How would you work with this horse? - Page 5

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How would you work with this horse?

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    05-07-2013, 09:53 AM

Last Thursday, I arrived to work with the little mare, got her tacked up, out to the arena, and then put her in the long reins. She was very worried about them, kept trying to move off, and getting it set up was two man job, with me running the line through the stirrup and owner holding onto horse for dear life. Once in the lines, the horse was in a state and about to blow, so I had to gently reel her in and unhook her. I asked the owner, "What on earth is going on here?"

Owner told me that the previous weekend, she'd tried taking horse on a hack up the road on her own and horse would have none of it. The immediate problem was solved by the BO, who is a very accomplished horsewoman, getting on the horse. A day or so later, a friend of the owner, one of her fellow liveries, told owner that what the horse needed was more groundwork and "respect." Friend has apparently done a few Richard Maxwell clinics with her own horse. I don't know much about Richard Maxwell -- he's just a name I see on forums, but I think he's one of these "natural horsemanship" gurus. I suspect that he himself would be quite good at working with whatever horse was in front of him, but as is the way of these things, people can be quite selective in what they take away from these clinics and completely miss the underlying principles, or get hung up on the whole "respect" v. "disrespect" thing in a way that isn't actually useful for horse training.

In order to get "respect" from the Welshie, this lass apparently blocked any kind of forward movement by shanking the horse with the lead, and wildly swung the lead rope at her hindquarters. The intention was that the horse was to always face the handler and fly backwards in response to the swinging rope. Indeed, every time a rope would swing or flop about, the horse would go flying backwards, which was why she was in such a panic on the long lines. The ropes on either side meant she felt trapped. There are times when I do want to send a horse backwards quickly. This is not most of the time. It is, in fact, incredibly unhelpful behaviour when you want the horse to go softly forward on a lunge line or in long lines. The horse's owner admitted that she wasn't happy and couldn't understand what friend was trying to achieve with the horse, but felt she couldn't say anything as this person is a good a friend and ostensibly far more knowledgeable.

I spent the session reschooling the horse in basic lunging. The horse was fine once she was out on the lunge, but bringing her in and switching sides was a faff. Once you were close to the horse and futzing with the line, she'd start worrying and run backwards. I spent an hour and half bringing her in, changing directions, sending her quietly back out and desensitizing her a bit to a flopping rope. I use a flicking rope as a cue, especially on the long lines, but I don't want the horse moving away every time the rope moves. Horses can learn the difference between a flicking rope that means move and one that doesn't. Anyway, I fixed it. But I was bloody annoyed at friend.

I understand why some NH style trainers will drive a horse backwards. I have done this with horses, but in my experience, you have to match the energy of the horse. I'll only use big cues on a horse who's going in a direction I don't want it to go (on top of me) with a lot of energy and not much attentiveness. As I said earlier in the thread, this horse is quite soft on the ground, so she was probably quite confused by a person going nuts, flailing a lead rope at her, and not backing off the lead rope flailing no matter what response the horse offered.
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    05-07-2013, 10:45 AM
Welsh D's are very much feast or famine. Either really nice horses or bucking snotty little *******s. If she's not going to get rid of this horse.....wish her luck and move on. A trainer can only be effective if the owner listens.
    05-07-2013, 12:37 PM
Super Moderator
I think if you're going to give your time to work with this mare you have to have an agreement with the owner that you are in control of what gets done
As it is you're now several steps back from even where you were because she's let someone mess with it doing stuff the poor thing hasn't got a clue about and a novice nervous rider who tries to take a green nervous horse out on its own is a disaster waiting to happen
She thinks she's somehow loving this mare and yet all she's doing is destroying any chance it might have of being useful to someone
Get an agreement or walk away
loosie likes this.
    05-07-2013, 01:03 PM
At my house, a horse like that would get rode every day for several hours until they were so tired that they didn't even want to spook at anything.

There is a reason why ranch horses and horses used in feedlots (under good riders) are some of the most seasoned and broke horses you'll ever meet. They get used for hours every day, they're given a job to do other than just plod around/work circles/arena work/whatever for 45 minutes 2 times a week.

I honestly don't know how anyone can claim a horse is "broke" by only riding them for short periods of time 2-3 times a week. If I did that with most of the horses I get, I'd be starting completely over every time so I'd never get anything done.

How to handle the spooking is another thing to work on. The first method I usually try is whenever they spook, I'll put them to work in little tiny circles until they are focused on me and relaxed, then I simply go right back to whatever we were doing before the spook.
    05-07-2013, 05:07 PM
Originally Posted by thesilverspear    
Argh indeed... people can be so damaging to a horse.

If I were with this horse at that moment, I would have taken the lines off right away, worked her on on the lunge and focused on pushing her forward with a whip. As soon as she moved forward I'd relax and let her do her thing as long as she wasn't zoning out like a banshee. Then I'd transition her down to walk and just let her relax so long as she moved forward. Then I'd continue doing a little bit of this each time to build her up to being able to be "driven" again.

Poor girl..... Hopefully that "Friend" doesn't try to work with her again. That did more damage than good.
    05-07-2013, 05:21 PM
When I had a lesson program I was able to fix all the problems that I didn't resell. My students would ride, I walked the middle of the arena and pushed them when they didn't take cues. They were tired at the end of every lesson day, and we trailered them EVERYWHERE.
I don't have this anymore. I have been watching all of the tv trainers, ad nauseum, and I think I've found what ties them together. They all:
1) make the horse move while they stand still
2) give the horse a rest when standing next to them.
3) they reward whenever the horse tries.
I think this pony has a LOT of holes in her training. (His?--lost track of the first post, sorry!)
Like an onion, you're peeling back and it still stinks. =b
Maybe you should just start this pony over and let her show you the things she can do right, and you can reward her for those and build on them.
loosie and Boo Walker like this.
    05-07-2013, 05:42 PM
Originally Posted by Corporal    
Maybe you should just start this pony over and let her show you the things she can do right, and you can reward her for those and build on them.
    05-07-2013, 06:16 PM
I did fix the lunging thing and the owner said a couple days ago that she lunged fine. In fairness, the owner did learn her lesson and will never let her pal work with the horse again. Owner was shocked at how easily a horse can be screwed up. I was very clear that I wasn't impressed, as the horse had worked beautifully in the long lines two weeks beforehand and now had to be restarted on the lunge. So a bit rubbish for the poor horse, but owner got a bit of a life (and horsemanship) lesson out of it.
    05-08-2013, 12:17 PM
SS, I feel for you. I used to run my own business, and I am now an independent contractor--doing Notary Signing Refi's, etc.--and that makes ME the face, 3rd person, removed, that the customer can bash on, even if it wasn't my fault. PM, if you want some details, but you probably don't.
I'm going to keep following your thread bc it's good to know how you are dealing with these problems. Btw, I'm rooting for you. **hugs**
    05-08-2013, 12:37 PM
Super Moderator
Nice that you're getting back on track with her - shame that people have to learn the hard way though when its the horse that suffers
Smrobs is right about work with these youngsters, the old way they would have been with an experienced rider being worked on a daily basis until they were ready to hand over to the novice riders
The welsh breeds were - still are - the pride and joy of Wales but they were selectively bred to work hard, the little ones were hauling coal in the mines, the bigger ones had to look smart enough to pull the family trap, haul produce, work the land and carry a full grown man to round the sheep and cattle up on rough steep ground. They need a job.
Hope things can go better for you with her now.
Northern likes this.

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