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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 9, 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    115

    Question Spin-off: Difficult Horse, WWYD?

    I’d love to hear some COTH wisdom!

    At the beginning of the year a friend of mine purchased an extremely talented 6 yr. old OTTB who had showed successfully at Training level with her prior professional owner. Tried the horse out twice (everything went well) & had a very clean vet check.

    Since the horse has been purchased the owner (experienced; has ridden through Intermediate) has had problems with said horse that have progressively gotten worse over time.

    My friend noticed within the first couple of weeks that the horse ‘doesn’t like’ to stand still/halt. When the horse is standing/halted for too long she’ll start backing up. Once the horse starts backing up it’s hard to get her to stop/move forward again.

    However, a few weeks later & since then it is learned that the horse does this backing up over numerous other random ‘issues’ (ie dogs barking, randomly in the middle of a dressage test, crossing water, going down a certain path, etc…)

    At first the horse was ‘backing up’ once or twice a week, but has now progressed to 4+ times a week & I believe has even reared at one point recently.

    When the horse backs up, at times she’ll ‘run’ backwards. Most of the time she’ll stop, refuse to move forward & back up again & repeat this cycle. She’s seemly VERY stubborn & angry when this is all happening.

    My friend has tried numerous ‘tricks’, but seems to be having some trouble. There have been different approaches such as:

    -Being assertive, yet patient (a couple of good whacks with the whip & time for the horse to think about it/process it) – Didn’t work

    -Being mild (No use of crop, gently talk to calm horse down) – Didn’t work

    -Try having someone lead the horse forward (people have gotten hurt during this process when she pulls back hard) – Didn’t work

    -Try turning the horse & circle (forward) out of it. – Best results, but not a ‘cure’ by any means

    -Being aggressive (get angry, flip whip & whack the horse a good 4 times) – Only tried a couple of times. Made the horse angrier & she did it worse/harder. Seemly very counterproductive.

    -Tried different bits (rollers, leverage, happy mouths, and much more) – No change. The horse is now regularly ridden in a KK Ultra Double Jointed Snaffle in all 3 phases.

    -Try following another horse – Helped at times, and other times it didn’t really work. Plus, most of the time there isn’t another horse around/being ridden when this horse is working.

    Since the original vet check the horse has been looked at by another vet and chiropractor with no findings or changes.

    What would you do/recommend in this situation?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Location
    Lucama, NC
    Posts
    5,868

    Default

    I would get a good "cowboy" type rider that will ride her thru it. She NEEDS to udnerstand forward means FORWARD, not tomorrow but NOW. I had a horse here with similar tendency for me to market, ownertold me about it. At first she didn't try it but then after a few weeks began doing it worse and worse. Sent her to an Aussie trainer/cowboy and he put HONKING spurs on (did not hurt her but made her UNDERSTAND) and basically he made her go FOWARD. He would "lope" her around and around, if she tried to stop she got loped some more. When she came home after one week, she was a different horse. It worked and she was sold internationally as a show jumper prospect.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
    Posts
    4,266

    Default

    Some horses can pick up a bad habit faster than you can blink. This horse has gotten away with the backing up dozens of times now. If the circling worked best, do that every time, and be quicker to do it. Don't wait til the horse is going backwards, do it as soon as the forwardness starts to die. Be sure the rider is not hanging on the mouth, inadvertently pulling the horse backwards.

    A cowboy might fix it, but if the current rider can't do the same technique as the cowboy, the horse will find that "hole" in the rider's technique again, or some other hole, and go back to the bad habit again eventually.

    So I'd go to a good trainer for help, but make sure they train the rider as well as the horse. And do it now, before it turns into rearing and flipping over! Don't wait til the horse has figured out it can do that, too!!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 15, 2003
    Posts
    1,370

    Default

    When I was younger and braver I rode a horse like this for a few months. She was trying to get out of work and had her owner's number, which was why I got to ride her. One ride she ran backwards so fast she tripped and fell over. I got up, put her on the lunge and worked her pants off. At first she was having fun running and bucking on the lunge. Then she was done playing and wanted to stop. I snapped the lunge whip and made her keep going until she was dripping with sweat. When I let her walk she seemed relieved. Then I turned her around and lunged the other way. Then I got back on and walked, trotted and cantered in both directions, then cooled her out and put her away.
    The next day I came out, tacked up, walked, trotted, cantered in each direction, about a 10 minute ride. She was an angel. I stopped and put her away.
    She never ran backwards on me again. Occasionally when she was really, really good at the beginning of a ride I'd cut it short and put her away, back in the stall to eat her hay. Not every time she was good, just once in a while, to reinforce that if she was good she might get a free pass.
    This particular horse was smart, opinionated, alpha and a little lazy. I didn't plan this method ahead of time, it just seemed what to do at the time, give the horse an awful lot of what she was trying to avoid in response to her bad behaviour. Not sure if this will help with your friend's mare but it might.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2008
    Posts
    4,051

    Default

    If she is backing up over specific issues, my only other suggestion would be to ask her to back up even after she is done backing up for her own reasons. We did this with a few naughty school horses and it did fix them, but it is not an end all. Worth a shot.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 9, 2009
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    80

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by shawneeAcres View Post
    I would get a good "cowboy" type rider that will ride her thru it. She NEEDS to udnerstand forward means FORWARD, not tomorrow but NOW. I had a horse here with similar tendency for me to market, ownertold me about it. At first she didn't try it but then after a few weeks began doing it worse and worse. Sent her to an Aussie trainer/cowboy and he put HONKING spurs on (did not hurt her but made her UNDERSTAND) and basically he made her go FOWARD. He would "lope" her around and around, if she tried to stop she got loped some more. When she came home after one week, she was a different horse. It worked and she was sold internationally as a show jumper prospect.
    I had a friend who had the same exact problem... Of course we are in Montana.. and the girl was riding Western.. so the dads solution was to back the horse into an electric fence. (ouchhh) The horse never backed to avoid moving forward again.. Not that I would ever try this with a horse, but the cowboy methods do work. But still ouchhhhh. lol
    Words to live by:
    There's always another box on your test
    Over or through
    Throw your heart over the fence and go after it



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2000
    Location
    Chantilly,va.
    Posts
    10,867

    Exclamation

    Have vet/ chiro check the back; then try shawnee Acres suggestion with extreme caution; be sure someone is trhereewith a phone in hand in case horse goes over backwards
    breeder of Mercury!

    remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 7, 2001
    Location
    Port Orange, FL
    Posts
    1,904

    Default

    I have 2 right now that I'm riding for some friends that do that.

    One is a young very talented mare. She did that last year when we got her going under saddle . She would stop by the gate and just shut down. I fixed it and then we gave her the winter off. I started her back a couple of weeks ago and she was picture perfect. Well, the other day while I was cantering in the indoor, she slammed on the brakes, bucked and started running backward. It was so random that she got me off.
    Well, after that she decided that she didn't want to be a riding horse anymore and just wanted to go back in her pasture and have fun with her buddies.
    I'm currently riding her in the round pen. It's much harder to back up in a round pen for horses and she is learning the true meaning of forward : FORWARD IS NEVER, NEVER, NEVER QUESTIONABLE.
    When that concept is clear, the problem will be solved.
    Tell you friend to be ready for huge tantrums.


    The other horse was a very spooky stallion. He got gelded and I really try to keep him busy all the time. I ask him something every stride (inside bend, outside bend, shoulder-in, Leg yeld, medium trot, halt, trot, canter, trot, circle, cross rail. I don't give him a break. I ride him 25 minutes or 30 mn straight and he is done.
    If I don't keep him very, very busy that's the end of my ride. He stops, spins, rears (straight up, not a little hop).

    It's not an easy issue to fix, but it's doable.
    Last edited by mademoiselle; Jun. 17, 2009 at 10:55 AM.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep. 14, 1999
    Posts
    829

    Default

    Has anyone tried Regumate yet? Worked quite nicely for my highly opinionated Connemara/TB cross mare who would decide she's rather run backwards/sideways whenever her hormones weren't quite right and she was feeling cranky.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 1999
    Posts
    14,488

    Default

    It sounds like the horse is objecting to how it is currently being ridden. Maybe your friend is a whole lot more in the horse's mouth than the previous rider. When a horse is going well with one type of rider, but with another it progresses downhill, that tells me the horse is really trying to tell you something.

    I would seek help from the previous rider, or her trainer if at all possible.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2009
    Location
    it used to be country
    Posts
    689

    Default

    I half leased my QH for a couple of years, and he discovered if he started backing, he got to go back to the barn. It was only when he was alone. I asked what they had done to correct him and they said circled. So I got on and sure enough he started backing I did not circle, I put his nose on my knee and kept him spinning for a good while after he was tired of it. He tried once more, spun him the other way. NOT and easy circle, and they can trip if they are throwing a nasty tantrum.
    Sounds like this mare has just got your friends #. ( I hope it is nothing else)
    Just my 1.5 worth. More coffee is needed before it's the whole .2



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2006
    Location
    Saco, Maine
    Posts
    4,715

    Default

    I'd agree with the spinning solution. Rider must be quick to catch the horse before the backing actually starts and spin that thing till she thinks it will fall over then spin some more. Not aggressively, just firmly. Take the shortened rein over and hook the hand holding it behind the thigh and sit still. (horse nose at rider knee) When the cow tries to stop, urge her to continue with heel pokes or whacks with the dressage whip. As long as she's spinning she can't be rearing, which pleases ME immensley when I am in this predicament! When she really feels like tipping over, change direction. Forcing the back-up beyond her choice is another good method but be careful, you can also force the rear.
    When the thing is actually working in the ring, practise getting her in front of the leg. I had a wonderful lesson in this yesterday on my lazy-bone-behind-the-leg-may-as-well-stop-and-go-backwards-TB. Canter around the arena in 1/2 seat, pushing forward into a really forward canter-mine was faster and bigger than I really ever want to do in the ring with coach shouting 'COME ONNNNNNN! LEG!!! GO GO GO!!!" (YIKERS) So then, after going around like that a few times, she had me come into a 20 m circle, keeping the blasting canter. As my beast started to change the pace a bit, she had me spiral into a 10 m circle, smaller, smaller, with outside leg alone, nothing else changing. At this point, the circle controls the speed, the canter becomes quite lovely and round and bouncy! Then back out to 20 m, and on to blast around the full ring again. We did that a few times, both directions, and guess what. What a lovely, forward moving, fancy little horse I had. I'm going out now to see how he's feeling about going backwards today
    As long as you are confident the horse isn't dealing with some health issues, then you will just have to work through the misery. You've checked for Lyme, EPSM and ulcers, I presume?



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
    Posts
    4,266

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    From my experience the head-around/spin strategy can work very well, but make sure there is a reward, not just punishment. Ask for forward in a normal way, if horse goes back, go in the tiny circle/head-around. Then offer they can go forward nicely walk trot whatever. If they go nicely, then let them go nicely and do whatever normal work you planned on until they offer to do the naughty backing up. There has to be the reward of "soft and easy" when they are doing the right thing, or they'll just get resentful and sour about work.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 3, 2001
    Location
    Hagerstown, MD
    Posts
    3,610

    Default

    Anyone notice it is mainly mares that do this?

    I had a mare that did the same thing along with rears, bucks, sunfishes, etc thrown in for fun. I tolerated that for all of one ride before I sent her bottom off to a cowboy. When she returned, she was perfect .



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2003
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    309

    Default

    I know a mare that does this too. She starts it when she is getting tacked up. It's bad too. She'll back up so fast she'll end up sitting on her ass like a donkey. We've had her checked up one side and down another. Nothing physical that we can find. It's not all the time either. One thing I will add is that it tends to happen when her owner/rider is a bit tensed up. It's almost like she is picking up on that feeling. On days when her owner is relaxed and pre-occupied with other things, the mare is fine.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2009
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    it used to be country
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    689

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    From my experience the head-around/spin strategy can work very well, but make sure there is a reward, not just punishment. Ask for forward in a normal way, if horse goes back, go in the tiny circle/head-around. Then offer they can go forward nicely walk trot whatever. If they go nicely, then let them go nicely and do whatever normal work you planned on until they offer to do the naughty backing up. There has to be the reward of "soft and easy" when they are doing the right thing, or they'll just get resentful and sour about work.
    I guess I forgot to mention that part
    Mine is a gelding, but he is a redhead.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 9, 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    115

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    Thanks everyone for sharing your advice & experiences.

    We haven’t thought of sending her to a cowboy, but at this point it’s starting to look pretty attractive to me. Does anybody know of any good ones???

    Other suggestions were good ones, but many of them were tried with no avail.

    While the turning strategy gave the owner the ‘best’ results I don’t think it’s the answer in this case right now. It only works ½ the time. The other ½ the horse just plants her feet & WILL NOT MOVE even if she’s being kicked, spurred & smacked with the crop. She’ll go backwards, plant, backwards, plant. If you try turning her many times she’ll just turn her head around & WILL NOT MOVE.

    She really is so random too. Many times she’ll be fine & something stupid will spook her, she leaps forward & then is tense & before you know it she’s stopping & going backwards.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Location
    Lucama, NC
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotIITrot View Post
    Thanks everyone for sharing your advice & experiences.

    We haven’t thought of sending her to a cowboy, but at this point it’s starting to look pretty attractive to me. Does anybody know of any good ones???

    Other suggestions were good ones, but many of them were tried with no avail.

    While the turning strategy gave the owner the ‘best’ results I don’t think it’s the answer in this case right now. It only works ½ the time. The other ½ the horse just plants her feet & WILL NOT MOVE even if she’s being kicked, spurred & smacked with the crop. She’ll go backwards, plant, backwards, plant. If you try turning her many times she’ll just turn her head around & WILL NOT MOVE.

    She really is so random too. Many times she’ll be fine & something stupid will spook her, she leaps forward & then is tense & before you know it she’s stopping & going backwards.
    Yes, since you are in NC you should send your mare to Bruce Egglesfield, I believe he is still in NC near Greenville. PM me for contact info. He is who rode the mare I mentioned and haas ridden MANY MANY difficult horses, some for VERY well known dressage horse trainer/breeders. I highly recommend him



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov. 26, 2003
    Location
    NE FL
    Posts
    6,479

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
    It sounds like the horse is objecting to how it is currently being ridden. Maybe your friend is a whole lot more in the horse's mouth than the previous rider. When a horse is going well with one type of rider, but with another it progresses downhill, that tells me the horse is really trying to tell you something.

    I would seek help from the previous rider, or her trainer if at all possible.
    i agree. And in addition to checking the back I would check the saddle fit. If she just bought the horse she's probably riding it in a different saddle than the old owner
    "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2000
    Location
    Chantilly,va.
    Posts
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    Question CAUTION W/ BACKING1

    The backing until' shes' tired of it sounds interesting; my concern comes because an older tbmare who, had been toa NH to fix bucking, went backwards with me, started bucking, "sunsfishing "and finally threw herself pn the ground THis was all at at the end of a working session;these techniques sound very interesting but, my iown experience ity a horse backing up ,landed me in a hospital with a moderately severe concussion,fractured ribs and collarbone; try backing her on long lines first
    breeder of Mercury!

    remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans



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