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New horse - settling in and knocked confidence

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post

    I often have to end up lecturing a horse, with a shaking finger, about how I never give treats by hand so the horse can stop wasting his time and energy trying to mug me. Usually after the second, slightly more vehement lecture, the horse gives up and politely waits, giving me encouraging nickers, until I give him a treat or some grain in a bucket.
    I clicker train and my husband doesn't, so he just ignores the horses if they approach him--and doesn't carry treats because it's not his thing. The horses figure it out within weeks of getting here.

    A friend of mine, a clicker trainer, doesn't want to be surrounded by her herd every time she goes to the barn, so she doesn't carry treats and if they come over to her and start offering behaviors she ignores them. Then, when she's ready to clicker train she puts on her vest and goes out and usually separates one, and starts clicking. Her horses know the drill.

    Comment


    • #22
      I didn't read all of the responses, but to me, it sounds like across the board this horse has it in his mind that respecting you is an option. You ask, and sometimes he's a yes, and sometimes he's a "ehhhh, I'd rather XYZ."

      This kind of respect is earned from the ground first. My advice - pick your preferred flavor of groundwork/natural horsemanship/in hand work and start at the beginning.

      Comment


      • #23
        I've just recently gone through a slightly similar experience with my mare that I purchased a year and a half ago. When she arrived she was also quite sluggish and resistant, both under saddle and on the lunge. I bought her from a trainer and was told that's just how she is. At the time, I thought it was great because I was coming off a HOT TB, and wanted a change. However after a few months she started to spook. The spooking continued to get worse and worse. It got to the point where she'd started bolting, rearing and misbehaving on the ground. During this time I had a saddle fitter out and was sold a saddle that was "perfect" for her. To make a long story short... I went through two saddle fitters before finding one that made a difference, and what a difference it made! The spooking/rearing/bolting stopped, but she was still resistant under saddle. On a whim I put her on Comfort Gut, and let me tell you, I have a completely different horse! She's now lovely and forward, sensitive but not reactive, forgiving, and such a little worker! She is an absolute joy to ride and rarely spooks at even very scary things anymore. The moral of my story I guess, is that some of his behavior might be trying to tell you something. I'm not saying it will be the same issues that I uncovered, but there may just be something you can't see that is affecting him. I also learned that just because one saddle fitter works well for someone else, doesn't mean they're going to be a good fit for your own situation. Good luck!

        Comment


        • #24
          Originally posted by skydy View Post

          I disagree. The horse seems to know the "basics".

          It seems to me that the OP and the horse need some time to get to know each other as is usual with a new partnership, and that the OP needs some local help/advice to establish the pecking order.

          Going "completely back to basics" as in re-training with a "system" that is sold on the internet, seems a little much to me, at this point in time.
          I disagree. A horse that is sluggish does not know basics. It is dull and shut down. And Equitation Science isn't a "system", it is an organization that uses scientific method to research and develop humane training methods and husbandry methods.

          And "pecking order" has been proven to be a false interpretation of how horses interact with humans. Best way to develop a new partnership is to establish a common language by going back and making sure horse and rider are on the same page with regards to basic aids.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by CHT View Post

            I disagree. A horse that is sluggish does not know basics. It is dull and shut down.
            I will respectively disagree with this. I am very fortunate to own an extremely well-trained horse (that I take zero credit for; he came to me that way). If he is sluggish and not forward, it is my own damn fault. When I ride correctly, or if my trainer rides him, he can be shockingly brilliant. He is lazy though, and will only work as hard as he has to. It is entirely up to his rider to enforce that. It took me a full year, and I had to take up running to have the fitness I needed to ride him, but if he is sluggish, it is 100% my fault.
            where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by CHT View Post

              I disagree. A horse that is sluggish does not know basics. It is dull and shut down. And Equitation Science isn't a "system", it is an organization that uses scientific method to research and develop humane training methods and husbandry methods.

              And "pecking order" has been proven to be a false interpretation of how horses interact with humans. Best way to develop a new partnership is to establish a common language by going back and making sure horse and rider are on the same page with regards to basic aids.
              A "sluggish" horse is not necessarily "shut down" or unaware of "the basics". I think most people who have trained horses understand what I mean by "pecking order".

              I've looked at the Equitation Science website. I'm just not as impressed as you are and would not recommend an "online" organization to someone who has access to competent trainers IRL as the OP seems to have. Completely retraining a horse of the type the OP describes, benefits the Equitation Science people, not the O.P.

              The issues the OP describes don't seem to me to be so extreme that the horse needs to be completely restarted. JMHO.

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by alishaarrr View Post
                4) I've taken him out on hacks 3-4 times and he's been very good. These have been short (30-60 mins) and in company. Today we went out with three other horses, and at the canter at points he got pretty strong and pissy about being behind other horses. This was a long hack (nearly three hours) and I think he got a bit overstimulated and unsettled, so when we went for a canter toward the end, he bolted -- couldn't get him to stop and finally got dumped off. He ran off, ended up crossing a big road and jumping a gate into a field near the barn before someone I was out with went and caught him. Fortunately all fine, but that really knocked my confidence a bit as far as hacking goes. He'd had three days off prior, which I didn't think would've been an issue given that he's generally so lazy. I admit we might've overdone it a little bit and I should've been more in tune to him being too unsettled for another canter, but would appreciate any thoughts on what went wrong and how to prevent this in the future (especially as I'd really love to try him hunting eventually ...).
                I will chime in on this part as a foxhunter who brings many new folks and kids to the hunt. Taking a horse out in a group is an incredibly different dynamic. Especially when a horse is in "follow" mode. It doesn't matter how schooled the horse is at home -- it is just different. It is the rare horse who will be well behaved and relaxed as the last horse in the group without specific training -- that's the one that gets eaten by the lion, you know!

                There are a few tricks you can employ to help your horse adjust to this dynamic. It is GREAT to practice and train for it, so you have the tools when you go to the hunt, so don't throw in the towel just yet.


                1 - School with a group who will help you if you need it. Ask the group to slow down and wait when you need, and put a babysitter behind your horse so he isn't last if that makes him nervous about getting eaten. Your safety is paramount. Now you know what he can be like, so make sure your group is ready to support you.

                2 - When he is comfortable being in the middle where it's safe, now you can train. Slowly start pushing him outside his comfort zone, a little bit at a time. Ask him to wait for just a moment as the group moves off, then make that longer and longer. If being in the back is too hard at first, ask him to leave the group by moving sideways, or parallel, but at a slight "Y" away from others. Then slowly come back. And away, and back, etc., etc. Put the pressure on and take it off. Increase the pressure until it is no big deal to leave and come back to the group. Make it bigger and bigger as you feel he is ready.

                3 - Regularly ask him to be his own herd. Get out of "follow" mode by doing the "Y" trick. Ride parallel to the group instead of behind or in front, which will make him pay more attention to where he puts his feet, and be less focused on his buddies. It is amazing how much difference it can make by just moving 6 feet to the right or left from the lead horse's track.

                4 - If he gets strong, resist the urge to circle to get control -- this will only put him further behind and increase panic, and it is NOT control. Instead, let him go forward and work, but use a serpentine alongside your group so you don't get behind, and put his butt to work with whatever work you do at home. Even small serpentines help to put his attention back on you. Serpentines are a useful tool as you are leaving and coming back to the group in small bits. Play with how big the serpentines get.

                5 - Learn a pulley rein. Google it, practice it, and master it. Practice it while you are out with your group and have friends help. Create a controlled situation where you need it, so you can use it for real. (like put yourself in the back and get behind on purpose, but have your friends be prepared to stop if you need help) OWN THIS SKILL.

                6 - Take this in small bites and make it a happy experience, with little bits of pressure at a time, and definitely not pressure the the whole time. You are right that 3 hours was too long, but you'll know that for next time.


                A well trained foxhunter is worth its weight in gold!! You absolutely must train it, just as you would anything else.





                where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by rhymeswithfizz View Post

                  I will chime in on this part as a foxhunter who brings many new folks and kids to the hunt. Taking a horse out in a group is an incredibly different dynamic. Especially when a horse is in "follow" mode. It doesn't matter how schooled the horse is at home -- it is just different. It is the rare horse who will be well behaved and relaxed as the last horse in the group without specific training -- that's the one that gets eaten by the lion, you know!

                  There are a few tricks you can employ to help your horse adjust to this dynamic. It is GREAT to practice and train for it, so you have the tools when you go to the hunt, so don't throw in the towel just yet.


                  1 - School with a group who will help you if you need it. Ask the group to slow down and wait when you need, and put a babysitter behind your horse so he isn't last if that makes him nervous about getting eaten. Your safety is paramount. Now you know what he can be like, so make sure your group is ready to support you.

                  2 - When he is comfortable being in the middle where it's safe, now you can train. Slowly start pushing him outside his comfort zone, a little bit at a time. Ask him to wait for just a moment as the group moves off, then make that longer and longer. If being in the back is too hard at first, ask him to leave the group by moving sideways, or parallel, but at a slight "Y" away from others. Then slowly come back. And away, and back, etc., etc. Put the pressure on and take it off. Increase the pressure until it is no big deal to leave and come back to the group. Make it bigger and bigger as you feel he is ready.

                  3 - Regularly ask him to be his own herd. Get out of "follow" mode by doing the "Y" trick. Ride parallel to the group instead of behind or in front, which will make him pay more attention to where he puts his feet, and be less focused on his buddies. It is amazing how much difference it can make by just moving 6 feet to the right or left from the lead horse's track.

                  4 - If he gets strong, resist the urge to circle to get control -- this will only put him further behind and increase panic, and it is NOT control. Instead, let him go forward and work, but use a serpentine alongside your group so you don't get behind, and put his butt to work with whatever work you do at home. Even small serpentines help to put his attention back on you. Serpentines are a useful tool as you are leaving and coming back to the group in small bits. Play with how big the serpentines get.

                  5 - Learn a pulley rein. Google it, practice it, and master it. Practice it while you are out with your group and have friends help. Create a controlled situation where you need it, so you can use it for real. (like put yourself in the back and get behind on purpose, but have your friends be prepared to stop if you need help) OWN THIS SKILL.

                  6 - Take this in small bites and make it a happy experience, with little bits of pressure at a time, and definitely not pressure the the whole time. You are right that 3 hours was too long, but you'll know that for next time.


                  A well trained foxhunter is worth its weight in gold!! You absolutely must train it, just as you would anything else.




                  Good advice.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    great post, Fizz. COTH can be such a great site.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      You have some great advice here! I will chime in. It took me 2 years to figure out my current trail hack/Dressage mount. There was so much sorting to do and I took it super slow after she communicated to me issues as we went along. Don't hurry, time and patience along with help go a long way.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by CHT View Post

                        I disagree. A horse that is sluggish does not know basics. It is dull and shut down.
                        A sluggish horse who doesn't respond to a new rider may not fully understand what that rider is asking if his/her way of cueing the horse to do things is different than he was used to in the past.


                        It can happen in a well trained horse , one newly started and everything in between.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by alishaarrr View Post
                          had another really excellent trainer out today and she very simply said, "He's a great horse, just needs to be told exactly what is expected of him when he's in the school until that becomes his new way of going." After being more firm with him at first than I have been as far as Go Means Go, within five minutes he was nicely in front of my leg and maintaining better impulsion. After the lesson, her comment was that as long as I can keep him moving that way, the fences will be no issue -- he does have a great jump, just won't work if he doesn't have to.
                          This trainer's a keeper! I was watching the Beezie Madden teach one year's USJHA Horsemanship Clinic and she said she refuses to let her horses get dull to her aids. If they don't listen to her leg (or her spur) right away, then she gives them a little tap behind her leg with the stick one time to get them back into the habit of paying attention again. She said she trains that you shouldn't have to be constantly squeezing your horse with every step. They should move promptly off your leg the way you're asking (forward or to the side) and you go about your business. Just use the whip judiciously.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            First, stop the treats. Nothing worse than a pushy, nippy jerk that thinks he's entitled to treats.
                            ​​​​​​
                            Sounds like he is behind your leg. Get a crop. Ask for a forward transition normally. If he ignores you, ask the same way again, but add a sharp whack behind your leg. Not on the shoulder, right behind your leg and at the same time you apply your leg. Be prepared for a squeal or a hop. Keep your hands relaxed, just make sure your weight is in your heel and you aren't tipped forward. Do this EVERY SINGLE TIME you ask him to go forward. It won't take long for him to realize you actually mean it and you will enforce is EVERY TIME.

                            On the ground and on trails, be the boss! You are his Alpha. My daughter's trainer has 2 rules. Rule #1 is Be the Boss! . You can be the boss and still bond with him. You'll get there.
                            http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fentre...24774504235082

                            http://fentressfieldsequestriancenter.com/

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Originally posted by rhymeswithfizz View Post

                              I will chime in on this part as a foxhunter who brings many new folks and kids to the hunt. Taking a horse out in a group is an incredibly different dynamic. Especially when a horse is in "follow" mode. It doesn't matter how schooled the horse is at home -- it is just different. It is the rare horse who will be well behaved and relaxed as the last horse in the group without specific training -- that's the one that gets eaten by the lion, you know!

                              There are a few tricks you can employ to help your horse adjust to this dynamic. It is GREAT to practice and train for it, so you have the tools when you go to the hunt, so don't throw in the towel just yet.

                              1 - School with a group who will help you if you need it. Ask the group to slow down and wait when you need, and put a babysitter behind your horse so he isn't last if that makes him nervous about getting eaten. Your safety is paramount. Now you know what he can be like, so make sure your group is ready to support you.

                              2 - When he is comfortable being in the middle where it's safe, now you can train. Slowly start pushing him outside his comfort zone, a little bit at a time. Ask him to wait for just a moment as the group moves off, then make that longer and longer. If being in the back is too hard at first, ask him to leave the group by moving sideways, or parallel, but at a slight "Y" away from others. Then slowly come back. And away, and back, etc., etc. Put the pressure on and take it off. Increase the pressure until it is no big deal to leave and come back to the group. Make it bigger and bigger as you feel he is ready.

                              3 - Regularly ask him to be his own herd. Get out of "follow" mode by doing the "Y" trick. Ride parallel to the group instead of behind or in front, which will make him pay more attention to where he puts his feet, and be less focused on his buddies. It is amazing how much difference it can make by just moving 6 feet to the right or left from the lead horse's track.

                              4 - If he gets strong, resist the urge to circle to get control -- this will only put him further behind and increase panic, and it is NOT control. Instead, let him go forward and work, but use a serpentine alongside your group so you don't get behind, and put his butt to work with whatever work you do at home. Even small serpentines help to put his attention back on you. Serpentines are a useful tool as you are leaving and coming back to the group in small bits. Play with how big the serpentines get.

                              5 - Learn a pulley rein. Google it, practice it, and master it. Practice it while you are out with your group and have friends help. Create a controlled situation where you need it, so you can use it for real. (like put yourself in the back and get behind on purpose, but have your friends be prepared to stop if you need help) OWN THIS SKILL.

                              6 - Take this in small bites and make it a happy experience, with little bits of pressure at a time, and definitely not pressure the the whole time. You are right that 3 hours was too long, but you'll know that for next time.


                              A well trained foxhunter is worth its weight in gold!! You absolutely must train it, just as you would anything else.
                              Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for this response -- super helpful. Everywhere we hack out around our barn is grassy tracks in between farmed fields, so I will see how much of this I can do with our lack of open space.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Just want to add that I don't think tree hours is too much. From riding field hunters I can say that even very experienced show horses might not be that experienced and relaxed in groups, and if you are going too slow for the horse's comfort they can get pissy. Long trots are good, and can take the edge off.
                                And from my perspective, a little sluggish is just fine; pleanty of situations where they will get hopped up.
                                dont be afraid to set very firm boundaries. Horses, like children, will push you for those and are much more comfortable when you enforce boundaries. Then they relax and just do.
                                i think it sounds like you were very sensible in your choice of horse and just give it some time with lots of riding. Hate it that he bolted, if he ever does that again run his ass off if you can. Like, "you want to run? Okay then! You want to stop now? Oh no! Not until I say!" Sounds insane but if you have room it can reshape their perspective.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I just have to jump in that kudos to you for reaching out to get help. My story is similar in that 20 yrs ago I bought a horse that bolted (a few times!) and dumped me and wow did I have to learn to relax and learn to ride a 180 when we were out hacking. What I learned was to relax and just ride it and then he stopped after the initial spook.

                                  We had at least 1000 magic carpet rides and he's now retired and I adore him (I tear up even writing this). You will have this too. You're on your way. The key is learning to relax and get confident. You're going to be such a better rider with this horse. Please post a picture too ok?

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Look into Warwick Schiller’s program, specifically the new “relationship” path on the ground. You already recognize a lot of his communication signals, but what do they mean and how should you communicate back to him? How can you help him handle boredom or anxiety? Does he view you as someone who listens to him or does he just do his own thing? How do you change that? I think you can find some direction on these points with his techniques.

                                    Comment

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