New horse... how long should it take to settle in?

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New horse... how long should it take to settle in?

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    09-13-2011, 07:36 PM
New horse... how long should it take to settle in?

So, I got my horse! ^_^ It's the Draft cross mare Bliss I posted about earlier. After getting a better look, and getting opinions from other horse people, I've decided that she probably has some Arab in her.

Here's a picture of her! This was my second ride on her, before I bought her.

I don't remember why I was looking at her butt. :/

Anyways! She was delivered to my boarding stable on Sunday. She seemed really nervous the first day--wouldn't even graze--but when I went to see her Monday morning, she was eating happily in her field with her two pasturemates. She seemed to calm down further after I rode her for the first time (I only walked around for a couple minutes... it was getting dark and really I just wanted to make sure my tack fit her).

Well, today I had the day off work, so I had plenty of time to spend with her. I was quite pleased with her because she let me catch her in the field right away! The day before, it took me 20 minutes in the morning and then 5 minutes at night. :) So I got on her today, and she just seemed really nervous and excitable. She kept trying to break into a trot when all I wanted to do was walk her around. And when I halted her, she got frustrated and started pawing the ground. I thought I would canter her in the big field to expel some energy, but decided against it as controlling her at the trot seemed to be a challenge.

With my last horse, his spookiness seemed to be my biggest downfall, as I'm not that confident of a rider. Bliss is showing a bit of spookiness, but so far I have been able to fake the role of "confident leader." ;P Whenever she spooked at something, I turned her to face it, let her sniff it, and walked by it several more times until she had no more reaction. I don't want it to escalate though, so is there anything in particular I can do to get her to calm?

Basically, she's just acting high strung and nervous, so is this normal for horses when they are in a new place? She wasn't like this when I test rode her at her previous owners' farm. What can I do to help her along? Should I keep riding her when she's like this?
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    09-13-2011, 10:16 PM
Sounds like you're doing fine. Once her nerves settle down, her next order of business will be to determine where she stands in her herd hierarchy which includes you. Just keep spending time with her and working with her. Be a leader for her so she doesn't get the idea that she's going to take the place over and call all the shots. Go about business as usual and do everything as you normally would. Ride her like she's been with you all along. Be very consistent with her in terms of how you handle her so she knows there will be no surprises. The nervousness will settle down once she knows she's got a confident leader there to tell her what to do.
    09-13-2011, 10:21 PM
Green Broke
You were looking at her butt, because it's so sexy! ;)

I let horses tell me when there ready usualy.
    09-14-2011, 06:23 AM
Green Broke
It can take weeks for a horse to settle in, and usually a good year for them to really bond with their rider, and for each party to feel confident with the other.

Just take it day by day and she should improve quickly.

Good luck!
    09-14-2011, 07:44 AM
I am the type of person who makes things worse by worrying about them too much when it comes to riding. So, I know exactly how you feel.

She has been at her new home for going on three days now. New everything. Are you sure she is spooking as much as simply looking around and trying to take in the new place? Add her looking to your fears and she might be a little more up than she would be with a confident rider.

What works for me is having a not nervous rider get on and simply ride around so I can take that big breath and see that my horse is fine with life so I have nothing to worry about.

PS - since my history is showing I personally think a horse should behave when they get off the trailer. Looking around is fine. Being a freak is not fine. I can not imagine thinking a horse needs a full year to settle in to a place, etc. That would make showing next to impossible.
    09-14-2011, 03:16 PM
Thanks for the replies! :) I just got back from riding her, and if you could pleases tell me if I did the right thing or wrong thing today, that would be fantastic. I want as much advice as I can get because I don't have the best track record when it comes to flighty horses. :/

Allow me to paint a picture for you. Bliss's field is way out from the main barn and riding arenas. They are connected by a long gravel road, with a gelding field on the right and a cow field on the left. The first couple times I rode Bliss, it was in the big field right next to her pasture, so I didn't go up to the riding arenas. Today, though, I decided I would attempt to help her along the long scary road of certain death.

So, I tacked her up and got on her. She stood at the mounting block like a CHAMPION and walked forward willingly and calmly when I asked, so I felt I was making progress. I turned her towards the road.

She went fine at first. But, shortly after the gravel road starts, it narrows and goes down a hill and then back up again. I knew from leading her previously that the very bottom of the hill would be the most unnerving for her. I was sure she wouldn't like it, but I did my best to sit tall and relax my muscles, and I talked to her as we went.

She stopped about halfway down the hill. At this point, all of the geldings in the gelding field crowded around the fence and just watched her. I let her stand there and look at the cows for a bit, and then I asked her to keep moving. She took a few more steps and stopped again. Again, I let her look around for a bit and then asked her to walk. This time, just a couple more steps. We repeated the pattern until finally, whenever she stopped she would try to turn around and go back. Whenever she did this, I turned her back around and asked her to keep walking, and then she would repeat. She soon got frustrated and started pawing the ground and backing up, and for a moment I was afraid that she would rear. I tried my best to get this fear out of my head, and I continued to nag.

Then, I don't even know what happened. From what I can tell, one of the geldings in the field spooked or got kicked or something, and Bliss spazzed out. She jumped back toward her field, all of the geldings took off galloping in that direction, and Bliss did the same. Then, I did something I honestly didn't know I knew how to do--a one-rein stop. I'm kind of surprised at myself because I didn't even think about it as it was happening. She slowed down to a trot, circled around my rein, and continued towards her field at a trot. I brought her back down to a walk and rode into the big field we had ridden in before. At that point, I was a little frazzled, so I just halted her and waited for both of us to get our heads back on.

I wasn't sure what to do at that point, so I settled on "we'll come back to that." I just walked her around the big field, letting her calm down. Then, I asked her to do stuff we had worked on the day before: not spooking at the water trough or the golf cart. She did very well with those, so I called it quits. After I untacked her, I led her down the scary road so that I could rinse her off. Then, I just walked her around the main barn and the riding arenas. She was unsure of it all, but by the end of it, and with the help of peppermints, she seemed calm.

Sorry about the long post! I wanted to be detailed so that you all could paint that picture in your heads. :)
    09-14-2011, 03:32 PM
I used to ride a lesson horse that would get spooky if the doors at the far end of the arena were open. My trainer told me one of the worst things you can do is let them stop and check it out, or worse get off and lead them up to it. If you do you're just reenforcing that it is a scary thing and making the situation worse. We would do circles at the trot, starting from the center of the arena and working our way closer to the doors until she ignored them. The idea was if you keep your horse thinking about moving forward and listening to you she wont have time to think about being afraid of whatever it is that was spooking her. I know it can be tricky doing circles on a hill outside of the arena, but I think it will definitely help if you stay confident and keeP her moving through the scary spot as opposed to letting her stop. If she's being silly to the point where you don't feel comfortable on her, might try lunging in that area (if there's room and it's safe to do so of course). Good luck!
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    09-14-2011, 04:10 PM
Thanks Ink! I remember I would do that with my first horse, except he didn't like when the doors were closed. ;) Yeah at the bottom of the hill it's really narrow with a ditch on each side, so lunging isn't really an option. :/ I thought that with some horses, they are fine if they get a good look or sniff it, but what you're saying makes sense. So should I just push her forward through the path? My worst fear is that she'll jump while she's down there and go off the road into the ditch.

Another idea I had was getting one of the boarders to ride her horse in front of Bliss down the road... is that worth a try?
    09-14-2011, 04:12 PM
Originally Posted by hillree    
Another idea I had was getting one of the boarders to ride her horse in front of Bliss down the road... is that worth a try?
Sure, why not?

There is nothing wrong with admitting we have limitations.
You are nervous so why not let someone who is not nervous try to see if they can resolve this one spot so you can simply enjoy your horse.
I think it is a smart idea.
    09-14-2011, 04:36 PM
^^^ ditto! Sometimes it helps if they have another horse to follow. They're like hey that horse didn't get eaten maybe it's not so bad lol. Worth a shot :)
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