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Young horse questioning my authority... advice?

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  • Young horse questioning my authority... advice?

    I gave my coming five year old about a month off before spring. He's had his feet done, his teeth done, and he's ready to work. Problem is, he doesn't seem to want to.

    I've been mostly lunging him and he's pretty okay about it, but undersaddle he's very... reluctant? Maybe that's the right word. He just doesn't seem very happy, kind of puts around, gets pissy when I put my leg on him, etc.

    Today I decided to do some ground work with him in just a halter and lead. He was extremely pissy when I asked him to back up and move from side to side with my hand, (similar expressions when he's undersaddle) and I promise I asked very fairly. When I insisted that he listen, (more and more pressure with my hand) he would either act like he was trying to nip at me or throw his head. Both behaviors were extremely annoying and I corrected him with a smack on the neck, and he would temporarily straighten out, but then the quirks continued. After about 30 minutes I think he was mentally exhausted and gave up, (at one point he just popped one of his back legs and looked at me like "no really, I'm done") so I consider myself the winner of today's match, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a reoccurring pattern. I also hate that my sessions with my horse have to have a "winner".

    Does anyone have any advice or exercises (ground and undersaddle) that could help me? I was warned by a few that trakehners have a "stupid streak" and I'm not sure if this is it... and I'm hoping to work through it ASAP. Thanks.

  • #2
    Assuming there's no physical reason for this behavior (sore back/hind legs/etc) I would suggest that you have a serious "R.E.S.P.E.C.T" issue...he isn't respecting you. Really...backing and moving hips/shoulders over...that's baby stuff and if he's acting "pissy" about doing it he's either hurting or he's flipping you off. The usual, probably legit, question about ulcers. If you can't find a physical issue (and you might turn him out and see how he moves around without any interaction with you...that'll give you a clue about if he's hurting or not) then I would go back to square one and instill a bit of respect and responsiveness. I very seldom ask a horse if he's interested in working..horses are basically lazy, energy conservative eating machines and working is just not something most are born wanting to do. Create interest in working by rewarding every effort on his part so that he looks forward to doing things for you. There are tons of in-hand, on the ground exercises you can do that will encourage his movement on your cues and his respect for you. Try looking at John Lyons book/DVD "Bringing Up Baby"...written for ground work for foals/yearlings but all exercises are applicable to adult horses as well. Also Clinton Anderson's "Down Under Horsemanship" goes through exercises with adult horses with issues and is very clearly written...what the problem is, why its a problem, the goal, the means to address/correct the problem, mistakes made by horse and handler and how to fix them and the practical application of the lesson in real life. Your library might have them and I know you can order either/both from the websites of the authors or through "westernhorseman.com" or probably "amazon.com" or might find on eBay or Craigslist.
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
    Northern NV