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  1. #1
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    Question Help with young horse that semi-rears when fresh?

    What is the best thing to help a horse through being fresh?

    My young horse is great at home but when he goes to a new place he shakes his head and tries to rear when you first get on. After a few minutes he calms down and then finishes fine, but what can I do to work him through this "nervous" behavior?

    I don't lunge him because he is not a high energy horse, so I tend to lose a lot more then just the leaping around on the lunge.

    He jumps great, rarely spooks, is very pleasant to ride, it's just new places the first day!

    I thought maybe side reins and a light lunge until he seems to relax?

    I have ridden many green horses that react when fresh and I know that with experience he will get used to new places, I just want to make sure I am doing what I can to stop the bad behavior.



  2. #2
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    A light lunge may help just so he can look around, but more times than not when a horse rears or hops up and down, they're trying to get out of going forward. So my best suggestion is to keep him moving and not let him have the opportunity to stop and hope up and down.



  3. #3
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    He's a young horse in strange places. Take him lots of places. Ignore the behavior you don't want and just get him moving.


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  4. #4
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    I'd lunge. A light 5-10 minute lunge (to emphasize forward and that it's time to work) did wonders for my rearer.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Ridge View Post
    I'd lunge. A light 5-10 minute lunge (to emphasize forward and that it's time to work) did wonders for my rearer.
    This, plus prompt use of spurs/stick to get him going forward any time he even thinks of going up. That behavior needs to be nipped in the bud.


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  6. #6
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    Go forward. Always. Forward is your friend.


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  7. #7
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    If you can catch him when he just starts to go up, then turn him quickly and tightly with an opening inside rein to spin him in a tight circle. If you can do this a few times as he starts to go up, he will stop rearing. I think the reason it works is that it gets the horse off balance, and since prey instincts make them very afraid to fall, they will avoid putting themselves in that position.

    Getting the "freshness out" by longeing does not work as well, since the rear is an instinctual flight/fight response (particularly since you said that your horse is not high energy.) So this rearing thing is just the horse's response to new stimulus or what he perceives as a scary situation. You need to make the rear scarier than the stimulus or the situation. If the rearing has not yet become a habitual response, the correction (turning) should only take a few times to work.
    Good luck.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    If you can catch him when he just starts to go up, then turn him quickly and tightly with an opening inside rein to spin him in a tight circle. If you can do this a few times as he starts to go up, he will stop rearing. I think the reason it works is that it gets the horse off balance, and since prey instincts make them very afraid to fall, they will avoid putting themselves in that position.

    Getting the "freshness out" by longeing does not work as well, since the rear is an instinctual flight/fight response (particularly since you said that your horse is not high energy.) So this rearing thing is just the horse's response to new stimulus or what he perceives as a scary situation. You need to make the rear scarier than the stimulus or the situation. If the rearing has not yet become a habitual response, the correction (turning) should only take a few times to work.
    Good luck.
    I agree with turning him tightly and quickly when he begins to get light, but the I disagree about he lunge—it's not about "freshness"; it's about teaching them that they go forward when you say forward. That can be learned on the lunge and that eliminates the risk of them having to learn it entirely with someone on their back.


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Ridge View Post
    I agree with turning him tightly and quickly when he begins to get light, but the I disagree about he lunge—it's not about "freshness"; it's about teaching them that they go forward when you say forward. That can be learned on the lunge and that eliminates the risk of them having to learn it entirely with someone on their back.
    Depends on the horse, I think. Some balky disobedient horses do need a "refresher" on forward as you say. But the young horse who is a defensive rearer, who makes a display of bravado in new situations out of adrenalin and instinct, is a different problem, I think. Rearing (fight response) in this situation is more akin to a runaway (flight response) in young, green horses. It is not about training, it is about saving your own hide until they desensitize to new situations.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


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  10. #10
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    As Eclectic Horseman says, instant defusing is necessary. I do think though that longeing in these situations, with side reins is useful in that it sends him forward, should keep him focused on you, and keeps your body in a safe place. The alternative, if you can keep it under control is a lot of hand walking for the first few outings. Many horses lead anywhere, you are the boss. When we get in the saddle some think that they have to take charge of us.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  11. #11
    Samotis is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    See, I turn him to my leg. Luckily it isnt a surprise when he tries stuff, so I am used to turning to my leg and bending, going back to work and bending if he does it again.

    He works out of it after 5 minutes, but I just wonder if it is just a fresh thing or him being rude!

    Like I said, he only does it the first day at a show. He hasn't been to many so I am hoping he gets better as he gets used to the shows.



  12. #12
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    When you turn him, try NOT going in a tight circle, but allow him to walk off at an angle. The main thing is that he moves forward, even if it is not the initial direction you wanted. When he has taken a few steps forward, turn him calmly back the way you want to go. You might end up wandering around a bit, but after a while he will realize that life won't change, in spite of all the new and strange things about him.
    Young horses and others with limited life experience often show reluctance to move forward in new situations, but in my experience they soon settle down.




  13. #13
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    Make sure your saddle fits and his back is not sore. Soreness often leads to bad behavior when mounting!

    The other thing is to change your procedure or place that you get on. If this behavior is habitual, your horse is cueing off of the pattern you repeat when mounting. Change the pattern. Find a safe way to get on differently--start to get on, then get off, lean over him, reach forward feed him a treat, or something to change the pattern.

    You could also have someone feed him treats when you mount and walk forward with more treats so he follows that person, then maybe pick-up a trot right away, step over ground poles. Do different things each time.

    Don't punish him, just change things up.


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  14. #14
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    Based on what the OP has described? I don't think this is that big a deal-I have had teenaged, broke to death horses that act like they have never been off the home farm for 15 minutes or so when first ridden in a strange place. I'd cut him a little slack here-it's a pretty normal initial reaction to a strange place.

    Not that OP can let him can get away with the disobediance but it's not a serious problem.

    As has been mentioned, he has to be sent forward so work on 100% compliance to those aids every time, every ride-and back it up with spur and stick. Busy work is good too, your leg yields and lots of transitions are good for that to keep that little brain too busy to get distracted. Sometimes these do better if you get on and go right to trot too, no loose rein warm up walking around, get them busy. When you feel him relax, you can drop the rein and walk, which makes it a nice reward.

    Just me but...I don't like to make a hugely big deal about reacting to misbehavior, just fix it and continue on-the longer you dwell on it, the more tension you create so the instant it's over, fagetaboutit. IME most of them that want to sull up and prop a little on their back legs just need the forward reminders reinforced and something else to do and they sort of fix themselves. They can't go up if they are going forward.

    I don't like the spin or small circle execpt as a defensive last resort if they are really going up-it takes the forward away and makes a big deal out of it. Try to get it stopped and the horse forward before it gets that far.

    Anyway, this one sounds pretty normal and not dangerous. I don't see a thing wrong with tacking him up, adding the sidereins and spinning him around for 10 minutes day 1 at a new place. Nothing wrong with a quick refresher before getting aboard...and if he wants to buck and fart a few times and shake his head because he is so proud of himself he can't stand it??? It's safe way to work that off and be ready to go work.

    If that's the worst problem this youngster comes up with? OP has a good one.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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  15. #15
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    I totally agree with FindEight. My mare did just what OP describes when I took her to a new place this past Summer. It was my fault - I hadn't taken her anywhere in a year and a half. She popped up and tossed her head around a couple of times when I mounted, so I squeezed and got her trotting right away. Got most of the ants out of her pants in a minute or two of trotting. Then did more brain-engaging stuff (stand still and flex your head. Now back up. Halt. Now side-pass this way. Now the other. Turn on your forehand, etc., etc.). It took a very short time until she relaxed and was her normal super-star self again.



  16. #16
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    I too agree with everyone and see nothing at all wrong with putting him on the lunge (with side reins) and making him work for 10 mins. My young horse goes on the lunge like this a couple of times a week....he's not learning he can play and buck and generally be stupid on the longe line, he's learning to go forward and have manners! Longing is a tool and a good one when it's used properly and is not used to simply tire a seasoned horse to the point of exhaustion!
    Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by islgrl View Post
    Go forward. Always. Forward is your friend.
    Love this! I am burning this into my brain.



  18. #18
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    Forward, definitely forward. I'd get on and go straight into a trot. Push him forward, make him think...transitions, circles, direction changes, shoulder in, leg yielding, etc doesn't matter as long as he's moving forward. Back up that forward cue with spurs and whip if needed.

    It sounds as if he's more excited about new surroundings than being a jerk...I'd not make a big deal of his impulse to go up, I'd simply ignore it and put him to work, up = work, work=forward.



  19. #19
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    This 110%.

    Your exact issue was mine this past summer. It was my 4 y/o mare's first show season.
    She would get ants in her pants while standing waiting at the in gate and do her mini lift. (I hate to call it rear since it is really just her throwing a hissy).


    When I first arrive at the grounds, I hand walk her around to see the sights, walk everywhere you can, I use a chain on her nose, keeping it loose but as a slight reminder to behave.
    I let her munch on grass a bit then after about 20 -30 minutes of this, I tack up and do mind 'numbing' ie lateral work and transitions at the walk, (halt, walk, collect, lengthen).
    To her, lateral work gets her in the zone since she really has to 'think'. As soon as the ears go flat out sideways, I know I am in the safe zone.
    Gradually, I work up to trot and and a bit of canter to stretch out. Lots of transitions help keep the focus.

    Overall, ignore the hissy fits. If they warrant a reminder, tap the shoulder or a deep 'NO!'.


    It gets better! You will get a bit of it at every new venue for awhile but the fits dwindle to nothing eventually.



  20. #20
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    Keep him going forward. Period. If he is refusing to listen to your leg, carry and use a dressage whip in addition to your leg, as needed, until the behavior subsides. Rearing is a refusal or hesitation to go forward.



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