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The "Terrible Fours"

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  • The "Terrible Fours"

    My darling little (huge) DeLaurentis mare is being a bitchy teenager all of a sudden. She is reluctant to work this week and reared and sat down when I asked her to canter today! We were both on the ground staring at each other like "wtf just happened". Trainer put her on a line and worked her for an hr in circles all over the outdoor. I know it's a phase, but damn! Late heats not helping either. She is going to have a week or so of groundwork before I ride her next. Can anyone relate? I'm pretty tough, but want the best for the horse in the long run.

  • #2
    It certainly does happen (the bitchy teenage stage) but do be careful that you're not mistaking bitchiness for discomfort. Baby horses in work grow and change so quickly...you should be checking on almost a daily basis that her saddle is still fitting correctly, and that all her tack is comfortable for her.

    I have a young mare who is starting to act up a bit. It is partly bratty but it's also partly that she's sensitive and slow to mature, and after three months of being in full training I suspect that she is ready for a few weeks of just hacking. Of course she needs to learn that she can work for an hour a day, but she's also popped up an extra inch and added on all sorts of muscles, so I try to be sympathetic. I was a grumpy teenager too, at one point.

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    • #3
      I agree with GFAG. My 4 1/2 year old is a doll and in super, super shape and she was well conditioned before I started riding her at four, but it takes a LONG time to get them into real shape where they can carry.

      The worst I've gotten is, as she got better in shape, she did some pathetic "looky" spooks where she had enough energy to look and work at the same time instead of putting all her effort into figuring out how to keep her feet under her. She's a big girl, too, and still seriously growing.

      I would think more there's something where she's being pushed too hard and just can't handle something. If you really have a horse that just rears and sits down on you because of attitude, you have a much bigger problem there.

      I've always found mares actually in season to be WAY mellower and not bitchy. The only one's who've been nutty are doing so between heats.

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      • #4
        Yeah, their nerves seem to get myelinated during the 4th year and they are willing to try acrobatics that they weren't sure about before.

        Also, this is when the Working Horse Union sends them their first propaganda and membership forms.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mvp View Post
          Yeah, their nerves seem to get myelinated during the 4th year and they are willing to try acrobatics that they weren't sure about before.

          Also, this is when the Working Horse Union sends them their first propaganda and membership forms.
          I would agree with this! LOL! The very DAY of my gelding's 4th birthday, literally ON his birthday, he launched me into next week. He *knock on wood* has not done this since...
          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

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          • #6
            Oh yes, the bitchy fase... My mare also through her first tantrum yesterday. Fortunately it was my trainer who was ridding her, and he handled it.

            Anyhow, don't you just wish you could jump forward in time and just skip this fase all together?
            www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

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            • #7
              Timeline of my horse:

              Age 3 - "Hi, fun lady! You always have the best ideas! You know what would be fun? Whatever *you* want to do. And then afterward, we can snuggle."

              Age 4 - [Walking on hind legs to arena, with eyes that, I *swear* sometimes took on a deep red glow like an animal possessed] In a very deep voice, like a demon: "I am your master now. You shall do as I say. GET ON THE GROUND!" I did not like him much as a four year old, lol.

              Age 5 - "Hello, person I sometimes tolerate. Why, yes, I *do* know lots of things, and, yes, I *will* be happy to jump around this little course for you with lead changes. ... YOU MISSED. YOU HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE PERSON! YOU made me CHIP there! I saw the LONG ONE! WHY ARE YOU SO INCOMPETENT!?!?!? Just for that, lets see how far I can get my nose between my knees while I buck!" "I KNOW about lead changes! Do NOT ask me! Leave me ALONE, stupid!" He learned his changes very quickly and was really offended if you asked him for one because he already knew, thankyouverymuch. I started to like him a lot again at this age, even though he was not very tolerant of mistakes, or anything he perceived as a mistake.

              Age 6 - "I think you are finally getting this. Perhaps this will work out after all." Still tested me periodically at this age, but was mostly good. Started to tolerate mistakes a bit better, and was more willing to take direction without a fight.

              Age 7 - "Let's get to work." He still has his moments, but he's a lot more like he was as a three year old now. He has developed into a quirky, opinionated, but generally good-minded horse that is a pleasure to ride most days (not all days, but most!).

              I think the really smart ones go through a worse case of four year old syndrome than others. They are so full of opinion, and they hit age four and suddenly are willing to express those opinions.

              My horse will be quirky and a little tricky, always. But he is nowhere near the hellbeast he was as a four year old. He was also injured as a four year old and was rehabbing an injury during that time...so that probably led to more problems than we would have otherwise had.

              Anyway, hang in there. It's a wild ride with young horses sometimes, but try to stay positive and you will get through it!

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              • #8
                Oh yes, the bitchy fase... My mare also through her first tantrum yesterday. Fortunately it was my trainer who was ridding her, and he handled it.

                Anyhow, don't you just wish you could jump forward in time and just skip this fase all together?
                www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

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                • #9
                  I feel your pain

                  but, I think I win with my (coming) 4 year old "Pony Mule Mare"

                  yes, thats right... PONY, MULE and MARE together in one 3.5 year old brain (note: all 4 letter words)

                  cant wait to get past this.. unfortunately, I was told by other Muley people that they dont grow out of it until they turn.. 9 (NINE!)

                  PS: did I mention that she is a redhead too?
                  Last edited by Jumpin_Horses; Dec. 14, 2012, 01:06 PM.

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                  • #10
                    FineAlready hit the nail on the head... though I thought 4.5 was th absolutely bottom... I think bottom hits the moment they suddenly realize they're much bigger than you
                    ~Veronica
                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                    http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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                    • #11
                      Oh, been there. I had NO idea what I was getting into (at the time, a 50 year old re-rider with no horse/lessons/anything for 30 plus years) when I bought a 3.5 year old just gelded Paso Fino. Wheee!

                      He started entering the age of reason at around 7.
                      What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                        FineAlready hit the nail on the head... though I thought 4.5 was th absolutely bottom... I think bottom hits the moment they suddenly realize they're much bigger than you
                        Strangely enough, I did not actually come off of him until he was a six year old. Not for lack of trying on his part, lol. I think it was just because I let my guard down when I started to trust him!

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                        • #13
                          An hour of work seems excessive to me. Especially without knowing if something is physically wrong. my humble opinion, as always.
                          Ride like you mean it.

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                          • #14
                            Maybe I have been blessed but my 4 1/2 year old gelding is an angel!! He is coming home after 18 months of training and has matured into this really broke, willing gelding He did have his moments for the trainer at three but nothing too bad.

                            I would have a vet take a look at her because if this is not normal behavior for her it could mean something is physically wrong with her.
                            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                            RIP San Lena Peppy
                            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

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                            • #15
                              !!

                              Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
                              An hour of work seems excessive to me. Especially without knowing if something is physically wrong. my humble opinion, as always.
                              I can not help but second this. An hour on the longe line, circling, worse yet, with a four year old, is excessive.
                              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                                I can not help but second this. An hour on the longe line, circling, worse yet, with a four year old, is excessive.
                                Ditto. A few days off with some bute may be in order.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I thought, the way I read the OP, that she didn't NORMALLY lunge the horse for an hour but ehat the horse did THAT DAY (reared and sat down) was so naughty that it took the trainer an hour of lunge work to sort the horse out and end on a good note. NOT something I'd advocate regularly but... hey... some days...
                                  ~Veronica
                                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                                  http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    You might want the dentist to take a quick peek to see if anything needs to be tweaked. My dentist was just here, and was saying there are just so many changes happening in a horses mouth at this age, that lots of their behavior problems are due to discomfort in the mouth.
                                    "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Hah, too funny! Yes win the battle, yes make sure they're not uncomfortable, but sometimes the cure for four-year-olds is . . . five-year-olds! If she's perpetually difficult and grumpy, try chucking her out for another few months and start back again in the spring.
                                      Click here before you buy.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
                                        An hour of work seems excessive to me. Especially without knowing if something is physically wrong. my humble opinion, as always.
                                        I really agree with this. How hard are you making her work when you ride her? Four years old is still considered a youngster( to me anyways) and if your girl is big and still growing , she may be telling you that you are expecting too much from her.

                                        Sure it may mean discomfort somewhere, it may be that she had an " off" day but it also may be her only way of saying" please back off a little" you are asking too much too soon. That is a pretty strange way to behave when asking for a canter.

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