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Horse Training Issue. Advice Needed.

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  • Horse Training Issue. Advice Needed.

    Im sorry this is long, but I'm desperate right now. Desperate enough to ask for help right now which I hate doing.

    So I have a five year old gelding, Ocassio. He didn't see people till he was two and was completely untouchable till he was four. At that point a trainer (apparently not a very good one) took him on and ended up messing him up a bit. I don't think they ever got to the point of touching him but running him around a round pen ended up teaching him to charge. I ended up with him a little after that just knowing he was untouchable and had already been through one trainer. It was a last chance kind of thing for him.

    Now I'm not surprised that he came to me pretty dangerous (charging, striking, rearing, biting, and an insanely reactive kick.) Naturally he is very very sensitive and he is also very smart (when he isn't simply reacting.) So when those actions caused an amateur trainer to release the pressure he simply learned they were the right answer.

    This guy is one of the most athletic and stunning horses I know. He is 14.3hh and very slowly graying out. He can clear 3ft from a trot and make it look simply effortless. I have yet to get him in a proper jump chute but the stuff he have done so far shows a beautiful form over jumps. He floats off the ground and has beautiful very forward gaits. Perfect feet, clean legs, and a solid short back.

    At this point I have had him for a year and three months. I have poured over 400 hours into his training. He is such a sweetheart and always the first to come greet you from the field. He has a very solid foundation of groundwork and work in hand. He has had many many hours being ponied off my trained horses. All four feet are handleable. He is comfortable in a saddle (both english and western, though has been primarily in a beater dressage saddle) and carrying a bit. I have been on and off him many times over the past few months and we have done some walking with a lead line person at his side. He turns and bends both directions off rein pressure in a rope halter.

    But now the tricky part. He just is not safe. Ive been thrown twice and have been very very lucky to have walked away fine from both of them. He is so reactive that he will just take off sometimes. He scares himself with it. His feet move before his brain does sometimes. He'll make a fantastic cross country horse once we can harness that and direct it. But right now I am stuck. We have gone back to basics and major desensitization and it is very very very slowly improving. But I don't have much more time for him and I need him ridable soon.

    Here are the options I'm thinking about right now.
    1) I simply turn him out for the winter. My patience is gone and I know I'm going to mess up and either get hurt or mess him up again. I also just don't have an adequate amount of time for this part of the training process right now.
    2) try and rehome him. He was purchased with that being the intention. But I'm not sure I can in good conscious do that now thinking that he might injure someone who doesn't know him well enough.
    3) Find a trainer to do this part of things. I would have to find a really good trainer that I was certain wouldn't mess him up. The few that have worked with him so far have been blown away by his weird combination of traits and have listed him with some of the most complicated horses they have ever had their hands on. I know he can get through this I'm just not sure I have the skill to do it right. And I know a quick and dirty way of doing things does not in any way work for him.

    I would love some other ideas if you have them or trainer recommendations that do colt starting. (in the NW USA)

    If you want to see the beginnings of his training with me and photos you can check it out at https://thesporadicjournalofahorsegirl.wordpress.com Its just the very beginnings of it and he has come a long way since my last post there.

  • #2
    Have you ever started a completely unbroke colt before? Have you ever successfully solved a problem horse before?

    What happened to make you come off? Buck, spook, bolt? Honestly that just comes with the territory with a young hot green horse. A very good rider with a sticky seat can just sit through this and moderate the explosion and an excellent rider with good timing can keep the horse between hand and leg so no explosion manifests itself.

    The rest of us hit the ground. That's why we buy broke horses.

    I see a lot of riders with project horses and I see a lot of riders come off horses that are well within the normal spectrum, and that go on to become good riding horses, maybe for someone else.

    I can't evaluate whether you have a dangerous horse, but it certainly sounds like you are in over your head and the horse feels dangerous to you.

    You need a good colt starter to work with you. Not a dressage or eventing coach. They want horses further up the training scale.

    Comment


    • #3
      We started several dozen feral horses, all ages and sexes.
      Practically all did fine, most very quickly, a few took a bit longer.
      Then, there was this one little four year old mouse gray beautiful stallion, now a gelding.
      He was similar to what you describe, utterly reactive and just was not getting over it.
      The whole world to him was scary, didn't like being alive at all, didn't like other horses, humans, dust flying, all was a danger to him.

      We were riding him like all others after a few days.
      He never did dump anyone, he didn't buck, he just went wild scooting around when something set him off.
      The better riders assigned to him barely could stick with him.
      At least he didn't fight, unless an extreme situation, one we knew never to put him in, after the first time we handled him.
      Guess that we went a bit too fast and he pawed and sent the instructor to the hospital for stitches on his head.
      Definitely our fault, as the instructor reminded everyone.

      After a while, this one fellow bought him from our training center and also tried with him for two years, with everyone helping him, but little horse was just not really safe.
      The school bought him back when he had to move.

      Wondering what to do with him, the riding center owner one day suggested we try him on the wagon that brought fresh alfalfa every morning from the fields to our place.
      We though he was nuts.
      There were ten minutes of heavy city traffic, busses, etc. before getting to the fields, not what a nervous horse needed, or ... ?

      What do you know, he made the prettiest cart horse you ever saw.
      He trotted proudly to the fields and back every morning.
      The world was his oyster as long as he was hitched!
      We still kept him in his preferred dark isolated corner of the stables and kept people away from him, but he had found his place in life and spent years at it happily.
      No one ever again tried to befriend or ride him, person or horse, which is what caused him stress and that was fine with him.

      No telling what is going on with the OP's horse, but maybe think outside the box?
      See if that one horse is just not going to be a riding horse that will be safe and if so, find what else he may be good doing, if you can.

      Comment


      • #4
        You're working with the functional equivalent of a badly raised teenager. How comfortable are you with that type of horse? If enough to keep working then get Littauer's book Common Sense Horsemanship. One of the things it has in there is a very detailed, seven month program to teach a horse to be a fox hunting mount. A good foxhunter is a very well trained, valuable horse. Perhaps you can use that program to work with your horse. This is very disciplined program. Littauer was trained in Czarist Russia as a cavalry officer and all his programs are based upon a disciplined, quantified approach to training. Maybe that's what this horse needs; maybe not. But it requires no special tools or equipment or language or other "external" elements. Just a competent human and Tincture of Time.

        If you don't want to put in the time then get rid of the horse before he hurts you. Turning him out for the winter sounds like a bad idea for a horse that is undisciplined when working with humans. Life is too long to mess with really dangerous horses.

        Good luck in your decision.

        G.
        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

        Comment


        • #5
          OP, I just looked at your blog.

          You are a high school student who bought a blm mustang sight unseen. You seem to have had some luck schooling your first horse, who sounds a lot easier. From that you ended up buying a known rogue horse off an internet site.

          Yes, you have taken on something above your skill level. There is no shame in admitting that. Get yourself some highly skilled adult help, the best local colt starter, who will teach you a ton. None of us on the internet can give you step by step instructions.

          Comment


          • #6
            Get an experienced trainer to help you. Make sure your saddle fits and that his back and body are comfortable.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
              OP, I just looked at your blog.

              You are a high school student who bought a blm mustang sight unseen. You seem to have had some luck schooling your first horse, who sounds a lot easier. From that you ended up buying a known rogue horse off an internet site.

              Yes, you have taken on something above your skill level. There is no shame in admitting that. Get yourself some highly skilled adult help, the best local colt starter, who will teach you a ton. None of us on the internet can give you step by step instructions.
              I think you're being a little unfair, Scribbler. If you read through the whole blog it sounds as though she (and other family members) have worked with mustangs before, and they don't seem to be novices.

              It might make sense to just turn him out for the next couple of months and just do very minimal ground work with him. Then restart with some ground work with the saddle on in the spring, or even better, before doing that, do some long-lining with him.

              But I do think you'd be well-advised to engage a trainer who has lots of experience with re-starting horses to help you out. Experience counts for a lot, particularly when you encounter some tough problems.

              Finally, I'll just add that not every horse can be trained up to what appears to be his potential. Handsome is as handsome does, and it doesn't matter how flashy he is going over a jump while he's being lunged. I'm not saying this as a discouragement, just to suggest that you should be realistic as you work with him.

              Good luck.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Posting Trot View Post

                I think you're being a little unfair, Scribbler. If you read through the whole blog it sounds as though she (and other family members) have worked with mustangs before, and they don't seem to be novices.

                It might make sense to just turn him out for the next couple of months and just do very minimal ground work with him. Then restart with some ground work with the saddle on in the spring, or even better, before doing that, do some long-lining with him.

                But I do think you'd be well-advised to engage a trainer who has lots of experience with re-starting horses to help you out. Experience counts for a lot, particularly when you encounter some tough problems.

                Finally, I'll just add that not every horse can be trained up to what appears to be his potential. Handsome is as handsome does, and it doesn't matter how flashy he is going over a jump while he's being lunged. I'm not saying this as a discouragement, just to suggest that you should be realistic as you work with him.

                Good luck.
                Ah, I didn't read the whole blog. I just caught the mention of homework.

                The original post was asking questions in a way that suggested the OP hadn't worked with a hot reactive horse before. And there doesn't seem to be an active experienced adult in the mix.

                People can be pretty good at groundwork and even saddle breaking horses that are low key, but not have the skills in place yet for a hot horse.

                I've seen more than one junior move up from lessons to lease to getting a beautiful OTTB project horse, and come to grief. Nothing wrong with the horse, just too hot for their current skill level (we are near a track, and OTTB are plentiful and cheap and make very nice jumpers eventually).

                Comment


                • #9
                  BLM mustang that is definitely on the difficult end of the spectrum?
                  Bryan Neubert. He has plenty of BLM mustang experience, and troubled horse experience, and problem horse experience. He's in the very Northeast corner of California... quite a ways from NW Washington but​ if anyone can do right by this horse it would be Bryan Neubert. You can Google him, and get in touch by email.

                  Other possibilities would be Robert and Janet Phinney, near Walla Walla. Still a ways away, but a great resource for you. Google The Horse Fellowship

                  You could also try Charley Snell from Central Oregon. Google Charley Snell Horsemanship

                  I had an OTTB that was super sensitive, troubled, spoiled, and had been thumped on. I had to up my own game quite a lot to get that horse ok, happy, useful (and I already had started, trained, flipped several horses successfully). I got a lot of help... and learned a whole lot more.

                  But it sounds like you need help, Really Good help of the type a good professional would seek if they were needing help. So skip the good pro and go find the exceptional one. I'd go find Bryan Neubert first. And if you are willing to do the very hard introspective work on yourself to get this horse Right... you will have some Mad Skills for the rest of your lifetime horses.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OP I think if you find the right trainer and work with him or her, not just send the horse away, you will learn an amazing amount.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      He'll make a fantastic cross country horse once we can harness that and direct it
                      dont put the cart before the horse here. Nothing about this horse says it will be a good event Horse.

                      If this is what you desire, I suggest getting a different horse. If you want a potentially multiple year long project then stick with this one, but I would not be making plans in my head.

                      Personally I think if you want to event then move on. From
                      someone who had a horse who was similar but not this bad and said horse eventually did event but also broke my leg in 4 places... and I am very experienced with difficult horses, it’s just not worth it.
                      Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post

                        dont put the cart before the horse here. Nothing about this horse says it will be a good event Horse.

                        If this is what you desire, I suggest getting a different horse. If you want a potentially multiple year long project then stick with this one, but I would not be making plans in my head.

                        Personally I think if you want to event then move on. From
                        someone who had a horse who was similar but not this bad and said horse eventually did event but also broke my leg in 4 places... and I am very experienced with difficult horses, it’s just not worth it.
                        Agree with this.
                        reactive, sensitive and panic striken arent what i look for in a xc horse.

                        Ive had feral horses, mustangs, not just unhandled purpose bred horses. They are a different kettle of fish for sure (ive broken in both these types)
                        however mine havent been panicky and reactive. I dont ride that type myself, as ive found its always there under the surface, and they will hurt you. Sure they dont mean too, but their emotional intelligence is low.

                        Try a trainer with agood track record with this type of horse, for your sake.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cameron Sinclair

                          Thank you both for your input. I have a very strong reaction against people people telling me I can't do things just because of my age, I feel like that a major issue in this world. I know I lack some years experience and that is why I am asking for help the way any sane person should. Yes I have worked with colt starting before and I have surrounded myself with people who know much more than I do from a variety of different disciplines. I have learned a lot from this horse and I think I have done a very good job up until this point where I know my skills are not good enough. This is very humbling and I am swallowing my pride
                          You are young. Youth does = less experience.
                          Having a strong reaction to that fact suggests an ego issue.
                          Ego has no place in horse training, imo.
                          Being humble, and aware that what you don't know will always, no matter how old you are, no matter how many decades you spend in horses... be more than what you know shows you might be mentally ready to tackle something like this.
                          you mention having the horse more than a year, but then 400 hours of working with him... am I misunderstanding that?
                          Being in a hurry, having a timeline, losing your patience after a year (if I'm reading that correctly), will not help.

                          Bottom line, there are no shortcuts, it will take as long as it takes and expectations are planned disappointment
                          Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                          http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Angela Freda View Post
                            You are young. Youth does = less experience.
                            Having a strong reaction to that fact suggests an ego issue.
                            Ego has no place in horse training, imo.
                            Being humble, and aware that what you don't know will always, no matter how old you are, no matter how many decades you spend in horses... be more than what you know shows you might be mentally ready to tackle something like this.
                            you mention having the horse more than a year, but then 400 hours of working with him... am I misunderstanding that?
                            Being in a hurry, having a timeline, losing your patience after a year (if I'm reading that correctly), will not help.

                            Bottom line, there are no shortcuts, it will take as long as it takes and expectations are planned disappointment
                            Yes. I would add that I would have given the same advice to someone of any age that expressed the same situation. I gave my advice before I looked at the blog. Then I looked at the blog to see if I'd missed anything. I was actually surprised to see you were a teen, but then the situation actually made more sense. And indeed looks more promising.

                            ​​​​​I'll explain. Many people write into COTH at their wits end with a horse, asking if we think its dangerous and they should retire or euthanize it.

                            If someone says "I have been a professional colt starter for 30 years, and this colt definitely has a screw loose and a mean attitude," I'd be more inclined to trust their judgement.

                            But many of the posts are from amateurs of any age who have got in over their head or even created problems with a hot or reactive horse. As I said above, some spook buck and even bolt comes with the territory.

                            In that case the question is whether the ammie has the physical ability, the time and resources, and the mental band width to seek out and learn from good trainers.

                            As an older teen you are well positioned to do so. And if you find a good trainer it will be a pleasure to check your ego at the gate and learn from them.

                            If you were a 45 year old beginner who could only get to the barn 3 times a week, and had preexisting back injuries that made it important you never fell or got jostled, I'd say rehome or retire him now.

                            As far as learning and ego. I grew up around adults that didn't know much, including my high school teachers, and basically figured everything out on my own. It wasn't until I got to college that I met people that were as smart as me in my own field, and not until grad school that I figured out how to find a mentor. When I returned to riding lessons in my 40s I knew I had lost most of my position and it didn't matter that I was quite good at 17, I had to check my ego and be a student.

                            Now I get to see younger folks, teens and early 20s, being working students. The ones who progress are the ones who can identify good mentors, are eager to work with them, and prove their worth by the work they do.

                            I regret not having that ability at an early age. I didn't realize that there were adults out there that knew stuff and actually wanted to help young people learn. My high school teachers were frazzled and over worked and didn't, the local adult horsemen were brutes and I avoided them.

                            But just because you reached the end of what's available locally doesn't mean you need to go it alone. There is always more expertise out there if you go find it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You are counting the hours spent instead of enjoying the journey, that isn't a good way to train any horse. They are not ego boosters (@superstar.horses) which it seems like you expect this horse to be. Looking at the coarse head thick short neck etc on that horse I can't imagine he will be worth the effort or the risk to you. Stay safe.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Posting Trot View Post

                                I think you're being a little unfair, Scribbler. If you read through the whole blog it sounds as though she (and other family members) have worked with mustangs before, and they don't seem to be novices.
                                It's a 14.3 baroque/mustang looking hony that they think is going to make an excellent event horse just as soon as they can talk it off the ledge, apparently without taking any lessons or involving any professionals since mom has experience with mustangs.

                                They may not be novices, but they're well short of what they would need to accomplish their stated goals.

                                If they want to learn how to make up an excellent event horse and are otherwise completely stuck, they will need to stop reinventing the wheel guided only by their instincts and take lessons and training from specialized professionals like the rest of us.
                                The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                                Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post

                                  It's a 14.3 baroque/mustang looking hony that they think is going to make an excellent event horse just as soon as they can talk it off the ledge, apparently without taking any lessons or involving any professionals since mom has experience with mustangs.

                                  They may not be novices, but they're well short of what they would need to accomplish their stated goals.

                                  If they want to learn how to make up an excellent event horse and are otherwise completely stuck, they will need to stop reinventing the wheel guided only by their instincts and take lessons and training from specialized professionals like the rest of us.
                                  Yes. There's a big gap between having some decent ground work skills for babies, and having the riding skills to school a horse proficiently in dressage, stadium, and cross country.

                                  And many horses can hop 3 feet from a trot if they are revved up.

                                  I saw that there was a mom involved, but she doesn't seem to be the one trying to ride the animal. And I have to wonder about general judgement in encouraging a teen to order a rogue mustang online sight unseen.

                                  And about a trainer who is nonplussed by a horse that's gentle on the ground and hot and reactive in the saddle. There's nothing odd there.

                                  In other words, I think OP has reached the limits of useful input by the adults she has access to, and needs to go seek out good help.

                                  Another poster gave her a list of names of colt stsrtung trainers which is great.

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                                  • #18
                                    I finally had a few minutes and was trying to read the blog, but it seems to not allow you to read it in chronological order, and I only see sporadic posts that are spaced very far apart, the last two being at 100+ days and then 200+ days and none of them sharing anything about riding the horse.... am I missing something or are there no blog posts that detail that work?
                                    Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                                    http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

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                                    • #19
                                      It looks like you may be near me (I am in NW Washington too!), and my trainer is amazing with 'problem horses.' She has helped me through re-starting a couple very challenging horses, and she has been the last chance for a horse before euthanizing more than once and succeeded in bringing them around. PM me if you are interested, and I can give you her contact information.

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                                      • #20
                                        I'll just throw my .02 into the ring, and will apologize ahead of time if I'm telling you something you already know-I don't mean to condescend.

                                        Two things I would try that I don't see mentioned-have you long lined/ground driven him? Long lining teaches the horse to listen to you and calmly go forward at your direction. In my experience this has translated directly to work under saddle. I have started in the round pen and arena, and gone out into country where we trail ride-it was a big help in starting all my field hunters.

                                        The other thing I might try would be to establish a routine and try to stick with it as closely as possible, with all aspects with this horse, even the small ones. Allow him to learn what to expect, and introduce changes in tiny increments. Your patience will take a beating-it's not fun, but it might be the key to gaining his confidence.

                                        Upthread, Guilherme mentioned Captain Littauer. One of his most important lessons to us is to listen to your horse-what is he telling you-really listen to what he is saying, not just what you want to hear. I think you are trying to do exactly that, and this is where you can learn from other horsemen.

                                        Stay safe, and good luck!

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