Help with Badly Misbehaving Pony - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Southern CA
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Help with Badly Misbehaving Pony

Hello all!

I am not a professional trainer, and I don't claim to be. I am just an experienced rider who has started some babies and fixed some issues. I have already told them they need a professional for their other mare, I just want to know what I can do to deal with these issues.

So a little back story, a woman who previously boarded with me asked if I would be willing to put some training on her 3 yo pony, her 10 year old daughter (who cannot ride) has been riding him around and they were having issues. Basically, these are people who know nothing about horses and ended up with young untrained ones because they're pretty. This pony is TERRIBLE! They DID NOT divulge important info i.e he has never had his hooves picked( I'm thinking their previous farrier sedated to do his feet since he has front shoes).

Here are some of his issues so you can get an idea:
-Lays down when you work with his feet and I mean full body on the ground. Our farrier has refused to do anything with him because he doesn't want to endanger himself. This, I'm working on.
-Will buck and kick at you when you lunge him. I have started keeping him bent towards me at first on a short line and disengage him like crazy when he does it, he mellows out and behaves after a few minutes.
-DOES NOT back up. I mean not at all. You can push, shove, pull, yank until your arms fall off and he will just stand there. Its the same on the ground and in the saddle.
-Has zero respect for my "bubble"
-Is very very lazy under saddle, but this I can deal with no prob and am not worried about at the moment, Im going to concentrate on getting him to respect me before even going there.

So basically he has all these issues but is afraid of nothing! He was around ride and shoot for the first time the other day and didn't flinch. Nothing fazes him (so far, Im sure theres something but good god!) Which makes even more of an issue for me because I need him to think he is going to die if he doesnt listen. Today I was round penning him for the first time and he just ran ran ran. I couldnt get him to switch directions for over 20 minutes. I did everything from hand signals to words to straight up going in front of him with a lunge whip and he would have never have thought twice about running me down. Eventually after he began to tire I got him listening and with a lot of effort on my part could get him switching directions.

So what do I do? How do I give this little monster a come to jesus moment? I am entirely at a loss. I have dealt with horses with issues but nothing like this overly desensitized danger.

And also I'm really thinking I should raise my prices, her horses are not your normal babies that just need miles and basic training, they need major work. And my prices are INSANELY low, like $10 per session and I drive to get there. Wasn't a big deal when they were at my house, but now they are somewhere else.

I know this is rambling and all over the place, please let me know if I need to clarify anything. Thank you all your any input!
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 02:05 AM
Green Broke
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I would not round pen him if it were me. I think it will just build up his stamina, and make him worse. But that is me, others may disagree.

I would stick straight to basics, moving over when told, coming up etc. As for the backing? If you have tried this too, ignore it please.

How I teach backing is to run the flat of my hand down the face, until right where halter/caveson rests, and push towards their chest, at same time I am saying back. I give and release very slightly. I want the horse to move back off of head.

The problem to me with ponies is they are so strong for their size. Just little chunky fellows.

Also, if this pony is at their place, they may undo everything you teach. And they are with it more. What, also are they feeding it, as that can have a lot to do with what you are seeing.

We had a TB filly, that went flat every time she saw the farrier, she never offered to struggle, just laid down. He did her like that, but it is not a good thing.

It could also be with the round penning, that he gets so mentally wound up, he just shuts down mentally, which is another reason I would not do it.

Try just working with him in ways that don't involve that. Ponies are tough little creatures, and it may be a calm, quiet method will work better, where you seem to be in complete charge, than him racing around pen.

Make sure you are having same space rule with him at all times.

But again, if they are going out there and playing with him, as I imagine they might be, when you aren't there? You are not ever going to get anywhere.

And at only 10 dollars, you are losing money I think anyway.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Southern CA
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He's at a different boarding facility now, and they rarely see him. They are a very "active" family and are always doing something, so I'm not totally worried about them messing anything up. They were just out there this weekend so it probably won't be awile and they'll want me to go with them, so no worries. although they are everything everyone is against, they are willing to learn. Today was the first day I had him in the round pen and I won't do it again, I'm glad you agree(: I will try using my hand on his nose for backing, I've just been using a rope halter and once tried a bit. Would lunging be okay to burn some of his energy? I feel like if he wasn't so pent up he might focus better.
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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Double post, woops.
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Last edited by TKButtermilk; 01-14-2011 at 02:17 AM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 05:36 AM
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Sounds like a terror!

The first thing I would work on would be respect for you and your 'bubble'. There's obviously many ways to do this, but I think you need to go with the tough love way. If he invades your space when its not wanted, drive him out. Use a whip or your body language. Whatever way you prefer. He needs to respect you and your space. If he doesn't respect you, you can't begin a good training process.

His feet sound like a tough one. I'd expect that behaviour from a weanling, not a 3yo. If he ties ups nicely, I'd start by brushing him down and slowly just slowly running my hand down his leg and removing when I feel him starting to get uncomfortable. Talk to him whilst doing it, encourage him its a good thing. If he lays down just from that, do the old glove on a stick and let him kick/lay down/spazz out at the stick all he wants til he realises its not going to hurt him, nor will it leave him alone til he behaves. That should get him slightly better with his legs, but I'd bet $20 it will require a lot of patience and repitition.

I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to get him to back up because as a 3 year old I would expect him to know how to do it. I'd say as he gains respect for you, a gentle push on the chest and tug on the halter will get him stepping backwards. Just remember to give lots of praise for the good he does.

On the lunge, I'd do the exact same thing. Disengage him so that you're in a safe position and drive him onwards. Just because he throws a tantrum doesn't mean he can stop.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-14-2011, 11:09 AM
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Have his back and hocks been checked? Laying down and not wanting to back up point to these areas.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-15-2011, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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I have only worked with the pony about 4 or 5 times, for very short periods of time. The first 2 I did some lunging to get his attention and the last two they just had me ride him. I didnt know he had all these issues, they never told me. I thought I was getting a lazy pony who needed a slight attitude adjustment. I have been working with their mare for about 2 months.

MLS: I have told them they both need to see a chiropractor, the mares confo is horrendous and their saddles (i do not use them) are horrible, one is all kinds of messed up with the skirt curling underneath it and the other is gigantic, this mare is very narrow. See

I am worried about what other behaviors I am not being told about. I was never told he didnt know how to have his feet picked until he was laying down on me and they were like "ohh we've never done that". They also didnt notify me that apparently the mare that I was training before this one has a SERIOUS bucking problem, I'm thinking it was originally aggravated by poor confo and an ill fitting saddle but now she has learned that this works. I was told she had 2 weeks under saddle when honestly, this mare acts like shes never been handled. Shes flinchy and terrified. I was told the person before me did lots of Parelli and ground school.

I think maybe someone who didnt really know what they were doing did a hack job using "natural horsemanship" and just added into this terrors being monsters.

I am going to talk to them tomorrow about a chiro and also about raising my prices, I really am losing money because now I have to travel and the pony has dangerous behaviors. It isnt worth 10 bucks for me to get kicked in the face and then have to drive my booty home afterwards.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-15-2011, 09:32 AM
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I agree with your above post, I would tell them if they don't provide for their animals, they will get worse & worse. Suggest videos to them, like basic horse care. Tell them their pony (& their other mare) is dangerous. And you need a lot more then $10 to get you out there. I know about them not wanting to listen, but you can always try.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-15-2011, 10:16 AM
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It sounds to me like this pony needs to completely start over - go back to the basics. I think a lot of the related issues all come down to one thing, lack of respect. And you won't be real successful moving forward with training on him until that is established.

Not trying to offend you at all, but you say yourself your training history is limited. Do you think this might be a situation better left to the professionals, as it is well out of your realm of experience? Perhaps rather than being concerned about what they are paying you, and how to alter that, you should suggest they invest their money on someone better equipped to deal with the problems?

I definitely agree with MLS in ruling out any injury or discomfort he might be having to cause the problems - and on the mare as well.

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