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Please tell me this is only temporary.

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  • Please tell me this is only temporary.

    Those of yo who routinely train young horses on, please tell me this is only temporary.
    My 4 yr old (will be 5 next Spring), seems to have forgotten all that he knew! As in we are ploughing around on the forehand, leaning on the bit, I feel like I am watersking around the indoor!

    We are back to doing endless circles and transitions just to get him to come through, and it takes me 4 or 5 attempts to get him to do a decent transition.
    He was going so well and then last month had to have a week off because I had to go to a trade show, and in the interim seems to have forgotten how to balance himself.
    I hope that this is just a strength issue and if I am patient enough he will get better!

    Part of my problem is that he is a big strong youngster and can get very heavy in front, heavier in fact than I find comfortable.

    Oh the joys of young horses.

    Please tell me that he will get over this!
    MW
    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
    New edition of book is out:
    Horse Nutrition Handbook.

    www.knabstruppers4usa.com

  • #2
    Well... It would depend upon the horse.

    If the horse had always been a 'lazy,' behind the leg, "please remind me why I care about what you want" type of customer, then I might not be so surprised.

    BUT If the horse had always been otherwise compliant, I might wonder if it had gotten hurt during the brief vacation. No, the horse should not undergo that much of a change during a brief vacation. Was it locked in it's stall the entire time ? Stiff ? Got a stone bruise ? Look for reasons why. But if it's a big oaf to begin with, then yes, maybe inertia took hold in your absence.
    "Friend" me !

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    • #3
      Mine will be five in June, and has also reverted to some old baby behaviours (likes to pull, objects to the leg etc). It's not just you, and I keep getting told that it WILL pass... any day now would be good...
      "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

      Comment


      • #4
        Maybe a growth spur...

        I feel at this time of the year, as it gets colder, horses tend to be stronger...
        Élène

        Fighting ovarian cancer ! 2013 huge turnaround as I am winning the battle !..
        http://esergerie.wordpress.com

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        • #5
          Buddhism says everything is temporary.

          No need to get upset about training problems. Plan some riding lessons with a good trainer or a friend who can offer some tips.

          A lot of times, horses get really heavy and strong because we have to change how we are riding. We may need to bend more or to use more leg, or correct our position.

          Comment


          • #6
            Are you warming him up on the longe first? Don't give him anything to lean on or pull against. If you feel like you're waterskiing, you need to give the rein, sit up, put your leg on and force him to go forward. At 4 years old, you can and should expect the back end to be in front of the leg, but contact may and will vary for a little while longer. He'll figure it out after a few rides if you make him look for the contact on his own. It seems counter-intuitive, , and its can be a little scary to give up control with a big strong youngers, but if you put him on the buckle and then push him forward from the leg, he'll actually come up off the forehand on his own, assuming its not a physical issue.
            Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
            Witherun Farm
            http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              I was always told that horses go forward and backwards especially as youngsters. As their body grows , they need to learn to re balance, as they learn more, things begin to feel differently and they need to re figure what is going on. I feel like I take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back with my 5 y/o-- then compound that by moving to a new farm. I spent my ride today doing circles and emphasizing that he will listen and move away from my leg. Felt like I got nothing accomplished but at the end he was quite light.

              Comment


              • #8
                take him out for a hack sometimes to much work of this and that doesnt relaxed the horse at all yet if you took him out on a hack, then they become more focused and ready to work when brought back into the school

                as its relaxing to ahorse to go outside - so take him out and about for a couple weeks you can still trian outside just as much as inside

                in other words vary your work load horses do ge sour and some times you will find when people break horses in they turn them away this time of year and re start in the spring - so the horse has time to think and grow

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's like spinning plates....
                  think about it
                  www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                  chaque pas est fait ensemble

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for the input

                    He isn't a lazy horse, far from it, he tries tremendously hard, too hard sometimes.
                    I do hope it isn't a growth spurt, Lord knows he's big enough already, but that does make sense.
                    We trail ride about twice a week, or as often as the weather allows us to. and living in Virginia, we have great hills to hack up and down. He's stumbly and awkward on the trails, which goes along with the growth spurt theory.

                    In fact I wonder if it isn't a kind of anxiety, he wants to please, so much so that he gets worried about it and then tenses up, braces his back and neck and blows right through the half halts. Up transitions are never a problem, it's the down ones we fall onto the forehand and get tight and bracey.

                    I would take him to see my trainer when we go next week, but we only have 3 trailer spaces and I tend to invest my lesson money in the older more advanced horses where I have less experience and need more help. But maybe one of these trips I need to make space for him.

                    Thanks for all the tips and comments.
                    MW
                    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                    New edition of book is out:
                    Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                    www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      sounds like a growth spurt to me.

                      Maybe cut out the endless circles for now and hack him around, walk him up and down hills, go for open field canters and such.

                      I love babies. : )
                      http://kaboomeventing.com/
                      http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Melyni View Post
                        He isn't a lazy horse, far from it, he tries tremendously hard, too hard sometimes.
                        I do hope it isn't a growth spurt, Lord knows he's big enough already, but that does make sense.
                        We trail ride about twice a week, or as often as the weather allows us to. and living in Virginia, we have great hills to hack up and down. He's stumbly and awkward on the trails, which goes along with the growth spurt theory.

                        In fact I wonder if it isn't a kind of anxiety, he wants to please, so much so that he gets worried about it and then tenses up, braces his back and neck and blows right through the half halts. Up transitions are never a problem, it's the down ones we fall onto the forehand and get tight and bracey.

                        I would take him to see my trainer when we go next week, but we only have 3 trailer spaces and I tend to invest my lesson money in the older more advanced horses where I have less experience and need more help. But maybe one of these trips I need to make space for him.

                        Thanks for all the tips and comments.
                        MW
                        It might not be a big growth spur but a slight one can also challenge his center of gravity..check also if trimming is appropriate.

                        With the description you've made..he is probably not forward enough and is against your contact. At this point, you have to get him forward and prepare your downward transitions with more cautious..make sure you are not pulling, moving your hands..hands needs to stand very very quiet. Also at this stage, strenght comes in to play..they still have to build correctly.
                        Do you canter him ?

                        Even if you take lessons with an older horse, ask your trainer to teach you some exercices to relax a tense horse.

                        Good luck !
                        Élène

                        Fighting ovarian cancer ! 2013 huge turnaround as I am winning the battle !..
                        http://esergerie.wordpress.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's temporary....Unless it's a rider or discomfort cause. Be prepared for a bratty stage too.
                          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Four going on five years, sounds like a teenager type response to me.
                            I agree with the others that perhaps he needs some hacking out on the trails and some light time of just being a saddle horse. Then go back to the drills. I will tell you "This is just temporary". He will come back to his schooling after a little down time. He is just a bit rusty from time off.
                            It seems like it takes alot to get them back into the routine but that might be the problem. Too much routine. Like you they need some fun time too.
                            It will all come together. He is still young.
                            Have faith in him.
                            Regards, sadlmakr

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just growth, very common. Also be careful with your saddle / tack, because with growth they become uncomfortable all of a sudden... very quick, feels like overnight. They do become a testier as they become stronger, and especially when there is this little opportunity when they succeed in frazzling you. You have to be rock solid.

                              Again, I disagree there is such thing as "too much routine". It is the BEST time to introduce structure and work ethic. If you are consistent now, he will develop both physical strength and mental strength. When I first got my baby at 2, she is completely behind the leg and leaning on your leg/hand for balance. Now a light touch she is forward, and she doesn't even think about saying no. And I did not do it by hitting the trails and forget about schooling, nor do I ride her 5 times a week until she is exhausted.

                              Having said that, trails provides much stimulation and all horses need to be exposed to trails, so they are desensitized to new scenery and footing and terrain.

                              Good luck!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Temporary! I went through the same thing, my guy got great at the end of his 4 year old year then growth spurt time and he was horrible for about 5 months of his 5 year old year. Now he will be turning 6 in April and its all coming together! He is hopefully done growing and he really seems just a little more mature now. Keep working and you guys will get through it.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Today he was better

                                  I backed right off and did only simple stuff, took my time setting him up for the down transitions, and things were better. Felt like I was back on a 3 yr old, but whatever, if he needs it he needs it.

                                  I will make a point of trail riding him as much as I can, weather permitting and all that.

                                  I'll check his saddle fit as well, he might need shims or a re stuff if he is changing shape.

                                  With this snow forecast, he may have to be in the indoor under saddle for now but he can go out and play in it afterwards!
                                  I am way too leery of riding in deep snow esp on this one.

                                  Have a good weekend and thanks for the info.
                                  Yours
                                  MW
                                  Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                                  Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                                  New edition of book is out:
                                  Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                                  www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Its winter! Horses get crazy in the winter. I'm sure he will be fine when things warm up. I've just learned not to expect much in the winter, just get them out and play. And reward the passage he gives me when someone turns out horses in the pasture next to the arena!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
                                      Its winter! Horses get crazy in the winter. I'm sure he will be fine when things warm up. I've just learned not to expect much in the winter, just get them out and play. And reward the passage he gives me when someone turns out horses in the pasture next to the arena!
                                      Please tell me THIS is only temporary:

                                      Sigh. I am really at my wit’s end, money issues aside, this is getting difficult and I don’t know what to do.

                                      The vet declared my young horse (Mark) sound on circle and straightaway after his last examination re an MCL tweak, but still slightly sensitive to flexions. Ultrasounds looked good. So, another 4-6 weeks of walking under saddle and/or in hand. I hustled bills off to the insurance co yesterday, hoping they will pay up and not make me wait until he’s declared 100%. I still will have at least two more bills from the vet on this – one for Tuesday’s visit and ultrasound and another for follow up in about a month.

                                      Last night, I got him out, did a little ground work, then got on. He seemed relaxed and I alternated loose rein and walking big circles, diagonals, etc. “on the bit.” He was doing fine, I had the radio on playing xmas carols and classical music, it was very nice and quiet and relaxed. However, I was wearing both vest and helmet.

                                      Then another boarder – who doesn’t come out that often, at least not while I’m there - arrives and gets our her….wait for it…. Grey (white) Arab. And decides to lunge. She was in a hurry, no time to ride, couldn’t wait until I was done with Mark (about 12 minutes). Okay. Now…yes, he needs to get used to stuff like this, and I HAVE ridden him while people have lunged with little incident. BUT not when he hasn’t had any real exercise in nearly 3 months!! (30 mins a day, walk only, in hand or under saddle since 3rd week of September). I said something to her about, “as long as he’s not too wild…..” , emphasized that Mark was still on partial layup and was only supposed to walk, and asked her to stay at the far end of the arena. So she lets the horse wander around at the walk, then do tight circles around her at the trot, and then her horse explodes. Of course, I had shortened my reins long ago, and when the Arab exploded I was able to stop at the furthest point away from him and have Mark just stand. She got the Arab back under control, but from then on, Mark was walking on eggshells. I should have dismounted THEN, but NOOOOOOO, I had to keep going, thinking, “Hey, he’s not doing too badly…..” By then she had the Arab back to a walk and wandering around, but Mark was very tense, and when someone dropped something just below the arena that made a noise, he exploded and went UPPPPP. I wasn’t as quiick as I should have been to release the reins, but I finally did, grabbing him around his neck, he went up again, then I bailed. He took off and ran down by his old stall after some tearing around. I tried to assure myself that he was declared technically sound and he probably didn’t do himself any damage. I caught him, walked him around for a while, then got back on and he was calm and quiet. I walked him around the arena twice, then got off. The other boarder came back to ask if I was ok (yes), and then….I love this…. Suggested that when he got tense, I should have dismounted and LUNGED HIM. Uh…..what part of WALK ONLY exercise did she not hear or understand???? Sigh.

                                      SO….now what? He hasn’t really done anything like that in over a year. Since his injury, if he acts nutty coming out of the stall, I either hand-walk or tranq him. 75% of the time, I’m able to just do ground work, get on, and get in our 30-35 mins walk. But I am getting really concerned about his tendency to come off the ground in front. How much of this is a part of him, and how much is just attributable to him being a young horse that has not had anything like enough exercise in going on three months now, being ridden at night in a dimly lit arena in the dark and cold? As I said, it’s been over a year since he’s done anything like this, and he’s been particularly good on the trail (prior to his injury) and at shows, in the warmup, etc. I just don’t know if I am being rational in thinking I can get through this, or whether he’s really too much for me. It’s very confusing, considering his good behavior over the last year and how well-behaved he’s been on trail rides and at shows, which would be situations when a major blowup might be expected. I just don’t know what to think/do.

                                      Since I was laid off in July, have worked some temp jobs, and will be out of work again after next Monday, I'm in no position financially to send him to a trainer. Am I over-reacting? What is his normal behavior: The horse that has been so good over the last year, calm on the trails, shows, and in general, doing only normal horsey mild spooks on occasion, or Mr. Hi-Ho Silver???

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Your situation is temporary, too. Hopefully, he did not set himself back with the foolishness, but heck, he's been on a walk-only regimen and probably feeling pretty good. He had a normal reaction to the Arab's explosion.

                                        Good for you for wearing safety gear. Perhaps in the future when some nimnull enters the arena and insists on lungeing a (possibly) explosive horse, you should dismount and either allow the horse to stand & watch or leave the arena until the lungeing is done.

                                        Yes, cold weather does affect a horse's behavior and reactions. Obviously some react more than others. You got frightened, that's all. Take precautions, wear your helmet and vest and choose relatively warm days to ride.

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