Aggresive horse that hates the saddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Aggresive horse that hates the saddle

My ten year old mare has been giving me problems. (I've had her for several years, but she's basically been a field ornament. I just started working with her a few months ago).
Up until now, she was doing beautifully in her training. I was able to ride her bareback, and she would come right up to me whenever I went to visit her.
I began to get her used to the saddle by putting a thick blanket and an old girth on her. She was fine with it, and I rode her around in it with no problems. Then I got out my treeless saddle.
She's had bad experiences with saddles in the past, mainly because of rough trainers. I thought that she would accept this saddle because it wasn't a creaky, heavy, western saddle like she was forced into before, and I was gentler than her first trainer.
I took it very easily the first lesson, but she was very skittish and hated it. I put it away for about a week because of cold weather and the fact that she ran away whenever she saw it.
The second lesson, she was fine for about five minutes, letting me cinch it up and walk her around. Then she went wild, bucking and trying to run me down. I had to get help to get it off of her. She was shaking and scared of everything for several days, so I left her alone except to bring her hay and a few carrots (My way of trying to win her back to my side. It didn't work out so great).
When I started to work with her again, I tried to just go back to the basics of lunging and backing up, but her ears went back, she kept kicking at me, and she finally bared her teeth and tried to run me down.
I'm scared of her now, whenever I feed her she tries to bite me, and I don't have a corral to really work with her. I'm not nearly experienced enough to train her, and I can't afford a trainer. I don't want to sell her and replace her, as I've gotten very attached over the years, but I don't know what else to do.
If anybody can give me some advice on my situation, or perhaps some training tips, I'd appreciate it SO much.
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 04:12 PM
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If you can't afford a trainer and can't handle it yourself, sell the horse. You sound like you're in way over your head. I know it sounds harsh, but your safety and the mare's wellbeing are infinitely more important than you being attached to her.

ETA It's to the point where it's getting dangerous for you to handle her, and with the situation it will most likely only get worse. If you do sell her, please disclose everything. Perhaps a trainer would take her on as a project horse, honestly she seems more like a giveaway project type horse.

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post #3 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 04:16 PM
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You bought a green horse with a lot of baggage. This is way too common and that is why Clinton Anderson's method is so popular. It teaches you to become the herd leader. I have been watching his programs on for about 4 years now and have become a fan. I suggest that if you have cable or satellite you watch a few programs and see what you think. The $400-$500 spent on his basic training for respect DVD's is a lot less than you'd pay for a trainer and much less than a hospital stay or a permanent injury. Horses weigh ~ 10x what we do and they are made of muscle. We train them from reactive prey animals to a usable beast of burden, which also makes them vulnerable, but that's what we want, if we want them to be useful. Untrained horses have no future, so I know where your heart is. He also has a book-- I'm thinking about buying it. The used copies are pretty inexpensive, at about $15.00
There are a few pieces in his training method that are eluding me, but I have been successfully training my own pleasure horses for almost 29 years, so I do have some techniques that already serve me well. Also, it can take 20x longer to retrain a horse than to do it right in the first place, so you must have patience and be able to break down your training into small chunks. Hope this helps. =D
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 04:23 PM
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Sounds like for now you need to take big steps back and just do what you were doing before- working her bareback and with saddle pads.

Get back into her "good graces" by not giving her treats and showing her that you call the shots- that may sound counter intuitive, but basically what you will be relaying to her is that she has nothing to fear because you are in charge and will keep her safe as long as she moves her feet where you want them moved. For now carry a lunge whip with you at all times when you are working with or even near her.

Keep a very close eye on her body language- I'd be willing to bet that she was giving you many many signs before she lunged at you and unfortunately you may have overlooked them when the situation could have been diffused sooner. Signs such as a tense body, ears flicking back, wrinkled nose and stare downs are some of these cues that she is "talking" to you- and she is not saying nice things.

I do agree with Sully in that it sounds like your best bet would be to find a horse that you are able to enjoy spending time with and enjoys working with you- keeps both parties safer, but if that is not an option at least make sure someone else is watching as you work with her at all times in case (heaven forbid) something happens- its better not to be all by your lonesome.

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post #5 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 05:02 PM
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To me it sounds like that treeless saddle is hurting her. Pinching, rubbing, putting too much pressure...those saddles do that a lot, because they're often cheap and ill fitted.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 05:15 PM
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I agree that you sound like you're in over your head. You being afraid of the horse will only cause bigger problems, as it seems like she has realized this. Sell this horse before one of you gets hurt.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 06:04 PM
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Without a thorough workup by vet, and mean diagnostics too, you don't know what is going on physically and internally.

Horse could have broken withers, broken ribs, kissing spine, abscesses deep inside, repro problems, and who knows what?

The reactions you are describing sound much more than a horse that doesn't want to be bothered.

I'd PTS, as this horse will only end up in bad situation, if she is truly as you are writing she is.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 07:34 PM
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^Considering you can't afford a trainer & so therefore can't afford good veterinary/chiro care for her either, I agree with Palomine above. Yes, sounds harsh & I do not say it at all lightly, but if you can't provide or find someone who would be willing to take her & give her what care may be necessary, putting her down may be the best option. I think it is either pain related, or she's a seriously messed up horse & needs a seriously competent, considerate trainer. Without knowing what's wrong, I suspect you'll have problems even giving her away to anyone decent, and esp if you care for her, you don't just want to pass her on to anyone who will take her.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 07:55 PM
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If you are afraid of her, can't afford a trainer, can't afford a vet exam, but don't want to sell her, then put her back in the pasture and enjoy her as an ornament. There is no tips we can give to cure this horse and train her, sorry.

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post #10 of 11 Old 01-13-2014, 09:30 PM
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You are in so far over your head, the only safe thing to do is turn her out (pasture ornament) or sell her.

A Vet or a trainer that is not used to handling aggressive spoiled horses is not going to do you any good.

She already had saddle issues. You woke them up. She is not going to 'let you back in her good graces'. You 'dared' to put pressure on her and then you were forced to back off. She now has no respect for you. Before, she tolerated you because you did not ask for much. Now, you cannot trust her because there is no way for you to establish true respect. If you keep trying to get her to do anything you want, she is going to become more and more dangerous.

Back when I was re-training these kinds of horses, I would have simply put 4-way hobbles on her and saddled and resaddled her for as long as it took for her to relax and just stand there -- no grinding of teeth, struggling against the hobbles, pinning ears, switching tail, humping up, or??? I have had horses that had gone ballistic and had been unable to be saddled after months and several different trainers trying to saddle them. Personally, I have not found any other way to successfully retrain horses like these. Restraints are so effective, they just are what I turned to with most aggressive and impossible horses.

This is not something you are going to be able to do. You are probably not going to be able to find anyone else that knows how to properly use restraints. So, you have a pasture ornament or a horse that needs to be sold.

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