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Rash of refusals - overfaced?

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  • Rash of refusals - overfaced?

    Just looking for some opinions here.....

    We have a fairly new mare in our barn. She's been with us around a year and we've worked really hard on her jumping. She's not a natural jumper and not incredibly brave but she tries solely because she has a natural desire to please her rider. She's one of our lesson string horses, but only for advanced riders.

    She's only recently (4-5 months) been jumping at a canter and was doing fairly well. Once again, not the most bold mare ever and she gets nervous but once she settled in she was fine. I jump her around 2'3", the other trainer about 2'6".

    Within the last month she has really taken on refusing. A lot. Not from fear, just from plain flat not wanting to jump it. I don't think it's a pain issue because she's very young and shows no indications of having pain (other than the refusing). She also seems to be having some trouble finding her "spots".

    Shes' been XC schooling and to different locations and now has just started this rash of refusing. Thoughts? Is she being overfaced? Or does she just need more mileage at lower levels?

  • #2
    If the height and complexity of the fences hasn't changed, and it's not just with newer (to her) riders, then I would definitely say it's a pain issue.

    If you've been working with her a year, it's entirely possible her saddle does not fit well anymore, and that's the first place I'd start looking.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • #3
      Some horses do not jump well, do not enjoy it and are not suited for it. If she's not great at it...why force a job she apparently has more than "stated" she doesn't enjoy. Maybe a great time to have her be a flat only horse.


      • #4
        I would think it is a pain issues or if the horse is over faced after a year at 2'6 I would think they horse is telling you he doesn't want to be a jumper. Some horses don't like to jump and if there is no pain I think you have a pony who wants to keep all four feet on the ground so to speak.


        • #5
          If she has only been jumping at the canter for 4-5 months I really think it's, maybe, just not the career for her, especially since OP mentions she "is not bold...gets nervous" and earlier said she lacked any natural jumping ability.

          Even if it does relate to pain in hocks or back or something, this early on it sounds like square peg, round hole.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            I agree with all the prior posts. If the horse is lacking in ability I'd find a different job for it. I've seen a horse who wasn't suited for jumping (type-y QH) used for flat & cavaletti lessons, trip over a single trot pole and face plant with the rider. Rider ended up with a compound fracture of her arm which took over a year to heal even after surgery. So if the horse isn't suited, find it something else to do before it gets hurt or it's jockey gets hurt.
            Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN


            • #7
              I think I agree with everyone else here. Maybe the horse just doesn't want to be one that jumps! I used to ride one who was terrified of even just poles but would jump around a course just to make the rider happy. He was wonderful but knowing how nervous it made him (he never stopped once, though) we moved him into a very happy career as a dressage horse.
              I'd rather be riding!


              • Original Poster

                Hmm.... I have to say that I concur. I think that she's not a happy jumper. She happily plops over cross rails all day, but that really does keep all 4 feet on the ground pretty much. Or at least 2!!!

                Okay, so then how to present this to a group that thinks they can make her a jumper? I've said all along that I think she's a great flatting only horse. I've jumped her TONS and I was the first one able to really press her over at a canter. While I love her and think she's pretty I just don't really forsee a big career for her jumping.

                She belongs to BM and she'll keep her no matter what because she's on BM's payroll not the barns.


                • #9
                  Check her ovaries. She may not be in pain unless she needs to 'squat' before jumping.


                  • #10
                    OP, just tell them that, In Your Opinion, the horse is not properly conformed to fold easily over a fence, it will always be hard for her and she does not care for it-and who can blame her.

                    Just say you are not comfortable teaching on her over anything bigger then a crossrail. You need to advocate for her as a Pro. It's the right thing to do.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • #11
                      Additional Considerations

                      I agree with speaking up for the horse. Don't force it to jump.

                      Secondly, you can point out the BM the liability issue of using a horse for jumping lessons that is a known stopper, and unsuitable for the job. Geez, past the stopping, the risk this horse lands in or falls over a jump is probably great.

                      Not only is it unfair to the horse, it's dangerous for the riders.


                      • #12
                        I wouldn't completely rule out pain. My gelding started refusing when he had ulcers. Check the saddle fit. More and more I find that issues I would once chalk up to behavior or training are actually physical.

                        If all else fails, just don't push her. Maybe jumping isn't her thing. Sometimes horses are talented in an area but don't enjoy it. Maybe she needs a new job. Would she be a dressage prospect? If the horse isn't keen on cantering over even small jumps, I would say she isn't ever going to be able to do high level stuff or the jumpers. Those both really require desire and interest from the horse. A good jumper always WANTS to jump, or else there is no quicker way to make a horse sour.
                        Gentleman J - "Junior" - My been-there, done-that jumper

                        Send Your Love - "Serena" - Aug 10th 2009, Rest in Peace


                        • Original Poster

                          Well, she'll eventually jump. Its just the refusing part that is more than I can handle. I don't know if its maybe too that the kids are letting her get away with it and so that's why she does it.

                          We've got a few horses at our barn right now that need to hit the bricks for various reasons too and I've brought those up only to be....um.....ignored? Lesson string horse is one thing, privately held is another.

                          Personally, I think she needs to go back to basics and we need to really figure out her issues.


                          • #14
                            Findeight's response is perfect.

                            You need to step up for the sake of the horse. Don't teach jumping on her, but make sure she gets used enough for flat lessons, etc. and develops good flatting skills so that you can teach a range of riders on her.

                            I had one like this -- nice horse, very well-trained, but just not a horse that needed or wanted to jump. Over anything. His job in my program was teaching kids more advanced flatting techniques, as he had plenty of fancy buttons if you pushed them right. He was much happier in this role, and the kids learned something that is important to a well-rounded education.

                            But I would investigate the pain issues further if she just started stopping after a few months of relative compliance/no stopping. My non-jumper never really took to it at all. He wasn't a stopper, but never really got his legs together over fences. He jumped just like a spider walks.


                            • Original Poster

                              Well this mare had a really bad beginning in life and so we've provided her with a good and loving home. She's really come around from being totally paranoid all the time to finally having some trust in her rider, but now I think her trust is starting to waiver again.

                              I'll suggest we go back to flatting her out and that had been brought up, but only with an o/f end. The suggestion for me to show her outside of the showing she just did was also brought up.

                              Which is fine, and might be good for me to see if she does it with me in the irons or just with the kids. If she navigates fine for me, obviously its a disobedience she's been taught.

                              The downside of that is that I have my own horse that I want to show and now when would I ever have time?! Or I could just bring a groom and show both in the same division. Which would leave to more ill feelings towards my horse if he beats out this horse! LOL!


                              • #16
                                You keep mentioning "the kids" riding her. Is this horse being used for lessons? if so then this may be a combination of problems. A green horse used for lessons, with kids may be teaching her all the wrong things. She may be being hit in the mouth, allowed to run out, hit in the back etc all of which would contribute to her not wanting to jump. I would 1) have her thoroughly checked by a vet, check teeth, back, hocks, and knees if nothing else (although I'd want to thoroughly go over her), then 2) NO ONE should ride this horse at all for several months except one person who is knowlegeable in dealing with an in experienced horse that has developed a stopping issue, she needs to do VERY SMALL fences that if she stops can easily be stepped over until she decides she HAS to go over, then 3) start to increase jumps and see if she "hits a wall". If so there is your answer.


                                • #17
                                  First off, good for you looking into this problem and not writing the horse off as a bad horse and trying to fix the problem by carrying a bigger crop and wearing bigger spurs. That creates a whole separate problem that makes it tougher to recover stoppers.

                                  I would say look into the pain issue. Having been exposed to a lot of stoppers (that's what being broke and riding IHSA gets you), most have issues with the saddle not fitting or their feet not being properly balanced. Some of the horse's timidity may come from not being 100% comfortable in her body (although if you say she had a tough start, you might be dealing with that as well). Have a chiropractor or body-worker take a look at her if possible. It would be great to have this problem taken care of before it turns into more of a problem.

                                  Now that she is a stopper, there's really only one way to retrain her and that is with patience. I've had phenomenal success with dealing with stoppers by starting back at the beginning. Aside from good flatwork, start with poles on the ground or cross rails. Ride confidently but don't expect her to stop. If she does, calmly let her stand at the fence, then back her up. If there isn't enough room, turn away and come back at it. If she stops again, back her up a little farther this time and see if you can get her to go over it from there. Never turn a horse away from a fence and NEVER lose your calm. If the horse starts throwing a tantrum, ignore it (unless it becomes dangerous). Give the horse a chance to succeed - don't overface her and don't have too much pride to put the fence down to poles on the ground. It can get frustrating but remember to breathe deeply and end each day on a good note. Don't push for too much at any given time either.

                                  I would definitely take her out of your over fences lesson program until you feel like you've built her confidence enough to put her back in. And then I would only allow confident riders to jump her. Stopping is cure-able, but it just takes awhile.

                                  Good luck! Hope to hear happy stories in the future.
                                  HorseStableReview.com - Tell others what you know! Post your barn or review today.


                                  • #18
                                    First - congratulations to you for speaking on the part of this mare, who sounds as though jumping is NOT what she was put on this earth to do.

                                    Second - y' just gotta want to SHAKE some people! (not directed at OP, as it sounds as though she isn't the major decision maker in this play) Green mare (how old???), n'ot brave', 'not a natural', 'wants to please', just learning to jump, learning to canter over 2'3" with a trainer - and she's being used for LESSONS???? To teach kids how to jump??????? Combined training is NOT teaching a green horse and a green rider at the same time.

                                    Equine Photography in the Northeast


                                    • #19
                                      My first inclination would be that she isn't a natural jumper and isn't happy with that job. But, if the BM is insisting she be pushed to jump, I would make the conditions:

                                      1.) she gets a full vet check (back, hocks, shoeing check, teeth, saddle fit, etc) to make SURE it's not pain related.
                                      2.) she gets taken out of the lesson program. She will learn nothing from green kids whacking on her back and mouth and chipping away at her already low confidence.
                                      3.) she gets at least 3 months of professional riders (or a really really good ammie) who has the patience to start her from scratch.

                                      If you do all that, and she still hits the brakes at jumps as low as 2'6", then she just isn't a jumper and should be made a flat only or flat to cross rails lesson horse. There is a great market for saintly sweet "teaching the beginner adults to canter" horses!


                                      • #20
                                        I'm surprised that so many people jump to the conclusion that refusing = pain. Perhaps it's simply a disobedient horse. I teach kids too, and they let the horses get away with murder, which often leads to stopping.
                                        Maybe this mare just needs some consistent schooling by a confident, experienced rider, who won't let her get away with stopping.