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Retraining a "problem horse"

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  • #41
    Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
    Ah, where is this mythical, magical "Pro" that can fix any horse any time in less than a handful of rides? In all my years, some of them working for some pretty good pros, attending clinics, you name it, I have yet to meet this person.
    ? who said anything about a magical pro? a good trainer can work thru a surprisingly diverse range of issues in fairly quick order. it wont mean the horse is "fixed" but it will give the horse the basic rules to live by and help them proceed on the right path.

    that is why they they are considered "pros" after all. i agree there are a lot of folks i would not consider to be "pros" out there calling themselves trainers - on the other hand - there really are folks that know what they are doing... the trick is to know the difference.... .



    • #42
      I must say..

      The feel of this thread is so different than the French thread.
      I am starting the horse I am rider practically from scratch,
      And although I have taught lessons and done some training over the years I do not consider myself a pro.
      The op sounds like she has a firm grasp of the problems
      It was just interesting to note the different types of responses to their questions as opposed to the responses to questions on the French thread.


      • #43
        Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
        Really, suggesting pro help with a horse that you report your are having a serious problem with is not "assuming you are a terrible rider". It is merely assuming you are not a professional.

        I am a professional and I have fixed horses like you describe and many others with different issues and have no plans to stop fixing these types any time soon, and I still get professional help weekly with MY OWN horses with whom I have ZERO problems.
        How did I learn to ride and handle training problems like a pro? Lessons. In case anyone is wondering, that's the magic formula.


        • #44
          Originally posted by HorseShopping View Post
          Not going to get in a big argument on an internet forum but you could not be more wrong. I am an amateur but not a "novice." I have brought horses along from scratch. I got this horse maybe 2 weeks ago and I had nothing to do with creating the problems. I am trying to fix them. Trainer flat told me she just "doesn't go there" when it comes to ANY contact. She rides this horse with a loop in the rein. Horse failed at its previous job and now I am JUST STARTING the process of trying to retrain it to be a lower level dressage horse. I am not heavy handed in the least with this horse. This horse WAS NOT started with a good foundation. Trainer then got the horse and worked around the holes in the horse's training instead of taking the time to fix the huge holes in the horse's basic training. I need to go back to square one and attempt to fix the holes.

          I appreciate the helpful responses, of which there were many. It has solidified my decision to shelve the canter under saddle and get the walk and trot super, super solid. I think either this will work and one day it will just "feel right" to canter. Or it won't and the poor horse will retire at a very young age. I am also going to try some trail riding when I get her home. I am 98% sure the horse has never been ridden outside of the arena before. Whoever said it may be right - a change of scenery might do wonders for her attitude.
          fine by me, often people do what your doing thats fine and often lots of people dont look at themselves and there own ability as in level of riding dont care if your a novice or an amatuer means the same thing really

          but your missing the point made--------------- the horse is advading so ask yourself why- i gave a link to help you out a tad but obviously its not needed as you dont think its is

          bits are only as strong as the hands that use them

          the horse isn't relaxed - as he/she fighting you wont win that battle unless you learn to give and look at what your asking the horse to do

          as a horse will only do what its rider is asking - horses re-act to how you act ok dokey


          • #45
            I don't think it will take months.
            I also don't think you should use side reins on her, draw reins, martingales, or any other restraining device. All of these things will just teach her to evade contact and will mess up your "whoa".

            I work for a rider who retrains problem horses like this (she actually has one right now who does not accept contact and will rear if he feels the contact). She uses Andrew McLean's principles. You should look into him. I'm not even kidding, this guy knows what he's talking about and it's AMAZING the difference he can make in a horse/rider in just one session. I am new to Andrew (just been working for this rider for a month), but I'm sold on him.
            You need to focus on her basics: stop, go, turn, yield. The fact that she is having these issues reveals that she has a problem there.


            • #46
              Originally posted by goeslikestink View Post
              dont care if your a novice or an amatuer means the same thing really
              no it doesn't. Not at all. Novice means you're new to something. Amatuer means you do not get paid for it. I've seen plenty of amatuer riders that are certainly more qualified than a lot of "professionals" out there.


              • #47
                Originally posted by mbm View Post
                ? who said anything about a magical pro? a good trainer can work thru a surprisingly diverse range of issues in fairly quick order. it wont mean the horse is "fixed" but it will give the horse the basic rules to live by and help them proceed on the right path.

                that is why they they are considered "pros" after all. i agree there are a lot of folks i would not consider to be "pros" out there calling themselves trainers - on the other hand - there really are folks that know what they are doing... the trick is to know the difference.... .

                "horse does not get forward nor working into contact... those issue can and will be resolved in a day or two by a well seated rider that knows what they are doing. "

                bolding mine. So which is it?


                • #48
                  Originally posted by Sannois View Post
                  The feel of this thread is so different than the French thread.
                  I am starting the horse I am rider practically from scratch,
                  And although I have taught lessons and done some training over the years I do not consider myself a pro.
                  The op sounds like she has a firm grasp of the problems
                  It was just interesting to note the different types of responses to their questions as opposed to the responses to questions on the French thread.
                  I have to agree. I find on this bb the responses depend heavily on who is doing the asking.

                  I usually try to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when they have a logical and well thought out plan like the OP. I may offer any suggestions or just read along to learn something.

                  I view the forums as a place to come talk "horse". Kind of like an extended version of picking up the phone and calling a horse friend to discuss any issues, bounce around ideas etc.


                  • #49
                    Very long original post...but good it was thorough. I did not read all the replies.

                    What stuck with me was your first line..."all physical problems were resolved".

                    What were the physical problems?

                    Horse habituate quickly. If this horse was asked to do things it could not do because of a physical cause, just because it was resolved does not mean the conditioned response will just go away. And even the best, willing horse can become reluctant because they anticipate pain...long after it is really gone.

                    I'm with the others that say start over. Like a baby, green bean. When a horse has been asked to do what it can't (regardless of the discipline) then go back, back, back. If pain was causative, then it will take much longer for them to trust a rider/handler. Sometimes a very long time.

                    I would suggest going back to one of the bibles in starting a dressage horse...Klimke. Training the Young Dressage Horse.

                    Just because a horses' physical issues have "been resolved", it doesn't mean the horse knows that yet or will immediately lose its defenses...no matter the age.

                    Hope this helps.
                    Last edited by sid; Oct. 7, 2012, 07:41 AM. Reason: wording was confusing
                    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by Karosel View Post
                      "horse does not get forward nor working into contact... those issue can and will be resolved in a day or two by a well seated rider that knows what they are doing. "

                      bolding mine. So which is it?
                      Getting a horse to go forward is the star of the process....a good trainer will have the horse forward quickly....but that is the starting point... I am not sure why folks are reacting to my suggestion to get help?
                      Getting help makes everything easier and then rider can move on to other things... Heck i am lucky enough to be in full training and i am learning so much! anyway good luck to the op... .


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post

                        To me the OP sounds capable enough, and is asking questions, and cares. Geeze people, how on earth are people supposed to actually learn how to RIDE and TRAIN if they send their horses off to magical pros every time they run into an issue?

                        When I was 12 I was given an untrained and really nasty Anglo Arabian mare that went on to be the best horse I ever had, eventually beating national champions and no one else ever sat on her for me. No one in those days even suggested it, they suggested I get on and ride.
                        I think you are reading a little past the posts here.

                        "LESSONS" implies the STUDENT is riding.
                        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                        • #52
                          How does the horse respond if you do in-hand work? What is her reaction when you ask for contact in-hand in halt (ala PK methods - perhaps see the french threads?)? My horse (an 11yo OTTB) didn't know how to relax in the canter and was always on the muscle so couldn't take correct contact. She was also very prone to having her ears around my nose and was very muscled on the underside of the neck. While this is a slightly different problem, it is still about correct contact and I have finally started to solve it in-hand. My horse and I work on flexions and extending the neck FDO into the contact in-hand and then I started continuing it while riding. I was stunned that the first time I tried it in canter, she stretched down into a relaxed, soft contact for the first time ever in canter and is now learning to continue cantering on a correct contact!

                          Anyway, good luck with your project!


                          • #53
                            My 5 year old mare has been very growthy and leggy (still is) so I've done very little cantering. As she has matured and her walk and trot work solidified I added canter. If the canter deteriorated, I went back to trot. She is finally growing into herself and able to canter in balance. Worth the wait. A different situation than yours, but IMHO (and I am not a young horse trainer) getting things right/correct at the trot and staying there for a while make the canter good when you get there. There were times, I'd go back and reinforce the basics then move on again. Wish there was a magic formula for all of us but there isn't. You sound like a good, capable rider. Take internet advice for what it is, but also trust your gut as a horseman. You already have done that by pursueing the granulosa cell tumor route. Best of Luck!


                            • #54
                              I was surprised by the side reins suggestions.

                              When you say "too much leg" at the canter, do you mean when put leg on she bucks instead of going forward?

                              I'd use the disengagement technique (strong bend, or tight half circle, with the hind legs MOVING even as the hind legs cross under) when she starts bucking, then send FORWARD. Then you don't have to ride through strong bucks if that's what she does.

                              If she doesn't respond to your leg I'd work on that first, and leave the contact for later.


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                I think you are reading a little past the posts here.

                                "LESSONS" implies the STUDENT is riding.
                                well also at least for me - *seeing* how it is done - ie watching an excellent trainer train is worth more than gold..... because then i know it is possible and also how to do it.... adding lessons in is of course needed - but seeing is believing in my mind....


                                • Original Poster

                                  Just a quick update...

                                  Had a really good ride on the mare today. Only walked and trotted but she had VERY little fussiness with her head. She is starting to figure out how to work more correctly at the trot and that a tiny feel of her mouth is not the end of the world. Not "on the bit" yet but a much more relaxed way of going. Stretching her neck in a good way, without snatching at the bit or pulling. It's just a start but I feel this will take a lot of little building blocks. The mare gets defensive so you can't ask for everything at once. And it makes sense that she needs to learn to work more correctly and start to build the correct muscles before she REALLY accepts contact. She previously objected to anything other than a total loop in the rein so we have taken our first baby step.

                                  I am also talking with a young eventing trainer in my area and she may come to my place once or twice a week, starting in a month or so. I want to get things fairly solid at the trot and then let her work with mare. She has taken several "less than perfect" horses and turned them into really nice event horses. I feel she might be better suited than the local dressage trainers to help me with this mare, at least in the short term. I also feel this is a much better solution than sending this horse off to training. I will be more involved and can monitor how things are going very closely.


                                  • #57
                                    Great update! Best wishes for continued success!
                                    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                                    • #58
                                      I have one of these horses. Well, I've always had one of these horses. I've never had a "finished" or "push button" horse come into my hands. Of course, I've never paid more than $800 for one.

                                      One of my current horses was given to me for just the reasons you talk about. It took months of steady, unemotional work to get him to even think about trusting his rider. He would buck every time you asked for canter and had been ridden in a twisted wire snaffle and attempted neck reining. He's a rather hot Arab who spent most of his youth handled by green riders.

                                      I started with basic ground work and yes, I longed in side reins. I started with a running martingale and french link when aboard so he would bump himself with the head tossing and he learned to accept a comforting, consistant contact. I had to ride through a few sulking fits and did get my shirt dirty a few times but he's really coming around and tries.

                                      You have to know that you will make mistakes and most likely hit the ground but if you have a decent seat and good hands you can work through most of the problems. Plan to spend a long time on the bottom of the training scale. Rhythm and relaxation.

                                      If you have the luxury of good instruction I highly recommend it. My mentor and friend passed away and I haven't been able to make myself find someone new.
                                      Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


                                      • #59
                                        Originally posted by cnm161 View Post
                                        What kind of lateral mobility do you have on this horse? Shoulder-fore? Leg-yield? Can you move the haunches if you want?

                                        I own one of those "problem horses" who would buck if you carried a whip. Or put legs on in the canter. Or tried to pick up contact in the canter. It wasn't physical-- he'd lived in a world without a whole lot of rules (for about 5 years) and he was pretty abusive of his newfound powers. He's absolutely thrived in a regimented program (i.e. "No, you can't bite me. No, you don't get to buck when I put my leg on. Yes, let's put that energy to work and halfpass like crazy") and debuted at GP in June.

                                        So, it can be done.

                                        The reason I asked about lateral mobility is it was the key to unlocking Bucky. Nose-to-wall LY at the trot helped develop power and thrust (I did a lot of trot lengthenings in nose-to-wall LY) while keeping contact. Serpentines with lots of changes of bend also help soften that resistance.

                                        I don't know about your horse, but Bucky's buck would never have gone away if I didn't canter. I had a couple days where I just had to sit up, sit down, and ride out some not-so-pretty moments. The evasion might change-- Bucky switched from bucking like a bronc to running away, although he gave up that one pretty quickly because I didn't try to bring him back and just asked him for bigger canter-- but in about 3 months it was 80% better and in 6 months it was gone entirely.

                                        I didn't longe very much because a) it warmed him up athletically so that when I got on he was ready to go and I was... not, and b) it got him super super fit. Also, I'm an amateur whose riding time is limited. If I'm longeing, I don't have time to ride.

                                        I also took a ton of lessons. Maybe 2 tons. Between lessons, riding 6-7 days/week and 1-2 times/day, and the exercises above, he's turned into a pretty good citizen.

                                        Good luck!
                                        This. It seems sometimes that slower gaits and forced contact (side reins) are safer, when really encouraging forward first could be most helpful.


                                        • Original Poster

                                          Another update...

                                          Brought the horse home on Wednesday, she got her feet done Friday and I gave her a few days to settle in. She does seem to take longer than most horses to settle into a new routine.

                                          Longed her for the first time today and she did VERY well. What really helped me is I took my 5-yr-old for a longeing session with a German clinician I ride with and he gave me some very useful tips. (My 5-yr-old would accept contact under saddle fine but seriously objected to being longed in side reins. She did great in side reins with him. And as a side note, she longed great for me in side reins today. The clinician was truly amazing to watch - who knew a longeing session could be SO educational for both the horse and me!)

                                          Anyway, longed her on a smaller circle than I usually do so I could better control forward and bend. Just longed at the trot before I added side reins. She was stretching her neck down before I added side reins and she did fine with the side reins. I did keep them longer than I used on my 5-yr-old - I started to put them shorter but she backed up a few steps and I didn't want to get into a train wreck I couldn't handle. So, lengthened them a little and she happily went forward into them and stretched nicely. I did NOT canter her with the side reins - that will come later. I did canter her on the longe line and noticed she pinned her ears at the depart and first stride but then was okay. But, she could not hold the canter that long on the smaller circle.

                                          So, I think basically starting over with her is the right thing. However, she is already starting to understand that stretching her neck feels better under saddle (she always went a bit inverted before.) I'm going to longe her for a week or two to get her into a routine (which seems important to her) and then only walk and trot under saddle.

                                          I still think it will be a slow process but I am very encouraged by how she is reacting so far. I think she is willing to try as long as she does not feel pushed and insecure. She definitely is missing some key building blocks in her foundation and those just need to be filled in. I think that takes longer once they are older but I am hoping the end result will be the same! :-)

                                          I really appreciate all the ideas and it is great to hear that people have had success in re-training an older horse that has some issues.