It's long but I would love your input please!! - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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It's long but I would love your input please!!

So, I always love hearing from other experienced horse people how they would approach a situation. It helps keep my training methods fresh, and sometimes introduces something to me I either didn't think or didn't know about. Here's my current situation I'd love some input on.

I recently took in a 5 year old Appendix gelding from a friend of mine who I've trained for before. Some background info. On the horse: He's a racehorse. My friend is an older horseman who is set in his ways and refuses to change (other ways may work but to him is method is proven to work for HIM). He likes to cowboy his horses, and uses a very heavy hand. He also tends to just bring the horses straight to the track with very, very little foundation work. This particular horse, Amigo, is very sensitive, very responsive, and when he's afraid my friend tends to take it as defiance. Amigo is no longer racing, I'm training him to be a riding horse so that he can be sold. He's skittish but has almost instantly bonded to me, follows me around, respects my space and listens very intently to my body language.

Now, I've only done two days worth of round pen work with him. I plan on riding him the beginning of next week. Today, I went to his left side and positioned myself as if to mount him (he was not tacked up I just wanted to see his reaction, I've seen him be hell at the racetrack) and automatically his head shot up, his ears flicked back towards me and his eyes rolled towards me. I placed both hands on his back and when I placed pressure on him he tensed and scooted forward very quickly. He turned right around and came back to me, licking and chewing, but he obviously wasn't pleased at the thought of being ridden. I did it a second time, same reaction except he backed up. Again, came right back to me, very willing to be with me but unhappy about the idea of being mounted. [NOTE: His owner and I have ruled out medical issues, so it isn't a back injury.]

So, what is your input on this situation? And please don't criticize my friend, it's not why I posted this. I have my own opinions about his training methods and have told him I don't agree with how he does things but we have a good working relationship despite our differences. I have my own ideas and have a plan worked out in my head on how to approach the situation and get his confidance back but I want to hear what YOU guys think. Like I said, I love hearing other people's ideas and I may just revamp my plan if something sounds better than what I have in mind.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 10:43 AM
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Approach and retreat exercise . Move to where the horse accepts you then retreat before he shows any fear - then reward him . Try repeating this but carefully moving further each time .
When the horse accepts you in the position where you may mount him - repeat again except carry a saddle - he will learn that the saddle is then no threat to him.
When the horse accepts you with the saddle - place it on his back - without girthing up . After he accepts this progress to girthing up .
Exercise him on the lunge girthed up ( but not ridden ) untill he accepts the saddle on his back - then try mounting exercises .

This is what I would do - take his accepting a saddle right back to the beginning .

The horse in this case is not being dangerous or aggressive but fearful so a heavy hand at this point would only make matters worse

And GOOD LUCK.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 12:18 PM
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Your friend is typical. Personally, I wouldn't touch him until he's good and let down. At least 30 days pasture time - maybe longer. Then I'd start him over from scratch. There are several things you should consider - jockeys and exercise riders don't contact the saddle and ride up over the shoulders, so even and secured weight down IN the saddle will feel different, as will legs at his sides. Most only know how to run flat, so they don't know how to negotiate obstacles and will be notoriously left handed. They are ponied or led everywhere but the track, so "unrestricted" riding will be an obstacle for you, especially when rating speed. Don't be surprised if he doesn't tie - most are used to being held. The list goes on...so I'd start him over - your way - treat him as if he knows nothing.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 01:00 PM
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I agree with Horse Poor - start from the ground up! Depending on how long he's already been off the track, giving him some time off would probably do him some good. And from the way you described yours friend's training methods - it sounds like he needs some time to decompress and then you can start fresh without him expecting or aniticipating anything.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 02:10 PM
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That horse needs some time off. And a lot of patience when you start back up with him. Give him a break. Let him be a horse. Take the month off the person suggested above.

Then groundwork. Don't even think of getting on that horse for awhile. Don't even try. Groundwork and bonding only.

That really could help to get the horse back in the right direction.

So, time off!!
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Please, keep in mind that this is NOT my personal horse. He is a client's horse. I wish I could give him a month off but his owner won't take "give him time off" for an answer. :( Unfortunatly, I have to do what the client wants because if I refuse to train the horse unless he gets time off, he'll just take him to someone else who will do it. Even though his owner and I are very friendly with each other I can't force him to do anything. It's HIS horse, not mine. My hands are, unfortunatly, tied.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 02:40 PM
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I wouldn't work on the horse if it were me. It's just showing the owner that the horse doesn't need a break. I wouldn't say your hands are tied, you can refuse and do what is best for the horse. Maybe the guy will listen, maybe he won't. But at least you'd be doing right by the horse.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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I've spoken to him about putting him out to pasture for a month and he won't have it. I expressed my displeasure at that and he told me if I'm not interested that he has another guy who will do it for him instead, but preferred to come to me since I've trained horses for him before. I personally would rather have the horse with me so I know for a fact he's not being man-handled or cowboyed any more.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-30-2009, 02:47 PM
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Best of luck. You've gotten the same advice from most of the people so I sure hope it all works out for the horse.

If you go forward, then I recommend go back to the beginning. Only groundwork. Nice slow steady pace. Very short sessions initially. Not asking anything major initially.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-01-2009, 02:23 AM
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I agree to what has been said above...

If you cannot give him a break and have to do some training, I think you should definitely start with ground work and much lunge training without a saddle. Try to get him used to a saddle and you in a mounting position again as explained by NuttySaddler as part of your ground work. Only start lunging him with a saddle when he's absolutely confident with the saddle on his back just standing there.

And only if he's confident being lunged with a saddle you should move on to the next step of the training. Just like he were a green horse that knew nothing.
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