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I give up, or what to do with a horse who doesn't want to play?

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  • #21
    If you've ruled out pain (such as saddle fit) then he probably just doesn't want to play the same game as you do.

    I had a horse that was a fabulous jumper in the ring but a complete chicken XC. This horse would jump anything in a ring -- liverpool, scary painted jumps with scarecrows, decorations, etc. -- but a simple, straightforward xc jump would have him backing off 20 yards out!

    I finally just showed him as a jumper.

    My first real event horse, on the other hand, I started riding before he'd ever jumped a cross rail. Six weeks after we started over fences he jumped around at Pleasant Hollow (Novice) without looking at a fence. The horse had jumped ONE xc fence before that. I don't think I ever had a stop xc on that horse because it never occurred to him.

    It taught me a real lesson about finding a horse that liked the job.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


    • #22
      This hobby is too expensive and time consuming to waste resources on a horse that for whatever reason doesn't want to play.

      See if you can give him away or sell him into a trail or dressage home, making sure people know that he does not jump. Take lessons on or get an honest packer type and get your confidence back. No matter what your goals are, it's no fun to get a RF or an E every time out.

      One last thing - make sure you have a trainer who can help you through your issues. If your coach doesn't jump, how is she supposed to help you when you're having trouble with jumping issues? Perhaps you should continue to do flat work with her, but find a jumping coach who actually jumps.. I'm not saying that a good coach could fix the horse you have now, but it certainly couldn't hurt.
      The rebel in the grey shirt


      • #23
        The answer is in what you said earlier...."My trainer hasn't been on him, as she doesn't jump that much herself ..."...... Analysis by someone who doesnt jump doesnt set your horse/you up for success. A horse can just about step over a small fence.

        So, what are you being asked to do at home? Are there ALWAYS wings (as in poles used as wings)? Are you keeping the contact to a fence, sitting up, hopefully not doing crest release? Are you trotting cavelettis to a line (all with wings)? Are you dropping the horse (or your chest) to the fence? And, for sure, with a horse that might ever think about a run, the rider MUST WIDEN the hands (to keep equal pressure on both sides of the bit).

        Ride with someone who DOES jump, who can apply good exercises, and who can get on the horse if necessary.
        I.D.E.A. yoda


        • #24
          I purchased a jumper who was doing Grand Prix that had turned into, what I was told, a 'professional stopper' . He knew how to stop at the fences and throw his rider over. His owner spent a great deal of money on him trying to get him to jump. I purchased him very cheaply and he went on to a long happy career as my dressage horse until he passed at the ripe old age of 36.

          Don't be afraid to move him on to a career that he would rather do. Good luck to you!


          • Original Poster

            Just to clarify - when I say my trainer doesn't jump, I mean that while she doesn't event anymore herself, she has ridden at the upper levels successfully. To be fair, I haven't asked her to get on him because if she no longer wants to jump sane horses, I don't expect her to sort mine out.

            But it looks like I have some PMs to reply to and avenues to explore. Thanks all.
            "Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense!"


            • #26
              I think it's very hard to tell from what you've said if he doesn't want to play the game, or if he's figured out that dropping his shoulder at the jumps and/or being nappy and getting to go back to the barn is a fun new game and no one's told him it's unacceptable. If you've ruled out medical issues (which I do think are worth looking at), then having a pro who can school him and has experience with nappy horses ride him for a couple of weeks and give you a honest it's-you-vs-it's-him evaluation.

              I say this because I really agree that you don't know he doesn't ever want to be an eventer, and because getting that evaluation is fairly critical to his next life. It may be that he is too sensitive/hard for you-as-a-rider but could be great with someone else once he gets religion. Or it could be that he really doesn't like this game and wants to be a show hunter or something else. For example, I watched this fall a horse that just plain nappy and no fun for its rider (stop at the first fence, spin, naughty naughty) go quite well when an experienced pro rode it around the course. Now that doesn't mean that that horse will be a champion eventer, but it had clearly learned how to push its rider's buttons. Even if it's not the right horse for THAT rider, it's going to have a decent future doing something - which is a decision you may not yet be able to make on your horse.

              Not all horses are appropriate for all folks. They may be great in other programs, though.


              • #27
                I agree, you do need a new horse. You are responsible for THIS horse, however. Just because he doesn't work for you, you can't just chuck him out. PLEASE be diligent in how you move him on. It only can take one step for him to get swept up into the downwards spiral that is being passed hand to hand, each situation worse than the last till someone finds him (if he's lucky) at New Holland with a number on his rump.
                I'd do 2 things. First, I'd find a rider who is brave and experienced to ride him daily for a couple of weeks. Doesn't have to be an expensive BNR but must be experienced. Try to get him out and about, not necessarily competing but in different situations. See how that goes. It goes well? Sell him, carefully. The trial period goes badly? Take him to a large equine hospital and have him worked up. EPSM, Kissing Spine, Navicular, etc., etc. Look for anything physical that could cause his pain. Horses do not want to be bad and pitch you off. There is almost always a good reason for the trouble we have with them.
                Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                • #28
                  Where are u in NC? I have a riderless horse who I'm pretty sure wants nothing more than to go back to eventing. he's hot, and quirky but has NO stop, will gallop all day, scopy if unorhodox jump, will never quit, and will win the dressage. Horse is just sitting around being wasted. Has gone prelim but it's been years. PM me if interested in chatting.


                  • #29
                    Scaramouch, your last paragraph caught my attention. Don't be apprehensive about him going on and (possibly) doing well with another rider - it does NOT mean that you are no good at the riding thing. It means you and the horse were no good for EACH OTHER. My best friend rides a horse that was completely unsuitable (and even dangerous) for extremely competent and talented trainers. With her, he is the perfect horse. But I have little doubt that most anyone else would blow him up. There are horses out there like this, and sometimes it is a matter of finding the perfect combination.

                    I asked myself the same question you are asking about a year and a half ago. I spent several miserable years with a mare I just couldn't click with. I was told by a trainer that if I quit trying to get through my problems with her, I would just run into the same issues with whatever came next. I struggled on with her for much longer than I should have, but finally found her a more suitable situation and purchased a new more. Lo and behold - I am miles from where I was. I have progressed further in my riding (and my FEAR of riding) than I would have thought possible. So, long story short, if you and this horse are not clicking, find someone who will "click" with him. A job that he will enjoy. Sometimes that is the best we can do for a horse.

                    And good luck to you! The right combination is out there for you. Don't drag your feet trying to make it work if it isn't. This is supposed to be FUN.


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Scaramouch View Post
                      Thanks for the input, and to yellowbritches for being blunt. I need to hear these things because I know that to continue soldiering on this way would be irrational.

                      I have heard of horses who actually take care of their riders, and as much as I'd love one I probably can't afford him/her! It's likely, if I do move this horse on, that I wouldn't be replacing him for quite a while.

                      Part of my reluctance to do anything is that he's so nice, a stylish jumper with good gaits. I could never afford something with his raw ability. Talent clearly means nothing when we're not on the same page. But it's why I'm entertaining the idea of trying to just do dressage with him.

                      nextyear - Are you asking if I think that happens? I don't know and I suspect I'm not half as judgmental as Mr. Morris seems to be. I don't believe that's what I'm doing at any rate - as I've said, we've had some very productive schooling sessions (though we've had some wretched ones as well) and lessons, only to fall apart at shows. IME, you can school a thousand xc obstacles, but it's difficult to replicate the experience of riding an xc course without actually ... doing it.
                      I could have written your post (except about the jumping) above. My last horse and I just did not mesh. He was everything I ever wanted in a horse. Beautiful, tall with GREAT gaits (we got some 9s on them). But, we just did not work that well together.
                      I sold him last year for half of what I paid for him. and I am so happy I did. I now have a leased horse who DOES take care of me. He's a great boy! I am ever so much happier.


                      • #31
                        I agree with those who said you should check for physical issues but if there are none just understand it doesn't mean you're less, just that you two are not right for each other, and possibly eventing at all isn't right for him. You both deserve to be happy, and perhaps you could be doing only dressage, but it sounds unlikely for your horse to be happy eventing.

                        I was lucky enough to be the purchaser of a horse who simply didn't want to event. He went from BN to T in a year, I think qualified to move up to prelim, schooling Advanced questions individually. Tons of scope, nice mover, always clean and within time and no poles in stadium. He just would "shut down" when schooling sometimes, sounding much like what you described. In actual competition, galloping fence to fence he was fine, but schooling he'd go over a fence the first time then often decide he didn't want to go over it ever again. He had some upper level riders look at him, but everyone felt he just didn't have the attitude to make him a successful eventer at the upper levels despite his physical talent.

                        I bought him as a dressage horse and we do some stadium for fun, and from the people who knew him as an eventer his entire demeanor has completely changed. I'm certainly not the rider those upper level eventers were, so it's not that I'm a better rider - but he's just far happier with this job. Now he actually seems to want to jump solid things, too, and I keep having to turn him away when he locks onto the arena fence, and he makes a point of swerving to have to jump over bushes and small trees when he's playing out in his pen. However, life as an eventer, schooling and having to do it probably still wouldn't be something he'd be happy with. But maybe it would and that step away helped him change his attitude where he'd enjoy it now; either way, it still wouldn't make me a better rider than the folks who had trouble on him, just the one who gave him a job he liked better.
                        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                        • #32
                          You said, "I've had him for a while, but started riding consistently after a while off (all we'd done prior was dabbling at local shows) last year. I took a few jumping lessons last fall, which all went really well and I felt confident starting out at BN/N this year. That was a pretty misleading instinct apparently, as the catastrophe began right away."

                          I do not wish to seem harsh but I think you need to re-examine your preparation with this horse. An older horse not ridden for awhile and a few jumping lessons months ago are not sufficient to go to any competition, even a schooling show.
                          By all means if you want to stop riding him, then place him somewhere else. But to be fair to the horse, I think you ought to 1) place him with a good trainer for 3 months who can ride him 5-6 times a week to see what he can do in order to sell him to a responsible home or 2) give him away to someone who can provide that.
                          Then you should invest your time and money in a solid lesson program for yourself.


                          • #33
                            I haven't read through all of the posts, but I have to share my story.

                            I had the SAME FRICKIN HORSE. He was a really cute jumper, extremely athletic, even good at dressage. However, he would TWIST and BOLT out at a random fence from time to time. I took MANY lessons and even clinics. During a lesson on XC, he decided he wouldn't jump a small log. Really? A small log? So the others in the lesson formed side rails on their horses, a chute to the fence so he had no place to go but over. Ahh, but insead of going over, he went up, and reared, and turned sideways. Somehow I stayed on, but that was the last straw. I just couldn't trust him.

                            So what to do? I sold him. I sold him as a trail horse. As a HUSBAND trail horse. He would follow another horse down the trail all day long. He is very happy in his new home and I now have an honest horse. Life is good.
                            Member of My Balance is Poo Poo Clique


                            • #34
                              I rode that horse in KY back in 1970! Only our fences were 4' - Regular Working Hunter. Couldn't GET the thing to stop at home - he'd have jumped my car if I'd pointed him at it. The ONE time we got around a course, we took 3rd out of the usual field of 15-20 (keep in mind, this was a 15.3 QH cross, I believe, in a field of 16.2 TBs). All the other times, I got planted. He'd be back on his hocks ready to push off - only he'd duck his shoulder out to the left faster than greased lightning.

                              Good luck.

                              Equine Photography in the Northeast


                              • #35
                                OP, I was in your position last year. I bought a lovely young mare with tons and tons of potential, absolutely lovely....


                                I couldn't handle her. Yes, a more experienced rider could do a better job with her, but I kept at it for a few months. My riding degraded to the most defensive position I have ridden in ever, and our partnership went from being able to do simple wtc work and single fences to walk-halt-walk transitions ended up being a stressful experience that left both of us dripping. I stopped riding her and put her up for sale. It wasn't fun, she wasn't having fun, I was getting sour on going to the barn, which isn't how it's supposed to be.

                                I sold her and bought my new guy who was advertised as a beginner lesson horse (a fellow COTHer actually pointed him out to me!) and it has turned out wonderfully. Good horses aren't always $$$ Just keep looking and you'll find the one for you (just keep it in your budget!)

                                Sorry for the novel, but I know where you're at and it is the pits.
                                All that is gold does not glitter;
                                Not all those who wander are lost.
                                ~J.R.R. Tolkien


                                • #36
                                  You're in NC, so you might be able to do this--

                                  If he were mine, before I gave up I'd take him foxhunting a couple of times. If he still quits when other horses are going, then I'd move him on.

                                  Most horses enjoy foxhunting, and it could be that he doesn't get confidence from you but might get it from the other horses and riders.

                                  At least it would be worth a try, and it would be good for you as well. If he foxhunts but still won't go by himself, you might be able to sell him as a foxhunter.
                                  "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                  Thread killer Extraordinaire


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                                    What do you do? Sell him. Give him away. Whatever.

                                    This horse doesn't want to play the game. Find him a game he does want to play and a person he who wants to play it with him. Plain and simple.
                                    And....I would add...
                                    ex-ray for navicular. Pain is always there in horses that act up. We just have to find where it hurts.
                                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by vineyridge View Post

                                      If he were mine, before I gave up I'd take him foxhunting a couple of times. If he still quits when other horses are going, then I'd move him on.

                                      Most horses enjoy foxhunting, and it could be that he doesn't get confidence from you but might get it from the other horses and riders.

                                      At least it would be worth a try, and it would be good for you as well. If he foxhunts but still won't go by himself, you might be able to sell him as a foxhunter.
                                      Excellent idea. Plus foxhunting is FUN.
                                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                                      • #39
                                        Foxhunting *may* work, but in the end, he needs to jump x-c at an event in cold blood. I owned one of these types--he was a decent jumper but a big chicken on x-c. I did get him around novice successfully, and training, somewhat successfully. But I had to ride him around x-c like a angry German so it wasn't fun for me or him! I wish I would've sold him sooner. I tried hunter paces (similar to foxhunting--in a group, galloping over x-c fences, following others) but it never really helped him be brave when he was on his own. Did LOTS of schooling, always felt like I had to x-c school before every event. Was always trailering out to xc school--something I rarely do now with my horses. I tried having a better rider take him around. That DID help, but eventually, when I took up the reins again, he lost his confidence.

                                        So, I bought a Tb mare that had been on the track and had hung out in a field for a few years (and was cheap!) I had no idea how she would deal with x-c jumping. She was SO easy. Very first schooling, she popped over logs, up and down banks, over baby ditches and plodded right through the water. Didn't stop once. She just "got it" immediately and we were doing events in a short time---having a blast. I wasn't any better rider than I had been 6 months before with my gelding--I just needed an easier horse that liked her job. BTW--I still have her and adore her to this day!

                                        Before you spend too much time and energy on this horse, You might just put him up for sale as a dressage horse (for a reasonable price) and see what happens. Someone else might really enjoy him and you can move onto a horse that you can have more fun with.


                                        • #40
                                          Horses with quirks are the ones which teacher the rider to 'ride'. Some people want to figure out puzzles and others do not. Pay your money and take your choice. (A horse which was initially a stopper taught me more about contact/posture to a fence than any other horse in my life; it would have been easy to blame her, but the solution is in the rider.)

                                          However, it is interesting that the OP has not answered the questions: Especially "What EXERCISES are you asked to apply at home while schooling?
                                          Are there ALWAYS wings (as in poles used as wings)? Are you keeping the contact to a fence, sitting up, hopefully not doing crest release? Are you trotting cavelettis to a line (all with wings)? Are you dropping the horse (or your chest) to the fence? And, for sure, with a horse that might ever think about a run, the rider MUST WIDEN the hands (to keep equal pressure on both sides of the bit)."

                                          And does it always run out the same direction? If this is true it is definitely the riding on the flat (lateral flexion) which is problematic.

                                          IF those questions are not being addressed, then sell the horse and get another.
                                          I.D.E.A. yoda