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  1. #1
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    May. 15, 2003
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    Default Rearing and almost flipping over backwards

    Boy, did I have an exciting ride this morning. I think I just increased the percentage of grey in my hair!
    One of the young horses I'm training reared and almost flipped over backwards. IMO one of the scariest things in horseback riding. But let me start at the begining:
    He's 3 and I've been on him maybe a dozen time with increases in length from just a few steps at the walk, then several laps in each direction around the big arena at the walk, to trotting the last two times. I always longe him first for about 15-20 minutes and then ride for another 10-15 minutes. Well today he was very distracted, wouldn't listen to my voice commands on the longe (he normally has what I call a cowboy whoa, stops immediately and square even from the trot).
    Not today, and no walk either. He just wanted to run! So because he wasn't listening my longing session ended up almost twice as long as normal. Then I got on him and he immediately trotted off without listening to me. I decided the big arena is not a good place today and took him to the little one (more like an oversized round pen). Everything went well there at first. We walked a couple laps each direction and I checked his whoa a couple of times, no problem. Then I started trotting to the left (his good direction). No problem. When I went to trot to the right, he decided he'd had enough and started shaking his head so violently his whole body was thrown off balance and he almost fell down. Since he was ignoring my "go" command by doing this I gave it again a little stronger (slap instead of push with my legs). Well, this time he decided to go up. He did like a couple bounces on his front and with each bounce ended up higher in the air, so I had time to get ready for it. I was leaning forward, not pulling on the reins, had actually grabbed some mane, but then I felt him lose his balance and I bonsaid off to the side. For a second it was like an eclipse of the sun, all I saw was a huge horse over me and I thought he was going to fall on me.
    Luckily he caught himself, took a bunch of quick steps back on his hinds and then stood. My adrenaline was still flowing and I smacked him a couple of times, yelled NO and BAD BOY, but I was shaking and all I could think was that I had to get back on or he might think he can get out of work like this every time. He stood like a block, I think he actually scared himself. I walked a couple more laps, decided not to try the trot again (I have 2 little kids that need me in one piece)!
    Opinions? Advice? What would you have done?
    He is a very good boy normally and the worst he's done before is a slight version of the head shaking thing when he doesn't want to go forward. He tends to be more on the lazy side and I'm wondering if I overdid the session today since the longing went much longer than normal. Or should I have not even bothered today since he was acting distracted from the begining? I'm tempted to think this might have been a one time thing, but am not sure I want to find out. What would you do to prevent another episode before it happens?
    I also posted this on the breeding forum, but I think of the few people left no one rides their young horses!
    Thanks and sorry this got so long!
    Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter...
    Wenn er faellt dann schreit er...

    Quote Originally Posted by mbm View Post
    forward is like love - you can never have enough



  2. #2
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    Sep. 24, 2001
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    Lexington, Kentucky
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    Default

    Any idea what was "distracting" him?

    Is he gelded?
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton



  3. #3
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    Honestly?

    You shouldn't have gotten on him. If you ride young horses regularly you know they have days when all the signs are there.. and you should not put them in a situation on those days to learn something new/bad.

    Go back a little bit, review the "pay attention to me only" concept and then start working him again. Be more mindful to his cues that "Today is Mr. Naughty Day!" and avoid them. Work him those days, but don't get on him if he does not show you it's going to be a good undersaddle today.

    IMO and IME, horse training is a lot about picking your battle. The issue you had today is not one I would tackle w/a freshly backed three year old with only a few rides under his belt. That one is for later, when all the basics are more solid.

    Be safe
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  4. #4
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    May. 3, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reiter View Post
    Opinions? Advice? What would you have done?
    Listen to your horse. There were several clues that things weren't going right but you pushed on.

    Well today he was very distracted, wouldn't listen to my voice commands on the longe (he normally has what I call a cowboy whoa, stops immediately and square even from the trot).
    Not today, and no walk either. He just wanted to run!
    So at that point you should have either packed up at that point or else worked on getting that sorted and personally I'd have got to long reining direct to the bridle rather than lunging on a caveson.

    Then I got on him and he immediately trotted off without listening to me. I decided the big arena is not a good place today and took him to the little one (more like an oversized round pen).
    He wasn't happy on the lunge but you've continued on to do ridden work and I presume because its smaller, that its going to be even tighter turns and circles.

    If he's struggling because of (say) a bad back on circles on the lunge, then he's going to be worse now. And you've not reviewed or remedied what went wrong at lunge but moved on.

    Everything went well there at first. We walked a couple laps each direction and I checked his whoa a couple of times, no problem. Then I started trotting to the left (his good direction). No problem. When I went to trot to the right, he decided he'd had enough and started shaking his head so violently his whole body was thrown off balance and he almost fell down.
    He's telling you SOMETHING IS WRONG ...... GET OFF! STOP IT!!

    Since he was ignoring my "go" command by doing this I gave it again a little stronger (slap instead of push with my legs). Well, this time he decided to go up.
    And your reins??? Did you have any contact? Or were they totally loose?

    He did like a couple bounces on his front and with each bounce ended up higher in the air, so I had time to get ready for it.
    Sounds like brakes and accelerator at the same time and I'm thinking either teeth or back is troubling him. And because of the loss of balance earlier, then back????

    I was leaning forward, not pulling on the reins, had actually grabbed some mane, but then I felt him lose his balance and I bonsaid off to the side. For a second it was like an eclipse of the sun, all I saw was a huge horse over me and I thought he was going to fall on me.
    Luckily he caught himself, took a bunch of quick steps back on his hinds and then stood. My adrenaline was still flowing and I smacked him a couple of times, yelled NO and BAD BOY, but I was shaking and all I could think was that I had to get back on or he might think he can get out of work like this every time. He stood like a block, I think he actually scared himself. I walked a couple more laps, decided not to try the trot again (I have 2 little kids that need me in one piece)!
    Shame you punished him because you were frightened. No way is he going to know the slap he got was for rearing and losing his balance.

    He is a very good boy normally and the worst he's done before is a slight version of the head shaking thing when he doesn't want to go forward.
    When did you last have his teeth checked? Are you 110% confident you have him bitted and bridled properly? Are you 110% confident you're not causing a problem with use of your hands in relation to his bitting? It all sounds highly likely to me that its something in that area that he's not happy with.

    What would you do to prevent another episode before it happens?
    Be certain I knew what I was doing in terms of bridling, bitting, lunging and riding and schooling a young horse and no when to stop because something is wrong.

    I also posted this on the breeding forum, but I think of the few people left no one rides their young horses!
    I've occasionally backed horses as 2 year olds and I've also chosen not to back them until they're rising 7Having said that its more the exception than the rule that I do them under saddle under aged 5. What's important is that you don't do excessive and inappropriate weight bearing work on a horse that isn't properly fit and conditioned and with excellent supportive structure.

    So no great fat dead weight lump of a rider: the folks who back my large horses are maximum weight 126lbs.

    No great heavy ill fitting saddles: it irritates the heck out of me whenever I read or hear folks saying that they can't afford to get a saddle that fits their youngster or there's no point because he's still growing!

    No tight turn arena work and no excessive work on tight circles on the lunge either

    Ensuring you check bridling and bitting and dentition regularly

    Gradual build up and get the horse fit by doing ground work before you go to back it. And because of the above, IMO NOT by letting it spin round on the end of a lunge line or chasing it round a round pen! Long rein it and if you can't do that, then take it out for long walks in hand. If you're not fit enough or can't be bothered or haven't got the time to walk the horse a couple of miles a day then don't go thinking the horse is fit enough or will cope with weight bearing work.



  5. #5
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    Mar. 28, 2006
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    Good post Thomas. Is 20 minutes on the lunge too much or not enough for a 3 year-old?
    "When you think you don't need a coach ...then you're in trouble" Don Imus 2012



  6. #6
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    Wow! That's scary! It's easy to say in hindsight that you probably shouldn't have gotten on this morning, but I'm sure you knew you'd hear that from every poster.

    I have to agree that there are days when you just have to change your plans. That's what I've been teaching my daughter this year - "I know you planned to work on your jumping, but it looks like today is going to be finding a balanced canter".

    I don't have any problem working a youngster at a level that depends on his mental maturity. You didn't ask so I'm not going to tell you my entire training routine, but it sounds like working on the ground is in order. I will risk heading out on a NH limb here, but does he move towards and away from you on the ground as requested, and change directions on the lunge? There are horses that do well with a little lunge before riding to get the silliness out, but by the time you are done lunging he should be looking to do what you are asking. It's a good opportunity to have him start thinking and remember that you are the one telling him what to do. I'm not trying to advocate any particular method of training, just that it if you mentally prepare him before you get on, he won't be trying to remember all the left, right, go, stop stuff while he's also getting used to a rider.

    As an aside, I typically find that youngsters who are very cooperative at first, will go through a snotty stage soon after.

    Good luck! You learn something from every youngster!



  7. #7
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    Nov. 7, 2001
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    I'm not experienced in backing horses alone. In fact, I've only done it twice with the assistance of a well seasoned trainer. However, I loved buckling a stirrup leather around their neck. If they bucked, played, reared - I could just grab my strap, hold on, and not interfere with their mouth.

    This might not be news to you! But I cherished that leather strap!



  8. #8
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    Aug. 26, 1999
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    Quote Originally Posted by EqTrainer View Post
    Honestly?

    You shouldn't have gotten on him. If you ride young horses regularly you know they have days when all the signs are there.. and you should not put them in a situation on those days to learn something new/bad.

    Go back a little bit, review the "pay attention to me only" concept and then start working him again. Be more mindful to his cues that "Today is Mr. Naughty Day!" and avoid them. Work him those days, but don't get on him if he does not show you it's going to be a good undersaddle today.

    IMO and IME, horse training is a lot about picking your battle. The issue you had today is not one I would tackle w/a freshly backed three year old with only a few rides under his belt. That one is for later, when all the basics are more solid.

    Be safe
    Whoa! This is SOOOOO right. My newbie (3 yrs. 4 mos.) has about 90 days under saddle - 70 with a cowgirl and 20 with me. About two weeks ago, I led him down the road to a barn that had an arena that has gates (ours have fencing on all sides, but no gate, just an opening). I worked him in the round pen at the new barn and he actually seemed a little on the lazy side. Led him out, and when I went to mount from the mounting block, he scooted away. This was the first time he had done that. I brought him back and mounted, and he was on his tip toes, jigging then walk, jigging then walk....... all the signs were there, but I ignored them and kept trying to calm him down for about 15 minutes at the walk... and then SOMETHING set him off and I hit the ground, HARD (yes, I was wearing a helmet). I was really stunned and couldn't get up for a moment or two, then rolled over on to my hands and knees and was able to stand, very shakily. I rode him at home the next few days, then on the 5th day, he decided that he would not let me mount. I did extensive ground work for a week and a half and finally bailed and took him back to the trainer - I was still too stiff from the fall to be trying to deal with the issue. Practically the first thing she said when I told her what happened was, "You should have gotten off immediately when he acted so out of character and so edgy. 3 year olds can be like that. Discretion is the better part of valor." So, he's down with her, I'll bring him home Sunday, and she says that after the first two days, he's been very good with her. She suspects there may be a partial saddle issue, since he's been much calmer with her stock saddle on him. Sigh. I see a new saddle in my future ($$$$). Oh well.



  9. #9
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    Jan. 4, 2000
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    so Reiter, what would you say you learned from that experience?

    suggestions. don't bail out. stay on, and ride the horse forward.

    "getting back on so as not to let him think he got away with something".

    if you back off your aids for one second, let alone for the amount of time it takes to fall off and get back on, he 'thinks he has gotten away with something'. don't bail.

    i'm going to be very rude and suggest that if you have this happen to you and come here asking what to do, you need to stop riding horses that are this green, or get a heck of a lot more help while you are doing it. i know it sounds very rude, but i think at this rate you are setting up to get hurt very badly.



  10. #10
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    Aug. 30, 2006
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    Obviously no sense in me reiterating what has already been said. Wise words. Hope you take them to heart and listen. Defensiveness is an automatic reaction though. Now, what to do. First, get him vetted and have chiro out. Then saddle fitter. Then farrier. It is not 100% that the rearing is physical pain, but the probability is quite high. Take time to cure this symptom NOW. I have a 16 y/o that has a history of rearing. If it had been addressed and he trained correctly it would be a non-issue. This horse's future lays in your hands. Make good decisions. Slow down the training. Extending a training period b/c you aren't getting good results isn't the way to go. I had a trainer that would say to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different response is the definition of insanity. LOL! I've been guilty of it. Most of us have. Now, forgive yourself, dry up the tears, pack up the defensiveness, and put your wonderful mind towards sorting out this horse's problems. Let us know what you find out.



  11. #11
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    i would never have the saddle fitter, chiropractor, vet and everyone else out because a youngster reared! for heaven's sake!

    youngsters DO THAT! that's just what they do! they don't do it from pain each and every time, they do it for 'i wanna go over there and you aren't letting me' and for 'i'm getting tired of this me jane you tarzan deal' and 'i wanna play with you!' and 'i'm bigger than you!' and 'i wanna see what's over there' and 'i don't like what you just told me' and 'i don't understand what you just told me' and for 'wheeee! i like being alive!'.

    young horses REAR. they BUCK, they REAR, they SHY, they BOLT, that's what they do. that is just them treating a rider exactly like they treat a herd member. it's normal. training is the whole process of teaching a horse you AREN'T another horse.



  12. #12
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    Mar. 6, 2007
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    Agree with SLC that this IS what some youngsters do. Horses are not always cooperative angels, in fact, they often go through a phase of testing once they become a little more comfortable with the whole riding thing. Also all other things you mentioned point to behavior/ training issue more than a pain issue. He started out distracted and wasn't listening - probably wasn't in the mood for some reason that day. Maybe his buddies were all outside running, maybe the weather, who knows. The head-shaking thing is a classic "I don't want to" response. If you hadn't mentioned those things, I might think it could be a pain issue, and it still could be, but rearing is still an inappropriate response unless you were beating the living daylights out of the horse or something.

    My suggestion would depend a lot on how you feel about this. If you don't feel ready to handle it yourself, you should get a professional on him. If you think you can work through it, get someone else out there with you and have them lunge him with you on him for a while. Then if he tries to pull anything they can intervene. This would allow you to work in a bigger area (good for helping to get him more forward) but still feel like there's control. The person on the ground can also help you get him forward without having to kick him. That is really what rearing is about - not wanting to go forward.

    Above all, I would say if you don't have experience working with youngsters, this might not be the best one to cut your teeth on...

    ETA - I would definately NOT have shortened the lunging session - you need to read what he's saying to you and adjust accordingly. You should never try to get on a horse that isn't listening on the lunge, just b/c your regular amount of time has passed. In this situation, you could've lunged longer, and then ridden for only a short time (which is basically what you did), but with a handler helping you from the ground.

    As others said, it is definately something that needs to be addressed promptly.
    Last edited by Grintle Sunshine; Sep. 7, 2007 at 03:24 PM. Reason: one more thing



  13. #13
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    to me head shaking is the classic 'about to be silly' body language. it's what my pony does when he's excited about getting his dinner, my old horse does just before he puts me on the floor, and my old horse before him used to do just before he bucked. horses, especially young ones, are NOT our slaves and they are NOT stimulus-response robots! they have very fun-loving outlooks at that age, they have no idea they are doing anything wrong, and i think that's great even if it at times means i am going to see the horse way above me from way below him. a young horse is the most innocent of creatures, including being innocent of what we want them to do. to them, we're just a cute slightly odd little half-a-horse-ette that makes a great bouncy toy.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post

    suggestions. don't bail out. stay on, and ride the horse forward.

    "getting back on so as not to let him think he got away with something".

    if you back off your aids for one second, let alone for the amount of time it takes to fall off and get back on, he 'thinks he has gotten away with something'. don't bail.
    Normally I agree with the philosophy behind these concepts. But in this case I don't. The bottom line is, with a baby whose only had a rider on him for a few months, the automatic responses that are there later are simply not there yet. Those first 90 days should be all about baby NOT discovering his dark side <LOL> You cannot ride a freshly started horse forward the way you can one who is confirmed in understanding the aids. Until the understanding is there, you really should simply avoid these situations.

    The best horses I have started and trained where the ones who did not find out they could buck, or rear, or not stop, for a long long long time. By the time they explored those options, GO was firmly in place. No matter how good you are, it still takes time to get the GO button installed. You just don't want to have it out with any horse until it is permanently hardwired!

    Regarding the saddle fitting/teeth, etc. etc... those things should already be done before you get on baby. If they are not, then you have to second guess their behaviour and there simply isn't time for that. I am starting my three year old this fall and he got his teeth done yesterday. I am not waiting to find out they hurt, by having him fling his head and break my nose. No thank you!

    slc, I just saw your post about the head shaking and I am laughing.. I can picture my now-10 year old horse when he was four, shaking his head and rolling his eye back at me, it was always a warning
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  15. #15
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    I'm very glad you're ok!

    Had it been me, I would have stopped after I finished the lunging session. Found something he did right with that, realized he was just not able to pay attention today, and put him away to start again another day when he was able to focus. It sounds like normally he is quite focused, from your description. Horses have bad days, too...sometimes it's better not to push it.

    Sandra



  16. #16
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    Me too. I would end the session on a good note if he finally listens on the lunge.

    I took my horse out on a stormy day... think tornado, very gusty wind. He was very frightened as I could feel him shaking. But he tries to be brave and he went on as told. As a reward, I got off... cuz I really didn't think this angelic behaviour will last... better get off while he is still good. :-))

    Youngster, I work half hour max. Simple things that make him feel mighty good about himself... then slowly build it up. Some masters I saw, work only 10 mins or so... the horse gets it, immediately put away.



  17. #17
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    I agree with SLC, for a change, lol.

    Yes, I think you should get the vet out if your trained horse's normal behavior takes a drastic change. But young horses don't have "normal" behavior preinstalled, and most of the time, they are just screwing around.



  18. #18
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    Some very famous dressage trainer had a wonderful quote which went something along the lines of 'expertise is learnt from experience and experience learnt from mistakes'.

    This was a learning experience for you, we all have them so don't stress it. As others have said, with the babies sometimes you have to adjust your plans to deal with how they are that day. Thats babies

    That said I had the same experience this weekend http://entertainment.webshots.com/ph...53281026Ergsyf this was from over excitement at the beginning of a LD endurance ride (I stay one and ended up 2nd ). Youngsters can be unpredictable, thats the joy of being young
    I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.



  19. #19
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    I agree with slc, young horses do this stuff. However teeth can be an issue. One day they're fine, the next they are painful. Also, growth spurts in youngsters can cause some interesting changes. I had the same scenario with my youngster. He was 4 1/2 years old, about 9 months under saddle. One day, out of the blue, he refused to go forwards into trot, and reared. He had been uncharacteristically "gobby" in the walk, which should have warned me. Anyway, it was unnerving - not because I'm unused to starting youngsters, or because I have kids - but because it was not something this horse had ever shown any signs of.

    I dealt with it by turning him tightly, big opening rein, real neck bend. Not punishment - prevention. He could choose to walk forward, and if not, he could look at my stirrup. The horse needed to know that rearing is not a viable option - ever. It worked, however I did also get his teeth checked and he had some seriously sharp points. So, teeth done and a week off, he came back into work with absolutely no indication of wanting to even think about rearing. Six months later (almost to the day) he had a moment at the start of the work, where he wasn't happy taking the contact, and felt sticky. I rode forward through this, kept the session short, and organised to get his teeth checked. Again, there were some sharp points, and agin he was totally fine afterwards.

    Having a bit of a rear and a scare is of no consequence to your young horse. He hasn't been trained to rear in this one episode. You are the one who will fret about it - it is you who have been trained! I'd get some help (I peosonally like the job young eventing riders do on young horses) and give yourself a break.



  20. #20
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    Thanks everybody for the (mostly) kind words and constructive criticism!
    I do realize I should have left it at longing and not ridden him, but I'm like a badger, once I got my teeth sunk into something I can't let go!
    It's a characterflaw I'm well aware of but can't quite manage to get rid off. Does it get me in trouble? Yes! Do I learn from my mistakes? I try to!!!!!

    [QUOTE=Thomas_1;2669958]
    And your reins??? Did you have any contact? Or were they totally loose? Sounds like brakes and accelerator at the same time and I'm thinking either teeth or back is troubling him. And because of the loss of balance earlier, then back????/QUOTE]
    Reins were completely loose and NO, there was absolutely no brakes and accelerator thing going on and this is NOT a pain issue! I didn't ask for opinions on why he went up. I know why he went up. Because he didn't want to go forward! Yes, the head shaking thing was my first warning and with all the other warning flags that day I should have stopped right then. Hindsight is 20/20 and I could kick myself now. Because it's not that I wasn't reading the signs, I was ignoring them!
    With him the head shaking thing doesn't mean he's frisky etc. like what slc2 is talking about. With him it means "I don't want to work anymore!"
    And here we're back to my characterflaw. I tend to believe (maybe mistakenly) that if I tell him to go, he needs to go. Getting off and calling it a day after something like this will teach him the wrong thing IMO.
    [QUOTE=Thomas_1;2669958]Shame you punished him because you were frightened. No way is he going to know the slap he got was for rearing and losing his balance./QUOTE]
    Shame on you for assuming instead of clarifying something you don't understand!
    I was frightened because a horse almost flipped over with me! I punished him because he was bad. And yes, he knew he was being slapped (with the flat of my hand) for rearing because it happend within seconds (not minutes! Seconds!) of him doing it! Even if he didn't understand it I'm sure nobody will report me for animal cruelty for slapping a horse!
    Oh and by the way, I'm 134lbs I guess that makes me a "great fat dead weight lump of a rider"! I didn't chase him around a round pen, I walked and lightly trotted in a small arena and he didn't spin around the long line either. He mostly trotted with a couple of canters thrown in that didn't even last one whole circle! I find your post extremely offensive and have a hard time finding the few kernels of good advice in all the insults! I'm very fit by the way and pretty sure I could kick your a$$ especially since you sound like you're in your eighties!
    Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter...
    Wenn er faellt dann schreit er...

    Quote Originally Posted by mbm View Post
    forward is like love - you can never have enough



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