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Big Sigh... Training set backs

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  • Big Sigh... Training set backs

    So, i did a STUPID thing i'll never do again, not that the outcome would have been different possibly if i were riding... But, i let a friend ride my beloved cob mare, the mare that i have a bond with like no other in my life. It was in the arena with myself right there. Friend is a good rider, maybe a little slow in her reactions at times, but i didnt see an issue, my mare is usually calm and steady and that is how it started. I had told her that she is SUPER light to the aids, all was going well. Then my silly mare decided to see a shadow and spook in place by dropping her butt about 6" in her trot. It is an odd feeling to have the hind end disapear, but that is the extent of her spooks... My friend gripped when it happened and that was the end. My mare took off in an extended trot (a VERY powerful extended trot that you never expect out of 13.3h, which is something i love about her), rider lost her seat and one stirrup, mare had to turn, rider fell onto her neck, she broke into a short choppy canter and then just stopped and threw rider off. Rider survived, bruised and her chiro is working her kinks out.

    That was 2 months ago. Ever since, my mare has been terrified of everything in the arena. She's NEVER been like that, she's always been brave and bold. My past few rides on her i've just had to take her in and walk, try to keep it pleasant and walk back out. Yesterday i just worked her on the lunge. I could only keep her relaxed going to the right. To the left was the direction of her "incident" and she would tense up, neck so tight it was ridiculous.

    I HATE myself for letting someone else ride her. Though i know that if i had been the one to come off, i'm sure she would be doing the same thing, though i know this mare like the back of my hand and know i would have ignored the little spook and it would not have gone that way. This is a mare that my husband can hop on bareback and roll off, she's had someone "fall off" before, though it was deliberate. You can still do all of that with her OUTSIDE the ring. I can work her right next to the ring in the grass and have no issues, she's still my mare. In the ring is a nightmare. I'm thinking about hauling her away to a lesson and see if she has the same reactions in another ring. We have a show the end of Oct...

    Anyone had something similar happen? That moment that you thought, CRAP, i just screwed up my horse royally? I know it will go away eventually with time and work, but please ease my mind and tell me your success stories...
    Your Horse's Home On The Road!
    www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

  • #2
    I never had that happen, but we did have a horse come to the barn that all the jumps in the ring were evil monsters. He spend the first week spooking every five seconds and just being an absolute terror. My instructor at the time decided to leave him in the ring overnight. The next day and from then on he was great with everything.

    You might want to try just turning her out in the ring to let her sort it out herself. He was turned out by himself in the ring, not sure if that would help.

    Comment


    • #3
      I let someone with all sorts of BHS credentials but who was a very rusty rider get on my older mare. I had never seen her ride before. She tried to tell the mare to get on the bit rather than ask her and I dealt with the consequences for at least three weeks.

      Since then, I have only let rank beginners and people with no dressage pretensions or ambitions ride her and it will stay that way.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've had similar issues before and it takes time to get them back. What about turning her out and feeding her in the arena? Do things that are totally different than what was involved in the incident but keep her in "that" arena so that she gets "desensitized" in a way. Continue to ride and work her outside the arena so you can keep her in shape and get ready for the show. I would go ahead and haul her out to another arena and see what she's like. I would do this soon so that if she does get nervous you can go again a couple more times to get her over her "memories". Eventually you are going to have to get her to work through the tenseness by asking her to do things (exercises) that are unrelated to what occurred but gets and keeps her mind totally on you in those spots where she is expecting someting bad to happen. It's hard to unlearn a welsh cob if ya know what I mean; but, you can get them past the issue. Now ask me how I know
        Ranch of Last Resort

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        • #5
          That hardly seems like an accident or crisis - can it really have "scarred" her so badly? Are you sure you aren't nervous yourself, and the horse is picking up on it? I mean, sure horses remember stuff, but having a rider lose her balance, squeeze with her legs, lean forward, then fall off, hardly seems like a disaster.

          Just that I've seen it happen (and it's happened to me before) where a rider thinks "oh poor horse, he's so traumatized" and the horse senses that, and feels "gosh, my human friend here is acting really nervous and weird. there must be something bad coming" and then they get more nervous. Does that make sense? Just an idea.

          Comment


          • #6
            [QUOTE]
            Originally posted by twofatponies View Post
            That hardly seems like an accident or crisis - can it really have "scarred" her so badly?
            she's a Cob and no they don't forget these things


            Are you sure you aren't nervous yourself, and the horse is picking up on it? I mean, sure horses remember stuff, but having a rider lose her balance, squeeze with her legs, lean forward, then fall off, hardly seems like a disaster.
            well with some animals it would not be...others well, it probably seemed
            like a cougar landed on their back some where in that corner...I'd be grateful that she is still riding out fine enough outside the arena...and like Exvet says...."ask me how I know"

            best regards
            Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
            I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              My ring is a dressage ring (18" tall plastic chain sides) with mirrors on one shortside... I have no way of containing her in that arena and if i did set up a temp fence around it, she could get into it with herself in the mirrors. She is Miss Princess.

              If it were an option, she would live out there until the Oct show...

              She is calm if i walk her around on the ground out there. Her "incident" happened while in a trot, so it seems once she starts to trot, especially to the left, she remembers all to well the many monsters that ate her that day.

              Exvet, i'm sure you know this issue all too well! It really does amaze me after owning so many breeds how very "unique" cobs are. I dearly wish it wasnt so expensive for me to ship her your way for a couple months and you could work out her canter issue too...

              Her last show she did Intro A, woohoo! lol... But the judges comments in big letters, horse needs to relax... She left her marbles at home that day, i was cracking up during my test. I really didnt want to repeat that. This next show is at my instructors farm and while she usually drives to me for lessons, i do think i'll set up a few lessons at her place to let her see the ring again. Her ring is PVC not chain, but does have mirrors too, maybe it will be different enough to not have the same monsters.

              I dont ride at home alone and my husband has been working a lot of hours lately, so i cant be too consistent either which doesnt help matters. But i have no issues with taking her out on the lunge line alone, so i'm going to keep with that at least as often as possible just to keep her going in the ring. Maybe take lots of cookies, she is a cookie monster, so it becomes pleasant experiences again.

              It will come back, i know, i have faith in her, it just SUCKS that it happened!
              Your Horse's Home On The Road!
              www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

              Comment


              • #8
                The less you think about it, the better she will be!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Yep, Tamara has it right, that cougar ate her out there!

                  My general reaction to her being nervous about something, like the big christmas parade last year that we had to follow behind the drummers in the marching band... Is to slap her neck and tell her to get over it. I have confidence issues with her psycho hair raising canter/bast to the moon... But walk trot in my arena at home, no. I've owned her for 3yrs, i started her myself, we've gone camping, traveling across half the country together, and done a few parades. I know her well.

                  But like i mentioned, cobs are just such a different breed. I love that about them. But in this instance it is a bit frustrating, but i'm not mad at her, i'm mad at myself!
                  Your Horse's Home On The Road!
                  www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
                    Yep, Tamara has it right, that cougar ate her out there!

                    But like i mentioned, cobs are just such a different breed. I love that about them. But in this instance it is a bit frustrating, but i'm not mad at her, i'm mad at myself!
                    I have been successful with certain others by maintaining the walk/whoa perspective and at the first cue of panic coming back to walk/or whoa form where ever we are...she will want to be quick as a cat of course so you have to know that and keep her mind "between the ditches" as if were...

                    somewhere during the cougar attack she got bumped either on her back or her side....can you sit her trot deep and remain dead still ? even your legs ?

                    best
                    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      She sounds way too smart! We get a lot of horses in for a couple of months of training, and some are quite nervous about the jumps that are always up in the arena. So, we feed them a treat, or even their entire grain meal, on whatever it is that they don't like, right on the jump. Maybe you could do that in the area of the arena that she thinks is a bad place.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        T- interesting that you say that because for whatever reason, its not something that i do very often with her at all at her stage in training, but i started sitting her trot the past couple rides and she isnt as bad! I hadnt really made that connection until you mentioned that, and really dont know why i even started sitting her trot except to maybe stay in the saddle more rather than her be silly while i'm in the air and not as securely "stuck."

                        The last ride, the spot where the cougar initially attacked, we just kept doing walking circles and whoa. She does respond well to whoa (had my friend have simply whispered that word, she would have stopped dead). She was tense, and heaven forbid i do more than THINK walk when leaving the whoa as lightning strikes should i move a muscle...

                        I've also been trying to ride her on very light rein contact, i know my friend cranked her nose to her chest, so everything i've done is to push the nose out and keep light as possible. Not floppy reins, but very light. A bit difficult when every few strides one hind leg sinks and you rocket launch forward and have to get her to come back to you again...

                        But good point, i'll stick with the sitting trot, maybe add some trot whoa transitions, she likes those, or at least did.

                        I'm guessing she was bumped on the left side of her if thats what happened, her lateral work while going to the left is nuts, i cant touch her with my left leg. I also have found that i cant cluck to cue, which is a bad habit anyway, so maybe she will cure that for me... But that also gets her riled up. I dont remember any clucking when it happened, so i dont know why thats an issue either.

                        Geesh, for those with "duh" types of horses, you are probably reading this and thinking good grief, how could all that happen from a fairly non eventful fall! If i could only go back in time!
                        Your Horse's Home On The Road!
                        www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          bfz - I don't think my Morgan is "duh" at all - but I realize reading more of your posts, my mare does have the advantage of being a lot older and more experienced. If you do something different once or twice she thinks that's the new thing to do (so she can learn a bad habit as well as a good one in no time flat, and would probably be a terrible horse for a beginner!), but she's also quite tolerant of "bad riding" - she probably would have run faster with a friend like yours hanging on her neck and grabbing her with the legs, but she wouldn't be worried about it afterwards.

                          They're all different, aren't they! I hadn't heard that cobs were so sensitive. Then again, I never realized how "hot" Morgans could be. Somehow people had always told me they were very mellow creatures. Tell that to my girl!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1) I think you're beating yourself up WAY too much about this. She did a silly thing that couldn't be helped, and how were you to know your normally calm mare would take such offense to this rather small incident. She'll get over it eventually, and you shouldn't live in fear of letting your horses be ridden by generally competent riders just because of this one instance. It was NOT a stupid thing for you to do at all unless you knew your friend was a horrible rider that would clearly bother your horse (doesn't sound like that was the case).

                            2) Okay, she's a cob, she doesn't forget... That may well be a big part of your problem. Horses are individuals and they all do the unexpected once in awhile, and this not getting over it is certainly unexpected. But I'd guess it's a little bit of her and a little bit of you as another poster suggested. You may be unknowingly reinforcing her behavior.

                            Two months is a LONG time for her to be a complete nutter in the ring. I like the idea of turning her out in it, but you can't. I don't think lots of treats are going to get her through this completely, but it's probably a nice addition to training. It's impossible to diagnose a horse's reaction from the internet, but she might need a little bit more pressure put on her to help her understand that it's really not going to kill her. Do you long line at all? Some solid groundwork can really help in these cases, and keep you from getting dumped = ) Maybe longe her in a surcingle with side reins? Just something to put her in a work mentality instead of in an "omg, everything is going to eat me" frame of mind.

                            If you have a pro in the area that you trust that could come out and do one ride or one long line session, I'd strongly recommend that. I think this mare might just need a LOT of confidence from her rider/handler and you might need to let yourself decide she's being a bit silly (because even if she's actually scared, she's being silly) and use a slightly firmer hand.

                            Again, not saying she needs to be beat around the ring, just saying that you need to be confident enough to say, hey, you're being silly, you can do this, and we're going to do this. If you're really not sure, I think having a pro (one you trust not to just try to "cowboy" it out of her) come in for a session or two could really help you figure out what the issue is and how best to go about fixing it = )

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              How much turnout does she get daily and does she "use" it? A bit a of walk/trot everyday is not going to get her "exercised/exorcised" (lol) enough. With mine a judiciously used wet saddle pad is a GOOD thing for the sillies.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                [QUOTE]
                                Originally posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
                                T- interesting that you say that because for whatever reason, its not something that i do very often with her at all at her stage in training, but i started sitting her trot the past couple rides and she isnt as bad! I hadnt really made that connection until you mentioned that, and really dont know why i even started sitting her trot except to maybe stay in the saddle more rather than her be silly while i'm in the air and not as securely "stuck."

                                very often green horses require a dead quiet seat...and I mean dead quiet...it's pretty rare that I will even post a trot on a very green horse of any kind while starting them across country...(and I don't mean the sport I mean in my 1400 acre of riding land)

                                I will however stand in my stirrups like a jockey in the trot and get some mane or even a neck strap from an old stirrup (I ain't proud) and off we'll go....a few strides of no drama and I'll ask for the walk...and then sit again...

                                now I've never had anyone famous every tell me to do this but at the trot across real ground misunderstandings can occur with the best seated riders...

                                once I have some balance and muscle and coordination under me from my horse,we can then try to post, so long as it does no interfere with the horses mojo and gets me put off 3 miles from home

                                every gait requires a different thing from a horse...and all the lunging in the world will not teach a horse to balance a rider above him...and once the horse can balance you better they do not take such offense to the inadvertent leg bump...

                                best
                                Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Bort - Good ideas. I dont think my instructor would handle her well, she's told me before that if she had to ride that canter she would have to pop some pills and drink a bottle of wine... Not that they have to canter, but the trot can be equally hair raising if Miss Princess deems it so...

                                  She's on 24-7 turn-out on 13 acres with her "Lady in waiting" that they frequently blast around a few times a day.
                                  Your Horse's Home On The Road!
                                  www.KaydanFarmsEquineTransport.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Oh, so sorry! Boy, they can have very long memories, can't they? My boy never forgets an injustice!!

                                    If you have established a good bond with her, I think it can be done, with time.
                                    www.specialhorses.org
                                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Take her in the ring and do something completely different, like ground driving, lunging etc. Ease her back in to her comfort zone. Drive her around/over/through obstacles and in different figures and PRAISE her when she does well. She'll gradually get her confidence back.
                                      I let a friend ride one of my guys (17h Holst with a REALLY GOOD sense of humour). I hadn't realized that this friend was an NH fan. They were in the ring with me and another horse. She rode by me, between us and the rail, the Holst looked over his shoulder at me (I swear he rolled his eyes), turned hard left, dropped his shoulder, and spat the rider off in front of me ! That was the end of her !
                                      ... _. ._ .._. .._

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Ajierene View Post
                                        I never had that happen, but we did have a horse come to the barn that all the jumps in the ring were evil monsters. He spend the first week spooking every five seconds and just being an absolute terror. My instructor at the time decided to leave him in the ring overnight. The next day and from then on he was great with everything.

                                        You might want to try just turning her out in the ring to let her sort it out herself. He was turned out by himself in the ring, not sure if that would help.

                                        Amazing how well this theory can work. A firend has a totally crazy spooky OTTB. He went through a fence over her DD's hoola hoop. She left it in the corner of the barn overnight, by next morning he was playing with it, and even became possesive of it to the point where he'd pin his ears and grab it away from anyone who picked it up!

                                        Can you turn her loose in the ring just for a 1/2 hour or so. Carry your tack in there with you but don't tack her up at first. Just take her in there and then keep her moving around to every corner of the ring. Don't chase her... just follow her quietly. When she seems calm, put a longe line on her and get her moving again the same way. Not circling her on the longe line, but keeping her moving forward with you at the end of the line 5-6 feet away all the way around the ring in both directions. When she's quiet and paying attention to you, do it again in full tack.

                                        Its almost like starting her over again. You're teaching her that she's in the ring to work and pay attention to you instead of her imaginary monsters in the ring and reassuring her at the same time that the monsters aren't there anyway. The most important thing is that you keep her calm at all times, so no chasing. If she won't move forward quietly and calmly when you're 5-6 feet away from her, move in closer and ask her to calmly walk 'with' you, but keep her along the rail at all times.
                                        Last edited by Trevelyan96; Sep. 25, 2009, 02:00 PM.
                                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                        Witherun Farm
                                        http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

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