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Horse that rears

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  • Horse that rears

    I'm new here, so I don't know if I'm posting this in the right place, but I'm a H/J gal, so this seemed a good fit. I have a warmblood gelding in the barn right now who likes to rear. He'll do it while being led, longed or ridden and they're not little hops. He goes up, UP, UP! A bullet in the head isn't an option and I think we made progress today, but I'm wondering what experiences others have had with rearers. What did you do to eliminate the behavior? Did it work? Did you need periodic "refresher courses"?

  • #2
    I have retrained rearers and flippers. After resolving the neck and back soreness that usually comes with rearers, and making sure there are no other soundness issues or dental issues, the key is to find the trigger & give the horse a cue such as a head down command to help them come down from whatever the stressor is.

    Once I have those two things, I will do ground work that puts the horse in a situation where they are likely to rear, and the moment I see the first sign of the rear (usually starts with tension in the neck, and or change in breathing pattern), I will give the horse the head down command and difuse the situation.

    Over time I increase the pressure/stress of the situation and make sure I can still difuse it on the ground. Only once I have reprogrammed the horse's reaction to the stressors on the ground, will I work the horse under saddle.

    Reprogramming the horse's reaction will take time, and will take an observant handler that is able to pick up on the first signs of the issue and difuse it before the rear happens.

    Trust me, the horse will be happier and vastly prefer a head down command to rearing and the rear habit will be reprogrammed.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Well, I've found the trigger. Anytime Horsie wants to do something His way, he rears. It's a dominance/control thing for him. He's not afraid, he's not "overfaced", he isn't in pain, he's just smart and VERY athletic - a tough combo sometimes, but also a potentially very rewarding one. The rearing is known to be "in" his bloodline. I've had many by the same sire in the barn and all have had this tendency. Some give it up more easily than others. This guy is a good boy most of the time, as hard as that may be to believe. Very friendly, affectionate even and mostly cooperative. But it's obvious that he'd rather be the trainer and me the student. When he's asked to do something he'd rather not he tries to bully and intimidate and he means business. If things are going his way, he's a puppy.
      He's a homebred with no mileage and he's spoiled, but that's now in his past.

      Comment


      • #4
        A bullet in the head?

        What a brave little greenie you are.
        "Dressage" is just a fancy word for flatwork

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Yeah, as I said the bullet in the brain option is out. Horsie needs to be "reprogrammed" and quick!

          Comment


          • #6
            As a trainer it is your job to make the horse understand and enjoy learning/working. Sometimes though, you have to take a harsher stance and keep yourself safe. A chain shank may help you regain his attention and bring him back to the task of hand. NOT TO PUNISH.

            I do question your assessment of why he rears, but perhaps you are right. I would think it more likely that he is the kind of horse that is insecure when he is unsure, and instead of slowing down and learning, he just tunes the training out and wants to get out of there. Sort of a panic attack when faced with something new/challenging. It is up to you to show him that he should instead stop and listen. Perhaps his natural talent is allowing you to rush things a bit too and overwhelming him without realizing it.
            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

            Comment


            • #7
              A GOOD cowboy who is considerate of the horse is my best suggestion for a rearer. Rearing is an extremely dangerous habit that needs to be stopped in no uncertain terms IMMEDIATELY. Someone who can PROPERLY flip one over without hurting him can usually fix this very quickly. Sounds like he needs a work ethic installed as well.
              http://community.webshots.com/user/Kikki500

              Comment


              • #8
                Flipping is idiotic advice. There is no safe way to flip a horse.

                While being led: the second he tries to go up burn his forelegs with a dressage whip.

                If a horse reared while being lounged I would not hesitate to leave a very visible mark with a whip, as many as needed.

                While being ridden: bend him as much as you can and apply whip behind your leg. He'll have to move but only by crossing his hind legs.

                It sounds like you need professional help with this horse though. He's not just a brat, he's a dangerous brat.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Absolutely, professional help is definitely required here.

                  Time and patience are the best solution. CHT gave you excellent advice. You may be correct that this horse thinks a good deal of himself. You really need to solve this problem on the ground first. Teaching the horse to yield the front end and also to yield the hind quarters is very important. I would push the front end around in a turn on the hindquarters for one who even looks like he will rear. Getting a horse to yield the hindquarters in a turn on the forehand will also be very helpful. Once a horse recognizes that you can "move" him around, they become less "self important."

                  Basically a cowboy, like a Clinton Anderson, John Lyons, or Kenny Harlow (www.kennyharlow.com) would be the safest suggestion.

                  We would all like the "quick answer," but when a horse does something terribly dangerous, it is important to take the time, patience and knowledge to learn WHY you have this problem and be ready to spend TIME working to stop it.

                  Personally, I would not purchase a horse from a line that has this attitude. Good Luck, and put in the time on the ground.
                  http://www.herselffarm.com
                  Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
                  "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro

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                  • #10
                    He's got rearing in his bloodline.
                    You've had many by the same sire, they all do it but you've had success with the others?
                    This is a straight up rear- being led, lunged or ridden-
                    BAD
                    Are you the breeder?
                    Someones gonna get hurt-

                    Send him to a cowboy

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Amerex View Post
                      ...is known to be "in" his bloodline. I've had many by the same sire in the barn and all have had this tendency...
                      He's a homebred with no mileage and he's spoiled, but that's now in his past.
                      Sorry, this just hits me the wrong way this morning.

                      You cannot just erase him being allowed to get pushy and put it "in his past" and if he is bred with a family propensity to stand on his hind legs when he does not get his way?

                      90 days (minimum) with a good pro known for restarting and then a solid follow up program of consistent handling forever is about all I can suggest. He will be hard to sell with this ugly and dangerous habit...and could hurt somebody. Bad.

                      Watch the anthromorphizing too...assigning human values and emotions like "affectionate" and "friendly" sends you down the wrong road trying to fix this spoiled brat behavior. He is only "nice" because you are not asking him to do something he prefers not to do.
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have a horse that sounds similar to yours. I found that when I am riding him the best way to diffuse the situation is to put him on a tight circle (walking). Bending hard one way or the other will make it nearly impossible to rear up. This will also get him moving his legs. As for rearing while being lead, I like the chain over the nose. Then whenever they start to get an attitude, I make them back up (which also makes them lower their head). The key is to diffuse the situation before it escalates, so its important to pay attention.

                        I definitely agree that a professional would be the best solution. Rearing is obviously very dangerous and well worth paying someone else to fix if its out of your abilities as a trainer. I strongly disagree with the person about "safely flipping" a horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by hntrjmprpro45 View Post
                          ...I strongly disagree with the person about "safely flipping" a horse.
                          Well, hadn't heard that technique mentioned for years...and it did work for centuries...sort of. With chariot horses, cavalry mounts and cowboy ponies when they had to fix it with no time to solve it properly. And it was practiced widely by traveling horse "fixers" in the old timey version of clinics. They'd flip 'em and fix them...for long enough to get out of town with the money. Horses mostly reverted within a week. A very, very old scam.


                          Think it's way out of place as a suggestion for what is probably a huge by comparison WB bred with the tendency and spoiled by permissive handling that is not needed on the battlefield or to trail the herd in the immediate future.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            one of my old trainers used to take a crop with a really wide, flat end and when the horse would go up if it had a rearing problem, he'd pop the horse right between the ears. not excessively hard, but with enough force to make the horse pay attention. His logic is that it made the horse think that he was smacking his head on something. it actually seemed to work after the first couple times. i've never had a problem and i didnt really agre with it until it actually started to work...kind of really did seem like the horse thought it was smacking its head on something.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by farmgirl88 View Post
                              one of my old trainers used to take a crop with a really wide, flat end and when the horse would go up if it had a rearing problem, he'd pop the horse right between the ears. not excessively hard, but with enough force to make the horse pay attention. His logic is that it made the horse think that he was smacking his head on something. it actually seemed to work after the first couple times. i've never had a problem and i didnt really agre with it until it actually started to work...kind of really did seem like the horse thought it was smacking its head on something.
                              That only works with certain types of horses. I have used that a couple times before and it'll work wonders BUT the horse has to be fairly stupid (or overly sensitive) in most cases. Most overly dominant and/or intelligent horses will figure out that it is the rider hitting them and will get really pissed off. But thats just my experience- which I will admit is not that extensive as far as rearers go. I have only had a handful of horses who were "repeat offenders", and even then, I had gotten a handle on the situation before having to explore many other options.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Amerex View Post
                                Well, I've found the trigger. Anytime Horsie wants to do something His way, he rears. It's a dominance/control thing for him. He's not afraid, he's not "overfaced", he isn't in pain, he's just smart and VERY athletic - a tough combo sometimes, but also a potentially very rewarding one. The rearing is known to be "in" his bloodline. I've had many by the same sire in the barn and all have had this tendency. Some give it up more easily than others. This guy is a good boy most of the time, as hard as that may be to believe. Very friendly, affectionate even and mostly cooperative. But it's obvious that he'd rather be the trainer and me the student. When he's asked to do something he'd rather not he tries to bully and intimidate and he means business. If things are going his way, he's a puppy.
                                He's a homebred with no mileage and he's spoiled, but that's now in his past.
                                This is a lot like my horse, who, despite his many wonderful qualities and athleticism is prone to rearing. Sooooo smart and the trigger (on the ground, in the stall, loose in his paddock, longeing, being ridden...whatever) seems to be whenever something does not go his way or he is frustrated. Not being fed quickly enough? Rear. Not being brought in quickly enough from turnout and have to pee? Rear. Just had a bath and angry about being wet? Rear. Feeling fresh and your rider isn't allowing you to gallop around bucking like a maniac? Rear. Want to graze but your handler says it's time to go in. Rear. You get the idea.

                                We went through a period of time when he was 3-4 (he's 5 now) where he was rearing every day while being handled. It was horrible. We later discovered a suspensory injury that I suspect may have been brewing mildly for a while but not enough to cause lameness, so I think that may have contributed as something that was "not going his way" and I can't blame him for expressing that there was a problem. That said, he definitely rears as his first choice whenever something isn't going his way - so it is not just a pain thing. However, now that he's been under the care of an excellent lameness specialist for close to a year (for the suspensory, but also addressing other hind end issues), he really doesn't rear under saddle much at all. If he does, it is when he is really fresh.

                                I can't remember the last time he reared while being handled on the ground. The last time he reared with me in the saddle was when something spooked a bunch of horses in the indoor, including him. That was more of a forward, leaping rear though...not a stand straight up rear like he used to do. He rears regularly during turnout, which I don't attempt to correct. What he does on his own time is up to him. Just not while he's on the clock, lol.

                                Anyway, here is what worked for me in addition to making sure he is sound as a whistle at all times:

                                1. Chain over the nose while being led and hold the lead rope close to the halter (i.e., right where the chain connects to the rope). Use as necessary, but for him it wasn't necessary very often so long as you held the rope close to his halter. Lots of groundwork (in very small doses or the smart ones get bored and naughty!) on walking politely with his head next to my shoulder and stopping instantly when I stop. Praise for this when he is good. When naughty, don't soothe, just carry on.

                                2. In the saddle, the INSTANT he gets light in front, spin him in circles (another reason it is very important to be sure he is sound). When I was with my old trainer, I was basically just riding the rear (i.e., leaning forward to counterbalance the rear and trying not to get killed) and then kicking forward as soon as the front feet reached Earth again. That did not work well at all and really just led to more rearing. My current trainer taught me that it's not about reacting to the rear, but about preventing it the second the thought enters his mind. It has worked great. He starts to get light, I make small circles quickly and it gets him thinking about something other than rearing. When the circling is over, I get him working nice and forward and I do lots of larger cirlces, changes of direction, etc. I never thought it would work so well, but it has. Can't remember the last time I felt him get light in front and had to spin him.

                                I know what you mean about being a really good horse sometimes and a rearing PITA at others. Mine was the same way. Lately, though, with the steps above, I get the amazing, talented, so-special version of him much more often than not. Can't stress enough though that you should be totally sure he's not hurting anywhere. Like I said, if he's a horse that rears whenever something is not going his way, the thing that is "not going his way" could be pain. It can be really hard to tell if pain is the cause or not in sensitive, intelligent souls like ours.

                                PS - I'm not interested in getting into it with anyone about the use of a chain over the nose. I know some people are opposed to it. I am not, so long as it is used judiciously and correctly.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by hntrjmprpro45 View Post
                                  I have a horse that sounds similar to yours. I found that when I am riding him the best way to diffuse the situation is to put him on a tight circle (walking). Bending hard one way or the other will make it nearly impossible to rear up. This will also get him moving his legs. As for rearing while being lead, I like the chain over the nose. Then whenever they start to get an attitude, I make them back up (which also makes them lower their head). The key is to diffuse the situation before it escalates, so its important to pay attention.

                                  I definitely agree that a professional would be the best solution. Rearing is obviously very dangerous and well worth paying someone else to fix if its out of your abilities as a trainer. I strongly disagree with the person about "safely flipping" a horse.
                                  Yep. I didn't read this before I posted, but sounds like you and I are on the same page. And, yeah, my goodness, please don't flip the horse!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Yeah, I'd beat the bejeezus out of him when he did it. I had one like this and he was very dangerous, same sort of personality: dominant and smart and wilful. He still threatens at times (it's a going into the ring sort of thing, he doesn't want to go to work, at times out on the field he'll prop and try and rear back to the trailer.) He scares me. But so athletic it's worth it to play him.

                                    My polo trainer had me ride the hell out of him as soon as I got on, as soon as I felt that prop in front I'd lash him one hard on the back end. It was really my trainer's work that got it out of him, though. It was a long road.
                                    "Disapproval of the way other people run their businesses and treat their horses is the meat and drink of the hunter-jumper industry."
                                    Working Student Blog
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                                    • #19
                                      my horse used to get light up front when he objected, op. i totally understand what you're talking about, personality wise. my horse is very alpha and very opinionated. and impossible to intimidate. a crop between the ears only triggers his FU button.

                                      he's a lamb now though.

                                      he used to get light up front, and we worked through it. will PM you.
                                      **************
                                      http://img.skitch.com/20100717-q91i7...u2ub8k6b15.jpg

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Maybe I should clarify that I am the professional who's been called on to work with htis horse. I've had a number of his full and half sibs before because his owner is the breeder and regularly sends her youngsters to me. This guy is a little different because he's 9, SUPER talented and just a tough cookie. Believe me, he's not scared and reacting to being "unsure". He's pretty darn sure that he's better equipped to decide what we're going to do in the ring than I am. I've worked with numerous horses like this one, as I said initially, but I know that I don't know everything and thought that if I asked about other's experiences I'd very likely pick up something new that just might suit this particular project. So, thank you so much to those who have shared your strategies. You've been very helpful and I'm glad I found COTH!
                                        I'm not a flipper - again, he's not mine and I don't want to have to explain to Mommy that I killed him or gave him a head tilt or whatever. I use the "avoid the rear" tactics such as tight circles, forwardforwardforward and he was a star today out in a big hilly field, so we're getting the job done. But maybe it could be done better, which is why I came here.

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