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View Full Version : Barn sour, half broke, bolter. Oh my. HELP!



Zena
Mar. 17, 2012, 07:49 AM
I caved, and bought a little draft pony at a feed lot auction. I was told he "rode through real steady at the walk and trot." Well, my Aunt Fanny. He is an absolute delight on the ground, mostly. The first day I got on him made me realize that he was not broke, like at all. More investigation showed that he long lines very well, and it is my belief that he has been driven. His mouth is quite educated, while he has NO idea what leg is for. He's around 13 years old, and though he still needs some weight, both the farrier and vet tell me that his feet and teeth show evidence of regular care at one time.

He already knew how to lunge, so I started the breaking process the same way I do all my babies. When it came to mounting, he was nervous and rude, and would always back up, or swing his body away, and it took about a week, 30-45 minutes a day, of just mounting, to teach him to hold still. But he is teachable, and he did learn. When on his back, if you have a sidewalker, he is fairly rlaxed, and if I keep him on the lunging circle, with someone in the middle, he will walk and trot fairly well. I have always felt that he has yet to take a breath, though, and that his sides are super sensitive, like sensitive ex-racehorse sensitive.
Last week, I started to work with him without a side person, through necessity. He was extremely nervous - not about what was going on around him, but about me, on his back. I felt bad for him, and wondered if people had tried to ride him in the past, assuming he was broke, and scared the hell out of him. I decided to spend as much time as necessary, at a walk, to get him to take a breath and relax.
Yesterday, my sister, (who is the person that helps me) came over, and after I rode him around for about 10 minutes, got on him. He was fine, on a nice loose rein, walking along, when all at once, he drops his shoulder, bucks hard, throws her (hard) and bolts back to the barn.
I go get him, lunge him a while, get on, and start walking him around, when the SOB tries the same thing with me. There was no fear, no nerves, it was sneaky pony. I didn't fall off (barely), but he locked his jaw in a very practiced way, and bolted. It took a decent distance to stop him. The difficult part, is that he has no education about leg, so I can't even kick him up to my hand, to try to unlock the jaw. He was a bully, and kept threatening to do it again, so I'd stay on as long as I could, safely, get off, lunge the crap out of him in the place he had misbehaved, get on, and after a while, he would start to do it again, so I would lunge him in a tight circle at the bad place,,,, repeat. His tell would be stopping, rudely dragging his head back towards the barn, and when I would pull it back to the track, he would start to hop, and then bolt.
This is clearly not the first time he has bolted back to the barn, and imagining him doing this while pulling the cart - well, no wonder he was at the feed lot.

But - now what? Where do I go from here? I'll send him to a cowboy, if I have to, but this pony's original purpose was to be for my kids. (Plus, it's expensive, and I don't want to if I don't have to!) I have broken many horses, and well. I have galloped at the track, and have shown and ridden with fantastic trainers my whole life. A 13.3 hand Halflinger has me scared! (Lol! sort of)
Any suggestions? My plan was to start lunging him today with draw reins hooked behind the saddle. My thought is to first get him used to draw reins - and then try to ride him with these, mostly for more leverage. I worry that just putting a stronger bit in will cause a rearing problem. Other than that, I'm stumped for ideas..... Help! I don't want to send a bolter out into the world, but if he persists in his bad behavior, he's out, one way or another. I am giving him 6 months of good solid riding, to get fixed. Or, until he hurts me.

HappyHoppingHaffy
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:07 AM
Uh-oh...
My background is similar to yours, started all my own babies and had several I've restarted off the track. My haffie was the biggest challenge I've ever faced.

One of the problems with hafs is that they are smart and once something is in their toolbox it's always going to be there. I don't know how old or how well your kids ride, but I think being bolted away with can be a total confidence killer.

I hate to tell you, but 6 months with a cowboy is probably not going to be long enough for a 13 y/o haffie who has probably been getting away with this behavior for a long time.

Sorry to be a downer, but to me this horse has a lot stacked against it if you're planning on it being a kids horse.

Equine Studies
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:08 AM
Unfortunately that's likely why he was at the auction, and probably a few owners down the road. No advice other than good luck, and props for trying. Hope you can get it sorted out, but I wouldn't feel guilty about moving him on, maybe to a driving home?

FineAlready
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:09 AM
I wonder if he has back pain or some other kind of pain that only really occurs when he is ridden? If he does other tasks well (lunging, long lining), that would be my first thought. Alternatively, he's just a little snot that is too smart for his own good. Best way to fix that is to keep after him as it sounds like you are already doing.

Small Change
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:22 AM
I don't have much to add, and apologize for that, but I'd be hesitant to put draw reins on something that already wants to drop its head and buck. I think I'd want something that would bring his head up instead. I would think a daisy rein if he's really dropping his head might be helpful. Maybe a gag, just so you can ride off the snaffle rein and use the gag as your "emergency brake" when he pulls his tricks on you and tries to lock hip his jaw with his head down? You sound like you've got more than enough experience under your belt to manage two reins and only put the gag into action when necessary.

I'd also think about riding him somewhere that he can't get back to the barn if he runs on you, like an enclosed ring not attached to the barn. I'd then try to break his stunt down into pieces. First would be stopping him from locking the jaw, then stopping him from spinning/bucking (which might not happen if you can keep his mouth soft), then working on the direction and speed you want.

Good for you for trying to do right by the little guy. He sounds like a nice little horse under the tricks. Best of luck.

carasmom
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:53 AM
Had to respond!! :lol: We have a new 6yo haffy/welsh x mare that probably was outsmarting her last owners too! I don't think she's quite as ornery as yours but she is having her moments! She's as cute as a button, thus her name is Buttons.

I think ours would buck when she didn't want to work and they would just quit riding her so she learned that if she bucked she was done! We gave her the benefit of a doubt until we had her teeth done but her teeth are done and the vet gave her a clean bill of health so there are no excuses.

Anyone, yesterday she started the bucking thing when I decided to make her canter. She puts her nose out and up and then bucks so I went right up to the barn and out came the draw reins, worked great in her case and we ended up on a positive note!

Good luck with you little guy!

enjoytheride
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:54 AM
Well, I've been to MANY auctions. It is not uncommon at all to have either a. a horse so shocked at his circumanstances he behaves for the 2 minutes in a 30 foot area, or b. he's aced.

I would put a running martingale on him so if he bolts you can stop him. Teach him to leg yield at the walk and try to stay on at the trot :D if you can't stay on him and make him go forward yourself without getting scared, dumped, or backing off, he needs to go to a trainer.

FlashGordon
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:57 AM
U

One of the problems with hafs is that they are smart and once something is in their toolbox it's always going to be there. I don't know how old or how well your kids ride, but I think being bolted away with can be a total confidence killer.

I hate to tell you, but 6 months with a cowboy is probably not going to be long enough for a 13 y/o haffie who has probably been getting away with this behavior for a long time.

Sorry to be a downer, but to me this horse has a lot stacked against it if you're planning on it being a kids horse.

This.

If the horse can drive, and is good at it, sounds like that might be the best career for it at this point.

M. Owen
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:21 AM
I am also on the band wagon of going back to long lining, then try to find a driving home if possible. IMO he doesn't sound like he will become a safe riding pony for children. He may get to the point he is safe for an adult, but he sounds like a smart little bugger and likely to get a child's number and pull his tricks. Kudos to you though for trying to give this guy a chance.

mrsbradbury
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:35 AM
I have two suggestions, one tie him up and leave him in the area where the incident occurs. Wait a couple of hours, then bring him some hay, wait a couple of hours again, and bring him some water. He has to learn that you are the leader and decider of ALL resources. It takes a while but it will work, and he'll start to bond with you.

You can't bully or physically change him, he's way too strong. Likely it has already been done. The work more, work longer techniques can help too.

Can you stable or pen him away from the barn too?


I wish I had more advice as well. He's going to be a stinker.

I have a halffie/ QH cross that I use as a lesson pony. She hates the wee beginners and roots thed reins out of their hands, and comes in the middle and parks next to me. Intermediate kids are okay to her.

I like her very much, and bahves, but I will never do another halffie or cross. They know they are strong, willier than a shetland, and designed to be a tank. Other than being adorable, they don't have a lot of positive attributes for riding creatures, in my opinion.

JustMyStyle
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:38 AM
I would say not going to be a kids horse. Sorry. Once a horse has learned to bolt, they will always have that. You may be able to get to the point where he doesn't try it for a long time, but he WILL try it again.

Since he sounds like he isn't fit, and isn't hot, my suggestion would be ride him in an area he can't get back to the barn, or have the barn closed up so he can't get in. Then, when he bolts, keep going! Make him work. If he bolts to the barn and you can stay on, he gets to gallop back to where you started, and I mean GALLOP! That way he learns that bolting = more work.

Also, I would suggest a full-cheek. That way you can do a one rein stop with out pulling the bit through his mouth.

Good luck!!!!

Zena
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:43 AM
No pain, besides the one in my ass.

The part about driving him that scares me, is that this is a clearly learned behavior. He's had this barnsourbolt thing down for a while. If he hasn't been ridden, only driven... the thought of a bolter pulling a cart makes me nauseous. And I think it's safe to assume that this is why he ended up at the feed lot in the first place.
In my experience, draw reins haven't made bucking worse. Frankly, I prefer a buck over a rear, all day long and twice on Sundays! He's so damn hyper-sensitive to leg, it wierds me out, but if I have to collect the tirdball to alleviate the problem, I'll give it a go.
I'm a good horseman. I can handle difficult horses. Furthermore, this Halfie is, well, poorly bred, lol! I think he's adorable, because he clearly loves my kids, on the ground, at least. His eyes are beautiful, liquid soft and intelligent. His ground manners are excellent. But, his head is huge, he has a terrible parrot mouth, and our vet thinks his brother was probably his father. He's food aggressive out in the field with other horses, and if he's unridable, I don't see a promising future for him, even as a companion. I will give it my all to break him of these habits, short of personal injury. I hate to say it, but I worry he will end up back at a feed lot if I move him along. If he cannot manage to learn how to WALK a trail, with manners and respect, he will probably be put down. I don't want him to endure being passed along over and over, and end up at a slaughter house.

I do not feel that this makes me a bad person, just realistic. In the mean time, every suggestion is helpful.
(Also, there is a gate preventing him from getting back to the barn, so he ends up bolting in a large circle around the arena.)

Win1
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:59 AM
LOL! So familiar:) We had a Haflinger who came unbroke and always bolted, literally dragging people across parking lots, arenas, etc. It was very well thought out every time.

You should try a segunda bit. It looks intense, and it can be quite uncomfortable if he choses to pull on it.... He will try, but not for long;) But since it works so well, it's actually more kind than someone having to argue with him every time he's naughty. When we used it he played with it a lot, but then settled in nicely so let him wear it before you try to do any work so he can focus on you and not this new thing. It's pretty awesome how well this bit works on these naughty drafty ponies!

http://equestrian.doversaddlery.com/search?w=segunda&cart_count=0&cart_total=0.00&dmi_offer_code=SITE&idc=0&ids=wdouf4awzkhfm445ytzixhbr

I noticed this one is a broken segunda, we had a solid one so if you can find that I'd stick to it.

x
Mar. 17, 2012, 02:31 PM
Haflingers that buck and bolt. I have some experience with that! I broke quite a few driving haflingers to ride over the years--and I got sick of them doing this with me! Solution: put enough bit on them that you can sit them on their a** when they go to bolt. Once the pony discovers that they can't do it, they stop doing it.
Seriously. I did this. These driving ponies all drove in snaffles--but they all would try this stuff under saddle. So I quite breaking them in snaffles, and put them in pelhams. That way I could use the snaffle when I wanted, but had the curb to stop them when they went to bolt. I had one big one that took off with me in a tom thumb length shank pelham, and I couldn't stop him, so I went to the barn and got a pelham with a bigger shank, and the next time he went to spin and bolt I had the leverage to stop him--and did so immediately. After that, he rode fine. I had one small haffie that I was using with kids that found he could take off with a tom thumb pelham--ended up that I used a full bridle on him; gave the kids the leverage needed to stop him. Once these ponies know you can stop them, they quit trying...and ride fine. Having a pelham, or in one case a full bridle, allowed me to use a snaffle most of the time...but the leverage was there should I need it, the pony knew it was there, and behaved. Of 30 or 40 haflingers I have done, I have only had 2 I felt comfortable riding in a snaffle. I make it a rule of thumb to put a pelham on just about every haffie I come across. The draw reins probably won't work, because they will just bowl their heads down and go--the bit with the curb chain works because you can get the head up and get the pony stopped.
Anyhow, not an uncommon problem at all. And while this isn't necessarily the solution for a horse, it is the solution for the haflinger pony with their build and attitude.

englishcowgirl
Mar. 17, 2012, 03:47 PM
Oh Honey, this is a year or more project :lol: From what I have read you have had him less than a month or two and from an abuse background on top. The worst thing you can do is send him to a cowboy they (almost always) make the problem worse, and I know from experience. My rescue mare was a reared and bucked just to get the rider off, was hardly broke to sit on and was so barn sour she would not step 10 feet away from the barn under saddle. It has been almost two years now and she is just getting to what one would consider "show broke". Walk/trot/canter in control in or out of ring, bending, allowing rider to control pace and direction, riding out alone and with group. We have just started lunging without trying to kill me and have stopped trying to bolt home. Almost never rears and are working on some more small stuff. Still a year or two to go before she is really broke. It is a hell of a process and if you don't want to do the scary stuff yourself please get a good hunter/jumper or eventing trainer to do it for you. Not worth risking letting some yahoo tough guy torture the pony any more than he has been. Good luck!

kmwines01
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:19 PM
I agree with getting some leverage and being able to stop him immediately. Or if he does bolt and you stay on make him keep going. Then it's your idea. I worked with one who would drop the shoulder and bolt when lunging or walking in hand. As soon as I put a chain on her and stopped her she knew what the chain meant and didn't try it again.

Zena
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:24 PM
I have had him for 6 months. He had a month in quarentine, and then a month to settle into our 5 horse barn routine - all while being handled regularly with kindness and firmness as seemed necessary. He's been a dream to handle, on the ground. On his back, he never seemed to indicate belligerence while being lunged or led by an assistant. Without the assistant, he was tense, watchful even, but I interpreted that as a self-defense mechanism from former bad handling. Thats when I decided to spend a month just walking, if thats what was needed to relax him. What I saw him do to my sister, and felt him do to me, was dirty. In hindsight, I think his watchfulness was more, looking for an opening to hit the road, rather than fear.
I think that he was never trained enough to establish a correlation between bad behavior, and punishment. Now, he does whatever he feels he needs to do to get away from the ramifications of simply following his own desires. Does that make sense? Since he thinks we are behaving unfairly, he does whatever he needs to do to get the hell out of dodge. When we try and correct a mistake... he bolts. It never occurs to him that HE started it, by ducking his shoulder, chucking his rider, and going back to the barn. Or heck, even the slightest correction of his path, asking him to walk on the right side of the track, and not the left, because to him, the left is closest to the barn!
He went to two young, talented cowboys today. I know them well, and they will be fair, but this pony has got to learn that bolting, under any circumstances, is not allowed. They have an indoor, a round pen, and a small arena, to boot. I hope that they can establish the simple ground rule of "It's not what you want, it's what the rider wants. End of story."
After 6 months of steady, skillful, kind measures, it's time for a re-boot. 'Cause what I'm doing, clearly isn't working.
Everyone had great input. X - you were especially helpful. Thank you. I hope that these two young, stretchy, bendy, bouncy boys, can manage what my tired old bones can't. Teach the little MotherF to stop! Lol!

CBoylen
Mar. 17, 2012, 08:25 PM
When breaking babies that have no brakes yet, I'll often ride with a halter over the bridle and a leather chain shank over the nose, held in one hand with my reins. I call it an emergency brake, and it sounds like you could use one.

EqTrainer
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:34 PM
When breaking babies that have no brakes yet, I'll often ride with a halter over the bridle and a leather chain shank over the nose, held in one hand with my reins. I call it an emergency brake, and it sounds like you could use one.

Ooohh. What an idea!

Win1
Mar. 17, 2012, 09:58 PM
When breaking babies that have no brakes yet, I'll often ride with a halter over the bridle and a leather chain shank over the nose, held in one hand with my reins. I call it an emergency brake, and it sounds like you could use one.

Interesting, like others have said you have to be willing to go to whatever lengths to get those brakes. Haflingers generally require a lot more 'brake' than people realize IMO.

Pcostx
Mar. 17, 2012, 10:36 PM
I like her very much, and bahves, but I will never do another halffie or cross. They know they are strong, willier than a shetland, and designed to be a tank. Other than being adorable, they don't have a lot of positive attributes for riding creatures, in my opinion.

I agree with this 100%. I did a TON of research on Haflingers, I guess I only found the good about them! I purchased one based on the stories of how wonderful they are, the Golden Retrievers of the horse world!

Mine was the most STUBBORN animal I have EVER been around (and I've owned/ridden mules :lol:). I wanted him for trail riding, part of the trails we ride on dictate that you go over wooden bridges, no problem for the other horses I rode with. This Haflinger would NOT cross the bridges no matter what. We tried everything. I never did get that horse to walk on the bridge.

Needless to say I sold him and I would NEVER own a Haffie or Haffie cross again!

EqTrainer
Mar. 17, 2012, 10:38 PM
Haffies are like tanks in a horse suit. No thanks.

fourmares
Mar. 18, 2012, 02:37 AM
Take a page out of Clinton Anderson's book... if he wants to run back to the barn he can work his ass off at the barn. When you decide he can rest take him away from the barn and let him rest for several minutes... rinse and repeat until his little pony brain figures out that going to the barn means he's going to get the crap worked out of him... other than that work him in a fenced arena.

Zena
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:32 AM
I agree with this 100%. I did a TON of research on Haflingers, I guess I only found the good about them! I purchased one based on the stories of how wonderful they are, the Golden Retrievers of the horse world!

Mine was the most STUBBORN animal I have EVER been around (and I've owned/ridden mules :lol:). I wanted him for trail riding, part of the trails we ride on dictate that you go over wooden bridges, no problem for the other horses I rode with. This Haflinger would NOT cross the bridges no matter what. We tried everything. I never did get that horse to walk on the bridge.

Needless to say I sold him and I would NEVER own a Haffie or Haffie cross again!

SERIOUSLY! Before I bid my 30cents per lbs, I googled Halflinger, and every picture showed an adorable face, with article after article writing of their kindness, strength, and suitability for children, lol! I was expecting this guy to eventually rescue Timmy from the well, and crush a poisonous viper just before it ate my children! (Billy and Blaze left me an incurable romantic for horse rescue scenes.)
The young cowboys will be starting work on him today, I am hopeful. The harshest bit I have in my arsenal is a skinny D, from when I did jumpers with Ian Silitch! I still don't understand the concept of this bit, but, I spent a lot of money on it, and it worked with my jumper. I digress - Next stop, tack store for a Segunda. I'm going to keep plugging along. Hopefully the boys will install some brakes, and I can procede.
CBoylen - those brakes sound great. Excellent idea.
I am actually encouraged by some of these posts. If he is simply be a dirty little sh*t, thats easier to handle than emotional trauma. If I can react with discipline, thats cool. It's not knowing when to be tough, that's hard.

EqTrainer
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:35 AM
Bwahaha... You had them confused with WELSH ponies..

http://i829.photobucket.com/albums/zz219/gdauverd/edd9e1d3.jpg

2tempe
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:39 AM
[QUOTE=Zena;6200402]No pain, besides the one in my ass.

The part about driving him that scares me, is that this is a clearly learned behavior. He's had this barnsourbolt thing down for a while. If he hasn't been ridden, only driven... the thought of a bolter pulling a cart makes me nauseous. /QUOTE]

First of all This ^^ is worth remembering after he comes home. There is no certainty that he ever got beyond the long-lining, for one thing. Second if he ever bolted w/ a cart before, odds are that he scared himself half to death before it was over; likely the end of his driving career.

I think your plan for the beastie makes infinite sense and not for a moment would I think you a bad person to put him down. I had a beastie with some issues several years ago; he was in a horse package and well bred (father not his brother:lol::lol:), I tried to work things out w/ him for a year until he broke my foot...Fortunately I did not have to make the decision to put him down, as the previous owner bought him back, though at a SIGNIFICANT discount. Considering I just wanted him gone, it seemed like those cents on the $$ were pennies from heaven!!

FlashGordon
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:44 AM
SERIOUSLY! Before I bid my 30cents per lbs, I googled Halflinger, and every picture showed an adorable face, with article after article writing of their kindness, strength, and suitability for children, lol! I was expecting this guy to eventually rescue Timmy from the well, and crush a poisonous viper just before it ate my children! (Billy and Blaze left me an incurable romantic for horse rescue scenes.)
The young cowboys will be starting work on him today, I am hopeful. The harshest bit I have in my arsenal is a skinny D, from when I did jumpers with Ian Silitch! I still don't understand the concept of this bit, but, I spent a lot of money on it, and it worked with my jumper. I digress - Next stop, tack store for a Segunda. I'm going to keep plugging along. Hopefully the boys will install some brakes, and I can procede.
CBoylen - those brakes sound great. Excellent idea.
I am actually encouraged by some of these posts. If he is simply be a dirty little sh*t, thats easier to handle than emotional trauma. If I can react with discipline, thats cool. It's not knowing when to be tough, that's hard.

Ah yeah they are cute alright, barbie dream horse ponies with all that mane, but they can be real bast@rds.

Here is a pic of me on my fave Haffie:
http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2272199530104109739omZQlO?vhost=pets

He could be Very Very Good or Very Very Naughty. He was actually the best of the 6-7 that I dealt with at that barn. The others never were quite as reliable as he was. They all came from sales, and had varied backgrounds, so they weren't the well bred sporthorse types you see more of now.

Even Blondie, a decade after he had been in the program and KNEW what was expected with him, can be a little sh!t. He was leased out last winter to a kid at the best H/J barn in the area, with a VERY competent trainer, and he ran circles around them. Lease ended early. ;)

They are strong, and stubborn, and get bored. They will say F You and take off running or bucking and I've seen even the best riders/handlers get tossed or become unnerved.

I agree that more bit is necessary in this instance, and that they do require a more definitive sort of discipline. No wishy washy business.

You sound capable so maybe it is worth a shot. They are not dumb though and will often randomly test boundaries. You'll think a behavior is eradicated and then it pops back up months or years later. Hence why I think they make poor horses for kids....

However, I always enjoyed the Haffies, and I know lots of adults do. So it isn't totally hopeless!

Good for you for considering all your options, and even making a go at this at all!

Laurierace
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:44 AM
Or if they are really bad, the chain goes over the lip instead of over the nose. They tend to tread pretty lightly in those scenarios.

Skip's Rider
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:52 AM
You might wait to see what the cowboys have to say before you spend your hard earned $ on bits you won't use. A Mikmar combination bit or pelham has worked wonders in stopping bolters as well. Keep us posted on the cowboys' progress.

TSWJB
Mar. 18, 2012, 10:35 AM
i think sending him to a cowboy is a good thing.
once you get him back and if he does something bad, like running back to the barn, i would take him back to the arena and put him on a lunge and lunge the crap out of him. when he is dragging make him work a bit more. i also would not work him until he was very tired. and make it very unpleasant for him if he pulls that behavoir of running back to the barn. but if he is good, give him a short workout and lots of treats.
i read about a dressage horse in practical horseman. "no horse for a lady" i am pretty sure it was leslie webb. made a big impression on me. he would get her off so she used lunging in a rig because she knew she could control him. and she would make him do hard work, not just running around on the end of a line bucking. whenever he did something bad, he was put on the lunge and worked very hard. he learned that it was easier to comply under saddle and be good. because if he wasnt, he was worked very hard.
when my horse was spooking and whirling. i read about the cowboys. wet saddle pad syndrome. they work them all day if they have to. that way the horse didnt know if he was working for 1 hour or 8 hours. they learn to conserve their energy just in case it was an 8 hour day.
so when my horse was spooking and being bad, he got worked very hard. it seems to have worked. he is being a gem lately. i love him!!!

mrsbradbury
Mar. 18, 2012, 10:37 AM
Speaking of bits, my halffie cross often goes in short shanked broken pelham. Actually lived in it for every ride for over a year. She now hacks at home in a rubber snaffle.

Proffie
Mar. 18, 2012, 11:38 AM
After 3 years of teaching lessons at a large riding school, I've learned to stay away from Haflingers like the PLAGUE when looking for kids' lesson horses.

They're very athletic and smart, and need to be challenged and kept busy. Otherwise, they figure out how to get their way and NEVER forget it. We routinely got Haflingers in to try for the school, and within 2 or 3 lessons they had the kids' numbers and were completely over it.

My point is, while you might be able to work with this guy until YOU feel comfortable dealing with his "quirks", I wouldn't trust him with inexperienced riders further than I could throw him.

Ponies, etc.
Mar. 18, 2012, 11:47 AM
Reading all of these posts, I realize how lucky we got with our saint of a Haffie! She is only 6, and was barely broke when we got her two years ago for my (then) 9 year old daughter. Sunshine is the most wonderful, kind, tolerant, forgiving pony ever! We have used her for walk/trot/canter and crossrails, vaulting, and my daughter is now learning dressage with her. I really hope that you discover a great pony in there somewhere! I hope the cowboys can help you work out his issues, but as difficult as he has been for you, I am sure trusting him with your kids is going to be close to impossible.

didgery
Mar. 18, 2012, 11:49 AM
One of my favorite childhood memories is of me getting run away with on the beach at age 10. My mount was a 15.2 hand pinto cob with a jaw like steel. He ran right through my beefy pelham and just kept running, so I pointed him at the surf and we swam. And swam. And swam. And swam. He was thoroughly ready to compromise by the time we reached the shore again, though my saddle was probably never the same!

I'd send him to a cowboy first, and then maybe have him assessed by an experienced driver. It could be that this habit ruined him for work in harness, too, but it's worth exploring.

quietann
Mar. 18, 2012, 12:14 PM
Haffies are like tanks in a horse suit. No thanks.

That pretty much agrees with what I've seen. Strong, inclined to be naughty, not for children unless very well-trained and supervised. I will admit that some of my bias comes from having a strong Haffie bolt right into my mare's butt, causing her to explode. Luckily her spooks are over quickly but I count my lucky stars I stayed on!

That said, the therapeutic riding barn near my home has a whole herd of them and they've been very good as therapeutic mounts. But that is a very, very controlled situation with lots of handlers. Same farm also has a couple trained as vaulting horses and they are very good for that, too.

Tamara in TN
Mar. 18, 2012, 12:38 PM
well maybe now you know why he was at the sale.


Tamara

Dune
Mar. 18, 2012, 12:47 PM
Are you sure he's a Haffie and not some sort of Belgian cross? Not that it matters much, but we get those type around our part a LOT. There is a dealer that says they're Haffies, lies about the ages, says they're 7 when they're 2 and when they finally finish growing they are still pony height but MASSIVE. They also claim they are Amish broke, but they are the worst mannered, flightiest tanks I've ever seen. And yes, while exhausting all avenues of a "career" for one, a friend of mine hired a driving trainer. Said pony destroyed the cart one day after having been good for weeks. Later, when she thought he was "broke", she was on a trail ride and reached down to remove some weeds he had snatched up because she was worried they were poisonous.....little bugger FREAKED out, she ended up on the ground with a concussion, punctured lung, broken ribs....:( Nasty little creature....

Zena
Mar. 18, 2012, 05:55 PM
well maybe now you know why he was at the sale.


Tamara

Yep. I will never fall for a flaxen mane, silkie eye, ever again. But, Jeez, so SWEET on the ground.

So - anyone want a Halfie? He's free? Lol!

I'm not giving up, yet, and neither is the cowboy - it's only Day1 of boot camp.

rizzodm
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:10 PM
Yep. I will never fall for a flaxen mane, silkie eye, ever again. But, Jeez, so SWEET on the ground.

So - anyone want a Halfie? He's free? Lol!

I'm not giving up, yet, and neither is the cowboy - it's only Day1 of boot camp.

Lol, forgive me for laughing but this thread has been entertaining for me. I have one of the little boogers and she has tried my patience. It took about a year to keep her consistently in the arena. She was really sneaky about jumping out (dressage arena). I do ride her mostly in a double bridle but go back to the snaffle becuase I can't show her in the double. When I first started to ride her everyone laughed because they knew her antics. However she is turning into a very fancy dressage pony and no one laughs at us anymore:winkgrin:

TBDressage916
Mar. 18, 2012, 08:56 PM
Whenever someone tells me their thinking about a haflinger my response is always "well they're a good beef breed" Good thing they're cute.

trabern
Mar. 19, 2012, 12:36 PM
This thread made me laugh out loud at least eight times. It is all true. They are all more clever than a shetland, barnsour in the extreme, more strong in the mouth/head/neck than seven normal horses, and ALWAYS thinking how to get out of work and get the next bite of food (which is what I think the term "Amish broke" must mean). They are testers, and know EXACTLY what the can get away with with which rider.

That said, if you or someone who rides with you masters a haffie, that person can REALLY RIDE. And train. Quite the horsewoman. She will find everything thereafter uncomplicated, honest, light and an easy blessing. And have no fear. :)

lucky dog farm
Mar. 20, 2012, 10:55 PM
I adored my one and only haffie. He was a wheel horse in a four in hand before i got him and the first time I ever took him to a cross country course, I could barely get on him. He saw those jumps as obstacles and he had a HUGE flash back to his marathon days. Man, he turned out to be one of favorite guys.

However, that being said, he would on occasion get it into his mind that taking the bit and running as fast as he could, was a wonderful thing. Like everyone has said, he was a TANK to try and stop! I would just ride him as forward as he could go and keep him at it long after he thought it would be a good idea to stop. He picked up pretty quickly, that meant way more work, so he quit doing that with me. But anytime I put anybody else on him he was smart enough to test.
He also could out walk any horse on the trail. I lost him a couple of years ago and God, I miss my Hafflinger Joe!
Kudos to you, Zena, for giving the pony a chance

redhorse5
Mar. 20, 2012, 11:17 PM
if you can stay with him you can try what my trainer did with my bolting, bucking Friesian. Take him to a LARGE arena that he can't get out of. When he starts to pull his tricks and takes off just ride like heck and smack him with a short whip to keep him going. If you can get him going forward he can't buck and just keep him running. Don't let him stop and don't try to stop him when he bolts. When he starts to poop out give him more leg and taps with the whip. He only stops when you want him to. Repeat. It only took a couple of rides before he realized that if he bolted he had to work his a$$ off. You could see him thinking about it and deciding not to. He has never bolted since this procedure. This is probably what the cowboy will do. I didn't have the guts to do this but my trainer was great and it worked.

Equilibrium
Mar. 21, 2012, 08:58 AM
I haven't read all the other posts but this guy probably won't make a Childs pony. Sometimes the damage is done. Most likely no matter how good you get him, when given the chance he will resort to tricks again. Not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, just experience.

We just finished up with a part Welshie that obviously didn't have a good start and I will bet my life at some stage she dragged something for a long way and it terrified her. We got her riding well but it's no good me being able to ride her. In no way would I ever put a child on her. She has no dirt and nothing nasty but just way too reactive. If your left foot moves a centimetre in front of the girth she just takes off. For me no biggy, for a child or even someone who really doesn't know, she would be gone. She tripped over a trotting pole and nearly lost her life. You sneeze or cough and she's straight on that bit. She pulls harder than most racehorses I got on. Before anyone would like to pull apart everything I'm saying trust me she's vetted out and we do know what we're doing.

The thing is maybe in a years time of riding everyday she will be able to be an ok pony for an advanced child, but I'm not a charity and can't recommend the costs to said client when he only wanted to know if she could be a child's pony. The answer has to be no. Too much baggage to begin with. He doesn't have kids and breeds to sell. This is one of his mares. Anyway with so many good ponies out there including most of his other ones, it doesn't make financial sense to keep on going. She has a home for life with him at any rate. And honestly the pony was a star, IMO, to do everything we asked. She tried very hard but it wasn't something she was happy doing. She kept waiting for something to happen. She has 2 lovely offspring and the 3yo will be coming to us later in the year. They are easy to handle and catchable, her mom is not.

At any rate you just have to think how long and how much money you're willing to put into this project. And realise sometimes it just doesn't work. Horses can't help what happened to them before arriving in a safe place.

Terri

Nlevie
Mar. 21, 2012, 12:12 PM
I too will be interested to hear how the cowboy does with her ? I finally had to give away a beautiful young mare who was perfect on the ground, but I never could trust her under saddle. She would buck hard with NO warning and not when you would expect. . . She seems to be doing well with a very experienced rider now, but clearly not right for me and probably the majority of amateur riders. I just hope I got her in the right hands soon enough to insure she has a good future.

I don't think you should feel any guilt at putting this one down if he can't be fixed, especially at his age. Good luck.

Zena
Apr. 18, 2012, 07:36 PM
So - I picked my guy up from the cowboys yesterday. Wow! What a difference a month makes!
The first week did not go well for my fellow. The cowboys had to do some extreme horsemanship, but I was there for a large portion of it, and was VERY impressed with how the guys went about it. I also have to state that my pony asked for it/needed it. He did have to be layed down, ala The Horse Whisperer. The difference in him after it was done (quite peacefully, I might add) was amazing. Within a week, I was riding him.
He came home yesterday, and I rode him here, by myself, all alone. Was he 100% perfect? nope. Was he 100% better? Oh my, yes! He still needed a little reminder when I went to get on, as he wiggled a little bit. Once I was on - HOLY SEMINOLE! I could thump him with my legs, steer, and most importantly - stop! In a snaffle, I might add. We trotted aroound my little farmette, past the barn, around the ring, up and down the hill, and he was cheerful, and willing, and steady as I could have ever asked. I am also thrilled to note, that with the muscling put on him by a month of steady work with the cowboys - my pony isn't tripping anymore.
He is alot more subdued on the ground. I don't love that. He isn't scared AT ALL, but he isn't all nuzzley as before, looking for treats, and petting (in reality, not looking for pet's,but only more treats, but I enjoyed my delusions). The cowboys encouraged me to forgoe the treats. I was advised to treat him more like a work-horse, and less like a pet. It is necessary for that breed, I'm assured, otherwise he'll get uppity again, and need more disipline.
I really think he's going to work out. Once the cowboy's got him to stop reacting first, and to calm down, and LISTEN to what they wanted, he was a new horse. I think he actually wants to be a pleasant guy, but he was too freaked out to even TRY to understand was expected out of him. Now that he seems to know what his job is, he seems happy to do it. Trotting around with me on his back - he felt GREAT! I was on a loopy rein, his ears were forward, and he was picking his feet up, and laying them down, like a Halflinger is supposed to! (I think, in actuality, I have NO idea what a Halfie is supposed to move like.) I just enjoy the feeling of a pony with a good attitude, and a light mouth.
I hope the trend continues. I'll be riding him farther abroad as the weeks continue - I will keep you posted.

Windsor1
Apr. 18, 2012, 08:14 PM
What a great and happy ending!

And you could be a columnist or something. Your writing is very engaging and full of "personality." :)

jen-s
Apr. 18, 2012, 09:55 PM
Fabulous!! Now, where are our pics? ;)

crosscreeksh
Apr. 18, 2012, 10:10 PM
Good for you!!! It sounds like you have a "one of a kind" Halfie!! Every one I've ever known or heard about was like your guy "before" his attitude adjustment! I always thought - before I "knew" better, that Halflingers were just compact/short Belgian draft horses. Nope!! Good Luck to you.

Skip's Rider
Apr. 19, 2012, 11:35 AM
That's wonderful news -- thanks for sharing!