Can a horse have a learning disability?

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Can a horse have a learning disability?

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  • Can animals have a learning disability
  • Horse with disability in learning

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    08-15-2013, 12:28 PM
Green Broke
Can a horse have a learning disability?

I need to vent.
I honestly think Squiggy has a learning disability. The past two months have mostly been spent on softness, bending, cruise control and her leads.

And nearly every single day its the same. There is improvements, but they are so small and never consistent.

For example, her loping issues. She would cross fire, not pick up the right lead, and always be pulling to run. Even though she has never been run.
So, we got that all sorted out in one long ride. The next ride, she got it much better. Improvement since then? Nadda. Still crossfires on her right lead 60% of the time. It takes me 5-10 minutes of work to get her to not be chargy. And this is a daily thing.

Then there is softness. It's all fine and dandy until I try to trot, then its all over the place. I will ask her to give a little more bend on a big circle, nothing much to ask, and she might just throw her head up in the air and try to zoom off, break into a lope that isnt really a lope, just hopping, or think I'm asking her to spin for some reason and start spinning herself (not well).

Or, her trot is just generally a mess. When it used to be great.

It seems like I just can't win.

I get improvement somewhere, and its like she has to kick something else to the curb to make room in her head for what she just learned.
"Oh hey, I can lope nicely - I FORGET HOW TO TROT"
"LOOOOK MAAAAAHM AT THIS BEND - backing up???? Pssssssh!"
"Sure I can be nice and respectful on the ground - BUT IM GOING TO BE THE DEVIL WHEN YOU RIDE ME"
"Groundwork!? I don't know what groundwork is. We've only done it all my life"
"I know I trotted a perfect smooth and soft barrel pattern yesterday - BUT I FORGET HOW TO DO IT TODAY"

The list can go on forever.

I am stuck, mad, and needed to vent.
Needless to say, someone didnt get her daily kiss or a treat after her ride today.
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    08-15-2013, 12:34 PM
Super Moderator
I would take her out on some long trail rides. Left her find her own balance, stop with the corrections, let her find out what is most comfortable. Let her stride on so the froward momentum keeps her balanced, often a forward canter will improve the trot.
    08-15-2013, 12:38 PM
Green Broke
That is one of the many things I have tried - and the result, I let her lope out nice and forward - or at least that's what I hope for. But no. She just jumps around like a lunatic. On a trail ride, its just better for everyone that we don't lope unless I'm going to make an hour lesson out of it.

I worked on her trot yesterday and kept her in the pen, I was hoping it would carry through to today... nup. And all I did was asked her to trot and only corrected her when she wanted to break into a lope.
    08-15-2013, 12:52 PM
Green Broke
I suggest you do a few things so people here can help you better.

1.) conformation photos of your horse.

2.) Videos of you riding her.

3.) videos of her working free in a round pen at different gaits (if you have a round pen).
    08-15-2013, 01:04 PM
Green Broke
Confo pics:

(I know my hands are pretty high here ^^)
And I am uploading todays video of working the barrel pattern right now.
    08-15-2013, 01:24 PM
I am really sorry, I laughed at the title and the fact he is called Squiggy :P

I have no advice on the riding as I ride English. Just breathe, and remember they are not machines. They have bad stretches as do we.

Have you checked saddle, back and teeth recently too?
    08-15-2013, 01:36 PM
Green Broke
Let me tell you what I see.

First of all, your horse stands over a lot of ground. This means she is long and will have difficulty balancing herself and difficulty with collection. She also has a straight hind leg so she will have more difficulty balancing to the rear and working off the rear end. That is the conformation she was born with. She is a very sturdy sort of horse.

Next we go to the videos. The work with the bit and the reins between her forelegs seems to have done more than you would like. In all the video of her walking and trotting after she is holding her head down. This would not be as much a problem except she is on her forehand and not really stretching down like a horse trying to find balance. She is avoiding contact with the bit by putting her head down and traveling forehand heavy. She needs to be driven forward more and given a little less rein with very quiet, soft and understanding hands. I might even try this with a side pull.. get rid of the bit entirely. She might work better.

Next is the loping. She is very stiff and her rider is not sitting DOWN and relaxed.. the rider seems stiff through the small of her back and her hands are stiff as well. The horse is on her forehand and is simply not ready for these small tight circles. The horse is TRYING but she has her head up and her back braced.. there is nothing easy about this lope and it should be easy.

Then she is asked to stop.. her lack of balance leaks all over the place and out the front as she stumbles into the stop.

This horse is lacking the balance and training to be loping in these tight circles. She looks like she needs to be brought back and worked at the trot. Serpentines, figure 8's that are two circles touching at the center, trotting straight lines (much harder to do than it sounds).

She could also benefit HUGELY from learning to yield to the riders leg.. side passing and so forth. She is not ready physically or mentally to lope because she is not balanced and working off her rear which is going to be hard for her anyway because of her conformation.

So.. that is what I see. She needs foundation.. riding in a snaffle using a leading rein.. riding in a side pull the same way (not neck reining). She needs to learn to side pass and respond to the riders leg. She needs to be more foreward and to learn how to transition IN a gait as well as between gaits. When you get all that at the trot then the lope is the next thing. By "all that" at the trot I mean a nice balanced transition down to a walk as well as from walk to a trot. A balanced halt.

That is what I see. I am not trying to be mean.. I am just seeing a horse that is being asked for more than she is capable of doing because she needs more time on foundation work to become balanced.

BTW cross firing is often the result of being unbalanced.
Wallaby, Foxhunter and greentree like this.
    08-15-2013, 01:41 PM
Green Broke
Grrrrrr! We have been trotting and doing circles and serpentines and so on for practically two years!!

Can you see my frustration!??
    08-15-2013, 01:45 PM
QHR, I don't think there is such as thing as "learning disability" in a horse. However some horses are more smart and progress really fast, and some are on a dummy side. You horse sounds a lot like my paint BTW - it took her forever to figure out what soft means, and how to move correctly. First of all, I'd just be very very patient. And second, try something new to keep its' mind off the work: trail rides, may be some ground work (bending) before you get into the saddle, etc.
stevenson likes this.
    08-15-2013, 01:45 PM
Originally Posted by QHriderKE    
Grrrrrr! We have been trotting and doing circles and serpentines and so on for practically two years!!

Can you see my frustration!??
What is your trainer saying? Not to sound rude, but may be you just don't ask correctly? 2 years is indeed very long.

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