Who knew that one horse could be so much of a problem?

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Who knew that one horse could be so much of a problem?

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    05-08-2013, 01:16 AM
Who knew that one horse could be so much of a problem?

My horse has a split personality. Last week, he was good as gold for me. I had two lessons, on Tuesday and Wednesday, and he was pretty well-behaved during both of them. There were minor moments of rebellion (because he has to assert his individuality at least a little bit, apparently), and we spent a chunk of the lesson practicing turning-round-in-very-small-circles, because he seemed to have a bit of selective deafness involving not listening to cues. But on the whole, both lessons were quite productive.

Today was a whole different kettle of fish. As usual, he was as nice as you please in the paddock, and I had no trouble catching him and putting a halter on him. He started getting squirmy and difficult when my partner Martindale and I saddled him up. When I rode him into the arena, the fun started. I spent a good hour trying to persuade, cajole and push him into trotting when I said trot, stopping when I said stop, and turning at the appropriate moments. He started out being a bit difficult about it, and got worse and worse as the lesson progressed. Michelle (the riding school owner and my riding instructor) put him on a lunge line, and we tried to get him to settle down and trot in a nice regular circle, but that didn't work either. He'd trot for a couple of steps, stop, start, go sideways, backwards and then round on the spot... everything but what I was asking him to do. Then he decided that performing a normal horse gait like a trot was "selling out to the man" and even that wasn't going to happen... every step was a little leap-into-canter from his front end, while his hind end... oh, I dunno. It wasn't trotting, it wasn't cantering, it wasn't useful or really rideable at all.

After an hour of Dubbsy getting more and more disobedient, Michelle's daughter Jade was summoned. Jade is the best rider in the school by far - very skilled, very capable, wins prizes at competitions regularly. On a couple of occasions previously when Dubbin's been particularly frisky and/or bratty, Jade's taken over and ridden him firmly and strictly until he's settled down (or worn out, whichever comes first). Dubbin usually behaves beautifully when Jade rides him, because Jade knows how to not let him get away with anything. But not today. He upped the ante bigtime. He resisted everything she did, squirmed, pig-rooted, leapt about, zigged when he was supposed to be zagging - and she was only asking him to trot regularly and smoothly around the arena. It wasn't anything that should have been particularly challenging and strenuous... but he was spending so much energy and effort resisting her that after half an hour of what should have been very gentle exercise for a big fit horse like Dubbsy, he was quite literally soaking wet, with rivers of sweat pouring down his legs and belly.

Eventually Dubbin settled down to the point where she was willing to dismount and pass him back to us. She had quite a bit to say about how obnoxious he was being. It wasn't because Martindale or I were doing anything particularly wrong in our riding - he was just being obnoxiously bratty. If he could have spoken when I was riding him, he probably would have said "I don't wanna do that, and you can't make me"; for Jade, he was all "**** you!" She had a lot to say about how she had never ridden a more difficult horse than Dubbin, ever; and she mentioned that she'd ridden unbroken horses that were less difficult than Dubby in ******* Mode.

I suppose his one big redeeming feature when he's like this is that even at his worst, he's never mean. He's never tried to get rid of a rider, never been aggressive or hostile. When I'm riding him I don't ever feel afraid of him; just sometimes a bit worried about how I'm going to handle it if he gets particularly bratty and refuses stuff.

It's so strange. Most days he's fine... a little bit rebellious here and there, but nothing that isn't easily manageable. And generally he settles down after he has an opportunity to assert his independence, and is fine thereafter. But every so often, he gets a bit of devil in him... and on those days, he's a complete *******.
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    05-08-2013, 01:28 AM
Have you had him checked for pain issues like ulcers? Does his saddle fit correctly? Is he okay with the bit you're using?

Honestly, it sounds like this horse needs to be taken back to square one and completely retrained...barring his antics not being pain-related.
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    05-08-2013, 01:55 AM
He had a full pre-purchase vet exam in february, and has had his teeth and hooves done since then. I assume ulcers or anything like that would show up at some point during the vet work?

The bit's not the problem - it's the same bit he's always had... in fact, the one time we tried a different bit he refused it vehemently, but I never have problems getting him to take this bit in his mouth, so I don't think that's the problem. The saddle was re-stuffed by a saddle-fitter to fit him when we purchased it a few months ago. Could anything have changed there to cause discomfort since then?

I strongly suspect that it's a bloody-mindedness issue because the thing is that when my partner Martindale rides him, Dubbin's fine. Dubbin's always responded better to Martindale than to me, and if it weren't for his *deeply* obnoxious behaviour while Jade was riding him this morning, I'd be wondering if I were doing something wrong. But both Jade and Michelle (the school owner) seem to think that the troubles are due to Dubbin being a brat.

I'm almost starting to wonder if Dubbin's sort of decided that Martindale's his Rider Of Choice, and is just being a pain to discourage anyone else from riding him. Does that sound at all likely or plausible, to folk with more experience than us?

We spent some time this morning discussing options with Michelle and Jade. Jade's offered to ride him more frequently for us, which also serves to train him - apart from today, whenever Jade's ridden Dubbin, he's been a lot more calm and compliant afterward for us. Which is why today was such a surprise. The suggestion has been made that I get a different, smaller horse for me, and leave Dubbsy to Martindale. Since Dubb's a clydie cross and M is big and tall, they're a good fit sizewise; and I'm small and short-legged, which does make Dubbin more of a challenge for me. But we simply can't afford to support *two* horses at this point in time. Perhaps later on, maybe... but it's unlikely to be do-able in the next year or so, at least.
    05-08-2013, 02:38 AM
PPE's won't show ulcers, unless you had him scoped, there is a myriad of things PPE's don't cover.
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    05-08-2013, 02:47 AM
Ah, righto, are you referring to stomach ulcers specifically? I wasn't sure whether the reference was to internal or external ulcers. I think we'd have spotted any that were external, and the vet doing his teeth would have noticed problems there (actually, she made a point of telling us several times how unusually *good* Dubbsy's teeth are).

If Dubbin had internal ulcer issues, is it likely that he'd be stroppy with me and with Jade but not with Martindale? I'd have thought it'd be an "across the board" thing, but I'm the first to admit that I'm pretty inexperienced, so I welcome good advice on this matter.

A week or two ago, Jade loaned us her Level 1 Parelli dvds etc. My current thought is that maybe Martindale and I should spend a bunch of time with Dubbin working on those Parelli "games" to see if that helps Dubbs settle down a bit and listen to us more. I figure it can't hurt, at any rate...
    05-08-2013, 02:50 AM
Ugh. I'll be that guy.

You're not making him listen. Here, now, you'll do it again and right. He's spoiled, you allowed it.
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    05-08-2013, 02:53 AM
OK, "that guy". Do you want to be a little more specific about what you think we've done, and what we should do instead?

I'm listening, but I need more detail if your advice is going to be helpful to me.
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    05-08-2013, 03:06 AM
Originally Posted by StormCloud    
OK, "that guy". Do you want to be a little more specific about what you think we've done, and what we should do instead?

I'm listening, but I need more detail if your advice is going to be helpful to me.
Little things. You may let him get away with. It all leads up to a problem. Two kicks to trot maybe, or ya sound like a chicken clucking away. Maybe he's pushy in halter? It all starts somewhere. Usually on the ground. I'm not there. Don't care to be. But horses learn what they can and can't get away with. And who and who aren't pushovers. If your friend fixed it in a day, chances are it took y'all weeks to screw it up. The horse KNOWS right and wrong. And knows you don't.
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    05-08-2013, 03:29 AM
Ok. So lets suppose that's what I'm doing. Running with your example, if I kick him once to trot and say "trot on", and he doesn't trot, what would you do as the next step?
    05-08-2013, 07:28 AM
Green Broke
Ditch the parrelli DVDs. Games aren't going to help. With your example above you smack him with a whip, you ask once then demand. You are a person and barring using some sharp or blunt object you cannot hurt him. Don't be afraid to get after him. If he is good for your friend but not you then it's you that is the problem. Not necessarily a bad rider just not assertive enough. And as said above its the little things that escalate. My horse is a pushy pita and I have to keep her paying attention to me when leading and she must listen to me no matter what. If I let her walk over me once she will blow up next time I ride. But by paying attention to the small details, rides are enjoyable.
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difficult horse, disobedient horse, my horse is an asshole

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