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Horse needs a new job?

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  • Horse needs a new job?

    How do you decide when your horse needs to do something different?

    My mare is almost 9, and while she has made enormous strides in the last three years, she still stops at jumps. For no reason. That she has jumped a hundred times before. That are no higher than 2'6". And she's 16.3, so there's no reason to be worried.

    At what point do you decide that your horse simply isn't brave, or doesn't have that quality known as "heart"? And then, what do you do about it?

    And before anyone suggests it, she's been checked over by a vet, a chiropractor, a saddle fitter, a farrier, and even a veterinary hospital. So I don't think pain is the problem. And horse has been in nonstop professional training for the last two years with a really good pro here in CT, she isn't ridden by anyone else, and she only jumps with a pro there.

    I keep hoping there is that "something" we could do that would flip the switch and make her bold, but at the same time, going down to every jump, I have no idea when she's going to decide not to go. She's not a terribly dirty stopper, it's more of a three strides out, I don't want to do this stop. Then with LOTS of encouragement, she'll jump, but then everything gets pretty frazzled.

    But at nine years old, how/when do you figure out if you need to stop putting a square peg in a round hole?

    Very depressed.

  • #2
    Curious, does she stop for just you or for the pro too?


    There is nothing shameful about admitting your horse does not like the job you want it to do. Have you thought about what job your mare might like? Does that job mean it is time to sell or are you willing to change sports to go along with your horse?

    Not every horse likes every job.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by altertomyalter View Post
      she still stops at jumps. For no reason. That she has jumped a hundred times before.
      I'm sorry you two are having a hard time. Have you tried her cross-country at all? I wonder if she's not just ring sour. Maybe hacking her out over some logs would reinvigorate her.

      She could just not like jumping, but I wouldn't give up on her just yet.
      LEGADO DE RIOS

      Comment


      • #4
        My first two thoughts were, shes hurting or its the trainer. If thats not the case then I would try getting her out of the ring more. Lots of hacks out of the ring and throw in some tiny cross country jumps here and there.

        Comment


        • #5
          I ditto the question if she stops with the pro too...

          Sounds a bit like my mare. I'm not 100% sure she LOVES her job like some horses do, she's more of a get in and get 'er done type of girl. She'll do it as well or as horrible as YOU ask her to do it. So with my trainer who demands that she do as told every ride, she never refuses. Not going over the jump is never an option. With me, however, I sometimes leave that door open when *I'm* unsure and she plays off that. I mean there have been times where my horse has refused a frickin' cross rail because I'm so flustered.

          Pain could also be a factor, around this time last year my horse was refusing left and right with me because she really needed her maintenance done. We just didn't realize because she was sound on soft arena ground, but when trotted out for the vet on hard ground was definitely NQR. Injected the coffins, and the change in her willingness to take a joke at fences (in spite of my craptastic riding) was immediate.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think it is a very personal question that only you, your trainer, and your horse can answer. I think the short answer is, as much time as it takes for you to feel comfortable with the fact that is the right decision for you and the horse.

            It is really tough to make a decision like this, especially when you have invested a lot of time, money and emotion in the horse. In my opinion, the decision comes when you have run through all the options (physical and training) within your financial and physical capabilities and have not achieved a happy, healthy horse that you can enjoy and wants to do its job. If you have run through all the options at your disposal that you are willing to pursue and have not been able to develop the partnership with your horse that you desire, then it is time to make the tough decision. For some, this decision comes faster than others.

            I think the amount of time a person spends trying to mold a horse to their desires is also dependent on how far off the horse is from what they would like to achieve. I think you are more likely to spend more time with a horse with "one little thing" keeping it from meeting your requirements. Whereas a horse that is grossly unsuitable would find a new job rather quickly.

            I am a little unclear as to whether the horse is still stopping with the pro. If she is stopping with just you, she may not be the horse for you. If she is still stopping at 2'6" with the pro after two years of good professional training and ample physical diagnostics? She is telling you she does not like to jump and you aren't going to get much better results with more time, especially at her age.

            Have you talked with your pro and asked him/her why they think she still stops? If she just doesn't like to jump, maybe it is time to find her a new job, whether it is with you or someone else. If she jumps for the pro, but not for you, maybe she is just not the ride for you. There is nothing wrong with admitting she is not the right horse for you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Have you tried this?

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Urn0FMFTjXA

              Not saying I agree or disagree with George Morris on the technique. I think this is a technique where each rider should know their own horse, and then attempt this at their own risk..

              But it would be interesting to know if it could work for one of those non-brave type horses... I kind of think it might not...

              Comment


              • #8
                If you do this as a hobby, you have to ask yourself if the work to get this horse where you want her to go is worth it. You took the reasonable actions to determine if this disconnect is "fixable" but sounds like the two of you just don't quite meet up on the jumping part. That's ok. Might mean she's not a Jumper at all, might mean that the two of you just aren't a Jumper team that clicks. If jumping is what you want to do, and you're feeling this disappointed with this mare, then it might be time to look for a partner that DOES jump for you, right now...instead of one who might eventually jump well later, with a lot of work. Or might not.

                I had to decide this with my mare. I'm sure that we COULD have gotten her to the point where she didn't ever stop...but I wanted to jump, and she just didn't really. It sucked having to get after her and "ride powerful" for every single stride. I could get her over the fences, but it wasn't a ton of fun for me. I enjoyed her on the flat and TONS on trails, and had gotten her to the point where other people also found her fun to ride. When I finally admitted that she just wasn't letting me do what I really, really wanted to...I realized that some of those other riders could offer her a better overall fit, even though I LOOOOOOOVED her and had a ton invested in her (emotionally anyway.) At the time I couldn't afford to have two horses going, so if I wanted to advance as a rider over fences, I needed to concentrate on a horse that was a little more interested in the job. I gave her away to a lady that sounded like a much better fit, and she fell in love with the mare as much as I had...only she wasn't asking her to do a job she wasn't cut out for.

                Anyway, I just signed the papers to buy my mare back...after a few years, her new owner has found that she isn't riding much, and my life circumstances have allowed me to have a horse that doesn't have to "earn her keep"...so maresy is coming back, and I get to be around her neat personality...without the stress of trying to make her into a Jumping horse, because I've got one of those. She can just do the job that she likes doing...extremely repetitive flat work and leisurely trail rides. My Jumping horse will be thrilled to have someone take over that part of HIS job, since he's not super keen on the leisurely rides.
                Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

                Comment


                • #9
                  I know you think you've ruled out pain...but it almost always comes down to some sort of pain or fear induced behavior. I retired my jumper about a year ago, because after many years of showing, he went through a phase where he made it clear that he was hating his job. He would do the same thing as your mare, get about three strides out, and just fizzle, back off, and eventually stop. The more I tried to get him going, and the more aggressively i rode him, the worse he got. Eventually he began stopping at the first jump on course, and then the first jump every time we passed the gate, or sometimes he would just stop as we passed the gate and refused to canter again.
                  He wasn't having any soundness issues, but I'd shown him for about seven years, in everything from dressage to jumpers, eventing, etc. and my trainer at the time convinced me that he had become sour and was a "chicken". I didn't believe her, and I eventually took the horse to a very well renowned lameness vet. He couldnt see any lameness, but I convinced him to take xrays anyway, and he ended up finding a HUGE cyst on his navicular bone in his left front foot. He basically told me it was a miracle my horse was sound, but that I could continue to jump him as long as he remained sound.

                  I retired him instead, and now do some dressage shows, and mini trials (over very small jumps) in the summers, but mainly he lives in my back yard and just gets to be a horse. I rescued another OTTB to take his place in the show ring, and I'm training him now.

                  The bottom line is that I really regretted listening to my trainer's advice, and believing that my horse just didn't like his job. Go with your gut, you know your horse better than anyone else. If it's telling you that you need a new horse, then you probably do. But if it's telling you something else, then look into it before you make the decision.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not much to add, but...

                    After two years of professional training (I'm assuming full training, multiple pro rides a week) maybe she's a bit unsuited but mostly just sick of it all. Perhaps you could give her a couple months break. Take her out for a hack, go hilltopping with a hunt, do they have western saddles in CT? Throw one of those on her and play. Then come back to jumping and see if she's not a bit more "game". If not, then you, her, and your trainer need to decide if she needs a new home or just a new sport for the both of you.
                    "Je suis Pony Owner."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If the horse doesn't like her job, why kill yourself and pound your horse to make it happen? It doesn't sound like you are convincing her that she should like her job (not neccasarily your fault), so why keep hitting your head against the wall? Are you otherwise head-over-heels in love with the horse? Unless you are hell-bent on keeping the mare/jumping the mare, I say give her the chance to do a job she likes and is good at. I know horses who just dont like to jump. No physical problems or poor training, they just don't like to jump.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        my first horse was bought to be a show hunter. she had had 60 days under saddle, 30 days jumping. very cute horse, great hacking out. i was 11, and when i tried her, we hacked out and jumped all kinds of little logs, teleohone poles, etc. well, i got her and after a year of pro training, and a bout of lymes (which def had impacts on her training, from joint and nerve pain), she stopped jumping. she. just. stopped. she acted like a total froot loop and we really had to back to basics. after another year of trying to hear what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to do dressage. i competed her 1st level and trainer competed great up to 3rd before she had to retire.

                        you know your horse. your trainer knows your horse. if youve ruled out physical issues, have a talk with the two of them and try to see if you can find something else. she might just need a break, or she might need a career change. maybe she wants to do dressage? good luck!

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Sorry it took me so long to get back. She does stop with the pro. Every show we have taken her to, my pro has taken her in the ring first, to make sure she isn't going to spook at a plank jump, or a combination, or anything.

                          Even in the schooling ring at an indoor show in January, she was doing great warming up, jumped a narrow oxer great, we made it a bit wider and one hole higher, and she knocked through it. Pro didn't punish her at all, just came back around to it, and she stopped cold.

                          The problem is that she can get pretty fast and strong on course, so my pro says that she can ride her hard to make sure she gets over the jumps, but then you end up with a freight train you're trying to control.

                          My problem is, how am I supposed to have any confidence, watching this horse stop with my trainer (this is probably the one time in my life I have not questioned the motives or the ability of my trainer, and I've been there, done that) and then have to go in the ring with this girl, waiting for her to put the brakes on and wreck me? Every time we go down to a jump, there is that split fraction of a second, when I wonder whether she will stop.

                          But I hate the thought of giving up, after working at this for a few years. But we are no closer to moving up than we were when we started, at least not by much. And then I hate the whole selling process as well.....

                          Oh, and cross country jumps? Are you crazy? Why would I take a horse who sometimes stops at jumps, and then try to get her to jump something that can REALLY hurt me if she stops? I do take her on hacks down in the field to give her a mental break, but not sure I'm brave enough to try and jump logs or something.....

                          Thanks in advance for all the advice - I really need to hear it!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by altertomyalter View Post
                            How do you decide when your horse needs to do something different?

                            My mare is almost 9, and while she has made enormous strides in the last three years, she still stops at jumps. For no reason. That she has jumped a hundred times before. That are no higher than 2'6". And she's 16.3, so there's no reason to be worried.
                            She probably has a very good reason. As long as it's not pain, does it matter what it is? Is there something else she does well (trail ride, dressage) that you could explore?
                            2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                            A helmet saved my life.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              No question in my mind

                              Originally posted by altertomyalter View Post
                              ....
                              My problem is, how am I supposed to have any confidence, watching this horse stop with my trainer (this is probably the one time in my life I have not questioned the motives or the ability of my trainer, and I've been there, done that) and then have to go in the ring with this girl, waiting for her to put the brakes on and wreck me? Every time we go down to a jump, there is that split fraction of a second, when I wonder whether she will stop.

                              But I hate the thought of giving up, after working at this for a few years. ,,,,
                              ...You are ready for another ride, and she is pleading for another job. It is not giving up, it is growing up.

                              From what you wrote it sounds like you could use, and indeed deserve, a mellow guy that provides consistency and heart. It is impossible to stay organized and think of everything we need to do on course while also having doubts about whether we'll get over the coming fence. Find someone that will take you around solid, even if he/she isn't brilliant or going to 4', so you can grow as a rider by focussing on all the other things. And mostly so you can enjoy being a team that does a job you both love.

                              It's a buyers' market out there for the older solid citizen so your biggest hurdle will be to find a good landing for her. I'd put your trainer, or a trainer in another likely discipline, on the job of preparing her for her next career and put her on the market, and start riding other horses if you can, to help you know what makes a good fit for you and what you want to do.
                              At all times, we are either training or untraining.
                              Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Oh, and cross country jumps? Are you crazy? Why would I take a horse who sometimes stops at jumps, and then try to get her to jump something that can REALLY hurt me if she stops?
                                I'm not suggesting that you go out and jump 3' logs , coffins, and banks. They don't even have to be real cross country jumps. Simply setting up a few xrails outside of the ring could help. I've had horses with cofidence issues that once you got them out and about they found their stride so to speak and it helped a lot.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by altertomyalter View Post
                                  jumped a narrow oxer great, we made it a bit wider and one hole higher, and she knocked through it. Pro didn't punish her at all, just came back around to it, and she stopped cold.
                                  She stopped cold because it stung when she hit the fence. Some sensitive horses jump higher, some stop. FYI- You don't "punish" a horse for having a rail- the rail does that job for you.

                                  The horse is trying to tell you something. Any horse that stops regularly probably wants a new job, better riding, or better pain management. And for what it costs to do this, you should be enjoying it, too. Sounds like it is time for a new horse and to find your mare a home where she isn't going to be stressed about her job.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I had a lovely mare that had absolutely gorgeous form over a jump, but jumping made her nervous. After quite a long while working with her, I just came to the conclusion that jumping was not what she wanted to do. On the other hand, you could flat her all day in a frame, and the more you asked of her in terms of bending, lateral work, precision of transitions, etc., the happier she was. I found a great home for her as a dressage project horse with an owner who also did a lot of trails. This mare had all the makings of a fabulous hunter, but it just wasn't her cup of tea.

                                    Long story short: If you give your horse a job to which it's well-suited, you'll be successful. If you try to make your horse something it's not, you'll both be very frustrated and your confidence (and your horse's) will be damaged.
                                    Why do I like most horses better than most people?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by altertomyalter View Post
                                      Oh, and cross country jumps? Are you crazy? Why would I take a horse who sometimes stops at jumps, and then try to get her to jump something that can REALLY hurt me if she stops? I do take her on hacks down in the field to give her a mental break, but not sure I'm brave enough to try and jump logs or something.....

                                      Thanks in advance for all the advice - I really need to hear it!

                                      because they often enjoy being out of the ring and jumping natural fences....I think people were suggesting jumping little simple logs (18"-2') not 3' xc jumps. Just to have fun for both of you. But if you are a timid rider....no, that will not work. FWIW--a lot of us teach horses how to jump over this little simple fences as the horses generally understand it better and quicker.


                                      As to your post....You have your answer already. 2'6" is NOT a big fence. Hell, most green beans are jumping that within a week or two of learning how to jump. It just shouldn't be that hard.

                                      So if it is that hard....and you have ruled out pain. Find her a job that she enjoys and will be successful at.


                                      It isn't giving up--it's called having good horsemanship and listening to your horse.
                                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        OP-- your horse sounds a lot like mine. He's a huge, beautiful warmblood, in absolutely no pain at all. You can't trust him over fences though. He'll stop miles away from the jump, and all the kicking and encouragement in the world won't make him go near something he's afraid of.
                                        That being said, he is going to be a dressage horse this Spring.
                                        "A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio

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