A Few Bad Habits - Tips?
My mare is a 9yo saddlebred cross who has a few bad habits she's picked up over the years. She was leased by a 12yo girl for 6 months and learned some very naughty ground manners, then I had her back and worked with her some before I joined a riding team where all members of our team rode her and she picked up a few other bad habits.
On the Ground:
- Wont stand patiently. She'll stand in a general area, but will paw, step/walk forward, sideways, and backward, toss her head, etc.
My method: Yank her lead rope, tell her firmly "WHOA" and make her stand still. Usually works for a little while, but a few seconds/minutes later she'll start up again. I have been making her stand when I say whoa and I will pat her or give her a little treat if I have one when she's good. She's gotten a lot better recently, but can still be a pig. (ESPECIALLY in the wash stall)
- When switching from halter to bridle or vice versa she will try to walk away and she'll try to rub up against me, move sideways, push around, etc. She'll put her head right in the bridle, mouth on bit, and when she decides its on, she'll start walking. And same when switching from bridle to halter, once its around her nose, she gets pushy.
My method: I usually smack her chest and make her back up quickly for about three steps, then tell her "whoa" and wait for her to stand quietly. Then, I take my time finishing up so she has to stand still longer
- When I go to mount up, or if she's tacked and I'm on the ground, she wants to walk circles around me. If I let her, she'd basically lunge herself at a walk around me forever. When I go to mount, she tries to take a few steps forward.
My method: tug her to a stop, use the word "whoa" and make her stand. Once I've gotten on and she tries to walk, I back the same number of steps then make her stand for a little while. Sometimes if she's extra ansy this can lead to a fight.
- Again, wont stand still in the beginning of ride. After some work, she stands fine, mostly. But ABSOLUTELY WONT stand when we're on a trail. She will prance, circle, paw, rear, everything, if you try and make her stand still.
My method: on the trail, I usually just put up with those theatrics and stay on long enough until we have to walk again. I don't really let her move around though, her tantrums are usually confined to a fixed spot. In the arena, I just work the energy out of her until she is quiet. But she could be as calm and quiet and slow and happy walking, trotting, cantering, etc. but as soon as you want her to stand, she turns into a hot head.
- Started rushing fences towards the gait, and lines in general. I also felt her balance to be a little iffy around the turns, so I worked on circles a LOT and now she's a lot slower and more controlled in between fences and lines.
My method: I've been trotting jumps and courses a LOT. I've made her take everything slow. I've also been breaking up lines - Jump the first of a line, then exit and take a diagnol then circle back and take the second of the line, for example. I've also been riding lines then stopping after the last jump. I'm trying to make her think rather than just run at whats in front of her.
- Spooking at new things or refusing a new/scary jump. When something is scary, she will turn her head at the poll (incredibly flexible) while her neck and nose are bent to the inside, her ears and eyes are fixed on said scary object. She'll also sidepass, counterbend, etc. in order to avoid or keep looking at whatever it is.
My method: For the refusing, I back her up quickly, then ask her to go over it. I don't give her a chance to stop and sniff jumps, I DON'T want her stopping at every new jump to sniff it. I want her to take every new jump in stride. Literally. With the spooking, I push her towards the thing with my inside leg and pull her head to bend to the inside so she isn't looking at it and keeps her attention on the task ahead. But she is a dramatic one.
My question is, given the circumstances, are my methods and solutions the right ones? If so, are there any ways to improve? And if not, what should I do differently? Maybe alternate methods? And are there any exercises that would help her?
Thanks if you read all that and double thanks if you reply! ;D
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