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Young horse balks/rears when asked for forward....help please

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  • #41
    I've had horses with ulcers act very different. One gets dull---ulcers confirmed with scope. Another gets girthy...others get hyper and over reactive.

    Depends on the horse. Only way to know is to scope or treat with GastroGuard.
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


    • #42
      When you say he is okay with others, is this on the trail or in arena?
      If on the trail, do you ever hand walk him out there by himself? If so, how does he act? Balky or happy and forward?

      My wild guess is that there is or was pain at some point, and rearing was the evasion and it may have become a habit. Pain memory is very strong in horses (I know that to be true from personal experience.)
      "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


      • #43
        Check his eyes....a serious spook on the ground with a rear while dead fit is one thing but a trainer who deems a horse dangerous is definitely something to re think. Good luck...I had a rearer and while on flat work he was fine but jumping it was his to go response when scared or over faced....cost him his life he fell backwards and fractured his skull...not a rider error no one was on him!


        • #44
          FWIW, my horse is defintely WORSE behaviorally when something physical is bothering him, and he has a low tolerance for physical or emotional distress. But that does not mean that his rearing issues are really a physical problem. I do work very hard at keeping him as close to physically perfect as possible...but really anything can set him off.

          In my horse's case, he is actually a terror when other horses are IN the ring with us, and much better alone. He has preferences about the time of day he is worked (morning), etc., etc., etc. I do accomodate him in some (reasonable) ways, but he does not get his way all the time (for example, I will force him to work in the ring with others so long as the people in the ring are competent enough to deal with us leaping around). It's a fine line with him, and I try to be smart about what battles I pick, when I pick them, and how I plan to resolve them in my favor.

          The horse is *possibly* smarter than me, and I do think he sometimes plans things more than the average horse. I have to be several steps ahead of him, and I have to be on my toes at all times. He lets me know what's up, and, as long as I listen and plan properly, I end up on him doing what I wanted to do in the first place. It's when I rush and get irritated that he isn't a "normal" horse that I run into trouble.

          He's very quirky, to say the least.


          • #45
            Based on what I have read here, it seems the issue is more "being ridden alone" vs "in company", rather than "ridden" vs "not ridden".

            I'd look at some of the training techniques for barn-bound or herd-bound horses.

            Some that I have heard of (never used myself)

            If the horse doesn't want to go forward, make him stand still- for MUCH longer than he wants to. THEN reward him when he goes forward.

            When you walk away from the barn, you probably know where he will first balk. Start by giving him a treat and praise, just BEFORE the balking point, then turn around and go home. Next time make him go just a LITTLE bit further, treat and praise, then home. Each time he gets comfortable at a certain distance, do it enough times to confirm he is OK with it, then next time go a little further.

            You can do the same thing with a second horse, rather than the barn, if he is more concerned with company. Ride together, then have the other horse stop while you keep riding. First time it might only be 2 strides. Stop, treat, fuss, then the other horse catches up. Once that is established, you gradually increase the distance.

            You can also do it the other way- YOU stop, while the other horse goes a few strides forward. Reward your horse for waiting, then let him catch up. GRADUALLY increase how far ahead the other horse goes, and how long you wait.

            This is not something I have done myself, but that I have heard other people having success with.

            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


            • #46
              As the owner of a formerly balky (well he still has his moments), horse who used the rear as a weapon,


              He was pretty barn sour in that video. It was a new situation and the turn was going away from the barn. He hit me pretty hard in the face when I leaned forward.

              The first thing I would do is teach them to come back to you when you are on the ground.

              2) Continue the ground work. Get their respect. Use the long line as a tool to get them to connect to the bit and to listen to you. Don't just longe. Long lining allows you to fully control the horse from a safe position. You can leg yield, jump and half-pass etc. I took my horse into the fields by himself and long lined quite a bit when I was breaking him. Of course it was a bit like flying a kite in a hurricane. I never knew where I was going to end up but I got there in a hurry.

              3) When they balk at going away from the herd, use the whip and leg. The ONLY answer to ANY question in this case is FORWARD. They rear, you kick. They buck, you kick. They run sideways, you kick. RIDE CONFIDENTLY. Hands low and kick.

              4) have patience and be able to laugh through the pain.

              5) learn how to bail in emergencies. A good ejection seat is worth its weight in gold and medical bills.

              6) ride only in deep snow and soft footing (saved my life several times when I rode some really bad rearers who flipped on me).

              I spent time watching my horse rear in play. I got an idea of how high he wanted to go and how balanced he is. It gave me some confidence as to how far I could push things. Most horses DON'T actually want to flip. But we get tight with our hands and raise them, thus bringing the horse over. Learn to throw yourself up the neck and grab around the throat.
              Last edited by RAyers; May. 6, 2013, 07:05 PM.


              • #47
                Have you tried having someone in the ground to pop a lunge whip at him when he balks? This worked for me with a balky greenie...although mine just planted, he wasn't a rearer. Mine was being bratty and eventually quit when it wasn't working.
                \"Non-violence never solved anything.\" C. Montgomery Burns


                • #48
                  Originally posted by MandyVA View Post
                  Have you tried having someone in the ground to pop a lunge whip at him when he balks? This worked for me with a balky greenie...although mine just planted, he wasn't a rearer. Mine was being bratty and eventually quit when it wasn't working.
                  I will just say that if this horse is anything like mine, I shudder to think what would happen if someone popposed a lunge whip at him while he was rearing with me on him. OMG. No. I've seen what happens when I do that on the lunge line, and it is impressively terrifying.


                  • #49
                    RAyers, I am going to steal your idea of teaching the horse to return to you when you are on the ground! What a GREAT idea! My horse runs away from me if I fall (has happened twice - he booked both times). Did you just let him loose and then go lay on the ground elsewhere and feed treats when he approached?


                    • #50
                      Oh gosh, please don't put him in anything that will tie his head down. No draw reins, side reins, martingale, nothing. It will only compound the problem.

                      I do agree that a tight circle and then FORWARD, REAL FAST does help.

                      I had a rearer that I reformed, with very systematic and careful ground work. Forward was ALWAYS the answer. However I think with horses who rear, it is their evasion du jour, and you have to be very proactive. If you're in a situation that panics them, or pisses them off, you've gotta have impeccable timing to diffuse the rear before it happens. I was very, very lucky I did not get hurt on that horse in the 2 years I had him.

                      It's just not a good thing. Most pros are smart enough not to mess with a real, true rearer. A lot of ammies will try but it rarely ends well.

                      There is an absolutely stunning hunter at the barn where I work, priced high 5 figures. Like, completely and utterly drool worthy. When he is on he will win in the best of company. But.... that sucker can stand vertical with the best of them. You couldn't pay me enough money to take him.....
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                      • #51
                        What Reed and Janet said. Also think BNFE's suggestion of back films is a good idea.

                        I would also check his testosterone levels. Its just a blood test. If the levels are high, you can put him on depo or requmate or both! (Talk to your vet ) This made a big difference for one of my horses.

                        Honestly OP he sounds wicked herdbound and alpha/dominant temperament. And you are now in the terrible fours. Bah. People have given you good training suggestions. I know someone who does round penning/ join up to overcome herdbound and it works very well.

                        From my own experience, with spooky, dominant horses, you the rider/ handler MUST establish your self as the lead horse. If they don't trust you, want to follow your commands, have confidence in you as the lead horse you are screwed.
                        Unrepentant carb eater


                        • #52
                          I agree with first teaching the horse to disengage the hind end, then forward. For a confirmed rearer, simply kicking forward can often cause a worse rear. Bring the head around, disengage the hind, then forward. And IMO there is no shame preventing a rear and going back to groundwork.
                          On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                          • #53
                            Taz's Mom,
                            When I read a post like yours alarm bells go off in my head and I have to respond. It sounds to me that you really understand this horse well. The fact that he does it when alone and when you tap him with your whip makes it sound behavioral to me too.

                            I don't blame you for not wanting to ride out the fight. It's too dangerous. I've been flipped on three times and I'm lucky, period. I'm terrified of ever getting flipped on again.

                            What I try to do if I have a dangerous rearer is to pick an argument on long lines in a soft grassy area. I antagonize the horse until he stands straight up and then pull him off balance and then down. If the horse is just naughty and undisciplined this works, but if the horse is out to get you or nuts then the rear will eventually return. Horses who will rear again after being pulled over are very dangerous and in my opinion should be euthanized.

                            Hopefully when I read the rest of the posts I'll see that the problem is solved.

                            Edited to add: This suggestion is for the truly dangerous horse, not the horse who eventually will respond to turning/disengaging hind end, etc. Alpha horses who resist by stalling then lunging can be managed from the horses back. But horses who rear like you describe really scare me because eventually you have to say NO REARING while he's in the act. When you do that the Alpha and angry horse will respond by rearing again, lunging forward or flipping. I really hope you're not describing this type of horse because if you are he needs the come to Jesus treatment to become a safe and useful horse.

                            I hope you're describing the type of horse who will respond to the many excellent suggestions here.
                            Last edited by SEPowell; May. 6, 2013, 07:21 PM. Reason: added info


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                              RAyers, I am going to steal your idea of teaching the horse to return to you when you are on the ground! What a GREAT idea! My horse runs away from me if I fall (has happened twice - he booked both times). Did you just let him loose and then go lay on the ground elsewhere and feed treats when he approached?
                              Yes. I would turn him out in the ring and lay down with carrots. I would walk into his pen and lay down with carrots. I would, and still do, kneel as close to the ground in the grooming stall while tacking and untacking and feed him carrots. Of course now when I put his front boots on I can get mauled.


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                                Yes. I would turn him out in the ring and lay down with carrots. I would walk into his pen and lay down with carrots. I would, and still do, kneel as close to the ground in the grooming stall while tacking and untacking and feed him carrots. Of course now when I put his front boots on I can get mauled.
                                I am going to cautiously try this. I'm not convinced my horse won't paw at me, though...he's a bit of a pawer at hay, things he is interested in, etc.


                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by taz's mom View Post
                                  "Considered ulcers, but he isn't girthy at all,his coat is a mirror with dapples, and he's in good flesh. There may be other indicators I don't know though, never had a horse that suffered with them."
                                  What did you treat with? The $$$ regimen? Or start smaller with the other? I've heard of, but having no experience, not sure if GastroGuard or UlcerGuard or whatever...I know one is very costly and the other is 30-ish a tube...
                                  I considered that, but I've heard ulcerated horses tend to be girthy? He isn't. He's on Strategy feed, Alf/Tim pellets, and a mix of O&A and T&A hays. His coat is drop dead gorgeous, & not just cause I'm partial to bays....

                                  My horse didn't show any overt signs of ulcers. His coat was lovely and no issues with weight or being girthy. The vet actually didn't think he was showing signs of ulcers either, but we decided to treat anyway. I did one week of Gastroguard, then my wallet forced me to switch to ranitidine. The ranitidine had to be given two to three times a day for a month. Gastroguard would have been easier but I couldn't afford it.

                                  As I said, my horse didn't show any obvious signs of ulcers. He was in great health and it showed. The only reason I even thought of ulcers is because I talked to a friend who has an upper level horse about my frustration with my guy. She told me that her gelding got that way when he had ulcers (not wanting to go forward, rearing).

                                  If it helps, here's a pic of my guy, right before we started treating him for ulcers...


                                  To me it makes sense. If my belly hurt, I wouldn't want to work either. I certainly wouldn't want someone squeezing on it. If I had things to distract me, maybe it wouldn't be so bad, take my mind off it. But working alone, perhaps learning new things, no way.

                                  Just my two cents. I was at my wit's end with my guy, thinking I had gotten in over my head. I'm glad I kept trying to figure him out, cause I'm having fun with him now. He's not easy and he's still opinionated as ever, but it's much easier to deal with.
                                  Last edited by armyeventer; May. 6, 2013, 08:02 PM.


                                  • #57
                                    I didn't read each post carefully so I apologize if this has already been said, but is there an experienced friend you can have help on the ground? To lunge you first then be there in case he plants? NOT while rearing, but if they can catch him before he does it and help reinforce the forward before the up


                                    • #58
                                      I think I fixed my then 3 yo's idea about the rear option by accident (literally). She went up and I believe I pulled her off balance. We both went down. No injury- however, she's not gone up (under saddle) again in 7 years. I was lucky but would hope to have a better reaction if it ever did happen again.

                                      Probably many have seen these already- they are amazing:




                                      • #59
                                        Life is short.

                                        The hounds are hungry.

                                        Rearing is a capitol offense.


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by ride the pony View Post
                                          Life is short.

                                          The hounds are hungry.

                                          Rearing is a capitol offense.
                                          Thank GOD not everyone thinks this way. A former trainer of mine had a fabulous grand prix jumper stallion that was a rearer. Rearers tend to be smart and bold. Smart and bold horses tend to be the best horses out there if you learn to work with them. Horses are not robots. Especially four year old horses. Sometimes you're going to have to ride a little. The horse probably doesn't deserve to die for that.