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(Mentally) rehabbing a jumper- Can it be done? (or- WWYD)

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  • (Mentally) rehabbing a jumper- Can it be done? (or- WWYD)

    I've been riding for 20+ years and am finally (FINALLY) in a position where I can buy my first horse. Ideally, I'm looking for a horse that I can start eventing with (BN) and work up to training level (maybe, MAYBE, prelim...but probably not) and also just overall trail ride and have fun with. I've found a horse that I'm very interested in, well within my budget, but horse's current trainer says he needs work. He is still green but very willing, pleasant to be with, and in most ways seems to fit everything I'm looking for. However, it seems (accd. to trainer) that he was a bit over-faced jumping as a youngster, and as a result has confidence issues. Horse is currently doing some jumping, but nothing high or extensive. However, horse is supposedly doing well with gaining confidence with an appropriate rider.

    My question is- would you take the risk? I only know a couple horses who developed severe jumping "phobias", for lack of a better term, and neither one ever recovered. Granted, these are only 2 examples. Have any of you successfully rehabbed an over-faced horse, enough that horse actually began to enjoy it and move up the levels and do well? Also, since this seems so obvious (why not just try the horse myself a few times)- horse is located far enough away that while it is not impossible to go test ride it myself, it is also probably not worth it unless I'm 99% sure I want it. Also, I am just beginning my search, so part of me thinks I should look more locally first and take a wait-and-see approach with this horse. WWYD?

  • #2
    You might get better responses from the event board, but IMO that doesn't sound like the ideal candidate for a first event horse. I think I'd rather a very green jumper than a scared one.

    I've heard that story before (horse was overfaced by previous rider/trainer, will improve with slower/better schooling), but it's really hard to know if he is just not that bold (such that a "normal" introduction to jumping would feel like overfacing to him), or if whatever was done could be reschooled.

    I did have 1 horse that refused with a previous rider (green kid) that "reformed" (he did some prelim, wasn't quite bold enough, sold as a Ch/Ad jumper), but I've also owned 1 that just really didn't want to jump, and another that really just didn't want to go x-c that I couldn't fix. So I think if a horse were already not enthusiastic about jumping, I'd probably pick something with better odds.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have known some horses like this. Usually taking back to basics and working up again with this in mind - being sure not to overface the horse again, will work just fine.

      The horse is still jumping, just not as high as previously, then maybe you will never get past Novice level, then again, he could go Intermediate. It does not sound like you are anxious to move up the levels, so you should be fine.

      In other words, for me, I do not see it as an issue per se. Now, if you have confidence issues over jumps, then no, bad idea. If you are fine, then go for it if you like him.

      Comment


      • #4
        In my opinion this sounds like a horse that someone should buy as a "second" horse. One you can work on while you still have your fun horse to ride all the time.

        Just my opinion, but if I have been saving forever and can finally buy one horse, I want it to be the most fun I can afford.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well I've actually known more horses that didn't recover than ones that did.

          The one that we had in our barn that did regain his confidence didn't stop from being over-faced; instead he would RUN at the jumps. It took a year of never jumping without take-off/landing rails to get through to him. I'd take on that kind of an issue before I'd take on a horse that wanted to stop as a result of being over-faced.

          Either way; it's A LOT of work & depending on what kind of brain the horse started out with (who knows, maybe he was a chicken to begin with) it can take a VERY long time with very little progress.
          \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by She's Pure Gold View Post
            Also, since this seems so obvious (why not just try the horse myself a few times)- horse is located far enough away that while it is not impossible to go test ride it myself, it is also probably not worth it unless I'm 99% sure I want it. Also, I am just beginning my search, so part of me thinks I should look more locally first and take a wait-and-see approach with this horse. WWYD?
            Def. wouldn't take one of these without at least being able to sit on him first, and if you are early in your search, keep looking.

            I understand being on a budget, and being excited about horse shopping for a show prospect after not having one for a while (been there recently!). While the fact that he's jumping may be promising, it doesn't sound like he's competing, and it does sound like competition is a goal for you, at whatever level. As another poster said, when you are on a budget and can only afford one horse, it is even more important that you get a good horse because you don't have a back-up. Happy horse hunting, and I hope you find something great!

            Comment


            • #7
              I wouldn't chance it, not on a horse you are going to take cross county.

              BOLD horses make the best eventers, the ones that are brave, like to check out the spookie stuff, and "take you" to the fence.

              Riding a sucked back, unconfident horse cross county is just not fun for either of you.

              I have had the opposite, an eventer who just didn't have the guts for XC, but LOVED the jumper ring, so that is where we headed.

              I know there are many on these boards more experienced then me, but I have spent years as a working student, and have probably ridden no less then 50 horses out on cross county courses. Horses that don't have a passion for jumping do not make happy event horses.
              APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by White Lie View Post
                Just my opinion, but if I have been saving forever and can finally buy one horse, I want it to be the most fun I can afford.
                This is an excellent point.

                I have known one mare, a gorgeous WB who looked to have tons of potential, that was overfaced and she never recovered, despite about a year of training with two different trainers. She would even refuse crossrails. The family ended up selling her as a dressage prospect with the caveat that she did not like to jump, and they bought a new horse for their daughters (who are now cleaning up in the Eq ring).

                I mean, why set yourself up for frustration? Get something you know loves to jump.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Appsolute View Post
                  I wouldn't chance it, not on a horse you are going to take cross county.

                  BOLD horses make the best eventers, the ones that are brave, like to check out the spookie stuff, and "take you" to the fence.

                  Riding a sucked back, unconfident horse cross county is just not fun for either of you.
                  This. IMO, what makes a good event horse is a horse with a curious personality and a strong drive and desire to jump around XC.

                  There are plenty of other horses out there (and CHEAP right now!). I wouldn't take the risk if I wanted to event.
                  "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Most horses that I've encountered who have had poor intro to jumping and/or confidence issues have been more work/challenge than they were worth. Good for a pro "project" horse, but not for a "one and only" personal horse. Too much baggage. And for my money...I want a very confident horse for eventing/cross country riding. I'd keep looking.
                    www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                    Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      When the going gets tough, a horse will often reverts back to what it used in the past to cope. It's a fine line, and one that's impossible to predict.

                      If you are a good, confident and skilled rider, then go for it. Otherwise, I'd pass.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I dont think mentally rehabbing would be impossible, but certainly harder than with a very green horse

                        I bought a 6 yo that had been WAY overfaced jumping as a youngster. We found ourselves a pro and worked with her for over a year, but he was never mentally able to get over the past jumping experiences. He was one that RAN at the jumps. We got to the point where he could go somewhat quietly to a crossrail, but never got past that point.

                        If I were you, I would keep looking. Good luck!
                        Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                        White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                        Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by She's Pure Gold View Post
                          I've been riding for 20+ years and am finally (FINALLY) in a position where I can buy my first horse. Ideally, I'm looking for a horse that I can start eventing with (BN) and work up to training level (maybe, MAYBE, prelim...but probably not) and also just overall trail ride and have fun with. I've found a horse that I'm very interested in, well within my budget, but horse's current trainer says he needs work. He is still green but very willing, pleasant to be with, and in most ways seems to fit everything I'm looking for. However, it seems (accd. to trainer) that he was a bit over-faced jumping as a youngster, and as a result has confidence issues. Horse is currently doing some jumping, but nothing high or extensive. However, horse is supposedly doing well with gaining confidence with an appropriate rider.

                          My question is- would you take the risk? I only know a couple horses who developed severe jumping "phobias", for lack of a better term, and neither one ever recovered. Granted, these are only 2 examples. Have any of you successfully rehabbed an over-faced horse, enough that horse actually began to enjoy it and move up the levels and do well? Also, since this seems so obvious (why not just try the horse myself a few times)- horse is located far enough away that while it is not impossible to go test ride it myself, it is also probably not worth it unless I'm 99% sure I want it. Also, I am just beginning my search, so part of me thinks I should look more locally first and take a wait-and-see approach with this horse. WWYD?

                          yes- in word all you have to do is take him back to basics good flat work then build it into grid work then small courses

                          you need an eventer trainer who can teach all three disilpines

                          i have done to many to count on one hand

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            many good thoughts here. If you are really interested in giving him consideration, why not see if you can have an outside trainer evaluate him for you, with an eye to the question you asked us? Maybe take him for a lesson with a local eventing trainer and ask the trainer to tell you what they think his prospects are for being successfully retrained?
                            I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                            I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thanks to everyone for your input (and please keep it coming!). I'm going to hold off on making any decisions for a while and test ride some more local horses first I think. I have also requested more updated video of the horse so I can have a better idea of what he does. There are a lot of horses for sale out there, and many who love to jump, so it does seem silly to take a gamble on another who may not work for my chosen discipline (it just stinks b/c I LOVE everything else about this horse!). Taking the wait and see approach, I guess.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                It depends on what the horse's reaction is. From your post, the horse could overjump everything; he could stop all the time; or stop when something is new or goes wrong. He could just require a strong ride, need more time over smaller jumps but otherwise be just fine, or he could get tense and lose it mentally when something goes wrong and become hard to ride TO the jump. The last is the least fixable, everything else depends. But what's important is finding out what his reaction is when he's outside his comfort level, and to decide if you're comfortable with that reaction and your ability to fix it, or not. General rule though is that it's easier to train than un-train or re-train.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by She's Pure Gold View Post
                                  Thanks to everyone for your input (and please keep it coming!). I'm going to hold off on making any decisions for a while and test ride some more local horses first I think. I have also requested more updated video of the horse so I can have a better idea of what he does. There are a lot of horses for sale out there, and many who love to jump, so it does seem silly to take a gamble on another who may not work for my chosen discipline (it just stinks b/c I LOVE everything else about this horse!). Taking the wait and see approach, I guess.
                                  I see you're in Mass...I'm not sure what your budget is, but I know Stephie Baer has a really cool looking horse on her site right now for pretty cheap. I also saw a cute mare on Equine.com recently going dirt cheap. Depending on your strengths as a rider, I personally know a mare available for a low price as well (in Maine). I don't want to cross the line into advertising, I'm just trying to make the point that there are some cool horses out there for low figures right now.
                                  "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I think something described like this:
                                    6 yr./16 h/Thoroughbred mare. Nicely started under saddle and jumps low fences with confidence. Quiet on trails and x-country($2500).
                                    or like this:
                                    Beautiful 16 hh 9 y/o Bay Appendix Gelding in need of a northern home. Does not sweat in Florida summer heat/humidity. An easy keeper, sweet and willing. Front shoes only. No vices, good health. Took my daughter through her D3. Competed in BN Eventing.($1500)
                                    ...would be a lot better choice if you are on a budget. (
                                    These descriptions came from the classified section of the USPC pony club site:
                                    http://ponyclub.org/classifieds.php

                                    If your budget goes up to $5K, there are some like this:
                                    16 hand, 1999, thoroughbred gelding. 100% sound, coggins and shots up to date, and l/c/t without fuss. Brave to the jumps and has proven himself on a cross country course. Jumps 3'3" easily.
                                    If you are of a moderate enough stature that you could ride something 14.2 or so, you get into some with not just eventing and trails, but foxhunting experience.

                                    I vote for going out to find something safe and enjoyable. Fancy, or 'might go prelim', can wait for your second horse if you so desire. You want something fun, that you can take out and DO things with, and I would vote for a horse that a)already has shown it enjoys X-C and b)goes out on the trail with no issues. If you were on the west coast, I'd direct you to an experienced ranch horse. But you do NOT want to spend your money on trainers to get your horse to where you can ride it in an arena if it is ridden down, you want to spend your money getting places, riding IN the actual events, etc.
                                    If, say, you really liked to work with greenies and someone essentially gave you a horse that needed work, maybe, but not for your first horse that you are going to BUY. Once again, it is sooo much more fun spending the budget on going places!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                                      It depends on what the horse's reaction is. From your post, the horse could overjump everything; he could stop all the time; or stop when something is new or goes wrong. He could just require a strong ride, need more time over smaller jumps but otherwise be just fine, or he could get tense and lose it mentally when something goes wrong and become hard to ride TO the jump. The last is the least fixable, everything else depends. But what's important is finding out what his reaction is when he's outside his comfort level, and to decide if you're comfortable with that reaction and your ability to fix it, or not. General rule though is that it's easier to train than un-train or re-train.
                                      I agree with this. Especially the point about being easier to train than retrain. I much prefer buying green off the track and teaching them to jump myself.

                                      If you do go look at the horse, I'd want to see what he did when taken xc. His reaction to some natural fences will tell you a lot about this attitude toward jumping.

                                      Several nice horses on the CANTER NE site last time I looked including a couple that have already been restarted.
                                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Sounds like you are at the beginning of your search. Ask another trainer to help on this horse or you might be getting a project too big for you to handle and enjoy.

                                        If you have access to a roundpen, you might want to put a few poles or X's and see how he goes naturally...Ears up, hesitations, natural balance, balks, etc.

                                        A million fish in the sea; you might just want to keep fishing!

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