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Re-Started Bridle Horse Issues

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  • Re-Started Bridle Horse Issues

    We are cattle ranchers, who have a Morgan-QH gelding, who was put out to pasture, after an accident while crossing steers over a busy road. He’d been ridden by my husband, after I was badly injured in a car accident. He rode him in a spade bit, & he was a finished bridle horse. While crossing steers, some jerk blew past the flagmen, & my husband had to pull back to prevent himself & the horse from getting hit by the car. He’d reared up & gone over backwards in the street, landing in top of my husband, 7 years ago. He’s about 16 now. After that, my husband just quit riding at all. After I recovered, (from being hit by a driver on the freeway,ironically, & having my neck & more broken), I brought Mojino up to the front horse pastures on the ranch, & slowly re-started him, late last spring. I had him get a complete vet & dental check done 1st, to make sure he was sound, & was told he is. I re-started him in a mild curb & roller colt s bit, that we’ve often used to transition a young horse into, from a snaffe, & he’s fine with it. At 1st, I pretty much just let him get used to having a rider on his back again, doing warm up groundwork & exercises in our large paddock, until he became comfortable, & was easily coming off my leg, light neck reining, & responding to body cues, etc. As we progressed, it became clear that he was very buddy-bound to the Paint mare in his pasture, & it became a battlero get him out thre gate, & was super stressful to try & ride him out into the pastures, away from his buddy. A friend with 2 arenas, (compared to my having no round pen, or arena), came & took us to his place to work, every werk for about a month, & Mojino was really progressing well. But every time I’d try to ride him out into the pastures, it continued to be a prolonged, heated battle. I’d pick a spot not too far from the corrals, & encourage him, while gently pushing him to go a little further each time, butprogress was very slow. My daughter started tiding the mare with us, & it was going really well, untilI began asking a little more of him with each ride, (& I mean easy stuff, at a walk or slow jog). He began throwing fits, despite his girl behaving well next to him, & it became clear he was also barn sour, & his acting out came to a point where I’d have to use the romal on his rump, or lay the edgeof my spur on his side, whenhe’d try to jump or spin off the trail. At 1st, that got his attention & compliance, & I’d always praise him whe he did what he was asked, which got his attention & compliance, at 1st. He now seems to be in a full-on struggle for control & domination now, trying to spin, side step, & even buck, if I’d let him get into position. I don’t want to keep escalating the battles we’re having, & have it become a dangerous habit, but I don't have access to an arena or round pen anymore. He’s always been an “Alpha” type geding, but he’d always trusted me, & was easy to handle, back when I rode him regularly. I really love this horse, & would hate to stop riding him, after somuch progress, but we’re at a standstill, at this point. Any honest suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks, DM_Mac

  • #2
    I realize you had him vet checked before restarting, but if he were mine, I'd recheck his neck, his back and the saddle fit. If you have a first-rate chiropractor in the area, I'd have him/her take a look too.
    Last edited by Huntin' Pony; Mar. 13, 2018, 07:45 PM. Reason: add a word or two


    • #3
      Aside from the possible physical issues,
      one of the first things I would do is put him by himself away from the mare and the rest of the herd.

      Something to consider is to send him to someone who will confidently work him through his fits.


      • #4
        6 years off is a long time. I wonder if he just plain has anxiety about being ridden based on his last experience before his long break. He may not even know why he is anxious, but every time it gets to be a "fight" it reinforces this anxiety. This is a horse I would consider using an anti-anxiety treatment of some sort to break the cycle.
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • #5
          I would be lunging him. No getting on his back until he goes perfectly on the lunge.
          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


          • #6
            I think he no longer fits the job you need him to be doing. While yes, there are other things you can do, as mentioned above, I doubt many of those things fit well into your program. Sell him to someone who can put all that into their program and purchase one that works for the job you need him to do.


            • #7
              Send him out and let that person work on finding you a buyer as he improves....sometimes these are great trading opportunities too. Somebody might have something that just doesn’t work for them anymore but yours might and vice versa.

              Think there’s just too many things he can associate the horrible experience and pain with around your place, even if he doesn’t remember why. On top of that he’s probably lost a good bit of work ethic with 6 years off. At his age, he might never recover to what ge was.

              Complete change of scene and rider/ handlers sometimes reboots these horses to sone extent ir other. Known a few in serious trailer wrecks with long recovery times that just never were the same but they did much better in completely new surroundings with a little chemical help for anxiety around trailers.

              Sorry, sucks to lose the time to make a straight up bridle horse and much effort to prevent any jerking or harsh use of the bit but...his best chance to get any of that back and lose those bad memories is going to be in fresh surroundings. IMO. And it is harder with a mid teen horse who might be done with any previous career. In the neantime, I’d try him in a bosal or loose fitting Snaffle so he can hold it. Might relax him.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • Original Poster

                I really appreciate all of the suggestions given here. It's hard to know what the best thing to do with him is, since he was progressing so well, until I began taking him out of the paddock & pasture area where his “buddy” is. I’d hoped that taking her along on rides in that area might help, & it did, to some extent. I’m not riding him in rough or hilly terrain, or near a busy road or strange objects. In fact, he grazes in the places I’ve been riding him. I haven’t been asking him to do anything harder than follow a trail, or walk through a pasture, in the direction of my choice, so I was really surprised by his increasing resistance to my direction, & change in attitude, but the farther away from the paddock & pasture he's kept in, the worse his behavior becomes, so barn sour was my first guess. Its interesting that when I was able to trailer him to a facity alone, (away from his pasture budd, with an arena, he was progressing so well. I know that his starting to challenge me, despite my quick but approriate, & not overly harsh correction had seemed to be working really well, but it’s like we’ve hit a roadblock, within just a few rides. His playfully affectionte behavior changed, & instead of coming to meet me for a scratch, some praise, & brushing, which were his regular behavior, has now become stiffening up, & walking away from me, & refusing to even look at me. I’ve been giving him a lot of attention, brushing him,& lunging him, & he’s not acting like such a jerk to me, but he’s also began exhibiting some strange, agression thatI didn’t think was relevant, in my 1st post. While he was used as a ranch horse, we had about 5 ranch geldings, & he got along with the other horses well. We bought a mare, & soon discovered he was “proud cut”, so within a month, we had to move the mare & another senior gelding, to the front pastures, & things went back to normal. One of the ranch string he’d been pastured with then was a retired gelding, & they’d escaped up into the mountains for a long time. When we finally caught them, we decided to try putting them in front, with the mare & two gelding. He was fine with the mare, but the young gelding chalkanged him for dominance, (which he quickly won back). That gelding has been gone for 2 years now, & it was all fine. Within the last 3-4 months, he’s suddenly began bullying the now 48 year old gelding, that he’d been pasture mates with, for about 8 years, w/out problem. His aggression towards the old gelding came out of nowhere, (beforehis attitudechange about being ridden started). We’ve had to put the old boy in a seperate paddock, for his own protection, even though he stays away from the mare, & the dominant horse trys to kick his paddock fences down. I’ve never seen or heard of a horse suddenly acting that way, so I’m baffled by his recent changes in agressive behavior, all around. I’d been riding ranch horses over many miles of varied terrain, gathering, fencing, doctoring, branding, etc., for many years, & had worked as a “day cowboy”, for a few years, way back when, so I’ve had more experience than I’d like, with rank or broncy horses. IDK if his new “horse bullying” is related, but it’s new to me.


                • #9
                  Not sure if you can point at it being Spring as a reason for being aggressive right now. We had an ex-breeding stallion who always got a lot more agressive, seperated the mares out of the group and drove off the other geldings each Spring. Horse also got pushy with us, had the yearly CTJ go-around after winter off, then he went back to his normal self. Usually lasted a month or so. Then he quit being a turkey about the mares and other geldings.

                  Our mares and geldings are being quite silly now, lots of ugly faces at each other, some chasing, which we are blaming on Spring hormones, longer day hours affecting their sustems. Not anything horse can control. None of these geldings were stallions beyond yearling age, no drive to breed back then. Mares are kind of touchy, lots of biting, threatening, "don't get near me!!" Husband says they need jobs, get them back to work! Too bad snowy weather has not cooperated.

                  Anyway, another idea for you. He may be having Spring hormone issues too. Not just being spiteful. I like the idea of sending him out for tuning up, away from home and familiarity. See how he responds there before making decisions. He may come around there, be able to come back and be useful for you in regular work. He may not reform, become more usable. Then you make decisions. New pasture pet or move him along. Good luck with him.


                  • Original Poster

                    I agree with you, 100%! Spring is NOT the issue, he’s been through many Springs without actimg aggressively, or like a total ass! I have considered having his hormone levels, etc., checked though. She is the same mare that we had to move into the front pasture, but they’re fine together now, but when he was young, he became aggressive with other males near her, & tried to mount the poor mare until she’d dropped a lot of weight in just 20 days! Since he’s older now, (& the front is the only place to ride & keep a good eye on them), I decided to try putting them back together, if possible. There were no problems in the last 18 months, in that regard, but it should be checked out. The way he’s began bullying our old gelding, & has escalated to trying to attack him, is very baffling, since they’ve always been pasture mates, & gotten along well, even after being pastured with the mare again. Thanks for your good ideas & feedback!


                    • Original Poster

                      BTW-The mares name is “Merry” for a reason! She’s a terrible tease, one minute she’s tail flagging, then her ears are pinned back, squeeling loudly! There’s something about this mare, even gelding are “very fond” of her! She’s almost 20, so I’d hoped she’d get a grip by now,lol! I think the geldings breeder waited too long to geld him, since I know it’s his habit.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Huntin' Pony View Post
                        I realize you had him vet checked before restarting, but if he were mine, I'd recheck his neck, his back and the saddle fit. If you have a first-rate chiropractor in the area, I'd have him/her take a look too.
                        This is what I was going to post. Definitely check saddle fit and have him checked by a chiropractor and even a massage therapist. Horses don't act up for no reason, especially when they've been compliant in the past. The fact that he acts up even with the mare along certainly suggests it's more than buddy/barn sour.


                        • #13
                          First, to DM_Mac,

                          Your posts are very hard to read. Paragraphs would be very helpful.

                          Second, if you have a horse with a herd-bound problem, and the problem is escalating, you need help.

                          I remember in the movie about Loretta Lynn, she first went to sing for an audition and her husband Dolittle had spent every last penny on hiring bluegrass musicians ('pickers') for the session. The person hearing the audition was greatly impressed, and told Dolittle that the first thing they needed to do was go get some 'pickers' for a recording session...when Dolittle protested that he already HAD pickers, he was told, "No, I mean More Better pickers!"

                          I think you need some More Better Help. Like Buck Brannaman, Harry Whitney, Martin Black, Bryan Neubert.

                          This horse sounds quite salvageable, but I would absolutely not mess around with these herd-bound issues with someone who is merely local and available. Your own (and your husbands') serious injuries call for some prudence in dealing with an upset horse.

                          So...from my point of view, either find the horse another home or get some Really Good Help to get the horse to where he isn't herd bound anymore.

                          I can send some recommendations via private message if you need someone to come out to your ranch to deal with the horse.