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Not the right horse?

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  • Not the right horse?

    How do you know a horse, that you are working with (or own), is not the right one?

    A little back story for me; I had to put my Heart horse down last Spring. Late Spring I bought a mare to replace him. I merely trail ride.

    The trail rides I do are light. So not a lot of expectations there. Mare is sound. She can be moody. She had tried to bite and kick on occassion, but luckily some tough love helped. The Main problem is when I ride, and not every time, she will either rear or be evasive. In one particular spot on the farm trail she will try to spin around every ride. I have had her checked out, but maybe again.

    The upside; Awesome away from the farm on trails, breaks trail, crosses water, good in crowd or by herself. When I ride her at home and she is good unless I take her on the farm trail. She is also an easy keeper.

    Any ideas would be appreciated!
    Strange how much you've got to know Before you know how little you know. Anonymous

  • #2
    Does she put a smile on your face at the thought of riding her?

    If she does, she may be right for you personality wise but the repeated rearing/evasiveness suggest she needs more training than you know how to give. Finding an experienced instructor to help you both through this is probably your best option.

    If you're just coming to dread your rides, don't want to work through the issues with a trainer, and/or want a horse that you can ride without issues right now -- she's probably not the horse for you.
    Halt Near X | Horse Bloggers - Blog Directory

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    • #3
      Some of what you describe may be fixable. I will also comment that when you've lost your heart horse, the next horse you buy has big shoes to fill. When my heart horse died three years ago, I already a second horse and I already had accepted that he was going to be a different type of ride -- but it still took me awhile to get over the fact that he was not going to act like my old horse.

      I would try putting her on one of the mare supplements for her moods (raspberry leaves are supposed to help but I own only geldings). There are plenty of "mare" supplements around and maybe someone here can chime in and say whether or not they work.

      It sounds like she has your number a bit on the on-farm rides and is trying to assert her desire to not work. The fact that she's better away from home suggests she's barn sour.

      I certainly second the suggestion to get a trainer involved because they can either ride her through it or give you some strategies to work through this on your own. However, here are a few things I would do if she were my horse.

      I'd start by working with her on the ground. Does she lead well? Does she stay right at your shoulder or lag behind. If she's not obeying you on the ground, start carrying a dressage whip and give her a tap to make sure she keeps up. Lead her all over the place, including the area on the farm where she traditionally gets balky. Do lots of halt/walk transitions and backing up.

      Rearing and spinning are absolutely no fun to ride through. Although some may not agree with this, I might try dismounting and leading her through the areas where she is being very difficult and you get worried or anxious about it. Use the same techniques as above. If she's resistant, back her up 30 feet until backing up is no longer fun. Walk her forward, halt, turn, back up again, rinse and repeat until going by the scary spot is easier than one you are asking her to do. Then just remount on the other side of the problem area and keep going. Sometimes just "getting through" an issue calmly is better than picking a fight and if you start to get anxious she will feed off it. I do this when I'm first introducing a horse to the trails and they are worried about something but it might work for you as long as you get back on and keep going (if she thinks that her misbehavior will get her a short ride, she'll keep doing it).

      Another technique to try when a horse gets balky on the trail is to ask them to move sideways before going forward. Getting their feet unstuck can sometimes do the trick and make it easier to go forward.

      I would carry a dressage whip as reinforcement but again, I'm not a big fan of having a big fight on the trail but sometimes a strategic tap behind the leg can be helpful.

      As said above, if your horse isn't fun to ride, she may not be for you. However, if you can establish that you're the boss in this relationship, she may become a lot more pleasant to be around.
      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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      • #4
        Sounds like she is just being a bit of a brat and is barn sour. Plus she has developed a "booger spot". If it makes you feel any better, had a friend with a pricey WB Hunter who was a big winner at the shows. One cold winter day in the indoor arena, somebody used the coke machine stupidly placed next to the in gate at the corner of the arena (non riding BO refused to move) just as the horse passed by.

        Horse jumped out of his skin when the can hit the slot, she got dumped and it was a merry time trying to round him up despite the fact he stayed at the far end of the ring.

        That less then the brightest bulb in the box horse spooked at that coke machine forever after...even when the barn moved to a new location and there was no coke machine in the corner by the in gate. Even spooked at that spot at indoor shows. Some of the best riders in the business had a crack at that...still spooked. Oh they stayed on and smoothed it out but it took alot of effort to minimize it and keep going-horse just did not "get" it.

        Solution? Try not to go right into that spot, cut the corner or avoid it completely and go up the quarter line. After they started doing that, horse sort of forgot, most of the time anyway.

        So, in your case with this still newish horse? Can you just avoid that booger spot she seems to have created for some reason known only to her (but I bet has to do with going back to the barn)? It may be you can just go 10 feet off the trail or cut a curve and it will derail her train of thought. Sometimes one will get stupid about it in one drecrtion and sail right past going the other-does she do it going both ways? Does she do it when you ride with a buddy or only when alone?

        Or, maybe, you will just have to take her farther out and away and avoid the farm trail for awhile. This is probably the worst time of year, when it warms up, she will probably be better.

        I don't think this is tragic if she is good elsewhere and see no issue with just trying to avoid it for awhile-you can't fix every little thing about them in 6 or 8 months and disgression is the better part of valor. Take your time, build your confidence and hers doing what you know she can do without any glitches.

        It's hard when you loose one and nothing will replace that one. Give this one, and yourself, a little more time and just do what she is good at, and that sounds like alot.

        Someday when it's nice and warm and you have ridden her the last couple of days so she is not fresh, take her the reverse way on that farm trail, see if she does it that way. Just don't go back to the barn right after and get off or you reinforce the idea barn is good because she can quit..and I think that's what you are dealing with here.

        ETA, having had my share of smart mares, at this point think having another rider take her on that farm trail? She is not going to pull that same stunt, OP gets on, she'll do it again so OP can stay on another trail for now. Not a bad idea to get some general help though. Couple of lessons never hurts anything.

        If this gets worse, she should get help or find another horse. But, for now, based on what I read here, I think OP might be able to get this straightened out.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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        • #5
          This is a tough one because there are a lot of things you can do for the trail issue she has, whether you work on it yourself or get a trainer involved. But the real question is, do you like her enough to want to put the time in? I have questioned myself with my horse a few times, and very recently in fact. I keep telling myself he is making me learn to be a better rider/horseperson, but there are days I just want to go on a ride and know I won't have to deal with crap. I sometimes dream about how nice it would be to have a horse without some of his issues, but there are things about him I really like, and I know the dream horse could have other issues that drive me just as batty. Plus, finding him a good home could be very difficult.

          Anyway, maybe you should take some lessons on her to see if that sheds some light. My DH adopted a horse and rode her for a year, but they just weren't clicking. He took some lessons over winter and it became very obvious that they were not a match. She did fine in lessons, but he just did not want to ride her. He's also not much of a lesson guy, but really likes his current mare.

          Would you prefer a gelding, or will you compare him to your heart horse even more? When you think about finding a new home for the mare, does it make you sad, or happy that you can horse shop? You haven't had her for a year yet (which I don't think is that long after suffering through the loss of a special horse), so are you willing to put in another good season of riding to see how it goes, or do you want to call it quits and find something else? Maybe the answers to some of these questions and those by other posters will help you decide what to do.

          Maybe you can determine if you are in the mood to work with her around home on any given day, and if you just want a nice ride then trailer somewhere, or avoid the area that gives her trouble. Save it for days when you feel like dealing with the drama. Good luck. It's a hard question because unless the horse is dangerous or too green for your riding level we can't just say, "Get rid of her."

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          • #6
            Every horse has 'something' and I'm wondering if you are comparing her to your gelding.

            If you like her, keep her. If you feel she is dangerous, get a trainer involved. If you don't like her and/or she is more horse than you want, sell her and move on.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I guess in a way I am comparing her to my heart horse, but he wasn't a trail horse initially. I had to work with him. He had a spinning problem and his involved bolting. Luckily the mare does not bolt and if she were to bolt she has a really enforced Whoa.

              The suggestions are really appreciated. Groundwork may be somewhat lacking. She has tried to lead me before, but I nipped that one too. She wasn't too keen on longing at first, but that is getting better. As for the "spot" its kind of only approachable one way from the barn. I think it either has to do with a deer jumping out there(at the bottom) of a hill or the fact that she can't see the barn anymore? Then again she has done it with another rider and alone. I primarily ride alone. I also have someone helping me, but he doesn't always have time.(not a Professional, but could be).

              Sorry so long.
              Strange how much you've got to know Before you know how little you know. Anonymous

              Comment


              • #8
                Doesn't sound too bad from what you say and probably something did startle her there, they just remember getting scared, they don't remember why or work out that it is not there any more. So don't go there for awhile. It's OK, you are still relatively new to each other.

                I don't think you are scared of her either, which is good, if thats the worst thing she ever does? You are in good shape.

                Just keep working with her and making her mind and respect you and your space, sounds like one of those things you will just have to work around-as happens with all new horse/rider combinations. Takes a lot longer then some think to really get on the same page.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I lost an easy/ uncomplicated gelding very suddenly three years ago , and the gelding I bought afterwards was pretty different physically and personality-wise... I waited almost a year before buying another horse, but we had some issues in the beginning because I think I was comparing him to the guy I lost.

                  He did rear and buck once when I first got him, threw me and I got hurt more than I had ever been from getting tossed before by other horses (nothing broken but a hairline crack of a rib, major bruising, lots of pain for 6 months...). He's a compact horse, so lightning quick in his reactions so was hard to gauge when he'd react...

                  Because of all that, *I* had some mental issues with him (Admittedly, I was afraid of him after the incident which is *not* like me concerning horses!), so I sought out a professional trainer in addition to a good horse friend to help the new guy get over the bratty behavior and, most importantly, help me get over my issues with him... With the stipulation I had made with myself that if I/ we couldn't work through these issues, I'd sell him and move on (which was a very hard stipulation for me to come to as I've never ever had to sell a horse).

                  Thankfully, with lots of hard work on my part and his, I was able to get over my issues and the new guy is a nice horse, most importantly we get each other now. Due to finances etc, it took longer than I wanted, but I've now had him for over 2 years and he's a cool horse, sweet and fun. Though he can try to get away with stuff occasionally (Very mild stuff - no more rearing etc, it's more like if he's had some time off, he might be a bit fussy about having to work, I compare him to a teenager "But... I don't wanna clean my room... ugh..."), I get him and know how to deal with him, and he gets me.

                  Hope that helps...
                  View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would think about hand walking her to the spot, then just hanging out for awhile until she gets beyond bored. Maybe grazing or treats when she relaxes.

                    Sounds like a legitimate fear on her part due to a bad experience. She does need to know that rearing is not an option. Sometimes that can come with mileage and time together (to bond, develop trust, etc).

                    If the rearing isn't enough to get you off, really you're the only one who can know whether she's right or not. There's nothing here that screams that she can't work out. Greenness, and lack of trust still, yes. But just the wrong fit? Your call.
                    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

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                    • #11
                      I personally will never ride a known rearer so that part would be a no go for me.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home

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                      • #12
                        It sounds like the fairly typical barn/buddy-sour behavior that many people experience when riding on the property rather than trailering away from the property.
                        I just had this conversation literally an hour ago at my own barn with a fellow boarder whose (new) horse is "a handful" on the bridle path around the property but "perfect" out on the trail after having been trailered...

                        If your mare is good to go when you are away from home and doesn't pull these shenanigans elsewhere, you know it's just that - barn or buddy-sourness.
                        Your options are 1) not to ride on your property so you don't have to deal with this (dangerous) behavior, or 2) to work on it and work on it and work on it until she is really really bored with your farm trail. She most likely just "fake spooks" to get you to stop or turn around so don't let her get away with that.

                        Other than that - having an opinionated (Arab?) mare that tries to get out of work at home - she sounds like a catch: Just having a horse that will be okay alone on the trail (and you feeling safe with her), and also do well in a group, and one that crosses water and goes off-trail, is awesome. Give her a chance and be a smart and confident leader.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You have received a lot of good advice here. I'll just add what many others have said in other threads: it often takes longer for a mare to bond with her rider/owner than it does for a gelding.

                          But, once a mare does bond with you, she'll do anything for you.

                          You might just have to keep going for a while, nip some bad behaviors in the bud, and try not to compare her to your gelding.

                          Good luck.
                          "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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                          • #14
                            If you're not having fun, then it's time for a different horse

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