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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2007
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    Default Young horse learning to accept the rider's authority -- share your success stories

    I suppose I just need to hear that the ones that challenge the rider turn out to be the best in the long run, or something like that . My young mare has just entered a phase in which she wants to negotiate -- as long as she can choose the speed we're going, she will go around quite happily at WARP speed, but when asked to listen is kinda thinking she didn't sign up for *that*. Now, she's my first baby and I have qualified help with me every step of the way, and I'm being assured that this is all just baby stuff and she'll be really fabulous once she gets over herself (honestly, can't wait!) and that I'm doing all the right things (basically just push her forward quietly when she's throwing a tantrum, apply the whip for really rude stuff, keep her very busy with lots of direction changes etc., lots of praise when she's being good, and always make sure I give with my hands). And when she does give it up she already feels AMAZING.

    In any case, tell me about the "questioning" your young horses have put you through and how they outgrew it. Especially how they outgrew it!

    (P.S. she is completely healthy, teeth, tack, chiro everything...)
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  2. #2
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    8,698

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    I find forward is your friend. Want to haul ass around the arena? Well ok, let's go!

    Other than that, don't drill for long periods. Do fun stuff. Mix it up. Go for trail rides, do cavaletti, ground work. Stop when you are having a good day, make sure you stop on a good note and make work enjoyable. Ride with a loop in the reins some days, bareback other days. Work on your relationship and building trust, all else will follow.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2005
    Location
    Southern CA
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    115

    Default How old?

    I've got a 2006 model who *may* have recently decided to try the unruly 5 year old tactic a few months early...LOL! She is a super young horse, just having a bit more opinion than 8 months ago but actually, I'm liking it! She is sensitive and smart. I've "heard" that the 5 year old year can be challenging in that they are stronger and can have a bit of teenage rebellion. I'm curious to read the responses.



  4. #4
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    Sep. 21, 2007
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    4 years and 8 months. started briefly as a 3 yo, then turned back out and restarted this spring and in real "work" since September. She's also super smart. Can be hot but not the spooky tense kind. I do like that she has some spunk and I'm sure that will ultimately translate into brilliance.

    And yes, we do all sorts of fun and bonding stuff as well and I think on most days, she really likes me, too .
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  5. #5
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    May. 4, 2005
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    Southern CA
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    Default

    Interesting, mine is 4 yr and 8 mo, too.



  6. #6
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    Nov. 10, 2010
    Location
    NE PA
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    Default

    mine is 4 years 5 months, started serious work 2 weeks ago, after a summer of hacking with his friends - virtually follow the leader. Now that it is just he and I working on direction, transitions etc, he gets a little cocky but we just push on and praise the good, I growl at him for the bad while asking again for the good and so far ( knock on wood ) he has been a good fast learner. Something to be said for going slowly.
    bad decisions make good stories



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2003
    Location
    Michigan
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    2,193

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    How often do you ride or work with your horse? I think consistent work is an important part of building that relationship with a young horse. If you can do *something* with them 5-6 days a week --it's much better than spending an hour with them 2 days a week. I am fortunate because I board at a place with an indoor so I can still do things all winter. I have a 4 1/2 year old. In the rare times when I am out of town and she gets several days off--I can really tell. She is less settled, focused, and generally more likely to act her age. I ride her at least 4 days a week (mostly short rides, except for my once a week lesson) and then usually do some other things 2 days a week (lunging, groundwork, pulling the mane, whatever--just spending time). Also--give them things other than you to focus on--cavaletti's are great. That may give your horse something to think about and slow her down!



  8. #8
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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  9. #9
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    Nov. 13, 2007
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    NW Louisiana
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    Default

    Forward is generally your friend, except in the case of the one who want to just run faster. Sometimes they need to come back to a bit less forward and chill, and then you can send them forward again.

    I have found that growling is a HUGE help. Once they understand that the growl means they are being naughty, you can correct them without having to use the whip or reins, so as not to upset them further. And of course praise when they are good helps a lot too, provided they like to please. Some horses just don't care about making the rider happy, but not many.

    I did go through this type of stuff with my 4.5yo right around when he turned 4 and entered some real work. He was used to hacking around, being praised just for doing simple things, and then when I started to raise the expectations a bit, he was NOT happy. He would intentionally pick up the wrong lead because he figured out that wrong lead meant come back to trot, and trot was easier. Now his favorite trick is to ignore the canter aid until he FEELS like cantering, and then he tosses his head in the air and crumples himself into a ball to make the transition (he's a park-bred Arab). Get after him with the whip, and he's just so very offended. But he's getting better about the whole thing. The work can be physically difficult for them, especially if they aren't naturally very balanced, round, and muscular.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2008
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    Florida
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    44

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    I personally find that teaching respect on the ground goes a long ways. If I have a horse that tends to get rude under saddle, I make sure to do some respect ground work before I get on board. Sometimes, I might even stop a ride to get off and reinforce this. Then I'll hop back on.

    Anyhow, this is just one trick in the bag and it, so far, has helped quite a bit (depending on the horse and the situation).
    Owned by an AQHA



  11. #11
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    Feb. 23, 2008
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    161

    Default

    [QUOTE=InsideLeg2OutsideRein;5278682]I suppose I just need to hear that the ones that challenge the rider turn out to be the best in the long run, or something like that .

    It's possible. It works both ways- sometimes the brilliant horse is a certified PITA as a youngster, sometimes they are the best you've ever imagined. Doesn't matter, if it's your horse, and you believe in them, and ask them to believe in themselves and turn on the work ethic, then you always have a nice horse to ride. doesn't matter if it's a world champ or not does it? If it's your nice horse to ride and it's a pleasure to do so.

    My 3 1/2 year old just had a couple of weeks in boot camp herself- got very snotty and bratty with my young rider, so I had to get on and get her squared away. Some pretty unpleasant behavior- rearing, kicking, bucking, mostly refusing to get in front of my leg and go- after a couple of come to Jesus weeks where she discovered that my will was always stronger than her resistence, and that it wasn't at all bad to work with me instead of against me, she's turned the corner and going beautifully again.

    No deep seated mystery- she's young horse, just a horse, just seeing whether she can get away with being a spoiled brat, that's all. Now that she finds she can't and that it is far more pleasant to be a good girl, she has decided that it behooves her to be good. Horses always make choices in their own self interest if the proposition is put in front of them clearly enough.

    It's just that riding a young horse through all this drama is not for the unskilled or faint of heart- pretty scarey stuff sometimes, but you just have to push through it. If you know exactly what you're doing, at the end you have a lovely young mare working and partnering with you, and that can be a lifetime of joy together.

    Mares are more difficult than geldings- you can't bully them, you can't be unfair, they are quick to take offense and quick to find fault and quick to find a chink in your skill to get the upper hand. But if you rise to the challenge and work through it, a mare that loves you and will work for you is the most incredible experience in the saddle you can dream of. So, it's worth it for both of you.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2007
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    SF Bay Area
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    Default

    [QUOTE=HSS;5278920]
    Quote Originally Posted by InsideLeg2OutsideRein View Post
    ... doesn't matter if it's a world champ or not does it? If it's your nice horse to ride and it's a pleasure to do so.

    My 3 1/2 year old just had a couple of weeks in boot camp herself- got very snotty and bratty with my young rider, so I had to get on and get her squared away. Some pretty unpleasant behavior- rearing, kicking, bucking, mostly refusing to get in front of my leg and go- after a couple of come to Jesus weeks where she discovered that my will was always stronger than her resistence, and that it wasn't at all bad to work with me instead of against me, she's turned the corner and going beautifully again.
    Thanks HSS, she is a lovely, well balanced, talented girl, and with "being the best" -- I meant working through it to have a truly special partnership with her. I just have no comparison as to how quickly I "should" be able to nip this in the butt (I realize that each horse is different, but say, everyone says --one ride and all done, I'd worry that I needed the trainer to get on her...) ... I have been able to deal appropriately with her very similar to yours naughty behavior -- she has been pushing the envelope for the last three rides. I'm not afraid of her, not mad at her, just interested in others' experiences.

    I train with an I judge who said to me: You will piss her off in the process. Don't back off because you think you're doing something wrong. On the contrary, you're probably doing something very right.

    Yesterday during the good girl part: http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-...4_345148_n.jpg
    Last edited by InsideLeg2OutsideRein; Dec. 13, 2010 at 01:44 AM.
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  13. #13
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    Mar. 28, 2006
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    Default

    My young horse was a sweet, goofy, big lug...then he turned 4 and a half
    "When you think you don't need a coach ...then you're in trouble" Don Imus 2012



  14. #14
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    Nov. 11, 2001
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    Pennsylvania,Zone ll
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    Default

    Great thread for those of us in the midst of training young horses. I went with the positives all last year, and am just now feeling that my 4 year old 7 month gelding is trainable. Before this he happily did whatever I asked........unless I asked for something difficult, like turning when he wanted to keep going straight...you know, really "tough stuff" like that. He has finally stopped holding his breath and grunting and is considering that I might just have the right to ask for transitions!!!
    "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt



  15. #15
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    Feb. 23, 2008
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    I just have no comparison as to how quickly I "should" be able to nip this in the butt (I realize that each horse is different, but say, everyone says --one ride and all done, I'd worry that I needed the trainer to get on her...) ... I have been able to deal appropriately with her very similar to yours naughty behavior -- she has been pushing the envelope for the last three rides. I'm not afraid of her, not mad at her, just interested in others' experiences.
    I train with an I judge who said to me: You will piss her off in the process. Don't back off because you think you're doing something wrong. On the contrary, you're probably doing something very right.

    How quickly depends on many factors- her personality, her ridability (willingness to listen to the rider); how long this has been going on; your skills and your level of work.

    Because the first time the horse tries something is not the first time something has gone "wrong" - it's the first time you realize that your training has not been correct, and you have allowed this behavior to develop and blossom. Sad, but it's always the rider, always the trainer.

    Young horses do go through the "terrible 2's" about 4-6 years of age, and with some of them, it's pretty dramatic. Basically I feel this is brought on by the misguided notion that you should baby a youngster- not ask too much, not work them too hard, and that simply backfires. Young horses need to work, they need to work steadily, and they need to work progressively harder and harder. I don't take my youngsters out bareback with a halter in the mistaken notion that somehow I'm bonding with them- I do plenty of that while they are growing up on my farm with me, and everyday when I feed them and handle them. No, saddle time is work time, and if you bring your youngster along in their progressive dressage training there's plenty of emotional and physical satisfaction in the work for them, plenty of different exercises and skill sets to develop, far more than enough to keep them intellectually engaged.

    How long it's going to take to turn your mare around depends- when I put a horse into boot camp I ride that horse every single day and I ride it HARD until that blessed moment when the horse finally gives in to my authority and straightens up- then I give them their first day off. Then I see whether the behavior has come back with a day off- that means it's been too soon to stop the boot camp. As the behavior built up over time, I expect to see it diminish over time as well- with a mare in particular, you rarely see her just give it all up. My filly is still squealing a bit when I get on, and giving a kick or two to let me know that she's not my slave, but it's just a little bit of spunk, not a dangerous sign of her complete rebellion to the aids anymore. When she goes into the area, and I ask her to move off, she complies. I can live with her backtalk, as long as she is working well, and there is no rebellion during the workout. I expect that even this little remnent will eventually go away.

    I'm not sure exactly how to interpret your trainers statement, but I think it's in the spirit of when the rider takes authority and command in the saddle with a spoiled horse, the horse naturally tries to reassert their dominence over the rider, and the rider has to come into momentary comflict with the horse to reestablish the command authority they should have had in the first place. That is true. Having a war with your horse is never OK, punishing your young horse for being a horse and your mistakes is never ok. They're just horses! They not that smart, not able to strategize or to outthink you, they just find those holes in your skills that makes life easier for them and take the easy way along. So, naturally when you close those loopholes and ask for the tougher work, they question your authority. It's normal with horses, dogs, and children.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun. 4, 2008
    Location
    Greenwood, IN
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    24

    Default Glad to know I'm not the only one.

    I'm so glad to have found this thread. I recently aquired a 5 1/2 yr old Dutch Warmblood. I bought him mid October and he was delivered to me on Oct. 31. I was told the horse was training 2nd level. HA! Not quite. He was also advertised with a temperment of 3 on a 1-10, I would give him a 6. In the time that I've had him, we have done ground work, long-lined (he's excellent at this), arena work and 1 trail ride through the woods.

    Every couple of weeks I lunge him over a jump. My rides (back when it was warm) were about 30 min. Now they are closer to 45-50 as warm up takes longer. In the trot, he has a sticky go button. Sometimes it is not the first transition to trot but instead after a walk break. He will pin ears, shake head and sometimes kick out with his back right leg. If I catch it early, I can turn him and say Trot in a stern voice and he will move off. This usually happens just once each direction. For the trot to canter transition, he kicks out with his back right. I have tried reinforcing on the ground that if the whip comes up, his feet better be moving or tapping would get progressively harder. He doesn't care for a rider with a whip and does respect spurs. I do work with a trainer every week and things have gotten better. My second lesson we spent the entire lesson working on the sticky go button...now it is just usually once each direction. What does everyone else do to correct the sticky go button and kicking out?

    On the trail he likes to lead and I managed to sit through 2 woohoo I feel good bucking fits when asked to trot. However, he was perfectly content to walk. No breaking into trot or canter, just a very nice forward walk.

    It's so nice to know that I'm not the only one.



  17. #17
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    Jun. 10, 2002
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    Spain
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    For me it usually starts to get tricky when the aids start blending. It can be confusing to the horse when leg/hand/seat are used together ie 4 1/2 year olds being asked to work forward into the bit.
    I try to remember that though i've done all this stuff before, my young horse hasn't. This is completely new to him.
    I go back to ...go from the leg with a VERY light contact,... stop from the rein with no leg or seat, ...and turn.
    I make it very clear and basic.
    I do this at the start of every ride, and repeat it if things get messy during the ride, and gradually blend the aids again as fast as he can accept.
    It's also really important to know what to do if the horse has a throw down, what response is 'enough' to go stop and turn. How much leg to use to get a sharp upwards transition and when to tap then whap if the leg is ignored.How to sit the horse on his bum if he gets in a pulling competition with you. Really how to say 'you will' if he says 'I won't!)
    I do find though, the less confused the horse is and the more solid his understanding of go stop and turn, the less problems arise.
    (I also cross my fingers and touch wood before each ride )



  18. #18
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    Sep. 21, 2007
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    Perseverance paid off. She was a very good girl today. She got "stuck" again in the same spot on the long side she has decided that it is impossible to canter through on the right lead, but it was almost like today she was asking me to make it go away and help her canter through it. And we did! I'm not kidding myself that this was "it", but I'm glad she decided not to take it up another notch. .

    raff -- I will add knocking on wood before each ride to my routine though!
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  19. #19
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    May. 4, 2005
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    Southern CA
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    Raff, I really appreciate your post. I think you've hit the nail on the head for me...the aids are getting more subtle now, so good to check back in on the basics. My mare is not doing anything naughty, no buck, rear, or bolt - I just get more of a "vibe" at times...like she isn't quite as amused by me as she was a few months ago. LOL! Just in case, the vet is coming on Friday to do a wellness check & we have a new saddle on order. Merry Christmas to her!



  20. #20
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    Nov. 1, 2001
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    "Authority" is a human idea, you are not likely to get a horse to accept it. Horses embrace leadership. If they are don't sense leadership one of two things happen. They either get very nervous or they take on the leadership role themselves.

    Your horse isn't trying to negotiate with you. She is telling you that she is uncertain of your leadership for whatever reason. You need to reassure her that you are the leader. With green horses, I look at every training session as an opportunity for a choice for the horse - they can say yes or they can say no. I like them to say yes. So I do a lot of work that makes is easy to say yes. Horses are pretty agreeable and will go along pretty easily most of the time, if you have prepared them properly.

    For a horse that won't allow you to rate their speed, you should consider why. IME that is usually a sign that they are unbalanced. Mare seem to get really bothered by this. I might lunge her in side reins working on basic transitions and transition within the gait, focusing on the quality of the downward transitions particularly. Under saddle, I would do some cavaletti work and also work on transitions. Ask for the best downward transition you can get (stepping under as much as she is capable) as soon as she speeds up.



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