o. year. He turned five, and for a while turned into an absolute twit. Pushing buttons, imaginary demons everywhere, etc. He grew out of it with patience and consistency.

I don't think you are out of line taking her to schooling shows at this point. Maybe, though, instead of worrying about the competition aspect just take her to the show, warm up in the regular warm-up then find a quiet place to do a mock test. Kind of like what you did, but go with the intention of not actually showing. Just take the opportunity to go out into a show atmosphere and make it a lah-dee-dah everyday occurence without adding the stress of being ready to go in front of a judge. Do it until you and she are comfortable. Does the schooling show allow late entries? Maybe if you have a constructive warm-up you can hop into a couple of classes.

I had a lot of frustration with my little man, I would sometimes forget that he was only five. It was a heck of a learning curve, but we worked on it and he grew up into a solid citizen.

starkissed
Feb. 22, 2010, 07:43 PM
I'm sorry about that, I hate being frustrated. Thoroughbreds are the MOST frustrating, they really are. You have done a lot of work with her, but honestly, not all TBs make it after racing. I hate saying that because we all want to turn them into the lovely dream horses, but in truth, some are just too messed up.

Rearing is something I won't touch with a 10ft pole. Its really dangerous and scary, and as much as you want to succeed with her, it's not worth getting hurt over.
I can't really recommend another 'job' for her as it seems you are doing pretty laid back stuff.

TheBrightSide06
Feb. 22, 2010, 07:48 PM
Happy birthday, first of all!!

My Kobie used to do the same thing. And he's 8 now. From June-September 2009 he was in an awful funk. It wasn't like him at all. He just kept rearing. I would get on, walk a few steps, then he would rear at something he found suitably rear-worthy. Jumps and ground poles, random stuff on the ground, and then it got to be he would rear just because.

The dentist, chiropractor, vet, and farrier all looked at him. Nothing was causing physical pain issues. The tack wasn't hurting him either. It was totally not like him, as he has an amazing work ethic.

I was at breaking point and was pretty positive I was going to have to give up. I kept on working with him day after day and, when the rearing went away, we came out with a stronger bond then I thought we could ever have. And no more rearing or refusals.

I think you can work through it! That, or a pasture break is a good idea too. Either way, you can get through it! Don't worry, it will all turn around and work out for the better, and you will come out of this stronger. Sorry if I rambled on, I have a tendancy to do that..haha.

Best of luck from Kentucky,
Em and Kobie

oldhorsegirl
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:26 PM
Just one other thought--if and when you do take her to a warm up situation again--put a big red ribbon in her tail, which means she WILL kick (since she did the one time). This should help, to some degree, to keep the rude or oblivious riders away from--at least--her back end.

SuperSTB
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:42 PM
happy birthday!

nothing to add but thanks for posting- it'll help my sister out :)

and yeah- age 5 sucks!

AKB
Feb. 22, 2010, 11:51 PM
You have to think about whether or not you are a TB person. My daughter, in her youth, used to think she was a TB person. Now, she is 27, and has ridden an Irish Draught/IrishTB/Connemara cross for the past 7 years. She realizes that she doesn't have the patience, fearlessness, or time for the average young TB. Her plans are to enjoy her quiet, reliable, short, plump, horse and to bring along a young, calm, Irish Draught or Irish Draught Sport Horse.

Some people are meant to always have TBs. Other people do better with a quieter, less reactive, horse. Horse owners are happiest when they figure out what kind of horses they enjoy, and then own their favorite type of horse.

Good luck sorting out your mare and figuring out a plan.

sch1star
Feb. 23, 2010, 11:53 AM
Happy belated birthday and if it helps, at least it's easy to see from the popularity of this thread that you're not alone!

The kind of decision you are facing is very personal. I went through this once before, not with a mare, but with another very athletic, gorgeous rearer.

At the time the gorgeous, big, athletic rearer was all I could afford (naturally he was not marketed as a rearer, but it quickly became apparent that it was this horse's evasion of choice). We worked and worked and worked and sometimes things were good, but it was never exactly fun.

Time kept going by and still I could not take this horse to even the most introductory of events. I took him on a hunter pace once, trying to skip some jumps my partner wanted to do, and he dragged me right over them. I had no control, whatsoever. And this was after riding for years and competing successfully. I was overmatched.

I decided to go the send-him-for-training route. To a very BNT, who happened to be local and on the ascent at the time. I liked and respected her.

After two days she called me, saying simply, "you have to take your horse back. I have two kids."

It was exactly the "out" I needed to justify letting go - if she didn't think he could be rehabbed, what business would I, a much lesser rider, have thinking otherwise?

I found the horse a free home with another person I trusted, who knew exactly what he was -- all the potential, and all the danger too -- and liked a challenge.

And then I moved on and started having fun. But it was HARD. And it took a long time. And FWIW, even my *next* horse was invited to a come to Jesus meeting by a tree and some pots and pans. He wasn't easy either! But today he sits in the backyard and when I'm on his back I feel like I've come home.

Good luck.

jackalini
Feb. 23, 2010, 01:32 PM
Since I don't have much new to say, I'll just chime in for moral support so you know you aren't alone.

Happy birthday! :)

My mare was great at 3 and 4, and miserable every year since until late last fall. She is coming 8. Yes, she was miserable to ride for almost 3 years. I stuck to it b/c I loved her, she was my first "project" and I'm tremendously stubborn.

If you like her, try some different avenues. Isn't doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome the definition of insanity? Don't make yourself crazy. Turn her back out. Send her to a trainer. Lease her out to someone capable.

If you are past that, sell her on. She may be someone else's dream horse, and that's no fault of your own.

flabbergasted
Feb. 23, 2010, 01:44 PM
Flabbergasted, as far as why I've been showing her - we're not talking recognized HT's here. Her show season last year consisted mainly of in hand and walk/trot classes at open schooling shows (think 4H and some stock-type breed shows).

Part of the intention of showing her last year was to get her familiar and comfortable with working in a busy arena full of stressed out people and horses. Obviously we need to work on that some more and IME the best way to do that is to get her out there as much as possible, lunging and hacking in warmups until she's confident enough to go in the ring again and do it there too. I'm trying to set her up for success; when she's ready to start competing at recognized events, showing will be an old hat. The stressed out atmosphere will be old hat. Dressage test, dressage arena, scary judges stand? Old hat. Stupid kid on minibike with yappy dog? Old hat. The more scary moments and issues we can work through individually, the more successful she will be when they all appear at once. She doesn't get worked any harder at a show than she would in an everyday ride; I'm not campaigning her in 10 classes a day.

It really has nothing to do with whether or not the show is recognized or what classes you are entering, and everything to do with whether or not you and your horse have the necessary coping skills to be out there at all. My guess, from your own description of your horse, is that she has a few things to learn before she will enjoy any benefits from showing. But I recognize how tempting it is to get out there, particularly if you are excited about your horse and eager to start its career. We've all been there :)

Heinz 57
Feb. 23, 2010, 02:20 PM
flabbergasted, there was a whole 'nother paragraph in there originally that I edited out for fear of rambling. Apparently I should have left it in.

The mare **IS** working nicely at home. Schooling first level work, and a few baby pieces of second - she has nice leg yeilds, offers steps of shoulder in/haunches in when asked, and is learning walk/canter departs and trot lengthenings at the moment. Her trot-canter-trot transitions are solid, balanced, and accurate and her trot-halt transitions are square and clean. She's also popping over 2'3" courses with 75% solid lead changes and is a superb trail horse.

Regardless of her current progress, she went to her first show and WON an open walk-trot pleasure class out of 12+ after less than 90 days under saddle. She's taken Champion in Halter more than once. She has more ribbons from one season than any other horse I've shown. Obviously, at some point she IS coping and was doing so consistently last season. At her very first dressage show she managed to score a 69% on Intro B under a very well respected judge that isn't known for generosity.

I don't get what you think I'm doing. The impression I get from your posts is that you think I'm some yahoo out there on a rearing greenie that doesn't even have a basic education, running all these nice folks over and making a fool out of myself because I'm 'excited about my horse' and trying to rush her into a 'career'. If this is incorrect, I'd appreciate it if you'd clarify.

Event4Life
Feb. 23, 2010, 03:06 PM
You have to think about whether or not you are a TB person. My daughter, in her youth, used to think she was a TB person. Now, she is 27, and has ridden an Irish Draught/IrishTB/Connemara cross for the past 7 years. She realizes that she doesn't have the patience, fearlessness, or time for the average young TB. Her plans are to enjoy her quiet, reliable, short, plump, horse and to bring along a young, calm, Irish Draught or Irish Draught Sport Horse.

Some people are meant to always have TBs. Other people do better with a quieter, less reactive, horse. Horse owners are happiest when they figure out what kind of horses they enjoy, and then own their favorite type of horse.

Good luck sorting out your mare and figuring out a plan.

I'd like to reiterate this. I had a TB Mare from when she was 5. About halfway through her 5 y/o year, towards the end of the first year I owned her, things started going majorly downhill. She had days when she'd not put a hoof wrong, then the next day she'd not go forward, do mini rears, not pick up canter leads, you name it. It all ended at a bad cross country incident. I came off, and though I wasn't seriously hurt (only time I've been to the ER for a horse related incident though, turned out I'd just sprained my ankle) my confidence was badly knocked. After a lot of time spent on groundwork, pasture break, trainer rides, vet checks, saddle checks, dentist checks - you name it we tried it, we finally sorted things out. For the sake of not rambling I'll fast forward. We had a fantastic last summer - hacked out daily in VA Hunt country, took advantage of having a cross country course at the barn, she was amazing. Then I took her to PA for school, and as soon as winter hit and she was stuck inside/we could only ride in the indoor/I wasn't riding her enough, things went downhill again. Fast forwarding again I ended up giving her away to a fellow COTHer in VA (she's definitely a Southern Belle - doesn't do "cold") because I transferred to University abroad.

I spent this summer on a ranch where I rode everything from full drafts to part Arabs (one full) to Quarter Horses to Mustangs and everything in between, except Thoroughbreds (We didn't have any on the ranch). I dealt with a lot of sh*t because the horses wranglers rode were the ones considered too difficult/unpredictable/young/in need of tune ups for guests. The long and short of it is I realised I'm not a TB person. When my mare was good, I loved riding her, but the unpredictability of her TB mare behaviour really got to me, and killed my confidence. Though the horses at the ranch I rode were difficult, I found I could ride them well because I pretty much knew what to expect.

If you do end up selling her, think about what type of horse will be best for you in the future. Maybe now you don't have that "youthful courage" (as you say - I don't have it either!) it's a good time to try a more predictable, steady, yet still athletic enough to be fun breed. There's a whole wide world out there!

GOOD LUCK and Happy Birthday!

PS... sorry for the rambling, I did try to keep it short(ish)!

Babble
Feb. 23, 2010, 03:06 PM
My first thought as I read your original post was that your mare may benefit from gastroguard. Then I read that you trailer her 4 to 5 nights a week, and that only further confirmed my suspicions.

My TB mare was extremely tense, though well schooled with loads of show miles racked up in the first 8 years of her life. After a few years unsucessfully dealing with her tension and the problems that it caused, I put her on a month-long treatment of gastroguard. It worked wonders. She had been scoped six months prior to starting the treatment and appeared ulcer free, but my trainer was convinced that she acted ulcery despite the results of the scope, so I bit the bullet. Over the years and with the help of my trainor and vet, I have learned what stresses her and when she needs a little help for her stomach. Trailering is a huge stress to her, and for the past four years, she has not set foot in a trailer (or a show ring for that matter) without some in her system.

While this may not be her only problem, if you are going to stick it out with her, I would definitely investigate her gut health. I am a huge believer in Gastroguard...it is a miracle drug in my opinion!

sunnycher
Feb. 23, 2010, 03:10 PM
I had a beautiful 3/4 TB, 1/4 Perch gelding that I owned for over 4 years. Sent him off to the trainer for a good start when he was 4, got him home and started working him. Lessons, trail, arena, etc. 99.9% of the time he was an angel, very fancy, athletic, nice horse to be around, laid back.

But..... the 1% would rear it's ugly head every now and again. His was just dirty bucking to get you off. He would take advantage of a situation if he thought he could get away with it in those moments.

I lost confidence riding him, he only got me off 1 time, but tried several. Bucked off a few good riders, so I sold him to a young man who is keeping him at the trainers (my stipulation), and riding the pants off the horse. He is doing fine, I'm glad. He was 5 when I sold him, coming 6 this year. Just wasn't my horse,
now I have 3 babies I'm starting, riding 2 and feeling fine, he and I just weren't the 'pair', no matter how much I wished it so. My lesson is to sell them faster if I don't click with them. Good luck, it's never worth getting hurt.

bornfreenowexpensive
Feb. 23, 2010, 03:33 PM
I just have to step up and disagree with the "TB mare" type of rider. I've sat on many different breeds of horses....many of your warmblood dressage horses are MORE hot and reactive than any TB I've sat on. IT ISN'T THE BREED OR THE SEX OF THE HORSE. It is the individual horse.

She may be more opinionated than the OP wants to deal with. That's perfectly fine. This should be fun. You do need to know what TYPE of horse you like....but that isn't breed or sex specific.

To the OP...I also second gastroguard. I have one who was super reactive...kicking out at my leg. I could see a difference in him within a few days of being on Gastroguard. My other horse was the opposite....he got slow and unreactive. Couple of days on it and he had his spark back.

I also really would explore something like regumate. You were upset because you thought she reared without reason. She had a reason....a horse was coming at her. What she did was over react. When I have PMS....I do the same thing...:eek: Kidding aside...that isn't an uncommon thing either....nor is to have that large reaction--and then return to normal. I'd view that as good...she is probably fixable.

flabbergasted
Feb. 23, 2010, 03:46 PM
I don't get what you think I'm doing. The impression I get from your posts is that you think I'm some yahoo out there on a rearing greenie that doesn't even have a basic education, running all these nice folks over and making a fool out of myself because I'm 'excited about my horse' and trying to rush her into a 'career'. If this is incorrect, I'd appreciate it if you'd clarify.

I am sorry, because I think you've misunderstood what I am trying to say, which actually isn't such a big deal.

Here's what I took from your posts, in a nutshell: your horse is a not-quite-5 TB and under saddle for only 1 year (or to put it another way, young, green and sensitive); your horse is doing basic flatwork (good); your horse has had some success at local shows (good); your horse displays a "jeckle and hyde" personality (bad); your horse's go-to misbehavior is rearing or threatening to rear (very bad), which you are working on and making some progress on (very good); and, finally, that you are frustrated by what you perceive to be a lack of progress (bad).

So, the thing that I picked up on in your post was the rearing, in part because I have some experience with horses that rear (with a broken pelvis, a broken hip, and three broken ribs to show for it), and in part because of the emphasis that you put on it yourself.

A horse that rears does not respect its rider and has some holes in its training. I am NOT making any judgments at all when I say that and I'm not denegrating the good work that you've already done with the horse. Its just an observation and my only point was that showing typically isn't the best thing to do when you're wrestling with an issue that is so fundamental. It's dangerous for you, it's dangerous for others around you, and it is a behavior that can be exacerbated in stressful situations, or reinforced if it occurs in an environment where you can't effectively deal with it.

I actually think it sounds as though you've made quite a bit of progress in a very short period of time (1 year is nothing, in the grand scheme of things) and that if you have some patience and get a bit of help you'll be fine. You sound as though you're on the right track. I was offering only a small bit of advice on one aspect of your approach....and I thought that you'd come on asking for advice? Anyway, feel free to take it or leave it, but please don't be offended by it, because I certainly didn't intend that.

enjoytheride
Feb. 23, 2010, 05:48 PM
My suggestion would be to not fall off when she rears :eek:

Here's the thing, if she rears when other horses are coming at her and you fall off (which is probably easy to do) then she learns that for at least a few minutes she gets a break while you take her to a mounting block.

If everything is 100% sound and you've tried something like gastroguard and you're 100% sure it is behavior related then I would one up your tack. Personally I like a set of drawreins for a rearer because they offer a ton of instant leverage and can keep a horse from going up.

The thing is you need to prevent the behavior and have total and complete control. If you are a good competent rider and you have tried everything to keep her on all 4s on your own then a little bit of leverage may be what you need. They should be loose and only come into affect when you feel her getting light and should be accompanied by a million pounds of leg pressure.

I found that 2 - 3 rides and then you never need them again. I will say this is only for someone with good timing, good hands, and a good seat on a remedial and dangerous horse.

Heinz 57
Feb. 23, 2010, 07:22 PM
That was the only time I've ever come off during a rear, and it was the sudden nature combined with the near-vertical height that did me in. In fact...that was the first time I've fallen at all in six years (yes, I was overdue). Time for a new helmet. I climbed back on (sans mounting block :D) and we worked for a solid hour after the little incident.

I don't think draw reins would be a good idea on this particular mare. I'll leave it at that.

I'd also like to clarify:

1. She's not OTT. She was unbroke, out of a field with minimal handling.

2. The rearing has never ocurred more than once a week or two at its peak, and the majority were the pop-the-front-end sort. We're not talking constant full-height rearing during every ride.

slp2
Feb. 23, 2010, 08:00 PM
Well, I have definitely had a horse that was very difficult from ages 4-6 and then turned out to be completely safe once he grew up. He had a rear in him and definitely had a buck, and was a Tb/WB cross. The rearing I solved pretty quickly by getting really good at recognizing his body language BEFORE he started to go up. The second he started to go up, I pulled really hard on ONE rein (which threw him to one side) and then started spinning him endlessly in circles. I know--sounds awful, but it worked like a charm. He hated spinning more than whatever had caused him to rear. With him, it was an "I don't want to go forward" issue, not an over reacting issue. But either way--it was a dangerous disobedience. The bucking took longer--but did go away (and not through any amazing training techniques by me!) :winkgrin: Sometimes they just need to grow up.

Now, I have a OTTB mare who is a very solid citizen, and is completely sane. So I am not in the camp of "it's a Tb Mare thing". There are plenty of very reliable, level-headed, Tb mares out there.

enjoytheride
Feb. 23, 2010, 09:50 PM
Here's the thing. You think you know the mare. She knows you. So you're listening to lots of advice and going "yep I've done that" or "nope that isn't going to work" but you're obviously frustrated and something somewhere isn't working and you can either figure out what that is or you can sit and be miserable and cry and that's the blunt truth.

There is something about her that isn't fitting with you. So if you want to keep her something about YOU needs to change first. Something needs to change in the way you approach things, the way you do things, the way you ride. Some horses are difficult and will always be difficult and as a rider you need to learn to ride that kind of horse if you want to do well on it. That means lots of really detailed looking at what you do or don't do.

On the other hand you can sell her and buy something that you don't have to work quite as hard to ride well and enjoy yourself. It all depends on what kind of person you are and what you like because there's nothing wrong with fighting to increase a partnership or finding a horse that is an easier partner.

Heinz 57
Feb. 24, 2010, 01:04 PM
I don't disagree with you that something needs to change, enjoytheride, but telling me to just not fall off when she rears comes off a little pompous. Obviously I didn't fall on purpose, and as stated, had never done so before. Given the fact that she was very near to flipping, I'd much prefer falling clear than being smashed beneath a 1000lb animal.

For now the plan is to get her teeth done, rearrange her turnout situation to as near to 24 hours as possible, have the chiropractor check her out and see what the vet thinks about the possibility of ulcers. I'm also looking into 'mare' supplements and seeing about finding a reliable saddle fitter. Short of a full body workup that would cost thousands on a horse that I paid $400 for, I can't think of much else to look at.

IF none of the above have any positive effect, we'll discuss boot camp. Whether she goes off to the eventing trainer or the Don't-Ask cowboy will be something to consider, but I want to rule out physical issues before attacking the mental ones.

flabbergasted
Feb. 24, 2010, 02:15 PM
IF none of the above have any positive effect, we'll discuss boot camp. Whether she goes off to the eventing trainer or the Don't-Ask cowboy will be something to consider, but I want to rule out physical issues before attacking the mental ones.

Just curious if you've considered regular (e.g. weekly, or twice weekly) lessons with a well respected trainer, rather than sending her off to boot camp?

I've sent a few off the farm, but I've had less success with that over the long term, because resolving the issues usually required some change or improvement in me - it has never been, at least in my case, just the horse, as enjoytheride suggested. Progress can be slower if you are doing the riding yourself, but it can be incredibly rewarding and a great learning experience.

Anyway, something more to consider as you look at your options.

NMK
Feb. 24, 2010, 02:44 PM
Heinz--sometimes it helps to just plain discuss it either here or with friends. You never know where that one "out of the box idea" comes from. I never considered boarding at a hunter barn, but when talking to a friend about my horse's traffic issue, she suggested it. I had a lot of fun there that winter.

The problem with my horse is that he did not fit into my program (exactly) and so I changed my program and you know what? I learned that solving the little things made the big things so much easier. It paid off last weekend when we were inside with lots of fences in a Wofford clinic, with horses coming right at us in tight spaces. It could have really ruined our weekend.

But more than that, we faced his biggest fear head on (literally) and once he learned he would not die in the process, he started trusting my decisions more and more. Some horses are just less trusting than others, especially if they have been made to make their own decisions for a very long time (such as being unhandled young).

It could be a real opportunity to learn for both of you, if you look at it that way.

Nancy

IrishWillow
Feb. 24, 2010, 04:41 PM
I hate that "random freakout" behavior.. definitely feel your pain. Just as a thought.. my mare that sounds exactly like yours just got diagnosed with ulcers. She can be quiet as a little mouse, then suddenly go all fours off the ground, and then right back to fine. I'm told that is common with ulcered horses.
I've started her on Ulcerguard for 28 days, and then followed by U-gard pellets daily. We'll see if she has a change of tune.

Heinz 57
Feb. 24, 2010, 04:58 PM
I just recently started working regularly with a well-respected pro. This problem has not yet reared (sorry) its ugly head in lessons, so we've never addressed it and have only discussed it a few times.

I intend to include her in my approach, but until we take care of the physical changes I'm just brainstorming.

NMK, I think you're right on about her being distrustful in general of people.

NMK
Feb. 24, 2010, 05:06 PM
Heinz, if you know this now, go there. Another I have did not like heading down steep hills to water. Spent three hours there one night, calmly waiting it out. Haven't had a problem since. I'm gonna bet she give you the evil eye about loading too.

N

Heinz 57
Feb. 24, 2010, 05:58 PM
Funny, she loads perfectly. Same with unloading. She does paw once in a while when you first tie her, or if you're a little slow about unloading, but for the most part stands quietly and is cool as a cucumber about getting on and off and moving over.

She's not particularly spooky, either. Dislikes ditches to a small degree but I haven't had her out XC schooling yet because she's only been started o/f since late fall. Water isn't a big deal, in fact she crossed a bridge with running water under it on her first trail ride. I've also had her at the beach, and while she wasn't thrilled about the moving waves, after some persistence she went in just fine and enjoyed playing in the water.


ETA: Just thought I'd share some pictures of the princess in question. She's lost a bit of weight since fall and these pictures make it pretty obvious! Oh, and yes - I'm crooked and leaning in a subconscious effort to protect my left shoulder. ;)

The secluded warmup: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/erin7264/DevonWood%20Feb%202010/DSC_0865.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/erin7264/DevonWood%20Feb%202010/DSC_0857.jpg

And, a tense, fake-neck evil-eye moment from the busier indoor:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/erin7264/DevonWood%20Feb%202010/DSC_0848.jpg


Last fall, at a show: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/erin7264/img_1135.jpg

Fall again, at home: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/erin7264/1cb6597f.jpg

And finallly...a conformation shot from last summer when she was bulked up and slicked out:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/erin7264/AG%20Confo%20Shots/photo-1.jpg

FineAlready
Feb. 24, 2010, 05:58 PM
The rearing I solved pretty quickly by getting really good at recognizing his body language BEFORE he started to go up. The second he started to go up, I pulled really hard on ONE rein (which threw him to one side) and then started spinning him endlessly in circles.

I've used this approach with success as well. It requires quick thinking and incredible timing on the rider's part, but it definitely sends a message and has (thus far) resolved the problem with my rearer for the most part.

pixie
Feb. 25, 2010, 03:54 PM
I have one word for you: REGUMATE

This time of year mares are in a transitional state. It usually lasts until late March/early April. You didn't experience this with her last year because she already started to cycle normally by the time you started working her. They also start transitioning late November as well. Maybe you can recall if things changed around that time as well?
It makes them CRAZY, depressed, stressed and more prone to ulcers during this time.
You could try Regumate for 2 weeks, then when you take her off she will come into heat and her cycle will be out of that miserable transition state.
Ditto to the fact that you are adding alot of stress to your girl by shipping ALOT. I have a second word for you: GASTROGUARD or at the very least Renidodine

Good luck! Not an easy one but I see what you like about her from her pictures!
You should feel her back tense up before she rears...this is when you want to circle her TIGHT and a good swift kick if she is not too reactive and relaxes into the tight circle (head to her tail). Circle her for any tense distraction she may have so she doesn't have the chance to go up. Get her on the thought process!
Sounds like you have the skills to do it , just need your confidence back. Work with her on the ground alot. Don't take ANY unruly behavior....move her feet fast for any lack of respect.....start there, she sounds very dominant and could use a domineering handler/rider.

Heinz 57
Mar. 15, 2010, 01:34 PM
Ok.

We're back. And I think I know what the issue is. As a side note, she's been adjusted, teeth power floated, and I've had her on ranitidine and B1, and also tried raspberry leaves, with no change. I'm saddle shopping right now but I can't justify a brand new custom so finding something used that fits us both may take some time.

We went to a dressage show this last weekend. Yes, I'm slightly insane - why would I take a misbehaving, jekyl/hyde mare to a show? Well, I'd already signed up, you see, and I figured what the hell. I'll take her, if she seems sane on the lunge I'll hack around. If she seems sane hacking around, I'll ride her in the warmup. If she seems sane in the warmup, I'll take her in the show ring.

She was sane. 100%, certifiably SANE. What's more, she was the horse I fell in love with last winter and saw great potential in. The doe eyed, floppy eared, kick ass mare that talks to me in a quiet voice every time she sees me. The too-mature-for-her-age baby that hardly cocks an ear at the rearing, bucking horses in the warmup. We walked away in the top 3 in all four tests - a 1st, two 2nds, and a third with her high score for the weekend being a 69%. The judges were both very complimentary, and very HELPFUL in their comments about helping her balance and being careful not to overload the hindquarters before she has the strength to carry herself. I hauled her over Friday night and she spent the weekend at the show, sleeping happily in the back corner and making hay soup out of her water bucket. No pawing, no kicking, not a word out of her.

I brought her home yesterday evening and the devil returned. She does not like her current living arrangement. I'm not sure what PART of it is causing the anxiety, though. She seemed to enjoy the seclusion of the high-walled, dark box stall, so maybe that's something. She's getting turned out overnight at home, but is still very high strung. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I love having her at home, but not at the expense of her sanity.

:sadsmile: I'm just happy to know that my girl is still in there somewhere, and we're going to figure out what makes her happy.

frugalannie
Mar. 15, 2010, 05:29 PM
Well, good, if mixed, news Heinz.

I have another idea for you since it seems that her home stabling might have something to do with her change in personality. Go over EVERYTHING in the stall with a fine tooth comb, including anything metal with an ohm meter. Why? We once had a horse that had been a good eater suddenly refuse to look at his feed when in his stall, but would eat it elsewhere. Turned out there was an electric short (a nail had grazed a wire that was in the wall) and the current was being conducted into the bale of his feed bucket. The poor guy would brush it with his face and get a shock. We had rubber soled shoes on and never felt it.

It isn't necessarily this, but it could be anything. You could also put her in a different stall for a bit to see if that helped.

Good luck with your sleuthing.