4 Year Old Thoroughbred Needs an Attitude Adjustment - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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4 Year Old Thoroughbred Needs an Attitude Adjustment

Hey there,

I am currently working with a 4 year old gray Thoroughbred mare who has potential, but a few issues. She is off the track (raced twice I believe) and then went to a rescue to be adopted. The girl who took her use to ride the horse for hours at a time, wearing her out and making her sore and tired. The rescue gave specific instructions to only ride ONCE a week and light work until the horse built her energy back up. Needless to say she didn't and the horse became nasty.

She use to bite and kick at the girl and the girl finally had enough of her. The woman at my barn has her now and I was asked to work with the horse. I have built up the trust in the mare (she doesn't try to bite or kick at me) due to some of the natural horsemanship I do with her (the friendly game and such) but when I take her into the round pen to try and lunge her, do join ups, etc, she starts to buck and kick and dives into the middle of the round pen. This happens with everyone who has tried to work with her.

I got on her a few days ago just to see what she would do, and surprisingly she didn't move. I actually had to ask someone to put me on a lead line to help motivate her to want to walk. Every time she willingly went we rewarded her. I then found out the girl who owned her use to ride the horse with spurs. Another wrench in the system.

It's going to be baby steps with this horse, but I'm willing to do whatever I can to help her out. Does anyone have suggestions as to what I can do when it comes to lunging her? We've had her off the lead line, on the lead line, set up obstacles for her to stay out on the rail, but she ends up throwing a fit and almost hurting us.

Thanks for reading!
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 09:13 PM
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Firstly, what are you doing when she goes into a fit in the pen and second, what do you do after she starts?
What she needs to know is that you are in control and making her do everything. It's not her decision. So when she starts to do this, get after her. Throw your arms up if she comes at you and even if she runs by, chase after her. You don't have to run, just follow her around the pen with steady, insisten pressure.
She has to feel as though you are making her run away, that way she can ask to stop. If she's just throwing temper tantrums she feels more in control.
When she breaks into a smooth, reasonable movement, release all the pressure at once. This is the reward for the good behavior.
I would try to keep her on the line so that if she happens to get out of control or running, you can stop her easier.
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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When we ask her to trot on the line we use a lunge whip to encourage her. I don't crack it or hit her, I follow her with it and swing it in her direction when I want her to move faster, along with some clucking. When she starts to buck and rear normally she dives into the center of the round pen near me and I get uncomfortable that she's going to nail me with her back legs. I usually yell or say "HEY" really loud to get her attention. She then snorts and prances a little bit.
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 09:46 PM
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I doubt frequent rides is/was her problem. I ride my horses for 4-5 hours at a time 2-3 times a week (or more) and they aren't sour.

To me it sounds more like she is spoiled and doesn't respect humans.

Horses generally get better with more riding, not worse.
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 10:04 PM
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I agree that I don't think it was frequent work that made the horse sour, they are worked much harder at the track. I also doubt that spurs have much to do with it. In fact I think you are possibly just looking for answers or excuses for the behavior. I think I've only used a round pen once or twice in my life, I just don't see the point in the things.

If I were you, I'd take her out of the round pen, if you feel you must, lunge her instead, but I doubt there is much need. Just hack her around the property or any trails you might have. Get her responding to your leg while out of the ring and then move back into it.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not looking for excuses, I just want this horse to be happy and I don't want to push her past her limits. I'll try riding her out of the pen to see if her attitude changes any.
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-26-2012, 10:18 PM
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I can promise you that there is no way you can push her past the amount of work that she did on the track.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-27-2012, 01:48 AM
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You say that the mare has learned to trust you yet, when on the lunge, she tries to flatten and kick you!
Seems to me that playing games with her is not working.

She needs to learn respect and you need to learn to get tougher. When she starts to swing in towards you then you need to use the whip across her front legs or her shoulder to send her out.

Using the over ridden as a reason for her being sour is an excuse. Most horses that are bad tempered are purely disrespectful and need firm fair leadership and you do not get that from trying to be friends with the animal.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-27-2012, 04:18 AM
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We have a 20 year old OTTB that we've had since he was 9. He was raced but was a total failure and so was used as a track pony and training aide to help teach youngsters to break straight from the gate.

This horse is and always has been a total gentleman. PERFECT manners, kind, safe as houses. (My husband learned to ride on him 2 weeks after we got him.) UNLESS you put him in a round pen or small arena. There, he goes nuts, kicking, bucking, running and kicking out... He becomes totally unpredictable and dangerous whether under saddle or not.

Our solution: We never put him in a round pen or attempt to do anything with him in an arena (we're talking small, farm-type arena for barrels practicing etc. --- larger venues, he's ok.)

I don't have a ton of experience but I would imagine that most racehorses are not worked in round pens. When they are exercised, it's usually under saddle. The circles they are asked to do are considerably larger!!!

I'm not a complete idiot--there are parts missing!

What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.

Last edited by HagonNag; 07-27-2012 at 04:23 AM.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-27-2012, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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Again, I would never look for an excuse so please stop telling me that I am. I just want to make sure the mare is ok and I'm just seeking advice. That's all. I'll take her out of the round pen since that seems to be an issue and try her in a different area. The girl use to run her for hours at a time and it made her tired. That's what I have been told. I understand that she is a Thoroughbred and was raced and whatnot.
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