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Training the Hyper-sensitive, smart horse

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  • Training the Hyper-sensitive, smart horse

    So I have a very lovely Sempatico daughter, 4yrs old and I am working with her through the under saddle process.

    She is by nature, veyr intelligent and hyper sensitive to all that is going on around her and to her. With her the process is SLOWWWW.

    She accepts being saddled, me standing on a mounting block beside her as if to mount, and weight in one stirrup. SHe did actually stand and I sat on her a few days ago, without her moving. She allowed me to get on and off (but while I was up there I could just feel her shaking). I refer to her as the 'keg of dynamite ready to go off'.

    Anyway we are back to square one of allowing me to stand on a block, leaning over the saddle and putting wieght on teh stirrup...any other move and she is moving away to avoid contact.

    She is the type of horse that if you screw up, you will be a long time trying to fix it, the kind of horse a lot of people avoid (she is not for sale anyway, one of those keepers-bought in-utero).

    I can break her out myself (have ridden for years and have broken a few through the same process) I just haven't had one this trigger ready. Has anyone used some of the stuff on the market that acts as a calming agent, or does anyone have any new ideas to offer.

    She is the type also that doesn't work herself down...she will only continue to go up, so very heavy handed training methods will NOT work for this girl.

  • #2
    I would do lots of ground work and ground driving with her to keep her mind engaged. Take things slow with getting into the saddle and keep your sessions very short.


    • #3
      Magnesium supplement, like Quiessence, might help. I would see if you can get a good-riding youngster (wearing a helmet of course) to be the first rider, with you (whom she presumably trusts) leading her around with the passenger on board. It is possible the whole experience of having something on her back is going to take her a little while to get used to. I agree with the lots of ground work, long-lining for now.
      RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


      • #4
        What would you think of hanging a hay net and letting her eat from it while you sit on her? I backed my mare by sitting on her bareback with a halter and hay net. Like you, I took it very slowly...it was many steps before I was even sitting up there, but I found the hay net gave her a sense of security during those first days.


        • #5
          Has anyone used some of the stuff on the market that acts as a calming agent, or does anyone have any new ideas to offer.
          My mare, who will be five next month, was exactly like you describe your horse to be. She's still very sensitive, but her confidence has grown by leaps and bounds. That makes a world of difference.

          The trainer that I used to start her would get on her bareback while she stood in her stall. I would hold her. You have to take things very sloooowly with my horse or she gets nervous and suspicious. Once she is comfortable with the situation, now, she's good as gold. It also has helped that she finally really trusts me. We've gone through quite a few situations that I have reassured her and they've turned out okay. I think it just takes time to build that trust between horse and rider.

          As for supplements, I use SmartPak's Ultra Calm. I honestly noticed a difference after a couple weeks. It doesn't dope her up, but takes a bit of the edge off.

          Be positive though! My horse is a completely different animal than the one from a year ago. I actually enjoy riding her now. I would never had believed that day would come a year ago!


          • #6
            I third the magnesium supplement. I use epsom salts for my mare, and it makes a HUGE difference.

            I also could caution against letting her eat while you sit on her. It might help distract her, but I have known a couple horses, most of them mares, whose owners did this. Once you try to get the horse actually working, they are suddenly less than happy that they are no longer standing around eating. Work time is not play time. Better to instill that early on than have to deal with the horse who is upset about it later.