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  • How to deal with...

    ...a horse that bounces on his front end like he is going to go up into a full on rear?? This is long...bear with me...

    Background: I started riding this horse about 3 weeks ago, after he'd been at another trainer's farm his whole life. He's about six right now, but has had the previous year or more off due soundness issues. Now he is sound, and ready to get back to work.

    He's still pretty green, doesn't do changes yet, but can jump around a course. Obviously I haven't jumped him more than itty bitty baby crossrails since he's been back in work....maybe a total of 5 fences. I'm bringing him back correctly and slowly.

    He's not spooky at all, but does best when he has other horses around him, either working or at pasture...as long as he can see others.

    Well, last night I went to mount in the indoor, and after I got on, I tried to make him stand still and he started hopping up. He didn't go into a full on rear, but I pushed him forward and he settled down and seemed fine.

    We walked out to the arena and he went to work. He was fantastic, even when the other rider who was with me went out into the field to ride, then subsequently back to the barn and he was the only horse out there. He got a little speedy, but was not naughty, just unfocused. I finished on a good note, and made him wait a second by the gate since he tends to bulge towards it when we pass by (I think in an attempt to slip out). He stood patiently for a minute, then walked through the bit and out. When I circled him and kicked him forward to go back in, he started that bouncy crap again. I didn't have a crop on my so I dismounted and walked him back into the arena and put him back to work for another 10 minutes.

    I know I shouldn't have dismounted, but there was no one out there, I had no stick and I don't know the horse all that well, and I didn't want to get hurt. After he went around for the next several minutes (again, good as gold), I made him stand and wait to be told he could leave the arena. This time, no problem, so I let him walk out on a loose rein down to the "creek".

    I use the " " marks around creek, as it is mostly a dry bed with a couple puddles in it. He has been heistantly through it before with another horse, but this time he started balking and again with the bouncing up stuff. I tried to be more persistant in my kick forward and my "growling" (i'm so mean ), but it didn't matter. Not wanting to turn away from the creek and let him win, I dismounted, and dragged his hiney back and forth through it about 12 times. Remounted and walked through it no problem. He's good as gold again on the rest of the trail back to the barn.

    So my question...how would you deal with this rear-ish behavior. He isn't doing it because he's in pain...he's clearly doing it when he doesn't want to move forward...sometimes because of fear...sometimes because he wants to be done working (but never DURING actual work). And sometimes because he doesn't want to stand still.

    Three different "rears" during one ride, for three different reasons. I think I'm going to start carrying a crop and whack the heck out of his booty the second he starts to back off. Spurs are an option as well. Thoughts? Has anyone dealt with these little pre-rear hops and nipped it in the bud?

    ETA: I have confirmed with lots of people who have ridden/know this horse that this is NOT normal behavior for him. He's generally a giant teddy bear of a horse...

  • #2
    No telling without seeing what really is going on there, it could be so much we can miss from just what you experienced and think from it and did or didn't do.

    One idea is that maybe you were pushing him past his comfort zone when he was focusing on his discomfort and so he resisted.

    Generally, if a horse start to lose forward, you need to be doing something, keep him moving before he thinks of parking himself and so he won't be able to start rearing.

    So, if he feels sticky when you wanted to go back in the arena, change what you wanted to do before he sulls on you, keep his mind busy with other, avoid the fight to come and after a little bit of distraction, see if you can get a little closer to the gate.
    Don't make this an all or nothing, I say we go thru the gate, now, or else, when the horse is just not quite with you.

    We would have been sent back to the barn if we ever came with a horse to train without our little stick, that we rarely had to use to reinforce our leg, behind the leg, but you always had it there and had trained the horse to respond to it.
    You also learned when to use it and when not.
    Spurs are not to ask for forward motion, they are a finer aid than your bare heel and won't really work to get forward, the horse may even slow down when you use them as it will come under further from behind first, engage more, if you use them properly.

    If a horse has already sulled and is getting light in front, it is too late to go nicely forward, he will go up or buck or run off.
    When you were too late to keep the horse in front of your leg and he stalled, you are better off checking if you still have steering and move forward sideways, that will break a stall and rear before it happens, unless your horse is a bad flipper and flies over before you can react.

    From what you describe and that this seems like a new behavior, I would first check that you are keeping him going well and not overfacing him with your training and that is bringing this on him.
    Happens at times to all of us and we need to back off a little with our harder demands, while still making plenty of easier demands of the horse.

    Then, I could be completely wrong, no telling without being there.

    Comment


    • #3
      He sounds immature training wise for his age. He could be overfaced with training. Maybe work on lead changes before he jumps. Maybe not go from ring to field to "creek" all in one ride. If you are riding at length, shorten your rides up. Keep him on a consistant but short schedule. Bouncing up may be his only way of telling you this.

      Comment


      • #4
        Carry a stick and use it.
        I don't always feel up to arguing with your ignorance

        Comment


        • #5
          You mentioned that this horse has had the previous year or more off??? He's 'pasture sour' plain and simple. Wants to just be a pasture puff and not work - that's why he's resisting you with those balks and bounces with his forehand.

          Make him work. Make him go forward. And use that crop. He'll get over himself.

          Comment


          • #6
            You are right to send him forward. I like to use an opening rein and move them forward onto a circle.

            A wide open and forward rein can help keep a little hop from developing into a full bore flipping over rear.

            I don't usually carry a stick, but have ridden a few that like to go "up". Usually I growl "giiiiit!!!!", "whomp" (use lots of leg ) and open a lowered rein to bring them back to earth.

            My filly has a tendency to go "up" (has no buck, all rear). Here, she wasn't really being defiant, but trying to get a look at a boogie man over the fence... I am forward, and dropping my rein, next step was leg, and left rein... which brought her back down.

            Git down!
            APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

            Comment


            • #7
              Make sure you aren't inadvertently clenching up. I've seen this a LOT. Horse is getting "stuck" and this scares the rider who tightens up which causes a snowball effect.

              I would correct him but not make a huge deal out of it. I've found that if they are using something as an evasion and you focus entirely on correcting it, they learn that it is a sucsessfull evasion. Make sure you don't loose focus on what you were asking him to do.

              By this I don't mean have a throw down, "go through this gate or die", I think you did the right thing at the gate. You ask him to go through gate, he doesn't want to, he evades by "bouncing", you get off, lead him through gate get on and proceed like nothing happened. He learns that "bouncing" will not stop him from going back into the arena. Ideally you would have been able to get him in the arena under saddle without dismounting and without having a throw down. It really depends on how comfortable you are with the horse and what his reactions will be. If you know you can swat him with the crop and he will straighten out and fly right, then do so.

              Dismounting isn't always the right choice, say you are asking him to move forward and round on a circle he doesn't want to and starts bouncing, dismounting would not be the right thing to do.

              My (rambling) point is I am wary of the change what you are asking him to do keep him busy approach.

              He is "bouncing" for the same reason not three different ones. He is using it to evade doing what you are asking. I've found that once they learn that the behavior is ineffective they quit it.

              Also I agree with Ozone, it's best to set them up for sucess. And of course the others that say forward, forward, forward and carry a crop.

              Comment


              • #8
                You did fine.

                Have someone work with you. You have gotten good suggestions here but rearing is very serious behaviour and you need someone to observe and tell you exactly what is happening if you are unsure.

                Good luck and be safe
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                ---
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Appsolute View Post
                  .

                  I don't usually carry a stick, but have ridden a few that like to go "up". Usually I growl "giiiiit!!!!", "whomp" (use lots of leg ) and open a lowered rein to bring them back to earth.

                  Git down!
                  This^^^.

                  A loud, low growling command, usually seems to work. And kicking them forward into a tight circle, keeps them from going up.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Have to agree with Bluey.
                    Catch the horse before the stop and get busy doing something else forward/ turning/ or lateral.

                    You probably should be carrying a crop, sometimes that is all it will take.

                    And introducing new things to think about might be alot for this particular horse in quantities, so use best judgment and try to end on success for the horse.

                    Many times a break or overnight downtime will lead to a change for the better if lessons are shorter at first, until the horse learns to rely on the rider again for direction rather than trying to make all the decisions with their own thinking!

                    -and good choice about getting off in this case; you weren't getting the needed result aboard. You saved much meltdown for the horse and possible injury to yourself. No harm there.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I watched my trainer once when a green horse started to rear. She threw her body on to his neck.
                      If I remember right she thought her body weight would discourage him going up.
                      I am not advising this, it's just something I saw - she was after all a pro and has a different skill set.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If this is not normal behavior for this horse then I would investigate further. How do you know he is not in pain? Are you sure your saddle fits? When is the last time he had his teeth done? Have you checked his neck, withers, back and hind end for soreness?

                        I have badly behaving horses come to me for training all the time and about 85% of the time the cause is at least partly PHYSICAL! That is where I start. I think he might be trying to tell you something. Maybe the little hopping up and down is his way of being polite and not rearing way up when something is really uncomfortable for him. I would keep things simple and ask less so he can be successful.

                        When he starts to rear, kick him forward and turn him to get him out of the rear then try to figure out what he is having a problem with.

                        There is no win or lose. He is not keeping score. You don't win or lose by getting off or quitting. That would be one trial learning and I doubt he learns that fast. If you always got off when he did a certain thing then repeated it a lot he might learn what makes you get off. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

                        Sounds like he is either physically or mentally uncomfortable.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by eventerdiva View Post
                          ...but has had the previous year or more off due soundness issues. Now he is sound, and ready to get back to work.
                          Due to the lack of riding, keep in mind he's got established habits now, of relying upon his herdmates for security, and not a rider.

                          He's not spooky at all, but does best when he has other horses around him, either working or at pasture...as long as he can see others.
                          Because his security is within the comfort of a herd, not with his rider... yet. That's your job, to earn that role.

                          Well, last night I went to mount in the indoor, and after I got on, I tried to make him stand still and he started hopping up. He didn't go into a full on rear, but I pushed him forward and he settled down and seemed fine.
                          By trying to "make" him stand still, you took an already claustrophobic horse (ie, thinking about rearing) and took away his ability to flee (or threatened that ability, which would have caused him more worry), which will only cause more claustrophobia. When you pushed him forward, you gave that ability back, so he would have calmed down, plus, when you put him to work, you gave his mind something to focus on.

                          Don't "make" him stand longer than he can. At first, this might not be at all! But as you develop him overall, he will be able to stand for increasingly longer periods of time.

                          He got a little speedy, but was not naughty, just unfocused.
                          Again, as you already probably noticed, this was a fear-based reaction. His security (the other horse) has just left, and he is now left to his own devices, so his instinct to be a little more aware of his surroundings and a little quicker on his feet (flight), will kick in.

                          I finished on a good note, and made him wait a second by the gate since he tends to bulge towards it when we pass by (I think in an attempt to slip out). He stood patiently for a minute, then walked through the bit and out. When I circled him and kicked him forward to go back in, he started that bouncy crap again. I didn't have a crop on my so I dismounted and walked him back into the arena and put him back to work for another 10 minutes.
                          You asked to much of him, that's why he walked through the bit - flight. Instead, "ask" (read: not "make") him to wait a few seconds less than you did this last time where he blew through your aids. You said it yourself, he wasn't being naughty. His reaction is fear-based, so it's not fair to kick him or hit him (had you had a crop) or otherwise punish him for being scared. Don't set him up for failure and instead, ask a little less of him and build off that. That bouncy "crap" is his expressing his anxiety, without actually rearing on you.

                          The work in the arena "made the wrong answer hard and the right answer easy", plus it would have re-gained his focus (and thus also made him a little calmer) and given him a bit of an outlet for his anxiety, which is why it worked to help him wait the second time you tried. That's good, but if you set him up for success in the first place, it will be easier on both of you. Ask him to wait, then move him out just before you feel he is about to walk off. If you can, ask him to move out before he gets to bouncing (even if that means just a split second wait at first). If not, just ignore the bouncing and ask him to move out before he blows through your aids, and build off that, asking for more each session with him.

                          Furthermore, if he is bulging towards the gate, that is his "sweet spot", so to speak - that is where he wants to be (or where he wants to exit). Asking him to wait there is great, but take note of working him at that end and especially around the gate, and resting him (whether relaxing work on a loose rein or - eventually - standing at rest) AWAY from the gate, say, the opposite corner.

                          I use the " " marks around creek, as it is mostly a dry bed with a couple puddles in it. He has been heistantly through it before with another horse, but this time he started balking and again with the bouncing up stuff. I tried to be more persistant in my kick forward and my "growling" (i'm so mean ), but it didn't matter. Not wanting to turn away from the creek and let him win, I dismounted, and dragged his hiney back and forth through it about 12 times. Remounted and walked through it no problem. He's good as gold again on the rest of the trail back to the barn.
                          Hesitantly - he's still unsure of the creek itself, his ability to go through it safely, and your ability to lead him through it. Especially if you are punishing his fear-based reactions (or he thinks you might), he has even less reason to follow and trust in your leadership. From his perspective, if you're already restricting his ability to flee and punishing his "need" to do so or express anxiety, what will you do if something really causes him to have to flee? Calm, assertive leadership is vital. He doesn't "win" for being scared, it's okay to dismount and work on it from another perspective, or to leave it for another day. Working on it from the ground, he was better able to follow your lead - you're going through it first and showing him it is okay. So then it was easier for him to try it u/s next.

                          He isn't doing it because he's in pain...he's clearly doing it when he doesn't want to move forward...sometimes because of fear...sometimes because he wants to be done working (but never DURING actual work). And sometimes because he doesn't want to stand still.
                          In your description, he is doing it because he feels he can't move forward, whether due to your restriction via the reins, or because he is afraid of crossing the "creek" (etc). There is a difference. If he didn't WANT to move forward, it would be your job to earn his respect so that he was willing to move forward. If he feels he CAN'T move forward and his reactions are fear-based, then your job is to turn him into a calmer, braver, smarter horse who is less fearful, and to earn his trust in your ability to direct him. Imo/ime I doubt he is doing it to get out of work. The reason he doesn't do it during work is because he is already moving forward. I would bet too this horse might be (depending on the extent of this root issue) more resistant also to turns on the forehand, possibly turns on the hind, and to back-up and sideways. He might also be impatient while tied. The reason he doesn't want to stand still - he's a prey animal, so if he's fearful at all, his instincts are going to SCREAM at him to keep his feet moving. If he's anxious at all, he will feel the need to move his feet - that's okay!

                          I think I'm going to start carrying a crop and whack the heck out of his booty the second he starts to back off. Spurs are an option as well. Thoughts?
                          Not something I would recommend ime anyways.

                          Has anyone dealt with these little pre-rear hops and nipped it in the bud?
                          Yup! The answer for me, as a trainer and as an owner of one horse in particular who is pre-disposed to behaviour as you described (and who was all that and worse when I bought him!), is what I will recommend as what I have found successful:

                          Personally, I did a TON of groundwork with the aforementioned horse (as I do with any horse and esp a horse presenting such behaviours). As you yourself demonstrated with the "creek", that groundwork translates u/s. So I put my horses through a lot of exercises that balance trust and respect. It's not just trust in me as a person, but trust in my ability to lead. Horses find comfort in herds and if you do not offer them a leadership they can trust (they're worried about SURVIVAL, remember, not just some nick or scratch), they're going to take charge themselves to ensure their survival. I do a lot of patterns and exercises and desensitization - all of which builds trust in my ability to lead and builds confidence in the horse itself. Circling and patterns (figure-8, weaving through cones, etc) at increasing distances from me, ie, on longer lines (builds confidence to "go at it alone"), simply moving hinds and fores away from me, sidepassing on the ground, etc.

                          Then I take all the above u/s. Progressive schooling patterns. Classical dressage done right works wonders for a horse's mind. Predictable and repetitive patterns work especially well with the reactive or fearful horse, since horses find comfort in patterns. A horse who really wants to move its feet - give it a job to do! If you work with them in a compassionate and harmonious manner that induces relaxation, you'll start to have a calmer, braver horse. If you can more specifically give a horse a job to do - such as working cattle or trails or such, you'll build confidence in themselves and your leadership even more.

                          As far as the standing itself, that will disappear as you work on his mind in general. Don't "make" him stand, "ask" him to stand, and do it within his comfort zone, even if that means maybe no standing at all. My bouncer - I couldn't ask him to stand for weeks at first. I never worked on the issue directly, but as he progressed in general, he would stand for increasingly longer periods of time, to the point where he is now, where (all but on the "worst" of days - and that's only because he still has more progress to go!), he can stand for extended periods of time on a loose rein, completely relaxed.

                          ETA: I have confirmed with lots of people who have ridden/know this horse that this is NOT normal behavior for him. He's generally a giant teddy bear of a horse...
                          Of course, but you're asking more of him now - he has not been u/s for awhile and is not used to relying upon his rider. On the ground, it is easier to follow a person's leadership since they are directly there to follow - it's a little more difficult u/s.

                          Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to address everything I found pertinent in your post.
                          ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LookmaNohands View Post
                            There is no win or lose. He is not keeping score. You don't win or lose by getting off or quitting. That would be one trial learning and I doubt he learns that fast. If you always got off when he did a certain thing then repeated it a lot he might learn what makes you get off. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

                            Sounds like he is either physically or mentally uncomfortable.
                            This!!
                            ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                            ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by naturalequus View Post
                              Due to the lack of riding, keep in mind he's got established habits now, of relying upon his herdmates for security, and not a rider.



                              Because his security is within the comfort of a herd, not with his rider... yet. That's your job, to earn that role.



                              By trying to "make" him stand still, you took an already claustrophobic horse (ie, thinking about rearing) and took away his ability to flee (or threatened that ability, which would have caused him more worry), which will only cause more claustrophobia. When you pushed him forward, you gave that ability back, so he would have calmed down, plus, when you put him to work, you gave his mind something to focus on.

                              Don't "make" him stand longer than he can. At first, this might not be at all! But as you develop him overall, he will be able to stand for increasingly longer periods of time.



                              Again, as you already probably noticed, this was a fear-based reaction. His security (the other horse) has just left, and he is now left to his own devices, so his instinct to be a little more aware of his surroundings and a little quicker on his feet (flight), will kick in.



                              You asked to much of him, that's why he walked through the bit - flight. Instead, "ask" (read: not "make") him to wait a few seconds less than you did this last time where he blew through your aids. You said it yourself, he wasn't being naughty. His reaction is fear-based, so it's not fair to kick him or hit him (had you had a crop) or otherwise punish him for being scared. Don't set him up for failure and instead, ask a little less of him and build off that. That bouncy "crap" is his expressing his anxiety, without actually rearing on you.

                              The work in the arena "made the wrong answer hard and the right answer easy", plus it would have re-gained his focus (and thus also made him a little calmer) and given him a bit of an outlet for his anxiety, which is why it worked to help him wait the second time you tried. That's good, but if you set him up for success in the first place, it will be easier on both of you. Ask him to wait, then move him out just before you feel he is about to walk off. If you can, ask him to move out before he gets to bouncing (even if that means just a split second wait at first). If not, just ignore the bouncing and ask him to move out before he blows through your aids, and build off that, asking for more each session with him.

                              Furthermore, if he is bulging towards the gate, that is his "sweet spot", so to speak - that is where he wants to be (or where he wants to exit). Asking him to wait there is great, but take note of working him at that end and especially around the gate, and resting him (whether relaxing work on a loose rein or - eventually - standing at rest) AWAY from the gate, say, the opposite corner.



                              Hesitantly - he's still unsure of the creek itself, his ability to go through it safely, and your ability to lead him through it. Especially if you are punishing his fear-based reactions (or he thinks you might), he has even less reason to follow and trust in your leadership. From his perspective, if you're already restricting his ability to flee and punishing his "need" to do so or express anxiety, what will you do if something really causes him to have to flee? Calm, assertive leadership is vital. He doesn't "win" for being scared, it's okay to dismount and work on it from another perspective, or to leave it for another day. Working on it from the ground, he was better able to follow your lead - you're going through it first and showing him it is okay. So then it was easier for him to try it u/s next.



                              In your description, he is doing it because he feels he can't move forward, whether due to your restriction via the reins, or because he is afraid of crossing the "creek" (etc). There is a difference. If he didn't WANT to move forward, it would be your job to earn his respect so that he was willing to move forward. If he feels he CAN'T move forward and his reactions are fear-based, then your job is to turn him into a calmer, braver, smarter horse who is less fearful, and to earn his trust in your ability to direct him. Imo/ime I doubt he is doing it to get out of work. The reason he doesn't do it during work is because he is already moving forward. I would bet too this horse might be (depending on the extent of this root issue) more resistant also to turns on the forehand, possibly turns on the hind, and to back-up and sideways. He might also be impatient while tied. The reason he doesn't want to stand still - he's a prey animal, so if he's fearful at all, his instincts are going to SCREAM at him to keep his feet moving. If he's anxious at all, he will feel the need to move his feet - that's okay!



                              Not something I would recommend ime anyways.



                              Yup! The answer for me, as a trainer and as an owner of one horse in particular who is pre-disposed to behaviour as you described (and who was all that and worse when I bought him!), is what I will recommend as what I have found successful:

                              Personally, I did a TON of groundwork with the aforementioned horse (as I do with any horse and esp a horse presenting such behaviours). As you yourself demonstrated with the "creek", that groundwork translates u/s. So I put my horses through a lot of exercises that balance trust and respect. It's not just trust in me as a person, but trust in my ability to lead. Horses find comfort in herds and if you do not offer them a leadership they can trust (they're worried about SURVIVAL, remember, not just some nick or scratch), they're going to take charge themselves to ensure their survival. I do a lot of patterns and exercises and desensitization - all of which builds trust in my ability to lead and builds confidence in the horse itself. Circling and patterns (figure-8, weaving through cones, etc) at increasing distances from me, ie, on longer lines (builds confidence to "go at it alone"), simply moving hinds and fores away from me, sidepassing on the ground, etc.

                              Then I take all the above u/s. Progressive schooling patterns. Classical dressage done right works wonders for a horse's mind. Predictable and repetitive patterns work especially well with the reactive or fearful horse, since horses find comfort in patterns. A horse who really wants to move its feet - give it a job to do! If you work with them in a compassionate and harmonious manner that induces relaxation, you'll start to have a calmer, braver horse. If you can more specifically give a horse a job to do - such as working cattle or trails or such, you'll build confidence in themselves and your leadership even more.

                              As far as the standing itself, that will disappear as you work on his mind in general. Don't "make" him stand, "ask" him to stand, and do it within his comfort zone, even if that means maybe no standing at all. My bouncer - I couldn't ask him to stand for weeks at first. I never worked on the issue directly, but as he progressed in general, he would stand for increasingly longer periods of time, to the point where he is now, where (all but on the "worst" of days - and that's only because he still has more progress to go!), he can stand for extended periods of time on a loose rein, completely relaxed.



                              Of course, but you're asking more of him now - he has not been u/s for awhile and is not used to relying upon his rider. On the ground, it is easier to follow a person's leadership since they are directly there to follow - it's a little more difficult u/s.

                              Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to address everything I found pertinent in your post.
                              ^^^ Said what I was trying to get at much better than I did!

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