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Balky, started late horse: success with work ethic install?

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    Balky, started late horse: success with work ethic install?

    Tried a horse last week who was started at later and sat till he was almost 10. Athletic, smart, talented, bred up to the hilt, conformationally blessed, great mover... and a distracted and balky hot mess mentally who quits on work after he thinks you’re done and gets very sticky and balled up, starts thinking “up” and naps to the gate.

    I feel like he needs to be in a program, and in a round pen, needs a feed overhaul, maybe some MagRestore and so on. Seller is willing to offer a 1 month trial.

    Any success stories with this type of horse? I’m on the fence about a trial. (Don’t say pass as there are loads of nice horses out there - around here they cost 50k and up and I’m not ready to get on a plane to look yet. )

    #2
    I had this exact horse recently & sold him after 5 months. Big and pretty, lovely mover that was sitting around until age nine. He was rather rude about some things and had his own opinions about others. Within 5 months we made some major improvements and he ended up being a fun ride.

    With good groceries and more fitness he needed more busy work, so off he went. Wasn't naughty, just more exuberant than I need at my age. So go for it, you have nothing to lose.

    Comment


      #3
      No!! I had this horse too, although mine only sat until her 5 year old spring. I got her broke, w/t/c, jumped a small course, had a lead change. But she never enjoyed working hard. As soon as you challenged her, the balking, and threatening to go up, and napping at the gate came right back. She spent some time with a specialist, and it got better, but never went away. She was never going to happily work in front of the leg, so dressage and jumpers were out. I sold her as a hunter.

      Comment


        #4
        YES! Picked up a horse sight unseen - met him at about the half way distance where we traded trailers. He bit me (nervous). Brought him home and although he had been broke at the track, he bucked a shin and spent several years in a field. For a while I could not decide if he was very good, or very bad. I hunted him, showed him, evented him and he went up the ranks very fast. Sold him to a YoungRider where he won Pony Club championships in Kentucky, went to Young Riders and finished off Advanced. Retired in California in the shade of his owner's lemon trees ridden by the Dad as a husband horse. Calmness and gentleness are my keys.
        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

        Comment


          #5
          I am working with a horse like this. I really think he was just spoiled before he came, but interestingly, when I do things he wouldn't have done before (cantering and jumping) he shows none of those behaviours and is really quite lovely.

          I think it depends on your tolerance. I think horses like this need someone with good timing, feel and patience. I think it stems from anxiety and a past lack of clear aids and expectations, and that they are more quick to become frustrated/confused and fall back to this habit.

          I also think it is great that you are being offered a trial: it gives you time to see if your ideas/riding style will work to improve this horse without you feeling you have to push too hard too soon. So if you like projects/training, I would consider the horse.
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

          Comment


            #6
            I think you may have a hidden gem here, BUT......the ideas he developed while he was just sitting around are going to be hard to get rid of entirely. You may get them to a lower level but they will still always be there lurking. See what you can do with him in a month. It might well be worth the effort.
            "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
            - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

            Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.

            Comment


              #7
              Make sure you both agree and settle on the selling price BEFORE you agree take the trial.

              Since you say horses are $50k, this horse's "issues" are bargaining points on final price.
              Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
              Alfred A. Montapert

              Comment


                #8
                I have a horse with a similar background. Sent him to a local colt starter who rode him for two months and immediately got him moving forward by moving cattle. He is one of the nicest horses I have ever owned, and I had multiple offers on him while he was still out for his two months of riding.

                If you like the horse, go for it!
                "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White

                Comment


                  #9
                  Every riding training center I was in, a horse that is "light in front" was evaluated and if it was more than the rare little rear, the centers would prohibit anyone riding that horse again and he was gone next day.

                  One time we received a load of horses from Ireland.
                  There was in that load a horse that didn't fit them, looked more like those that came from Hungary or such places.
                  He was a tall, leggy horse and extremely classy chestnut.
                  He had beautiful narrow head on a perfectly placed swan neck, lightly built but fleet on his feet like a cheetah.
                  He felt like riding on a cloud, very responsive and quiet.
                  I was assigned to him and the few times I rode him, what a treat that was, I fell in love.
                  He was also very correct jumping the little gymnastics we tried him on.
                  With a little training, he probably was going to make a really handy, very competitive jumper.

                  There was a little problem, no matter how careful I was not to go there, about once or twice a ride, no reason we could see why, he would be going fine, then rear.
                  That was not a levade sitting on his hocks but a straight legged rear, as high as he could reach with his front feet and waving them around.
                  It was almost like a trick, as if he was trying to clap up there.

                  It never felt like he was unbalanced or maybe going over, just got very high up there for a few seconds, then back to work like nothing had happened.
                  Still, that scared all watching, it looked so dangerous.
                  The director was notified, he came see for himself, had me get off and horse was gone next day.
                  Very young me was really sad, but maybe the owner had been warned that may happen and decided it was that bad and he was not suitable for retraining and selling, too dangerous if he repeated that catching someone off guard and someone could be hurt.
                  Years later, I had a good trainer friend killed when a new horse reared and fell on him.

                  That the OP's horse is "light in front", that I would take seriously.
                  Depending on what that means, consider seriously if that is a suitable prospect that will be able to re-sell with a clear conscience no one may be hurt by that, plus the danger to the one retraining.

                  Other than that, if the horse seems to be what the OP likes and affordable, why not?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
                    Tried a horse last week who was started at later and sat till he was almost 10. Athletic, smart, talented, bred up to the hilt, conformationally blessed, great mover... and a distracted and balky hot mess mentally who quits on work after he thinks you’re done and gets very sticky and balled up, starts thinking “up” and naps to the gate.

                    I feel like he needs to be in a program, and in a round pen, needs a feed overhaul, maybe some MagRestore and so on. Seller is willing to offer a 1 month trial.

                    Any success stories with this type of horse? I’m on the fence about a trial. (Don’t say pass as there are loads of nice horses out there - around here they cost 50k and up and I’m not ready to get on a plane to look yet. )
                    No. I rode a super cute Doc Bar gelding who would get light in the front end at the slightest provocation, as in asking him to halt from a walk while others walked on ahead. It was a sucked back I'm done you move...we told the trainer who'd taken him in to sell and sure enough, he went over backwards a time or two with him. He got that fixed...and the next card trick was bucking.

                    I'm not put off by the light in front I want to go forward feeling...but you know that screw you feeling and that's nothing to mess with.

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #11
                      You guys are dead on about the balky rearing thing - he probably needs to be restarted with a true GO button by a colt starter. Hmmm. So sad to see this talent wasted.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I have been banging my head on a similar problem (fortunately not my horse and fortunately not inclined to "up") and am currently if the opinion that the athletic ones are the worst. Less athletic and it's (usually) easier to hang on through bad behavior and easier to win the game of "who gets tired first". And sometimes they improve as they get in shape and work doesn't seem so hard any more.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yes, I have had good luck treating them like they are baby hunt horses, and taking them out on trail rides for the first month, follow-the-leader style -- W/T/C over terrain with another horse leading. (Young) Horses with baby-brain get with the program much faster if they have a friend to follow.

                          You have to make sure that they were not "Started late" for physical issues. So often, I find that is the case (and also explains the bad behavior)..
                          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Hard pass for me
                            "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                            carolprudm

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I’ve owned a horse just like this. Even with high quality training and increased fitness, the balk was always there when he decided the work was too challenging or he just didn’t want to do whatever it was. Could be going along perfectly for weeks and then just suddenly mid-ride decide that he should be done. We ended up parting ways as he was so unreliable.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by cutter99 View Post
                                I have a horse with a similar background. Sent him to a local colt starter who rode him for two months and immediately got him moving forward by moving cattle. He is one of the nicest horses I have ever owned, and I had multiple offers on him while he was still out for his two months of riding.

                                If you like the horse, go for it!
                                I was going to suggest this.

                                IMO, whether or not you can make the spoiled trust fund baby into a good worker will depend on the horse's underlying character. Some are mentally flexible enough to adapt to their new lot in life, and some feel that, having taken care of themselves and taken orders from no one for so long, that they can get that back if they go to the wall to defend their interests. That said, much is accomplished with a horse if you give him a job to do rather than just a boss making him do stuff he doesn't really care to figure out.

                                Cattle are unique and magnificent for teaching a horse to be "drawn" forward by something after his rider asks. It's great for building the horse's confidence (because the thing he feared moves away from him when he goes toward it and he feels powerful when he can make another animal in the herd move). This kind of instant and obvious reward for going forward and toward something scary or unattractive just because his rider asked builds trust in his rider. Once you have a horse who knows he can push a cow, and you learn to ride him in that partnership where when you both are looking at the cow, anticipating its next move and someone (the horse) is positioning himself to move it where you want next, you change the relationship between horse and rider from employee and boss to equal partners doing a job together. Horses love that!
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I will say that for the "light in front" horse, I'd take a shot at fixing that before I gave up. But I'm old, smart, unfit and unwilling to die for some 1,000 pound cry-baby/bully. So I'd have this discussion on long-lines, with me and my body safely far away. If I thought the horse was being calculating about this-- meaning that he was rearing in order to scare me into backing down from whatever I had asked him to do, I feel that I'd have to call his bluff. I won't sit on a horse at his invitation; he must know that, at bottom, his rider must be obeyed to the best of his ability.

                                  I think a month trial for this horse will let the OP learn just how deep or recalcitrant the lack-of-a-work-ethic is on this particular horse. With time and several instances of putting enough pressure on the horse that he suggests that he'd rather not, thank you very much, I think the OP can start to tell just how big a fight, or how unself-preserving this horse would get if she got into it with him on the long-lines. I would not sign up to risk flipping someone else's horse over.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    We have one at the barn. The balkiness is reduced, but it's still there. It also manifests in temper tantrums on the ground when you won't allow him to maul your pockets, etc.

                                    It would be a hard pass for me.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by mvp View Post

                                      I was going to suggest this.

                                      IMO, whether or not you can make the spoiled trust fund baby into a good worker will depend on the horse's underlying character. Some are mentally flexible enough to adapt to their new lot in life, and some feel that, having taken care of themselves and taken orders from no one for so long, that they can get that back if they go to the wall to defend their interests. That said, much is accomplished with a horse if you give him a job to do rather than just a boss making him do stuff he doesn't really care to figure out.

                                      Cattle are unique and magnificent for teaching a horse to be "drawn" forward by something after his rider asks. It's great for building the horse's confidence (because the thing he feared moves away from him when he goes toward it and he feels powerful when he can make another animal in the herd move). This kind of instant and obvious reward for going forward and toward something scary or unattractive just because his rider asked builds trust in his rider. Once you have a horse who knows he can push a cow, and you learn to ride him in that partnership where when you both are looking at the cow, anticipating its next move and someone (the horse) is positioning himself to move it where you want next, you change the relationship between horse and rider from employee and boss to equal partners doing a job together. Horses love that!
                                      That is true working cattle for most horses, except those few that are not scared of anything and try to abuse cattle, start pinning ears an make a fun game of taking a bite of them.
                                      Some mistake that aggression for a horse "loving" to work cattle.
                                      Nothing funny when a horse grabs one and shakes it around violently.

                                      No, cattle are not horse training toys, horses need to respect them.
                                      Some of those older, opinionated horse are known for not being suitable for cattle wok because they rather rough cattle up than work with them and follow rider's directions.

                                      You don't know what you have in your horse when it comes to working cattle until you try it.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                                        That is true working cattle for most horses, except those few that are not scared of anything and try to abuse cattle, start pinning ears an make a fun game of taking a bite of them.
                                        Some mistake that aggression for a horse "loving" to work cattle.
                                        Nothing funny when a horse grabs one and shakes it around violently.

                                        No, cattle are not horse training toys, horses need to respect them.
                                        Some of those older, opinionated horse are known for not being suitable for cattle wok because they rather rough cattle up than work with them and follow rider's directions.

                                        You don't know what you have in your horse when it comes to working cattle until you try it.
                                        There you go, OP: The bolded part.
                                        The armchair saddler
                                        Politically Pro-Cat

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