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The "Terrible Fours"

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  • Original Poster

    I appreciate all of the advice and insight. It is probably because I have trained most of my horses throughout my life, beginning with ponies as a kid, that I have a hard time trusting the advice of others. I sent a horse to the cowboy at prior trainer's advice and got a big bill and a nice case of peritonitis. Then I wound up putting on the changes myself. I trust my present trainer implicitly, but I resist when people try to tell me that a horse is somehow flawed when I think that I can just push through it. I know that I am not always right, but I have found that I am not always wrong either. I am not going to sneak off and ruin the horse as soon as I have a chance, but I am not going to give up using my judgment. Not my first time at the "rodeo", so to speak. But I do see where Pennywell is coming from . I do sound like a real jerk when I read my earlier post through her / his eyes and I appreciate being called on it.


    • #42
      That was a very humble post.

      But I guess what I don't get is if you "know" what you think you should do, then why do you have a trainer as you've said you've brought your own horses along to good citizens?

      It sounds like you are very competitive. That's not bad, but also can backfire at times.

      If you want to do things your own way, then why have the trainer. I'm not sure I get that.

      I can't recall from prior posts (and and too lazy to go back and re-read.) whether those prior horses to which you refer (working them through their issues) were raised by you from foals or even yearlings.

      "Spoiling" (as you put it) a foal, weanling, yearling (before the pad and saddle is on the back) can have serious training consequences that rear up during adolescence.

      Just because someone is a good rider and have done well working through issues with horses you did not raise from a baby, doesn't = good trainer from birth, and beyond.

      Whole different world getting a baby or yearling thinking seriously from the getgo -- and spoiling is not part of a horsemans' modality.
      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


      • #43
        AS- thank you for taking my post as I meant it. The problem with the Internet, can't assume tone from a post. Mine came off rougher than I meant it.

        I am in your boat as far as, I rely on trainers but tend to trust my gut as well. I truly hope you get to the bottom of her and back to enjoying her.

        Also- I commend your for your guts, I'm right behind you in age and would not be getting back on a rearer. Been there, have the tshirt!

        Good luck. I look forward to gearing how she progresses.
        Come to the dark side, we have cookies


        • #44
          My first homebred is 4 this year.

          Let me tell you, even though I have ridden my whole life and re trained ottb's, warmblood babies are a whole other ball game!

          I broke him at 2 and then life got in the way. When I brought him back to work mid year as a 4 year old, he didn't want to play. Could not get him to go forward!

          We finally worked through it, I brought him to a friends to jump and he went to his first show in November. his saving grace is he loves to jump, but that no forward thing creeps up from time to time.

          He is still growing and also a big horse so I am taking my time.

          But he has certainly kept me on my toes. I have learned a lot about making sure forward is absolutely necessary, which is where I went wrong with him. He is also so intelligent he can read my moves before I do them!

          I love him, but doing this myself has been work. I think it will pay off eventually, I just have to be patient!


          • #45
            Samotis- LOL I have a TB w/ forward problems! I think in his perfect world he'd be doing western pleasure or slow trail rides.

            The horse in question is now 6, but when he was 4 I actually had bloodwork done on him because he was so unusually quiet and well- behaved for a 4 yr old anything! Especially for a gelded as a long 4 yr old TB.

            What I have is a very confident and lazy horse. LOL. He seemed quiet, but it was more like lazy/passive aggressive no work ethic manifesting as green broke quiet. BUT...

            Thank god he is lazy! When he resists (manifests as screw you, kick out/ vicious back-cracking jump straight up in the air and buck) it doesn't last long -too much effort you know
            Unrepentant carb eater


            • #46
              Yeah the hard part with my guy is he is truly lazy.

              I can't lunge him because I lose all his energy so I just have to try and survive the first 5 or 10 minutes of shenanigans, then we are good!

              Sometimes those five minutes can seem like hours!!!!


              • Original Poster

                Ah yes... the sticky warmblood-won't move off the leg on certain days syndrome. And me, the stubborn child trapped in an old fart's body replying "the hell you won't!".I have a trainer because I want to board at a show barn and have someone whom I respect teaching others while I am in the ring. I enjoy watching the beautiful juniors/young adults on ex jr hunters and big eq horses. It inspires me. They are all kind enough to humor me. I have only bought young horses that have shown on the line, either in hunters or dressage, so that they have serious show mileage and manners. I won't say the manners don't sometimes deteriorate and that they are young and sometimes fail to move forward, both literally and figuratively, during growth spurts/brain farts/mysterious morphing episodes, etc. I know that it is impossible to train if I get emotional, but I also have to account for the emotional immaturity of the horse. I have to understand, sympathize, teach, and sometimes ask for help. And when I ask for help, I need to turn to someone I trust and more importantly, understand. I'm old school. I use old terms. Hell, I am old! I will keep you posted...


                • #48
                  Originally posted by sid View Post
                  IME, this is pretty much normal.
                  Sometimes at 4 or 5 you have to take a few steps back, at this physical and mental growth stage, to take a few steps forward. I didn't expect that, but clearly I can validate what all of you have posted.

                  Not sure if I'm articulating this well, but I saw the 4's required going backward to in hand ground work to go foward (and I'm not talking about lunging with "devices".
                  So right on with this! I can't tell you how many times (at 4) that I had to go back to ground work to fix a problem that had been previously nailed down (or so I thought). My gelding "forgot" how to do simple stuff randomly (i.e.: stand still while being mounted, carry himself at a nice trot that I could post, walk on a loose rein without attitude, walk out of the barn without spooking, etc. - all REALLY challenging things, don't you think?!?!)

                  I stopped trying to teach any "new" things for about 6 months. Instead, my goal became to maintain the skills that he had and I was not compromising on any of that! Age 4 really sucked, but I lived to tell about it and so will you!

                  I did still try to do a lot of fun stuff, though (trail riding, taking hacks outside the ring, etc.). I did that to keep things interesting and to keep that vile teenage beast from getting bored. Good Luck!
                  "The Prince" aka Front Row
                  Cavalier Manor


                  • #49
                    I just want to say that I love this thread. It makes me feel better to see everyone else going through the same thing. It doesn't matter how many 3/4/5 yo's I have had......I ALWAYS forget how punk-ish they can get when they hit *that* phase.

                    So my story - I took my very compliant, athletic baby into the show ring this year. Started in the speed bump classes as a late 4yo and finished the season right after he turned 5 in the 1.15m jumpers where he jumped around confidently and happily. We had some spooky moments early on, but they were "I'm legitimately suspicious of that jump" type moments, and he ALWAYS jumped on the second approach. And by the end of his 3rd or 4th show he was jumping even when he was spooky about something.

                    He got a couple of months off (loose hacking, not actual "off time"), and we've gone to a couple of one-day jumper shows since. Holy steps backwards, Batman! During his time off it apparently occurred to him that if he's scared of something HE DOESN'T HAVE TO GO NEAR IT! My polite, willing baby has been possessed by a total punk! Complete with the realization that he doesn't *have* to go forward when I ask (he's started throwing a temper tantrum when I ask him to move forward and he has to relearn that I'll just up the ante until he moves forward every. single. day.), and a really wicked spin and bolt (well, the spin is wicked, the bolt is kind of half-assed since he doesn't actually want to expend energy).

                    So we're not dealing with the terrible 4's, but the effing 5's

                    I can't wait until we get to the "yes ma'am" 6's (and yes, I know it could take longer, but I'm keeping myself sane by focusing on the fact that June 6th 2013 will be the day my boy turns back into an angel!). On the positive side, I'm very thankful that he waited until the show season was over to turn into Mr. Hyde!
                    Flying F Sport Horses
                    Horses in the NW


                    • #50
                      I can totally relate to the young WB stories. My guy is 7.5. I consider him "slow to mature" or "unusually thickheaded" take your pick. Six was definitely better than 4.5-5.5 and 7 is worlds better, but he still tests the water to let me know that he is the one who is truly in control and he just chooses to do what I ask because, well, I have been providing payment in accordance with the Union Contract. I am hoping to have a mature horse at 8. He's hoping for a pay raise next year

                      He is my first young horse that is a warmblood. I was used to the forward, forward TB. Imagine my surprise when I spent 4.5-5.5 instilling forward and figuring out that fresh = not.going.forward. Punk. He has a whole bag of tricks to get out of work, none of which include going forward. These tricks must be part of the WB Union Orientation Package.

                      He's definitely smart. Totally a mind reader when it comes to stopping. It took me a few times of sitting on his ears to realize that I could not even think whoa without adding leg. He also had a new trick to get out of work every third day or so.

                      PNWJumper - mine had a wicked spin for a while there, too. Left me suspended in mid air a few times. Fortunately, he would stop right away, then come back to laugh at me for landing in the dirt. Actually running away is far too much effort.


                      • #51
                        Totally a mind reader when it comes to stopping.
                        Yep, this pretty much describes my darling 4 year old chestnut, moody mare.

                        She is a doll (for now) but I have witnessed a couple of try's on her part... fortunately they always seem to come along when my trainer is ridding her, so I applaud her sense of opportunity!

                        I'm dreading the months between now and may. My experience says thats when horsy devil shows up!


                        • #52
                          When you hit the "sucking back" and not wanting to go forward stage...it's time to gallop. No kidding, teach them to gallop. Go, go, go, getting off the leg...zoom, zoom, without out worrying about "correctness" in the way they are going.

                          Once they learn "go" the rest will follow.

                          That fixes a lot, IME.
                          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by salymandar View Post
                            He's definitely smart. Totally a mind reader when it comes to stopping. It took me a few times of sitting on his ears to realize that I could not even think whoa without adding leg. He also had a new trick to get out of work every third day or so.

                            PNWJumper - mine had a wicked spin for a while there, too. Left me suspended in mid air a few times. Fortunately, he would stop right away, then come back to laugh at me for landing in the dirt. Actually running away is far too much effort.
                            This is my mare to a T (although she's a VRH prospect, chestnut mare). I spend all this time teaching her to do a sliding stop and how to spin, so now her answer to everything is "fine, you wanted me to spin, I'll show you a spin." Half the time I end up laughing so hard at how catty (literally and figuratively) she can be I'm laughing to hard to fix her attitude.


                            • #54
                              I still haven't totally figured my guy out yet. It does get frustrating at times.

                              At the trainers he was much better then at home, I think he gets bored at my house. I am certainly not as consistent with him as I should be.

                              At the show he was much better about going forward. And amazingly great at the jumping for only just learning weeks earlier. (that is his saving grace!)

                              Thing is, he isn't spooky, doesn't buck, doesn't bolt, will jump anything you point him at. Just has no "GO" button.

                              He just doesn't want to do anything the first 10 minutes I get on! I don't know whether I should really get after him, or work through it by letting him have some time and slowly making him move forward.

                              There is nothing physically wrong, I know that and he has had bloodwork done. So no issues other then he is being a lazy turd!


                              • #55
                                Hang in there, Samotis! I know what you mean about those first 10 minutes. It took a while, but my guy does have a lovely go button now. He is finally getting to the point where he self carries with minimal (leg) effort on my part. It used to be that riding him was enough of a work out that I didn't need to go to the gym. Now, I do. I truly thought he was destined to be a western pleasure horse, not a hunter. I never thought I would get there.

                                I had to be really creative in engaging his mind so that he was kind of tricked into going forward. We spent a lot of time hacking out. I also turned his enthusiasm for jumping and going to shows into a mechanism for forward.

                                Sacred_Petra - Yup. After I figured out how to stay on, I thought his cheeky antics were a bit comical. Maybe a bit anthropromorphic, but it turns out he didn't think it was quite as fun to spin when I was in on the joke. The spins stopped after about six months and after about a year, spooking was also non-existant.

                                Can't say the rebellious years are fun while you are going through them, but they certainly do create some war stories you can look back on and laugh about.


                                • #56
                                  When you hit the "sucking back" and not wanting to go forward stage...it's time to gallop
                                  This is actually what our trainer has been doing with her. And it does help! I had never had a trainer with this approach, but it has been working, and I'm happy he's not the only one using this technique. Just wish someone had told me about it a couple of years ago, when my previous youngster reached this stage.


                                  • #57

                                    You know, sometimes people get so caught up in precision of the discipline they forget the basics.

                                    And when it comes to the WB (or any other horse) learning to suck back (it IS an evasion, you know unless there is a health or soundness issue) the remedy is run, run, run.

                                    If there isn't a "go button" under saddle then you have to teach them there really IS one and you are serious about it.

                                    Once they get that you're good to go.

                                    This CAN be done in an arena if one is timid about this in an open venue.

                                    Forward at this point is not "asking", it's telling. Then back off. They'll get it. They always do if they know you are serious.

                                    You know, I think these 4-5 year olds just aren't sure if one is serious. It's mental thing with them and their rider. The rider/trainer has some anthropomorphic view of them as still a baby and treat them as one. Surely from foal to 3 or early 4 that is fine, to a point. At some point you have to say, this baby isn't a baby anymore and bring it along as a coming adult.

                                    Be serious. Be kind. Be tactful. And be brave. They will get it.
                                    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                                    • #58
                                      Here's another little "trick". I'm not a fan of the whip, other than to be used as a "tickle" or an annoyance. Never as a weapon.

                                      But then, there are some that are so dead to the leg (and that's thing to watch as well...that you are not inadvertantly getting you horse to habituated to a nagging leg).

                                      Use a BAT that has a double felt end that makes a big noise when you wack. It never hurts, but makes a big pop...and that noise can make them wake up and move one really quickly.

                                      No whip pain, just a big fast reaction the noise itself. It's very kind, but very effective. Again, used judiciously, as horses habituate to any modality that is overused.
                                      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                                      • #59
                                        You know, the Deep Injustice of the whole thing is that their legs rot out from under them while we are waiting for the orange-sized brain to grow up.

                                        I don't think I should have to spend the Soundness Years of my horse trying to keep him from using his legs to kill me. He should be bringing me fries with my order while he's not crippled.

                                        The armchair saddler
                                        Politically Pro-Cat


                                        • #60
                                          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube