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When is it time to give up?

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  • When is it time to give up?

    Hi everyone,

    let me start by saying I am new to the forums. Always creeped (lol) but decided to register and ask everyones opinion. So, pretty much, I have had this imported mare for about three years now. GORGEOUS jump, wonderful movement, basically she is a stunning hunter! The only problem- she is very very naughty. She is a DIRTY stopper, cant even count how many times shes gotten me off that way. And then when she does finally get over the jumps, she lands and runs away with me . Bought her as a 9 year old and blamed it on her being green, but she is almost twelve now and its still the same!!! I have had her in full training all three years and even pros have a hard time handleing her. Has anyone had these issues with their horses? have they gotten better? Tips?

    When is it time to call it quits?

  • #2
    I think it depends a lot on what you're willing to put up with.
    I sold my stopped to an endurance home, and found a horse I trusted to get to the other side of the fence, simply because I don't enjoy having to ride defensively to every single fence.
    I would check/vet for pain, and then seriously consider what you want out of riding.
    It's a very personal decision.


    • #3
      If your mare is 12, has been in full training for three years, and is still behaving in this manner, either your trainer isn't doing his/her job or something is seriously wrong.

      You say pros have a hard time handling her. What does this mean? Does she stop and run away with your trainer? Or is it that she is just a strong, "on the muscle" type horse? If she is only stopping with you, it may be that you are overfaced and aren't giving her the confident ride she needs at the height you are jumping. What does your trainer say? Does he/she give an explanation for these behaviors?

      If the problem has persisted for three years, I think these habits have probably become so ingrained that they will be hard to diminish. What have you and/or your trainer done to try to stop the problem? I assume you have checked in with your vet to rule out physical issues that might be contributing to this behavior. It sounds like the mare needs to be in full training, so it's good she is. But I know full training isn't cheap and I, personally, would be hesitant to continue to dump tons of money into a horse that has behaved unacceptably for three years straight without any clear idea of what is going to be done differently that might lead to different results.

      I would sit down and have a frank conversation with your trainer about your concerns. Ask if he/she has any ideas to remedy this or if he thinks your horse just isn't suited to this job or isn't the right match for you.

      In my experience, problems this persistent usually don't get better with time. This sport is too expensive not to enjoy. If you trust your trainer and he/she feels you've reached the end of the line and/or you feel like you've exhausted your options of what to try, I might consider cutting my losses and finding a horse I could enjoy and progress with. Maybe this mare just doesn't want to jump.


      • #4
        Have you had just one trainer/barn working with her, or have you tried another trainer? I am asking this as some horses need different types of rides than others. I had to change trainers with my greenie because my trainer moved and is now 14hrs away from me. I went to the person she, and other people recommended. Well, it was a disaster and he basically told me to give up on her, she would never be a hunter. I switched to a different trainer with a completely different style and the issues have completely resolved, and within two weeks my horse went back to where she was before. Now, not all horses respond this differently to different trainers, but some do. Some trainers try to put one horse into the same method, and some horses, and especially mares, rebel against it. If you really like this mare, I would first get her checked out by the vet to make sure she doesn't have a physical problem. If that is fine, then I would try a different trainer with a different style. If that doesn't work, then I would move on to a horse that I enjoy.


        • #5
          Some horses don't like to jump. Perhaps you need a different trainer, perhaps there is something seriously wrong with your horse, but another option is that she may just need a career change.


          • Original Poster

            Well, the thing is we just moved barns as my fam has moved to! So, I have just started with a new trainer and have been with her for about two months. My mare had not stopped with my trainer I bought her from but she was very "careful" with her. Ex. not doing her in the 3' hunter derby because of scary jumps, not riding if weird weather, ect. because my mares confidence is so sensitive. That being said, I am constantly legging her to the base, supporting her 100 percent to get her over it. We managed to be semi successful in the 3' hunters our last show, but I had to get up at the crack of dawn to school her over everything and she would still peak at the jumps during our courses. Needless to say, I am always on edge riding her and it has been hard for me to keep my confidence up after all we have been through, which sure doesnt help her!

            I have been thinking of selling her for a while but this new gal im with says if all is not better by august then it will be time to make changes because she thinks she can work through it with her, but we have had a bad month and i feel it just isnt going to get better and im kind of ready for a horse that I can enjoy because as you said, I am pouring all of this money into shows and lessons that are just plain stressful!!

            my only fear is selling her and not being able to find a horse with nice movement and jump for the price i will sell her for


            • Original Poster

              and I have had the vet look at her- they say all is well! But this new trainer Im with suggests getting her hocks done and maybe that will help.


              • #8
                Unfortunately, some horses don't want to do the job you want them to do..... And a few horses don't want to do any job at all. If you have had a vet check everything, and you have changed and tried everything that you can think of and had the best available trainers and professional rides.... Sometimes it is time to call it a day. I have a fabulously talented horse who is retired in a field for just this reason....


                • #9
                  I'd give this horse 2 weeks off, then send her to a GOOD cowboy. She needs a healthy butt kicking to see how nice her life is as a hunter. This is of course is because you feel confident there are NO vet issues.

                  The important part is a truly good cowboy who really knows how to work with these types of issues, not just a guy in a western saddle. You don't want her worked into the ground, but worked smart (often several short rides a day). A good cowboy also knows how to work a horse on the bit and through their back better than 90% of people doing h/j's! And that's not a dig at us, just a testament to what any good trainer can do, regardless of discipline.

                  And there is just something magical that seems to happen when a spoiled hunter learns to walk next to cows!

                  You have nothing to lose at this point!


                  • #10
                    If you don't LOVE riding her every time...I'd think it was time to move on!!! Unless you are a pro...riding is all about enjoyment and the "relationship" with a horse. You don't have that after a lot of effort, so I'd say to find yourself an honest horse that you can enjoy riding. You have two issues here...the stopping and the bolting. A pro might fix her or a change in disciplines (dressage, trail, whatever) might help, but she is probably not the best match for you if you can't trust her. I had a FABULOUS looking/moving/jumping 17 hand TB gelding who was a dirty stopper (didn't bolt though) and he ruined my riding style because I never knew for sure if it was a "go or a stop" in my future. Sold him as a foxhunter and he loved it!!! ENJOY yourself.
                    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                    • #11
                      I broke my neck jumping a bad stopper --- over a cross rail. I will never ride one again.

                      Stopping can never be totally fixed once it is an ingrained habit. Everything can go well, until you miss a distance and need the horse to "make it work". A stopper will revert and stop unstead of making an extra effort.

                      IMO, the best that can be attained in 6 months is to get her to stop less. And "less" is not enough.

                      My suggestion: If she is beautiful and a good mover, start taking dressage lessons. The worst thing it will do is to get the horse more ridable. The best thing it will do is give the mare a fresh outlook on life and the chance to find a home which suits her.

                      Sometimes horses do not want to do what we want them to do. At her age, she will never be the horse you want her to be. The kindest thing to do is find her a job which she enjoys and an owner who appreciates her for her good qualities.

                      ---Obviously, I do not know the trainer you have just started with, but I am a tad leery that she wants to try to fix her. Sounds like she wants 6 months of training fees to me. Better to spend the training $$ for dressage lessons; the sooner she starts on her new life, the better for everyone.

                      PS: Injecting her hocks may be a good idea. But, at this point, the real problem is in her brain, not her hocks.
                      "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                      Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                      • #12
                        I have been exactly where you are, only my gelding was just a nervous, out of control wreck in the arena. He would jump everything because he was brave, but we would also gallop around out of control, leap in the air, jig, take off from terrible spots.. Finally my trainer said there was nothing more we could do here and we sold him. He is highly enjoying his new life as a ranch pony! I felt like I failed at first, but now I realize how dangerous it was and how much better this life is for him because he is HAPPY too!


                        • #13
                          Sounds like she just doesn't want to jump. Something about it just doesn't work for her, or scares the bejesus out if her. She's been trying to tell you she's miserable, you are miserable...it's time for you both to have a break.

                          How is she to flat? Sulky? Or fine with it? She could make a great dressage horse. Take a few lessons, or have a dressage trainer try her a few times and see what the mare's reaction is. It might be just what she really wants...and needs.
                          "IT'S NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER, BUT OURSELVES." SIR EDMUND HILLARYMember of the "Someone Special To Me Serves In The Military" Clique


                          • Original Poster

                            she is GREAT on the flat!!! very huntery, its just the jumps that she has issues with. So, all in all, she will make a great dressage horse. I actually rode dressage before h/j and she is pretty good at shoulder in, lead changes, leg yield ect. Although i adore her and she has excellent ground manners i do agree she is trying to tell me she doesnt like jumping. I will have to part with her

                            I mean she has anxiety before, and after the jump and going around the course. Bolting, hopping, sometimes bucking are red flags like "HEY, I DONT LIKE THIS", just sad i guess

                            Her nature is no mean at all so Im pretty certain her motives arent bratty.

                            Again though- I need money for a new horse!! If i sell her to a dressage person will I still have a good value on her??

                            Obviously her happiness is most important above all though


                            • #15
                              Your horse sounds exactly like mine. And because of that I can say without a doubt that you should move on and find her a new job.

                              My boy is extremely careful. Knees to nose, picture perfect kind of careful. Owner had him since he was 6, never pulled a rail in the first few years, but started stopping after a couple of misses. The stopping continued, with eventually him being impossible even for the pros (owner was an ammie, but a very skilled and experienced one). When I was given him it turned out he had some inflammation in his suspensory, so that definitely could have been part of the stopping. However, at that point the habit was so ingrained.

                              Months of rehab and trust building later, I tried to jump him. A couple of months of little x-poles once a week and it was going well. Until he sent me to the hospital one day. Nothing about that particular jump, our third time over it. But he dirty stopped and I FLEW. He hasn't jumped since. In a few years I might consider it again. For now I lease him out half time as a dressage horse and hack him the rest.

                              Let your horse find a career where she can be happy. My horse is so fried now he will jump out of his skin if another horse knocks a rail while we're riding. Don't let that happen to yours. She's telling you she isn't happy, take it seriously. (And be glad you can probably still sell yours, mine is only mine because he was a giveaway).


                              • #16
                                I have a friend who has owned a similar one for more than a decade. I "fixed" him for a minute one summer. She tried to give him to me and I declined, knowing that sooner or later, I'd guess wrong, he'd come "unfixed" and I'd get hurt.

                                Given her age and that you have had pro help, I think you need to think outside the box.

                                So the right answers are:

                                Make sure she's not hurting somewhere. But don't spend a fortune on vet work.

                                Then do the "GOOD cowboy" thing suggested above. If you need to leg her to the base all the time, part of her problem might be that she's a touch unbroke-- she's not sure that when you say jump or go forward, she's supposed to say Only "how high?" or "how fast?"

                                A great cowboy will get further into her head than most pros. They know how to figure out why a horse does the wrong thing and how to make that very unattractive. IMO, a good cowboy (and really any good pro) will insist on making a horse very obedient but in a way that is fair to them.

                                Sadly, this mare might need to be a little "under your thumb" at all times. That was true for my friend's disaster gelding. It's a PITA to ride and scary if you want to keep her a loop-in-the-reins hunter.

                                Or do make her into a dressage horse and sell her on. She could do very well here, and she might not mind the more intensive, micromanaging ride that comes in this discipline. If she is pretty-moving and polite on the ground, that goes a long way to get her a good home.

                                Jumping scares some of them, and some, I think, might have poor vision that only shows up in the form of the problems your mare has.

                                But, yeah, don't keep pouring in money if you want a hunter for yourself and she's not one you can ride. Also, if you do go the cowboy route, make sure you watch him train her and then take some lessons from him before you get her back. You'll need to learn to read her and manage her as well as he does under saddle if his training is going to work.

                                Best of luck to you both.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat


                                • #17
                                  Well, it sounds like you have no problem selling except for the part about value. Here are some things to think about:
                                  Every month this horse is in training with a hunter trainer for hunters, which is something she will most likely never excel at, and which is a market in which she will not sell in because of her current habit, is a month where you are losing money on her. If you want to market her as a dressage horse, put her in training with the best dressage trainer you can, and tell the trainer that you want the horse gone ASAP.
                                  This way, the training you pay for will be helping to increase the horse's value and isn't a waste of money. Telling the trainer that you want the horse sold gives the trainer something to work towards, and motivation in the form of a commission. Discuss how far you want to take the horse in dressage training for maximum value with the trainer (horses are far more valuable as prospects or high level schoolmasters, not as low level horses. Figure out where the mare's value will peak if she can't get to the schoolmaster stage and agree to sell her when she gets there.)

                                  All in all, this was not an ideal three years for you or the horse. It sounds like it's time to cut your losses and part ways. If you have to save up some money for a few months after this horse sells to get the horse you want, maybe wait until this time next year and go to Germany to pick up something young, so be it. You'll be happier in the long run, even if you do go a few months without a horse. I wouldn't hang on to this one because you're worried about selling it for less than you bought it for, because every month you hang on to it, you lose money.

                                  Hope you can sort this out, these kind of situations are never fun.


                                  • #18
                                    Send the mare to a dressage trainer who sells horses. Not every horse likes to jump. Find a horse that is fun for you to ride and move on.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by blingblang78 View Post

                                      I mean she has anxiety before, and after the jump and going around the course. Bolting, hopping, sometimes bucking are red flags like "HEY, I DONT LIKE THIS", just sad i guess

                                      Again though- I need money for a new horse!! If i sell her to a dressage person will I still have a good value on her??
                                      These behaviors sound pretty significant & after 3 years (or even longer), there won't be an easy (or quick) fix.

                                      Re money - how much will her monthly upkeep & "retraining" cost? how much will even a minor broken limb (yours) cost? how much will vet care cost to Xray, Ultrasound, then inject (I definitely wouldn't inject on speculation)? what if she is injured during her "retraining" & then needs a year of rehab?


                                      • #20
                                        Nervous horse + Nervous Rider + Three years of trying to work through it = Time to give up.

                                        BUT that is me, as others have said it is a very personal decision. I leased a horse for four months that wasn't really right for me (we never clicked, but he wasn't bad) and I regret not spending a month looking for something I enjoyed more even if it meant three months.

                                        Can you try other horses? Even just taking a few lessons on friends or school horses. When you remember what its like to ride something you feel comfortable on or trust it might help make the choice easier.