Absolutely unacceptable behavior. Need a good way to tell her "NO!" - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Absolutely unacceptable behavior. Need a good way to tell her "NO!"

I'm re-starting my very green four year old Paint mare. For the most part she has been very good.

The other day, though, I took her on a trail ride which had begun pretty nicely. We went on a quick loop around the hay field and she was a little worked up but still under control, and just as we were coming back to the barn we had to pass one of the pastures. Her worst enemy, a slightly evil mare who has beaten her up once, charged to the gate right beside us with her ears back. At the same time, someone came around the corner with the tractor and was heading up the same road we were on. And the barn manager appeared out of nowhere to take Diamond's favorite two colts, who were extremely rambunctious that day, out of another pen. This also began a joyful stampede with some other horses and chaos in general. Talk about sensory overload for a green horse!

Diamond's reaction was to squeal, spin in circles, buck, and try her very hardest to kick the enemy mare across the fence. This went on for a while before I could get her back under control and I had been so taken by surprise that I missed my chance to reprimand her. Honestly, I have never encountered a problem like that before and didn't really know how to tell her that behavior like that is absolutely not ok.

I thought I should consult with the horse forum on this. I want to know what to do so that if she ever does it again I can make it clear that it is not acceptable. I have already asked lots of people what to do if a horse even bucks and no one really had an answer for me. Someone said to stay on and continue like normal and they will stop doing it eventually. That can't be right; is it? Do you make them work really hard? I can't do that right now because at the moment Diamond is pretty out of shape.

Thanks in advance everybody. I don't really have any knowledgeable horse people to ask about things like this so the Horse Forum is a life saver (perhaps literally).

I am here to learn! :)

Last edited by WalnutPixie; 02-15-2012 at 12:51 PM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 01:02 PM
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i was told just to keep there minds busy and focused on you. instead of letting her react change directions, speed, etc... but you dont want to allow her to shy away. you want her to approach everything ..maybe not the aggressive mare lol but all others like tractor etc..

and if these were her first times dealing with the situation... i might have dismounted and lead her through but it all depends on how comfortable you are in saddle

hope someone more helpful will come along
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 01:03 PM
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It sounds like in the situation you were in, she had gone into fight or flight mode, and it is next to impossible to get any message across to them when they are like that.

The best thing to do is avoid those sorts of situations, but this is a real world and junk happens, sometimes the best you can do is sit tight and pray to come out alive. You had so much stimuli being thrown at an inexperienced mare all in one shot, her reaction was understandable from a horse's point of view, I would try to desensitise her to each of the stimuli one at a time so maybe next time she won't freak and you won't have to reprimand her. MHO take it for what it's worth to you.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 02:50 PM
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Well this was an extraordinary situation...there was lots going on for her and she is young. She actually just reacted normally to the situation given her age, experience and what was going on...you were able to get her under control and thats what matters most. Thats why green horses need good riders, you handled it well :)
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Fargosgirl View Post
The best thing to do is avoid those sorts of situations
Really? It's part of training. The real world instead of the 'scary' objects people choose to put in an arena that the horse may or may never see.

The mare did what she needed to try and protect herself because she has not developed confidence in the rider. That will come with time, experience and exposure.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 04:57 PM
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Sorry, I didn't make myself clear. What I mean by "avoiding situations" is to use foresight to decide the likeliness of spooky events happening in a certain area, and weighing what your horse's reaction might be. So if possible you will never have to deal with 3 exciting situations at once, its hard enough dealing with just one.

For instance, in this situation ask yourself how probable is it that the aggressive mare will charge as we ride past, how will my horse behave if she does? What other things may be going on in this spot, which of these things is likely to upset my horse? What can I do to safely keep her attention on me?

If you have ANY doubts about whether or not your horse will remain under your control, you should avoid riding this particular path until you have explored what the horse's reaction will be in a more controlled environment,(ie. leading your horse before riding there) so you can desensitise the horse if necessary. But the unexpected DOES happen and even if you think certain events are highly unlikely or that your horse won't be bothered by them, you can still find yourself in a sticky situation.
The best time to deal with spooky or exciting situations with your horse is before you are out on the trail. If you do find yourself with a horse that is freaking out, never be to proud to get off to refocus your horse, if you can do so safely.

I'd also like to mention that if your horse is having a fight or flee reaction, physically reprimanding them can cause them to think you are attacking them in a predatory way because they are not thinking clearly in their fearful state. They can begin to fight against you harder or try to flee from you. I know from experience that riding a horse that is trying to flee from you is one of the scariest rides you'll ever take.
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Last edited by Fargosgirl; 02-15-2012 at 05:00 PM. Reason: revison
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-15-2012, 06:04 PM
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In my experience if a horse engages the flight drive, the best thing you can TRY to do is maintain control and calm them as quickly as possible. When that drive gets engaged they have a hard time listening and learning BUT a rider that can A) maintain control and B) prove the situation to not be life threatening to the animal will "teach or train" the animal. I I agree that if you are not 100% comfortable exposing your animal to "scary" situations and bringing them safely through them..DON'T. Get someone who is more comfortable staying on even when the heat gets turned up. I personally enjoy seeking out these types of things on horseback, just because I think as long as you stay on and keep a level head and bring the horse through it your bond to them grows deeper and more solidified. You asked if it was correct to just ride them through...YES! But only if you have the ability to stay on and stay safe. Your horse really didn't "mis-behave" she behaved exactly like what I would expect her to act in the situation. Now next time you are in the situation she should be less "spooked" by it...and the more you do it the more she will approach it with less anxiety.
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-16-2012, 06:46 PM
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Ha ha. What you just described is nuclear fission. You stayed on so you must be a capable rider. Ok, ask yourself what would have been the reaction of a horse that is not green. It might have started a little and raised it's head at which point the rider would have applied pressure with the reins and squeezed the horse forward. The horse should automatically lower it's head, putting its life in the hands of the rider who has become its God and move on about its business without overreacting. In the long term this is how you want to train your horse to not react. In the short term, in order to buck most horses lower their head so the first thing you do is jerk your horse's head up. THe second is to pull its head around to your stirrup to keep it from bolting and in theory a horse with a curve in its spne cannot rear. The third thing is to thump it with your outside leg to keep its feet moving in a small circle and lastly, under the circumstance you described, the fourth thing you do is utter the words, Dear Heavenly Father.....
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