View Full Version : Balky pony - Part 2 - Update

Mar. 12, 2012, 12:09 AM
If you recall my first post about my balky greenie, here's a quick update.

It seems that our issue hasn't really gotten any better... possibly maybe less good. Before we weren't having issues with plain brown poles, she'd go over those just fine on the ground and with small jumps. Our issue was more the colored/painted poles that she found rather terrifying...

Anyways, so I took a break from the poles and jumping and just went for rides outside and did flat stuff inside. Back to the poles the last few days and now she's even balky with just the plain poles. Like you can feel her backing off and wanting to slam on the brakes as soon as you turn the corner. Most times she'll go over with a LOT of encouragement and just trot over or do a tiny hop, but every once in awhile she's throwing in these MASSIVE deer jumps that nearly lose me upon landing. Obviously the "take a break" idea possibly wasn't the best route to take.

So this afternoon a friend had a trail course set up at her place and I figured I'd go and take this greenie to expose her to some more stuff. Well did this mare ever redeem herself, she had no issue with ANY of the obstacles. She was dragging things, carrying flags, going over bridges, climbing onto elevated boxes, over tarps, through different things and had all kinds of things draped over her. Didn't care about a thing..... except a tiny x-rail and a few colored poles on the ground.... even after going through all of the other obstacles multiple times... those darned poles/small jump was still scary for her.

Now what? I'm kinda dumbfounded that she was SO good over all of these "scary" obstacles but the poles/jumps still scare her. Does this horse just not like jumping THAT much?
Not sure why the change in attitude with jumping. She was so phenomenal x-country in the fall when I tried her out. Jumped everything & anything without hesitation & made it feel super easy. Now an x-rail is too much? I just can't figure it out.

Mar. 12, 2012, 04:02 AM
Take her back out x-country & see what you get ...

Angry Bird
Mar. 12, 2012, 08:01 AM
Keep doing poles, eventually they will become no big deal.
I would start off walking them and when she's comfortable, trot and canter them.:)

Mar. 12, 2012, 11:01 AM
Take her back out x-country & see what you get ...
Would love to but it's much too icy & frozen outside still. We do go for hacks outside and she motors along and does really well.

Keep doing poles, eventually they will become no big deal.
I would start off walking them and when she's comfortable, trot and canter them.:)

She'll walk over poles, x-rails etc just fine, it's just when you add a bit more pace (trot/canter) that she gets all balky at the poles.

Mar. 12, 2012, 12:42 PM
It seems to me this horse is not afraid of cross-poles at all, she is just being a drama queen. Maybe she got hit in the mouth over them, or perhaps someone came down hard on her back after one, or something is pinching/hurting her, or perhaps one of those things happened just once and she reacted, not the rider is getting stiff and anxious of her reaction, and it has snowballed.

Lunge her over them with an without saddle to rule these pain-related things out. That will tell you if the balking is rider-specific or cross-rail specific. Make a cross-rail no big deal but what she has to do at the end of a session to get put away, even if she does it on a lead-line. Then allow her to walk over it and pick up the trot while stepping over, and slowly move the point of trotting back to the near side.

Under saddle start with trot-poles--add up to 6 or 7. Then when she's quietly trotting the poles (your goal as the rider is to be completely off of her mouth altogether) just raise one end of the last one by a couple inches (like with stones or clods from the arena), do until quiet again. Eventually raise the end by 1' on a block, do until quiet. Add a pole crossing the other way at 1', do until quiet again. (Somewhere in here or sooner you will quit for the day and praise and come back another day.) Make the last pole a real cross-rail and take out the closest pole to it and put that pole at the font of the trot poles (to give her a space to organize herself) and once she is quiet, move up to trotting up, cantering off.

Then instead of raising the height of the cross-rails anything higher than 18" I'd make it long and wide. Put space between the two cross rails and a rail in there for filler. Then add a rails on the ground then low so close that there is no room to step between, and slowly move them wider and add filler.

A young horse really can get its confidence up by going over low but wide obstacles that cause it to make a lovely jump. Something about being low and able to see the other side. Make it wide, instead of tall, enough to induce her to trot quietly to it, bascule nicely over it and quietly canter off. Praise praise praise end the day there.