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View Full Version : Green horse has picked up rearing... help!



greenwoodeq
Jun. 2, 2011, 02:36 AM
I have a relatively green pony in training right now and he has recently picked up rearing as his "I'm done working" or any other type of tantrum behavior. How do you fix a horse that has started rearing?! I can break a buck or a spinner, but I am kind of at a loss with this one.
He is a great pony for the most part, but has those days where he needs a good lunge before he can be put to work. He bucked a little right after breaking, but hasn't done more than get antsy or speedy since. Over the last couple weeks though he has started throwing his tantrum is the form of rearing. He has 3 serious fits and I'm worried he'll pick this up as a real habit. Being a little guy I expect him to have children or small adults on him, but rearing can be so dangerous and I don't want a scared child to accidentally flip him. I need some serious advice on getting rid of this bad habit!

fourmares
Jun. 2, 2011, 03:14 AM
If you can use an opening rein on one rein and pull him off balance before he gets his feet off the ground and then spank him around in a small circle you can usually change their minds in a hurry. If he's already in the air, it's too late since you don't want to pull him over... in that case you send him forward hard as soon as the front feet touch down. Rearing is an extreme disobedience to the leg.

MorganLuvr848
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:01 AM
If you have someone at the barn I would have them hold a lunge whip and when he goes up crack it 3-5 times. That worked with my young one when he tried it a couple of times.

gmv567
Jun. 2, 2011, 09:38 AM
I had a green pony that did the exact same thing. I got so fed up that one day when she went up I wrapped my arms around her neck just below the throat latch and used my crop on her shoulder until she had all four feet on the ground. This pony was small enough that I felt pretty confident that she wouldn't flip over when all of my weight was near her head. If I have a horse rear with me... I want it to dislike my reaction as much as I dislike rearing. That pony quickly decided that she would reather work.

OveroHunter
Jun. 2, 2011, 10:39 AM
There was a thread on here recently regarding rearing that had a lot of good ideas: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=304588&highlight=rearing

ponymom64
Jun. 2, 2011, 10:50 AM
Our small pony did that once or twice when she was 4, right after we brought her back to work after the winter off. My DD grabbed her neck, using her weight to get the mare's feet back on the ground - then sent her forward with a few cracks from a dressage whip. She never did it again but my DD was armed with the dressage whip for a few weeks after.

It's been three years now and it's never been an issue

kateh
Jun. 2, 2011, 11:19 AM
I know someone who used to ride rearers with a water balloon in one hand :uhoh:

FlashGordon
Jun. 2, 2011, 11:20 AM
Get that pony going FORWARD! Like, NO OPTION PLAN must go forward NOW!

Start on the ground with a longe line and a dressage whip and teach him that the tough of a whip means he moves his butt ASAP. I'm not saying beat the pony, I'm saying finesse it. If you do your homework by the time you are riding him again he should be nice and responsive to even the slightest leg.

Then I'd trot that little monkey right out onto the trail and not do anything but trot and canter. Dressage whip in hand. Lots of good boy for going forward regardless of how unbalanced or speedy or ugly it may seem/feel. Rinse and repeat. Then head back into the ring. Add in ground poles and things to keep him interested.

This pony needs a "go" button ASAP before he learns that rearing is the evasion du jour...!

Rabbit351w
Jun. 2, 2011, 11:56 AM
if you haven't been quick enough to get him forward BEFORE he goes up, a good whack between the ears.

kiwifruit
Jun. 2, 2011, 12:56 PM
Good luck with this. Rearing is something once learned, it is hard to break. I can remember the day my young horse started to rear. I let a green rider (yeah, stupid on my end) ride him and he reared when the hunt came by. Instead of correcting him, she bailed off of him. I think a lightbulb went off in his head at that moment. When I rear, I get out of work. From that moment on, rearing became a part of his routine when he didn't want to work. Even though I did not get off of him, he did it anyway and it was not fun. I eventually sent him to a cowboy who sort of fixed it but in any situation when he felt pressured, he reared. I ended up selling him for cheap (and with full disclosure of the vice). Very bad habit.

CHT
Jun. 2, 2011, 02:12 PM
Why does pony feel the need to rear? if it is a work ethic thing, then perhaps the training has been pushed to hard? or perhaps pony is sore? Maybe you are too big for him to carry comfortably?

I would take a step back with the training and see where it is the wheels came off and try to address the root cause.

webmistress32
Jun. 2, 2011, 03:42 PM
I fixed my Appaloosa's rearing problem in several easy lessons. He hasn't reared in eight years since.

I taught him John Lyons' "drop your head cue" when I was out riding and doing other things. the next time he tried to rear up, I asked him to drop his head. problem solved.

greenwoodeq
Jun. 2, 2011, 04:05 PM
Why does pony feel the need to rear? if it is a work ethic thing, then perhaps the training has been pushed to hard? or perhaps pony is sore? Maybe you are too big for him to carry comfortably?

I would take a step back with the training and see where it is the wheels came off and try to address the root cause.

Well I considered the weight issue, but I feel pretty safe and comfortable with our weights... he may prefer a child, but
I'm not too much for him by any means. I'm not quite sure where it started because he was going along nicely for all of his rides and then one day only a little in to the ride (before he had even started working really) he threw himself up. I think he figured out that it was an easy way to stop his workout before it got started. I am having his teeth checked and seeing if a different bit will help (though his is already a very soft snaffle)... i think he may enjoy a rubber bit. The vet is also going to look at his back too, but he hasn't presented as sore or anything.
I am definitely going to look in to his current training and see if there are any points that may be pushing him to this.

GingerJumper
Jun. 2, 2011, 04:11 PM
Sounds like you're doing a great job getting him checked out and making sure this isn't a training issue before blaming it on him, kudos to you there :)

If it is just him being a brat, then BEAT THE $H!+ out of him when he goes up! Pop him between the ears, on the shoulder, wherever (except his face) you safely can without flipping him. He needs to learn that this is a COMPLETELY no-bueno behavior and it WILL NOT be tolerated. I know too many people who have been flipped over on by rearers who turned into flippers to ever think about treating this behavior softly. If he just threatens to go up, use a hard, HARD opening rein to one direction and pop him on the butt. If he actually goes up, SMACK HIM AS HARD AS YOU CAN, wherever you can, as I already said. Best of luck.

greenwoodeq
Jun. 2, 2011, 04:11 PM
Thanks for all of the ideas! I'm going to have to get to work on this immediately! hopefully his teeth and back check out with the vet then we will try to fix this thing. It's breaking my heart thinking of him picking up this habit... he is one of my fanciest prospects and there he goes trying to drop his price point thousands under what it should be. Not only that, but I could never sell a rearing horse to a child's family even if they think it's something they can deal with it is simply too dangerous. Not being able to put a kid on his back probably means no career for this guy and I just don't think he'd be a happy field pony.

naturalequus
Jun. 2, 2011, 04:22 PM
Why does pony feel the need to rear? if it is a work ethic thing, then perhaps the training has been pushed to hard? or perhaps pony is sore? Maybe you are too big for him to carry comfortably?

I would take a step back with the training and see where it is the wheels came off and try to address the root cause.

This is my advice also. You need to address the ROOT CAUSE. If it's truly lack of work ethic (and nothing else), then your goal is to create a more willing horse, one who wants to be with you and who wants to work with you and for you. Spending undemanding time with him, making work fun (ie, including doing things he enjoys too), lots of rubs when appropriate, etc.

I would also consider, as CHT noted, that he is perhaps being pushed too hard (even if the work or tasks you are asking of him are minimal from your perspective - it might be too much for him and you might have to break it down further). I say this from a trainer's perspective - you have to tailor your program to that horse and doing so might entail (with this type of horse) only asking (at that moment) as much as your connection or relationship with that horse will allow. This means sometimes you might have to cater to the horse a little and in this case, go a little slower and ask less of them (expect lots, accept little). When you do so, you find they better progress and the progress will rapidly increase as you build a stronger relationship and foundation with them.

naturalequus
Jun. 2, 2011, 04:25 PM
I'm not quite sure where it started because he was going along nicely for all of his rides and then one day only a little in to the ride (before he had even started working really) he threw himself up. I think he figured out that it was an easy way to stop his workout before it got started.

Why? Did the workout stop at that moment?

A rear is a response - it's one of a horse's only tools of communicating. That's all it is. Of course certain horses will have the tendency to use that method of communicating, over others, and always will (due to their personality, their past experiences, etc). But it's not a black-and-white 'bad behaviour' and if you address the root issue and teach them they don't have to rear, the rearing will stop. Take it as a direct response from him and re-evaluate what you are doing when he does rear, and change your tactics and approach (whether with that specific exercise or within the workout as a whole) :) This is assuming of course the issue is not physical, which you are responsibly taking into account.

ETA: while a correctly-timed smack is not to be ruled out and can be perfectly useful in establishing boundaries (ie, maybe - if necessary - as he comes down, a hard smack at that moment to get him forward), imo beating him or hitting him excessively (especially when done more than once - even though 'making the right answer easy and the wrong answer hard') is only going to instill in him either fearfulness or (more likely, given the type of horse he seems to be) resentfulness. Resentfulness will not breed willingness. Instead, if you can listen to what he is 'saying' and respond thusly, you will obtain a much better response and relationship with him (and thus a better work ethic).

FlashGordon
Jun. 2, 2011, 04:41 PM
You know, be careful trying to fix this. You have to be really good at anticipating and nipping it in the bud. Or you can get very hurt. Even if you are good at riding through it you can still get very hurt.

Tread carefully, ok?

RyuEquestrian
Jun. 2, 2011, 06:42 PM
You know, be careful trying to fix this. You have to be really good at anticipating and nipping it in the bud. Or you can get very hurt. Even if you are good at riding through it you can still get very hurt.

Tread carefully, ok?

Ride with a stirrup around the neck just in case! Best to grab onto that rather than their mouth and risk toppling over!

greenwoodeq
Jun. 3, 2011, 01:48 AM
Why? Did the workout stop at that moment?
His work out definitely did not stop after the rearing... Can't let him learn he can get out of working just for a little rear.
I am trying to figure out the cause very thoroughly, but I am 100% sure he isn't be pushes to hard (unless something else is hurting him like his teeth or back). I think he may have just found his new buck... Stopping a buck isn't too hard but a rear can't really be stopped once he is already up there.
I'm waiting for the vet to come out before i rule out mouth or back pain... though he isn't really presenting symptoms other than the rears. It's kind of stumping me because he LOVES to be ridden. He likes to show off and look pretty when anyone is around (tucked up hind, on the bit, big fancy strides) and he enjoys the pair of riders who work him. What he doesn't love is having to work when he wants to play so maybe it is just that, but his response to this situation has always been whinying to his barn buddies and not focusing as much but never trying to stop a ride.

fourmares
Jun. 3, 2011, 02:08 AM
Don't get to obsessed over this. It may just be a phase... he may have tried it once and will never try it again, or it may be his thing. I don't think it is horribly unusual for a young horse or pony to try rearing once or twice. Most of them give it up.

CHT
Jun. 3, 2011, 02:11 AM
if the ride didn't stop when the pony reared, then why would the pony think that rearing is how to stop the riding?

greenwoodeq
Jun. 3, 2011, 02:31 AM
if the ride didn't stop when the pony reared, then why would the pony think that rearing is how to stop the riding?

I'm not saying he has established that thought (i am trying to prevent that from happening haha) I just think he may be doing it in an attempt to stop the ride.

naturalequus
Jun. 3, 2011, 02:47 AM
His work out definitely did not stop after the rearing... Can't let him learn he can get out of working just for a little rear.

This is my point - imo he didn't learn he could get out of work if he reared and his workout didn't halt... though he certainly may have attempted the rear as an evasive maneuver. He might not be being pushed too hard outside the norms, but it might be too much for him or the demand might be over and above the relationship (ie, his willingness towards you) you have with him. You might have to develop more 'connection' with him - willingness and work ethic towards you, before you can demand such willingness and work ethic of him ;)


It's kind of stumping me because he LOVES to be ridden.

Careful you do not anthropomorphize... he might even love to be ridden and worked (or be comfortable with it at the very least and like showing off in company), but maybe only when it's convenient to him. So then your job is to engage him in such a way that he wants to work even when it's not so 'convenient'.


but his response to this situation has always been whinying to his barn buddies and not focusing as much but never trying to stop a ride.

Horses can change responses and tactics as they develop and grow... maybe he's more confident now and thus the whinnying and lack of focus doesn't apply so much, where the rear (in hopes of getting rid of his rider and thus being able to do what he wants to do - which might or might not mean returning to his buddies) does. If he is a bit buddy-sour, there is no shame in bringing a buddy into the barn and tying buddy up where your boy can see him - cater to him a little. As you progress him and he begins to develop more of a work ethic, you can increase the challenge/demand of him by taking buddy away. I've done it with many a green horse myself without issue :)

I would highly recommend some more groundwork with this guy to gain his focus and work ethic - then take that up into the saddle (it will follow in the saddle). Sounds like you're working with an evasive mindset that can be turned around on the ground (where it's easier, safer, and he can't actually 'learn' rearing with a rider as an evasive tactic or habit) first. Though there are times where working out issues u/s are appropriate or at least can be as effective as dealing with it on the ground, if any of my green youngsters rear, buck, etc u/s, I personally view it as insufficient preparation on the ground for u/s work and usually go back to basics (groundwork) - works every time.

Freebird!
Jun. 3, 2011, 03:27 AM
The trick is to stop the rear before it even happens. It's not just about "beating the sh!t out of him". It's about timing, and finding out what makes him tick. I used to break TB racehorses for a living, and I encountered many, many rearers - with just as many differant causes and solutions. Here are some general things I like to do for rearers though:

- Tack: A horse cannot rear if they are going forward, relaxed and "on the bit" so for a rearer I make them as comfortable as I can. For bits, I like to stay away from the single broken snatched, and certainly anything harsh. My favorite go to bits for these types is a KK Ultra Egg Butt with a "bean" in the middle. Its great because it invites the horse to seek the bit, and there is no nutcracker effect. Not only would I check the saddle fit, but I would add a back pad as well. For a rearer I never use any type of martingale, tie down, draw reins, etc, though I sometimes will use small spurs, and/or a dressage whip.

Soundness/nutrition: Because horses can lame, while still appear to look sound, I always like to get a vet to evaluate the horse, to check the teeth, and for lameness. As for feed, think low carb.

Training: If you have a reliable pony horse, start there. First pony him without a rider, then with a rider.
As for actual riding, keep it interesting. Go trail riding with company, take him over small obstacles, creeks, go for a romp in a pasture....just get out of the arena. In the arena, try making an obstacle course for him to go through, both in hand and under saddle.

When riding a rearer, I keep very soft hands and loose contact. Lots of school figures and transitions, but if there is any hint of sucking back, go straight and tap with Dressage whip.

With all of that said though, it's important to take note that rearing is about the most dangerous thing a horse can do, and one of the hardest things to break him of. I absolutely would never let a child or ammy ride a rearer, and I wouldn't sell one either, without fully disclosing his issues.

osgoka01
Jun. 3, 2011, 09:05 AM
Hi there,
I was the original poster on the last "rearing horse" thread so I understand your concern. My mare has been behaving for the last few weeks but I am carrying a long Dressage whip and the moment she begins to suck back, she gets a slap. She has figured out quite quickly that it is easier to continue on with my game plan than try to be pissy.

If he does manage to get up in the air, make him sorry for it. The moment his front feet hit the ground spin him around and them force him to go forward in work for several more minutes. If you stay on it and keep reinforcing your message, he should give it up. However, if you do intend kids to ride this pony, he may very likely need tuneup sessions as it will be easy to get behind the leg of a child. Good luck!

greenwoodeq
Jun. 5, 2011, 07:40 PM
Thanks so much for all of the suggestions... Doctor's checked him out, bit is switched and we are ready to get back on this thing.