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Horse that "has your number"- have you ever turned it around?

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    Horse that "has your number"- have you ever turned it around?

    Ugh, throughout the years I've seen this many, many times but now i fear it's happened to me. A few months ago, bought a 3 year old draft cross that was advertised as being super easy and quiet and well broke for driving and trails. I can't speak for driving because I don't do that, but he is good out trail riding in a group, I guess you could say moseying with his buddies. He doesn't want to be in front, but that's ok, I figure it will come. No big deal....

    Trail riding is important but I also want to eventually do dressage and low level jumping/eventing. Working him alone so far has been pretty awful. He's BIG (ok, I wanted BIG since my 3 old guys range from 14'2 to. 15'2) and mouthy, jumpy, pushy, and just generally not very respectful. I don't have a round pen (the seller did) but when I lunge him, he bolts in a major way after about 5 minutes when he's had enough. He was ok at first riding in my backyard arena, lazy but ok, but yesterday after being a slug for 5 minutes, flat out refused to move. Actually went backwards each time I insisted. I was alone and worried that he could bolt like during lunging (he's never given any indication of that under saddle but........), So I gave up on that and ended up free lunging him around the arena.

    Ive always been the fearless person who had no issue with getting horses to respect me, but I guess getting older and not having started a greenie in 15 years has taken its toll. I'm going to focus on more groundwork and go to a friend's round pen, definitely considering sending to a trainer, but I honestly wonder if I should just give up now. Personally, I've seen people have issues like this for years and the downward spiral seems to continue. I don't want to become one of them...I don't want him to continue on this path either because he is nice horse with a ton of potential. Advice from someone who has been there? Thanks.

    #2
    Draft, makes me think I’d test for PSSM. Aside from that, he is THREE. He is a BABY. He is a long ways from doing things alone.
    I would spend a crap ton of time doing ground work and I’d find a way to fix that bolting ASAP. Assuming no physical issues, I would not be nice when he does it. Go back to the beginning. Assume he knows nothing. Teach him to lunge properly. To go forward. To whoa. Turn.
    Introduce obstacles in-hand. Get him more confident in himself and in you.

    Comment

      Original Poster

      #3
      Yeah, my horses I started myself I did think of as babies at 3, but he's already been ridden quite alot so I hadn't thought of him that much that way. I think they rode him ALOT every day to sell him, hence why he was so quiet when I looked at him. I don't think I can stop the bolting but obviously will stop lunging him on a line to prevent it from happening more and getting more ingrained.

      Comment


        #4
        Short answer, you outgrow your problem. Your problem is (likely) pretty simple. You don’t know enough. That’s it. Not the end of the world, by any stretch. So the biggest question is are you willing to learn more? It would not hurt to have a good body worker/DMV chiro put hands on the horse and tell you that it is not sore, and that your saddle fits. After that, just sign up for some R+/R- education (I can recommend Alexandra Kurland and/or Tristan Tucker) and start learning.

        There is no way that a 3 year old is “ well broke.” The horse is only about 1/2 the way to the finish line growth wise, so I would call him green broke, at best. You saw what the horse could do with a skilled person in an environment the horse was used to. Luckily, there are LOTS of online programs out there. So if you are willing to work on YOU, then the odds are good you can learn your way to a well trained horse.

        If not?? Well, that’s up to you. You have to decide it you want a project that will require cultivation of “stretch,” versus just an easy peesy, no sweat, no thought required horse buddy. And really, there is ZERO wrong with that if you do. You ONLY have to be honest with yourself about that. There is absolutely Zero wrong with knowing what you want and making sure you get it. If this horse is not it, then sell and move on.

        FYI... I am shopping for a good deal on a resale project.
        "Friend" me !

        http://www.facebook.com/isabeau.solace

        Comment

          Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
          There is no way that a 3 year old is “ well broke.” The horse is only about 1/2 the way to the finish line growth wise, so I would call him green broke, at best.
          I know, right? For some reason, I got stars in my eyes with this horse. Midlife crisis? And good marketing....thanks, good things to think about.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by saratoga View Post
            Yeah, my horses I started myself I did think of as babies at 3, but he's already been ridden quite alot so I hadn't thought of him that much that way. I think they rode him ALOT every day to sell him, hence why he was so quiet when I looked at him. I don't think I can stop the bolting but obviously will stop lunging him on a line to prevent it from happening more and getting more ingrained.
            I’d keep lunging. Make sure you lunge in a bit and bridle and if necessary a surcingle and side reins so he can’t be rude. He gets to stop working when you want him to stop working.
            Drafts can be tough because they will learn their size and use it against you. So you must ingrain into him that he may be bigger, but you are smarter and if he doesn’t listen he will have to work harder.
            It just sounds to me like he finally realized he is a horse and he doesn’t have to. You now must make him have to.

            Comment


              #7
              How are his ground manners with you? Is he responsive or 'lazy' and/or on top of you? As noted above, drafts use their size very effectively to push people around. I'd do a lot of ground work, keeping his feet moving how and when you want him to.
              A lot of draft and draft crosses are 'broke' way before they finish growing so that physical issue may be playing into it.

              Comment


                #8
                If you have the skills and the set up, I would not stop longing with the line. You can either use long-lines, if you know how, or you can run the longe line through the bit and clip it to the surcingle. If you're not confident you can deal with the behavior, I'd get someone out who is and nip it in the bud now, before it gets ingrained.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by StormyDay View Post

                  I’d keep lunging. Make sure you lunge in a bit and bridle and if necessary a surcingle and side reins so he can’t be rude. He gets to stop working when you want him to stop working.
                  Drafts can be tough because they will learn their size and use it against you. So you must ingrain into him that he may be bigger, but you are smarter and if he doesn’t listen he will have to work harder.
                  It just sounds to me like he finally realized he is a horse and he doesn’t have to. You now must make him have to.
                  Each time on the lunge line after about 5 minutes of simple walk/trot/halt stuff, he has bolted and took off running with me dragging behind so I don't think it's possible to stop him. I can imagine equipment getting busted. So I will take him to a friend's round pen with the lunge line on and see how he does.

                  i really do think he is learning he can get out of work with me. Even though he's only 3, I don't think that gentle lunging for 10 minutes or a walk/trot arena ride is asking too much....

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Got my gelding as a 6 year old (pity purchase--he was headed for the big trailer south if I didn't buy him)...Horrible ground manners, pushy, pushy, pushy. Consistent groundwork using Clinton Anderson's methods straightened his big bay butt out pretty quickly. Now he's a mellow old man.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      If he is only three, is he being overfaced? As in asking for too much? If he isn't used to going on trails alone, and he is a new to you resident, then he might be a bit nervous, worried, etc...His life has just changed drastically, new people, new environment, new expectations, and he may not have a clue how to deal with it. And absolutely, you do not want this to spiral downwards, been there, done that. It takes a long while to get the confidence back for both horse and rider once you lose it. I love the ground work suggestions, and lungeing, absolutely use a bridle, side reins, etc...the whole kit so he cannot bolt around. Small circles till you get his focus. Maybe it's only at the walk if the circles are that small, but lungeing is work, and not goof around and test you time! Ask him to to lateral work on the lunge, spiralling in and out, etc....but focus and work. And, lots of praise when he is a good boy. I use mints, my horses understand "Good boy/girl" sometimes gets a mint, not always but they understand they've done something well!

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by B and B View Post
                        How are his ground manners with you? Is he responsive or 'lazy' and/or on top of you? As noted above, drafts use their size very effectively to push people around. I'd do a lot of ground work, keeping his feet moving how and when you want him to.
                        A lot of draft and draft crosses are 'broke' way before they finish growing so that physical issue may be playing into it.
                        He's pretty much on top of me. Super people oriented which I like but definitely gets in my space. Grooming last week, he spooked at a dog running up to the fence and jumped on my foot and then just stood there. Amazingly it wasn't broken but hurt like crazy.
                        i have been doing ground work getting his feet to move and all that.
                        I'm used to Arabs and Tbs so I'm finding the draft crosses to be quite different!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Happened to me years ago. Bought a lovely Hanoverian gelding, 6 yrs old. Turned out he had many weirdness issues, one of which was bolting on the lunge line. I worked with two different old time horse people. Ran line from bit thru stirrup, and a bunch of other tactics which I forget...Didn't work. Got rid of him after he spooked at mounting block and broke two bones in my foot. Couple years later I ran into the owner of this horse's sire; she knew of my ex-horse and his history - said he was started as a jumper (which I also had been told) and that he was overfaced "to the point of abuse". That explained a lot to me...
                          I dont envy you - I tried for a year before deciding I was just going to get seriously hurt and threw in the towel.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I raise a light draft horse breed. I don't even start them until age 4 and I really have no expectations for them until age 6. Drafts mature late. So I agree that at age 3, you are likely overfacing him. If you can't be content with letting him go on group trail rides and grow up, then sell him. If you want a dressage/eventing horse, then buy a horse that does that in the here and now. Or if you want to keep this horse, then cool your jets, grow some patience, and let him become a solid citizen.
                            Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
                            http://www.ironwood-farm.com

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I have had several draft crosses and several Arabs. The Arabs were all extroverts - wore their emotions on their sleeves. Never had a problem knowing when something was bothering them. The drafts were all introverts - held everything inside, acting like everything is A-OK, which can result in a sudden melt down when they can't hold it in anymore. It sounds like he may just be a big, insecure baby. Yes, he absolutely needs to learn manners, but he is not being "bad", he just has not learned the appropriate behavior yet.

                              I highly recommend signing up for Warwick Schiller's free week of his online video subscription. Check out his relationship path videos. It may help you look at his behavior in a different light, and give you some new tools to help him learn proper behavior.

                              I am going to be that poster and suggest having him checked for ulcers too. He has been bounced around a bit for a young horse, and his gut might be bothering him even if he doesn't show classic outward signs.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                The fact that he bolts after 5 minutes rather than immediately suggests he is feeling physically over faced to some degree. Or was over faced and has now learned that bolting is the way to get out of work when he starts feeling either tired or bored.
                                I would strongly recommend lunging him with a bit, but not side reins (don't know if you are or not) because you don't want 'bolt' to turn into 'balk'. And he really isn't developed enough to hold any sort of frame or suggestion of one. You want forward all the time. See what happens if you ask him to walk on the lunge, no trot, for more than the five minutes. If lunging at the walk only for five minutes still flips the bolt trigger, I would say he has your number at the moment.
                                You can work through that, one thing I've found is making sure he doesn't get bored. Drafts seem to learn their routines very quickly, but if they have not learned they must stay with the task, no matter what, boredom hits and they decide to leave for something else. And then they learn that they are big enough to leave successfully.
                                As someone working with a horse that is pretty much on top of people all the time, a full draft as it happens! A couple of things, only work with him with some form of control (halter, bridle, etc) I wouldn't free lunge him. I'd be liberal with my praise, but not with treats.
                                It is entirely possible he is also confused, their riding may only have been tag along on trail rides. So, assume he isn't broke and doesn't know anything.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  OP -something a little left field. Is he bolting or running blind?

                                  The reason I ask is that the 12 year old mare that I am re-starting would RUN FLAT OUT on the lunge at the start. I went through the rope halter/long rope, to bridle with 1 rein - same reaction. In the end, I tried what I definitely wouldnt start with on a strange horse - 2 rein lungeing with circircle and ground driving. Finally, I got a straight trot out of her. When talking to the agent that I got her from, she had noted the same issue - and had moved to the same quite advanced lungeing method that I had done to ger her to settle.

                                  We found out why and now, after 15 months, I can send her out on a rope. But never never drop the rope on the ground.
                                  She will walk over a taupaulin, you can drape one over her, she will walk down between poles on the ground but please dont ask her to walk over a rope or a lunge rein!!!
                                  Still Working_on_it - one day I will get it!

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by saratoga View Post

                                    Each time on the lunge line after about 5 minutes of simple walk/trot/halt stuff, he has bolted and took off running with me dragging behind so I don't think it's possible to stop him. I can imagine equipment getting busted. So I will take him to a friend's round pen with the lunge line on and see how he does.

                                    i really do think he is learning he can get out of work with me. Even though he's only 3, I don't think that gentle lunging for 10 minutes or a walk/trot arena ride is asking too much....
                                    Yeah, I would consider that dangerous behavior that gets no passes from me. That is going to progress to him bolting when you are just leading him.
                                    I also had a horse who decided that lunging was optional. I used two lunge lines at the same time, one connected to a bit and bridle and one to a curb chain that I put on the ‘track way’, under his lip. You might try under the chin first and only go to the lip if he is non responsive. My horse was (and is) quite dull to aids so he required a lip chain. He got one warning with the bit before I used the chain. About two times of that and he decided that work wasn’t so bad after all. He also wore a side rein so he couldn’t turn his head away from me. If you control their head, you control them. However, if you don’t want to use side reins just run the lunge line with the bit through the surcingle loop on your side so you end up pulling his head into himself if he bolts.
                                    At 3, I would expect him to walk, trot, and canter around the arena, but not be working in frame. I would suggest a lot of trail riding so he doesn’t become ring sour. At 4 I expect them to start being worked on the bit.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      My homebred mare got my number in a bad way for several years. She was super easy to start under saddle... then when the work started getting harder, well, so did she. I used to call her Jeckyll and Hyde because she would be great one moment, then the next moment she would be psycho horse. I never knew what she was going to throw at me, and as a result, I started riding really defensively. It was an ugly cycle. She also started bolting on the lunge line and in high stress situations.

                                      I had chiros, saddle fitters, and vets poking and prodding, because surely it was physical or tack-related. I tried meds and supplements. Nothing helped.

                                      A bunch of little changes finally turned it around for us. I never thought our saddles were the problem (neither did saddle fitters), but I got one that, for some reason, made her happier. I had tried dozen of bits on her, but randomly, I found the “magic” mouthpiece that made a world of difference. And a huge factor was that I got back to regular lessons— my defensive riding rounded out the trifecta of things bothering her.

                                      What I learned is that my horse is a major complainer when it comes to discomfort from tack. She complains well before she is actually sore enough to respond to diagnostics. And her complaints come in the form of erratic, dangerous behavior until you listen. All I have to do is listen and ride fairly, and she is the most willing partner.

                                      With the bolting, that’s been tougher to correct. 99.9% of the time, I can trust her not to bolt. Just when I think her bolting days are completely behind us, something sets her off. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully trust her. If I’m going to be in a high stress situation where I think she might be tempted, I “arm” myself with two shanks on her (a sturdy leather chain shank and her cotton lead), gloves, and a dressage whip.

                                      A lunging delta attached to her bit offers us the best control for us lunging because she hates the lunge line over her poll. In general, I realized part of her “complaints” include a hatred of lunging. While I still expect her to be able to do it in a mannerly fashion, we have struck a peace treaty where I won’t overdo it if she stays civil. You do what you gotta do sometimes.
                                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                                      Comment

                                        Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Thanks everyone for your thoughts so far. When I lunge, it's just with the halter. Im hesitant to try any kind of aids to control him because honestly I see him blowing through them. Lots of things to think about.

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