Hello from Kansas!
I just wanted to say "thank you!" to all of the posters on this thread.
Your advice gives me reason to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Any additional advice or guidance will be very greatly appreciated!
//Possible thread-jack, please feel free to ignore//
I had been a working student/apprentice at a nationally winning, non-soreing, saddle seat barn back in my younger days; I tam very comfortable working with very hot reactive horses.
Then I purchased a 7 y/o very green Arabian gelding last summer...
His previous owner had not ridden him in two years due to unspecified "work injuries." Vee is a usually joy to work with; we are perfectly suited to each other. He is the most frighteningly intelligent horse that I have ever met. He simply does not get tired. Ever. He's very reactive, but I get the impression that he simply enjoys a good spook, the way that some people enjoy bungee jumping or roller coasters. Boredom seems to be the cue for his bad behavior.
So I'm going to continue with the hand-walking and the clicker, even though the QH people (which is everybody) out here think that I'm crazy for doing so.
//end of thread-jack//
Again, thank you all for your advice.
Good luck to you! I've owned my mare for 15 years and I'm still figuring her out. Hot and smart will keep you on your toes! But at least we'll never be bored.
One other thing to add to my previous post. Keep your legs on. If you're not a dressage rider, this may seem counterproductive, but don't be afraid to use your legs. Keep contact on and keep the horse going forward onto the bit.
Dressage lessons are helpful for both horse and rider, especially if you're coming from a saddleseat background, as I was too.
I agree with you - I think my arabians enjoy a good spook too. Ben is 14 and thinks he's a parade horse. The mare gets totally bored when we are out endurance training, and decides to draw my attention to everything on the trail, which is about when I decide that a good gallop is needed, lol.
They have done wonders for my stickability though, so much so that I think that they both now know that I will just sit down in the saddle, and not react. Boring!
He is the most frighteningly intelligent horse that I have ever met. He simply does not get tired. Ever. He's very reactive, but I get the impression that he simply enjoys a good spook, the way that some people enjoy bungee jumping or roller coasters. Boredom seems to be the cue for his bad behavior.
I am positive that this statement applies to every Arabian. What you CAN do is train them about "acceptable spooking"...for example, my baby Arab was "allowed" to arch his neck, prance and make the Arab-snort for a stride or two, but that was it, and he had to maintain his gait and rhythm. I mean after the first ride under saddle, that was all we'd accept. He HATED getting yelled at, and if he spooked, shied, made to buck, sped up...he got yelled at. He only very rarely attempted any of these things. By far the easiest horse I've seen started. Under saddle, he ran into my hands if he tried to speed up, and ran into my legs if he tried to shy sideways. No big deal, I just had to be the banks for the "river." Direct the energy. Whenever he did this, I would inevitably get a big "oooooh!" from the peanut gallery, and I'd roll my eyes. They sure do look pretty mid spook
Lunging an Arabian is usually boring for them, but ground driving can be fun, and you can ground drive to some open area, then take the opportunity to shift to a few lunge circles, then drive on forward again. This really helps to communicate the idea that they MUST STAY BETWEEN THE AIDS. I was happy to let my guy prance and arch or whatever, provided he was between the lines, moving forward and paying attention.
That's the thing with Arabians, I think. They really CAN be prancing/jigging but still paying attention. Making them stand still and waving a whole bunch of scary stuff at them is just not the approach I'd take. Focus the energy in the direction you want, and once you get the obedience in the three gaits...chances are the horse will trust you enough to keep its mind through most situations.
ETA: I sold my guy as a green-broke 4 year old, and then ran into him again last summer, showing with his new owner. As soon as he saw me (or my mare, not sure who he recognized first) the whickering and blowing started. He 100% remembered us and was VERY eager for his owner to steer him toward us, but trying VERY hard to keep to the exercise she had him doing. Building the trust with an Arabian is totally unlike any other horse, and very worth the extra effort!
Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior
The dear departed yellowhorse. She was about 12 years old when I got her and she could not be caught, led, tied let alone ridden, it took about 2 years, she turned into the best horse I will ever know. Some thoughts;
Bore them into submission, I think my horse created so much of her own drama and had whatever history behind her,that she didn't need me to add to it.Her energy was self created.Any drama from me just piled on more.
Be the same all the time, I think if they've had a diverse past they need to understand you will always be the same.
You can't wear them out and they will outlast you in a fight
Do the least so she can get it right, do not complicate what you are asking for. For instance, when I started riding my horse all I wanted was her to be able to walk in half a circle without stopping, bolting, rearing or bucking,how she did it was for later, head in the air, going sideways etc was fine until she could get around 1/2 a circle consistently
I didn't desenstize this horse, I showed her whatI would do everytime she got anxious, we did a run rein stop and then leg yeild and drop contact, every single time, but you have to do this before she gets her feet follwing her brain, it got to the point that if i felt her attention distracted, all i had to do was pick up the inside rein,pat her on the neck with my other hand and tell her this has nothing to do with us and she relaxed, because she knew no matter how upset she was I was always going to be the same with her. I think reinforcing that sameness placed in her head that she could trust what I would do and she didn't have to think for herself to save herself, because each time I did this,nothing bad happened to her when she was learning this.So while she's learning this don't put her in situations where something bad could happen, because you have to teach this 1st, because the really scarey things are going to happen and you want her to feel brave because she can count on you.
This took about 2 years, she turned into a horse you could ride in a bunch of out of control horses in just a halter, I could ride her anywhere, in any situation and thinking back, I don't think I worred about what she was going to do for 16 of the 18 years I had her
. I remember one trail ride, we were with about 8 other riders, I was riding her in a rope halter, a horse stepped in a hornets nest and we were swarmed, every horse dumped their rider and left, mine didn't, we were getting stung and I did a leg yeild and told her we were getting out of there but together and without panic, she trotted out of the woods, scared and disturbed but still soft in my hand and not in a panic, I had to take her back into that area to find my friends and catch horses, she stayed with me and it took a tremondous amount of trust on her part and mine. I realized that day, that not only did she have to trust me with her life, I had to trust her with mine, that trust is 2-ways, you can't be afraid of the horse and expect them to trust you.